Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Milo.

I was thinking about Milo today. It's not unusual, but for the first time, I felt like I could say something coherent about or to Milo. I didn't realize it would have been his 57th birthday today.

Before long it will be a year since I tried to reach Milo by phone and by email, over and over, for more than a week. I knew he'd be traveling and I didn't expect to hear from him for a few days. I had a gift (a book about his favorite creatures--cats) to get into the mail for him, but I'd lost his mailing address so I emailed. He didn't respond but I assumed he was on the road. I called and left a message. For over a week I emailed again, called again, and as you can see I posted here, too. When his voice mail box filled up I found someone, through myspace, I believed knew him, and asked if she could organize a health and welfare check. His closest friend has just passed away, and he was working very hard so, at first, his lack of response seemed due to his work load and stress level. Now I was worried. By the time I called her I'd found an old envelope in the "recycling stack" with his address so I gave it to her and started calling local hospitals while she went to his home.

She called and said his car was in the driveway, but he did not answer and the police were going to break in. I prepared myself, as much as one can, but I still fell apart when she called back to confirm they had found him. Sadly, several of his cats did not survive. They might have if I had called earlier, but how was I to know? His closest friend had just died, and he'd been out of touch with most everyone else lately--I was the only one who noticed. I find it very sad that no one else noticed, but very glad that I did. I'm honored that I was close enough to him in the end, that he shared some very important things with me. Sadly, since I don't know how to contact his surviving relatives (his parents both passed away in recent years and he had no siblings) the secrets I know--those that they should know, too--will never find their way to them.

Ronni came over and, along with my husband, we drank a few toasts to him. We presented her with the cat book my husband had found to send to him, and we shared a few stories. It was strange to memorialize a man we were so close to in spirit, but had never met. Because of his pets, he could never get away long enough to come visit us in Texas, and we were never able to get away from work long enough to go to Kansas.

I learned later--when his ex contacted me--that he had died from a congenital heart defect. A coroner told her that much. She was quite certain that he never knew he had it, and I'm certain she's right.

What's my point? I guess that we miss him, we loved him, and we're so very glad we met him. He had a great love for his country and for all Americans, and it hurt him deeply to see what has happened to the middle class in America, to the educational system in America, and to civil rights for all Americans. I wish he were still here teaching and speaking out, but in a way, I'm glad he is not here to see what is happening to his beloved America. If he'd been here last night witnessing what the GOP has done to teachers and other public workers in Wisconsin, it probably would have killed him.

At least now, I know he died in his sleep, not watching television coverage of the descent of America.