Tag Archives: FaceBook

Robin Gray

Logging in to FaceBook this morning I see a note that Robin Gray died yesterday afternoon after a five year battle with breast cancer.

Robin was married to Kristin. Kristin was my first pal when I started working at the Sacramento Community Center (as it was then known) in the early ’90s. We had gotten hired at the same time and spent many hours trying to figure out WTF management was up to there. There was no discussion of sex, or sexual roles. I don’t remember the first time I met Robin. It may have been after the two of them came back from Florida around ’95 or ’96.

Whatever. The memories I have from the last ten years or so of my time in Sacramento are of the two of them being happy together and completely open about their relationship. I’ve always been pretty liberal and tolerant so I didn’t have a problem with this, but nevertheless, Robin and Kris showed me from a much closer perspective how two people can have a solid relationship regardless of what they do in the bedroom.

Robin had been a stage manager for many years and was one of the best. I found out she had stage managed the San Francisco Phantom Of The Opera show for its five year run only when she mentioned it in passing one day. There was no pretension, no bullshit, yet her wicked sense of humor was always ready.

I kept up with her through FaceBook, but I hadn’t spoken to her or Kris for a while. Three or four years, maybe. I wrote on Kris’ FB page today but I felt I wanted to put something more here. Robin and Kris were one of the very few bright spots for me in Sacramento.

<Edit> One of my other good friends from my Sacramento days is Susie. I’m going to close with her words about Robin (I’ve taken out the last names and links):

Friends, loved ones, extended family and all who loved Robin…it’s my sorrowful duty to inform you that Robin passed away today at about 5pm PDT. She was surrounded by her partner and wife of 26 years, Kristin T., her beloved old chum and champion, Kiki W., and her tribe of devoted caregivers, Kathy M., Jamie J., Mindy G. and David G. Robin’s courageous and extended battle with breast cancer was one for the ages. Her work with UCSF in clinical trials not only extended her life, but IS extending the lives of thousands of women who survive today because Robin participated in that ground-breaking work. Robin was devoted to her work at UCDavis’ Department of Theatre and Dance, where she taught stage and production management, in addition to a variety of other courses. Her pride in her students, her respect for faculty and staff, and her affection for the campus itself was sincere and heart-felt. She loved working there. Robin called her last cue shortly before she passed, saying she was “done.” Shortly thereafter, to the sounds of songs and some laughter, she passed. More information to follow in the days to come. Tonight, as you all drift to sleep around the world, think of some time you had with Robin that made you laugh. She would love to hear you all laugh, not cry, tonight

deaths of children

I spend my Internet time on FaceBook, like everyone else. Just kidding. After I spent about three months last year avoiding it entirely, I came around to its usefulness. I had to prune mercilessly, though. Many people who I liked in person ended up being ‘unfollowed’ after too many food pictures, cat videos and/or political rants. Ashley and her pictures and posts of Rosalie were the most important factor in resuming. Thank you, Ashley! So I have ended up checking it almost every day but the family-to-post ratio is much higher and I can usually get through new posts in fifteen minutes.

That was all later in the year, though. The first three months after Zach’s death it was invaluable. I took great comfort in the many comments of support at the time.

I like to play guitar, so a guitar site is important. I’ve spent time on TalkBass (oddly, not about guitar at all, but bass) and recently on JazzGuitar, but my favorite is still TDPRI, the Telecaster forum. The Telecaster is a type of guitar, for those who don’t know, but the best discussions take place in the catch-all sub forum called The Bad Dog Cafe.

My other regular stop, especially now during the baseball season, is McCovey Chronicles, where Grant Brisbee is the best baseball writer of his generation. I believe Jeremy, who reads a much more varied diet of baseball writing, will agree with me. The crowd of regular commenters are mostly far younger than me and I have fun watching them tease each other and talk about things I don’t understand. When I started hanging around McCovey Chronicles in 2009, there was a commenter named Alex_Lewis who had a certain style and fostered a good repartee with other regulars.

One day there was a post by another regular that went in a completely different direction. Gallo del Cielo was another username that I had also become familiar with. It turned out – follow the link for the details – that he was Alex Lewis’ father and that Alex had died the night before in a sudden, tragic and senseless accident. Alex was 27.

Gallo still posts regularly on MCC with an inimitable style. Tonight he quietly noted that this day, June 5, was the date, and the day of the week even, that Alex had died 5 years ago. While I hadn’t forgotten Alex’s death, the details had receded in my memory. Surely not for Gallo.

Zach was not a contributor to MCC, nor was he a regular reader but occasionally I would send him a link to a particularly funny or trenchant post. He was of course a Giants fan. We had many good conversations started by MCC.

I mention TDPRI in this context because I have posted there a fair amount, sometimes referring to Zach’s death. In those conversations I have now ‘met’ three other men who have lost children as I have. Tomorrow night I will be going to my monthly meeting of The Compassionate Friends, which is devoted to parents who have had children die before them. We’re in an exclusive group, me and Gallo and Toto’s Dad and the others. One that all of us, I’m sure, would give anything to not be members of.

As a coda, I offer this tribute to Alex by Grant Brisbee: In Memory of Alex Lewis. The comments that follow it are filled with further tributes to the kind of man he was. They remind me of some of the things that were said about Zach that Friday in Baton Rouge and that Sunday in Jackson and that Saturday in San Francisco. Oh, my Z.

bringing it all back

Heading into another SoundBox week, I wanted to make a post today but I’ve been avoiding it. Usually avoiding things involves rummaging around on FaceBook. Jeremy shared a post by the company who did the Z Wood graphic at UREC. They put in a lovely statement:

We didn’t have the pleasure of meeting this young man Zach Wood but judging by those who did, we missed out on knowing a great human being. It was our honor to donate this small tribute to him on behalf of LSU University Recreation (UREC). Life truly is fleeting and we should never take a single day for granted.
Zach never did

Also in the post was a link that I didn’t recognize. It was an article remembering Zach from the LSU newspaper.

It brought it all back.

anniversary

Not even a week ago I put up a post with this same title. Today is the actual day and only a couple of hours after the time one year ago that Zach was killed. About this time on the west coast, phones were starting to ring with the unbelievable news. For me it was Jeremy who gave me the bald facts, then wailed, ‘My brother is dead!

I saw many nice tributes on Facebook this evening. Zach is not forgotten by anyone who came into contact with him. His two handed handshake that I was told is known amongst his friends as ‘The Wood.’ He told me once he read that the second hand assured that the person would remember you so that’s why he did it. Little did I know how so many would have to remember him and why.

For myself, I’m kind of empty tonight. I’m tired from a tough day physically at work and I have to get up early for a plane flight tomorrow. Happily the plane flight is to Georgia where I will drink in the elixir that is Rosalie.  Sometime this week, Jeremy and I will hoist one for Zach. Maybe we’ll cry together or maybe we won’t but we will surely gather strength from each others presence.

On the Tuesday of that week, the Baton Rouge Police called us to say they were through gathering evidence from the bike and we could come and get it. Not really knowing what to expect, I went over there. The bike was completely trashed but I took it anyway because I didn’t know what else to do. The next day I set it out by the road in front of his car.

dscf0479

If you look carefully, you can see some of the marks on the road where the truck came to a stop with Zach underneath it. We left town somewhat hurriedly (I thought) that Saturday to get up to Michigan for a celebration there and I forgot to do anything about the bike. Today his roommate Micah posted this picture. He didn’t say and I can’t really tell, but it looks like it’s in their garage.

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puzzlement

. . . or maybe ‘bewilderment’. It’s the feeling I’ve gotten the last couple of months whenever I think of Zach. I don’t have the debilitating sadness of the early months of the year nor do I have the overwhelming fatigue I developed in the summer. Now I’m just confused. Where is Zach? Intellectually I know I will never see him again, or hear his voice but emotionally I’m confused, puzzled, bewildered.

My remaining children, Jeremy, Sarah, Ashley, have been a great comfort to me. Their loss is as great or greater than mine yet they carry on. Sarah and I got to share a (semi) private moment of grief for Zach the other night at the conclusion of the SF Symphony’s Dia de los Muertos concert. Jeremy and Ashley have the future in their care and I will be joining them for a visit next week. I am looking forward to many good hugs and a triple dose of Rosalie.

Anniversaries

For a while the 14th of each month was a major anniversary for me. I thought about Zach every day but on the anniversary I wanted others to think of him too. At first it was posts on FaceBook: for those first two months, FaceBook was fantastic. We were able to disseminate information about events and other news and many people responded in a very supportive way.

Months three through five I remember posting on the 14th about issues related to Zach’s death that I thought people should be reminded of. One month I talked about bad driving practices. The driver who killed Zach was not drunk; he was just driving too fast and probably distracted. Sad to say, we all do that, so let’s all try to do less of it. Etc.

So last month I was thinking about a post but I didn’t feel preachy and I had no news I wanted to share so I skipped it. This month I have my shiny new blog!

I’m not going to say anything more, preachy or otherwise. I’m just noting that the really sharp pain that had characterized the 14th of each month has subsided into the general pain. And this blog is my long term response to that.