My brother in law and dear friend, George Graham, died early today after a struggle with esophageal cancer. He was not quite 54, and I can’t get my head around it yet. Until a month or so ago he and Karen were pretty optimistic, and I always thought he would outlive me.
We were utterly different people who shared a surprising number of interests: our deep love for Karen; a fascination for New England nature, especially in its maritime aspects, and all its inhabitants; great enjoyment in telling stories and drinking until all hours of the night; local lore and language; eating an enormous amount of delicacies unknown to westerners, like bluefish and fried clams with bellies– who is going to find me the good clam shacks now?
Though he didn’t know it, he had already inspired me to write about the returning alewife run he showed me last year. I always hoped he’d come out here again — he enjoyed shooting Winchester level action rifles, and patronizing the Golden Spur Bar, where the locals loved to make him talk to hear his accent: “Say your name, George”. He taught me that for all my airs I am “OFD” “Officially F****n”‘ Dawchesta”, born on Templeton Street just off “Dot (Dorchester) Ave”, on a site now obliterated by New Ashmont station. I left at four, but my private schools from five up and my pronunciation of the letter “r” notwithstanding, he made me say the one “r”- less thing he knew I would:
“What parish were you born in- don’t think about it, just SAY it!”
(ME) “Saint Maahk’s!”.Learned before four and never forgotten.
George: “SEE? Only people from New Orleans and Dawchesta know the answer to that question! You’re from Saint Maahk’s off Dot Ave– your as OFD as Maahk Wahlberg!”
I’ll have a lot more to say later. For now it is enough to say: he was a wonderful man, a great father, and the best husband my sister Karen could have had. We will all miss him.
Thank you, George, for being the friend that you were to a talkative cranky old man in the desert. We love you, and will miss you.
|With Tom Russell and co at Passim in Harvard Square|
|It seems like just a week ago- celebrating my new book, which they got before I did (and notice they have the Gorbatov cover image on their wall)|