Remembering The Good
Posted on November 19, 2020
We’re getting closer to the close of 2020, and not a moment too soon. We survived an election, another year under an unfriendly administration (depending on your politics), the passing of friends and family…okay, and a couple of celebrities, and we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. The shit starts to blur together after a while, doesn’t it? And yet, despite all this, I find myself reflecting on memories of people no longer with me. Good memories. The kind we hold close to our heart.
I’ve thought quite a bit about Ralph’s and my friend, Marianna Labahn, who passed in 2018. That woman could cook! I mean, we’re talking a fabulous cook. She made a cookie that literally melted in your mouth. And if she stepped out to dinner with us, she had incredible taste in the best of Chicago cuisine. Marianne was delightfully temperamental—she never suffered fools lightly or quietly—loved her Sci-Fi and horror, and she had a beautiful smile I didn’t get to see nearly enough. I miss her. I miss her terribly. Going to Chicago was never the same again.
Speaking of cooking, my grandmother was another amazing cook. And talk about a consummate hostess. Holidays at Grandma’s during the 1970s were earthshattering. That woman could greet guests—and the house on Fenton was ALWAYS packed—run the kitchen, make the rounds, keep the kids in order, and serve dessert. Dearborn Ham was a mainstay, and Mrs. Maddox Cakes, which I just found out closed. Ever have Dearborn Ham? There’s nothing quite like, not even Honey Baked. Her soup was to die for, and her desserts? Delicious. The last thing Grandma cooked for us was cabbage and corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day in March of 2018. Nothing has ever tasted the same since.
Being an only child had certain advantages. Being a spoiled only child had certain advantages. Mom and Dad were strict with me in many ways, and not so much in others. Dad was a police officer most of my young years—then he got promoted—but he was always an imposing figure to me. That was the law enforcement side. He was a loving man at heart, and an incredible provider. Christmas Day at the house growing up was a spectacle. I always rose far too many hours early, crept out into the living room, turned the tree lights on, and just marveled at all the gifts Santa left.
Mind you, I was a light sleeper and remain one to this day. My parents, though, actually managed to enter my bedroom, take my curtains down, replace them, take my top sheet off my bed, and change it all while I slept. I woke up to Superfriends curtains and sheets, all the while thinking Santa had done it. Honestly, I wanted for nothing and my parents didn’t want me to want for nothing. They wanted things for me they themselves didn’t have. The risk was that I would turn out to be a spoiled brat. Name a child who doesn’t have spoiled brat moments. They made it special. They made it special for me, and something I will always carry with me.
I miss the phone conversations with my mentor, Milt Ford, who always sounded like you were the highlight of his day when he either saw you or heard your voice. He started with the good in my work, then moved on to where he thought things needed to be revisited. Nothing was ever crap, or bad, or poor. It was a work in progress. My friend, author Dorien Grey (Roger Margason) was the same way. That man could give you a detailed list of everything and everyone he missed in life, and everything that was wrong, but if you were his friend, you could do little wrong. I miss that. I miss both of these people. Both were accomplished, but it was how they made you feel that mattered most.
All of these folks made those of us around them feel like what we said and did mattered most. I feel privileged, truly privileged, to say I knew them, and that I remember them. Because if we remember them, chances are we’ll learn what they had to teach, and never even realized they were teaching. They continue to give me faith in humanity.
How about you? What are you grateful for?
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.