I saw my beloved writing mentor John Rechy today on the sad occasion of his partner’s father’s memorial service. My friend and priest, Father Ian Elliot Davies, asked if I could drive him to the Los Angeles National Cemetary so that he could officiate. I was more than happy to accommodate.
I wasn’t sure that John would even recognize me given that I was wearing a mask, but he saw me from across the outdoor pavilion and waved me over. “Len, is that you?” he asked. “Is it even possible that’s you?” I told him I wasn’t sure he’d remember me and his response was, “Remember you? You were one of my favorites. I could never forget you.” Of course, these words made my heart sing.
I didn’t take photos, of course, but I did snap a shot of both Father Ian and the bagpipe player who were both there in an official capacity. I also took some photos of the LA National Cemetary, which is a very special place all on its own.
The eulogy that Michael delivered about this father was very touching. He spoke of his military service in the army in Italy during World War II where he was in the trenches in Italy for months on end. He also spoke of his dad’s devotion, his kindness, his stability. A fitting tribute to a father he clearly loved deeply.
I went up after the service and said goodbye to John. He is 90 now and still looks just as I remember him from our five years together when I attended his weekly master class a few years back. He and Michael have been together for 40 years now and there is a generosity of spirit that exudes from both of them. I am so happy that I had the chance to share this special moment with them, even under these sad circumstances.
John was the very best writing mentor anyone could ask for. Focused, in love with the written word, painstakingly precise, demanding of one’s full effort. I rewrote chapters of my novel sometimes three or four times. And yet, he always had a way of nurturing our little band of twelve so that we delivered our best writing. Letting us know that we could dig deeper and write better. I am forever grateful for the gift of his mentorship.
A sad but lovely day.