March 26, 1943 – December 29, 2012
across the room
the same smile
the crows outlast
The following obituary appeared in the Seattle Times on January 20, 2013. See also another short obituary with rememberances from friends on the website for Mensa of Western Washington. Remembrances from Haiku Northest members and friends also appear below.
When I die
I want my bones to smell like
and shine like the moon.
In fact, I want that now.
Jay died on her beloved house boat, departing as she had wished—on her own terms and cradled in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved her. Heartfelt thanks to Drs. Kristine Rinn, Jed Gorden, and Terry Law and to Seattle’s Providence Hospice. Everlasting gratitude to Gretchen de Roche of Compassion and Choices of Washington.
Jay was an inspired and remarkable psychotherapist, an extraordinary mother, a writer, a thinker, a poet, a Pea Patch gardener, an interrupted musician, and an ardent lover of life, beauty, and the creative experience. She was a rare and exotic flower—beautiful, ferociously bright, passionate, private, sensitive, and deeply spiritual.
Although hardship and loss dogged the last third of her almost seventy years, Jay gave no quarter, steely in her determination to live life with hope, wonder, and mastery.
even the scraps
beautiful in the bowl
Jay was predeceased by her beloved son Connor and is survived by her bereft and loving family, mother, Helen Baker Gelzer, sisters Barbara Perry Gelzer, Helen G. Kupka, Katherine G. Murphy, and dear friend, Jean Star Wald Dinaburg.
here we go,
slipping into the last pool of
The following are comments from Jay’s friends:
My Friend Jay, by Amelia Fielden
Jay and I last saw each other in September 2012, for the Haiku Pacific Rim conference at Asilomar, California, where we walked by the shore, shared mealtimes, had quiet drinks in her room after the evening seminars. My dear friend was still in shock, deeply mourning the untimely death in the previous month of her son, Connor.
At Asilomar I wrote this tanka, fully intending the double-entendre with her name.
a blue jay flies low, lands
I affirm that is
my most loved colour
Our friendship was bookended by haiku: we had found each other first at the Haiku Society of America’s quarterly meeting in Portland, Oregon, in late June 2007.
Five years of friendship ensued. During the periods I was visiting my family in Seattle, Jay and I enjoyed numerous outings together to bookstores, movies, restaurants, parks, and gardens. Many of those happy occasions are recorded in my tanka notebooks, and a number of the tanka inspired by my experiences with Jay have been published in journals and books.
Finally, we went as appreciative participants to the Haiku Pacific Rim gathering in California.
Travelling back from Monterey to San Francisco on the 9th of September after HPR, Jay and I sat next to each other on the minibus. My lips were badly sunburned; I still have the tube of lip-balm that Jay took from her handbag and gave to me. On arrival outside my hotel in Japantown, we hugged and said not “goodbye” but “see you next year.”
That was not to be.
From an evening we shared at the Japanese garden in Seattle in 2011, this tanka I wrote remains as one of my “Jay memories.”
the willow’s trunk leans out
over the pond
propped by a stout pole—
my love has slipped away
Remembering Jay, by Peggy Heinrich
I first met Jay at a meeting of Haiku Northwest in 2009. There she was, across the table from me in a Japanese restaurant. After we exchanged a few comments, I felt a strong connection to her that seemed to be mutual. We met again in 2012 at the Haiku Pacific Rim conference at the Asilomar Conference Center in California. Again we felt the same sense of compatibility and had a chance to have several long conversations during which I learned of her home on a houseboat in Seattle. I told her that I often visit Seattle to see my daughter and her family, and promised to visit her and her houseboat the next time. The next time never came.
I was terribly saddened to learn of Jay’s death not long after. It seemed the world had lost a beautiful person—sensitive, insightful, and warm.