Posts Tagged ‘Tim Sparke’

Letter From New York 08 25 2016 From the banks of Claverack Creek…

August 26, 2016

It has been a grey and gloomy day in Claverack, always threatening to rain but not managing it.  Tomorrow is also supposed to be this way though with more chance of rain.  I was out for a couple of meetings and errands and have been home since then working on a few projects, mostly getting ready to teach Public Speaking in the Fall at Columbia Greene Community College.

It is dark earlier now.  It is not yet 7:15 and the light is leaving quickly.  Behind me is the thrum of the dishwasher; otherwise there is silence.  I told a friend I woke up happy, which I did.

As I lived my quiet day, rescuers in Italy searched the ruins left by a lethal earthquake, looking for survivors as the clock ticks the chances away. Aftershocks rattled them as they searched. At least 250 are dead and another 350+ injured. A Polish immigrant living in the town of Amatrice, said she will remember until she dies “the evil murmur of moving walls.”

Those who have debilitating allergies often carry EpiPens with them, a now common safety device.  Mylan, the company that makes them, has raised the price dramatically as a generic alternative will become available in the not too distant future.  Apparently, this is not unusual for drug companies to wring the last round of profits from a medicine in the months before a generic alternative becomes available.

It happened to me, a few years ago.  Something I was taking suddenly skyrocketed in price and I had to switch to an alternative.

Nine years ago, an EpiPen cost $47, today, $284.  No wonder there is an outcry.  And the EpiPen, it seems, was developed by the US Department of Defense as something for soldiers in the field to use for nerve gas and then it was discovered it worked on allergies.

Congress is talking an investigation.  I have friends who carry them.  In the meantime, people who need them maybe are being out priced from having them.

I love nights like this.  Outside the floodlights illuminate the creek.  Beatrice, my ever growing banana plant, continues her climb to the ceiling.  And I enjoy the tranquility of the cottage.

The Chairman of Vice Media, Shane Smith, who runs the digital behemoth that has attracted investment from Disney and Fox, says that a “digital media crisis is coming.”  Yes, it is.  It has been for twenty years now, growing slowly until it now has become the crisis no one can avoid.  When I was, long ago and far away, working in the cable business no one in broadcasting thought of us as a menace, until we were.  So with digital… It was not a menace, until it was…  The crisis is here and has been from almost the moment it began but media has been an ostrich in the sand.

The political campaigns go on.  I don’t pay much attention right now.  Trump has accused Hillary of being a bigot.  She’s done the same to him.  The beat goes on.  It will until it is over.

Nigel Farage, once head of UKIP and a leader in BREXIT, campaigned today with Trump, basically endorsing him for President.  I am not sure that is going to mean much to Trump’s core constituency…  Or maybe it will mean a lot to that constituency.

As I have been writing this, an email came in.  Vidya, wife of my friend Tim Sparke, let me know he passed away yesterday afternoon.  He waged a remarkable war for years against brain tumors and is now gone.

Hats off, Tim.  You worked to stay for your children and your wife and you went on longer than any of us would have dreamt that you could.  You would not give up.  I was changed by knowing you.  When I was remarkably low eleven years ago you did your best to raise my spirits and cause me to laugh.

You were a generous spirit.  Since you have been sick and I have been going to church, I have been lighting a candle for you and I will again this weekend, to celebrate the wonderful moments we had together, the generosity you gave me and the spirit you were in this world.



Letter From New York 06 10 15 Wow! Wow! Wow!

June 10, 2015

Today’s Letter will likely be pretty short. The time I allot in my day to write the Letter was taken up today by a task I have been attempting to avoid.

My friend, Tim Sparke, has been fighting brain cancer for two or three years now and is slowly losing the battle. He has outlived the doctors’ predictions by so much they have begun to call him their cockroach, impossible to kill. But the reality is that the horizon is very finite for Tim.

Some weeks ago, he asked me to write a piece about our friendship for a book he is compiling for his children, so they will have some sense of him when he is gone. I have dawdled on doing it because I have not wanted to really contemplate the world without Tim.

We’ve been friends for twenty years and have kept close though he and his family live in England and I am in America. His children are very young, six and eight, and their memories of him will fade. He wants them to have a sense of him as a man through the eyes of us who have known him.

It was a sad task but I have done it. I will let it sit overnight and then will edit in the morning and send it off.

It is also possible that I have hesitated writing because it brings me close to my own sense of mortality, a thing which has been growing over the last few years as I and my friends have been crossing into the third acts of our lives. Sobering thoughts, all of that…

The sun is shining today in New York, which made it easier. The grey days of the last week would have made the writing more melancholy than it was.

A year ago today, Mosul fell to IS and they are flying their blacks flags everywhere in that city today, even as they dig in for the inevitable counter-attack to wrest the city back from them. Obama has ordered 450 more advisors to Iraq to train the troops and put some metal in their backs.

War happens and life happens and cancer happens and we plow on, going through the complex motions that constitute life. What a mystery it all is.

Tim fights for his life, about to undergo a new treatment they think will give him three more months while IS occupies a swath of the world, lording over the inhabitants, making their lives mostly miserable while I sit in a sun blessed room in New York and type away.

Wow! Wow! Wow! were the words of Steve Jobs as he lay dying. Wow is right.

Letter From New York August 15, 2014

August 15, 2014

Or, as it seems to me…

It is the middle of August; you can almost touch the end of summer, a summer that has been delightful, warm but not hot, humidity low, an unusual Eastern summer. Because of a break in my schedule, I have retreated to the cottage for a few days. Waking this morning, the day had broken grey again, cool, almost chill, a day requiring a sweatshirt with the temptation of starting a fire in the wood stove to charm away the cool.

It is almost too chill for the shorts I’m wearing. And, after a little soul searching,I did decide to light a fire to charm away the cool.

This afternoon’s chore is to sort through a bunch of old papers, letters that I think date back to my college days that have somehow managed to follow me through all these years in an old wicker basket taken from the basement of my mother’s house in south Minneapolis.

It feels like a good time to cast off those memories. I have been getting my house in order; no one lives forever and I would like to not leave behind a mess. Not that I have any plans in going anywhere for awhile but we are all mortal and I’ve been feeling the winds of mortality at my back.

My good friend Tim Sparke, younger than me, is waging war with the cancers in his body, defying medical odds and doctor’s prognostications, continuing to live after a being given a six month horizon some two years ago. I received an email from him this weekend that chronicled his battles, the victories and defeats, the advances and the retreats of the long campaign since last we had communicated six months ago.

These are days of reflection, underscored and punctuated by the reality of Tim’s illness, a personal touching of mortality on my life while the whole world, it seems, ponders the seeming incomprehensibilty of Robin Williams’ death, a passing which has cast an unexpectedly large shadow over our lives.

It seemed he had always been there in the background of our lives, a manic, whirling dervish of a thousand characters that punctuated our lives. From Mork & Mindy to The Birdcage to Good Will Hunting to A Night at the Museum, he was part of the fabric of our cultural life. And he will be missed.