When I first reconnected with Garth in late 1993, he lived on the top floor of a duplex that was built into the side of a hill like a sod house. The first thing that struck me when I entered his space were all the books. You who know Garth know that he tends toward excess in some areas. This tendency was in no area more evident than in his collection of books – though collection may be too highfalutin a word for what I encountered. Collection implies lovingly-cherished, sometimes-autographed hard backs. Garth’s collection consisted mostly of paperbacks. He’d constructed several bookshelves for them, carefully measured to accommodate mass paperback-sized books without wasting space. He’d made the bookshelves in a flurry of activity and did not put backs or brackets on any of them. The result was vaguely Seuss-like, bookshelves crammed with books, tilting dramatically to the left or right.
About a week ago, I started thinking about qualities particular to Garth, qualities that might feel mundane or even occasionally annoying in our daily lives, but that I would miss were he not around. It started one morning as I made tea. Garth was in the shower off our kitchen, singing “Zombie” by the Cranberries at the top of his lungs, singing with gusto for the sheer delight of being alive; of having a voice he could raise; of having a hot shower he could stand in; of having a house, and a job he could be on vacation from. Of having a family that waited on the other side of the bathroom door to plan the day with him and tease him about his singing.