Editor's note: Many readers have been moved by the story of Jason Serbesku, who has cancer and has been quietly tending the memorial to slain Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick. Jason got a speeding ticket and a long talk from Patrick last December, and after hearing about his death Serbesku, of West. St. Paul, has spent hours each day at the memorial, lighting and re-lighting candles, cleaning out aging flowers and keeping the site tidy. Our Paul Klauda has this update:
Jason is now providing light to others.
When I met him last week, he was tending to candles at the memorial site where Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick was killed. I went back Thursday evening, mostly to convey the magnitude of reaction to a post I did after that visit.
Hundreds of thousands of people saw his story after a picture was posted on the Star Tribune Facebook page. Thousands of "likes" and more than 180 comments were left, all of them lauding Jason's simple act of tending to the memorial.
It was Patrick who had spent 30 minutes talking with Jason last December after giving him a speeding ticket. Jason said he had just left the hospital after learning some bad news related to his cancer.
As the days have taken their toll on the memorial's flowers and candles, Jason's daily visits have turned him into a gardener -- weeding out dead flowers, caring for new ones, seeing to small flags rimming the boulevard site. He leaves the candles, or what's left of them, to evening visitors to light in the darkness.
The light provided by Jason comes when one woman stops by and, after asking "Are you Jason?" tells him he's "the guardian angel" of the community. It comes when one of officer Patrick's family members walks up, shakes his hand and spends several minutes talking like neighbors.
And it comes when this woman introduces herself and her son, who also has a brain tumor. They trade details, hopes and tears for several minutes.
"You are an inspiration," she tells Jason over and over.
Jason looks at her son, a big teenager who works at a fast-food outlet, smiles and calls him the inspiration.
"It's not about me," Jason told me more than once since last week.
"I just want to build community," he said, "with whatever time I have left."