Gerry MacPherson put his ‘heart and soul’ into the garden but could never add lights
Grade 4 and 5 students at Brooksbank Elementary wrote letters to officials asking them to help Gerry get his lights up. (Laurie Reichert)
Gerry MacPherson's one wish for Christmas has come true thanks to some tenacious North Vancouver school children.
MacPherson, 98, is the creator and caretaker of Gerry's Garden in North Vancouver, which sits adjacent to Brooksbank Elementary school. He started the modest project as a way to cope with the loss of his son Jeff, who died of cancer in 2007.
Over the years, the garden has grown and evolved, but
MacPherson has never been able to add his long-desired holiday lights
due to a lack of an accessible electrical outlet.
"He's had it in
his head forever [to put holiday lights in his garden]," says Don
Gagans, an in-law of MacPherson's who often helps out in the garden.
Gerry MacPherson and his wife Molly lost their son to cancer in 2007; that's when Gerry started work on the garden. (Jason D'Souza/CBC)
"He took it upon himself to round up a bunch of the extension
cords, and at one point he was tapping into an outlet up on the playing
field and running [the] cords across a parking lot in order to power the
first small string of lights that they put up."
process proved to be too complicated as MacPherson had to plug in the
lights every evening and return first thing in the morning in order to
unplug the lights and reel in the cords.
"It would much easier if there was access to a different power source," Gagans said.
school is much closer than the field houses and that's when the
discussion came to: could we find some way of accessing power out of the
school," said Gagans.
School kids to the rescue
In order to use power from the school, Gerry required approval from the City of North Vancouver, BC Hydro and the school itself.
to complicated jurisdiction issues, any possible solution wouldn't be
likely until after the holidays. That all changed thanks to some
dedicated school children.
The letters sent to officials urged them to help Gerry find a solution before Christmas. (Laurie Reichert)
"He's humble and modest about all of what he's done and he's
just this fixture here in the community and the children love to say hi
to him," says Laurie Reichert, a teacher at Brooksbank Elementary.
children in her split grade 4-5 class have become friends with
MacPherson this year after they helped out in the garden. When they
heard about his wish for Christmas lights, they decided to help out.
"We're studying government and so we know that letters can
influence government," Reichert said. "We thought we'd take on the
challenge and it worked."
The children wrote letters to BC Hydro
and to the City of North Vancouver asking them to make the gardener's
Christmas wish come true.
"If you can make it possible to light up
the tree we'll need an outdoor outlet very soon," said one letter
from 10-year-old Sam Roy.
"Christmas is coming and we want to surprise him."
It worked.Gerry and Molly MacPherson visited the class to thank the children for their hard work. (Laurie Reichert)
'Gerry is just elated'
Earlier this month, an
electrician stopped by the school to install an outlet outside the
classroom and light up MacPherson's garden.
According to his wife Molly, he couldn't be happier with how it turned out.
"Gerry is just elated by all this. He's put his heart and soul
[into the garden] since our son died. That's where it all began and it's
gone on ever since."
For Gerry MacPherson, it's a Christmas gift come true. "The kids have been working away at it. It's a great feeling."
Read the original article and listen to the radio segment at CBC.ca: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/98-year-old-gardener-given-the-gift-of-light-thanks-1.4956705/.