Two weeks ago I walked into the Mint at about 4PM on a Sunday afternoon and had the awful realization that I’d come in JUST in the middle of a moment silence dedicated to Jim. It was six months since he died and the Mint was holding a Memorial/Celebration for him.
Jim was an older gentleman in his 80’s, a true hold over from a more sophisticated era. He was just a sweet, gentle guy, who even at his age, and in the last few months of his life, always had a kind word and a twinkle in his eye, and would get up there and sing New York, New York like he was Sinatra at Carnegie Hall in 1977.
At that age, when you go into the hospital for pneumonia, you generally don’t come out, and that’s pretty much (as I understand it) what happened.
But until he got sick, he was jaunty and jovial, and drinking a dapper martini.
So I miss him, but I’m not mourning.
This Monday night, just as I was settling in for House Party, I got the message that Lane had died.
It wasn’t a shock (for reasons I’ll explain momentarily) but it hurt.
I can’t say I knew Lane really well. We’d see each other at the Mint on the occasional Saturday or Sunday. Hang out for a few hours. Snark and schmooze. We had a similar taste in music, especially 50’s and 60’s pop. He was a member of an Acapella Group called The Starry Knights. He was someone I considered a friend, if not a close friend. I'm not sure exactly how old he was, but it couldn't have been any older than mid-50s and might have been younger.
He was also the partner of Todd who I’ll be presumptuous enough to say, I consider a good and close friend, although also one I rarely saw away from the Mint. Todd & I go back to very early in my Mint days. Early enough that we’ve seen each other do so crazy and not always good for us stuff.
I was there when Lane and Todd were courting at the Mint and I was there for their commitment ceremony. I always thought of them as the best of what a couple could be.
I knew from Todd reporting to me on some of those time when Lane wasn’t with him at the Mint that there were a string of long-standing medical issues. Sometimes I’d see him at the Mint and get a run-down of the most recent surgeries or treatments. He always managed to stay upbeat, even when he related what sounded to me like some really horrifying stuff.
In February, Todd emailed me that Lane had gone into the hospital for a stomach infection. That eventually led to a colostomy and a whole series of surgeries and hospitalizations. I can’t begin to imagine how bad it was physically and emotionally. I visited him twice in the hospital. Both times he was sort of out of it, but also managed to chat with me. I found out things I hadn’t known, like the fact that he’d actually been in the travel industry, back when it wasn’t quite so hideous.
I actually felt like I got to know him better during those two visits than I had in the years I’d known him before just at the Mint.
I’d sort of lost track of what was going on with him in the last few months. I’d assumed he was home and recovering, until I got an email from Todd on November 12, that he was back in the hospital.
I think then I suspected it might be close to the end. He’d had so many surgeries this year that it was very difficult for the doctors to do anything about the newest problem.
I hate most of the clichés about death and dying and as you know I’m imperfect atheist, but to whatever extent there is peace and a better place, I believe that Lane is there.
Even if there is no literal heaven, there’s a “Mint Heaven” in my mind, where all the members of our family that we’ve lost over the years, hang out, drink, sing and watch over us. So Lane is there now with Jim and Rachel and Jack and Danny.
Perhaps I will sing some Doo-wop for him on Sunday.
I think "In The Still Of The Nite" would be good.