Ross died this morning around 2:00 a.m.
That was his name. Ross Dormon. Winter Haven boy, son of a doctor, grew up on a lake as all good Winter Haven boys and girls do. Handsome as the day is long. Could make a woman feel like the most beautiful thing on the planet with a word and yet his words never felt sleazy or weird or inappropriate. Just...I see you. You are beautiful. He loved women. Women loved him. I knew so many women who had known him and not one of them had anything to say about him that was bitter or angry in any way. My mama met him once and after he left she said, "Who was THAT?"
Okay, okay. That's not exactly what I meant to write about Ross. He was so much more than a man with the gift of seeing the beauty in women of all ages, shapes, and shades and then reflecting that beauty back on them so that they could see it too. Men loved Ross too. Our friend Tom is devastated. Mr. Moon cried at the news that he was gone. There was just something about him.
Jessie told me this morning that she always liked seeing Ross. That he seemed to have such good energy. And he did. He wasn't one of those people who seem determined to spread good cheer and sparkly unicorn rainbows. He had extremely negative opinions when it came to politics, to the government. He had good reason to be. Before he died he sued the government for compensation for his exposure to Agent Orange and he won a settlement. Not much and of course it didn't save his life but I think he was proud to have done it. It was a way for him to feel that the bastards had admitted wrong-doing. Finally and at last.
But no matter what he said, no matter what he was talking about, he had a way of talking in that slow, southern voice of his that calmed and soothed the ear, the soul. He always spoke with a tone of bemusement and amusement. He was as quick to point out the good as he was to flay the evil.
He saw the beautiful. He saw the humor. But he saw the darkness. I think he carried some of that darkness within him and I think that women saw that and had a yearning to ease it.
I don't know.
I don't know much.
I know he was incredibly intelligent and that he was probably one of the first people in Florida to be enrolled in the Medical Marijuana program. I saw him outside of Costco once and he showed me the vape pen that he had in his pocket, told me he was legal now.
"What were you diagnosed with?" I asked him. The whole idea was still novel to me.
"Anxiety," he drawled in his Ross voice. "Anxiety that I'll run out of weed."
I know that after he got home from SE Asia, he became as anti-war and as counter-culture as anyone could be. When he became older, he grew his beard long and braided it. It was regal. He looked like a wizard.
I know that he loved good food and that when he was undergoing chemo for one or another of the cancers he had he hated the fact that he couldn't eat sushi while he was on it. His wife was a gourmet cook and Lord, I bet she loved to feed him.
He did a series of short recordings for PBS about the Viet Nam War. I'm going to try to embed them here. I may have linked to them before.
I could not be more proud of him if he were my pet dog who had learned to roll over, shake hands, and stay on command.
I have no desire to write an end-of-the-year post. I have already written an end-of-the-life post. In a way.
And yet label them we do. Otherwise, all would be chaos, I suppose. Or to be more accurate, more chaotic than it is now.
If I had a New Year's wish it would be that we all cherish what we have this moment. Our loves, our lives. Ain't none of it going to last forever. Drink deeply of it while you can.
Rest in peace, dear man. There was no one else like you. I doubt there ever will be.