Jake, old man. Change of plans.
I had intended this entire screed to memorialize your enlightened journalistic cantankerousness, including a potshot about Civil War re-enactors stepping on this weekend’s Virginia City Labor Day weekend.
Then again, your adios soirée this Saturday steps on their veneration of the contemptible Confederacy, proving that you still retain power even after your passing.
I know you didn’t much believe in this kind of stuff, but if the electricity that was once Professor Highton remains available, I have some work for you, dear friend.
A beautiful young lady named Tara Danielle Donlevy died last Saturday at a Phoenix, Ariz., hospital. She was ironically admitted on my birthday last month. She was recovering when complications of heart surgery called her number at 21. As a father to three daughters, you could identify with what her parents now endure. Please look after their girl.
The grief of Zorba the Greek rings heavy in my head. In his greatest film role, Anthony Quinn cried “Why do the young die? Why does anybody die?”
Zorba’s uptight English colleague played by Alan Bates responds “I don’t know.”
Alexis Zorba: “What’s the use of all your damn books if they can’t answer that?”
Basil: “They tell me about the agony of men who can’t answer questions like yours.”
Alexis Zorba: “I spit on this agony!”
My first and last wife, Betty, made me a grandfather the day we married. I saw her thru the death of her firstborn at age 19, a victim of rural Nevada medical malpractice after an auto accident.
When Tara was six or seven, Betty’s number two son, another Andrew, took his family to his sister Debbie’s Carson City grave. When they returned to our house, little Tara asked her grandma to “bring her up. If I can hold her I can bring her back to life.”
Her mother Tiffany said, “she’s always been like that.” Based on that sliver of a moment, I always thought she’d grow up to be a doctor or similar healer. Perhaps she was in some fashion. Alas, she could not heal herself. You would have liked her, Jake.
And so here we remain. As Nikos Kazantzakis channeled Zorba: “When my little boy Dimitri diedŠand everybody was cryingŠ Me, I got up and I danced. They said, ‘Zorba is mad.’ But it was the dancing – only the dancing that stopped the pain.”
So maybe we should all dance as best we can, when we can, every chance we can. Even should it revive old aches and pains, it will remind us that we are alive, that we have lived well, and once felt shining reflections of love.
SATURDAY: Appreciation and adios for UNR journalism legend and Tribune columnist Jake Highton (1931-2017) will appropriately happen on Labor Day weekend at 3:00 p.m. September 2 in the UNR library rotunda. (Bureaucrats call it a “knowledge center.”)
The great George Carlin warned about adding syllables and subtracting meaning. Profs. Highton and E.B. White would certainly concur.
Maybe we’ll dance.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga Infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
Andrew Barbano is a 48-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.