I’ve written several times in this space over the past few years about death and dying and those I’ve lost. Unfortunately, on April 1, there was another death, this one unexpected. His name is Frank, and he was the longtime companion and partner of a very old, very dear friend. So, spoiler alert: This isn’t technically a travel post.
Initially, I met Frank through my friend, his partner. It started in the late 1980s “back east,” going to the beach, attending parties at their comparatively massive apartment (in contrast to my and other friends’ puny NYC pads). My dances around Frank’s acerbic wit and intimidating intellect bordered on fear, mainly due to its potential to crack my hyper-sensitive 20-something shell. After those first few years they were together, when I saw them often, I was so bummed out when they moved to the west coast in the early 90s. At the same time, now trips to California took on a whole new shade of fun.
As it will, time and various life experiences ebbed and flowed the frequency of our contact. There were long gaps where we fell out of touch, but then we would bridge those gaps when we eventually saw each other again, usually for some entertaining Los Angeles experience, and the thrill of returning to that familiar bond.
We’ve all by now heard that Maya Angelou quote over and over, the one that reminds you that “people will never forget how you made them feel.” Frank had a way of making me feel curious, interested, attentive, engaged, and a little bit closer to fully alive. There was no topic I could bring up that Frank wouldn’t be able to talk about with knowledge and authority without losing my attention, being the fabulously reliable font of information that he was.
But Frank had something else I rarely found in anyone I met as an adult, due in part to the fact that he hailed from the general region of the hometown I grew up in — he understood my background: ethnically, politically, religiously. Possibly more than anything else, that bonded me to Frank in ways I don’t fully grasp. In his passing, I, like many who knew him, will feel for quite some time the penetrating absence of this one-of-a-kind man whose impact is hard to match.