I woke up thinking of Dougri this morning.
I think of Dougri every Sunday morning, because I remember the day many, many years ago when he suggested that I check out CBS' Sunday morning magazine show, Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood as host. I did and found I liked it an I have been watching it every week ever since.
His name was Doug Blanchard, I believe, and he lived in Rhode Island. I think I must have met him on CompuServe, because I'm sure he pre-dated Facebook. We used to have regular on-line chats and, in fact, he was the first person with whom I had a face to face chat when I got a camera for my computer.
We talked about all sorts of things. I think he was an artist of some sort and he loved riding around Providence with the video camera he bought from Mattel for about $10. Didn't take very good pictures, but he had great fun with it. He loved telling me about the "treasures" he found at garage sales and thrift stores.
There were many problems in his life and he suffered from depression. I think he was also diagnosed with cancer but it was still a shock when I had an email from a mutual friend saying that he had taken his own life.
Whenever I think of Doug, I think of the people who became a big part of my on-line life that most people don't know anything about because my whole "relationship," as it were, is on this screen and their screen. People whom I only know because of their fingerprints on their own computers translating into words on my screen. But they were a big part of my life for awhile and suddenly they disappear.
I'll never know what happen to Bob Mitchell from Compuserve, whose wife called his internet friends "imaginary friends." I did meet him once, when he was in Los Angeles (we visited Marilyn Monroe's grave together, with a friend who drove us to the cemetery), but mostly he was an internet friend who just disappeared *poof* one day. I don't know if he's alive or dead.
But certainly under the "fingerprints" in my life would be Jim Lawrence, of JimsJournal, one of the oldest journals on the internet (he and Steve are both in the internet history for how early they started keeping a journal).
Jim was a great guy who often commented on Funny the World entries and held my feet to the fire when I didn't quite get it right.
In fact, I think he started reading Funny the World when I was attending Weight Watchers and told me I had inspired him to get in shape. He and I were the same age and it always shakes me up when someone my age, especially someone as physically fit as Jim was, dies suddenly.
He wrote of his family (his son was a chef and I often drooled over stories of family pizza parties). I enjoyed hearing stories of his grandchildren and imagine that he was a great grandpa. He took wonderful photos around Rhode Island (yes, he lived in Rhode Island too)
He also was very athletic. He and his daughter, Gillian (with whom I am now Facebook friends, though it's not the same) often ran marathons together. Their last race was a Triathlon, and during the swimming portion of the race, he had what turned out to be a fatal heart attack.
There were a lot of people around the internet who mourned Jim's loss, so much so that Gillian kept his journal page up and I go to it occasionally, knowing there is nothing new, but just...you know...remembering.
Harriet called herself "l'empress" and seemed to follow me around the internet. She didn't read Funny the World, but read the mirror blog, Airy Persiflage on Blogger. She frequently made pointed, often acerbic comments.
But she seemed to be everywhere. Shortly after I joined Facebook, she was there. I used to visit the now defunct question site, That's My Answer, to answer to questions that were posed that day. Suddenly Harriet was there too, and one of the most faithful question answerers.
There was great sadness in Harriet's life, about which she left hints, but was always circumspect. In fact in the last days of her life, before she was hospitalized, she knew she was dying and still didn't mention it. It was left to her daughters to let us know first, that she was in the hospital, then that she was getting worse, and finally that she had died.
It wasn't until after her death, while following the Facebook pages of both of her daughters that I could sort of piece together many things and make sense of some of the things she always wrote about.
"Sil in Corea," as she always signed her messages, was the person I probably knew the least, but someone who was a frequent poster to my guest book and a woman who seemed like a very interesting person.
I mentioned her death in Funny the World, when I learned of it, and my friend Ron commented, "Like you, I'd never met her. But that didn't diminish the love and affection I had for her. I was so drawn to her gentleness and compassion. I, too, will miss her greatly."
We read each other's posts and interacted on Facebook for many years. I think she was a Quaker. She was in her 80s, and had lived in South Korea for many years, working at a welfare center. I just remember that she seemed a gentle soul who shared all of my passions for social justice. I miss her pointed comments. I wonder what she would have to say about this crazy election cycle.
For that matter, I'd like to hear what Harriet had to say about it too!
It's amazing that these people--and the ones who, like Bob Mitchell and Olivia Partridge, just disappeared and I don't have a clue what became of them--had, in their time a big impact on my life and I miss them all.
But I will be forever grateful to Dougri for getting me started with Sunday Morning, which is how I start every Sunday these days. And I always think of him.