Scrolling through my timeline on Facebook, a particularly well-read friend had a link to a story that made me very sad. The headline from the BBC was clear and succinct: Bond villain Geoffrey Holder dies.
I was sad because I’ll never see him again. I was sad because I could have tried to see him but did not. That's on me. I have no excuse.
Mostly I was sad because it made me think of Grandma and the fact that she probably would be devastated by the news, except that in her mind he is younger and sprier that he has been in 50 years. Even if they tell her, she is unlikely to retain the information.
This, of course, is both blessing and source of more sadness and regrets.
The last time I saw him and had him all to myself for a tiny bit was right before my grandmother’s retirement party. We were tucked away in a back room (out of sight), and we were given a lunch of fried fish with collard greens.
The next time I saw him, I was working at Disney, we did not speak but the story still makes me smile. And perhaps some day I’ll tell Aunt Carmen and make her laugh… I repost it in its entirety (from Jun 4, 2007).
It was June 4th and the year was 1999. I was working at Disney Publishing then. It was lunchtime and I’d gone out to pick up some grub.
(It should be noted that my paternal grandmother came to the United States as part of a dance troupe out of Trinidad and grew up with the star of our memory.) I was in line to pay for my chicken salad platter at Au Bon Pain when I heard the voice, that distinctive bass and that delightful accent – he even did the laugh. Then I spotted him: Geoffrey Holder!
But then how hard is it to spot a 6’6” bald black man towering over everything and everyone? Instinctively I called out, “Uncle Geoffrey!” But he did not hear me over the bustle of the lunch crowd. He walked out of the door and into Fifth Avenue.
There is a picture somewhere of me when I was about 3 or 4 months old and I looked like a tiny loaf of barely baked bread, contently looking up at the giant holding me. A study in contrasts and adoration.
I paid for my food and ran out to try to catch up with him, knowing I had the considerable disadvantage of tiny legs that barely reach his thighs. Luckily he is 6’6” – so how hard would it be to spot him in a crowd, right?
It was nice to see him but I was mortified and slightly embarrassed that I lost one of the biggest brothers in New York! When I told my grandmother the story she responded, “Oh, he probably had a meeting at Disney, I think they’re thinking of doing a book…”
Yep! I lost him inside my own building.