19 August 2012

Sooner or Later

I have several memories of Stevie who died August 18 at the age of sixty-five years. I turned sixty-five years old Thursday.
Interestingly, he was always Stevie and never Steve. The feminine ending never referred to any particular characteristic as far as I could tell; but it never seemed appropriate to refer to him as anything other than Stevie. Perhaps in the midst of the existential angst of our adolescence Stevie recalled to us the simplicity of our childhoods. Of course, nothing about Stevie was simple: I spent some time with him during our high school years and I never suspected that he desired to be a medical doctor. Actually, I never imagined Stevie becoming anything: he would always be Stevie. He did become a very successful oncologist. The last time I saw him—we were sixty then and he was healthy though not in any healthy physical shape—I called him Stevie and there came no objection from him. He was Stevie.
I never understood what work his father did (as if that knowledge is necessary) but at least for some time I think he ran a photo laboratory. And I consider this because I recall spending a day or so at the laboratory playing with the equipment. It was because of Stevie that I transformed my bathroom into a photographic studio. In my memory I see the developing trays resting along the back of the toilet tank and the enlarger sitting like a stork on the sink. Despite the abundance of equipment and chemicals, I never acquired very much skill. I do not know to what extent Stevie later pursued photography; in fact, I can’t recall what provoked my interest then at all, because I don’t recall engaging in any discussion concerning photography with Stevie, nor can I recollect ever seeing him ever carrying a camera. Indeed, I think he became a relative Luddite, eschewing cell phones and answering machines. He preferred not to answer his landline telephone.
Stevie was the first entrepreneur with whom I had contact. (Of course, my father was an entrepreneur but mostly I thought of him as my father and that’s all!) Stevie had a small press on which he printed business cards. I think I helped him set the type for my small order: I had, after all, no business to advertise. Of course, Stevie charged for the service a relatively nominal fee which I dutifully paid. I don’t recall handing out a single card!
Of course, I can’t write a memorial for Stevie; having over the years lost almost all contact with him, I honestly knew little of his life. Five or so years ago we reunited for a very pleasant weekend. And then we lost touch again and his health declined precipitously. During his recuperation I talked with him on the telephone several times and we did not dwell on the past at all.
Perhaps memorials are mostly about the memorialist. We never really know anyone else, and what I write here speaks of my memories more than it expresses much of Stevie.
But one of us, I knew, had to be first. It turned out that it was Stevie, and he took a piece of me with his death.


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