August 17, 1956 – September 6, 2020
[From the original blog entry of September 9, 2020]
I lost my wonderful, beautiful wife Cheryl very suddenly on September 6th, 2020. To say I am devastated is an understatement. We spent almost every moment of every day together for the last 22 years and never tired of each other. She was my soulmate, my friend, my lover, my mentor, my light.
Cheryl was also the most driven business person I’ve ever known. There are many excellent realtors and business owners in this world, but no one, I mean no one could diffuse a difficult situation like she could. Her calm, soothing demeanor during the most difficult real estate transactions were what set her apart from the crowd. And she was always willing to lend a hand, counseling and assisting other realtors with questions or problems.
I remember one particularly difficult escrow (I believe it was a short sale), wherein the bank kept stating they “never received the paperwork” – even after we had faxed it to them on five previous occasions. One afternoon I overheard Cheryl speaking to someone from the bank over the phone, telling them that yes, we would fax the short sale application to the bank for the 6th time – and I lost it. F-bombs and expletives aplenty left this man’s lips. But Cheryl had patience like no other (and of course, that sale DID eventually close).
I finally figured out that when said to me, “Hon, I don’t know if this deal is going to hold together,” what it really meant was “Hon, this one is hard, but I’m going to close this damn thing if I have to spend 100 hours making it work.” She absolutely loved the challenge. And while I never will be able to fill her shoes in the business realm – hell, I couldn’t even fill one of her socks – she certainly inspired me to work harder.
Many people may not be aware that Cheryl was an incredible gardener and an excellent chef. Over this last year her green thumb became proficient at producing not only her fantastic heirloom tomatoes, but also cucumbers, peas, squash, pole beans, watermelons (though rabbits or squirrels got to almost all of them), corn, sunflowers, and probably five or ten other things I’ve missed. And that’s not even including the peach, plum, apricot, fig, orange, tangerine, and apple trees. She canned so much of the harvest this last year that I could probably eat for a year without having to go to the grocery store.
On the chef side of things, she was always looking for new and exciting recipes and she absolutely loved to cook. Some of my favorites were her apple/cinnamon brie, homemade spaghetti, green tomato soup (from green tomatoes, not unripe tomatoes), homemade pickles (from our garden), canned applesauce and peaches (from our orchard), Asian chicken salad, grilled rosemary lemon chicken, and “Cheryl’s Awesome Salad” – a moniker I gave it, because she would throw a bunch of different things together into a salad and it was always awesome. Oh, and her homemade vanilla ice cream was the bomb.
While she was a wiz at real estate, gardening and cooking – the most important thing about her and I was that we loved each other beyond words and still had so much passion for each other. That spark NEVER died. We spent 22 years together, pretty much 24/7, then would sporadically complain to each other, “I wish we could get away on a vacation so we could spend some time alone.” I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the next day, let alone the next few months, year, or whenever. But let me say – the outpouring of support from friends, family, and the realtor community in Ojai has been phenomenal. If ever there ever was a shining reason to have faith in humanity, this is it. I have been moved to tears many times by the generosity of people. And I realize that generosity towards me and the wonderful words spoken by so many are a true testament to Cheryl – a testament that indicates just how much people cared for and respected her. It certainly gives me hope that I will come out the other side of this a better person. Knowing and loving Cheryl has certainly made me a better man. I hope that I can make her proud for the rest of my days.
♥♥ Cheryl, I love you my baby doll ♥♥
I woke up Monday morning after Cheryl’s passing feeling such an immense void. The house was oddly quiet, and I needed to occupy my mind … so, as Cheryl would do, I started cooking. I can’t cook in a quiet kitchen, so I asked Google Home to play a specific station …. Which it didn’t. So I asked to play another …. Which it didn’t. Now, this is a daily fight between me and this smarter-than-me device. I always give in just ask the damn thing to play SOMETHING …. Which it will, though it won’t be remotely close to what I originally requested. As I stood at the cutting board that morning, Google picked a station for me and the first song that came on was Bobby McFarren signing Don’t Worry, Be Happy. I just looked to the sky and smiled, listening to every cheerful note as if for the first time, though I’ve heard it hundreds. It seemed that every tune that played in that kitchen that morning was an affirmation that Cheryl was looking over her community, assuring us, as she did in life, that everything was going to be okay.
I met Cheryl almost 15 years ago. A relationship that began in the business and blossomed into a deep friendship. Though we didn’t correspond every day, she was a part of daily life. We shared a lot of common ground. We both preferred dogs over children (sorry Eliana, I’ll explain when you’re older), we loved to entertain and cook, and we worked. We worked hard and long hours. We worked until the job was done and then polished it off with a cocktail. Cheryl’s business hours were practically 24/7. It wouldn’t be abnormal to get an email from her at 5 am on any given weekday or while she was on vacation. She was tireless.
When we started working together when I was still a very green Loan Officer, and man was she patient. She was also a total pain in the ass, but she trusted me and she believed in me. See, once you were in with Cheryl Deckert, you we IN. You were family. You were welcomed into her home and her heart. She always found time for you, whether you needed advice, a shoulder to cry on or just someone to listen to you rant. She was the definition of dependable. She was your cheerleader and had your back, no matter what. She was truly the most loyal person I’ve ever met and will probably ever know.
She was a teacher and never stopped learning. She was quick to commend, but never to criticize. She was an entertainer, a therapist, a problem solver, a perfectionist. She had very high standards and was unapologetic about it. She was eloquent, refined and classic, but also gracefully snarky and full of sarcasm.
She was a killer trivia player too. We always knew that if Ray and Cheryl were on our team that night, we actually stood a chance at getting on the scoreboard.
Cheryl was so smart. She could have held any career in this lifetime, but she found the perfect fit in real estate. She was a master negotiator, I often joked that she had to have been a hostage negotiator in a past life. We could have a deal that was dead beyond dead, but you give Cheryl an hour and she’d have both buyer and seller holding hands singing Kumbaya AND a $5k credit for closing costs. She was strong, determined and steadfast. She refused to give up and she would not fail. Do you know that woman once sat on hold for me for two hours? TWO HOURS. We had to change our hold settings at the office just for Cheryl. Did I mention she was patient?
Cheryl was a rock. Nothing could shake her. Calm, cool and collected ALWAYS. Like Ray said, I’d be dropping f bombs and the vein in my forehead pulsing, but Cheryl? Her soothing voice was like water to a fire. Within minutes, she could bring reason and purpose to any chaos or injustice.
And Ray. Ray completed Cheryl. The “and” in Ray and Cheryl was just a middle name, the two were inseparable. I can’t recall what transaction it was now, but there was a “gentleman” on the other end of the deal that was so rude to Cheryl, and though we all know Cheryl could hold her own, Ray immediately jumped into the car and drove to the gentleman’s office, confronted him, and defended his lady’s honor. I remember how proud she was to call that man her husband, in that moment and always. He was her hunka hunka burnin’ love, her partner in crime, her superhero. They shared a love parallel to none.
I hope that we all can take just a little of Cheryl’s tenacity and grace with us through life. I know I will carry Cheryl in my heart, and hopefully in my wit, for the rest of my days. Be at rest, my friend.
(Read by Emily Wilson at Cheryl’s service.)
My dearest Ray,
I wanted to wait a bit for the dust to settle if you will. Once a little time has passed and all the company and visitors have subsided a bit, your mind and soul will fill with so many happy memories…and sadness. If there were any words that could ease your pain, I would gladly speak a million to you. You and Cheryl have ALWAYS been two of my favorite people in the world. The generosity, caring and comfort that you give to everyone is nothing short of miraculous and was always given without thought, just a normal reaction for the two of you. The two of you were/are truly special in every way. I thought of you both so often when I left escrow and am so sorry that I did not keep in better touch.
I am thankful, I did connect with Cheryl on her birthday. I always thought that we would see each other soon…I have learned to not count on that any more and to reach out when I think of someone that I care about. Just like Cheryl would. I remember when my dad was sick. She would text me regularly, checking on me. And though I was too emotional to respond, just seeing her words were so comforting and warmed my heart.
You are so very fortunate to have had that someone special in your life that completes you. So many people will never know how that feels. But I am thankful to have seen it with the two of you, because everyone should know that true love does exist.
Words cannot express how shocked and saddened we are by the untimely and sudden passing of Cheryl. The two of you were an awesome and successful team, both in private and in business, which we enjoyed and appreciated very much. Cheryl was a remarkable woman, her professionalism and warm heart will be missed.
~ L . & R. K.
I didn’t know Cheryl all that well, but I found her almost exponentially comforting, particularly around the family’s most difficult times and certainly while navigating and bearing the brunt of the burden that befell us during our home purchase in D.C. She was incredibly loyal and determinal to help us, in spite of all the entailed, and I’ll never forget that. She did it with such grace and graciousness that it was easy to overlook the tireless, relentless, good old-fashioned hard work she put in on our behalf. I suppose that’s what it means to be truly generous. I wish I could tell her how much I admired her for it. I hope her spirit will help infuse my own parenting and that her legacy will be borne out in grand-nieces and nephews who are guided by that sense of selflessness.
~ M.W. (family member)
As our anniversary date approaches this week, we again immediately thought of you and Cheryl. Every year we think about you both on November 4th, and thought it was so special that you both shared the same anniversary day as us. We think of Cheryl often since we heard the news a few weeks ago. Ojai is a wonderful place for us and we will always think back on how we found our house, the support for all the decisions we had to make, the process of settling in, the length of time this took, and the commitment from you both to stick with us(!) – which allowed us to develop a fondness for you both. So again, we express our sympathy with Cheryl’s passing, but we also smile as we think of the warmth and kindness that she always extended to us and for creating a memorable place for us with our second home.
~ B. & G.
I am so, so sorry. There aren’t words to express the depth of loss. Cheryl was such a vibrant, bright light and she will be deeply missed by so many. I always admired her patience, positivity and witty personality. What a beautiful life she had, and I am grateful to have known her. I’m sending you a big hug; we are all here for you, Ray.
~ T. P.
I am praying hard for you – for peace and comfort, for whatever you need right now. Cheryl was one of the most vibrant people I’ve ever met. She will be so very missed.
~ R. G.
We are just heartbroken after reading your post on Best Buys. My goodness – we are so very sorry for your loss. We think the world of you both and we loved all of our time spent with you and Cheryl. I can’t believe this. She was beautiful and smart and fun and will be greatly missed. Please don’t hesitate to call if you need anything.
~ H. & J. B.
Cheryl had so much goodness that if we could see its glow, it would light the world. I will miss her so.