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6 October 2016 / leggypeggy

A heartfelt tribute to Fred

Fred Gerber

Fred in the Asaro village, Papua New Guinea

Over the last few days my thoughts have been consumed by Fred and Ze, Fred’s wife of many years. Let me tell you a bit about Fred.

Poor John and I met Fred about two years ago on our trip to Papua New Guinea. While there, we visited the Goroka Show, an Asaro village and a selection of coastal villages.

We loved Fred’s company. He was a gentleman, raconteur, radiologist and nuclear medicine doctor.

He had many wonderful stories. Without going into a lot of detail, some years ago Fred was one of the two people in the USA who was allowed to give a go-ahead for every American nuclear test. As a nuclear medicine doctor, Fred had the second last say. The meteorologist had the final say.

Fred gave meaning to my feet. My feet are so poorly constructed. I was born this way (mostly thanks to genetics), but most people think I have huge bunions. Fred even asked, Peggy, when are you going to get your bunions fixed.

I explained, Fred, I was born this way, and he replied, that’s the worst case of hallux valgus I’ve ever seen. I was stunned. Seriously, have you seen many cases? I asked. Yes plenty, remember I was a radiologist.

But enough about the state of my feet.

Over many years, Fred has suffered from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was and wasn’t a big issue in Papua New Guinea. Fred managed well at the Goroka Show, but it was harder for him to reach the Asaro village.

We had to walk up a huge hill to get to the village. I walked with Fred. Mostly to keep him company and also to excuse the fact I was also walking slowly.

When we got to about the halfway point, Fred sat on a rock and said he couldn’t go farther. He said he was happy to stay there until we came back down for an excursion (later that afternoon). He said he’d figure out the next steps later.

As it turned out, the locals insisted on carrying Fred to the top. Two burly men clasped hands together to create a ‘chair’ he could sit in, and carried him to the top.

What an amazing service they provided for someone they didn’t know.

Once ‘up top’, Fred stayed put to enjoy the many activities offered by the Asaro villagers.

We hoped to travel with Fred again. He and Ze were to be part of our Alaskan trip earlier this year. But it wasn’t to be. Fred was too sick to go.

So why the tribute to him now?

As far as I know, Fred died on Sunday. He died with dignity.

His ALS had advanced at such a great rate that Fred took advantage of Washington State’s euthanasia legislation. He and Ze had discussed the matter and decided together, choosing Sunday as his ‘departure date’.

We respect and honour Fred’s choice. We’ll miss him.

Fred with Asaro mudmen

Fred with Asaro mudmen

 

134 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. weezaj / Oct 6 2016 2:08 pm

    Oh Peggy – beautiful words. I’m sorry for your loss…

    Louise Scrivener *Chinese Ducks Design* 0407 477 440

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 2:35 pm

      He was such a great guy. I’m glad he had the option to bow out gracefully.

      Like

  2. Carol Croce / Oct 6 2016 2:15 pm

    Fred sounds like a wonderful man and what an adventurous soul to undertake the PNG trip even when he was ailing. I so wish other places allowed people to die with dignity. It was a year ago almost to the day of Fred’s passing that my friend Sam also availed himself of Washington’s death with dignity laws after a long struggle with cancer. How fortunate that you not only have great memories of your time together but fantastic photographs!

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 2:36 pm

      I was able to send these photos to him last week.

      Like

  3. stephleo / Oct 6 2016 2:17 pm

    Such a touching tribute! Fred sounds like a wonderful man and adventurer. Now he’s on to new adventures. RIP Fred.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 2:36 pm

      In my last email to him, I wrote, ‘Travel well, dear friend’.

      Liked by 2 people

      • stephleo / Oct 6 2016 2:43 pm

        I’m glad he was able to pass at his choosing. That is such a blessing in itself.

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 3:49 pm

        Indeed it is.

        Like

  4. F M / Oct 6 2016 2:35 pm

    I love and look forward to your posts leggy peggy. Special thanks for sharing a little bit of Fred’s life with us. Fiona mckenna

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 2:39 pm

      Thanks Fiona. I’ve been a little distracted lately but hope to post more often.

      Like

  5. neveradullbling / Oct 6 2016 2:39 pm

    What a great and brave man. I’m very sorry for your loss, but it’s great he was able to die with dignity. God bless; may he rest in peace. (Those villagers… wow. You’ve met some amazing people.)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. IreneDesign2011 / Oct 6 2016 2:41 pm

    Beautiful tribute to a great man 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Alison and Don / Oct 6 2016 2:48 pm

    Sorry for your loss Peggy. I think it’s wonderful that people have the choice to leave when they have such a disease. There are so many stupid laws all over the world that keep us fettered when we don’t need to be. It sounds like he really lived, for as long as he could. Brave and admirable.
    Alison

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 3:51 pm

      He enjoyed his adventures and was disappointed not to be able to come to Alaska. But he made every minute that he could count.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Daal / Oct 6 2016 2:55 pm

    so sorry, dear Peggy – we are so very fortunate to know such people in our lives. thank you for sharing a bit of your friendship with us

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 3:52 pm

      I feel so privileged to have known Fred. It’s also a privilege to share a bit about him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Daal / Oct 6 2016 4:18 pm

        That’s what good friends are like – they bring out our best selves 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 6:24 pm

        So true.

        Like

  9. Ray / Oct 6 2016 3:00 pm

    Really sorry to hear about your loss, Peggy! At least you had the opportunity to meet Fred and see first hand how he made the most out of his life while he still had it. I know you will take solace in those important life lessons that he taught both you and Poor John during your trip in PNG.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Sherry Thomas / Oct 6 2016 3:06 pm

    Peggy – what a wonderful tribute to a life well lived. Love, s.

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 4 people

  11. jeanettev2014 / Oct 6 2016 3:21 pm

    I am sorry for the loss of your friend Peggy but a lovely tribute.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. gerard oosterman / Oct 6 2016 3:58 pm

    Farewell Fred. Thanks Peggy, for giving us a look in Fred’s life.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Bun Karyudo / Oct 6 2016 4:17 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your friend, Peggy. From what you said about him, he was clearly someone who lived a remarkable life.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Rashminotes / Oct 6 2016 4:32 pm

    Really sorry to hear this Peggy; seemed to be an incredible personality. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and dear friends..

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Christopher Bartlett / Oct 6 2016 5:32 pm

    He was a lovely chap, a pleasure to travel with. Very sad that he has gone, but happy that he could choose.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. weggieboy / Oct 6 2016 6:03 pm

    Whew! ALS destroys everything but the mind, and the patient is trapped in a hopeless shell of themselves that refuses to do what he or she wants. Though I generally don’t approve of suicide, this is one instance where I understand why a person would be justified to consider, then do it. RIP, Fred.It sounds like you lived a good life, then you chose to pass with dignity when fate dealt you a debilitating disease with no cure.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 6:15 pm

      ALS is horrible. I’m so relieved he had the choice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • weggieboy / Oct 6 2016 8:23 pm

        A family friend went through the whole disease process, and her last days were painful for family and friends to witness.

        She was, like Fred, a bright, engaged person, and to see her sink into her wasted, unresponsive body was to wish she could die to be free of her suffering. Of course, then you’d feel guilty for wishing such a thing.

        In Fred’s instance, he spared himself the worst of the disease and had the chance, as you noted, to die with dignity and at a time he chose.

        My personal experience with near death is that your body lets you know it is time, and you feel relief that it is time, the fight needn’t continue. That is to say, it needn’t be feared.

        I see Canada has enacted a law to allow doctor-assisted euthanasia.

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 8:50 pm

        I completely understand how people can wish such a thing.

        Forty-nine years ago, my dad was killed in a car accident—there one minute and gone the next. Nine years later, my mother married a lovely man who, seven years later, died of cancer over about 12 months. She always said she’d take an instant death over a prolonged death of watching someone die and feeling so helpless. Some choice, but I know what she meant.

        I’m so glad Fred had the choice.

        Liked by 2 people

  17. derrickjknight / Oct 6 2016 6:11 pm

    A fine tribute

    Liked by 4 people

  18. beetleypete / Oct 6 2016 6:11 pm

    It seems that Fred benefited from a full and interesting life, How appropriate that he should have been allowed to choose when to end that life, with dignity, and at a time of his own choosing. His story should be a lesson to any government refusing to allow voluntary euthanasia.
    Losing a friend is never going to be easy, but knowing that the choice of when was their own somehow bestows a modicum of comfort.

    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 6:21 pm

      An excellent point. Fred did have a full in interesting life. And his horrific deterioration is a perfect lesson for governments that can’t figure out the overwhelming need for death with dignity.

      Like

  19. The Year I Touched My Toes / Oct 6 2016 6:50 pm

    Fred sounds like a was a larger than life character who Ze will miss terribly.Hope you can share another adventure with her still in the future. I love the locals carrying him up the hill to the village. Thank you for sharing the story Peggy.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 8:36 pm

      It was so cool to see him being ‘delivered’ to the top of the hill. And the smile on his face is still with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Year I Touched My Toes / Oct 6 2016 8:44 pm

        That’s lovely. We have just heard some bad health news here of someone young in the extended family…. so yes this has started the tears. We never know when life will change.

        Like

      • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 9:15 pm

        Oh dear, life is so fragile. I hope your young relative has good care and a good future.

        Like

  20. Robert Henderson / Oct 6 2016 6:53 pm

    So very, very sad. A heartwarming and tearful story at once. My sympathies.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Frank Prem / Oct 6 2016 6:54 pm

    Bravo Fred.

    Cheers,

    Frank

    Liked by 3 people

  22. plaidshirtdiaries / Oct 6 2016 7:46 pm

    A lovely tribute.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Ms Louise M Oliver / Oct 6 2016 8:40 pm

    Peggy, I’m so sorry you lost your friend. From what I know, like many diseases it’s very unpleasant and hard to cope with. Good on Fred for coping so well. Condolences to you and John.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 9:11 pm

      ALS is a terrible disease. I’m glad Fred lasted as long as he did, and completely understand his decision to ‘go’.

      Like

  24. joylovestravel / Oct 6 2016 8:45 pm

    A beautiful tribute – sounds like Fred was a special and remarkable person.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. GP Cox / Oct 6 2016 9:00 pm

    A wonderful tribute for your friend. While I am sorry for your and the world’s loss, may Fred forever be at peace.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. wfdec / Oct 6 2016 9:13 pm

    A dignified tribute to a dignified death Well done Peggy.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. theunassuminghiker / Oct 6 2016 9:38 pm

    Bittersweet story, so sorry for your friend, but how fortunate he was to be able to choose to die with dignity.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. FromageHomage / Oct 6 2016 9:59 pm

    Sorry for the loss of your friend. x

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Vicki / Oct 6 2016 10:22 pm

    I was deeply touched by your tribute to Fred. He sounded like a (brave) and spirited soul. As much as I’m sorry you lost a friend, I’m also glad he was able to die with dignity and at a time of choosing (by him and his wife).

    Hope that one day you can share some more adventures with Ze.

    ……and what a wonderful photo to remember him by.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 6 2016 10:33 pm

      Thanks Vicki. I especially loved these photos of Fred and glad you liked them too. Hoping we can lure Ze on an adventure.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Popping Wheelies / Oct 6 2016 11:35 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, and I’m sorry for your loss. ALS is one of the two most cruel diseases, though I have a friend whose situation might equal them. It was good that his ended life with the dignity he deserved. Blessings.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 7 2016 7:48 am

      Thanks. ALS is horribly cruel. I’m glad Fred had a way out.

      Like

  31. Scott Levine / Oct 7 2016 2:17 am

    I’m sorry for your loss. He sounds like an incredible person, and your tribute to him was great. All my best.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. ragingtraveler / Oct 7 2016 2:23 am

    I, too, am sorry for your loss. I felt like I knew a bit of Fred through you; and he was a soul I surely would have liked to have known. May his adventures continue.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. sidilbradipo1 / Oct 7 2016 2:47 am

    I’m sad. R.I.P.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. maggie0019 / Oct 7 2016 3:24 am

    I’m sorry you lost your friend. I feel for him and his wife – my good friend’s father passed from ALS and it was a slow, terrifying, tortuous ordeal. At least he got to die with dignity. (((Hugs to you))) and Fred’s widow, Ze.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 7 2016 7:35 am

      It’s impossible to imagine how terrifying and tortuous ALS can be, but thankfully Fred had a choice.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. luckyjc007 / Oct 7 2016 4:42 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. This is a wonderful tribute to him and I’m glad there were wonderful times spent together. It’s a blessing we have memories to hold on to.

    Liked by 3 people

  36. Mike Darbro / Oct 7 2016 6:21 am

    Sorry for the loss of your friend, Peggy. Appears he lived life to the fullest and left on his own terms.
    PS: Take care of your feet! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 7 2016 7:14 am

      I was always glad Fred gave my feet some status. 🙂

      Like

  37. chattykerry / Oct 7 2016 7:50 am

    This is a lovely eulogy to a most interesting man. I am so glad that he was able to choose the time of his death, I long for that.
    I didn’t know I have Hallux Valga – I was born with strange looking feet and they have been the bane of my life. One doctor gasped in disgust…really!

    Liked by 3 people

  38. jengarynewadventures / Oct 7 2016 8:11 am

    I am so glad you had such a wonderful friend. They are not always easy to find in this world. Beautifully written.Jen

    Liked by 3 people

  39. fiftywordsdaily / Oct 7 2016 8:42 am

    A warm-hearted tribute. I’m sure Fred would have particularly enjoyed the phrase he ‘gave meaning to my feet.’

    Liked by 3 people

  40. Curt Mekemson / Oct 7 2016 10:41 am

    A moving story, Peggy. Fred sounded like a good man. May he continue to wander the universe. –Curt

    Liked by 3 people

  41. alittlebitofingrid / Oct 7 2016 5:45 pm

    Lovely tribute, seems to me, despite his disease he had a wonderful rich life and the option of going down that final road with dignity, something we all deserve!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2016 10:18 am

      Fred had a goal of visiting 100 countries and he managed that. I’m glad his last journey was done with the dignity he deserved.

      Liked by 1 person

  42. Brenda / Oct 7 2016 11:14 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this Peggy.

    Liked by 3 people

  43. voulaah / Oct 8 2016 12:59 am

    I’m sorry for your friend peggy
    thnak you for sharring these beautiful words with best iomages
    Kisses

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Zambian Lady / Oct 8 2016 3:19 am

    It is always sad to hear of one passing away, even if we may not know them. My condolences. At least he seemed to have lived a full life.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Monica Graff / Oct 8 2016 3:49 am

    Fred seems like a beautiful person. You must feel glad to have known him. How wonderful that he had a choice about how to depart on this part of the Mystery Tour.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. ledrakenoir / Oct 8 2016 8:12 am

    Beautiful tribute – we mustn’t forget to treasure the human lighthouses we meet on the road of life… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  47. jerseydreaming / Oct 8 2016 8:58 am

    I’m very sorry for your loss Peggy. The means to die with dignity should be a human right available to all.

    Liked by 2 people

  48. sepultura13 / Oct 8 2016 11:50 am

    Very sorry for your loss – Fred was a gentleman, and your words show that he touched your lives.

    We should all have the option to die with dignity…we do it for our pets, and should have the same.

    Beautiful and touching tribute.

    Liked by 2 people

  49. jeanleesworld / Oct 8 2016 10:23 pm

    Such friendship is often missed…but oh, is it treasured even more. A hug and prayer for you. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  50. Deb / Oct 9 2016 12:48 am

    For Fred’s final journey he was carried by Angels!!! May you rest in peace Fred!! What a beautiful story Peggy thanks for sharing. Sending comfort and prayers to Ze, may she feel Fred with until they meet again! Sorry for the loss of your dear friend, but grateful you have the memories to look back on especially the ones about your feet! xo

    Liked by 2 people

  51. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Oct 9 2016 5:17 pm

    So very sorry to read about the loss of your dear friend. But what a wonderful life he led.

    Liked by 2 people

  52. blondieaka / Oct 9 2016 5:53 pm

    Fred sounds like a wonderful, brave man and it’s lovely that he could choose his own day of passing and I am sure he is still having lots of wondeful adventures wherever he is 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2016 10:18 pm

      So many memories. I hope Fred is still choosing his own.

      Like

  53. You have honored him with a lovely memory. I am sure he chose his end wisely. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 10 2016 12:55 pm

      Thank you. I have such lovely memories of him.

      Like

  54. Sascha Darlington / Oct 10 2016 11:03 am

    Beautiful tribute. It’s amazing the people who cross our paths and what they leave behind in the short time that we know them.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. mistermuse / Oct 11 2016 1:33 am

    I can only echo the many other beautiful comments. With this post, you’ve put your ‘best foot’ forward (assuming you have a ‘best foot’)! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 11 2016 7:24 am

      Thanks. You started my day with a good laugh. I don’t have a best foot, but the right is slightly better than the left.

      Liked by 1 person

  56. Hope / Oct 11 2016 8:46 am

    What a beautiful story and photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  57. forwardtogloryquartet / Oct 12 2016 12:37 pm

    A great and moving story, Peggy. Here’s to Fred!

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Nancy J / Oct 13 2016 3:02 am

    What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. Tears and smiles. ALS is a devastating disease, yet it did not let it stop him from his mission. Prayers for his family. God bless Fred. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 13 2016 4:16 am

      You are so right. He fought on for as long as he could, and longer.

      Like

      • Nancy J / Oct 18 2016 9:11 am

        I honestly believe he is in a happier place, free from his chains. If it were not so, then all our suffering would be in vain.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Oct 21 2016 1:44 am

        Yes, now he is at peace.

        Liked by 1 person

  59. tony / Oct 18 2016 10:18 pm

    A fine tribute Peggy.

    Tony
    http://breadtagsagas.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  60. eths / Oct 21 2016 2:07 pm

    What an amazing and brave person!

    Liked by 1 person

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