Really. I want to know. How do you say goodbye to someone who poured so much love over you in such gentle glowing waves that it didn’t feel so much like water as it did liquid sunshine? How do you say goodbye when yours was a relationship that got better and deeper as the years went by, drawing more and more people into it from all sides until it resembled not so much a set of mutually exclusive dyads as a network of lovelines that felt the tremors all the way through when any one node was disturbed? Tell me how you say goodbye to someone who wrapped you in gentle layers of affection and respect that was balm to your insecure and seeking soul. Gerry, my darling Daddy, I really don’t know how to say goodbye to you, so I think I just won’t. I think that what I’ll do instead is say thank you.
Thank you for teaching that History module way back in 1989, my first year in University. How kind you were as a teacher – so forgiving of your students’ ignorance, and so gentle with our fragile egos. I won’t lie to you – I can’t remember anything about European history. But I remember your attitude towards learning, teaching, and historical inquiry, and tried to build that attitude into my own teaching.
Thank you for attending my dance performances, and for being so genuinely interested in a culture that was different from your own. You were curious without being intrusive, and respectful without being patronising. After a while I forgot that you and I were so different in our roots. My darling ‘ang moh’ – I’m sorry I teased you so often about turning lobster-red in the tropical heat of Singapore. But you got your revenge by laughing at me when I shivered in the Canadian spring.
Thank you for giving me a shoulder to cry on when I felt like the world was against me, the way people do when they are nineteen and in love. I fought my battles with your advice in my head. Your complete lack of judgment was balm to my rebellious soul.
Above all, thank you for showing me what a strong marriage looks like. It looks like warmth and teasing, annoyance and laughter, affection and grumpy silences, cups of tea and hordes of friends, a cat that keeps wanting to go out when it’s in and come in when it’s out, grandchildren who think the world of you and children who think they were born knowing everything. It looks, Daddy darling, like acceptance. Everything I have to thank you for was possible because you and Gail were the most amazing team I have ever seen.
Rest in peace, Gerald Jordan. The cancer may have claimed your body, but your guiding light will always be held carefully and lovingly in my heart like the treasure that it is.
Gerald Henry Starbuck Jordan 1933-2012
Loved. Missed. Remembered.