Saturday, October 10, 2009

Michael Allen Ford

(Mike's Panel)
A long time ago, back in the nineties, I lost some of my friends to AIDS. They were bright, active men who had so much to give the world and sadly they died much too soon. One of these men was Mike Ford. Mike died younger than I am now, a very sobering thought when I look where I am in my life. Mike was tall and thin with a cheesy eighties mustache and deep voice. By day Mike was manager in a sporting goods store, but one night a week he did a radio program at a local public access radio station, "Coming Out of Hiding." He like to say it was, "The Queer Voice of St Louis." Mike and his friends put time and effort into producing an hour long show which could be reached by several far flung counties as well as the St. Louis Metro area.

(Mom's Signature Block)
Once Mike received a letter from a woman in one of these far flung counties. She told him that she had to hide who she was from her family. but once a week she put on her headphones and listened to his show. She said it was the only time all week she felt connected to who she truly was. There was no return address on the envelope and the only signature was an outline of her hand on the letter. Mike treasured this letter and it inspired him to work harder at reaching out to these deeply closeted listeners. Mike was not a perfect man, like the rest of us he had flaws, but he was committed to helping people come out.


(Mom under the panel)

So, I was surprised a couple weeks ago when at work I was confronted with the specter of Mike. Once a year the library I work for displays a small section of the AIDS Quilt ( http://www.aidsquilt.org/ ). I know I have looked for Mike's panel in the annual Quilt display before and it has never been there; this year it was. Mike's panel looks as vibrant and as fresh as it did when we donated it. My friend Dan wanted vivid colors to represent a larger than life person. None of us could sew and we wanted something special, something that stood out. My mother seamstress extraordinaire took the fabric and our requests for rainbows and radios and made it real. She put her best effort into it and stunned us all with her amazing skill. Recently, she made the trek to St Louis to see her handy work and commented, "It is holding up well." I snapped a few shots of her with the block for her to show her quilting buddies that she knows how to make something that will last.

For me this has been very humbling, making me question the choices I have made. I ask myself would Mike be proud of me? I am coming up short. Sorry Mike.

3 comments:

Lenora said...

Great entry! Accolades for all three of you. Li'l Nell

Crafty and Crap said...

I'm with lenora. Great entry!

Tempest ina Pot of Tea said...

Thank you both. This has really been a trip down memory lane.