My dearest wife, Jeri Eaton, passed away at 2PM on October 16 in our beautiful farmhouse on the Singleton Matthews farm just outside New Windsor, surrounded by a loving circle of friends and family. Jeri was 68 and for the past 18 months has been courageously fighting the cancer that returned after 23 blessed cancer-free years. An army brat born in Frankfurt, Germany on December 4, 1947, Jeri was the only daughter of Joy and Colonel Arlo Gill and lived on a variety of US Army bases until settling in El Paso, Texas, for High School. Always a world traveler, she and I met 45 years ago in San Miguel, Mexico, and she has been my partner, lover, strong right arm and best friend ever since, continuing to travel the world with me and living in countries like England, Mexico, Greece and Portugal before settling here in Carroll County 29 years ago just before our only son Alex was born. Jeri spent her childhood summers riding horses in the Big Bend of West Texas, where we still own a house and apartments that she managed up until weeks before her death. For Jeri, home was a balance between the High Mountain Desert of West Texas and our beautiful valley here in Carroll County. For a West Texas 'gal' to give up her beloved horse to marry an Englishmen and move to London for several years shows a sense of sacrifice that still leaves me awed. Jeri got her Bachelor's degree in English at the University of Texas in Austin ("one of those totally useless degrees" as she joked) that imbued her with a lifelong love of words. She was a writer and a Feldenkrais practitioner with a long-time practice at the Center for Healing Arts on Main Street in Westminster and Carroll Lutheran Village. "Funny name, great moves" is how Jeri described the Feldenkrais method, a healing discipline that no one can spell but everyone who experiences it loves, as her many students can attest, using gentle movement and directed attention to improve and enhance human functioning. But Jeri's impact was not just in the people she helped and the words she wrote. As I have been told so many times in person and in messages from her hundreds of friends around the world during her final weeks of illness, Jeri changed their lives and made them better people; she certainly did that for me. As sympathetic friend, healer, wise woman and courageous fighter for truth, Jeri brought out the best in people and everyone loved her for it, even when she held their feet to the fire when they weren't willing to "do the work", as she always said. Even in the final days of her illness as friends gathered around her bedside night and day, that healing continued with emotional wounds salved and new friendships formed. Her departure leaves a huge hole in the lives of me, my son, and all who knew her. As her only survivors, I and Alex are comforted by the love that surrounded her as she crossed the threshold into that final mystery, the Ground of All Being. As the Medieval English mystic the Lady Julian of Norwich wrote, in the end "all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." A memorial service will be held at St. Paul's United Church of Christ on 17 Bond Street, Westminster, at a later date. In lieu of flowers, I follow Jeri's wishes in asking you to open your hearts to someone who is different from you. In Jeri's memory, reach across that chasm of mistrust and fear to embrace the "other" and you will be surprised to find in them a reflection of your own face.
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