My father left this world as a slow burn, his last ember flickering and sputtering, before its final fade. My father-in-law was like that person at the party (often me) who just sneaks out the back door without saying goodbye. Here one minute, gone the next. A light that was on, is now off.
Jerry Fingeroff passed away like he lived his life: on his terms. No long-term care facilities or hospital beds for him. By all accounts, he had a fine last day, went to bed, and just didn’t get up the next morning. One can only hope to leave this life as seamlessly as he did.
Jerry was a Russian Jew who married an Irish Catholic, and together they spawned four Quaker infused children. You can’t get more American than that. He was a deli man, beginning to work the business as a child with his father. He sold lunch meats, Number One Hoagie’s (the self-proclaimed official sandwich of the Philadelphia Eagles), and lottery tickets in a working-class neighbourhood. Cash only.
Jerry didn’t trust the banks, the government, or the stock market. He famously told his daughter that she didn’t have to pay back her student loans. He was wrong about that one, but was still a savvy businessman who provided his family with a comfortable living.
Somehow in between his stints behind the counter, he managed to travel to Okinawa with the Army, get in on the ground floor of tech selling VCRs, ride his bike from Miami to Key West, and run a fish market while living in the Caribbean. All this without ever attending college.
Like my father, I hear that Jerry was a hard task master and had quite a temper. But my experience of him was of a gentle man who loved his family deeply and liked nothing better than to sit and watch the tidal river in front of his Florida retirement home ebb and flow. I’ll remember his humour, and his long, rambling stories that usually began with “I remember when…” and ended with “… I don’t know where I was going with that”. I’ll remember him dancing with his wife and his devotion to her care when she could no longer stand on her own. Goodbye, Jerry. We miss you and we love you.