Garry Meier used to say this all the time, though he meant it as a nudge to keep Steve on track when his stories wandered into space reserved for news or commercials.
Roger Ebert’s latest journal entry addressees this notion in its sadder, more universal reality: we watch people we love die. We will die too. We are reduced as we travel through loss, and we will some day be made invisible. We will be ghost- like in our presence, existing in memories alone. And then, mostly forgotten. Damn.
The occasions that triggered his sentimental journey are chronicled in this entry.
I expect that the death of Connie Zonka is more than Roger can bear right now. It marks the end of an era, one he enjoyed with vigor as he spent animated weekends at his duplex getaway.
Steve and I often headed to New Buffalo in the 80’s. We were guests at the duplex referenced within this column. The place was an assemblage of mismatched furniture. The yard had a raggedy look, and not much effort was invested in manicuring it. It was kind of a hippie palace. Some would say a dump. Most of all, it was Roger and Bob’s mecca.
All were welcome to visit; invitations were generously disseminated. Roger and his compatriots would bring food and wine from the city. The hodge podge of visitors percolated with lively discussions and constantly branching friendships. I recall watching a guest make cous cous when I had no idea what cous cous was. There was an organic zest for company and conversation. We were made comfortable despite the fact that we traveled with a pack of 3 boys, and our ability to converse was abbreviated by our need to track their firefly-chasing energy. We brought nothing to the party, and we felt like we were blessed to be there.
Roger is a wonder of the world for me. He is eloquent, brilliant and generous. He has taken many hits to his body and his rolodex of friends, yet he soldiers on. He is intrepid, constantly exploring. Take away my voice, he says- I’ll find a new one. Take away my ability to eat, I can still write a cookbook. He reminds me of the song I Get Knocked Down, but I Get Up Again. His writing takes me to many places I would not visit on my own. His journals and the links he folds in are a masterclass in humanity. His resilience is inspirational, legendary. But he has been ambushed by life of late, and his words resonate with fatigue.
It breaks my heart to read words that tell me he is in pain. Life can be cruel. Roger’s habit of sharing allows us to scan the road ahead, and recollect and appreciate the road we’ve traveled. He has hit a hard patch. My words would be too feeble to comfort him- I am the queen of cliches. His spirit is buoyant, but is bogged down at this moment. Yet he gets up every day, starts anew, brings us his passion for film and life. He is our treasure.
He is also one of the puzzle pieces that secure the Sun Times to this earth. For now.
Visit his site and share in his wisdom. Make it a habit, and you will be enriched. If you are better with words than I, comfort and thank him. If you just wish to be inspired, hover over his past entries. His “family” of commenters is often as eloquent as he is, and it is a lovely place to visit.