The one that got away


This is part six of a series about my friend, Jerry, who departed from this world on November 9th, 2020, after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer. Jerry considered it his mission to win over every child. He also delighted in winning over dogs. Jerry boasted that there wasn’t a dog he couldn’t win over. I really think Jerry believed he was “The Dog Whisperer” (Cesar Millan). In Jerry’s defense, I think he had a perfect record until he encountered Jay-Jay, our ferocious, four-pound, black and tan Chihuahua. When you pinched Jay-Jay’s ears up and in, he looked like a miniature Doberman Pincher.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. Jerry was sitting on the couch, one cushion away from my wife, Susie. Jay-Jay was sitting on Susie’s lap with his eyes intensely fixed on Jerry, as if to say, “Go ahead, make my day,” (Clint Eastwood, “Sudden Impact”). Jerry asked, “Does he bite?” and I responded, “No, he’ll bark but he won’t bite.” I turned away for a split second and then I heard Jerry calmly say, “I thought you said your dog wouldn’t bite.” I looked over and Jay-Jay was dangling by his teeth from Jerry’s tricep. Apparently, Jerry had lifted his right arm up onto the back of the couch and Jay-Jay thought he was making an aggressive move towards Susie. You don’t make an aggressive move towards Jay-Jay’s Momma when Jay-Jay is sitting on her lap. Then Jerry, while smiling, gently plucked Jay-Jay from his tricep, like an apple from a tree.

Our home was Jerry’s home away from home. I jokingly suggested Jerry hang some family pictures up in the guest bedroom. Perhaps that’s why Jerry was so concerned about Susie and me agonizing over a heart wrenching decision. Susie and I had just signed a contract on a house but buyer’s remorse, immediately started creeping in. To make a very long agonizing story short, Susie and I decided to place both houses up for sale and keep whichever didn’t sell.

I’ll let Susie explain; “It just all happened so fast. Jerry worked so hard to help us because he knew how hard we were struggling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jerry that serious. He went through both houses from top to bottom, inside and out. He made his list of pros and cons on a small piece of paper, Grandview on one side and Old Post on the other. You could tell his mind was spinning. He looked at every detail. He pointed out what one house had to offer that the other didn’t. He shared with us what he thought and made some good points, but he didn’t want to tell us what to do. He just pointed out things to think about. It was so touching how much he cared. Bless his heart. I wish I still had his list.”

Jerry headed back home to Springfield and a couple days later I received a text message from Jerry expressing how earnestly he had been praying for us. What touches and humbles me most is that Jerry was so concerned about Susie and I while personally battling terminal cancer. While Jerry’s list of pros and cons was helpful, it was the question he asked at the end of his text that brought everything into perspective; “Which house, if you sell, do you think you will look back on one day and think it was the one that got away?”

Many decisions aren’t between what’s right or wrong, good or bad, but between what’s good, better or best. Lysa Terkeurst, author and president of “Proverbs 31 Ministries” exhorts us to exercise our “Best Yes”. She contends, “The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep. The schedules we keep determine the lives we live. The lives we live determine how we spend our souls.” But on the flip side, she warns us about “analysis paralysis”. She suggests, “It’s better to step out and find out than to stay stuck… If you desire to please God with the decision you make and afterward it proves to be a mistake, it’s an error not an end…”

Jim Elliott, Christian missionary, was speared to death in Ecuador in 1956, (Movie, “Head of the Spear”). Six years earlier he penned the following journal entry, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Almost 2,000 years earlier, Christ Jesus declared, “…whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What profit is it to a man if he gains the world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

When faced with difficult decisions, let’s bring things into perspective, and ask ourselves, “A hundred years from now, which one will we look back on and think it was the one that got away.”

Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected]. You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble .

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