Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cooking with Ed and Ross

Ed Myers has died.

Ed Myers – the man who was my boss at the Central Midwestern Regional Educational Laboratory (CEMREL) in 1981-82, the man whose low chuckle that would build and erupt into delighted laughter, the man who taught me not to defend or explain my decisions, the man who occasionally got me bumped up to first class when the CEMRELites went to Washington, D.C.

Ed Myers also was the man who challenged me to edit a huge government grant application and then write the executive summary. Later, it was Ed Myers who announced to a room full of staffers that what I wrote blew him away. When St. Louis got 14 inches of snow, Ed Myers came to my apartment and dug out my car. And he excelled at pointed asides, delivered quietly, with eyes averted so you weren’t always sure you’d heard what you thought you’d just heard. You had.

The last time we talked – maybe 18 months ago -- I told Ed Myers that I get to San Francisco from time to time because my son and his bride live there. We tried to work out a time to get together, but he was traveling when I was coming to town. We agreed to try again.

We didn’t. And now Ed Myers has died.

Ed Myers was my mentor and my friend. Early on, we made a pact: Ed would ignore that I was fat and I would ignore that he was short. That worked well for us both, and allowed us to spend time appreciating the big brains we both brought to our friendship.

He also introduced me to two of his best friends, men who changed my life in so many ways. E. Joseph Schneider was one of them. The first time I heard Joe speak, I was convinced he was the male manifestation of me, so what was not to like? We had many long-distance conversations about journalism, politics and Fargo, North Dakota.

Ross Winter was the other. Befriending Ross was a lot of work, because he was a loner by choice. The artistic director of a dance company, Ross knew things about art and life that I wanted to know, so I persisted. Over time, I wore him down. We ended up as family for one another for a decade, and I loved him with my whole heart. Ross died March 13, 1994.

Later that week, after spending two days cleaning out Ross’ condo with his two sons, I called Ed Myers. “You have to come to St. Louis and help me,” I said. “I’m trying to help Stephen and Alex, and no one is helping me. I'm a mess. I cannot do this alone.” Ed Myers came, and he helped.

And now Ed Myers has died.

Ross and Ed taught me to cook. They both knew a great deal about cooking, about good food, about wine. Occasionally on Sundays, we’d gather, and we’d cook and eat together. When Ed’s true love, Carol Thomas, moved to town, Ross and I continued the tradition of cooking and eating together. Since Ross died, I’ve done serious cooking only on rare occasions.

When the call came this afternoon that Ed Myers has died, my refrigerator was uncharacteristically full. The last big-deal meal I cooked was over 11 months ago, before I put the condo on the market. I just don’t do that anymore. But today, cooking was on my agenda. After I thanked Nada for the call, I reached out to Joe. I wrote a note to Carol. I called two former CEMRELites.

Then I headed into the kitchen and I started to cook. As I chopped and peeled and measured, I took a deep breath and invited in warm memories from long-ago afternoons cooking with two of my favorite people. And I cried. I’ve never gotten over losing Ross.

And now Ed Myers has died.