Last Wednesday evening I received a text from my friend Jerry Kes requesting he see my poem about him before he dies. Jerry enjoyed my poems about other people we've known over the years.

So Thursday night I sat down at my computer and wrote the following with the thought he would be able to see or hear the poem. I was told the poem was read to him just before midnight that night and I sent a text to Jerry's phone to let them know I would read it on the news the next morning.

Jerry's mom, Kay, told me they were listening to KDHL on a cell phone they laid on the bed next to Jerry. The family sat around the bed and listened Friday morning. She was not sure if Jerry actually was able to hear it. I hope so.

He passed away less than two hours later.

I did not go up to say goodbye in person like a real friend would do. I have to live with that.

I have received a number of requests for the poem to be posted, so here it is.

One Of The Strongest Men I’ve Ever Known

I received a text the other day from my friend Jerry Kes.
It was not an easy one to read, I must confess.
Jerry wanted to read my poetic tribute to him before he left this life.
On one hand it was a compliment, the other it caused some strife.
I’ve never had such a request and didn't want to disappoint.
So many things to say, where is my starting point?
The title was simple, One Of The Strongest Men I've Ever Known.
Since the diagnosis of cancer was given, strength is all he has shown.
I’m not talking about the strength of lifting hundreds of pounds.
But the strength of the mind and soul after many chemo rounds.
Never once did Jerry say to me, why did I have to get this cancer thing.
He accepted it with grace, Oh don't get me wrong, he didn't exactly sing.
But we often talked about having a positive attitude being a must.
Even when you know in your heart of hearts, we all end a speck of dust.
Jerry's journey of life prepared him well for being in his current place.
The hours spent training for sports, and in church singing Amazing Grace.
We reminisced about games participated in years ago.
He loved the chess match of pitching, ah, what should I throw?
Life has certainly thrown Jerry a curve.
For many it's a time to swerve.
Not Jerry, he worked nearly every day, often not feeling his best.
But even with all this pain he said he felt so blessed.
To have a loving wife, and children, and grandkids too.
And he said I have a full head of hair, unlike you.
Yes, Jerry got his jabs in even when he was sick.
Nothing wrong with that, it told me his heart still did tick.
He got a certain joy out of making me smile.
I’m glad God let me walk through his life's turnstile.
Here is a guy dealt this ugly health blow.
And he can still make my face glow.
Here I am in seemingly perfect health.
Grumbling about this and that, while I was really blessed with wealth.
Wealth isn't riches and wealth isn't fame.
Wealth is living life to the fullest with whatever cards we’re dealt in the game.
Jerry Kes has been a shining example of someone who has done just that.
He could have crawled into a shell and in a corner sat.
But he kept working, kept supporting local sports teams and playing with his
grandchildren.
Inspired many of us around him with the strength of a man who knows he's going to heaven.
You see when you know that deep down inside.
Nothing can knock you off your game, it's like a perfect slide.
Or maybe in Jerry's case the perfect pitch.
Follow that curve in the dirt with a high heater and watch the batter twitch.
It's the ninth inning my friend and Jesus awaits on the other side.
You've thrown the best game you can, in his arms you can now glide.
You are one of the strongest men I've ever known.
I feel blessed to call you a friend, thanks for all the kindness you've shown.

Beautiful Sky Picture I took a few years ago at my place- photo by Gordy Kosfeld