GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

August 19, 2013

Fishtown Local: Don't wait 'til it's too late

Fishtown Local
Gordon Baird

---- — What is happening around us this summer? Has anyone else noticed that there has been an exceptionally high number of people dying recently?

Or is it just that they were so well known and the number has been around average?

Steve Malbeouf recently passed away and he will be missed. Steve basically created the equipment rental business here in Gloucester from scratch with Gloucester Rental on Maplewood Avenue.

For years, he also ran the Wingaersheek Beach Association, and kept the peace on that less trammeled arm of Gloucester. But he was an everyday part of the regular old nuts-and-bolts Gloucester that every tradesman around here — and not just a few homeowners — knew well.

If you wanted to rent a log-splitter, tent, tables, chainsaw, chairs, glasses, trench-digger, staging — well, you get the idea — Steve would take care of you. And in the most mellow, friendly, assuring way, too.

A more reasonable fellow you’d never meet. He knew that what goes around comes around, especially in his business.

He knew when to bestow a well-timed favor, too, as he did multiple times — like lending a free stage to tiny St. Mel’s school theater program when they put on plays for the little kiddies. He even came to one of the shows. He was an all-around good guy.

The list of recent departed seems shockingly long. Since Richard Gaines left the scene in early summer, Richard Earle, Paul MacPherson, Howard Richardson, Busty Frontiero, Bob Tarbox, Ben Hersey, Carroll Wonson (my old dentist), Steven Scotti, Babette Brackett, Joe Brancaleone, Chipp Wells, Dr. John Wolfe, Elizabeth Moulton and Rockport’s John Krenn have all departed as well.

These were just the folks I knew; I’m sure your list is just as long.

The papers have been full of lists for a host of other losses locally. Even nationally, the news seems full of the passing of James Gandolfini, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Jean Stapleton — Archie Bunker’s Edith of “All in the Family” fame — and even Cory Montcrief from “Glee.”

One wonders how much this year’s sweltering heat has played a role, sapping the wills of those fighting disease or a terminal condition. The aging of we boomers must have an effect, too, as “our turn” has been coming around while a bunch of our parents are becoming so vulnerable.

The local and world news is mostly awful and that can’t have much of a positive impact on people trying to rally against chronic conditions where the will to keep battling is paramount. But why now, particularly?

Our environmental surroundings, our food & water supply, our diet, the effects of pollution, stress, traffic and money have rarely been worse. The health-care experience can be so disheartening, it can also play a part in reducing the will to battle the treatments or the bills. Loneliness from a departed mate can also be a big factor.

The bottom line takeaway is this. It’s coming to everyone you and I know at some point. Take advantage of the time now.

One day I had the thought about “the good old days” and would give anything to be able to have lunch with my dad, who died 15 years ago. But wait! I can still have lunch with my Mom in Colorado who’s still very much kicking. Get on that phone to her. Call your mother twice week until she’s sick of you.

Don’t put off that lunch with your uncle, your mentor, your oldest friends. These are “the old days” — someday you’ll look back to today and sigh, if I could only go back to summer 2013 when they were all still around.

The death list in the paper has been pretty long lately. Don’t wait until it includes someone you wished you had spent more time with until it was too late.

Again, these are the “good old days.” Use them wisely — now.

Gordon Baird is a local actor and musician, co-founder of Musician magazine, and producer of “the Chicken Shack” community access television show.