Jackie Herman

Jackie Herman is a retired hair dresser from Brooklyn, New York. I met Jackie in Mackenzie bridge, Oregon, where he was spending time with his daughter, Kelly, after losing his wife of 59 years. 

We talked about his first date with Sheila, the business they ran together, and his journey of learning how to live without her.

Fair warning, if the f-word bothers you, it might be better to move on to the next story, but if you can manage it, Jackie has some wisdom to share.

“You wanna have spaghetti? Go ahead. It’s cool. I’m gonna have the fish. I just want everyone to get along. Come to my house for dinner. I wanna show you how I live. And then I’m gonna go to your house. You know, get along, man.”  

“I’m a peacemaker. I try and make everything fair, like I would like it because people are people. We’re all human beings. You know what I mean? You love me. I love you. It’s cool, man. Honey is better than vinegar, you know? Like I always say, encouragement, not discouragement.

I was so in love with Sheila. I was married at 19. We had our differences. I was out there always, but she just leveled me. Kept me pretty much grounded.

Our first date. I was a football player and it was during football season. So I figured since I was a football hero, I’ll take her to a football game. People would recognize me. And then we wound up after that, going to get Chinese. Back in those days, you could get a good combination. Fried rice, egg chowmein, dessert, for $1.95. I was a hitter. 

I just wanted anything to keep this girl. It was great. I knew this was it. I knew we were connecting. And from then on it was history, man. We were in love. I was with my wife until she died. I got more in love with her because of my devotion for her, her wanting to get better.

We were a good team. We were an amazing team. People really envied us for working together, bringing children up. We were so young. We had three beautiful daughters.

I look at the pictures of when she was ill. My wife wanted to live and I look back and for some reason I think it’s sort of healing me to see what pain she was in. I mean, she’s not here now and it’s killing me, but I saw how she was suffering. She was a beautiful creature, but she was starting to change so much. Physically, mentally. It was taking her down, you know? And I look at that and say to myself, ‘Well, maybe God was right. She didn’t want to be in that body no more.’ 

It’s good to talk about it, man. You gotta talk about it.

59 years. 

You know, grief’s not gonna go away, you just gotta learn how to handle it. No one has the tools for that, unless you are trained. 

My therapist helps me. He’s cool guy. And my children. This is my mission is to take care of them. My mission was to take care of Sheila, she would want me to make sure everything’s taken care of and that’s what I’m doing. So my mission is for the kids and that’s why I want to be here. 

I also wanna start living a little too on my own, you know? It’s still confusing, you know? It’s been a short time. I think I’d like to meet somebody just to hang out with. A female partner just to hang out with. I had a great experience with my woman and it’s not gonna fill Sheila being here, but it’s just gonna help me through my journey of grief. 

But along with grief, I have a lot of guilt. You know, was I good enough? Did I take care of her good enough? Why did it happen? 

I’m understanding it more and more That I had to let go. She didn’t want to be here.”

______

“Go for your dream. Don’t let anybody throw a curve ball at you, go for your dream. You can do it, but no one’s gonna come to you. You gotta knock on a lot of doors and go for the dream. You got to move. No one’s knocking on your door. Just go for it. It’s hard to give birth, man. Nine months. So if the dream takes longer, go for it. Do it in segments, but go for it. 

Live and let live. You want to have bacon and eggs in the morning. I’m good with that. I’m still gonna have my French toast. I mean, it’s that’s simple. K-I-S-S. It’s easier to have honey than vinegar. Have compassion. Be a good listener. Get out of the box. 

Like I said, man, you wanna have spaghetti? Go ahead. It’s cool. I’m gonna have the fish. I just want everyone to get along. Come to my house for dinner. I wanna show you how I live. And then I’m gonna go to your house. You know, get along, man.”     

Jackie Herman interview

Discussion questions:

-Do you consider yourself a peacemaker?

-Have you lost your life partner? Or someone close to you?

-How have you navigated grief?

-How do you find hope in the midst of loss?

-Have you experienced guilt interwoven with grief?

-Jackie says, “Honey is better than vinegar.” Have you experienced that in your own life?

-Jackie says, “Encouragement, not discouragement.” When have you seen that work well?

12 thoughts on “Jackie Herman

  1. your a legend Jackie! Ever since I walked into your shop when I was 15- you were such a constant- you and Sheila-
    Love you brother- stay cool!!

  2. I used to shine shoes in your barber shop 50 years ago in New City, across from Burger King. You heartwarming to hear your story.

  3. Hey Cousin Jackie. I hope that you are well. Your interview was so right to the point and beautiful. I am so happy that you were able to share 59 years of your life with your soulmate. It’s so surreal to know that you will see her again someday. God bless you and your family.
    Cuzin Michael

  4. Jackie your are amazing.. so glad I got to meet you and Sheila.. you both meant so much to me …working with you both was definitely a beautiful milestone in my career… I wish you love happiness and peace❤️

  5. Such a beautiful interview❤️❤️❤️. Both you and Sheila always made my mom feel so special when she would come in to your shop. Even when she could barely walk anymore you always made her experience fabulous.

  6. That was beautiful, Jackie, I love you and and Sheila was sitting beside you throughout that interview. You are a special man, and I am so privileged not only to have worked with you both but remained in your lives for more than 38 years. For Stacey, Sabrina and Kelly this is a treasure piece, to add to all the collections of memories of love for your parents and who your father is.Jackie you are and always will be the coolest!! I ♥️You so much !!

  7. Grateful for your interview if my dad, good ole Brooklyn boy. . You captured his truth, his grit and pure honey heart. Solid lived experience wisdom captured. Yup honey is better than vinegar.
    Thanks John.
    Sabrina

  8. Met Jackie at my son’s in McKenzie Bridge. What a wonderful man. Pure positive. Hope to spend some more time with him.
    Great interview.

  9. Guilt interwoven with grief: my relationship with my mom. Finally feel like I’ve made peace with it and am thankful for that before she dies. I hope others are able to fine that peace before 50 or 60, if ever.

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