Twelve years ago this morning, I got a phone call informing me that my dear friend David M. Honigsberg had died.
Ninety-six years ago today, my grandmother Marianina DeBacco was born, the first of ten children Grazia DeBacco would give birth to.
The 27th of March will always be a day of sadness for me.
Grandma was always called “Annie” as she grew up in western Pennsylvania during the Depression, and by adulthood she considered her first name to be “Ann.” She met Manfred Andreassi in the 1940s when he was visiting family and they got married in 1946, with Fred taking Ann back to New York with him. They raised four kids, the oldest of whom was my mother, GraceAnne (her name a portmanteau of her mother’s and grandmother’s). Grandma moved back to Pennsylvania after her husband died in 1976, first living with her mother, then in an old-folks’ residence after Nana died in 2003.
Grandma used to babysit me when I was a kid. I was, sadly, present when Grandpa died that awful July day in ’76, with seven-year-old me barely understanding what was going on.
Of my four grandparents, she was by far the longest-lived — my paternal grandparents died in 1971 and 1988, with my maternal grandfather between them in ’76, but Grandma made it all the way to the 21st century, finally going in her sleep in April 2016. (Her funeral wound up being on my 47th birthday, which was — weird.)
David was one of my best friends. Through most of the 1990s, we were in a band together, the Don’t Quit Your Day Job Players. He wrote a Silver Surfer short story for me when I worked for Byron Preiss, Marina and I hosted his ordination party after he was made a rabbi, and he and I attended numerous conventions and went on the road for concerts together a lot between 1995 and 2001. We recorded two CDs together, and he used our work together on another CD after the band split up. We played live together more times than I can count, before, during, and after the band’s heyday. He consulted on the first-ever Klingon-Jewish wedding, in the story “Creative Couplings,” a Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers novella by Glenn Hauman & Aaron Rosenberg that I edited. He organized “WineCon,” a group gathering to the wineries on the North Fork of Long Island (before that area became hip and trendy).
He was my rabbi, which is a weird thing for this non-Jewish agnostic to say, but there it is. He and his wife Alexandra, who is a priest (yes, really), held a wonderful little gathering in Fort Tryon Park a few days after 11 September 2001 that was a big help in our collective healing process.
I’m now older than David was when he died. This will forever freak me out.
Wrenn and I didn’t get together until after he died, and I was always particularly sorry for that, as he knew Wrenn also, and I’m fairly certain he would have been very happy to see us as a couple. I wish he was still here for any number of reasons, not least being that we would have asked him to perform our wedding. (No offense, Glenn.)
Today I miss my Grandma and I miss my rabbi.
Top picture: me and David Honigsberg playing at the Baggot Inn in 2000 with the Don’t Quit Your Day Job Players.
Bottom picture: my mother, my grandmother, and me at Grandma’s nursing home in 2011.