Leonard Nimoy: The Part Of Him That Belonged To Us
Posted on March 2, 2015
Actor Leonard Nimoy was laid to rest yesterday. I guess that’s the thing with living legends; they eventually really do pass away. Someone, I don’t remember who, stated it best online, the gist of it being “every science fiction geek’s favorite grandfather passed away”. That may, on the surface, seem like an odd thing to say, yet there is truth to it. Leonard Nimoy was a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a grandfather, an actor, a friend, a director, an author, a photographer, and an icon. His personal life was his own, but his public life was there for us. He accepted that as much as he belonged to his family, part of him belonged to us, too.
I met Leonard Nimoy once while at DragonCon and I had the chance to observe him around other people—friends and fans alike. He talked with you and to you, never at you. He was thoughtful, considerate, and never disrespectful. When I went up to have my picture taken with both him and William Shatner, Leonard was the only who looked up afterwards and said “Thank you.” It was our honor to have a picture taken with them, but Leonard seemed to acknowledge that we were paying a bit of money for that honor and thought to actually thank everyone. Bill Shatner? Not so much, but that was the wonderful difference between them.
There’s always a story or bit of Shatner abuse going around, much of it said in fun these days. But no matter how anyone may feel about the man, it would give you pause to see him interacting with Leonard Nimoy. Whatever either of their faults were, the genuine friendship between them came through loud and clear. All was known between them and all was accepted between them. To us, they were Kirk and Spock. To them, they were Bill and Leonard. And they, too, accepted this distinction.
Cast members from all the incarnations of Star Trek have been coming forward with comments and quotes about Leonard, all of them positive and many of them emotional. I read through them all because as much as I found myself tearing up, there were those who knew him so much better and it was a reminder that their grief was much larger than my own. It gave me perspective. Of the cast members still living, I sought out one in particular who I instinctively knew would say something a little different from the others, a little more honest, yet still respectful; Walter Koenig.
I’ve met Walter several times and found him to be somewhat uncomfortable to approach at first. There’s a definite wall there and I’m not faulting him for it. But, that being said about the wall, I took part with a small group of people in an intimate Q&A with the man and found, when asked a really thoughtful, intelligent question, he opens up. Anyway, I felt of all the quotes I read about Leonard Nimoy, Walter’s had just that little bit more I was looking for.
“I was struck by his integrity and his desire to be honest and straight forward in all he did. We were never close friends but I never stopped believing that if I ever had need for such a friend he would be there.”
I don’t know what Leonard Nimoy believed in terms of an afterlife. Maybe he believed nothing was there or maybe he believed everything was there. Some fans imagine him being beamed up to the Enterprise, reunited with the other cast members who passed before him. It’s a lovely thought and I think he’d be okay with us thinking that. It gives us hope. It inspires us to believe that he’s still there, still going where… Well, you know the rest. If Leonard believed in an afterlife, he’s most likely reuniting with relatives and friends.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy recorded a video together back in 2001 titled Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime that’s worth checking out. I wish I could find a quote of something Shatner said that stuck in my mind, but I can’t. The idea behind it, though, was about their mortality, about being aware they had fewer days ahead of them than behind. It struck me as extraordinarily sad at the time, but if we look at what each has done since the video was released, it’s been enough for a couple of lifetimes.
I will, like many others, remember Leonard Nimoy for the wonderful gift and talent he shared to create one of the most iconic characters in science fiction. I will also remember him for what I saw firsthand of his humanity. And in the words spoken by DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard McCoy in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, “He’s not really dead. As long as we 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.
7 Responses to “Leonard Nimoy: The Part Of Him That Belonged To Us”
Patricia Hebel says:
March 2, 2015 at 9:39 am
Everyone has that one person they look up to as a hero. For me, it was Leonard Nimoy. That man had no fault that I, as a rabid fan, could find. I don’t often shed tears when someone famous passes on. In his case, I cried and felt very badly. I sincerely hope, that when my time comes, I will actually get to meet him (hopefully becoming friends) in that undiscovered country that is the afterlife.
March 3, 2015 at 9:16 am
That was really lovely, Trish. =) I hope you do get to meet him. Not for a while, though.
Dorien Grey says:
March 2, 2015 at 9:49 am
A nice tribute to a man who, consciously or not, influenced so very many.
March 3, 2015 at 9:17 am
Ever wonder what they’ll say about us one day, D? Am fairly confident the last words I hear in this life will be “Switch him off already!”
Diana Castilleja says:
March 2, 2015 at 1:06 pm
That quality is why every time I see something about his passing I get teary-eyed. Even those of us who didn’t get to meet him, “felt” it. He was a part of our lives. I don’t think anyone’s death has hit me this hard, and for someone I never met, I know I won’t forget, either.
March 3, 2015 at 9:48 am
Beautifully put, Diana. =)
Katherine Trick says:
March 3, 2015 at 9:44 am
I have been a Trekkie since the very beginning. I started watching as young as 3 or 4, maybe. Of all the cast members, Spock was the one I loved the most. As I grew older and saw who the man behind the character was, I loved the man even more. I wish I had the chance to meet him.
My heart was broken when I learned of his passing, but his legacy of work he left behind means he will never truly be gone from our hearts and that gives me comfort. He was an amazing human being.