wwcitizen: (Stone Angel)
We lost an angel last night. Joe DiMuro, a friend born in NYC roughly 60 years ago, died peacefully at home. He was at home with his husband of 25 years, in his favorite recliner, under his father's blanket. How wonderful to pass in peace without pain!! As his husband, Carlos, put it, "We should all be so lucky." I hope I am that lucky!

My post here is not a solicitation of sympathy, but a gentle, firm reminder to each of us that life is short. We must cherish our moments with each other for as long as we have each other, as friends, family, spouses, or even colleagues. Part of the human experience is to experience each other, everyone's personalities, our likes and dislikes, our discourse, our joys and pains, and our silence - in the presence of one another.

Joe, Carlos, my friend, Joseph, and I met on a dance floor in Philadelphia in the fall of 2002. Joe & Carlos at that point had been together for about 12 years, at about the same time where Matthew and I are in our relationship now. Since then, Joe and Carlos helped to open up my world of friends in the Bear Community. Through those two, I, and Matthew and I, have met, I would say, 100s of people in the NY, CT, and PA area.

Joe and Carlos have always been warm, welcoming, and generous. They opened their home to everyone with open arms and GREAT food!!

Granted, because Joe knew that I didn't really like the Beatles and he was a MASSIVE fan of them, he and I would banter for days online about their music, their lyrics, and... well, meh (<-- I know he's scowling at that right now! That makes me smile...). Truth be told, for the last 13 years, and now forever more, I will always think of Joe when I hear a Beatles song - guaranteed! Joe always glared at me with incredulity when I sang along with a Beatles song, him knowing that I don't like them. Surprisingly, I know almost all the words to the biggies. It always made me laugh when he flashed me that incredulous look with the subtext of, "How DARE you!!". I will always think of him flashing me that look from now on and I love that.

I love knowing that I made Joe smile and made him dance - even ever so slightly after his stroke a few years ago. He'd always shake his booty a little around me - even after his 2007 surgery - and that made us smile and giggle. He loved telling people how and where we met.

Joe, I will miss you. We didn't spend as much time with each other in person as we should have. Life got in the way and I hate that. I'm so happy that we got to know each other, get under each other's skin as we did for the time you allowed us to, and I will always cherish the memories we have. You were the Italian mother I never had, and the Italian grandmother I needed at times. Best of all, you were my friend.

I will miss you, my friend. Can't wait to see you at the concert.

wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
There's something about a person's life and death that speaks to the connection one has to them. Interestingly enough, this passed Tuesday, my Aunt Lee came to mind and I wondered if she had died yet. Sounds morbid, I know, but that's not the thing. My Aunt Lee and I were tremendously disconnected. She was my mother's sister-in-law.

So, Aunt Lee died in March. We didn't find out about it until May, which is representative of the lack of connectivity to that side of my family (my mother's). It's strange for me because my dad's side of the family is so affable, interested in family, loving, and connected.

To me, it's not really all that sad that she died: Her death at the hands of lymphoma (or Alzheimer's?) was inevitable, truly. The last time I saw her was at my brother's wedding, and even then we didn't talk much. I suppose by that time, I was done trying to be the good nephew.

She and that entire side of my family have chosen to be estranged and disconnected. Whenever any of them came to NC, they never let my father or siblings know. Whenever they were in Europe or NYC or Philly, they never tried to get in touch with me.

Maybe their disconnect was the subconscious effort to unplug after Aunt Lee and my other aunt-in-law, Jo from California, decided before my grandmother's death (their mother-in-law) to remove, and take for their families without our input, my grandmother's finest linens, silver, and china. Granted, the things they left behind for my mother's children (us) were things that reminded us of our grandmother, but it was the principle; and in reality it was theft. My grandmother had not died and everything in her house was to be divvied up between the sons (their husbands) and us four kids - 1/3 apiece to my grandmother's children equally and my mother's 1/3 to be split between 4 of us.

As karma would have it, Aunt Jo's house in California got bombarded by 2-3 nasty earthquakes over the next 5 years, breaking everything that she had taken from my grandmother's house; Aunt Jo eventually died of brain cancer 4-5 years ago. My Aunt Lee began having bouts of cancer and other illnesses (if not dementia, then Alzheimer's) that lasted until she passed away two months ago.

When I graduated high school, Aunt Lee sent me the "Mrs. Manners Book of Etiquette". At the time, my knee-jerk reaction was first, "Oh wow! She thought of me." My instant second thought was, "Wow, what a bitch. She thinks I don't have etiquette?!"  And, for many reasons, that one phrase stuck with me: "What a bitch!"

Aunt Lee lived outside of DC in VA. One spring break in college, I went to DC with a girlfriend from NJ, Margaret. She and I were totally on the outs. In fact, we broke up after this particular spring break. Margaret and I spent a couple of nights "in DC" with her cousins in Maryland. One night we went to dinner with my uncle and his wife, Aunt Lee. It was great because she invited my cousins (her children) and their spouses (cousins-in-law) who I'd never met before; we weren't invited to their weddings.

During dinner (at Michael's in Vienna, which was supposedly a very fine restaurant there but no longer exists...), Aunt Lee looked around the table and said, "Isn't this interesting. We have at the same table my son and his wife, my daughter and her husband, and Stephen and his ffff---- girlfriend..." (feigning to mis-enunciate "fiance"). Margaret and I immediately stopped chewing, put down our silverware, and I said, "Yes. Girlfriend. Interesting and great to see you all."
So my Aunt Lee passed away. I don't typically approach the passing of a family member with such nonchalance, but, honestly, she (in my humble opinion) didn't foster more than nonchalance about her human connections, much less her familial associations.

So, here's to you, Aunt Lee. Didn't really know you much. Spent time with you at your convenience, behest, and leisure. You never really went totally out of your way to stay in touch or be family to us unless absolutely necessary. Still, oddly enough, every time I smell or see a lilac, I think of you (she had them in her back yard).

Emma Lee Neighbors
April 11, 1933 - March 8, 2014
Oakton, Virginia

This is a perfectly awful picture of her - bottom left.  Her daughter is in the red sweater on my grandmother's lap.

IMG_1616
wwcitizen: (BlackBerryFanatic)
Zelda Rubenstein died today. I think she was a cool actress and, of course, everyone remembers her from Poltergeist.

On OutQ Radio just now, the announcer said, "Oh, you remember her? She wasss the sssuper-tiny-psssychic from Poltergeist! I hope she goesss into the light and ssseesss Carol Anne..." and you could hear him picturing the scene in the Afterlife.

I'm all for remembering people in a happy way, smiling about the life they led, if there wasn't a lot of tragedy. With Ms. Rubenstein, she left no family behind, which is sad. She lived till she was 76, which is happy. Her suffering was short - about 1-2 months (as opposed to 2-3 years), and in the last few weeks she didn't really know what was going on (taken off life-support - apparently - just around Christmas '09).

His comments hit me in a bittersweet fashion making me giggle the gayness of his voice saying, "sssuper-tiny-psssychic," remembering the lady that made me cringe during Poltergeist and tearing up a bit at the same time. Oh, and she was great in Sixteen Candles. She worked hard and for that, she'll be remembered well.
wwcitizen: (Stone Angel)
A childhood friend's mom died on Oct. 10. I just found out about it today. A flood of memories came rushing in about her and her son, Tony. He and I grew up together in NC and his mom was always so sweet to me. She taught me how to roll up my sleeves (as silly as this is) so they wouldn't unravel. She also made awesome soup - thick with ingredients and not too soupy.

Here's to a lady who will be missed and who left an indelible imprint on her world:

She worked at the local newspaper for 43 years in a number of capacities, and most recently was a features and lifestyle editor. She worked simultaneously in admissions at the local hospital for 23 years. She was a member of the NC Press Club, held various offices, and had been honored with the Communicator of Achievement Award. She had been a board member of the Family Support Network of Eastern NC and member of the county's Women's Commission.

Simply amazing. Here's to you Rosalie!

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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