He was one of us.
Goodbye, Uncle David.
My father died on Aug. 21, 2014 and it crushed me.
On Nov. 2, 2015, my brother, sister and I grudgingly put my mother in the memory unit of an assisted living residence in the town we all grew up in, Concord, Mass.
My father’s place in Maine sold back in March and my mother’s house is being cleaned out for tenants.
So that’s it, the solid mental anchors in my life are gone. Although I’m building a new one out of my sister, her family and their home in Minneapolis, Minnesota and our family’s summer retreat on the island of Vinalhaven, Maine to ease my sometimes panicky mind, my true, at-arm’s-length comfort zone is within this island community where lives several surrogate mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents and dogs who make up my second family.
Nantucket is my home and eclectic collections of its people are the ones I lean on.
We’re a tighter bunch out here at sea and we cling to one another, growing closer and closer with the passing of every off-season when we can actually find the time to slow down and catch up. Though we’re broken off into our cliques, when tragedy and hard times strike, there are no degrees of separation; we rally and come to the aid of whoever needs us. This small town dynamic is a big reason why I live here.
In our town clerk, Catherine Stover, I feel a mother connection. The same for several of my close friends’ wives and for my good friend and walking companion Susan Landmann. I had a distinct father connection to the late and never to be forgotten Henry Bancel “Bam” LaFarge and do have the same for Dr. Peter Boyce, Lee Saperstein and Neil Cocker. Many of my closest friends are definitely brothers and sisters such as Joseph Topham, Hillary Anapol, Burton Balkind, Derek Buchmann, Sarah Oktay, Timy MacDonald, Sunny Daily and Grant Sanders. And my aunts and uncles are people including D. Anne Atherton, Mary Wawro, Cat Nickerson and Ernie Steinauer, Michael Kopko, Rick Atherton, Dave Fronzuto, Rob Benchley, Michael Galvin, Doug Smith and Bill Blount.
David Glidden was definitely a cool uncle to me. As with all of my second island family, David was readily available for chatting, advice, support and comfort, and endless knowledge of Nantucket’s fishing world. We shared a love for Nantucket’s wild places and for the Nantucket bay scallop fishery. I would cheer him on at races I volunteered for. I’d get cod and haddock from his store, Glidden’s Island Seafood, for my fish chowders and fish fries. He humbled me with his questions of island knowledge he did yet possess.
As a person who’s spent close to half of his life on Nantucket, I’ve always had a deep respect and reverence for native islanders who know the island so well going back decades, even half centuries. I got to know a lot of the ones in my orbit through my environmental reporting gigs at the Nantucket Beacon and the Nantucket Independent. I loved interviewing them for my stories and over time, earning their friendship and respect. This island, despite its’ residents’ generally friendly disposition, can be a tough place to crack into, especially for a young reporter prying into people’s business for those key quotes to make his stories sing.
Getting David to speak on the record about that year’s opening boat price for bay scallops — what the island fish markets were buying scallops from the fishermen for per pound — what he specifically was paying...Yikes!!!! And then, dare I ask him, what might he predict for how the fishing would be for the rest of the season? Those were always the ones that gave me pause when gearing up to ask them of him. But he almost always answered my questions with well thought out information and quirky quotes that made it impossible for me not to call him for my stories.
I’m so glad we nurtured our friendship after the Independent folded because once I involuntarily removed the specter of the reporter-source relationship, David could speak freely and we both got to know each other better because of this. I’ve since gained greater trust and deeper connections with many island friends who were also once sources of mine since the Independent folded because they no longer have to choose their words carefully lest they end up in one of my stories.
So, here I am writing this tribute to David. I had this piece in my head before and during his memorial service yesterday at the Summer Street Church when Pastor Richard Leland stole my thunder. He too mentioned how fortunate we Nantucketers are to live on an island in this large extended family. And, looking around the pews, I found that I had some connection to nearly everyone there whether we were true friends, acquaintances, familiar faces or friends of friends.
David Glidden fit right into this construct. He was one of us. And one who none of us could imagine losing, at least not so soon in his life.
I miss you already, my friend!