Rick’s memorial page / Eddie’s memorial page
Obituary in the New River Valley News
Short film, taken on Super 8, via Garth Klippert
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Recollection by Hope del Carlo
My friend Garth introduced me to Eddie during our junior year at SJC, in the fall of 1992. I had transferred from Santa Fe to Annapolis, so I knew hardly anyone. Eddie lived in a an off-campus cell. It wasn’t enough space to be called a studio, and you had to walk down this narrow little alley to get to his door. It must have had a bathroom that I can’t remember, but otherwise it was just a room with a bed and a desk and Eddie’s simple things. It was as hot and airless as the Civil War-haunted dorms we all sweated in on campus, but without the camaraderie and convenience of dining hall food. I remember being amazed that he could live that way the first time I saw his room, and I asked him, kind of dazzled, what he ate.
“Like . . . lunch meat,” he laughed at the question, “I don’t know.” He had such a calm, unassuming way of moving through life that I wanted to know him better. Sometimes I’d be studying in the same library room with Eddie, and I’d see him get up from reading to look up words in the huge dictionary on the stand every ten minutes or so. He was so smart that he didn’t stress himself out about what he didn’t know. He learned humbly and moved forward.
I started tagging along with Garth on visits to his place. Eddie would make us Luzianne coffee from a can. We’d drink it with whatever liqueur he had around and smoke, listen to music, talk about books and poetry and life and our classmates.
One time the door opened when we knocked, and Eddie stepped out and threw himself on Garth’s neck in the dark alley. He held him for a few minutes and wept like we had arrived while something dark and terrible was happening. I think he hugged me, too, but he never explained what was going on that night.
Eddie deflected direct questions. I asked about his childhood one time, and he told me that he didn’t remember what happened to him before he was sixteen. I was afraid that he’d slip away like a feral cat if I kept probing for information, so instead of asking him about himself, I would tell him about my own dramas.
I was sitting on a bench outside Mellon Hall during a dance one night, feeling bereft and homesick. Eddie came out of the building by himself, sat down next to me and took my hand. He didn’t look at me or say anything, just sat there holding my hand for ten minutes. Then he softly let go, got up and walked home: no hello, no goodbye.
I was not doing well in math that year. I was so lost that I was having miniature panic attacks in class and started seeing the school counselor about it, who told me to “bring something safe from outside, like a leaf or a small rock,” into class with me. This didn’t help at all. I wondered if the people in the counseling office had ever opened Newton’s Principia, or otherwise had a single clue about the obsolete tortures they were laying on us in the math tutorials. I decided the only way I would pass is if someone brilliant who cared about my survival would take my hand and baby step me through the proofs. Eddie.
On one of the Saturday mornings of my math breakdown, I bought a couple of yellow daisies and a pack of Camel filters from some store near campus and dragged myself over to Eddie’s apartment. This was probably the first time I’d ever shown up at his place by myself. I gave him the stuff and basically begged him to tutor me. He didn’t answer me directly, just spent several minutes putting the flowers in a vase. Not fussing over me and my issues at all, just attending to the daisies, making sure they were properly admired, trimmed, and arranged before we sat down to work on Newton.
I’m sure I would have flunked junior math if he hadn’t helped me. And if I had failed, I probably wouldn’t have come back to Santa Fe senior year and graduated. I got a hard-earned C. Eddie saved me from death by math, and since he eventually became a math teacher, I’m sure there are hundreds of us out here who would say that.
My year in Annapolis was so difficult that I’ve wondered sometimes why I transferred. But I’d suffer through that year all over again, just to meet Eddie. His luminosity and tenderness will stay with me for the rest of my life.