Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Aids Memorial Grove

When I go out to SF on day trips, I generally have only a vague plan of attack in mind.  It looks something like this: get off Bart at any stop from Daly City to Civic Center, then either take a Muni bus or train in any direction and hop off where I think looks interesting.  This sort of structure means I rarely have 'repeat performances', but it also means that I don't actually go where I might really want to go.

Since moving back to the states, I've been meaning to visit the Aids Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park.  I've walked by a few times en route to the Inner Richmond or to the Dutch wind mills or what ever else and I forget to really stop and be present.  I think I've sort of skipped over this place because to be there makes me feel incredibly sad and I resist feeling that way.

My Uncle Gerry, who would have been 73 this past January, died of HIV-related causes in 1986.  His death marked the early end of an epidemic that spanned many years, beginning in the early-80s, killing approximately 15,000 men in San Francisco before drug treatments helped to contain the disease.  Sometimes, when I see gay men who appear to be around Gerry's age it makes me feel both glad to see them alive and wish my Uncle were still here.  I wish he'd lived long enough to have been able to be helped by AZT and other medications that were a boon to many HIV positive men.


Uncle Gerry, his arm 'round Uncle Jim.


I imagine Uncle Gerry and, his partner, Uncle Ric at their apartment on Fulton St.  I imagine theirs a happy and full life.  -maybe they spend summers in Guerneville, a No. California town where they'd lived for some years in the 70s before returning to San Francisco.  What I imagine most is that the family could have had just a little more time with its son/brother/cousin/uncle.  My next trip to the city will include a pointed visit to the Grove and thoughts of dear Uncle Gerry.

Uncle Ric, lookin' good, ca. 1980.

7 comments:

  1. My thoughts are with you friend, so sorry for the loss. Even one so long ago, still hurts sometimes. I know. -Hang in there. It's warmer here and I've not contracted the zika virus. For this I am happy.

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    1. I, too, am glad that you have not contracted the Zika virus. How's trying to look at your toes?! :P

      For those of us who have lost parents, other relatives and friends, we know that the pain never goes away it just lessens, somewhat, over time.

      Enjoy your warmer weather, D!

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    2. hahah... well people tell me i still have all 20 of the toes... I've given up on making sure they're being truthful ;)

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  2. Bea, I remember the start of the Aids epidemic - the reportage that a few men with unusual form of skin cancer and immune system disease. So sad for those that didn't make it before they finally came up with the cocktail of meds that halted or corralled the disease. I read Bill and Melinda Gates have pledged the drugs for Africa where it spreads and thrives today.

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    1. Wonderful to hear that B.& M. Gates are dedicated to helping eradicate the disease in Africa!

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  3. I lost friends to this killer too. And yes, I am so glad that advances have been made, and so sad that they weren't made sooner. I remember the ugly prejudice too. Some of which still remains.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the prejudice was particularly troubling. -glad that it has mostly receded.

      I can imagine that the epidemic must have hit your larger cities quite hard, too.

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