No matter how you look at him, Mercer's far from old. But the children in the theater classes liked to call him "lo yan gar"--"Mr. old man" in Cantonese.
For eight months Mercer worked at Clarion as my assistant. He was more like an octopus than an old man. He could multi-task: take care of technical stuff like streaming and theater lighting, design posters, promote events, solve my computer problems, listen to my complaints and solve problems with me. What's more, he is a tall guy, and could reach for most things that otherwise required a ladder.
Mercer grew to love the children in the theater program. He enjoyed the process of teaching them how to say their scripted lines and playing with them like an (much) older brother. The Follies also came to depend on Mercer to play their music during Friday rehearsals, roll up the carpet and carry anything that's heavy and bulky.
But our good luck ran out. Mercer had to go back to his home in China. We said a fond farewell during the Community Potluck. The children asked when Mercer will be back. I said I don't know. I'm glad to have known and worked with him. He made Clarion a better place the short time he was here, and he's a friend for life. That's what mattered to me.