Thursday, January 26, 2006


I keep looking at the page, at my notes, and there’s lots of things to write about, but then I see the notice about Hector’s death and to quote the good Captain Malcolm Reynolds, “None of it means a damn thing.” Hector is dead, and that puts a damper on things. Of course, life must go on, so here I am doing some freewriting to get out what’s in my soul. I’ll likely be turning to the freewriting technique more frequently until I can return with focus to the topics that sit patiently (or not so) in my task list.

So freewriting, for those not familiar, is a writing technique that is like Drano for the mind. You set a time limit, and for the duration you write whatever is in your puny little head. Before doing this, I should have changed my IM status to “busy,” because I’m getting interrupted, but that’s what ALT+TAB is for. Anyway, you write whatever and you don’t edit, at least not substantially, and you absolutely do not stop writing. The point is to get the juices flowing and get whatever is deep down and blocking you up and out.

One thing that’s coming up for me (boy, sounds like I ate some bad tuna, doesn’t it?) is that Bioware’s search for new writers is almost over and I didn’t submit anything. I really want a writing credit, but I didn’t go for this contest of theirs, and interestingly I think I’m really ok with that. Even if I was selected, I’d almost certainly not get an offer making close to what I make now. Also, I’d have to move to Edmonton, and I’m not about to relocate. Amanda has to stay here for several more months so her student loan will be forgiven, and we have no desire to leave anyway. And then there’s what’s going on with Dad.

We visited the folks this past weekend, and Dad was limping badly and complaining about a pain in his hips. One MRI later, it turns out that Dad has a fractured pelvis, and how’d he do that, you ask? Just by getting out of a chair. He’s got osteoporosis, and he’s not getting any younger. Mom and Dad want us to live close to them, and Amanda and agree. We’d love to have them very near, and they need it. I’m looking out the window at my trees (funny to call them mine, but I think of it more like my friends, the trees, then my wood fiber property) and no I don’t want to move, so hopefully I won’t. Amanda and I need to get numbers on housing prices and taxes in NH compared to CT. Lots of homework to do, but I’m looking forward to it. I love my folks, and I’d love to have them close for their sakes and those of my kids.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Goodbye Hector

Hector passed away this morning after fighting cancer for over four years.  I knew when I visited him at the hospital on Tuesday that his time would be short, but I'm still shaken by the news.  

I first met Hector at a Games Weekend, after trading emails with him.  I was new to the area and delighted to meet people like me, who loved stories and games that other people dismiss as weird.  During our first conversation I was struck by how open Hector was.  He spoke to me as if we had long been friends.  He told me in confidence about how he'd written to Gary Gygax and that he would be a guest at an upcoming Games Weekend.  Months later I was lucky enough to win a seat at Gary's table, so I have Hector to thank for that unforgettable experience.

It was around that time that I started thinking about a little town called Farmingham and the people who lived there, and I arrived at another Games Weekend nervous that I wouldn't have any interested players.  Hector actually ditched another game to play in mine, and it was there that he began his relationship with Raine.  I gave birth to her, but Hector made her live, through his amazing dialog ("You call being a Slayer an opportunity?  Now a Hooter's girl, that's an opportunity!") and his many stories that expanded the world outside Farmingham's city limits.  

There's a sad silence tonight at the Double R Diner, the Vault, Farmingham High and the Old Mill.  Out behind MacEnroe Motors, Raine sits with her head in her hands as the tears flow, and I'm right there with her.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hector's Health

I got an email this morning from Sharon saying that Hector was back in the hospital and it didn’t look good.  I called the hospital and got his sister-in-law, Nancy, on the line.  She didn’t sound devastated and I hoped that was a good sign.  

After lunch I dropped Amanda and the kids off at Kindermusic and drove on to Exeter hospital.  Once I figured out that the North and South buildings are completely different (Main entrance is in North, but to get to patients rooms you need to take the elevator up to the main causeway on floor 3, which in South is floor 1, so that you can take a separate set of elevators ...?) I found Hector asleep in his shared room.  

The fellow next to him was explaining a recipe to his visitor, and looking at Hector I wished that he could be that interested in food.  He’s beyond the heroine chic look and has gone on to concentration camp.  Seeing his bare arms I imagined the nurses must have a bad time getting a blood pressure cuff on him.  I stood and watched him for a few minutes before hearing my name.  I turned to see Sharon standing next to a much taller woman whom she introduced as her sister Nancy, same as I spoke with earlier.  Now that I think back on it, they didn’t look much alike.  

Both Sharon and Nancy started fussing Hector to wake him, which surprised me —I figured that sleep must be a blessing to him — but they got his eyes open long enough to see me.  He was so weak that he was always drifting off.  He never spoke unless answering a question, most of which came from Nancy.  She might be a nurse, because she gently prompted him about how comfortable he was:  were his pillows too high, was his neck craned.  She learned that the skin on his back was try and after getting some lotion she turned him and rubbed him down.  I think I saw the shadow of a smile on smile on his face while she did this, and I found it sobering that this was a true comfort to a dying man.

Sharon told me that he doctors give it two days to two months.  His kidneys can’t take anymore.  I offered word that Amanda had given me about the kidneys recovering after chemo stops, but Sharon said that after almost four years of it his are done.  She was able to say this without tears, and even tell me that she was going to tell their two sons tonight that their daddy isn’t going to get better this time.  I found it sobering that an ending, even this one, is a comfort to the wife of a dying man.  Had I endured what she has endured I’m sure I would find it a comfort too.  I pray their boys will see it that way.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dear Mr Ravita

Dear Mr. Ravita,

I opened my email this morning to find a note from my parents mentioning your retirement.  I immediately set out to send you something, and thanks to the Internet that wasn’t hard to do, but I’ve found that it isn’t enough.  You deserve more than a gift basket.

When I met you my senior year at Bristol Central I had just come off some bad times.  The prior year, I’d suffered a large disappointment.  I’d been approached by the heads of the English and Social Studies departments, both of whom I had classes with, and told that I’d been selected to attend the summer program for the Humanities at Choate Rosemary Hall, a prestigious private school.  My good friend Andrej had already been selected for Mathematics, so he I would be there together.  My family had been planning a trip to visit relatives in Europe that summer, so I remember asking Rita Gerzanick if she was sure that I was going, and she replied unequivocally, “Yes, you’re going.”  

The following week I began to wonder.  I heard from classmates of a selection process and of other candidates, like Jennifer Dickau, the daughter of Gale Dickau, who was also a faculty member in the English department.  I was concerned that Mrs. Gerzanick hadn’t mentioned any selection process to me, but I assumed that it was some kind of formality since she had been so certain the week before.  Also, the head of the Social Studies department had selected me (I think his name was Ted Lowendowski) and I was taking an elective advanced History class with him at the time, while Jen Dickau wasn’t taking any History class at all.  

The week after, the morning announcements congratulated Jen on being selected.  My parents, who were just about to cancel our summer vacation, were furious, and they called Rita Gerzanick at her home.  After being given the phone I asked her if nepotism played any part in the decision.  “Yes, of course it did,” she said.  She said that I should meet her in her office so that she could explain, but I never did.  I avoided Mrs. Gerzanick for some time afterwards and I never discussed the matter again.

My junior year I also had honors English with Ann Norton, and I’m guessing that you’ve heard her reputation.  I’m sure some of her dislike for me was my fault, as I was opinionated and sometimes outspoken, but I don’t believe I deserved the open contempt she heaped on me that year.  I probably should have dropped her class, but I couldn’t bring myself to so.  English was my favorite and best subject, and I felt that if I dropped her class that she would have beaten me.

Then, my senior year, I met you.  You encouraged me to try out for Madrigals, and I became one of your tenors.  Later that year we were the first group to sing for Andy Williams.  You also prompted me to take the musical aptitude test, and join the gifted-and-talented program, both of which boosted my self-esteem.  

And maybe most of all, you spoke to me as a friend.  There was an incident during one of our voice lessons where my bitterness bubbled out at another student.  I was really mean, and I didn’t even realize it.  Later, you took me aside and talked to me about it and my attitude in general, and for the first time I realized that I was spilling my anger at Rita Gerzanick and Ann Norton on others.  I committed to myself that I wouldn’t do that again.  Thanks to your concern, I turned a corner.

I wish you a wonderful retirement.  You’ve earned it.

Be well,

Chris Dellario