To those who have gone before July 22, 2013Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in deep thoughts, random thoughts, sadness.
This week… what can I say about this week?
How about “Damn it, I want a reset button?”
This week, in the space of three days, I lost two good friends.
Marty Gear was East Coast Fandom’s Uncle Vlad (as you can see above. He did vampire cos-play before it was cool.) He was surrogate father, grandfather, favorite uncle to many, many people. He was a SMOF (a Secret Master of Fandom), someone who had rubbed elbows with the Grand Masters, and he was hugely influential in costuming and in fandom in general. I’m told that he’d recently gotten into filking.
He died in his sleep on July 18th, at the age of 74. Friends of mine had seen him earlier in the week, and he’d mentioned that he was thinking of cutting back on his fannish activities.
Then, Sunday morning, I woke to the news that Dom Corrado had died in his sleep.
Dom was larger than life (literally and figuratively — most people knew him as Big Dom. Others knew him as Von Fritz, his persona when he was in college at Lehman. It was quite amusing to be in the same room with my cousin the day he discovered that the new friend I’d just introduced to him was someone he’d heard about for years when HE was in college). He taught English in the Bronx for years, until a crazy student attacked him and he had to retire on medical disability. Ever since Sunday, Dom’s Facebook page has been exploding with former students and fannish friends, offering condolences and reminiscing.
I have to admit that I was kinda-sorta responsible for bringing Dom to Lunacon the first time. I’d met him through my then-boyfriend, who had been one of Dom’s students. And we asked him if he was interested in going to a science fiction convention with the Bronx Science Science Fiction and Fantasy group. But I neglected to mention to him that he was the only adult going with this bunch of kids.
So he got there and discovered that he was… the chaperon.
I’m not sure he ever forgave me that. But he also never left Lunacon. He adopted the convention the same way he adopted his students, to the point of having special ribbons printed up every year for the Bronx Science contingent (the original ones, the ones that came later, and the children of those kids). Those ribbons said “Dom’s Kids.”
It was a badge of honor.
According to what I’ve heard, the ME says that Dom had a massive heart attack, and never knew what hit him. He died in bed, sitting up, with his glasses on. Probably reading — a very Dom way to go.
This has been a HARD year for East Coast fandom– science fiction and SCA alike. The ones I can think of off the top of my head are Craig Levin (also known as Dom Pedro de Alcazar), who was Atlantian Drakkar Herald the last I’d heard. He was a dear man, a passionate scholar, a NASA librarian and just plain fun to be around. Judy Gerjuoy, (better known as Jaelle of Armida, former Laurel Queen at Arms for Atlantia) who annually threw a Thanksgiving party for all of her friends and relations, for the past few years coming in from the Netherlands to do so. That party was Darkover, a fantastic convention which will be meeting for one more time this year to honor her memory, then will become a whisper in the darkness. I have fond memories of Darkover. For some people, the holidays start with the Macy’s parade. For me, it started a few days later, with the midnight singing of the Hallelujah Chorus around the pool of the convention hotel.
Think I’m joking?
(The best seat in the house was in the hot tub. People would bring their own sheet music. This is the reason I can sing the Hallejuah Chorus from memory)
I have to say that losing Dom was the one that hurt the worst. He was the one I was closest to, the one who was there for me when my parents died. He was like my favorite uncle, or my big brother, and I miss him. I regret that I never had the chance to have him meet my son (who he would have LOVED).
I wish I could be at the funeral. I can’t. It’s in New York and I’m not.
So here’s my memorial.
To those who have gone before.
We miss you.
We’ll see you again.
We love you.