I sent a letter to my friend Fred more than a week ago, so if someone was going to answer it and explain where he is now, they would have done so, so I assume that after more than 50 years, Fred has joined the people who have disappeared from my life without a word of explanation.
It got me thinking of other people who have disappeared. One, my friend Melody, obviously wants nothing more to do with me. I know why and so I don't try to contact her. We never had a falling out but there is a huge elephant in our room that we never discuss that finally killed the friendship. But I miss her a lot.
My friend Olivia disappeared shortly before she was due to have major surgery. I have no idea if the surgery was a success or not and have not heard from her since, nor from her sister, whom I contacted after I had not heard from Olivia in more than a year. I know that her recovery time was going to be long and there was a chance she would be incapacitated indefinitely. I assume she is stlll alive, since I can't find an obituary for her, but I don't have a clue where she is any more.
Another friend who has disappeared is Roz Morrow, whom I met through The Experiment in International Living. Roz, her husband Stan and I had many adventures at various Experiment events throughout the country, when we were representatives for our respective states, and when either Walt and I or I alone flew to Annapolis to visit them.
The last time I saw Stan, he took me to a polyglot dinner. Stan spoke I think five languages. I could limp along in French and Portuguese at that time and it was quite a challenge. I obviously was not on a level with the others, but was pleased that I did as well as I did
The last time I saw her was in 2004, shortly after Stan died. During my time with her at that time, I tried (perhaps vainly) to help her figure out the internet, how to send e-mail, etc. I did receive an e-mail or two from her, but nothing in a long time.
I have tried to find her several times, including once writing to one of her children, but never got a response But today I found her obituary. She died in 2013 of congestive heart failure. It seems ironic, since the Roz I knew was a big woman who was always (unsuccessfully) on a diet and tried every diet program around until she finally found TOPS, which I suspected at the time was more a social thing than an actual weight thing.
But according to her obituary, she finally hit her goal weight in 2011 and was crowned the TOPS Maryland State Queen for that year, so to die of a disease that is associated with weight two years later just seems unfair.
In addition to having the Experiment in International Living and weight struggles in common, both Roz and Stan were theater people. Walt and I flew across the country once or twice to see him in performance. He and a friend of his did The Sunshine Boys around the Annapolis area for literally years. I never got to see that production, but did see two other productions.
I still remember the day I met her. It was at an Experiment meeting in San Francisco. I had been listening to a lot of complaints that people had with exchange students from Brasil and since many of our own students had come from Brasil and I had a soft spot in my heart for Brasilians, I remember saying, somewhat loudly, as we crossed the lobby of the hotel, "doesn't anybody like Brasilians?"
I heard this voice from across the lobby saying "What do you mean? I LOVE Brasilians."
Roz, too, had many Brasilian exchange students and felt about the country the way I did. The two of us locked arms, went to lunch together away from the Brasil-haters and a strong friendship was born.
We stayed in contact and the next time we met was in Vermont, the headquarters for The Experiment in International Living. Stan came with her this time. I knew he had played Sancho Panza in a production of Man of La Mancha and when I was sitting in the cafeteria and saw this short, rotund, bald-headed man coming through the door, I knew instantly that it was Stan. And it was.
I don't know if we met at other Experiment events, but a personal friendship had formed. They came here to California and we enjoyed giving them the Grand Tour.
I am sad to know that Roz is gone. She was a force of nature, a big ball of love and hugs and served a big stack of bagels every morning for breakfast.
I think I'll have a bagel tomorrow morning in her memory.