Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chris Fortenberry 1944-2009

Just a few days ago, someone I knew, suddenly died.
In the mid 1970's I was living in West Virginia and had two very young children. I can't remember all the circumstances but my Mom, sister and youngest brother had left West Virginia and moved to Macedonia, to my grandfathers house. Honestly, I can't remember why they left but they were in Mississippi. My sister, Duanne, had met a guy and I got to meet him at his house on Short Bay Street, that summer. His name was Chris Fortenberry. He was a character, funny and very entertaining and a kind of unbridled wildness and lust for life. The thing I remember the most about that meeting was how comfortable and easy it was to be around him. From that first day until the last time I saw him, Chris had a way of making you feel like you were the best of friends and that you'd known each other all your lives.
Duanne and Chris married and had two children: John Calvin and Christie. John died shortly after birth and Christie came later, I think in 1979. In Christie you see Chris. She has that same charisma that Chris had but more refined.
In the early or mid 1980s, Chris and Duanne divorced. The last time I saw Chris was around 1987. Christie was at my house and he came to pick her up. We chatted for a while. He was older, heavier.
Chris remarried later but it didn't last long and then several years ago he bought a house in Petal and I asked Christie about him from time to time.
Chris Fortenberrys passing was a surprise and I suppose has placed me in a weird state of mind. He is the first of my youth to die, if that makes sense .

We spend one brief moment in time here.
Our paths cross,
And in an instant,
Bob Dylan said,
May you build a ladder to the stars,
Forever young.

My mortality is catching up with me. "I looked around and saw old men with ponytails".

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