TODAY is Jed’s birthday and he would have turned 51 years old. Sadly, he passed on to eternal life last Oct. 29, so unexpectedly caused by a massive heart attack. It was devastating for me and Julius to lose our second son because in the normal course of life, parents are not supposed to bury a son but the other way around.
Our happy memories of Jed will somehow ease the pain and there are many which make us smile. I remember a conversation with the school directress of St. Benedict’s Learning Centre, Lygia Ibañez, when Jed was around Grade 4. I was in school to pick him up when I met Miss Lygia in the corridor and she told me: “You have a very intelligent son. He can out-talk everybody in class about varied topics—cars, planets, animals—anything!” I was elated, smiled proudly and said, “He reads the ‘Popular Science’ and ‘Popular Mechanics’ magazines of his Dad.” And then she continued, “He knows just about everything a boy his age is into except his lessons!” I was dumbfounded but then, that was Jed. He pursued everything that interested him with a passion. I suppose he found the Grade 4 lessons boring.
In high school, he started tinkering with cars and engines and would spend all his free time in his favorite car shop. That was where he learned the basics of engine tuning. And this passion for fast cars, engines and the like lasted all through his life.
Fast forward to college: Jed wasn’t set on any course, so he agreed to our suggestion for him to take up Pre-Med. It was not his cup of tea and he soon dropped out. Then he said he wanted to try Architecture so he enrolled in the University of San Carlos. I could see that it was not really his line and he lost interest so I told him, “Jed, all I ask of you is to finish a four year course—any course.”
One day he came to me and said, “Mom, I want to enroll at the Cebu Institute of Technology for a Commerce degree.” I was annoyed. Of all the schools in the city, he had to choose the farthest one from our house. He then explained that CIT would credit most of the units he had earned in the other schools.
And what do you know? It was in CIT where he developed his full potential. He won in a school debate and was chosen best debater. This triggered his interest in the law profession. Jul and I were happy but a bit skeptical when he said he wanted to be a lawyer knowing his school record. And when he said, “I want to take up Law in Manila,” the more I had my doubts.
To test his determination I said, “Do what you have to do—apply where you want, take the test etc.—and I’ll just pay.” And to my surprise, he did everything on his own and was accepted in San Beda. The happy-go-lucky boy had matured, took his studies seriously, and passed the Bar exams on his first try.
Just like during his boyhood days, as a lawyer, Jed could out-talk anyone on any topic. He always had the last say. All in the spirit of fun! Family and friends knew better than to debate with him. He was also funny.
As a Dad, Jed was devoted like no other. He was hands-on, very loving and understanding. He was actually both Dad and Mom to Isa after his wife passed on when Isa was six years old.
Jed was known as Atty. Tuner in the motorsports circle. He excelled in tuning engines and enhancing their performance. He was a sought-after race car engineer who led his team to triumphant victories during drag and go-cart races. Car collectors from all over the country called on him to check/restore/fix/rev up their car engines.
Jed was happiest tinkering with cars. Though he was a partner in his Dad’s law office (J Neri & Associates), his priority was always with cars and engines. And we let be. We didn’t stand in the way of what he loved doing, of what made him feel fulfilled. Now that he has gone to another world, we have the satisfaction of knowing that we let him live the way he wanted to, and that he was happy and contented during his short life on earth.
We miss Jed especially today, his birthday. Our hearts ache in grief, but we console ourselves with the thought that God knows best. He has His reasons and though our hearts are breaking, we bow to His will. “Thy will be done.”