Gini Dietrich

#FollowFriday: Gerald Hemphill

By: Gini Dietrich | October 19, 2012 | 
93

At about 3:30 this morning, my dear friend Gerald Hemphill passed away peacefully in his sleep.

The father of four girls, including my goddaughter, and husband to one of my very best lifetime friends – Misty Hemphill – he was diagnosed with colon cancer more than two years ago.

Stubborn as all get out and not willing to go down without a fight, he did everything in his power to win, even when the cancer spread to his liver and then the rest of his body.

In the last few months, he had tumors on his spine, which caused him an inordinate amount of pain and he lived his last days on the maximum amount of morphine.

About a year ago, he texted me and said, “This is not going to beat me. I want you to climb Pike’s Peak with me when I beat this.” And I promised him I would.

We never got to do that.

Last February, he also made me promise I would be an extraordinary (surrogate) aunt to the girls after he was gone. He was making plans for Michele (my goddaughter) to go to college. She’s a freshman at Wayne State College. He was making plans for his other girls to have clear directions of their lives so they could manage without him.

And he made me swear on my life I would be there to make sure they did what he expected them to do.

The last time I got to have a real conversation with him was on May 17 when they found new tumors in his right lung and colon. At that time, they were deciding on a new type of chemo and other drugs, but he knew the end was imminent.

The update from Misty on his CarePages this morning reads:

No more fighting, no more pain, my beautiful Gerald, the love of my life, the father to my many reasons to keep going, passed away this morning in his sleep. He was pronounced dead at 3:27 on October 19, 2012.

He was diagnosed on July 9, 2010. He would have been 43 years old next month.

I’m going to miss you, buddy! I’ll climb Pike’s Peak with you someday. I promise.

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About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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93 Comments on "#FollowFriday: Gerald Hemphill"

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KenMueller
3 years 7 months ago

Man, this is so sad. I’m so sorry, Gini.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@KenMueller Thanks. Last Thursday hospice said he had only a few hours and he hung on for more than a week. I was expecting it, but it’s still shocking.

DaveThackeray
3 years 7 months ago

What a beautiful guy. What a troubling story. Beautifully written. I don’t generally tear up but this had me.
 
Thinking of you all.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@DaveThackeray Thanks, Dave. Think Misty’ll let me write his obituary?

DaveThackeray
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich no question. I don’t know a better, more passionate writer right now. You’re the natural choice. Will be hard, though: I hate to draw twee comparisons at times like this but I imagine it’s a little like being handy with a camera and being told to do the photography at a friend’s wedding.
 
If it feels right you should definitely do it.

allenmireles
3 years 7 months ago

Oh, @ginidietrich I am so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a wonderful man. This is a beautiful tribute and I know you will be a comfort to your friend and to their daughters.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@allenmireles Thanks, love. I didn’t expect to be so sad. More for Misty and the girls than anything.

TedWeismann
3 years 7 months ago

Gini, what a beautiful tribute to what sounds like a terrific person and wonderful family man. Life is not fair. My prayers are with Misty and the girls.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@TedWeismann Life isn’t fair. She kept asking me, “Why is God doing this?” I don’t know, honey. I don’t know.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

Wow. Michael O’Connor Clarke at 48 (esophageal cancer) and now your friend at age 43. So tragic to see lives taken so very young. I’m so sorry for his family, children and of course, for you. 🙁

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay It’s awful, isn’t it? I was so sad to hear about Michael, too.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich Yes, it was very fast and very sad. He had a young family also. 🙁

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
3 years 7 months ago

I’m sorry for your loss, Gini. He was lucky to have you as a friend.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@jennwhinnem Thanks Jenn! xoxo

jeanniecw
3 years 7 months ago

I’m sorry to hear this for you and all he left behind. Hugs to all.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@jeanniecw Thank you.

JenFongSpeaks
3 years 7 months ago

I’m so sorry Gini. Thank you for sharing this moving tribute about the love of this remarkable man who clearly put his family first. It’s so important to have examples of people like this that teach us all what a good parent looks like. Sending a prayer for his family and friends today.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@JenFongSpeaks Thanks, Jen. He was a stubborn old coot who wanted to make sure he still had some control after he was gone. 🙂

jasonkonopinski
3 years 7 months ago

Damn you for making me cry already, G. 
 
I’m not the praying sort, but I’ll definitely be thinking of Misty and the girls.  
 
Who’s cutting onions in here? Sheesh.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@jasonkonopinski Stupid onions. I hate them!

lauraclick
3 years 7 months ago

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your friend. I’m so sorry for your loss. Cancer sucks!
 
But, what a thoughtful and wonderful tribute. He sounds like a great man that will be sorely missed.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@lauraclick Thanks, Laura! I’ll be headed to Omaha as soon as arrangements are made.

PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
3 years 7 months ago

@lauraclick cancer does suck

BethMosher
BethMosher
3 years 7 months ago

I’m so sorry. For everyone who has ever lost someone to cancer, this story and the heartbreak that comes with it are all too familiar. My thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@BethMosher Thank you, Beth.

http://joshuawilner.com/
3 years 7 months ago

I am very sorry for your loss. Forty-three is so very young. Please let his family know lots of people send their best wishes.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@http://joshuawilner.com/ It’s way too young, isn’t it?

PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
3 years 7 months ago

This made me cry – what a beautiful tribute to your friend and his family.  My he rest i peace forever.

PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
3 years 7 months ago

This made me cry – what a beautiful tribute to your friend and his family.  May he rest i peace forever.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@PattiRoseKnight Thanks, work wife!

debdobson62
debdobson62
3 years 7 months ago

Gini, I’m so very sorry for the loss.  I f’ing hate cancer.  The disease has taken way too many people and way too early in their lives.  A beautiful tribute to what seems to be a really good guy.  May he rest in peace.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@debdobson62 Thanks Deb. Even though I was expecting it, I didn’t expect to be so sad.

rachaelseda
3 years 7 months ago

I’m teary eyed just reading this but inspired at the same time. Praying for all of you.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@rachaelseda Thanks Rach!

megan_g
megan_g
3 years 7 months ago

I’m so sorry.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@megan_g Thank you so much, Megan!

LarryEngel
LarryEngel
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich <<< Gini, so sorry for your loss. That’s a great way to celebrate his life.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@LarryEngel Thank you, Larry!

LisaMarieMary
3 years 7 months ago

I’m so sorry, Gini. What a wonderful friend you are to them.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@LisaMarieMary Thank you! xoxo

kateupdates
3 years 7 months ago

This FF brought tears to my eyes and perspective to my heart. Your comment of, “Just do it” rings even more truth now. I’m so sorry, Gini. I am praying for Michelle and her family.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@kateupdates 🙂 Just do it!

SocialMediaDDS
3 years 7 months ago

I’m so very sorry for the loss of your dear friend Gini….it sounds as though you were all grateful for each other in your lives….

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@SocialMediaDDS Thanks, Claud. He was in so much pain. I’m glad he’s no longer suffering.

AnneReuss
AnneReuss
3 years 7 months ago

Doggone it, you got me to cry too. I’ll be thinking of the family and this is such a lovely tribune! Rest in peace Gerald – you picked a wonderful (surrogate) aunt.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@AnneReuss Oh I’m sorry! Stop back in 20 minutes for Gin and Topics. It’ll make you laugh!

barrettrossie
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich  @AnneReuss All this laughing and crying gives me a headache. So sorry for your loss Gini. You are a good friend.

mritterca
mritterca
3 years 7 months ago

I am so sorry for your loss. A lovely tribute to a person who clearly made the world a better place.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@mritterca Thank you so much!

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio
3 years 7 months ago

So sorry for your loss. What a beautiful post and tribute to him. I had tears in my eyes too! And I second what @AnneReuss says, he picked a wonderful surrogate aunt 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@yvettepistorio  Thanks brown noser. Oh wait! That’s Lindsay Bell-Wheeler . Never mind!
 
Thank you.

John_Trader1
John_Trader1
3 years 7 months ago
Gini, this has always helped me in times of bereavement. Hope it does for you too:   Don’t Cry for me Don’t cry for me now I have died, for I’m still here I’m by your side, My body’s gone but my soul’s is here, please don’t shed another tear, I am still here I’m all around, only my body lies in the ground. I am the snowflake that kisses your nose, I am the frost, that nips your toes. I am the sun bringing you light, I am the star, shining so bright. I am the rain, refreshing the… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@John_Trader1 I feel like singing Don’t Cry for Me Argentina now.
 
Thanks, John. I’m headed to Omaha for the funeral (which means no Atlanta).

KatherineBull
KatherineBull
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich I’m so sorry, Gini. Beautiful tribute.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@KatherineBull Thanks, love. Your head better today?

KatherineBull
KatherineBull
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich You’re welcome. Yes, thank you, noggin is better. I have to wonder if change in weather here is making them more frequent….

barrettrossie
3 years 7 months ago
I second @yvettepistorio . He was only 43, that’s far too young to be taken from his family and friends.    Colon cancer. I don’t know the best practice for women, but all you men, please, please, please talk to your doctor about a cancer screening as you approach 50. There are new technologies on the horizon that will make colon cancer screenings far less invasive and expensive. But even if you must endure a traditional colonoscopy, while it may be no fun, it’s not that big a deal. Do it for the people who love you.   My cousin of mine… Read more »
barrettrossie
3 years 7 months ago
I second @yvettepistorio. He was only 43, that’s far too young to be taken from his family and friends.    Colon cancer. I don’t know the best practice for women, but all you men, please, please, please talk to your doctor about a cancer screening as you approach 50. There are new technologies on the horizon that will make colon cancer screenings far less invasive and expensive. But even if you must endure a traditional colonoscopy, while it may be no fun, it’s not that big a deal. Do it for the people who love you.   My cousin had… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@barrettrossie  I would even say before 50. He was 40 when he was diagnosed and it was too late.

barrettrossie
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich I hope that as these new less expensive, less invasive (or even noninvasive) technologies replace the traditional colonoscopy, earlier screening becomes a reality.

KristaThomas
KristaThomas
3 years 7 months ago

Such a moving tribute; I am speechless. Thank you.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@KristaThomas Thanks Krista.

magriebler
magriebler
3 years 7 months ago

Oh Gini. My heart breaks for all of you.
 
The world always seems smaller, diminished, when a light like Gerald’s goes out.
 
Go climb Pike’s Peak in his name. Maybe someday his daughters can join you. And please, please, please, talk to them about their dad. So often when people die we stop talking about them. They’re not gone. They live on in those who loved them, as @John_Trader1’s lovely verse so movingly says. Share his funny stories, his advice, his struggles. Keep his voice alive for his girls.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@magriebler  I want to be sure I’m there when everyone else goes back to their lives. Like two months from now, six months from now, nine months from now.

Carmelo
3 years 7 months ago

Ugh, Gini. Hard to deal with. Threw my right back to the days when my best friend died of cancer at age 33. Had young boys too. They grew up fine, married, good jobs and a loving, caring mom. Things work out but right now I’m way back to those 12 months of … well. Wow, memories.
 
He had a great friend in you, Gini. Thank you.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Carmelo I don’t know why some people die so young. It really makes me wonder about this big world we live in.

Carmelo
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich Yeah, I know, Gini. This kind of thing is all around us. Some seem to have a handle on it and some seem to struggle with it. I’ve come to the realization that there are two “sides” or “selves.”  The visible self of the physical endures changes and experiences of extreme highs and extreme lows.
 
The invisible self of the inner you understands and realizes the necessity of those highs and lows and that they contribute to “the whole.” 
 
Sometimes that’s of little comfort to us mortals! 😉

patmrhoads
patmrhoads
3 years 7 months ago

Wow. Right now I am fighting back tears (if I wasn’t sitting in a crowded Starbucks, I’d probably just let ’em go). Stories like this hit me so much harder now than they used to. Please, please, please pass on my condolences and best wishes to Misty and their children. And @ginidietrich, my condolences to you as well. A great friend really is a family member by love instead of blood, and I’m sure you’re feeling this loss in a profound way.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@patmrhoads I think your story is even worse because it was sudden. I know it’s not easy when you’re expecting it, but at least it’s not a shock.

patmrhoads
patmrhoads
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich
 I don’t know. I honestly don’t. Yes, the suddeness was awful. But I somtimes think it was a blessing I never had to watch her suffer through a terminal illness. Aimee’s father died of cancer exactly a year prior, and I know how hard it was on the family to see him in pain, especially in those last couple of months. Bottom line, losing a loved one too early is never, ever easy.

BobWarren
BobWarren
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich Have a Rock & Roll Friday, and a Super Weekend!

bradmarley
3 years 7 months ago

So sorry to hear this, Gini. That’s too early to die. Please accept my condolences.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@bradmarley Thank you, Brad.

AlinaKelly
AlinaKelly
3 years 7 months ago

I’m so very sorry that you had to lose such a wonderful person so soon. My sympathies are with you and his family.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@AlinaKelly Thank you so much, Alina!

patrickreyes
patrickreyes
3 years 7 months ago

ginidietrich This is a fantastic tribute to a good friend.  I know too well the effects cancer can have on a family and I’ll be saying a prayer for the Hemphills.  Although Gerald is gone, the memories will always remain.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@patrickreyes Thanks, PR!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@barrettrossie Thank you!

Lori
3 years 7 months ago

Aw that’s sad Gini! Sorry for your loss!
Lori

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Lori Thanks, Lori. I’m sure this hits pretty close to home for you. xoxo

Lori
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich Too much of this is close to home these days. My brother-in-law is going through this right now. It doesn’t look good for him but he’s been fighting it for a year now and we’ve been bracing ourselves. 🙁
Strange thing; he was diagnosed a year ago so for an entire year my daughter flew home at any occasion where the whole family would be here, not knowing which time would be the last. Because of this she had many opportunities to see her brother in the past year.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Lori Doesn’t life have a funny way of doing that?

jonbuscall
jonbuscall
3 years 7 months ago

I was sorry to read this, but what a beautiful, gentle reminder to us all to seize the day and hold our loved ones close. 
 
Big hugs

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@jonbuscall Thanks Jon! Congratulations to Dora!

annelizhannan
3 years 7 months ago

I am sorry to hear of your loss.  You have reached out to us in a tribute to your friend that has allowed us to share in your grief, a grief that is known by many. May you find some solace by the support of this community that collectively extends their arms around you with their words. Our hearts are heavy but our arms are long and linked in a warm grasp.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@annelizhannan Thank you so much! Even though it wasn’t a shock, it’s still hard, you know?

RebeccaTodd
3 years 7 months ago

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Gerald.  One of the good guys that this world could use more of.  My heart goes our to Misty and his family.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@RebeccaTodd Thanks Beck! I was just with them and they’re remarkably calm.

qstreet
qstreet
3 years 7 months ago

I am blown away by the grace and courage shown by people battling cancer and knowing that their families will be left to live on – thank you for sharing this with us – my heart is touched and I wish you and their family love and strength

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@qstreet They were telling some very funny stories about him yesterday. Two weeks ago, the new Dallas Cowboys hat came out and he INSISTED on going to get it, even if he had to drive himself. He was such a stubborn old fart.

MightyCaseyMedia
3 years 7 months ago

I’m so sorry to hear this, Gini. Please give my deepest sympathies to Misty, and everyone else who loved Gerald.
 
This is yet another reason why we – “we” in this instance being all humans – need to press hard for more research into effective cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. In the US alone, cancer treatment runs up a $124.5B bill. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to put those $$ into building health rather than managing illness? Just thinking out loud, as usual …

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@MightyCaseyMedia I WOULD be much better to put that into building health. It makes me crazy you’re told to take preventive measures at age 50, but not before. He was 39 when he was diagnosed. If colonoscopies were mandatory at every annual exam, starting in college, they would have caught it early and he’d still be alive. But I know I’m preaching to the choir.

MightyCaseyMedia
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich Colonscopies are pretty … uh … invasive, and I doubt you could get dudes to go for an annual exam if that was part of the dance. However, there are other options. As an uber-geek of health science stuff, I’m wildly excited about the “chip in a pill” tech that the FDA approved in April. THAT will deliver some new options, you betcha.

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