(A REGRETTABLY ANNUAL SUBMISSION.)
So there you are approaching your 73nd year floating merrily down the stream, needing to reach for the paddle only occasionally, while filling bird feeders and trying to stay on your feet in the winter and weeding vegetables and working on your tan in the summer, making sure there are plenty of dog treats in your pocket and that your True Love has fresh cut flowers no matter the season, keeping your hand in the writing game with a blog post here and a book there, when the phone rings.
"Our old friend So and So is dead," the caller says solemnly.
Far too much of that going on. But at the risk of seeming maudlin, my thoughts turn to friends departed with the waning of the year, and I'd like to remember them:
Patrice Adams, Susie Ambry, Bob Andrews, Lou Angeli, Billy Burger, Beth Gulledge Bailey, Nancy Bennett, Ralph Borgess, Becky Buckson, David Carruthers, Jasmine Clower, Terry Cousins, Michael Crowley, Joe Cunane, Dale Dallabrida, Paul Damico, Tom Daniels, Eddie Day, Mark Delmerico, John DiGiovanni, Robert Mapes Dodge Jr., Bob Dorough, Jeff Duperon, Doug Eppes, Andy Ercole, Nick Fallon, John Felton, Larry Fenza, Bill Fleishman, Michael Frettoloso, Charlie Gibb, Andy Goessling, John Gregg, Steve Gregg, Bob Grimm, Brad Grimm, Willie Hemphill, Vic Holveck, Brenda Ireland, Redz Ireland, Darryl Ray Jenkins, Bill Jennings, Vic Karakul, Dave Kibler, Pattie Kibler, Shannon Kibler, Jerry Kirk, Wendy Knoedler, K. J. Linhein, Jim McCarthy, David McCloud, Michael McDyre, Muggs McGinnis, Donna Manning, Joe Mauro, Larry Michele, Dorothy Miller, Collette Molloy, Tom Molyneux, Dorothy Munroe, Alan Murphy, Larry Newbold, David O'Brien, Mario Pazzaglini, Dale Peck, Prairie Weather, Doug Prior, Debby Roberts, Vic Sadot, Paul Salcido, Rochelle Samuels, Frank Scarpitti, Mark Scherer, Rob Schmitt, John Southard, Bob Stewart, Paul Storm, Genny Porter Swan, Alan Teel, Mary Slaughter Tuke, Nick Tuke, Ed Wesolowski, Bill Windley.
Folks who passed since this was last posted in December 2018 are in boldface. Please forgive any omissions and let me know who I might have missed by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I could take only one song with me to that proverbial desert island, it would be "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison. It has been a steady companion since I bought his great Moondance album in 1970. A snippet of the lyric:§
We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly
Into the mystic
And when that fog horn blows
I will be coming home, mmm mmm
And when the fog horn blows
I want to hear it
I don't have to fear it . . .
Too late to stop now
"Into the Mystic" -- the words and melody ethereally flowing together as one -- is about a spiritual quest. (I know that’s true because Wikipedia told me so.) But over the years the song has become much more -- an affirmation of life for me, and I would like to think for my generation, as well, should we choose to embrace its sentiments, an anthem of lives lived as we float down that stream, merrily or otherwise, after leaving this mortal coil.
"To be Irish is to know that in the end the world will break your heart," said the late great Daniel Patrick Moynihan, although life and death do not, of course, discriminate according to race, nationality, creed or gender.
I am honored that my path intersected with friends departed, and I am a better person because it did. The fog horn has blown for them and they will be coming home.
It is indeed too late to stop now.