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Friday, December 17, 2004

Death of an altar boy

As I mentioned several months ago, I was an altar boy at my Roman Catholic parish for many years, from the age of six to the age of sixteen or seventeen. My younger brother was, too, as was my older cousin. There were quite a few older altar boys, and a handful of younger ones. When we would all be assembled together at Christmas or Easter it was really a thing to see.

I didn't realize just how much older than me some of the altar boys were until today, when I picked up the mass card from the funeral home where one of them was laid out. He was six-and-a-half years older than me. The last time I remember serving with him was between 1978 and early 1981*, when he would have been anywhere from 16 to 19 years old.

The last time I saw him was this past Saturday at church. Neither of us are altar boys anymore, but both of us happened to be at the Saturday afternoon mass. He had always been a little strange, but I have heard recently that he was perhaps a good deal stranger than most. Perhaps strange in some very bad ways.

I don't know what brought on his death. I probably won't know, either, except for what the small-town rumor mill brings back to me. The specifics don't really matter to me; I didn't really know him, and the details are none of my business. The death of someone I sort-of knew once upon a time should serve as a reminder of my own mortality. But in reality it just reminds me of the distance I have put between myself and my past, without really having moved at all.

*I can remember the date thusly: the memory of this event is keyed to a memory of an issue of OMNI magazine, and cross-linked to a memory involving the homecoming of the U.S. hostages in Iran. I did not begin reading OMNI until well after Star Wars came out, which was in 1977. The hostages were not released until Reagan's inauguration, which was in January 1981. Actually, I don't think I began reading OMNI until 1980, so this would narrow down the date range a bit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the death of an alter boy...interesting phrase. i like it! think ill write a song by that name. ;o)
it is i! the clucker! behold!! ::you may kneel and kiss my talons::
cluck