|Gerun Moore with Chloe and a nurse on his 100th birthday.|
A case in point is Gerun Moore, a resident in a nursing home we visited for several years in Youngtown, Arizona. The second oldest resident of the home (the oldest still lives at 107), Gerun was soon one of Chloe’s biggest fans on our visits there. He became our first stop, sitting outside the nursing station, always happy to see her but happy to see me as well. He asked me about myself, about what I did, how long I’d had Chloe, and would tell me about dogs he had owned. On March 12 we attended his 100th birthday (it was actually March 13, but that being a Saturday they moved it up a day so more people could attend).
Gerun lived life to the full, and there were children and grandchildren, and more distant generations at his birthday party. He had grown up in New Orleans, where his father was a musician and played with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke. Gerun followed in his father’s footsteps and was once a member of the Louis Prima Orchestra, living in many places in the United States during the seven decades of his career. He told me about playing at a party the night World War II ended. Gerun was part of history and I wish I'd heard more.
Gerun was not the sort of musician who let the jazz clubs turn him into a smoker or a drinker. He wrote a book, Numbers Will Tell, and found a second career in lecturing around the country on the strange findings of numerology. I once expressed doubt that I would live as long as he had. “You’ll get there,” he said, “just stop worrying.” There was wisdom in his gaze, but no guile. He looked into Chloe’s eyes with the same innocence and simplicity that she looked into his. He calmed her. He calmed me. Somehow we were always a little different after we talked to him, which is why we always began our visits by going to him.
Gerun died on April 11, 29 days past his 100th birthday. I wonder what he would have made of that number - one hundred years, 29 days. Perhaps I’d have to calculate the number of days from March 13, 1910 to April 11, 2010. If men become angels, Gerun is surely among them, tapping time and spinning riddles on the plains of heaven. “Such a good girl. Such a good girl,” with the rasp of an old crooner. Some believe that dogs have a sixth sense. Perhaps Chloe hears him still.