A Reflection on the Life of My Uncle Jerry


jerry at torch

Uncle Jerry was like a second father to me. I didn’t necessarily need a second father, because I have a great Dad, but it’s a blessing when a guy (me) has many guiding hands and influences. I was blessed.

My Uncle Jerry had a massive stroke on Wednesday, January 27th, and six days later, on February 2nd, he was called to Heaven. Over the years, I’ve been asked to deliver a few eulogies, a few wedding toasts, and to speak at some other events. Each time I’m asked, I’m completely flattered and humbled. And each time I’m asked, I’m anxious, afraid, and intimidated because it’s never easy. When asked, especially when it’s someone close to me and special to me, the pressure comes in finding the right words and the right story that will reflect well on that person’s legacy, personality, and memory.

It’s luck, really. I’m lucky that I’ve had amazing people in my life, so when I write from the heart, their lives, when put into words, make me look good. I just tell it like I see it.

So here I sit on the eve of Lent, and I can’t help but think of my Uncle Jerry and what a proud and good Catholic he was. As I talk about in my reflection, he wasn’t the type who made a point to tell you how Christian and Catholic he was. Instead, he spoke to his faith through actions and in the way he lived.

Jerry didn’t quote scripture. Jerry lived scripture. Being Catholic and going to church was something Jerry always did. Period. He had faith. Great, unwavering faith. Not like a show-off and in-your-face (Matthew 6:1-6:18) type of evangelizing with hints of hypocrisy.  Instead, the kind  of faith and devotion where you go to church every week. You listen. You think. You reflect. And then you live according to the lessons Jesus taught us. Jerry lived a good, honest life.

I share this because my Uncle Jerry was goodness and honesty personified. He could’ve been Lutheran, Baptist, Protestant, or, heck, he could’ve been Buddhist. He happened to be Catholic and he listened. He reflected. And then he lived.

It’s not hyperbole or exaggeration when I say he really was a better person than I may ever be. It wasn’t just me who thought that. His friend (also named Jerry) agreed and his reflection was much the same as mine. And his brother Roger skipped much of the reflection he’d written, because Jerry and I had already covered the basics.

If you’re thinking about Lent, and how you’ll use these next 40 days to repent, reflect, and look inward, I invite you to meet my Uncle Jerry. Read about how he made a difference with his life and watch an incredible video shot only a few weeks before he was called to Heaven.

Read the reflection and watch the video here.

Then …have a wonderful Lent.

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