I was planning on some really cool technical junk for tonight’s post, but midway through the day I caught word of a friend’s death.Part of maintaining a non-anonymous public online presence means continually maintaining (trying to maintain?) implied privacy — people don’t like to see critiques of decisions they make, even when the situation is sanitized as much as possible so as to be anonymous; I don’t like throwing people under the bus, but I do get a kick out of scrutinizing bad choices so I can try to make better ones (I routinely burn down my own ideas and decisions; I’m impartial as to where they come from). Because of this strict anonymity, many written things here become self-centric (because I can deal with me complaining) or so ambiguous that they’ve lose all meaning.
Another difficulty is that of honoring. Not for the person being honored, but for those that person may have wronged, or for those that feel they’ve been wronged. It’s easy to deify someone you’ve not known your whole life, and it’s easy to censor memories when reality makes heroes less than heroic at all times.
Today I’m going to break that second rule and pay my respects to Dayle Jellings. While he was almost certainly not perfect, I am ignorant of his misdeeds and have no desire to become privy to them. I know that he rendered me service and friendship unlike that of any other, all while never asking for anything in return. Transportation, ice cream, laundry money, hair cuts, fellowship, those are the things I remember him for. Even after I moved out he still kept in touch, traveling far out of his way just to say hello. After we left he remembered each of us years later. When one of us made a poor decision, he didn’t abandon or condemn.
A Lauri Anderson lyric describes losing a father as a whole library burning down. For me, Jellings was more than a library; he was a friend. He will be missed.
His facebook account has him immortalized (at least updated with a eulogy of sorts), complete with a friend wishing him a speedy recovery. Such hollow wishes always choke me up. How powerless we really are, how fragile life is.