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Wednesday, May 06, 2020


by Gil Hoy

Source: Dignity Memorial

An old dear friend of mine passed on April 16.
I, like many others, will sorely miss him.

“We have it totally under control. It’s one person
coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

My friend, Berton, was a 90 year-old gentleman
who lived in a nursing home in Beverly, Massachusetts.
Last month, he succumbed to complications from the coronavirus.

Bert enjoyed reading poetry to the workers at his nursing home.
They looked forward to it. He also played music for them
and was generous in expressing his gratitude for the comfort
and care they provided him.

"We think we have it very well under control. We have
very little problem in this country—five—and those people
are all recuperating successfully."

As a boy, Bert spent much of his time helping family fishermen
haul in their catch from the local pier. He always loved the sea.

"Now, the virus, a lot of people think that goes away in April
with the heat. Typically, that will go away in April.
We’re in great shape. We have 12 cases—11 cases,
and many of them are in good shape now.”

Bert was a soldier in the Korean War. He later served
his community as a social worker, professor, counselor
and political activist.

“So we’re at the low level. And we could be at just one
or two people over the next short period of time.”

Bert loved everyone. Everyone he encountered
knew that he did.

“And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15
within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero,
that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

My old friend raged against poverty and injustice. He worked
throughout his life to create more affordable housing.

“It’s going to disappear. One day—it’s like a miracle—
it will disappear.”

Bert attended the 1963 March on Washington. He later taught
at Tufts School of Medicine and the University of Massachusetts.
His students admired him greatly.

“No, I’m not concerned at all. No, we’ve done a great job with it.”

My dear friend was a lover of poetry throughout his life. His two
favorite verses were: "My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow
in the sky," and "My love is like a red, red rose."

Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and semi-retired trial lawyer who studied poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. His poetry has appeared, or will be appearing, most recently in Tipton Poetry Journal, Chiron Review, TheNewVerse.News, Right Hand Pointing, MisfitMagazine, Mobius: Journal of Social Change, Ariel Chart and elsewhere.