My Best Friend Died Today

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I met Jerry in 1996 while living in the Florida Keys. He was a retired United Airlines pilot and an avid boater. I had never been a pilot, but I was a boater. Jerry and I shared a lot of adventures on the high seas, and he taught me some tips and tricks when it came to reading a compass.

Jerry became my closest and best friend. He was a man for whom I had no end of love and respect. We did many things together, not just boating and fishing but also tackling local causes.

Not once did we have a cross word. That’s not to say there were no disagreements. There were, but we never became angry.

Jerry hated that I drank. I couldn’t enjoy the occasional cocktail. It wasn’t enough for me. While Jerry made it clear he disapproved, he never scolded me.

I also smoked back then. For that, he scolded me, and I wasn’t allowed to light up anywhere near him. I remember we picked up a boat in Key Largo and headed back to Sugarloaf. We needed to stop for gas about halfway, and I wanted a cigarette. After all, I had just spent a lot of money on a new boat and was anxious. I recall whining and begging before he finally relented.

We both left the Keys and returned to civilization. Jerry and his dear wife June moved to central Florida, and I moved farther north. I had had enough of The Sunshine State, but Jerry always loved it.

I remember him and his son Michael visiting me at my little ranch around 2006. He had just bought one of those Smart Cars, and he and Michael were driving it back to Florida. I had met all of Jerry’s children from time to time. He was blessed with a huge family; to him, they were the most important part of his world. I always envied him that.

That was the last time I saw him, but we spoke on the phone occasionally.

Several months ago, Jerry called me just as I was walking in to teach a class. I couldn’t talk because I had about 50 students wondering what would be on the final exam. I promised I would call him back. When I did, I wasn’t able to reach him. I worried about that, but then life got in the way. I was sure he was fine. He was a busy guy, after all.

I don’t know exactly when Jerry died. When things like this happen, the family is overwhelmed, and I’m not surprised I didn’t get a notice.

I knew when I saw the email titled Memorial Zoom—Jerry in my inbox. I knew then my friend was gone.

I watched the video of Jerry’s life, and I sobbed. For an hour, I watched it and sobbed.

My best friend, counselor, and mentor were gone from this world, and I didn’t get the chance to tell him I hadn’t had a cigarette in 17 years or a drink in five. He would have clapped for me. Jerry was like that.

For me, Jerry died when I opened up my email a few hours ago. For me, Jerry died today.

Goodbye, old friend.

—Michael John Scott

About Post Author

Professor Mike

Professor Mike is a left-leaning, dog loving, political junkie. He has written dozens of articles for Substack, Medium, Simily, and Tribel. Professor Mike has been published at Smerconish.com, among others. He is a strong proponent of the environment, and a passionate protector of animals. In addition he is a fierce anti-Trumper. Take a moment and share his work.
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Vicki Betts
5 months ago

Mike, I am so very sorry for the loss of your dear friend.

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