I was going to post about harvesting honey, making apple cider or the recent shearing.  Something seasonal.  Instead, today’s outdoor walk in the September blue sky & sunny day made me want to share a heart song.

Yesterday was Gerrit’s memorial service.  He was remembered as a best friend to everyone, a giver, a highly intelligent, learned & hard working gentleman, father-figure, extraordinary human being.  There was no real way to honor him, all that he was, but the community came together in a simply programmed musical celebration that included heartfelt words from a few well-spoken colleagues.

When I say community, I mean the State of Vermont.

The joke was that Vermont is recognized as the state with the highest number of Non-Profits and, with Gerrit’s passing, the highest number of Boards searching for replacement members.

I sang with him for years as a member of my church’s choir.  He used to draw me in under his huge frame, arm over my shoulder, and scold me for absences.  If he suspected I would be having too many “unexcused” absences, he would gently & kindly remind me that I was family and the family missed me.  And that I wasn’t allowed to leave.

Who have you spoken to, of late, with such sincere care?

I’m making a point to share kindness more generously.

His wallet revealed his character, further, and lovely Gail, friend & choir-mate, rendered the contents in a gorgeous tapestry.  Poems, hymns,  and verses written on the thinnest parchment and, folded ever-so-neatly, had been tucked into the compartments of his billfold.

My wallet is loaded with receipts, cards, gum wrappers.  Crumpled bills, change.  Some photos.

Such a friend we’ll miss.  He left us with so many gifts; primarily we have all had the privilege of knowing him.  In our lifetimes, we experienced greatness in human kind.

How many people are in your life that inspire you to be a better person?

In mine, Gerrit was one of them.  Mary is another.  Jody, SJ & Char… Young & old.  I can’t name all of the names because it wouldn’t be fair for fear of leaving someone out.  But the point is, I value the importance of having people in my life that make me want to do more, try harder, be a better person.  I have many such people that push me, without intending to do so, and I am so proud of them, their character, their work ethic, their creativity, their goodwill.

Certainly, being a parent has inspired me to be the best I can be.  Having animals to care for is also motivation to rise to the challenge of giving on a daily basis.  Looking out for others seems to foster an appreciation for noble behaviors. You don’t have to have children or pets to find someone or something that needs your kindness.  And if, by looking out for others you provide an inspiration, well then, that is a fabulous bonus.

Without intending to impress, I was referred to by a new acquaintance recently as an “earth mother!”  In a good way.  It wasn’t that I woke up and said, “Today I’m going to be an earth mother!” but if it’s the way things went and I was thus inspiring, then so be it.  All good.

I’ll try to remember this when I’m at a loss for inspiration.

Blessedly & beautifully enough, though, I’ve got a treasure-trove of letters from Gerrit to fall back on.

I’m going to continue seeking better in large & small ways this upcoming season.

I’ll write about honey, cider or shearing on another day.


From the garden for Gerrit "A good heart is the sun and the moon" -Austin Chinn

From the garden for Gerrit
“A good heart is the sun and the moon” -Austin Chinn

10 responses to “Better

  1. Lovely post, lovely gift, beautiful wreath–what a gift back to him. And I agree so totally–the best gift to him would be to pay it forward whenever we can. Love you much–

  2. You’re a good person. Very much like the character Jane from Austin’s Pride and Prejudice (which we are currently watching for what seems like the 341st time) … you always see the very best in people and refuse to do otherwise. Your words are a testament to the kindness that was obviously much a part of your friend Gerrit. I do hope that when I am no more that someone is able to say a very few nice things about me in this same way. We say that we should live our lives in such a way that that is inevitable … but … well … sigh … if only it were possible. Your well written sentiments however provide motivation to be better. Thank you. D

    • D, I replied earlier but it appears my reply came up as a new thread, don’t know if that sort of thing ends up in your comments/email…it is below

  3. Oh my goodness, to be compared to Jane -I never. (Yes, we just finished watching the BBC-version a couple of nights ago! Which version should we watch THIS weekend?!)
    Thank you so much. I also wish to leave such a golden mark as dear Gerrit did. I just got thinking and thinking about it & it was as clear to me as anything that there have got to be more really fine people out there in the world. We don’t know them all. But also, we have the opportunity to be one of them. And that is what I hope to do. And I think you will have been, also.
    Thank YOU for kind commentary, following when I know you’re as busy as anything.

    • It’s a tough call between the BBC version and the Firth version. Tough, very tough. We like both Elizabeth and Darcy in the former and Darcy and Mr. Collins in the latter. We really can’t stand Mrs. Bennet in the Firth version and like Mr. Bennet in the BBC. Both versions are truer to the book in their own ways. So .. you have asked a very tough question. If you haven’t watched either in a while just watch them in sequence and decide for yourself. D

  4. Warm thoughts to you. I have a friend who died that always inspired me to be better. Thanks for making me think of her again, just now, after reading your post. x

  5. Wow. What a lovely, lovely post, Tammy. Inspirational friends are the best and you are one to me, even though we have never met. (littleredhens on Twitter) It is so nice to think that even when we are feeling our worst selves, someone out there is thinking the best of us. xo

    • Aw, Anne, that is so kind. I am grateful to you for sharing heartfelt words and expressing what is important to be heard. Really meaningful, thank you so much. I like what you wrote last, about ‘someone out there is thinking the best of us.’ And so we should always assume this…

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