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The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism
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Friday, January 15, 2010
lost 2 more friends
Listening to:a barking dog out my office window
Weather:36, overcast
I went to Jamie Veltri's funeral and wake today. The funeral was just another in a long series of extremely unsatisfying funerals I have been to lately. Copious bible reading, nothing relevant or real or about the man. But the wake was cool, back at Jamie's house, the house he grew up in, still decorated like his mama Sundae left it decades ago. Handpainted florals in pictureframe molding on the plaster walls and even on the ceilings. Very Italian. Kitchen unchanged since the 50's except perhaps for the addition of a microwave and automatic drip coffee pot exchanged for the old percolator.

Jamie was my next-door neighbor when we lived at 245 Kingwood Street back when Livi was a toddler. Jamie was 53 when he died last weekend, so back in the mid-90's when we lived there he would have been in his late 30's. He had schizophrenia. He was a very likeable and happy big guy with a huge laugh. He did that rhyming/singsongy thing that is apparently common among schizophrenics. It was delightful, especially to a little toddler. Liv adored Jamie. They would sit on Jamie's porch swing together and hang out.

When Jamie's dad Joe died several years ago I worried about what might become of Jamie. He was a generous man who loved company, and he always had weed, so he would occasionally attract some unsavory vultures around the first week of the month. I moved way out of town and got busy with life, I didn't go around and hang out with him like I should have, especially that first week of the month, so the vultures knew he had good friends. But he had plenty of better friends than me, thank goodness, and people watched out for him.

Sometimes he'd tell me some fairly elaborate stories about how he was really not Joe's child, he was born in NYC, and was brought down to WV in a long black limousine, part of some very secret government project. It involved Interpol.

Jamie played poker with his buddies on Wednesday nights, and he was just fine at last week's game, according to Al. He went into the hospital on Friday and died on Saturday, sounds like a pretty mercifully short decline. I'm glad he didn't have a protracted suffering. He'll be missed by many folks around Morgantown, a place he very rarely ever left. Hell, he rarely left his own house. But he made many connections between people, and was happy to befriend some folks who were not your ordinary people. He was a good guy, I'll miss him.

And also this week another one-of-a-kind groovy dude I knew died. Stuart McGehee, passionate professor and evangelist of coalfield history, connoisseur of craft beer, and frontman for the fine electric psychedelic blues band The Bluestone Wildcats, shot himself. He apparently had a wicked advanced cancer that doomed him to a short miserable future. He chose not to live that future.

The Wildcats provided celebratory music for the culmination of the Bramwell Oktoberfest for the past many years. Stuart and I poured beer last year at Station 4 together. He seemed to be loving life, schmoozing the festers, giving generous pours to the ladies, glibly offering testimony about the huge list of beers at our station, and generally celebrating the fine beer bounty with the crowd. He was in his element. And it's not just sweetened hindsight that the band was just on freakin fire last year. I remember feeling downright tribal around the fire during their pounding rendition of Bob Marley's Exodus.

We come, we go. Let's ride the wheels off.

permalink posted by cat 4:59 PM

read 2 comments

What an absolutely wonderful eulogy!
A very dear friend of mine died suddenly over a year ago and I just could not bear to go to her funeral. Hearing a vicar, who had never met her whilst alive, blathering on about personal qualities she probably did not have... people who had fallen out with her repeatedly pretending they were lovey-dovey the entire time... all that crap. No I really cold not face any of that!

I'm sorry about your friend though.
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