Funny the World...


April 23, 2000

The performing area has at long last been dedicated. A crowd of people gathered on the new E St. Plaza for the dedication of the Paul Sykes Memorial performing area. Well, I thought I had emotions in check and that all would go just fine. But there were a few emotional glitches.

DAVEB.jpg (49706 bytes)The first came with an incredible story I'd never heard before. Dave Burmester is an English teacher at the high school. He also runs a teen age theatre company for which Paul performed for a number of years (and which has renamed its annual scholarship "The Paul Sykes Memorial Scholarship"). And he's been a friend for a long time. Dave teaches a class called Children's Literature, where the kids not only study children's literature, they also write it. Each kid in the class is paired up with a kid in an elementary school. They interview the kid and then write a story based on things gleaned during the interview. They illustrate the story and do the binding and cover design themselves. Dave has been teaching this class for 20+ years.

The week after Paul died is when this part of his current class was scheduled to start. The class talked about the project and one girl said that her brother still had the book that had been made for him several years ago. Dave invited her to bring the book in to share and asked if she knew who had written it. She did not. She brought the book in--and it was the one Paul had written! Now what in the world are the odds of that happening????? He's held the book for this whole year because he wasn't sure how best to share it with us. So he read the book at the start of the show and then gave it to me.

Then came the presentation "Sedona, Arizona," the monologue show Paul wrote and performed several months before he died. It had been his intention to edit the videotape (which was a 3-camera shoot), record the music in the manner of MTV videos, and attempt to market it. After Paul died and I watched the videotape, I was convinced it could never be made the way he wanted it--it just didn't "work." Well, by God if Ned didn't find a way to make it work. He's been editing it for weeks. I couldn't believe it. Paul was perfect. And the in-between musical numbers (performed live) were wonderfully done by an eclectic assortment of musicians (including most of the former band, Lawsuit). The opening number was Jeri, Ned and Tom (Ned wearing Paul's green/gold lamé suit) singing "Mr. Misery," which was the number Paul always opened his monolouge shows with. I just got such a pang seeing the three of them up there alone together, without Paul and David.

I'd forgotten how really, truly good Paul was. Nora, the Irish cousin, was sobbing and cried all the way home. My mother was in tears. Ruth, from the Shelter, got so emotional she had to leave. I had my share of tears during the show, but I didn't totally fall apart--and then I really did fall apart--until Paul's best friend Kag (Paul Kagiwada), who is a graphic designer, showed me a painting he's been working on for this past year. He says it's his "Thursday therapy." He said nobody could understand why Paul's loss was so traumatic for him so he decided to paint it. This canvas, which is huge, depicts every day that Kag has lived. Each day is a little square, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch square. The squares depicting birth to his meeting Paul are all solid white. He met Paul the first day of kindergarten and they were best friends from there on. The following squares are multi colored, some with stars, some with circles, some with more than one color. A beautiful patchwork. And then down at the bottom there start a series of black squares, the days in his life since Paul's death. I tell you, I totally lost it. Kag and I held on to each other and sobbed and sobbed. I can't think of anything that has touched me more since Paul's death.

The damn kid made an impact in his corner of the world. I suspect there are a lot of people in Davis going to bed in tears tonight. I'm one of them.

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created 4/24/00 by Bev Sykes