Sunday, January 13, 2019

rest in peace, my friend

I saw Bill Keezer's email before I looked at my own blog's news feed: the sad news has come that Steve Krodman, the blogger who went by "Elisson" (derived from "Eli's son," hence the double "s" and the single "l") has died of causes related to ALS. The progress of his disease was frighteningly fast, a rapid downhill rush from diagnosis to difficulty moving and breathing to total loss of limb function (he had to dictate his final blog post to his daughter, who typed for him) to the news I got this morning from Bill. There was no Hawking-style, years-long lingering. This was, as ALS progressions go, rather quick and brutal.

In his mid-sixties, Steve leaves behind his wife Dee (Donna) and his two daughters, Melissa and Jocelyn. Melissa, if I remember correctly, only recently gave birth around Thanksgiving last year, thus making Steve a granddad before his end.

Steve and I corresponded with some frequency. We even met once, at National Airport, when he was passing through the Metro area on his way somewhere. We sat down for lunch, talked about all sorts of topics, spoke French to each other (he claimed not to have knowledge beyond high-school French, but he was pretty damn good), and parted ways with a hug—initiated by Steve, of course; I do hugs, but I'm rarely the one initiating them.

If you've had the chance to read through Steve's several blogs—Blog d'Elisson, Lost in the Cheese Aisle, and his latest and last, The Concentrated Mind—you know Steve was a talented writer and a first-class wit. Like me, he shared a love of both the scholarly and the scatological, and he could express crude thoughts in a most literate manner. It's always good to have one foot planted on the earth and one hand reaching up into the celestial, for we are all both animal and angel, and Steve exemplified this duality with style and verve. I'll miss his writing; his blogs were always among my go-to reads for any given day.

One thing that truly saddens me is that it wasn't so long ago that Steve had written about the passing of his own dad. Life can be cruel in how it lines us up to be pushed off the cliff; it's unfortunate that Steve had to die so soon after the passing of his father. But if Steve's death reinforces one thing in my mind, it's this: terminally ill or not, we are all born with an invisible sell-by date stamped onto our foreheads, so life needs to be lived to the fullest before we reach that date. Steve was an amateur chef and gastronome; he reveled in the cultural and had deep roots within his own Jewish community. His family is a good, solid, tight-knit one—a true circle of care that surrounded him in a months-long hug when his ALS diagnosis became known. May we all learn from his example.

But Steve was also a poet, and I'd be remiss if I didn't compose a death poem for the man—something appropriately naughty and gross. So I give you The Elisson Sonnet:

To fart is life, the wisest men will say
A fact that I affirm with every heave
I fart to greet, to blow my woes away
I fart hello; I fart to take my leave

But cosmic truth shows holy symmetry
So this, the truth, I now impart to you:
"To fart is life" is evident to me,
But Life's a fart is also just as true

The happy man of farts is full of life
He farts a blessing on his kids and wife

But life, just like a fart upon the wind,
Does come and go in haste, so breathe it in!

RIP, Steve. I'll miss you. And now, because I know it's what you'd want me to do, I'm going to go have myself a nice, warm bowl of gumbo and eat it heartily, mindful of the gift of your presence among us on this plane of existence.

ADDENDUM: in a seemingly unrelated blog post, Lorianne writes:
I’ve realized some inexorable truths. The day after a snowstorm is almost always sunny, and the most bitterly cold days often have the clearest, bluest skies.

ADDENDUM 2: Steve's full obituary has now been slapped up on his blog.


John Mac said...

That's a wonderful tribute, Kevin. Sorry and sad to see the good ones leave us. And yes, a reminder to live large and fully before reaching the expiration date that awaits us.

Well done Mr. Krodman!

Charles said...

I was exposed to Steve's blogs thanks to your links, and I always enjoyed reading his writing. I knew this was coming, but it is still sad to hear.