November 06, 2014

Death, Take a Holiday

The Grim Reaper has been prowling around lately, and I'm getting a little tired of it.

A month ago, Robert M. Palter, more familiarly known as Buck, passed away. He was the father of my former partner Alex, and I've gotten to know him pretty well over the past 15 years through dinners, family events, and cultural outings. He was quite independent despite his 90 years, continuing to drive, visit museums, concerts, and art exhibits. He's left quite the project for his family to figure out what to do with a houseful of books (10,000+ volumes, reportedly), as well as a museum's worth of art (masks, marionettes, folk art, prints).  

A week ago, I learned of the passing of another old friend, Gilman (Gil) Dube, Sr.   I hung out with Gil back in the mid 90's, when I was frequenting Open Mics in Bristol, CT at the Common Ground (a divey bar on Rte. 6) and the Chunky Tomato (a small pizza shop on the site of what is now 457 Mason Jar . Gil seemed ancient in the 90's - an authentic folk voice.

I lost contact with the Open Mic crew over the years, although I ran into Gil a few times at the Friday night open mic at LaSalle Market & Deli in Collinsville. I knew he had moved to a convalescent home, and the lovely LaSalle Open Mic crew would go visit and bring the party to Gil - so very sweet of them.

Also last week, I learned of the death of a transwoman, Diane S. Frank. I've never met her, do not even know what she look like, but we've been hanging out on a message board, Helen Boyd's MHB Boards site for about a decade. She was active in the local Cleveland trans community. As someone who had not transitioned, and had worked to keep her male and female identities separate, there's not an obituary for "her" (there's one for "him" but I have no idea what "his" name was, although reportedly she was quite successful in her male life). Hopefully there will be some memorial or remembrance locally and perhaps online. I've let go of way too many trans friends without any real "goodbye"

Diane was a piece of work; and I'd be dishonest to say that we did not cross swords over the years over many things (my ex Alex used to say I was "Diane Franking" when I got deep in the weeds of theory or dispassionate analysis of something) - but we also shared a lot of similar ideas and philosophy with regard to trans suicide, visibility, outness. I shall miss her.

And finally, and most sad, is the loss of my friend and the mother of my teacher, Rita Ruzansky, last weekend. Rita lost her husband Marvin a few years back, and since then has been a fixture around West Hartford Yoga - often visiting the studio (where she would sit in the lobby and engage anyone who would stop to chat) and even when she was not there, present in many hearts and minds. Although she struggled with Alzheimer's disease, she remained present until her death - funny, kind, curious, proud of her daughter's work and community. I was fortunate to spend several meals / evenings with her and my teacher, over the past few months.

She was well loved and cared for by her daughters, her extended family, her caregivers, and her little dog, Sadie. It has been so humbling and bittersweet to watch this inevitable process unfold - as aging, decline, and death is faced with courage, with humility, with honesty, and with grace.

But yeah, death. Enough, already. Take the rest of the year off, in terms of my friends and family, please!

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