June 19, 2007

Assunta Femia

Nearly thirty years ago, my then-wife and I took our baby H, just a few months old, to visit my friend M in the Haight, in San Francisco. We spent a few days exploring that historic neighborhood and the larger city. One evening, we planned to go out to a movie (A Dream of Passion, with Melina Mercouri and Ellen Burstyn), so we needed someone to stay with H. I wasn’t sure how we’d find someone near by, but M brought his friend Assunta over, who calmly assured us that he was prepared for and comfortable with the task.

I remember him as a slender man, dressed in a long, narrow skirt, with long, dark hair. He talked about his love of pumps and his experiences as a gay man in parochial schools. Somehow, he both charmed me and reassured me that H would be fine in his care. And it was so.

I sometimes return to that evening and think of how I came to trust this man, so different from me, so quickly, and for such an important duty. Beyond the recommendation of M, he manifested a courage and an integrity that I found immediately reassuring.

A couple of months ago, M told me that he had recently died and passed me a link to this obituary. Reading it, I see even more evidence for the trust that I placed in him that evening, long ago. Thanks, again, Assunta.

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