Wednesday, January 25, 2012

love: a loss.

this morning, one of my dearest friends lost his father. 
we are all heart-broken and shocked. his dad was young and had recently made the decision to retire by mid-summer. over the past few months he had taken a few vacations with his wife to their favorite places including st. barth's, where he ultimately passed away.

jerry wanek was one of the hardest workers i have known and did it all out of love for his family. he had a successful career as a lawyer and generally worked eighty hours a week because he was in constant demand. he was the best.

jerry welcomed anyone into his home and was a truly generous host. but, if you were in his home, drinking his wine, you better be prepared to listen to him talk! jerry was intelligent and opinionated. i'll never forget the very first time i met him: he told me he hated tattoos and would pay for me to get mine removed. ha, ha, clearly we never reached an agreement on that one. 

jerry loved my girls and they loved him. his wife, carolyn, affectionately called him "daddy" so my girls dubbed him "big daddy" to avoid confusion with their own daddy. you should have seen what a softie he became whenever they were around. (somewhere there is a picture of jerry wearing minnie mouse ears with one of the girls on his lap...) he tried to teach them french, but i think the only word they mastered was "quelquefois," a favorite of jerry's. many nights, when we'd go out for an evening swim, we'd come back in to find the girls curled up in jerry's lap watching cartoons. 
jerry and quinn, halloween '09

when seth was in basic training and then deployed, we spent a lot of nights in their spare bedroom. we would be invited for dinner or an afternoon at the pool and end up staying all evening. i can picture him sitting at the head of the table in the morning, reading the newspaper and drinking his coffee while carolyn made him breakfast. (usually an omelet, in my memory.) in fact, we spent the night before seth left for six months of training at the wanek's house. we toasted with templeton rye and jerry promised to have a bottle waiting for him when he returned. in the morning, after seth had left, i can picture myself crying in their kitchen while jerry and carolyn assured me that everything would be fine. jerry wasn't a mushy guy by any means, but he had his softer moments. he used to joke that anytime i'd had a bad day, he'd get a bill in the mail; evidence of carolyn having taken me out for lunch and a good cry. 

i remember one night jerry reading from this ridiculous book of old limericks; all of us sitting around in tears from laughing so hard. i remember him shhhhushing us as we sat through video after video of sophie's musical performances. he was so proud of his family. i remember the night (or many nights) when he made us watch his favorite movie (whose name escapes me); continuing to turn up the volume until we finally stopped talking and actually watched along with him. i can picture long discussions on wine and food and scuba-diving--just a few of his passions. and i remember when our local cable provider switched the number for the food network channel, jerry made sure i knew what the new one was. 

these little things about jerry, they're just a few silly memories that make me smile when i think of him. his wife and children; carolyn, joseph, topher and sophie, have years of stories with more impact and greater depth. my heart aches for them as i try to imagine what today is like, what tomorrow will be like, and every day after that. i know terrible tragedies occur every day, all over the world. but, today in des moines, iowa, a 16 year-old girl found out she will live the rest of her life without her daddy.
will you pray for her tonight? 
topher, sophie, joseph, carolyn and jerry wanek


  1. I am very sorry.
    There is nothing worse, in this whole world, than a broken heart.
    His family have my thoughts and prayers.

    You are a good woman b.a.

  2. praying as the tears flow for the heartbreak they're feeling.

  3. I don't know this family, but my heart goes out to them. Loss of love is never an easy thing to go through, praying for comfort and peace for topher, sophie, joseph and carolyn as the start down the path without jerry.

    beautiful tribute, be. praying for you & your family too, losing a good friend is never easy.

  4. What a beautiful tribute to a great man that I know you loved. I am so sorry for their loss as well as yours. Praying for comfort for you all and the Waneks!!

  5. This was beautiful, Bethany. Made me cry! My heart is hurting for them.

  6. I couldn't have said it better. I got the call immediately after my dad found out, Jerry was my dad's fraternity brother, and my mom and Carolyn are best friends. What a sad day. I can't begin to imagine the loss of a father, but my prayers and thoughts will be with the Wanek's. He will be missed dearly. xoxo


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