In Memory of Roger Margason / Dorien Grey
Posted on November 2, 2015
We all have our own unique way of grieving and our hopes of how those will grieve for us one day. Roger Margason, or Dorien Grey (his author pseudonym), passed away yesterday after complications during a procedure on Friday that left his life in the balance for two days. This was unexpected. This was tragic. But it happened. Roger was a friend and I’ve done most of my crying prior to writing this because it was his best friend, Gary, who suggested we remember Roger by reading his books and/or telling some funny stories about him. These are my memories.
I met Dorien Grey via e-mail because we shared the same publisher, Zumaya. It was not a stellar first impression on either end, I’m sure, and I can safely laugh when I say that. An e-mail would come from our publisher, Dorien would frequently be the first to respond, and it was typically completely against the grain of whatever had been discussed in the post itself. If someone said “left,” he said “right.” If they said “up,” he said “down.” I was a little scared of him because I thought he was a little bit of an angry curmudgeon. And I’m sure he thought I was a prick.
Alan Chin, a fellow author from Zumaya, suggested one day during a conversation that I contact Dorien Grey and request to be let in to his online Yahoo gay author/literature discussion group. I told Alan of my hesitation in doing so and he suggested I contact Dorien, introduce myself, and explain that hesitation. Alan knew something I didn’t; Dorien wasn’t anything close to my perception of him. And he was right.
I met Roger by e-mailing Dorien. Yes, they are the same person, but that’s when I got to know Roger. He (Roger) was very concerned as to how he was coming across in his e-mails and that other people might feel the same way I did. A beautiful friendship was born from this and though Roger was almost 40 years my senior, I’d swear he was younger than I am.
We teased each other about our music tastes, we talked about where we’d traveled, mutual friends, movie recommendations, our blogs, our books, and people who were no longer in our lives. It was during this time I learned Roger didn’t believe in an afterlife. He didn’t think there was anything once our bodies ceased. I bring this up not to belittle his belief, but because it strikes me as funny. With everything that went against the grain of Roger’s idea of how reality ‘should’ be, it would be just his luck an afterlife does exist.
Roger would mention in his blog from time to time that he believed a ghost was moving items around on him in his apartment. Wouldn’t it be amusing, especially if time isn’t linear in the afterlife, if he was doing it to himself? I could totally see him doing that just to have a little fun.
My husband and I met Roger and Gary in Chicago a couple of times over the years, and I cherish those moments. Roger sheepishly admitted to having a little crush on my hubs, which is really sweet. My husband doesn’t look at someone and size them up by their gender, age, or body type, so Roger always felt very at ease around him. There’s a little ‘in’ joke in Dorien’s novel, Caesar’s Fall. You’ll notice there’s a lovely young man named Ralph in the story and a little weasel of a character named after me. lol Little crush, huh?
I didn’t know Roger/Dorien as well as others, but I did know what he chose to share with me. He was always supportive, especially when my father-in-law passed away, then my mentor a year later. He always, always had a kind word when someone was feeling down. And his observations about the world were both comical and biting at the same time. I looked forward to every Monday and Thursday when I knew there would be another Dorien Grey blog post, plus I knew more often than not, there’d be a comment from him on my own post those days just as I left one on his. It was a dance we did together and we enjoyed it.
One thing that’s been very evident in Roger’s posts throughout the years is how much he missed his parents, other relatives, and friends long gone. It was a real, physical ache for him. He missed how things used to be, as if he was a man from a distant age. This is why I hope he may have been wrong about an afterlife. Because if he was wrong, then he’s been reunited with all those people he loved so dearly and missed for so long. I can hope for that for him, can’t I?
Roger’s final blog post from last Thursday, The Case Against Acorns, reads very much like the final entry in a journal of someone who knows there may not be another. It’s like he was tying up some loose ends and signing off. He talks about, in life and death, not being able to take it with you. He talks about his former love, Norm, and the amazing gift Norm gave him upon his death that allowed Roger to travel and visit places in Europe either he’d never seen before or wanted to revisit. He cherished those moments and was glad he took the trips instead of saving or investing the money as so many of us are prone to do. Roger’s final words to us ring very true: “So please, please don’t spend all your time running around gathering acorns. Take some time to sit in the sun and enjoy them.”
There will never be another blog post.
There will never be another comment posted by Dorien Grey.
There will never be another Roger Margason.
But we have what he left behind for us. We have his books and we have his blog posts dating all the way back to 2007. These are his legacy. These are how people will know he lived among us. These are his gifts to us.
Please remember him.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
18 Responses to “In Memory of Roger Margason / Dorien Grey”
Eddie Lam says:
November 2, 2015 at 8:22 am
I am sorry for your lost 🙁 Beautiful written. Life is precious. Although I never met Roger before, he sounds like a positive guy with a right attitude. Sometimes it is interesting to see how friendship starts. And people around us make a big influence and you don’t even know. Although he is in leaving us to a better place, he will be missed. RIP Roger…
Katherine Trick says:
November 2, 2015 at 9:55 am
I think Roger would be very happy with this, your thoughts of him. I always wished I had the opportunity to just have a chance to sit in a park with him and have a chat. He had so much to say and was so interested and interesting. I loved seeing the world thru his eyes. I will miss him, too.
Brent Seth says:
November 2, 2015 at 10:42 am
So sorry for your loss. I never had the pleasure to meet him, but I have enjoyed some of his work. He made the world a little brighter while he was here, and really, what more could anyone ask?
Chie Minato says:
November 2, 2015 at 11:25 am
I have just read this and found it very beautifully written.
We all feel so sad about Dorien-san’s early departure.
I still cannot believe it to be honest.
Just like Dorien-san and Dick Hardesty, my Dad ( who passed away last year at the age of 62 ) also did not believe in heaven and hell. But then I remembered a little conversation made between Dick and Jonathan after Randy ( Jonathan’s friend ) died:
“No heaven ?”
“No heaven. No hell. Just nothing at all – infinity.”
“I think I believe in heaven.”
Taking Jonathan’s hand, he replies. “Then do.”
“And Randy is there.”
“Then Randy is there.”
So, I believe that if I could talk to Dorien-san in my dream and told him I believe in heaven, he would kindly say “Then do.” And if I added “And you are up there, reunited with your family.”, then I strongly believe he would say “Then I am up there, reunited with my family.”
Well, I hope he is.
PS. For some reason, I started rereading his Dick Hardesty Mysteries about a month ago and now I am halfway through The Popsicle Tree (#9). I am going to cherish this moment while rereading them.
PPS. Kris-san. Genki dashite ( Please cheer up ) after this sadness is not so fresh in your memory and start smiling again. Dorien-san would love to see you smile again, too… I think.
Patricia Logan says:
November 2, 2015 at 1:18 pm
I’m going to miss this man very much. I could always count on logging on to FB only to find him wondering where on earth he’d laid his keys (convinced that he was surrounded by poltergeists) or reading the spam email he’d received that morning. I also adored the photos he posted of a better time for him, when he was young and healthy. I know his health plagued him for many years and he said that frequently depressed him, especially the difficulty he had speaking.
When I was new to FB and the author world, Dorien was one of the first men I met and then once I became friends with you, I would see him on the blog all the time. I was often profoundly touched by his thoughtful insight.
I wish him well in his travels through the afterlife. I hope all the people he lost over the years were there to greet him. Rest in peace, my friend
November 2, 2015 at 1:52 pm
I was so sad to hear of Dorien’s passing. Though we never met I feel like I lost a friend. And that final blog post of his gave me the shivers.
Thank you for sharing your memories of Roger. *hugs*
Janie Franz says:
November 2, 2015 at 2:01 pm
Kris, we are all reeling from this news. I came out of a serious illness to explore the internet yesterday and found the notice of Roger/Dorien’s passing. Though I myself was exhilarated to be our of pain and feeling alive, I was crushed to see the world had lost such a fine man.
Your post here expresses the wondrous complexity of this man. He was such a wonderful support to me as a fledgling writer five years ago, giving me a lovely first review blurb. (And I as shaking in my shoes when I sent the email asking for a book blurb! I’d reviewed his books for years and knew how brilliant he was.)
Over the years, Roger offered encouragement when I finally came out at an ridiculously old age. And he continued to support my writing.
I almost met him for lunch last January when I was working briefly outside of Chicago as a private chef. But I couldn’t secure transportation into the city from where I was. I missed my opportunity.
I enjoyed his posts and blogs and, most of all, his books.
He was struggling at the last with a speech problem, finally accepting the fact he must now use the tools he used so well–the written word—to communicate with others face to face. In the end, writing sustained him as it always did.
I, too, hope Roger is reunited with all those dear to him who passed before he did. Rest, my friend.
Victor J. Banis says:
November 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm
It seems as if I had known Dorien (I never could get used to calling him Roger, though he often suggested I do so) but in fact it was really only about 8 or 9 years – or maybe not. We often laughed over the fact that he and I were both running around the gay bars in Los Angeles at the same period in time, the same bars. It seems impossible that we didn’t meet then. If we did, I surely would have tried to pick him up. Hey, he was hot, and I was a slut! If that happened, however, neither of us remembered. Which is to say, if it did, it was a dud.
Our friendship was not, let it be said. He was like a brother to me, or maybe better than that. I loved his writing, and am glad I only recently did an appreciation of his work. I’m glad he knew how much I respected him as an artist. I referred to his writing as comfort food translated into words, and he seemed to really savor that description. But, to me at least, Dorien himself was something akin to comfort food – he always made me feel better – can’t say that about a lot of folks.
Joy Walker Hall says:
November 3, 2015 at 5:43 pm
I have enjoyed your back and forth with Dorien for some time. I surely miss him and keep looking for his posts and comments. It will probably be a while until I get used to his being gone. Thank you for your fond memories of an amazing man.
Lloyd Meeker says:
November 2, 2015 at 3:09 pm
The variety of anecdotes posted here and elsewhere tell me about the depth of the man. A man of determination and gentleness, generosity to newer writers like myself, self-deprecating humor, and a healthy impatience with stupidity. From time to time he’d share his “Nigerian bank” scam emails with those of us in the gay readers/writers group he founded, just for a laugh.
Inasmuch as our experience of the afterlife may be shaped by the character we exhibit in this life, I expect he’s delighted with what he’s found on the other side. Thanks for so much, Dorien/Roger.
Lena Grey says:
November 2, 2015 at 3:42 pm
I ‘met’ Dorien when I reviewed his first ‘Elliot’ book. He commented jokingly about us being related since both our names were ‘Grey.’ We never talked about heaven, per se, but we did have some interesting conversations about ‘disembodied’ spirits. I think he appreciated by ‘different’ ideas about such ‘ethereal’ things. When I was sad, I knew I could always commiserate with Dorien and he’d give me comfort and support. Since, I’m a bit older than most of our FB friends, we also discussed ‘the way things were in our days’. There is so much I could say about this brilliant, humorous, wise, and witty man, but I will stop here. Dorien, I will miss you more than words can say. If you are not in ‘heaven’ I sincerely believe that you’ve transitioned to a higher plane and ‘hear’ all the wonderful things people are saying to you. Thank you for being a blessing in my life!
Beverley Jansen says:
November 2, 2015 at 4:42 pm
I am writing a memorial post for Dorien/Roger to appear on PrismBookAlliance Blog on the 16th Novenber, when Dorien’s next monthly column for us would have been posted. I had been ‘virtual’ friends with Roger for several years and his emails and messages were always a highlight of my day. He was happily obsessed with ballet dancers, and I would send him pictures of Roger Bollo for his pinterest boards. I loved his stories regarding a time I didn’t know…his risque tales of gay dance clubs, and foreign ports were hilarious.
I will miss his insight and wit regarding spam and politics. I will miss his emails. I hope now he is somewhere with his much missed loved ones and family, and I hope he can eat the foods he missed and drink heartily. I will miss his friendship and his grumpiness. My life has been fuller for having him in it.
Lori L. Lake says:
November 2, 2015 at 5:36 pm
I’m going to miss Roger soooooo much. I can’t believe he’s gone. He had such curiosity about people and life, and he was a true gentleman. Things will never be the same without him.
November 2, 2015 at 7:05 pm
Thanks for this lovely post and tribute. It really touched me. It was really nice reading Beverley’s response, since we are friends since we met at the UK meet last year. I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read any of his books, but now I will remedy that.
Joy Walker Hall says:
November 3, 2015 at 5:55 pm
Thank you, Kris, for this insightful remembrance. Having been FB friends for a few years I’ve become very fond of Dorien and I miss not seeing his posts already. His, sometimes, biting humor always made me laugh….and nod in agreement. He could be gentle, though and that is a wonderful mix.
Kathy Kozakewich says:
November 3, 2015 at 6:08 pm
What a fabulous post, and a wonderful tribute to a man who will be sorely missed by many, many people, myself included.
I’m not sure when I became a fan of Dorien’s; it’s been a few years anyways (time’s been going so fast that I’ve lost track of how many years anything’s been!) since I discovered his books and his blog. I’ve been fortunate to acquire all his books. I’ve read and re-read them all, and they are staples on my shelves.
I am glad that I had mentioned that to him on more than one occasion, letting him know how much enjoyment I’ve received from his writing. Not only his Dick Hardesty and Elliot Smith novels, but also his book of poems—Dreams of a Calico Mouse (that I have in audio format, but would LOVE to have in print and ebook formats)—as well as other standalone books—Short Circuits: A Life in Blogs; A World Ago: a Navy Man’s Letters Home, 1954 – 1956; and Calico.
But there was so much more to the man than just “Dorien Grey, the writer”. He had a wicked, and totally enjoyable, sense of humour and I was often amused about his posts on Facebook. And his many stellar additions to his Pinterest boards, some of which hearkened back to times before mine, but that also celebrated beauty.
Dorien Grey / Roger Margason was a true renaissance man—and his loss will be felt for a long, long time.
Gary Brown says:
November 10, 2015 at 3:17 pm
Kris: I was deeply moved when I read this and brought to tears. What a glorious tribute to Roger. He would have been blubbering like a baby. Tributes like this make it possible for us to continue on. Thank you so very much this–and for your friendship to Roger and to me.
Much love, my friend,
Kris McCartney says:
November 12, 2015 at 4:38 pm
Roger was one of the few remaining elderly family members left on that side of the family. I finally found his obit. and it noted that he had a private gathering, its too bad someone didn’t contact any of us. We will miss Franklyn Roger Margason.