This is a difficult thing to write about Jerry in the past tense…..
Of course any difficulty that I may have in simply writing pales in comparison to what it must be like for Lucia and the rest of the family. The experience of the emotional weight of grief is a unique sort of horror. We cannot know what one may be going through except by comparison to our own experience of the emotion. Perhaps that is where true sympathy lies. One thing I do know is that it is during the suffering of grief that one finds oneself human and painfully alive.
To write about Jerry is to recall the many ways in which he showed his support and belief in the value of what I do. Of course this support wasn’t just for me but for the entire creative community, from writers, filmmakers, poets, directors and the theater, and of course the visual arts. I didn’t know half of all those things with which he was involved for improving the quality of life in the valley. We all know of his involvement with the Japantown Community Congress and commitment to our community. He understood that the stories earlier generations tell and told are and will be of immense value to the generations to come. It was a way to honor and preserve contributions and sacrifice the past generations.
What I do know and what I’ll certainly miss are his visits to my studio and gallery. He would park his midnight blue Porsche (drool) in front, dash across the street to Shiro Kubota’s Restaurant for lunch. Afterwards he’d walk slowly back across the street with a toothpick hanging from his teeth (not sure if that’s approved by the ADA) and check in on me. If there was new work in the gallery we would walk through and he would make thoughtful comments and sometimes buy a piece for himself, the office or as a gift for others. Of course a discount was always part of the calculation. We were after all Sansei, sons the Nisei. Always negotiation.
Another thing that I’ll remember him for was his durability. By this I mean that he would forgive my lack of tact, consideration, or simple thoughtlessness that I would sometimes show in our conversation. He was not deterred. He would understand more than I knew. He was a generous man.
What I didn’t know about Jerry until very recently was the fact that he was a painter. I was hoping that we would all have the opportunity to see the ways that he would express himself, his ideas made real through the use of color and paint brushes by installing an exhibit of his works in the gallery and that we could all enjoy seeing this side of who he was.
After his death Lucia asked me to create a bronze urn for a columbarium that would serve as the resting place for Jerry’s remains and when the time came for her remains as well. She also wanted another vessel that would hold some of Jerry’s remains that she would hold close to her until her death when they would be together again. I am honored that she would trust me to create something appropriately significant.
Lucia told me that part of her ritual would be to return some of Jerry’s remains to Pacific Ocean surrounding Hawaii. It is a place where they bathed the beauty of nature and the nature of the eternal. In response to this I decided to reflect the Pacific in the part of the urn that she would keep close to her by representing the surface of the water in the undulating bronze of the top of the piece. I see the ocean as being the mother of us all. The salty water is the amniotic fluid in which and from where we all began.
I only saw Jerry once after his diagnosis. I was honored that he chose to stop by to see me. Despite his knowing the grave nature of his illness he showed only his wonderful smile and warmth that we will surely miss.
I offer my deepest condolences to Lucia and Jerry’s family, as well as to all of his many friends and associates.