Farewell My Beloved Friend Steve Elsaesser

Stephen Elsaesser, Jr.

My heart is heavy. I am sick to my stomach. I can barely see through my tears as I write about my friend, Steve Elsaesser. He would have known that I would feel this way, that I would be so affected by his death and, if bearing the circumstance of his passing, he would have understood if I am angry or mentally direct vile and curse words to the person who caused his death. Steve would have listened and he knew exactly how to tame my ire with his wise words if it were of another friend’s passing, but he can't now. My friend is gone. I did not know anybody I have never met in person who understood my ideas, my art and why I live and love those I love. He was was brotherfriend. 

I met Steve here in the blogs through our mutual friend, the artist Manon Doyle. His blog features his words of wit and wisdom, poetry, commentaries and writings. Steve appreciated art and artists. His comments were thoughtful and playful. Sometimes I wondered how anyone could be so generous in praise and appreciation but knowing Steve, his past, his experiences, and where he was in his life, I understood why he had an endless supply of love and admiration for nature, people, and above all, life. Later we moved to Facebook, we emailed and spoke to each other on the phone.  Grateful. Steve was grateful.

He was a poet. I read his poems and soon delighted in the surprises that each brought. Sometimes I heard myself giggling and other times I go into a mental somersault of disagreements and when it was time to put my words into comments, I would read his poetry again and changed my mind. My second reading begged me to reconsider and be not a judge. He made me change my mind. If I was stubborn he would have understood that too. I could see him grin and appreciate the fact that I even read the poem for I hate modern poetry with its maudlin sentimentality, but not Steve’s. There was an impish quality in his style as his words weaved through my mind poking a range of emotion and then delightfully ending in hope and make me thankful that I am alive. I often find myself smiling or giggling.

Steve was a musician. He was a violinist for the Cincinnati Philharmonic Orchestra in his early years and later in retirement, he played for friends at weddings, holidays and special events. He loved the violin. He equated a lot of things with the playing of the violin, sometimes the violin itself. It was his favorite metaphor. Sometimes in art appreciation, I would blush at his comparison of my squiggles and doodles to Mozart’s or Beethoven’s compositions. I shook my head in disbelief and dismissed them as the words of someone who just loved my work, or perhaps even loved me. How could someone so much love what I painted or drew, sometimes asking what God was thinking? But that was Steve. He and I were so alike. He understood why I shivered when I see patterns of leaves and set to draw them. He understood why I cried when I draw an acorn and my why my heart filled with emotions begging to be released as tears in my eyes. He did not see me draw but he would write that he saw or felt those when he looked at my pen and ink illustrations of oaks and acorns. We concluded that we "are just nuts”. We loved that he was a Gemini and so am I. It gave us an excuse to be crazy and changed our minds. One thing that did not change with Steve, however, he was a loving and loyal friend.

Steve was generous. He was always the first one to offer and give support to my endeavors. He was the first one to give when Bella Sinclair and I did the tsunami fundraising. He spoke happily and gladly of going to AA meetings, of helping others overcome their challenges with alcoholism. He spoke and wrote openly and honestly of his own experiences. He did not polish them. He shared every grit and grime. I think that was what made him credible and interesting because he did not write for the need of approval. People be damned if they judged him, he couldn’t undo the past, but he oozed with positive energy that even those who read his remarks or comments on the sideline were positively affected and saw a genuinely good and kind man.

Steve was married to his beautiful wife Anna who he lovingly talked about. He celebrated life with her not because it was an anniversary but just because. He considered her a gift from God and wrote "Whatever...we're still together, winging our way through this Eternity, to that place where ALL will one day meet again. PEACE and LOVE, Peeps!". 

My brother and I learned his meaning of the word "Peeps".

Steve loved the mountains. He enjoyed riding his Suzuki Burgman scooter, visiting places and friends. I thought it was what he did when he posted on Facebook, the photograph of the Smokies on September 20th, 2015. On the morning of the day he died, Steve posted this photograph with the captions below. He loved the Smokies and often talked about it. He was always using the word love and live. He was philosophical, metaphorical, humorous but always honest. He had the ability to discuss heavy and serious topics lightheartedly. I will miss him terribly. His words make me shiver now that I knew what happened. I will not tarnish my memory of my beloved friend by even printing the name of that driver responsible for my friend’s death on the same page, but whatever that driver did with that electronic device that momentarily distracted him from the road, I hope it was worth it, for my dearest friend Steve paid dearly with his precious life.

Steve loved my oak and acorn drawings the most. Goodbye Steve, your spirit will cover the whole Smokies. I will draw its leaves and acorns with sweet memories.

"Saw this photo just now
and was overcome with a feeling of "oneness" (we've been talking about that lately!) I just wanted to BE there and (LAUGH IF YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY.) reach out and cover this whole place with myself. Mountain Majesties--the Smokies!"

Steve Elsaesser, September 20, 2015

Goodbye my Humpy Dumpty,
Love Forever,
Live Forever.



Bella Sinclair said...

Oh, Ces. I love your tribute to Steve. He is covering far more than the Smokies. His love and joy and enthusiasm for life were indeed enormous, enough to spread far and wide and keep spreading like a sound wave long after he has gone. He would have been so tickled by your words. I take that back. He IS tickled, I am sure of it. Whenever I think of him, I remember his *GRINS* in his messages, and his endearing penchant for typing in intermittent all-caps. He was, without a doubt, life and gratitude and love. You are so right about that. I shall miss him. And I know you are heartbroken. Perhaps the best way to honor him is to continue being his Peeps and to share his zest for all things good and beautiful. Thank you for this moving and tender post. Tsup tsup tsup tsup tsup

Deborah said...

Oh My Cesalicious, what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful friend. Sending all my love on the wings of a desert sparrow.

**blows kisses**

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, as always. I am so sorry for your loss and your pain.

Ted Blackman said...

Sorry to hear about this, and your loss, Ces. I never corresponded with Steve but would often read the comments he left you. Also, being a motorcyclist myself since 1973, I am well aware of the dangers in the sport, but I also understand why he rode. It's as close as you'll get to flying without actually flying. Godspeed, Steve.

izzy said...

I only knew him from 2010. His positive and wonderfully humorous comments from blogs, emails and facebook were priceless. And his fun and love for friends and family made me more aware and alert. I wish I could have heard him play his violin- but I know from his passionate approach that he played just as he was! and I know how much he cared for all of those in recovery. I would have loved to have met him in person. I am so grateful to have known him as I did.

Christina said...

Dear Ces,

I am terribly sad and devastated as I have just learned of Steve's death. I am also a fellow blogger and in the last few weeks I've just 'felt' that Steve was 'gone'. I finally found his last name and Googled and read the awful truth. I am writing a tribute on my blog and would like to link your beautiful tribute it it.

I am outraged to read that he died so needlessly. This absolutely breaks my heart. He was a lovely man, full of love and gratitude, and yes, he is the last one to hold a resentment. Forgiveness is what he reflected into the world. If you have the ability to connect with Anna, please, please....offer her my most heartfelt condolences and prayers. I hope by now she is in some sort of acceptance and stillness. Heaven has quite the fiddleman playing now.


Christina P.