The Eulogy for Gary Schwartz
Gary was born in Alburquere, NM where his parents were in law school – the family moving at an early age to Miami, Florida. His parents only child, Gary had a particularly close connection to both of them.
In high school Gary was a diving champion. It was beside a hotel pool where Gary was worked as a young teenage life guard that he first met Barbara, the love of his life, who down in Miami from New Jersey was vacationing with her parents. That poolside meeting began a romance that was sustained long distance for several years primarily by the lost art of letter writing, and the occasional vacation visit. By the time they were eighteen they both knew this relationship was pretty serious, but they each had college to attend to. His parents gave him two big trips to celebrate the milestones of coming of age – one with his mother across this country, and another across Canada — trips that began with a visit to Barbara in New Jersey.
After Gary had finished his schooling in 1964 he moved up to New Jersey to be near Barbara and a year later they were married. They honeymooned in Europe and travelling would remain a big part of their lives together through the years. Barbara owned a travel agency. When their beloved Kara came along they would take two major vacations a year – one for Kara in the sun by a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, and another touring the world for Barbara, as well as other trips to visit Gary’s parents in Florida.
Gary was a hard worker, running a company in which he was oversaw twenty employees. A quiet man, Gary was liked by everybody who came in contact with him. He had an appealing easy going nature – nobody ever saw him lose his temper. He delighted in his daughter, and then in latter years in his two beloved granddaughters Courtney and Jenny. Gary always wanted to know how they were doing, and he was particularly encouraging in regard to their educations.
His success in his career allowed Gary to retire early. Kara’s boyfriend Anthony appreciated his weekly lunches with Gary and the mentoring he received as Anthony made his way in the business world.
Gary enjoyed collecting coins, rooting for Yankees and especially the Giants, and driving his red Corvette which Kara – whose track record with cars apparently was suspect — could only drive slowly down the block and no further.
When the opportunity afforded it, Gary enjoyed fishing. On a trip to Florida Gary caught a five foot long Barracuda. “Promise me you won’t bring any fish home with you!” Barbara demanded. Gary agreed to give his assent to Barbara’s demands, coming home without the fish. The son of two lawyers, however Gary recognized a loophole when he saw one in a contract. The barracuda showed up by itself, shipped to their house three months later, ready for mounting on the wall.
Unfortunately, Gary’s golden years got cut short when five years ago at the age of 71 he suddenly was struck down with a rare devastating disease that left his paralyzed from the neck down. For the last five years Gary was confined to a hospital bed in a special unit in St. Clare’s Dover where he was attached to a ventilator and a feeding tube. His body broken, Gary’s mind remained clear. Communication was difficult but possible.
It was a tragic way to spend the last five years of his life on earth, and yet during these years his nobility of character was clearly on display. It must have taken extraordinary courage for Gary never to give up on life, never to complain and feel sorry for him self. And during these the extraordinary devotion of Barbara and Gary to one another – lifelong sweethearts was so clearly evident. Every single day during those five years Barbara would make the trip from Montville to Dover, arriving at 9 a.m. or so to keep Gary company in his hospital room, updating Gary on how Kara and Courtney and Jenny were doing, staying well into the afternoon. Kara would come regularly too, and when Gary was well enough, his granddaughters came to visit as well. Generally with the other long term residents over time their families simply couldn’t sustain regularly visiting – it was perhaps just too much to bear to see their loved one so incapacitated. In this regard, the devotion of Barbara and Tara to Gary stood out on that unit. The staff at Dover St. Clare’s became their extended family.
In recent weeks it was clear that Gary’s condition was worsening. Gary sensed his time on earth was drawing to a close. About two weeks ago a sense of peace seemed to descend upon Gary. It seemed clear that Gary was ready to go to be with God, to be reunited with his parents. This past Sunday Kara and Anthony paid their last visit to Gary in the afternoon. Barbara was there throughout the day – she was there to be her husband farewell when he left this world. He departed knowing he was loved and cherished.