Santa Steve & Cousin Angelo— they will be missed.

Sunday Meditation — G’bye Steve & Angelo

I’m back from summer hiatus — that pensive pause I use to let my mind wind down, rest and, wander along soddened paths & concrete rivers. The key for me is to stay away from stimuli, to languor in grays, beige & shadows. It occasionally works. It did not this year.

I won’t quibble minor points (we all have ups & downs, bumps & lumps) but I’ll mention the deaths of my best friend from Sarasota, Steve, and my cousin Angelo.

Ang & cousin Paul (surnames Cassanese & DeDea) were like brothers to me. I was a smidge older, but not by much. (Joey Cassanese, older than we three, was the significant cousin: He played football & for-money pool.)

Ang was the leader of our 3-pack: he, the strong, silent, front-runner. Dee-Dee (a.k.a Paul) was the clever, funny one. Me? Short & chubby, like Piggy in “Lord of the Flies.”

When we grew up, we went different ways, meeting occasionally at family reunions & funerals. We were courteous. Respectful. But not chatty. I’d heard some months back Angelo was having health issues. (That can happen when you reach your late sixties.) Then, on a recent weekend, my brother Doug called. “Ang passed,” he said.

And that was that.

Angelo was a private guy. He brought genuine presence when he walked into a room, and he did it without being flashy. Just classy. There was no funeral. No memorial service. No open casket. “Ang passed.” The end — an end he knew was coming, like a deadly glacier, inching closer each day.

He will be missed by family & friends.

Steve (a.k.a. “Santa Steve”) knew death was coming as well. He prepared by meeting with his Pastor at the Sarasota Alliance Church on Bee Ridge Road & mapping out his memorial service. It was quite an event.

Attendees were told to dress festive (preferably red and/or green) & be prepared to celebrate. Steve was with Jesus. (Raise your hands, and Praise the Lord.)

The Sarasota Santa wanted the Gospel preached at his celebration service. (It was.) Songs to be sung. (They were.) Happy stories to be shared. (Yup, check that off, too.)

Goodbye Steve. Christmas will be tinged with a melancholy moment or two this year …

Sooooo, my Summer Break is done. My mental meanderings complete. There are poems to be penned. Memories to be written. Deep thoughts to be jibble-jotted on scrap paper.

Let the literary tomfoolery begin . . .