Monday, October 30, 2017

Remembering 5A

For some reason today as I think ahead to All Saints and All Faithful Departed (All Souls) observances later this week, what came to mind was my joy at seeing Eugene and his partner Frank years after I met them in the summer of 1977. Back then I was the 'file boy' as my neighbor Lamar Spencer so kindly put it, a GS-2 clerk-typist at the US Environmental Protection Agency Region Nine headquarters, in downtown San Francisco, at 100 California Street. Years later, after the AIDS epidemic had peaked, I saw them at a party - and was overjoyed. For years I had wondered if they survived, and there they were, and together.

In the meantime I had worked with the Rev. Canon William (Bill) Barcus, who served as the AIDS spokesman for the Bishop of California as long as he could. The last time I saw Bill he waved valiantly to me, hands full of groceries, from the sidewalk in the Castro, along upper Market Street, as I drove by.

And later I tried volunteering at San Francisco General Hospital, Ward 5A, which by then had taken over as the principal treatment center for AIDS patients.

This was well before the disease was fully understood and before more effective and affordable treatments became available.

What I remembered this morning was not the where or what - but the sudden sense of the loss of a whole generation of young men. Loss, and grief, and sorrow.

And some gratitude at their valiant hope - for others if not themselves - and patience.

And the love of others for those who suffered and whom we have lost.

Robert, Andy...

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