Saturday, April 26, 2008

Studio Tour and Sadness

Today a dear friend and I visited several local artists' studio during the annual Roanoke Studio tour. In keeping with my voyeur tendencies, I found studying the furnishings and shelved books more enticing and telling than most of the art on display. My snooping as a child in search of family truths has certainly carried over into my adulthood - I find poking around cellphones and email easier than asking directly when relationships seem amiss.

I meet Bill more than twenty years ago working at a local steak restaurant while attending nursing school. He was responsible for cutting and preparing the steaks to order, therefore, the waitstaff found it imperative to respond to Bill favorably. Customers often tip based on the quality of the food even though they must know the waitstaff does not cook the food themselves so I quickly determined my financial gains depended on large part with a positive relationship with Bill. He was gruff and dismissive with most of the staff and was well aware that some made jokes of his heavy browed appearance and frequent use of literary references. Predictably, Bill and I developed a friendship, hanging out together after work and going to the 1987 Grateful Dead concert in Roanoke - he played their music exclusively in his section of the kitchen. After I left the restaurant we would bump into each other and he would tell me how happy he was of the success he felt I had attained professionally. Seven or eight years ago I sadly started to see him as a patient in the hospital - years of hard living had gravely injured his health. One time I overheard Bill telling a co-worker exactly how many years, weeks and days he had known me. He had apparently been nurturing great affection for me all those years. Yesterday, I saw his obituary in the paper - his date of death was six weeks ago. I can't help but wonder if his body was left unclaimed for those six weeks since he had no family or close friends....I can't help but to ponder this great sadness and only hope his passing was peaceful...