Happy birthday Jerry! This time, accept it with tears in my eyes and lots of gratitude.
2018 has been a year of losses and realisations for me. I lost people that I once held close to my heart and spirit, I lost opportunities that could have helped me contribute better to the community. But the realisation that has come after these losses has been an eye opening experience.
One of such persons that was very close to my heart from years, that I lost this year has been Jerry Weinberg. Yes, The Jerry Weinberg.
It’s been almost four months now and I am still finding it hard to believe that Jerry is no longer there with us in this world, in his physical form. After Jerry’s demise, a lot of my friends and colleagues have written about his impact on their lives and how he helped them transform their lives. Reading that all has made me feel even more emotional. The realisation of being close to someone for years, who has transformed many lives in many ways, makes me feel so very special and sad at the same time.
I really don’t know if anyone else has received so much from Jerry, as much as I feel I have received from him. But I consider myself truly fortunate for him coming in my life and transforming me bit by bit, month by month and year by year into a better person and software professional.
I still remember the day when I wrote Jerry asking for his permission to publish one of his article in Tea-time with Testers’ earlier edition. It was February of 2011 when I wrote him for the first time. I shared our first issue with Jerry so that he could make a decision about his contribution.
To my surprise, Jerry admired the work we had done with our first edition and happily agreed to contribute his work. ‘Testing without Testing’ was his first article that we published.
Jerry liked our project for multiple reasons. He admired our will to make meaningful contribution to software testing community, the efforts we were taking by collaborating with many testing experts in the world and the value that he saw we were creating with this project. Moreover, Jerry liked that we mentioned our ‘team’ as our ‘family’ and when he said he would love to be part of it, my joy had no bounds.
And since then, Jerry Weinberg became part of Tea-time with Testers family. We felt like we got an angel to guide us in times to come. And Jerry proved every bit of that feeling to be true.
I have lost the count of how many times we communicated with other, over these seven years. But each time, I communicated with Jerry, my respect, admiration and love for him grew more and more. With each issue we published, Jerry gave us feedback and helped us become better and better. His feedback around my editorial that sited Kipling’s ‘If you can….’, is still fresh in my mind. He told me that had that poem hung on his wall for quite some years of his life. Don’t know why but I felt more connected with Jerry after that.
Our collaboration brought me very close to Jerry and I never had to think twice asking for his opinion and support in different initiatives we took over years. State of Testing survey has been one of such project where we closely worked with Jerry. The webinar we did with him and Fiona Charles after that is still fresh in my memories. To check if everything is fine before the webinar, I made Jerry a phone call and that was for the first time, I got to hear his voice. Firm, but it had warmth of its own kind. Darn, just felt like I heard him again. And I have goosebumps on my hand as I am writing this further.
Interesting part of my exchanges with Jerry has been that, once in a while, along with professional work that we were doing together, he shared about himself, his choices, his likes, anecdotes, his take on things happening around and of course his advice on variety of topics we discussed. It never felt like I had not met Jerry in person. There was different pleasure in getting to know him on personal level, bit by bit… as if I was reading story he was writing about himself and there were so many interesting chapters waiting to be shared. I kept wanting for more and Jerry never disappointed me there.
We used to talk about dogs sometimes, German Shepherds especially. The dog breed I suppose Jerry liked the most and me too. He once gave me pleasant surprise by adding picture of me and Victor in his Pinterest collection around GSDs. It’s wonderful collection. Don’t forget to checkout if you are GSD fan like both of us.
I think I can keep writing about Jerry that I got know for days to come. Through our personal collaboration and amazing books Jerry has written, he stays with me every now and then. Sometimes when I get stuck on some concept from his book, I feel like writing him an email and there he will be, explaining me things in a way I will never forget. I wish I could do that forever. This realisation is hard. Feels like I am waking up from some dream, for it never happened that I emailed Jerry and he did not reply.
Meeting Jerry in person was on my list of ‘things to do at-least once in a life’. We were planning to meet in person this year. Every time in past when Jerry wrote me that he was keeping unwell or he had doctor’s visit planned, my heart used to beat faster. And then he used to make me very happy again telling he was doing good and there was nothing to worry so much.
It was bit different this year. I had my flights booked to meet him June and Jerry suggested that I don’t make any reservations for he was unsure if he would be around by then. I did not know what say and even how to respond to that. I cancelled my flight tickets for I never disobeyed Jerry. Not sure why but with that particular exchange, Jerry left an everlasting impression on me. In Hinduism, we have this belief that great people can know of their time to leave the earth, well in advance. I think Jerry was one of such great persons.
His outlook and acceptance towards all phases of life made me feel awaken and enlightened. My that exchange with Jerry made a very positive spiritual impact on me.
I admit, I am yet to meet someone like Jerry who has been so brave and open about all possibilities of life, including the time to say good bye. I’m yet to meet someone so legendary yet so down to earth, someone who can explain mysteries of galaxy as simply and effortlessly as if it is nursery rhyme meant for kids, someone so generous and kind and someone who has transformed lives without even meeting people in person.
I wish I could meet you at least once in my life, Jerry. But not getting to meet you physically makes me firmly believe that you were an angel sent for many of us from heavens. You have touched me and transformed me in many ways and have made me realise my true potential. Moreover, your belief in my abilities and guidance you offered me over years, has made me feel so proud and special about myself. You taught me the power of compassion, you taught me how to stay unaffected by situations beyond our control, you taught me the importance of paying it forward. All through your life you have led us all by your example. I wish I could ask you what did you see in me that made you invest in me. But for whatever reasons you chose me, I will be grateful to you for that forever. And I will try my best to ‘pay it forward’.
Good bye and happy birthday once again, legend!