Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What makes a person memorable?

What makes a person memorable? Is it the way they look? Or the way they sound? Is it what they say or don't say? Or is it what they have or don't have? Is it what they make you do or don't do? Or is it how they make you feel? What is it that causes us to hold onto the memory of those that leave us for a period of time or for good? We need to ask ourselves these questions because we will be left to the memory of others someday, and there will be no chance to prepare, alter or fix how that memory will be held.

From the moment we are born we begin creating the memory of who we are. That essence reaches out to the world, fashioned on our dreams and realities. Throughout life, others will attach their dreams to your reality, and give you the responsibility, in some cases, if those dreams do or do not materialize. The memory we leave behind is often based on how others perceive our role in advancing or inhibiting their lives. While we are alive, we have the ability to form our residual memory, for better or for worse. However, the moment we transition, that memory becomes the province of others, who will select the elements to illuminate. How we make someone feel is what will percolate to the top, and hopefully, we made them feel good.

The sad and unrelenting transition of our vibrant friend, Bill Freeman, on January 15th, as we flew in from Rio, hit us like dense turbulence from above, as we made our way back into our lives here. Left only are the memories of how he made us feel. How that warm smile broke out across his face whenever he saw us. How he warmly and respectfully introduced us to many people who are our dearest friends today. How he shared of himself, with a generosity reserved for kings. How his bountiful spirit was infectious, and one took up the cause of helping others just by being around him. Bill was on everyone's invitation list, not because he knew so many people, but for his gift of bringing them together. I remember running into him at a fundraiser, where I didn't know a single person, and through his many introductions, I left feeling like it was the best party ever. Many of us know the act of adjusting our plans to be available for one of Bills intimate dinners, for fifty of his dear friends, on the Vineyard. He could be counted on to be at weddings, christenings, birthday parties, openings and closings. He was there to give healing encouragement at one's bedside and to hold your hand through difficult times. He would be front and center, near or far, to honor a friend who had transitioned before him. He supported young and old alike, and could be counted on to be there if needed. These are the memories that he has left so many of us...and many of us do not know where we will turn without him.

Like so many of us, he could be faulted with human foibles....but those are not the things to remember about him, because that would say more about us than him. To pick apart the "rights and wrongs" of a person's life, is a favorite sport, when a person leaves us and are no longer there to protect, form and create their memory. We can, in our highest selves, embrace the best of the memories we have of others, or we can devolve into the temporal sport of debasement...the choice lies within us. One's memory lies in our hands once they have passed on, a role and responsibility we cannot take lightly. What makes a person memorable is what we chose to remember...and what we will be remembered for, as well.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the opportunity to express my love and respect for Bill.

"Special"........not enough said
"Caring"......... try again
"Loyal"............getting close
These are just the beginning of my way of defining a few of the "words" that I think of each time he comes to mind. Bill will always be with me in mind and spirit. My love and respect for him is eternal. Jackie Shropshire

Coreen S said...


I really enjoyed your thoughts here.


Audrey S said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stephen B said...


Thanks for this. This is so poignant and moving. Thank you for introducing us. It was a true blessing.

Pamela L said...

I am so sad to hear the news about Bill. You must be broken-hearted. So sudden…

Cooper Worth said...

While I didn't know Bill at the time, when I had my first Picture That Gallery opening in Stamford, CT, Bill invited several of his friends to trek from NYC and lend their support. Of course you Glenn were one of the featured artists. As such Glenn, it was really through you that Bill and I became connected and since then he and I have remained dear friends. Some how I too got added to Bill's invite list and have fond memories of magical celebrations at Bill's Vineyard home over the years.

Glenn, while our hearts are yes shocked and sadden from learning of Bill's transition, you my friend, have written a beautiful, thought-provoking passage in his honor. Bill is smiling from above I am sure; the same way we will over time, upon thinking of all the wonderful memories Bill contributed to our lives. His playful smile and twinkling eyes will never be forgotten.

With sincere sympathy,
Valerie A. Cooper, Picture That LLC

Genita said...

RIP Bill, we love you.

Shawn C said...

Wow, I am saddened by his death. I just met him on MV with Jessica Harris last summer.

My condolences.



Alexander S said...

Thanks Glen...very nice...very thoughtful.

Micki said...

dear glenn ....i am sorry to hear about bill ...what a sweetheart he was ..:))i didn't spend a lot of time with him ...
but loved him instantly ..a real gentleman ....he is free ..i bet he is enjoying the flight!

i have so enjoyed your last two blogs posts ...truly beautiful ....btw ...your description of 'tunstull dashing'
does not due it justice's much deeper than that .....

Deborah W. said...

Glenn and Joe........I am sooooo sorry to hear about your friend's death. While I didn't get to meet Bill while on the Vineyard, I get a sense from your writing that he was a very special man. My prayers go out to Bill's friends and family. Deborah Walker

Jelani said...

I didn't know Bill, but I certainly like him after reading this piece. My condolences Glenn, and I'm happy you have someone so wonderful to remember.

felizyypaz said...


I didn't know Bill, but now I do through your loving memories. Life is merely a series of memory making moments.

Thank you.

Peace and love,


Charles said...

Glenn - Our condolences to you, Joe, and all of Bill's family and friends. And thank you for sharing your beautiful words. Charlie & Bill

Evonne said...

Dear Glenn:
Thank you for allowing us to share in this special tribute to our beloved friend of 25 years, Bill. It seems like only yesterday when we were sharing the memories of our mutual friend, Sharon. While we are very sadden as this tremendous loss, we feel enormously blessed to have known such a fine, generous and loving person.

Prayerfully and Respectfully submitted,

Ignacio said...

Dear Glenn,

I hope you and Joe are well, fully into 2011. May it bring you both even more success, peace and happiness. Even though, of course, I never met your friend, I was touched by the depth of feeling and appreciation you have for him. You are so right on! How someone is remembered has some to do with who they actually were (positive and negative traits, of course!), their actions (as you know the saying, "words are pretty, but it is what you do that defines you"), plus, a LOT to do with other people's perceptions, what they choose to remember, how they interacted with that person, etc.

I would hope that, when I am no longer in this world, people will remember me at my best, workaholic, productive, A1 persona extraordinaire, "pleasant, decent guy, with issues!!!"... But there is hope senor, in your case, that will NOT be the case, since everyone will remember you for the "wonderful, caring, smart, drop-dead gorgeous, talented,............." person you are!



Jelani said...

Dear Glenn,

I want you to know this while you can hear it.

I remember the first time I met you. My friend Najima and I were at a party,
a backyard party in fact, in Fort Greene. Truth is, I don't remember who
hosted the party.. I liked you at the moment of introduction. Since I didn't
know you, I had nothing to go by other than what I was seeing. But this is
what I know for sure. I liked the way you looked me straight in the eye and
the way you warmly shook my hand. I liked the tone of your voice, your smile,
your body type and your full laugh. Najima felt the same; and we both loved how you
drank freely and got ripped right along with us. I believe you were drinking vodka.
We talked about how much we liked you on the way home, and we still have that
conversation on occasion.

And all of that was before I really knew you. Now that I do, here's what I
really know. I love they way you're open to a new idea. I love your
willingness to share--your resources, your home, your time. I love your
choice of partner and diversity of friends. I love it that you don't shy away
from asking for a favor, nor do you hesitate to grant one. I love the way
you dress, and I absolutely love the way you draw and paint. I remember how
you instructed me one day (on Myrtle Ave.) to state Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit
at the beginning of each month. I remember how quickly you said yes
when I asked to make you the subject of a magazine article when you
illustrated the children's book, I remember how you reminded me that going
to work in the city is what allows us to enjoy our lives in the country; and I
remember how you opened your home to us as we searched for a home of our own.

While cherishing our friendship I look forward to writing you letter number two
10 years from now. So know you know and you'll never have to guess if I will
remember you.....I already do.


Deborah T said...

Glenn and Joe,

I can't even begin to find the words, I am deeply shocked and saddened to read about Bill's transition. Thank you for those heartfelt words, he will be sorely missed.

Peace and blessings to you Bill


Virlynn said...

What a wonderful tribute to Bill. You truely encompassed the essence of Bill Freeman. I imagine that as we look around at his memorial service, many of us will realize that our connection is Bill. Blaine and I will see you and Joe on the 29th at the service. Perhaps later on we will all toast him. Regards to Joe.

Love Ya,

P.S. Want to hear all about your trip to Brazil.

Leo and Diane said...

Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend but your thoughts honor him. It was very thought provoking, sensitive and meaningful.

Hope you both are well and enjoying our snowy winter.


Bill C said...


This is very sad. Are you and Joe planning on going to the service next Saturday? Glad you two got back OK, look forward to seeing you sometime soon.

Carson said...

This is in tribute to your beautiful and elegant friend,Bill Freeman,I am sure that he is smiling on the other side,for his was a life well lived.

JP said...


Thanks for sharing! Our last visit with Bill was the night you and Joe were headed to a play in Edgartown, I believe. Bill had prepared a wonderful steak dinner for all of us that evening and we had a blast as we dined and enjoyed "too many cocktails!" We were devestated to learn of his illness, and now of his passing. He was a very special person that will remain in our hearts forever.

Our condolences to you and Joe as we know that you were very close. Stay in touch when you can.


Jude said...

Hi Glenn. I just wanted to reach out to you and say thanks for the piece you
wrote about Bill. While the sadness of it all is still trying to sink in, I had
been feeling what you penned but just could not find the words to express it
just right. You did it and I am thankful that I am now able to read what my
heart was feeling. His memories will forever be burned in my heart and mind.
Peace my brother and thank you.
Jude LaStrapes

Ashton said...


Interesting your thoughts on memory.

Personally, I find that I am constantly surprised by my memory. The memory of many mundane moments about people who were in my life years ago or decades ago that arrive without warning and dominate my consciousness with total vividness for varying lengths of time. The images from my youth that will not let me go back to sleep after I have had get up to pee in the wee hours of the morning. My exasperating inability to summon up the details of many pleasurable liaisons that certainly seemed unforgettable at the time they happened. But now the small technical details of how, how often, how long are either fuzzy or completely illusive. My memory seems to have a will and life of its own.

Your writing is very easy and pleasant to read.

Amy said...

Hi Glenn, I love what you wrote about Bill and the photo which captured his

Keith said...

I didn't know Bill; however, what you expressed has provided me with a greater appreciation of my role in preserving the memories of my friends and loved ones. Bill, surly was good man for his friends to speak so kindly of him. My condolences to all who knew him.bectu

Rene said...

i didn't know this man but what a wonderful tribute from you ..... it was great seeing you at the MET had a wonderfull speaking with you regards

Eunice said...

Hi Glenn,

Although we have not had the pleasure of meeting you in person. We thank you for your kind and eloquite words regarding Bill. The measure of love is to love without measure. Bill will sorely be missed for year after year he has enjoyed many Christmas dinners at our home. One of his favorite treats were the Moroccan style Cornish hens :)


Jill said...


What a lovely, perceptive, generous piece you wrote about Bill Freeman,
really about all of us. Thank you, and love to you and Joe.

JP said...

Just wanted to extend my condolences on the loss of your/our dear friend, Bill. Arthur and Ashley told me about the beautiful reading you gave at his Memorial Service. I was sorry that I couldn’t be there because he was such a great friend and will be missed dearly by myself, as well as so many others. I never imagined that he would leave us so quickly, but I am grateful for the time that we had together.

Please know that it was a pleasure and a privilege to get to know you through Bill and I hope that I will see you again.