I often have an occasion or need to search an old post for something or other. Invariably, I come across comments from people who have left us.
It’s weird . . . I can look at a photo of my brother and others who have died (some much too young) and have an awareness that they are gone. There is an emptiness where their place used to be, sadness for their absence, and gladness for having known them.
I see their smiling faces in photos or videos and I know they are gone, and I miss them, and I hurt.
The comments on the blog are a different kind of gut-punch . . . I almost want to say it’s worse even though there’s no gradation in sorrow . . . but it is different.
It’s different because the comments (and private emails) of people were and are — and here’s where words fail to describe fully what I mean — part of an ongoing conversation. The words are somehow more dynamic in a way that a photo and a video can never be, and reading them today feels like we’re still conversing.
The photo may bring up memories, often obscured and dulled by time, but the words are clear . . . I can read them and the essence of the person shines through.
Understand, I don’t mean to disparage or minimize memories of loved ones . . . but isn’t a letter from a loved one just a little more precious than a photo?
There are exceptions, of course. For instance, memories of my brother are still vivid, and photos of him emotionally powerful . . . but I think a letter would be more so.
Why am I mentioning this?
Well, let me give you a few names . . . roughseasinthemed, ElBob, Colonialist . . . and Roar.
I ‘met’ each one through blogging, and each was an individual worth knowing, if only through this imperfect medium.
You know three of them, many of you perhaps better than I did, and each individual lives on through their blog where their personalities and life experiences are there for us to still enjoy (sadly, one of roughseasinthemed’s blog has been taken down).
Two of the three succumbed to old age and illness, so their families and fans were somewhat prepared . . . roughseas died unexpectantly. Her heart stopped, and that’s all I know. It was a shock when I read the announcement.
Let me tell you a bit about Roar Skaug Larssen who went by the moniker Tidious Ted. . . we were close in age (he’d been born just a tad before me) and he was the old sage man and I was the younger old sage man, and both acknowledging our trust in our fellow human beings was in a sorrowful state.
I asked him about his unusual name once. Not the Tidious Ted, but his actual name. Here’s what he told me:
The name was hardly common when I was christened back in the fifties, but the name Roar pops up from time to time. Nowadays it’s not often used. It is an Old Nordic name made out of two parts RO meaning fame or honour and AR meaning spear or javelin.
Some 7500 (0,3 % of the men) in Norway has Roar as a first or middle name and it came into modern use around 1890 and was most popular in the late fifties, early sixties. Today less than 0,1 % of the newborn boys get the name.
With my name combination Roar Skaug Larssen I’m actually the only one in Norway with that name combination.
Skaug is the name of the farm my father’s family comes from. When the industrial revolution came and people moved into the towns for work they felt that the old farm names were dull so they changed their surnames. My great-grandfather’s father’s name was Lars so when he moved to Oslo to start his furniture workshop he called himself Larssen, meaning Lars’ son. I am the only one in the family who has started using the old farm name again and both my daughters use it too).
He traveled a lot more than I ever did (or will). Earning good money as a graphic designer made it possible for him to work seven months out of the year and travel for the other five. He’d been through Africa from north to south three times through different routes and met many hundreds of different people. All three trips were for pleasure, not work, as were two trips from Olso to the south of Sri Lanka by car (two different routes).
He was an interesting person and we had many exchanges (e-mails and blog comments) from 2011 until our last email conversation on March 2015. He had been scheduled for a hip replacement and at the same time his computer had been hacked and we lost contact. His last post is HERE and says he would be off for at least four weeks and unable to answer comments or emails.
Before I go on with the story, I should post some links to his blog. The main page is HERE. You can read a bit about the man HERE. You will note a number of tabs atop the page, and some might raise an eyebrow or two about the ‘Girliemag Articles‘ (don’t click on the tab if it’s not your thing), but what got me there was Retro DIY Projects. I’ve downloaded a number of instructions for things I want to make . . . maybe one day I’ll even make a few (I now have the tools, if not the space).
One thing that’s not on the tabs but mentioned elsewhere is his Recipe Reminiscing blog. I’ve saved a lot of those recipes as well (given the way the world is going, I might have to dust them off one day). Here are some recipes for the upcoming Christmas holidays (LINK).
But, to continue . . . I said he was interesting, but it was more than that; it’s intellectually stimulating conversing with a person of his range of experience and intellect.
After the last post in April of 2015, I tried to get in touch with him, the last attempt in 2016 before my life got busy with moving to Hawaiʻi.
I figured Roar had found another interest and had moved on with his life. Lots of people who frequently interacted with me on my blog — and who had blogs I followed — up and found other things to do and we’d lost touch. Some even resurfaced briefly only to disappear again.
In June of 2019, I got an email notifying me of a comment on SmugMug . . . it was from Ingrid, his girlfriend, informing me that Roar had passed away in February of 2018. She’s been searching for a way to contact me (she didn’t have my email) and finally connected vis SmugMug. What followed was a few email exchanges where I learned that he’d had complications from his hip replacement as well as a bout with cancer.
“Roar never complained when he was ill and in pain, he didn’t want people to feel sorry for him, and also he always wanted to focus on the positive in life – and in other people, which is such a great and rare personality trait. However, the last years were really hard on his health, much more than I understood at the time because he was so stoic about it all. Luckily there were also some times where he was better. September 2017 his new hip had finally healed properly and the pain had gone (also, he had recovered from a successful cancer operation), and he started to get back his energy, and everything seemed to go the right way, but then from one day to another his health rapidly declined and he never really recovered after that.”
Along with the sadness, there’s a part of me that wondered why he didn’t reach out . . . and after that email exchange, I pondered about it . . .
I’ve been actively involved with five people (two in real life and three online) who went through serious illness, with three succumbing to it. Three went through the process in a public way (to various degrees) by posting online what they were going through and with two of those, and my involvement drifted into more personal e-mail exchanges in addition to comments on blogs. It apparently helped them and I was glad to provide my input as part of their virtual support group.
Of the real-life cases, one I was very involved with; lots of long e-mail exchanges and personal interactions. The other instance involved a young woman who was friends with my wife nearly thirty years ago and she, sadly, passed away.
While the survivors say I helped them get through it, I can’t deny that it was difficult at my end. I don’t regret it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but it takes a toll.
We had discussed end-of-life situations and my best guess is that Roar didn’t want to put that burden on others . . . but I wish he had, and I would have gladly carried it.
I will keep Roar in my memory for as long as I last.
Note: Comments are closed for this post. Hopefully, I’ve moved you to go and read any or all of the blogs mentioned here. These individuals all added value to our lives while alive, and we should honor them by remembering them.
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