Monday, December 6, 2021

Dec. 1st

In November, I received an invite to attend a viewing of the Aids Quilt on Dec. 1, World Aids Day, at a local church. I have never seen the quilt IRL, as the kids say, and I was rather looking forward to it. In the intervening weeks I had somehow forgotten exactly which venue would be hosting the quilt and wound up instead attending the annual reading of the names of those who have died of AIDS/HIV-related causes. That event also took place on World Aids Day, but at the National Aids Memorial Grove within Golden Gate Park. When I arrived to the park at sunset and saw what was a wall of images of Aids Quilt panels instead of the quilt itself, I figured I had goofed. But the Grove was illuminated in such an alluring way and there were lanterns and candles set along the footpaths and a harpist sat amongst the redwoods playing a Lionel Richie song, so I was keen to stay and experience the evening.

The CEO of the National Aids Memorial Grove, John Cunningham, and a couple of speakers began the event by sharing movingly about the AIDS--then known as 'gay cancer'--epidemic that swept San Francisco and the Bay Area in the mid-80s. Then visitors to the Grove were invited to come up on stage and read names. A handful of attendees very quickly lined up stage right. I hadn't felt comfortable doing so myself--I figured I would cry and bungle it--, but then a woman standing with her partner just next to me walked toward the stage. I turned to her partner and asked, 'Is she going to read?' He told me she was and I said, 'Well, if she can do it, then I can do it.' We smiled at each other before I made my way to the stage through the small crowed that had assembled to listen. 

As I stood waiting my turn, a man from the event organizing committee kindly acknowledged me. He thanked me for going up to read and I told him that I was feeling both sad and nervous at the prospect. He then gave me a warm side hug and said that that was OK. His hug and warm words made me feel less anxious. At the end of my reading I added a name to the list: Gerald 'Scotty' Batz, my beloved Uncle.























John Cunningham, CEO of Nat'l Aids Memorial, kicks off the evening







25 comments:

  1. Thank you for for your courage.
    I am sure that my eyes would have been leaking. Copiously.

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  2. Well done Bea. This dreadful disease has been very much overlooked during the covid pandemic. Because of pressure on the health services, I imagine that some sufferers have not received the same level of care they otherwise would.

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  3. Good for you, Bea! An important event. We must not forget the suffering of that time in our history.

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    1. It was very moving to speak the names of the men and women who died. (And, sadly, still are dying.)

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  4. Very brave. I doubt I could have gone up there. I'm sure I would have bawled the whole time.

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    1. Yeah, I hear you. For me it was: name, sniff, name, sniff, name...

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  5. Dear Bea, I found this posting so poignant and so filled with hope because we truly--all of us, humankind and animals and plants--are One. Back in the late '80s, I volunteered once a week to work at the AIDS clinic at the local hospital. I met many men who became friends and who later went from being HIV-positive to having full-blown AIDS.

    In the three years, before by "burnout," I went to 34 memorial services/funerals and often, as you did, felt prompted to speak of the sweetness of someone who had died or the fortitude or fierce determination or generosity of spirit. I met so many beautiful human beings during those three years.

    I'm so glad you felt prompted to go up and read names and add your uncle's to the list. Peace.

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    1. Hi, Dee. It sounds as if you were right in the thick of it back then. What an incredibly sad time that must have been for you. -so many memorials and funerals...

      x Bea

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    2. Yes, but so many inspiring young men who shared with me their thoughts on life and living . . . and dying. Peace.

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  6. A lovely post with lots of lovely photos. I am glad you got up there and spoke. Well done.

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  7. What a beautiful event. Maybe you didn't make a mistake, maybe you were meant to be there. Beautiful pictures as well.
    Sandy's Space

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    1. Sandy: Yes, it was. And maybe I was meant to be there!
      Take care, Bea

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  8. Glad you could feel comfortable speaking there. Striking photos.

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    1. The place looked so lovely lit up at night. I was glad to be there.

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  9. Making blog rounds, thought I'd say hi.
    Sandy's Space

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  10. Hope your Christmas Day special.

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