Nobody Beats The Disease
I was going to call this The Laws Of The Heart and then opted to go with Is There A Point To Medium?
Except I didn’t use either of those because experience has taught me it is better to let the words that flow from my fingertips guide me on my journey.
More than a quarter century has gone by since we found out he was HIV+ and the older I get the more I realized I learned from him and the more questions I have.
Most will remain unanswered because the man I would have asked left here for whatever comes after our time.
He Would Have Loved That Quote
It is around the Spring of ’90 and I am back at my uncle’s apartment in San Francisco.
We are in the center of The Castro and my uncle is teaching me about life but it will be years before I understand some of the lessons.
There is a mix of men and couples walking the street and if they weren’t same sex it wouldn’t even register. Some are holding hands, some are kissing and others are just walking down the street.
I know my uncle is watching me and I can’t tell if he is testing. He has a big smile on his face and is active in our conversation.
He’ll tell me about how he married a woman so she could gain citizenship, about a couple of girls he dated in high school and then laugh with me at some of the stories I tell.
When I ask him about some of the jobs he had and talk about what I might do in the future he’ll talk in terms of following your heart and figuring out how to make enough to make it work.
Today I want to talk about the laws of the heart in love and satisfaction. Today I want to speak with him as I am now and not who I was then.
Today I want to look at him and say I understand why grandpa (his dad) used to say you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders and how I have passed it down.
But he is not here so there is no back and forth to be had.
I want to look at him and say, ‘Uncle Jimmy, I Got Fucked but you are part of why I kept going. But he also needs to know that the examples I saw from the men in the family were helpful but I chose to stand.
Don’t know if he would remember that day in the Castro and how I told him I would go with him to meet his friends that night.
It was a different sort of bar scene for me but a thousand years later I look at that moment and know it is part of the fabric that enables me to be comfortable anywhere.
We are at my uncle’s funeral and I am talking to one of his old boyfriends.
Tears are rolling down his face and he apologizes for crying. I tell him it is ok and he tells me he loved my uncle.
I nod my head. I am sad my uncle is gone but I haven’t any issue with his sexuality or his relationship.
Suddenly it occurs to me today is 21 years since he died and I can’t explain what made me think of that. Maybe it was in the back of my mind, maybe he reached out from beyond or maybe it is some other reason.
Don’t care because another memory from the funeral is demanding to be scene. Uncle Jimmy’s boyfriend isn’t just telling me he loved him, he is saying something about love and life cut short.
He was only 49, just a few years older than I am now.
Maybe it didn’t sink in then because when you are a twenty-something year old kid you know dying in your forties is young but you don’t realize how very young it is.
If You Forget Me
Would Uncle Jimmy look at that Pablo Neruda poem and get the same feeling from it as I do?Would he appreciate that kind of love and feeling?
Did he ever love someone so fiercely it took his breath away? Did it hurt to think about what would happen if he never got the chance to find out if that person was one of the special few?
I don’t know, won’t ever find out first hand.
Midnight approaches and I look back at This Too Shall Pass- The Guilty Father to see what I wrote.
That twenty something year old kid who hung out with my uncle in The Castro would have been disappointed to read those words.
He would have shook his head and asked questions that no one can answer. Would have made some silly remarks because he didn’t know better and maybe, just maybe Uncle Jimmy would have told him that “you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders.”
But if I know anything for certain my uncle who was rarely caught without a smile on his face would have kicked the twenty-something in the ass and set him straight.
That kid looked at five years as being a long period of time because he lacked perspective that comes with age.
Today I would tell you that five more years with my uncle would have been too short but I still would have taken it.
Nobody beats the disease is what we said back then but in a way he did because here I am all these years later still talking and thinking about him.