Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Death of Friends

The death of Friends-The deaths that have affected my life the most have been my best friends. Sometimes relatives are also our best friends. My father's passing in 1985 totally changed my life in both bad and good ways. My Grandmother(mother's mother) passing on in 1978 changed how I viewed death because I experienced her passing on when she left her body. It was the most bittersweet experience so far in my life. I thought I was just losing my mind until I realized it was the same time she passed. So I realized I was experiencing some of what she was. She was totally relieved to pass off this veil of tears but after not seeing me for about 10 years she felt loss that I was only 5 hours away by truck when she passed and I had already driven 15 hours to see her before she passed on. So she was sad she wouldn't get to see me in person before she died. Since she lived with me and my parents from the time I was born until I was about 22 years old mostly she had been the one that was always there for me as my parents were very busy, especially from my birth until I was 12 years old and my mother's father passed on. So Nana was a trusted friend although also a sad person as her husband had left her never to return when she was 60 and my mother had to support her financially until she was 27 all the way from age 18. My mother married my father when she was 27.

Last year my oldest friend from childhood (I met him when I was 6) died. I went to church sunday school with him and his sister. He was instrumental in my attending college as he was always very intellectual and philosophical. Since he was a couple of years older than I was I enjoyed his humor and philosophical bent. Though we drifted apart as friends when we both married and I had children he came back into my life after his first wife died. He was instrumental in my marrying my present wife as I was confused in the middle of a divorce and custody battle. He could see clearer than I that my then girlfriend was someone that I needed to marry. He was so right. He was one of my 2 best men when we married in Yosemite.

When he died last year I had a very hard time of it. I knew if I had spent more time with him it would have extended his life another 6 months or year. But I knew when he decided to come out gay after 2 marriages that he was just to old for him to survive that. During college I knew he had experimented with both men and women but at the time I thought it was just a phase he was going through just like many L.A. types in the 60's and 70's.

When he told me that he had always been attracted to all his male friends I felt my friendship violated. I really didn't need to hear that. However, now I know that he needed to say it to me whether I could deal with that or not. He had kept all these things hidden toward all his male friends all these years. No wonder he had had problems with drugs and prostitutes even though he was married to two different women a total of about 20 years. He had a flawless public life and a difficult private life I realize now all these years. So 4 years after "coming out" he died alone in his town house in the San Fernando Valley. No one found his body until a psychic mutual friend of ours called me and said she couldn't reach him by phone and felt he might have passed on. I called his sister and she called the police. We found out a few hours later that he had been dead for a week or more in his bed at home.

Though I knew my friend had personal problems I also knew of all the young people he had helped as a high school teacher over 40 years. He had chosen to teach in East L.A. to give these kids a good start in life. He turned around many lives that would have been lost otherwise.

During the Viet Nam War he was a conscientious objector for religious reasons. However, after he was allowed not to be drafted he then felt an obligation to society to do something with his life and so dedicated himself to underprivileged kids in East L.A. I was amazed he spent all these years in the smog and with all the difficulties fulfilling his life's mission. He was an amazing man. Yes. He had problems but who of us doesn't?

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