Gone but Not Forgotten: Memorial for a Grunckle

Gone but Not Forgotten: Memorial for a Grunckle January 3, 2018

Ned: Grunckle, Brother, and Friend - photo by Sonja Sadovsky
Ned: Grunckle, Brother, and Friend – photo by Sonja Sadovsky

Got a call yesterday morning that my wonderful friend Ned has died.  I have been kicking myself, instead of calling him on New Year’s Day I was lazy, hibernated, called no one and regret that missed opportunity.  We had just spoken last week, he thanked me for the holiday card I sent and wished me a happy birthday.  I am 37, at that magical age where I seem to have as many dead friends as live ones.  I am heartbroken.  Ned was a Brother in the Art, and this picture featured was snapped at a recent gathering. I like it because it captures his good (sometimes twisted) sense of humor and the great generosity of spirit that he claimed.  I miss him.  He was a true gentleman, a devoted servant of the Goddess, and one of my closest companions.  I am writing this piece to honor him.  Reminding folks that not all heroes are warriors.  Many more are lovers, teachers, and simply, friends.

I met Ned when I was an undergrad at University of South Florida through the student Pagan group, UPAN.  He was there when I was president of the club (primarily due to the fact that no one else wanted to do the boring paperwork and clerical functions of keeping the group funded).  He was there when the drama got too thick in that group and I staged a coup.  Calling for a recount election, I asked my friends to vote me off of the island and elect another leader so I could exit unchallenged.  Ned was one of the very first people to believe in me.  He even attended the meetings of the spinoff group (Astral Nerds) that met in my crappy one-bedroom apartment off of Busch Boulevard fifteen years ago.  He seemed old when I first met him, but had the smile and energy of a much younger soul.  His wit and humor were only outshone by his gentle spirit. Ned gave the very best back rubs and had an impressive collection of knowledge in that cranium of his.  He had been part of the Tampa chapter of MENSA a thousand years ago, and knew just about everyone at one point in time.  He was a contemporary of the Warlock of Pasco County, Lewis Van Dercar, and last year we helped facilitate a memorial for another companion he had known way back in the day.

We fell out of contact but I came across his email sometime in 2014 and got back in touch.  He joined our circle, and was there when everything fell apart with my ex at the end of 2015.  Ned was a true friend to me, and reminded me that even in the midst of adversity there is still time for wonder.  Time for magick. He accompanied me to Phoenix Phyre in Samhain 2015, and not only helped out with my kids as I was flying solo at that point, but ended up regaling a whole flock of young ones with his odd stories and simple kindness.  He had picked up a Shepherd’s Crook somewhere that he was using as a walking stick, and several folks came up to me and thanked me for bringing him that year.  We watched, amused, as he ambled around with this crazy hook and a large hat, with the little ones buzzing around him playing 2,500 questions.  Ned never missed a beat.  He could discourse on dinosaurs, shift to wolf pack challenges, and banter with my daughter on whether one would choose to be a burrito or a cupcake if it came down to it.  (The answer is Burrito.) This sweet nonsense saved me, saved my kids when our world was dark and confusing.  The very first thing that my son asked when his dad left was, “will we still have people over for bonfires? Will we still see our people?”  Ned was one of the very few that stepped up to say yes, “let’s meet if you are hosting.What can I bring?”

I gave a presentation at Pantheacon 2016 called “Grunckles and Aunties: Building Sustainable Community.”  Ned was one of the inspirations for my concept of a Grunckle, which is a really great (or grumpy) uncle.  Family of choice is so important, and Ned was one of those folks who choose not to have biological children, but contribute to the community with willing hands and open heart.  He was one who truly lived from the principle of Love.  He was a libertarian. He led an unrepentant alternative life, full of friends and awesome memories.  A native Floridian, he was proud to consider himself a Cracker.  He taught my kids how to play checkers.  He laughed at my misadventures, distracted me with some of his own weird tales, and held my hand while my world fell apart.  He is one of my heroes.  His sweet spirit reminded me that there are kind people, good people, who live a simple code of just being excellent to others.  Ned was there throughout the long process of me rebuilding myself.  He loved snakes and scaly things, and politely declined my offer last month to give him a hamster for Yule. My constellation has grown dimmer with his passing, and this winter is colder than others.  He was the last priest of Covenant of the Serpent’s Song, and we were blessed to have him run with us as long as he did.  In his honor, I will be folding the banner at Imbolc and retiring the name of the group.  It is fitting, and feels right.

It is hard to say goodbye to friends you have loved for so long.  That knew you in your youth, and remember all the things.  The ones that really believe in you, and are not afraid to tell you that you are loved.  Take the time to connect and cherish those who are close to your heart.  Tell them what they mean to you.  Tell them who they are to you.  I am satisfied to say that I made a good effort to do so with mine.  The candle I lit for him is still flickering, and I wonder what new adventures await him on the other side? Will he find Don and compare notes about impossible witches? Pop up in my mind with a some odd observation?  Boogie on?  I don’t have any answers. Just grief. He went peacefully, in his sleep.  A gentle death for a noble heart.  It’s not much comfort, and it is not fair, but this is what I have today.  I can only pray that when my time comes I can also leave a legacy of good will and friendship that endures.  I love you and miss you Ned.  Rest easy my friend.


Browse Our Archives