Last summer, when Mike's Dad was nearing his final days, I bought a dark suit against the hour of inevitable need. I was at a weight where my own suits did not look right, so I figured this one modest purchase would get me through this one event and then hopefully be relegated to the back closet.
Sadly, in the first week of December, the suit was used a second time to deliver the eulogy for my Mother. I was less than thrilled to find a repeat use for the somber garment.
Last night's call caught me off guard. I've known Dyna for nearly twenty years. We were all very active in the gay car club way back when. I've been much less actively lately owing to work, but still have a lot of old friends from that clan.
Dyna and Fred. Cybill and Mary Ann. Mame and Vera. Siegfried and Roy. You get the idea. Inseparable friends. Dyna was Lucy reincarnated in the body of a tall Swedish boy. Fred was bearded and bearish, but in a Cyd Charisse way. Very funny and outspoken, a natural emcee. The first time I met him was at a slumber party in Las Vegas in 1994. He was wearing thick black plastic framed glasses a'la 1960, a full beard, and a chartreuse baby doll nightie. It requires conscious thought to picture him any other way.
The conversation I recall most with Fred was not the last one by any means. It was 2002, shortly after a painful breakup of a five year relationship. He came up to me and gave me an understanding look and a big hug. "All things end", he said. The implied words were as loud as the spoken ones.
And sadly, all things do end. Fred was at work on Saturday when he began having difficulty breathing. A coworker called 911. By the time the ambulance arrived, he had suffered a severe heart attack right on the floor of Barney's New York. "At least it wasn't Target", Dyna reassured me.
He passed away in the ambulance en route to the hospital. He would have turned 50 in May. I'm in sort of a double shock- besides it being so sudden and shocking, it's also the first friend to die of a typical middle age male malady- a heart attack. Now that's a strange realization. I lost many people to the plague, back in my 30's. But such a sadly ordinary downfall is a shock to my system.
The suit will be used one more time, but that will not be the end. The 50th birthday party will go on as planned, albeit as a tribute. The ONLY way to honor Fred is with a party.
If you have room in your prayers, please remember Fred, his Mother and brother David, and Dyna. And all of us who will miss him so sadly and remember him so fondly.
A toast to you, Fred. I know you'll make a fashion statement in Heaven.
Here's a tribute for you from the fabulous Eva Cassidy. I hope you like it.