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What can I say, I give good eulogy…

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Lanford Wilson:

March 26, 2010

Memories flood my brain, and I can only say I wish I had more.  My memories of him start where, I’m sure, others start.  With a cigarette – ours on the smoking benches at the University of Houston.  I remember the first time I met him.  I think the first he said to me was “It’s so fucking hot.  How can you stand it?” It wasn’t until several days later that I learned I had met “Lanford Wilson, Pulitzer prize winning playwright”  I met the friendly, if slightly grumpy, older man on the bench, smoking a cigarette – and hey, he had a lighter, which, anyone who knew me then can attest, I never managed to have.  And thus, an unlikely friendship was born.

My memories of us on those benches are some of the clearest of my life, memories of ideas, and thoughts – of being late to class to have one more cigarette, one more conversation with Lanford – somehow already unconsciously aware of how much he had, would have, and will continue to have a hand in my making.

Some of the most important things he taught me on those benches, and in theatres, and coffee shops, and rehearsal rooms:

Focus on the story.  Focus on the character.  Tell the story.  Create the characters.  Create a space that your actors can work.  Create space.

People don’t think before they talk, the think while they talk.  Take the air out of the lines.

Everything is either stupid or genius. If it’s stupid, keep working till it’s genius.  If it’s genius, then well done.

Always think: What do I owe, and to whom?

Get yourself to NYC while your young and stupid enough to do it, but when your old enough to know what to do.

Don’t give up, the world needs us.

The thing that amazed me the most about him is that he did it all with a sense of wonder, he could never quite seem to believe that whatever happened had happened.   And his unfailing honesty – he never held anything back.  When Lanford had an opinion, you knew it.  He wasn’t shy about telling you the truth – the good, the bad, or the ugly.

How do I put into words how much this man meant to me?  How do I codify what I’m feeling or how conversations we had will stay with me, and keep me moving towards my dreams, step by step, just like he told me I should.

Lanford had an amazing ability to give and create space – to live, to breathe, to create, to be – and for the lucky few, we were able to see this both in and out of the theatre.   In part, this knack was a demonstration of his willingness to help those around him, his kindness and his tender heart.

I remember that my first day back at school after my best friend’s death was rough for me.  Lanford found me that day, at the benches, probably looking for a lighter.  He sat down next to me, patted my knee, and said.  “I heard what happened.  I don’t want to talk about it, it’s just too sad.  Let’s talk about something else.  Like that tree there –it’s  growing it’s leaves back.  I bet that means my garden is starting to open.”   And just like that, in those few words, created space for me to take the first breath I had taken all day.

I wish I could give words like that to you.  Something wise and beautiful and simple to hold onto during this time.  But I am not as skilled as he was.  He was, after all, a man of words.

A man of words reduced to these few from those he left behind, of words in thoughts and memories, in our minds hearts and on our lips.   It is in times like these that I look to the words of those before me, to comfort and guide, to let me know that I am not alone, that we are not alone.  I think that his words say it the best this time:

I don’t want to talk about it, it’s just too sad.  Let’s talk about something else.  Like that tree there–it’s  growing it’s leaves back.  I bet that means my garden is starting to open.

Jon Gow:

July 1, 2009

Once again, I sit at night and write a eulogy for a beloved friend.

When MJ contacted me about writing a few words, I was at a loss as to what to say.  To tell the truth, like most of you sitting there, I am still at a loss for words.  There is not much I can say that you don’t already know.  John was a gentle soul who cared about his students and friends, and who had a wicked sense of humor.  He always had a smile and a few minutes to talk to me, – to tell a joke, or a story about his cat.  In fact, more than once I found myself going to John’s office, even after he was banished to the communication building (note to reader, make sure that’s a real joke, and not at all harsh) to escape whatever stress might be going on else where.  His office was always a safe haven, he always made it safe to just be there.  And if he wasn’t there, he was in the shop or on stage, painting, or working with the lightening crew.  John was an amazing designer and scenic artist, and he has left his mark on an innumerable amount of theatrical productions, and, I think more importantly, students he worked with.  That you are all here is testament to his influence, and I wish that I could be there to help celebrate the life of this wonderful man – instead, I send my words. I wish you all peace and love in this time of loss.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourselves.  And know that this crazy little family that we have all formed in this program is better for knowing and loving John.

To close, something I’ve already said elsewhere, it will make sense to some, of you want the story, email me.  You can’t make coffee without a coffee pot.  I really will miss your sense of humor most of all.  I thought we were just stating facts.

Heather Varosky

March 17, 2007

When Rob died, Heather and I agreed that one of us needed to speak, and as she hated speaking in public because she would have much rather been the support than the spotlight – I was elected, and here I find myself our voice once again.

This has been a hard week, and that is an understatement, made all the harder because the person I always called in difficult situations is gone.  How do I talk about the loss of a piece of my heart, what words are there to describe the joy, laughter, and support that was always given – no strings attached.

Heather was my best friend and partner in crime, always there to teach a step, go grocery shopping or just be with.  She was one of those rare people who knew just what to do or say to make things better.  It was impossible to meet her and not love her.

Heather had a heart bigger than her slight frame.  She cared so much about everyone; her family and friends, the turtles on the road…  She loved deeply her father Ed, her mother Annie, Margret, Adam, the girls, Stewart, Erika, Allison…  the list goes on and on.  I truly believe that if she could tell us one last thing – it would be “I love you”.  And not only did she love, but she made a point of showing us that as well:  For example, when my boyfriend and I broke up earlier this year, I came home to a bag of my favorite bath beads hanging on my bedroom door with a note that simply said “I thought you might need this.”  Or that time she saved my neck by driving a book up to school after she had had a long day at work… And I know that for as many of you as are in this room, there are as many similar stories, Margret, her number 1 best friend, above all, understands.

I remember the first time I got into her car.  Heather drove, a lot, but always by herself.  I don’t think she took a breath for talking on that short drive to the mall (we loved shopping) she apologized at least 15 times for the babbling.  She was always so full of life, her spirit burned strong with it, and with love.

Her two favorite things in life were her family and dancing, and I was lucky enough to be part of both.  I remember the day after Abby was born – Heather drove to my house just to show me pictures of her new love.  And she was forever bragging about how smart and beautiful Emma is.  Every time she talked about them, you could see the aura of love surround her.  The same aura that came when she talked about Stewart, or anyone else she cared deeply about.

Heather had a special affection for children that spilled over to all parts of her life.  She adored her job, most especially the kids she worked with, even when they bit her.

There is nothing I can say to make this better, nothing I can do to repair the hole in our hearts.  I have nothing to give, save to share a memory or two.  I have so many memories of her, it’s hard to sort through these cherished possessions to know what to say, but one of my favorites is the story of Jake.  Heather used to tell me of how she went to the pound, and saw the dog with the gimp paw, she knew she had to adopt him because she was afraid no one else would.  I love that story because it says so much about her – she always tried to leave the world a better place, through her heart.  And I loved her for it and for so many other reasons.  In the end, I know that I am a better person for knowing her.

For those who know me, my closing should come as no surprise.  I am quite attached to music, however, I don’t have a single song to describe what I’m feeling; instead, I have made a cento, a combination of others words, that say for me what it is I want to say:

One part of me just wants to tell you everything, one
part just needs the quiet
No one told you it might be as hard as all you’ve seen;
It’s the stuff, the stuff of country songs,
Time it was and what a time it was
It was a time of innocence a time of confidences
I have a photograph, preserve your memory, there all
that’s left you

Remember how it used to be
When the sun would fill the sky
Remember how we used to feel
Remember how it used to be
When the stars would fill the sky
Remember how we used to dream
But now the sun shines cold and all the sky is grey
The stars are dimmed by clouds
And all I wish is gone away

I swear I saw you on a crowded street today
I almost called your name thinking of all those
Heaven help, how I miss my friend
I think about you all the time

How can I hold a part of me, that only you can carry
It needs a strength I haven’t found
I couldn’t say what it is that I’m feeling,
I don’t know how to say goodbye

When all our tears have reached the sea, part of you
will live in me, way down deep inside my heart
Beautiful girl with understanding underneath the grin

Now I look up I think see you in a silver cup
Trying to tell us that we’ve cried enough but I don’t
wanna walk away
You’re with me in a way that you will always be and I
hope that you feel free
I know this world is never gonna be the same
I’m gonna keep saying your name I don’t wanna walk away
You can’t get rid of me that fast I’ll come and find
you in my dreams
Cause you’re a part of all the things that last all the
way to eternity
I have this dream at night, almost every night it’s
easy to remember it:
It’s always cold it’s always day you’re always here you always say:

I’m all right, I’ll be ok
In the whisper on the wind, on the smile of a new friend, just think of me and I’ll be there
As you wonder through this troubled world,
You can close your eyes and your miles away and hear my
voice like a serenade
How long do you want to be loved, is forever enough is
forever enough?

Dear Heather how are you
God knows heaven where you are
Find some peace there may it never end
Dear Heather my heart knows we’ll meet again
Dear Heather I’ll see you someday again

And I’ll remember happiness, I’ll remember the love that you gave me, I’ll remember the strength that you gave me, now that I’m standing on my own
I’ll remember the way that you changed me I’ll remember

I couldn’t say what it is that I’m feeling,
I don’t know how to say goodbye

Your soul lies in harbor. It’s ready to dock
I wish you safe landing, without any shock.
And if ever we meet again, on land or on sea,
I will always remember your kindness to me.

My footsteps may falter, my wit it might fail
My course may be challenged by November gale
E’re fortune shall prove to be friend or be foe
You will always be with me, wherever I go.

May you know your loved
May shine above
On the mountain where you were born
May your spirit soar
There’s no pain anymore
May you find your way in peace

And there’s no more harm
In your saviors arms
See you fly away
In the sky
Did you hear the call
Of angels one and all
May you find your way in peace
May you find your way in peace

Rob White

March 17, 2006

How do I put into words the life of a man that meant so much to so many people.
Generous, intelligent, comforting…  and while he was all of these things and more, none of them seem to work.

He was young, too young.  And he left behind him a daughter he loved very much.  He always had a smile for everyone and always managed to keep the peace in the omaladies, not always the easiest of tasks.  He loved life, his job, his wife, his daughter, dancing…  he was a big bear who was one of those rare people that knew just what to say to make you feel better.

He had so much life left to live.  It’s not fair.  And while I realize that not fair is a place you don’t ride rides, I just don’t understand.

We were friends, and I loved him for that.  He was always there for me, whenever I needed him.  He helped me move, took me for coffee on more than one occasion.  He came to see my shows, even when I wasn’t in them.  He was my computer rehab for all those computer crack smoking instances.  He always had a smile and a joke for when I was feeling down.  The memory of a Rob, helping me pick between 3 different pink purses in a boutique in Dallas, will always make me smile.  Something about that man holding a pink basket purse…

He believed in me, thought I could do more than I thought I was capable of doing; for what it’s worth, he was right.  Two years ago he told me that I would be one day capable of making up my own steps, like the girls who have been dancing since they were little.  I did too, with Heather, on the Tuesday before.  I was so excited, I text him to tell him the good news, and he text right back with a joke, even though it was way past his bed time.  He was a wonderful father.  He was a horrible bowler, but then so were we all. But he bowled, like he lived, with everything he had, making jokes and cutting up the whole time.

He never saw our step.  And we will never get to go bowling again, like we promised each other we would on my birthday.  And I know that for as many people who knew him, there are just as many stories as I have.  He will be greatly missed.

When Heather and I were taking apart his dance floor, we ran into several small problems…  The first was trying to use two screw guns with dying batteries and only one bit that fit…  We had to constantly change screw guns, plugging the other into the wall for the ten minutes the other battery would work, and we always forgot to take the bit out first…  And then there was getting the last board out.  We pulled and pulled and it just would not come out.  Suddenly I realized that it was screwed into the wall.  At the moment, Heather and I laughed, knowing that somewhere, Rob was laughing at us, wishing he could be there.

I want to have more than a stuffed monkey and a text message from a man who meant so much to me, a man I never told how I appreciated his friendship.  And yet, here I am, holding a stuffed monkey, wishing I could find the perfect words for our dancing bear with the crazy shirts.

It is in time like these that I find comfort in other peoples words.  I keep thinking of a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  “He was a man, taken for all and all I shall not look upon his like again.”  And by John Quincy Adams.   “The influence we have on other human beings in this life is a kind of immortality.” I will hold these words and the memory of Rob in my heart always.

In closing, I would like to, once again, quote someone else’s words.  I found this song on accident, a few days after.  It has helped me more than I can say.  And while I will save your eardrums:  this is for Rob.

May your soul be blest
May your body rest
On the mountain where you were born
May your spirit soar
Where there’s joy evermore
May you find your way in peace

And there’s no more harm
In your saviors arms
See you fly away
In the sky
Did you hear the call
Of angels one and all
May you find your way in peace

May you know your loved
May shine above
On the mountain where you were born
May your spirit soar
There’s no pain anymore
May you find your way in peace

And there’s no more harm
In your saviors arms
See you fly away
In the sky
Did you hear the call
Of angels one and all
May you find your way in peace

May you find your way in peace
May you find your way in peace


Written by FlamingBard

May 22, 2011 at 1:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Written by FlamingBard

May 22, 2011 at 1:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized