Goodbyes You Hoped Wouldn’t Come So Soon

It’s been a while since I stopped by. Life, and responsibilities, have shifted to such an extent that writing slid to a spot on the never-ending back burner. I still had time to read and stay somewhat caught up on The Long Decline and other unhappiness, here and abroad, but the bandwidth needed to keep all the plates spinning just wasn’t there. And not just sometimes.

A quick recap:

  • My mother’s dementia journey continued it’s relentless advancement to the point she needed to be moved to an Assisted Living/Memory Care facility. While the staff there is caring and competent, I still felt like the General Manager. Dementia is a horrible disease. Especially for the family who has to watch it all happen.
  • My husband’s health adventure continues it’s twists and turns. Again, more watching.
  • Too many funerals of friends, parents of friends, and beloved teachers.
  • The financial pressures of retirement.
  • Figuring out Medicare enrollment. I told one friend it was like playing a video game filled with alligators.
  • Low energy/lack of motivation. A result of recovering from an accident that should have basically killed me, while all this other mess was spinning round and round.

And then, last Friday, Gerard Van der Leun passed away. It didn’t hit like my father’s death, but boy, it was close. I was an avid reader and sometimes commenter. Like so many others, his writing struck me to the very core, and stayed embedded, like memories of a favorite uncle. And over the last week, his site has been flooded with tributes, that in themselves, bring even more tears than Gerard’s many thoughtful pieces. He was loved by many.

Over the next few weeks/months/years, I’ll link some of my favorite Gerard stories and my thoughts. But today, I’ll include this one about John Lennon. Go read it, I’ll wait.

I had to read it several times. Especially the part of how he’d been working with John and That Woman just a few days before his (John’s) death. I’d heard that story before. Somewhere. But it was spoken, not written. It took a bit before it came back to me. But my husband verified my memory of the day.

It was late March, 1986. We were on our honeymoon to California. The first few days were in San Francisco, then we rented a car and headed to Napa Valley. Just over the bridge, in Sausalito, was a small inn with a restaurant that’d been recommended by a well-traveled friend. We pulled into the Alta Mira, and were quickly seated on the terrace with the killer view of the SF skyline. Just like my friend said. For a bit, we were alone. Just as our food arrived, another table was seated, with a middle-aged man and a young couple, probably early twenties. It wasn’t long before we stopped talking and began listening to the story this man was telling. It was fascinating – how he was working with John and Yoko just days before he was killed in NYC. And all that happened afterward. When we finished up, and headed out, he was still talking.

Looking back, I don’t remember their faces in detail. But I remember his distinctly. Nice looking, good hair, Wayfarers, and a red dress shirt. Eerily, years later, it’s very similar to the first picture he’d ever put on the masthead of AD, but years younger. And I didn’t put them together until years later when I was looking for the pieces to this little puzzle. So even though I’d never met him, I’ve been in the same space with him. He made a lasting impression even then.

America has lost a treasure, indeed.

Namárië, Gerard.

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