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November 29, 2023
The Day Ethan was Born

          We knew this could be difficult because it was a 60 mile drive to the hospital where Shelly would deliver her second baby.  In 1970 we were living on the Papago Indian Reservation in the southern Arizona desert.  Since the Indian hospital was for the exclusive use of the Indian population we were discouraged from using any of its scarce resources, so even though I had delivered dozens of babies at the Indian hospital we had to drive for 90 minutes to get to Tucson. My recollection is that Shelly’s water broke in the afternoon of Sunday, November 29, 1970.   My mother Rose was visiting from Florida to look after David, who was not quite two years old.  Shelly sat in the front seat while I drove on the nearly deserted desert road.  Her contraction intervals shortened to less than a minute as we approached Tucson. All the while I knew that in the unlikely event we did not make it in time, I could pull over to deliver the baby.  We brought rudimentary supplies like a clean sheet, sterile scissors, and clean towels.    Shelly was relaxed and confident because she had absolute trust in me.  All the while I was reviewing in my head what I would do if our second child was born before we made it to the hospital.

          The contractions were about a minute apart when we got to  Tucson.  Our OBGYN had been alerted, so he met us in the admitting department.   Shelly was whisked to a hospital room where she could be examined, a few minutes later the OBGYN came to talk to me, man to man, doctor to doctor.  He asked if I wanted Shelly to have twilight sleep sedation.  This would make the delivery painless, but she would lose all memory of the event.  Remember this was 1970.   It did not occur to me or the OBGYN to ask Shelly about this.  Without hesitation, I answered “Yes” since I didn’t want my beloved to be in pain.   Later when Shelly learned about this decision she was angry over not being consulted.  Again, remember this was 1970, so her reaction surprised me until I realized that I had stolen the precious, intimate experience of a natural childbirth.

 Ethan was born about half an hour after my misbegotten decision, on a warm clear sunny desert day. His Apgar score was a perfect ten.    I saw him for the first time through the glass of the nursery, swaddled in a blanket sleeping peacefully in his bassinet.  My heart swelled with pride.  We had another healthy son and Shelly came through like a trooper.  He had a future as big and bright as the desert sky.

This is a touching picture of tiny Ethan in the arms of his beautiful, serene young mother as she lay in bed recovering.  It is one of my all-time favorites because he is looking up at her with wonder and she is lovingly kissing his little forehead.  He had a world of support, love, and opportunity.

     I  must have driven back to the reservation sometime Sunday night.  Shelly came home on Tuesday.  My mother and little David were there to greet Shelly and Ethan with a welcome sign and flowers.  It was a perfect beginning, with a healthy pink infant and a strong stoic mother.  This was exactly what we expected at that time.  We had a storybook life where only good things happened.  Shelly forgave me and we walked down the path of the future with smiles and unbounded optimism, not willing to believe that the uncertain journey we call life could ever bring us harm.

November 4, 2022
This week, almost a full two years since Dear Shelly passed, I began a serious de-cluttering project.  Phase one is Shelly’s Paradise Room, her study with the blue leather LazyBoy, her computer, her files, a TV, loads of shelf space, and certainly not least, Jenny and Blinky.   The shelves were piled mainly with art supplies and examples of her artwork.  I knew that she wanted to improve at this amateur pastime that she enjoyed so much.  She had taken a few courses at Sac. City and once even drove by herself to Yosemite for three days of outdoor instruction in one of our favorite places.

                I discovered some things that, for me, are treasures.  About 10 years ago, she made a picture book based on “My Favorite Things” from “Sound of Music.”  This featured drawings of all the grandchildren.  It was something I thought was just for the family.  Today I  learned that she had submitted it to a few publishers.  This solicitation is either never shared with me or something I forgot.  Odds are it is the former.  I can see her analytical mind reasoning that an acceptance would be shared with joy and pride, whereas a rejection could be kept quite personal.  There were a couple of formal polite rejection letters in her files.  The little picture book is still on a shelf in her study.  I think she did have copies made for the kids.

                Three of her works are on display in the house.  Right now I am looking at a pencil drawing self-portrait that hangs by my desk.  A blue and white ink abstract is on another wall in the Cave, pretty sure this was done even before I met her.  Many years ago she focused on images of fountains.  One of these called “Study Break” is on the wall in the bathroom I use at least twice every day.  It is small, well-composed, and shows a lot of promise.

                Two other self-portraits are worth framing, so I’ll have this done.  They measure about 11 by 13 inches.  With some luck, these framed pieces, along with the aforementioned items will become family heirlooms.  One of the two discoveries has a red white and blue American Flag theme.  I call this the “Fourth of Shelly,” or perhaps "Red White & Shelly," the other is a swirling line drawing in black and white.

Shelly's bench is in a shaded area facing the front of Shields library.

July 30, 2021
Shelly lived in Davis for seven years before moving to Sacramento.  She loved being a student so it is appropriate that she have a bench on the UCD campus.  Julia and Natalie were among the first to grace Shelly's bench when they visited Sacramento in July, 2021.

Another of Shelly's good deeds.

May 11, 2021
Shelly had been gone for almost three months, but her good deeds live on.  Last Tuesday, 2-23-21, she was able to help a 39 year old father of two pretty little girls by giving him her power wheel chair.  This man recently suffered a spinal cord injury.  His wife drove four hours to pick up the chair.  
A lift was required to get the heavy chair into her pickup.  The good people at Big O Tires came to the rescue.  Now, in a way, Shelly has helped him take a step towards the challenging  goal of independence.  

Mother's Day Video - Our Wonder Woman

December 9, 2020
My mom amazed us all with the grace, strength and perseverance she showed throughout her recovery. She made it through those first difficult weeks filled with uncertainty in the ICU. Then in the rehab unit, she gave her all to the physical and mental exercises that helped her get well enough to leave the hospital. Back at home, she developed a self-care routine that she followed with precision, from lifting soup cans to keep up her strength to spending recline time in her chair to playing gin rummy (and almost always winning). For Mother’s Day 2020, I made this video chronicling her journey and how she made us all so very proud.

I Remember - From Dave Schermer

November 6, 2020
Dear Mom,

One of my earliest memories is the time you rescued me from an army of red ants when I got a little too curious as a toddler in the Arizona desert where we used to live. Just as you did that day, you’ve been there for me my entire life. I know it wasn’t always easy for you being the only female in our family of four. But you never shied away from keeping up with the boys and our family adventures, from snow skiing to jet skiing, even hiking to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite.

I remember how completely you embraced your role as Grandma Shelly once the grandkids started to arrive, beginning with Max and Julia, then Holden and Natalie. I remember how you wanted to spend every possible minute with them, playing, dancing, exploring and teaching. And how you would come equipped with a grandma bag full of the coolest toys and projects every time you visited. 

As the grandkids got older, I remember the letters you sent them once a week without fail for years. You shared updates about their lives, which helped cousins who lived an ocean away stay close and connected. And I remember the family history you meticulously researched and put together in a book that will be cherished for many years to come. 

I remember your love of the stock market and your skillful, steady approach to investing that paid dividends far beyond the monetary ones. You inherited the investing bug from your dad and passed it down through the generations. I remember you bonding with Ethan during long conversations about picking stocks. I remember the investing game you created for the grandkids when they were all together in Honolulu. It's now clear you planted seeds that have created at least one budding ace investor.

I remember the loving bond between you and dad and the tremendous example you set for building a marriage that endures the many trials of life. You are his best friend, his sounding board, his voice of reason, his north star. I remember you showing that love with the amazing State Fair-themed party you threw for his 70th birthday, complete with a petting zoo, carnival games, a car show and a tattoo parlor. And I remember celebrating your 50th anniversary on a dinner cruise as you and dad danced with the lights of Oahu glistening in the distance.

I remember how you persevered after your heart was broken by the unthinkable tragedy of Ethan’s death, a pain no parent should have to bear. Every day since, you’ve honored his memory with your commitment to being the Best Grandma Ever to his sons. I also remember the unconditional love and support you gave me when I was finally able to accept being gay. And I’m forever grateful for how you welcomed Felipe into the family. 

And of course I remember the bravery and grace you’ve shown us ever since your life turned upside down in 2019 on the day before your 76th birthday. Since you first regained consciousness in the ICU, you’ve given your all to your recovery and never once complained. You built up the strength to return to the home you loved and fought to keep going with all of your mind and spirit. But we’re learning the heartbreaking truth that the body can have its own plans beyond our control.

How can a son properly thank a mom like you for a lifetime of wonderful memories? There’s really no way to do it sufficiently, but I will try my best by living the values that you cherished… responsibility, integrity, a never-ending thirst for knowledge, a dedication to making the world a better place, and an unfailing commitment to family. Thank you mom for all of the memories, all of the gifts and all of the love. Your memory and your unique spark will live in my heart forever and for always.


I Love You Grandma - From 17 year old Julia Schermer

November 3, 2020
Dear Grandma,

I know these past few months and especially days have not been easy. But how you have handled them amazes me every day. You might be tired of people telling you how strong you are but it's true. Regardless of the circumstances, you make it known that you love us and that you're happy to be with us. You aren't negative or pessimistic, instead you are kind and thankful. That inspires me so much Grandma, and not many people could do what you do. It's just another one of the many things that make you an exceptional role model and leader.
Another thing that does is your wisdom and your desire to learn. I remember the countless times we would be talking to you on the phone and you would tell us about the book you were reading for fun or for book club or something interesting you learned in the news. You would also mention these things in your Grandma letters, which would include pictures with fun facts. This is another example of you passing on knowledge. I've also seen you master the stock market by continuing to learn its ins and outs and then investing accordingly. I really appreciated doing the stocks presentation in Hawaii and how much effort you put into it for us.
Another thing I learned from you was to try your best in everything and for those you care about. For example, you would always come with us on winter trips even though you didn't like to ski. I really appreciated how you just wanted to spend time with us playing games, having meals, or reading You too can Canoe. Sometimes you would have food waiting for us. You are so selfless Grandma and I hope to be like you. You also took Natalie and me to New York which has been one of my favorite trips of my life. You planned it so well for us and allowed us to reconnect with family as well. (That's another thing I admire and have learned from you - organizational skills.) We did so many fun things: the rooftop dinner, the college tours, the French cafe, Grand Central station, movie in the park, the tenement museum, and walking around the streets of NYC. I will never forget any of that and I thank you so much for going above and beyond for Natalie and me. You would also make the most beautiful Hanukkah menorahs and holiday cards, I have some displayed on the shelves of my room and around the house. You didn't have to put all that effort in but you did for us Grandma, and your love is something I will always radiate.
I've also seen you put up with the grandkid shenanigans and I hope to be like that as a grandma. Holden convinced you to go jet skiing which was so cool. I am still in awe that my own grandma did that, something that I know not a lot of grandmas would do. I also remember the time when Josh, Leah, Natalie, and I came up with the plan to have the waiters celebrate your birthday at the Mexican restaurant in Fillmore, even though it was not your birthday. You went along with it so well, sombrero and all. It is such a great memory and I think you had fun too. I also remember in Hawaii when you would come in the water down at Sans Souci beach and swim with us. You were always willing to go outside of your comfort zone a little bit to have fun with us and we are so thankful for that.
I hope that in this email you can see how much I love you, Grandma, and how many lessons you have taught me no matter how big or small. You really have left an impact on my life and who I am as a person, my identity. I see the value of knowledge, I always give 110% effort, and I always put loved ones first because of you. You have given me, Natalie, Max, Holden, Grandpa, and my dad so many gifts during your life that we continue to use today. I don't know what I did to deserve a strong, wise, compassionate, beautiful grandma like you, but I'm so grateful for all of the memories we have created together. I love you so much!
NOTE: See photo gallery for more pics Julia sent to Grandma. There are two of the special cards Grandma made, one of Natalie and Grandma in NYC and one of Max cavorting with Grandma.

Coolest Grandma Ever - From 16 year old Holden Schermer

November 3, 2020
Dear Grandma,

Although you may be leaving us soon, I hope you know I will forever cherish the memories we've made together. I am so happy that you were able to be part of my life. Even though I don't have many memories as a baby and toddler, my mom tells me you've always made a enormous effort to visit and spend time with us from the very beginning. Every year I would always look forward to the summer visits, largely thanks to you. You were always there to look out for our futures, making sure to plan and get us ahead.

One of my favorite memories is when the 4 grandchildren did the simulated stock market activity headed by you. While we were still young, you were always there to think about our futures. I am so grateful for all you've taught me about the stock market, and I've even started investing with real money myself. You taught me to do everything you can to plan and help those you love around you.

Another of my favorite memories with you, is when you went on the jet ski with me. I still think you are the coolest ever, being able to go on a jet ski as a grandma. Even though you weren't really sure it was a good idea, you put your fears behind yourself to please me. Even with the higher risk, you showed me your fearlessness and your willingness to go out of your comfort zone, cementing your place as the coolest grandma ever.

Baking your chocolate coronet cake was yet another of my favorite memories. I remember crowding in the small San Souci kitchen, with the 4 of us each helping you put together our favorite cake. Through making the cake you bonded us closer together. Max, Julia, Natalie, and I still bond over eating and preparing your delicious cake. I will never forget how you taught the four of us to always help those you love, be fearless and willing to step out of your comfort zone, and to make sure to foster relationships between those you love and yourself.

I will continue to use and share your teachings, thinking about you as I do so. One day, I look forward to telling my kids about how awesome and cool you were. I know you will forever be in my heart, continuing to guide and teach me along the journey of life. I will love and miss you so much.

Lufe Lufa,


Cousin Jon sent this to Shelly the day after she came home for the last time.

December 8, 2020
Fri, Oct 23, 7:32 AM

Dear Michael and Dave and Larry, 

My sadness runs deep.  My memories stretch back to the beginning, since Shelly was one of the first people I knew in the world, from before I can remember to my very earliest memories of the Bergs and their wonderful home in Evanston only a few blocks from where my parents lived.  One of those countless memories was the painting of Shelly as a girl that hung over the piano in their living room.  That painting fascinated me.  To a young boy, only royalty and presidents had paintings of themselves.  I'm sure that, to Hank and Dorsey, Shelly was like royalty.  And then there was the basement with its wet bar and a room with a ping-pong table where Shelly and I played ping-pong on occasion.  I remember that the walls of the room had been "decorated" by friends of Larry and Shelly's, I think on the occasion of a party.  Shelly was always so nice to me as a kid, and throughout my life she has been a touchstone of kindness and intelligence.  She knew more about the stock market than I could fathom, and her political insights were acute.  

As I told her on the phone a few minutes ago, my memories are many and associated with places.  I forgot to mention their wedding celebration at the Bergs' home.  Mike instantly became the tallest member of the family.  I was full of awe and admiration of him and thought, "good choice, Shelly!"  And then there was my visit to them in Ann Arbor when I had just been accepted to graduate school in anthropology.   And a couple of different visits in California.  On one of them Hank and Dorsey were also there, and Hank insisted on trying out the pogo stick that maybe he had brought for the boys and fell off and broke his wrist.  On another visit -- maybe ten years ago?? -- Shelly picked me up at the airport and we toured Sacramento, including a memorable visit to the railroad museum -- a revelation for me, since my interest in trains went back to the Lionel set I inherited from Larry when I was a kid.  I still have it!  That visit was also the occasion of going with Mike on an outing to the State Fair with a group of the blind.  That was amazing.

Then there was Shelly and Mike's visit to Costa Rica and to the family lodge at Bananito.  I'm not sure how comfortable Shelly was there, but she was a real trooper and in the end had a good time.  I remember her and my cousin Glenn Jenks (my mom's brother's son), who was there at the same time as part of a surprise birthday party for me, getting into arguments about stocks and the market.  That was entertaining for the rest of us!

On and on the memories roll.  Thank you, Shelly, for being such an important part of my life.  Thank you Mike, Dave, and Larry for being the wonderful husband, son, and brother to Shelly that you have been.  You all made her life a joy and blessing amidst the challenges.

Full of love,

Grandma Letter from 14 year old Natalie

November 13, 2020
Dear Grandma,

After so many years of Grandma Letters to your grandkids, now you’re getting Grandma Letters from your grandkids. Every week when Julia and I would come from our mom’s house to our dad’s, we always knew we could count on a Grandma Letter waiting in the mail for us. We would hop out of the car, haul all our stuff inside, and unpack. Right after we finished unpacking, my dad and I would invade Julia’s room where he would read us that week’s letter. I’d flop on to Julia’s bed and look at the four photos while my dad read and Julia listened from her desk chair. I always loved to get the update on Max and Holden and hear about Empty Nesters and what new book you were reading. After finishing the letter, I’d share the photos with Julia and my dad, I remember always being amazed by the beautiful pieces of art and nature. But I was even more impressed by how you could always find such breathtaking scenes after so many years of letters. Not only were the pictures themselves exciting, we always liked to see the wrong captions with the wrong photos. Sometimes the result had us totally laughing. Also, we still have most all of the Grandma Letters saved.

Grandma Letters weren’t the only exciting piece of mail we’d receive from you. Every year we’d get an elaborate piece of art celebrating either out birthdays or Hanukkah. It was always a treat to see what new creation you could come up with using your origami and art skills. We still have the most recent one out at our house. It’s shaped like a menorah and has drummers on the candles, as well as pictures of Max, Holden, Julia, and I. One of the pictures is of the cousins standing in front of a mural. On the mural, there’s this black and white, twisty line. Under the shamash, you wrote “Happy Hanukkah” and around the words, there’s a really cool 3-D looking black and white, twisty line. I never knew for sure but I always thought that you were continuing the mural on to the card.

Of course, some of my favorite memories were the amazing trips we got to go on with you. Hawaii was always a blast. I loved being able to stay in the same suite with you. We were so lucky to be able to view so many beautiful scenes from our lanai. We’d get to watch the sunset every night and blow bubbies that reflected the pinks and the oranges of the vibrant sky. Often enough we would see a rainbow over Diamond Head, almost every day there’d be wedding photos on the beach, and some nights, there’d be fireworks and we had the perfect view from the lanai. Even though the water was cold for you at Sans Suci, you’d still get in. I always loved being able to be in the water with you and I was impressed by how you went in despite the temperature.

From tropical to snow, we went many places together. Every year we’d go up to Tahoe and rent out a place to stay. Skiing was a big part of these trips but I was so happy when you continued to come year after year even though you didn’t ski. I loved spending time with you on those vacations. It was on one of these trips where we discovered the famous book You Too Can Canoe. We all got a huge kick out of this book. I remember us saying that we never doubted that we could canoe, which made the book so funny. I love having this inside joke, sometimes I’d forget about it for a while but when we’d all get together someone would bring it up and it would instantly bring a smile to my face. You especially were a fan of You Too Can Canoe, so one holiday, as a gift we got the book and we were all laughing when you opened the present. Occasionally we’d read excerpts from it and it was incredibly boring which made us all laugh.

I can’t leave out one of the other Tahoe trips we all went on. So it was late at night and my dad, grandpa, and Felipe all went out of the house where we were staying to finish bringing up our luggage, leaving you, me, and Julia in the house. About half an hour went by and naturally, we started to wonder what was taking them so long, so we decided to give it about fifteen more minutes to see if they’d return. Fifteen minutes went by and nothing changed, we started to worry. So the next step was to call them, we called my dad, no answer. Okay, so maybe he’s busy, let’s call grandpa, no answer. Let’s try Felipe, he might pick up, no answer. At this point we were getting more and more anxious so all three of us were calling at the same time, not one person answered. With no answer, we started to worry they’d gotten lost somehow or something bad had happened to them. Calling was getting us nowhere, we needed a new plan. We put our heads together and decided we needed to look for them, but with two young girls and an older woman, wandering the streets in an unfamiliar place wasn’t the safest thing for this group of people. We had become friendly with the neighbors across the street so we bundled up and asked for their help. As we were just leaving the neighbors' house, someone’s phone began to ring. Finally, after two hours our calls were returned. It turned out, they were okay, they had just had some car complications but didn’t think to call us. That was such a crazy night and I’m so grateful you were there to help Julia and me through it. You helped us remain calm and come up with a good plan to find our missing people.

There’s just one more trip that we went on together that I really want to talk about: New York. That trip is one of my favorite, possibly favorite trip I’ve ever been on. I have such incredible memories of the time you, me, and Julia spent there together. When I found out we were going to New York with Grandma I was shocked. What kind of grandma takes her granddaughters across the country for a girls’ trip? The best kind does! It’s not New York that made the trip amazing, it was the people with whom I got to share my experiences there. From our hotel room, we had a great view of Bryant Park, it was especially cool to see all the people walking through and the taxis driving by. I loved walking along High Line, it was peaceful and exciting, and the sights were dazzling. And going to the Tenement Museum was really interesting. I felt like I learned a lot there and I liked hearing about specific stories of the people who once lived there. One of the three main highlights of the trip was going to see My Fair Lady with you. The play was spectacular and I loved the music. I loved the music so much, I’m learning how to play some of the songs on the piano. Right now I’m learning “On the Street Where You Live,” I’m almost finished learning it, and I can play “I Could Have Danced All Night.” You taking us to see the play inspired me to learn to play some of the music.

The second highlight of that trip was got to the New York Public Library. I was in awe of the architecture, it was so grand, I couldn’t stop taking photos. It did not feel like a library at all. I remember walking around there with you and Julia, the three of us making comments here and there, I think we found a door marked with the name of someone you knew which was pretty cool to see. At the end of our self-guided tour, we went to the gift shop. We browsed for a bit and then found really unique, beautiful book necklaces. You bought us each one, I got turquoise, Julia purple, and you got a brown one with a tie around it. I loved that we all got matching necklaces because no matter how far apart we were we’d still be connected. I wear my necklace all the time and I love it. My third highlight of the trip was on one of our last days there. We got smoothies in Bryant Park and drank them at a table. The three of us just talked for a while I had such a nice time spending time and bonding with you. And then of course there’s the infamous flight home. It just kept getting delayed and delayed and delayed. Then finally we got on the plane! But as you know, the guy in front of us started smoking, so we had to turn back around. Then after a few more hours, we went back on the plane, and then we were off. Just like when my dad, grandpa, and Felipe disappeared, you helped us through it. If it weren’t for your help we wouldn’t have known what to do. You helped us stay calm through all the chaos.

There is so much more I could write about, Burrs, Bruno Mars, luaus, stocks, visits to Sacramento and so, so much more. But what I really want you to know is how grateful I am for all the wonderful experiences we had together. I have so many fabulous memories that I will always cherish. You mean so much to me and I am so lucky to have had the chance to make so many lovely memories with you. I love you so much!

        Love you forever, like you for always,


Sometimes a person doesn’t know the impact they leave on the hearts of others

December 3, 2020
Estelle sent this to Shelly on 10-26-20

Hey Shelly,

It’s Estelle. I’m sorry I didn’t write sooner. I meant to. I thought of you and Mike throughout 2020. When I think of you and mike, I think about a Great Love Story. For as long as you’ve been married, and the things you’ve weathered together, and hard work you must have both put into your Great Love Story. While standing next to Dr. Schermer at a work function, or scribing in the exam room for Dr. Schermer, I witnessed so many times when associates or patients would express their wonder at Dr. Schermer’s career. And so many times, Dr. Schermer would say “I couldn’t have done it without my wife, Shelly.”
Maybe sometimes a person doesn’t know the impact they leave on the hearts of others. Maybe they sometimes do. I want you to know the memory that always comes to mind when I think of you, Shelly.

The Cocoa Miracle

It was December 8, 2013, and Kyle and I were helping at the USABA booth at the CIM. It was early, like 7:00am, and the Schermers had been there since even earlier. It was the third coldest I’ve ever been in my life. It was about 35 degrees. (I’ve checked google to make sure my memory is right.) I had dressed warmly, in warm pants, and two shirts, and a warm jacket, and gloves, but it was still so biting cold that I could not stop shivering and my toes burned like an icy fire. I kind of wanted to leave, but Shelly and Mike were like bundled-up cheerleaders and I pep-talked myself that if they could do it, I could.

Waiting for the runners to come in was a long time. I heard rumor of a café down the street which hadn’t yet sold out of all their stock, and I took Kyle with me. Mainly for the warmth of the walk, and the hope of getting some warm drink. We got 4 cups of cocoa, for Kyle and I and Mike and Shelly. When we got back, we gave them their cocoas. It wasn’t long before Shelly and/or mike gave their cocoas away to others. Then Shelly went for a walk. She came back with 4 large cups of cocoa (all she could carry herself in a paper tray), right before the runners started coming in.

And here is the miracle.

She started dividing cocoa into empty cups. There were drinks brought by the Schermers to the booth, you know, bottles of water, soda, Gatorade, juices. My recall is the booth didn’t have an electrical hook-up, so the booth couldn’t provide warm drinks that year. The runners would come in, red with exertion and adrenaline. So, Shelly started dividing these 4 cups of cocoa, and every time I though she must surely be out, she’d pick up one of the original cups of cocoa, pour some out in a cup, and hand it off to a runner. And it was to a point that I was a little worried she was to dash someone’s hot cocoa hopes because she was offering hot cocoa long past the point of what four cups of cocoa should last, but Shelly knew exactly when to finally put the cups away when the cocoa did run out. Probably a dozen runners over a 30 minute period, huddled together to share comraderies and excitement and cheer, all holding, cupped in both hands so as to gain every bit of warmth, their cups of hot cocoa.

And Shelly, I can’t seem to get the exact words I mean about why exactly that memory is what I think of every time I hear your name. It’s something about the strength of your character just in that small moment, believing that you had enough, and not only that but more than enough to share with everyone around you. And you provided me with a good example to follow. You did that act, and probably never thought of it again, and maybe you won’t even remember it now. Sometimes a person doesn’t know the impact they leave on the hearts of others.

My love to all Schermers, my thought are with you.
Estelle  10-23-20

Addendum: Estelle and Kyle moved to Portland where they became man and wife. Two packets of cocoa were included with this lovely letter.


November 12, 2020

Nineteen Sixty nine was a cold winter in Ann Arbor so Shelly had to dress her one year old for the inclement weather. David was born in the winter of 68. Until he went off to college we called him David, not Dave. David started walking during the winter of 69.That required tiny boots to protect his little feet from the snow and ice and a padded snowsuit that made him look like the Pillsbury dough boy in baby blue. Little mittens were attached to the sleeves of the snowsuit by short elastic bands with aluminum clips on each end. This ensemble was topped off by a  knit cap and a fur lined hood.    All that showed was his little face.

Shelly had to dress him like this each time she went out of our third floor walkup at 1001 Island Drive. We had requested the top floor to eliminate any noise from upstairs neighbors. She would walk him to the back of the apartment building where the cold car was waiting. There were no car seats in those days just a plastic cradle that could be anchored to the back seat with a new device called a seatbelt. Seatbelts were seen only in airplanes until about 1968 when the Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Act took effect.

Finally Shelly and David were off for an outing; generally to the grocery store. Imagine having to deal with a load of groceries, a bundled up one year old and a third story walkup. The closest place to unload the car was in the street by the front door of the apartment building. After parking she walked David up to the third floor where she removed his little boots in the hallway then took him inside to be unbundled and placed in his playpen. Next it was a race down the two flights of stairs and out to the illegally parked car to grab two armloads of groceries. In those days it was extremely rare to find a grocery bag with handles. Plastic grocery bags were nonexistent. She had to trudge back up the two flights clutching the bags. Once in the warmth of the apartment she put down the groceries, checked on little David then raced down again for another load, another trip up the steps and another check on little David. When the car was finally empty she could drive it from the front of the apartment building to the parking area in the rear then face the cold walk to the back door. By this time she had worked up a sweat even in the winter cold. Shelly would climb up the stairs one last time, remove her boots, check on David one more time and finally remove her winter clothing. All that remained was putting away the groceries and preparing dinner.

This was far from a chore, it was a labor of love for young mother Shelly. For my part I was busy being an intern. At the end the long day I would walk about a mile down the hill from the University Hospital to 1001 Island Drive then climb the two flights of stairs. It was on one of those cold winter days when I reached the apartment door that I realized how David had changed my life. At the top of the stairs I saw his little boots lined up next to Shelly’s. They were ever so small and fragile just sitting there in a little puddle of melted snow. Like a warm wave, it struck me how lucky I was to have a healthy son and a strong beautiful wife. I put my wet footwear in a line next to theirs then I opened the apartment door beaming with a huge smile.

Her 66th birthday was spent in Honolulu.

October 30, 2020
Three minute slide show shown at Shelly's party in Honolulu.
     In 2010 the immediate family gathered for a week at a beautiful home in Honolulu.   The highlight of the time was Shelly's birthday.  The kids decorated the house and put on a skit.  Michael had prepared a show of 66 slides that we watched in the media room.
     The house was rented from a man named Ron so for us this week is known as "Ron's house."

Sans Souci - Shelly's Hawaiian Home Away from Home

October 30, 2020
The family loved Sans Souci. This 4 minute video is from 2012.

     After Ethan died in 2009 Shelly made connecting with his two little boys a priority.  There were frequent visits to Honolulu, then in 2012 she rented an ocean front apartment at Sans Souci beach in Honolulu.   For 7 consecutive years the month of August was spent in this magical place where all four grandchildren gathered, the water was bathtub warm and every night, from the Lanai,  the sun provided a dazzling show.

Letter from Max to Grandma Shelly

December 2, 2020
Seventeen year old Max sent this beautiful note of love and encouragement to Grandma Shelly in August 2019 just before he departed for Honolulu after visiting Sacramento. Along with his brother and mom, Max had crossed the ocean to visit Grandma Shelly in the hospital.
August, 2019
Hi Grandma,
      I asked grandpa to read you this, I just want to talk to you heart to heart. First I wanted to let you know how happy I am that I got to visit you, even if it was only for a short time. Sacramento is a wonderful city and now I understand why you love it so much. However, YOU are the main thing that makes Sacramento such a great place to be and everyone is rooting for you to get better.
     I will never fully understand what you are going through, but I know every day seems like a struggle, if not impossible. Despite this, every time you feel like giving up, or that there is no point in trying, I want you to remember that Julia, Natalie, Holden, David, Grandpa, Sabrina and I love you with all our hearts and want nothing more in the world for you to get better and to get back to the letter writing, stock expert, loving Grandma that you are. I know you may think that it isn’t possible to get back to where you were before all of this happened, but I know you’re a fighter. The same fighter who is a wonderful lawyer, investor, mother, and grandma! 
      You are NOT a burden. All these years you raised Uncle Dave and my Dad into wonderful people, you kept  Grandpa on a straight path, and you loved Julia, Natalie, Holden, and me unconditionally since we were born. Now, let us return the favor and help you. Every bite you take from your food, every word you speak, every “suffocation session” (respiratory therapy)  you get through, every physical therapy exercise you complete, and every day you keep on being the grandma you are right at this moment is a monumental victory for all of us. And 2,500 miles away in Hawaii, I will always be cheering for you. So the next time it all seems like too much and you close your eyes to rest, picture me holding your hand or kissing your cheek, and remember how fiercely I believe in and love you. 
    Lufe lufa AND LOOF LOOFA (from my emails) 
          - Max 
P.S. I’ll be looking for you at graduation! 

Letter to Michael

December 3, 2020
Dear Michael,

   I’ve seen you more in the recent 4 years (2 or 3 times) than in the prior 50.

In Ann Arbor you were The Dude-respected, appreciated and liked by so many, funny, happy, and crazy.  Never  grumpy or withdrawn like me.  Helping everyone with everything, and doing so with humor and enthusiasm.  I never met your Rochelle, as when you married our version of “The Hou” had gone diaspora, and my calling had become that of a Med student a year before you.  I knew and heard that you had married a beautiful girl who complimented you well.

   For many years I visited my brother in Stockton at least annually for skiing and family occasions, not knowing that you had become a respected ophthalmologist just up the street.

    Our reacquaintance occurred when Peter told me he was skiing with you.

   The times I have spent with you-not looking directly at a solar eclipse, downtown Detroit for fireworks, tuning up your antique Rolls Royce-are joyous memories, and I have photos proving I didn’t make them up.

   Sadly your dear wife had to get off the bus a couple stops before me and you. This is an opportunity for me to virtually hug you one more time, thank you for accepting an antisocial introvert like me as a lifelong compadre, and bringing laughter and joy to a very unpredictable, often frightening venture that makes horror movies a walk in the park by comparison.  L’Hyam.

          Bob (pledge tool)

Michael's blog starting June 28, 2019 the day her life turned upside down

December 2, 2020
Link to Michael's detailed blog
     The blog is a detailed  narrative of about 40 pages.  A sample is below.  For the entire blog please use the link.


“She’s super super super super sick.” That is what Ally the young PA told me at 5:30 PM today. Shelly was rushed to the OR at UCD when they found a ruptured aorta at about 3:00 PM. A few minutes after that she was on the heart lung machine. Ally, who had been assisting Dr. Victor Rodriguez in surgery, told me the surgery would last till 10 or 11:00 PM, that’s seven or eight hours. Dr. Rodriguez has plenty of residents to help him, so Ally scrubbed out to talk to me. She said the damaged aorta had been removed. Now a patch was being sewn in place. Ally feels Rodriguez is the very best person for aorta surgery.

Here is how it went down. I got a call from the police at 2:00 PM. Shelly had been in an auto accident and was taken to the ER at UCD. The accident happened at about 1:00 PM. She lost control of the car. Starting from a large parking area it traveled at idle speed over the curb and across Folsom Blvd from south to north. When it hit a tree at Talini’s Nursery, on the other side of Folsom Blvd, it stopped. Shelly was slumped behind the wheel. She said her chest hurt. Next stop was the UCD ER.

I arrived at the ER at 1:07 PM. Officer Pangulinan whom I had met at Talinis, met me at the ER. He said she was in “Recess 2” but had been moved to get a CT scan. Naturally I had to wait a bit until Melissa a social worker came out to tell me she was intubated and taken to the OR. The intubation was ominous. A bit of good news was that the CT of the head was normal. About an hour later Melissa came back to walk me to the OR waiting area where I waited another hour until Ally took me to a private room to give me a compassionate update.

According to Ally, Shelly could talk when she hit the ER. Trauma patients are given a GCS score, kind of like an Apgar score for newborns, perfect is 15, she was 14, but then the bottom dropped out. Her blood pressure plummeted, she had trouble breathing and the score dropped to 3. Fortunately they were able to give her blood, fluids and meds to keep her blood pressure up, but she need the respirator. At this point there was still no diagnosis. She was scanned from head to hips. Scanning revealed the damaged bleeding aorta. According to Ally, she was rushed to the OR in a matter of 10 minutes. 

To Read More click link above.

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