As some of you may know by now Tate’s condition has taken a drastic turn for the worse. In just one week he has gone from being able to walk and carry on full conversations in pure Tate style, to being bed ridden and mostly unresponsive. Steve, Karen and I flew here this morning to be with him.

There are several factors involved here. 1. His calcium levels got really high (a byproduct of the cancer in his bones) 2. He contracted at least one infection (a common occurrence when the immune system is so compromised.  3. The cancer in his brain has spread through the meninges  – the covering of the brain – causing a lot of swelling. 4. The tumor in his lung has grown back enough so that it is in his throat which means he is unable to swallow fluids or solids. He mostly sleeps but opens his eyes every so often. He smiles when she sees us. He has said a few things including, “I love you too.”  

When Dr. Stevenson came to us today he said, “I come to you humbly, with my hat in hand, to say that I have tried everything to try to get him back to where he was even a few days ago, but I cannot do it.”  Tomorrow they will try one last treatment of radiation and unless that seems to make some major improvement, he will transition to hospice care. 

I cannot wrap my head around how quickly this has happened.  And I cannot bear to think of life without him.  But I do know that Tate has always felt very strongly that he does not want ‘extraordinary measures’ taken to save his life and he does not want to be in this world if he is not ‘himself.’  

If you would like to send him a note, you can always email it or mail it to Desi’s house.  The address is  1545 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Il, 60607.  We will read everything to him.  

If there is a silver lining to any of this it is that in the last four months Tate has been able to see and feel, in the deepest way, just how much he is loved.  Thank you all for that.

We will continue to keep you posted.






  1. #1 by Laurie McCants on May 31, 2012 - 1:40 am

    My love to Tate and all his dear friends. Thanks for including all of us who are farther away.

  2. #2 by Catherine on May 31, 2012 - 1:44 am

    Please give Tate a great big hug and kiss from me. Thanks for the updates and know that I’m thinking of you all and sending my love.

  3. #3 by Dena on May 31, 2012 - 1:49 am

    From experience I know there are no words that anyone can utter that will make any of you (or us for that matter) feel better or feel ready to accept what may come next. It sucks, plain and simple. It hurts and it feels like the world is spinning upside down and inside out. Just know that you are all wrapped in love. Please give him a hug and kiss from us. We love you all! Dena, Phil, Miles, and Ava

  4. #4 by Bates on May 31, 2012 - 1:51 am

    If this was a handwritten letter and not an email response, you would see my tears on the paper. Matt and i send our love to all of you.

  5. #5 by Nora on May 31, 2012 - 2:00 am

    My prayers and love are with all of you. Hugs to each and every one. X0X0

  6. #6 by kathy hucks on May 31, 2012 - 2:00 am

    Julia, and other Friends of Tate,
    We all should have such wonderful care and love to get from this life to the other side of it…what an awesome community of friends who are family—in the truest sense of those words. It is so fucking rotten that life can’t end free of the suffering and pain rought by the horrific nightmare cancer is. I apologize for the profanity, but if there is one thing cancer is, is profane. Obscene, horrific, profane.
    You are all in my thoughts and on my mind. Tate was buying cat food for his cat when I saw him last at Pet Supplies Plus in Bishops Corner, maybe it was last summer? We were buying cat food for our cats and I remember thinking “I knew he was a great guy! HartBeat AND A guy with a cat! Can’t beat that…”
    TATE, I don’t know you, hardly at all….but I know about you. I’ve seen you, heard you, watched you perform and know your community and I feel so grateful to have spent some time within that network of peace-loving, justice-seeking, community-supporting, action-oriented role models for all the rest of us. Stay Strong. Peace.
    Kathy (formerly of WHCPJ)

  7. #7 by Anonymous on May 31, 2012 - 2:12 am

    I am so sad from the news. Julia, thank you for the strength to write the update. I am so glad all of you are are there with Greg.

  8. #8 by Lisa Marlene Myrick on May 31, 2012 - 2:34 am

    i feel my soul ripped away

  9. #9 by Lisa Marlene Myrick on May 31, 2012 - 2:45 am



  10. #10 by JoAnne Bauer on May 31, 2012 - 2:48 am

    Just back from seeing the Marley film tonight at RAW — it is so terribly troubling and sad when cancer rips talented people & their gifts from their loved ones and the rest of a community that hungers for their message. Know that love is the transition and the transformation.

  11. #11 by Anonymous on May 31, 2012 - 2:58 am

    Tell Tate that we love him and are thinking of him.

  12. #12 by Andrea & Jer & kiddos on May 31, 2012 - 3:25 am

    First off, we have been diligently reading this blog, with bated breath, though tonight is the first time we are commenting. Our hearts are breaking for all of you. And as I picture Tate right now, I’m picturing him in The Yanko’s backyard with a drink in his hand, chatting away, with all the little kids trying to get his attention. What is it about Tate, that all the little kids, including our own two children, are gravitated toward? Some people just have that unique and genuine quality that is so pure, children recognize it immediately. And Tate has it in abundance. So, that’s where we’re picturing Tate right now, not in a hospital bed, but in the back yard, at some party, hanging out and just looking like “cool” Tate.
    In 48 hours, we will be celebrating Hollis’ Bat Mitzvah, it seems odd to think of celebrating something, when something so sad is happening to someone you care about. Though, we only knew Tate on a more casual basis and not the intimate level you all did, what I do know about him, is he would think the celebration of a life milestone is a blessed thing. So, as we go through this spiritual journey of Hollis Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, Tate will be in our minds and our hearts. In fact, Hollis wrote him into part of the service during the Mi Shehbeirich, so he will be part of our service and in our prayers. Love to all, Jeremy, Andrea, Hollis and Jake

  13. #13 by jamie on May 31, 2012 - 3:39 am

    My heart is heavy hearing this news. Matt and I just sat talking about Tate tonight. How amazed we are at how much love this man has from his community of family, friends and associates. How sad, in a selfish way, we are for not knowing him better given the chances we have had. We are in awe of his kindness,
    of his strength and wisdom. We go to sleep tonight with Tate on our minds.
    Please send him our love, and let him know that although he might not know it, he has touched our lives.

  14. #14 by Andrea Scharff on May 31, 2012 - 4:08 am

    Please tell Tate that the memories of hugs of friendship he gave nearly 30 years ago still hold up over time. When a person is so genuine, it leaves an impression, a warmth, that lasts not just their lifetime, but the lifetime of the receiver. Tate, thank you for the kindnesses you’ve shown. And thanks to those of you who keep us posted and pass our messages on to Tate. – Andrea Scharff

  15. #15 by vich33188 on May 31, 2012 - 4:54 am

    Julia. I hope this does not wake you. I just read the blog and I have to words. I am so sorry cancer has done this to your family as it has done to mine. Take comfort in the fact that he knows how much all of you and everyone loves him. Be strong and please let me know what I can do. I know u have a large family but I’m here for all of you. Please let josh know to call me if he needs any help with the kids while your away or when you return. Love all of you and give Tate my best. Tell him to rest up and let him know that it’s ok to let go. As hard as it will be for all of us, in my experience with brain cancer it is important to let them know that it’s ok if they doesn’t want to fight any longer that we will miss them but it’s ok for them to be at peace. I love you all so deeply and am riveted to think that cancer has taken control of another friend and am truly saddened to think of the pain Tessa will feel with out her beloved Tate. As we all love him. He is Tessa’s Tate. I am also saddened that Elijah will not have the please of growing further with Tate. But I know that everyone will tell him all about his Uncle Tate. As I lay here writing this I can’t help but think about what my aunt went through and was going through at this point with her brain cancer. It brings tears to my eyes for him and all of you. Much love. Vicky

  16. #16 by Velina Brown on May 31, 2012 - 6:15 am

    So sorry to hear of this sudden turn. Thank you for taking the time and energy to keep us informed during this painful time. Peace and strength and love during this transition.

  17. #17 by Bonnie on May 31, 2012 - 7:55 am

    Greg Tate knows what’s really important in life. Tonight, as I was wiping away the tears trying to get used to knowing that we are most probably losing him, I decided to distract myself with a little email. There was a forwarded message from my husband Darrel, who’s traveling for work this week, alerting us to the fact that a library book will be due in three days. Darrel asked me in his email if I could try to renew it by phone since it didn’t work when he tried online from Germany. Noting Darrel’s card number, I picked up the phone only to get a recording saying the library is closed (surprise surprise, since we live in California, land of sunshine & budget shortfalls, where the library is almost never open & there’s no automated system in place when it’s closed). For a moment I was frustrated…then I thought of Greg. When we were truck partners for the SFMT, there was a time we stopped by Greg’s house in Napa and I noticed he had a library copy of Aristotle’s Poetics. Curious, I picked it up to find it was, I think, something like ten years overdue. He shrugged, smiled that inimitable smile of his and said, “I forgot for a while and then I was worried about the overdue fines so I went underground… (well-timed pause, one Tate eyebrow raised as he leaned in toward me…) You’re not gonna turn me in, are ya?”

    Thinking of this and reading the comments everyone is making, my tears give way to a smile. Tate…like Clarence to Bruce, to all of us, the Big Man. He visited our family in every house we ever lived in, from the San Bernardino Mountains to San Diego, from New Jersey to South Africa (twice!). Asking me when I saw him a few weeks ago if I knew how the kids from Soweto were doing, the ones he worked with on a theater project there in the late 90’s. Tate invented the word generous. No matter what, no matter when, no matter who, there is always more than enough Tate to go around. Even now. He’s just a blessing to the world that way. He knows how to listen. He knows how to laugh. Ever since that first day he scowled down at me from the back of the Mime Troupe truck, he’s been teaching me how to really live. Even now, he’s still doing it, just by being who he is and doing what he needs to do.

    We are the community touched by Tate. Let us honor that now and bring forth all the good he has shared with us and fostered in us as he takes the next steps to wherever it is his journey is leading him. If he needs us to let go, let’s let go with Tate-like grace. If he needs us to hang on, let’s hang on come hell or high water with Tate-like tenacity. Let each of us be the friend to him, to each other, and to the world, that he is to all of us, and live each moment of each day from our best selves, our most honest selves, with all the special and wonderful and myriad things Tate means to each of us very much alive in our hearts.

    Let us smile knowing that whatever is in store, his response will most likely be that big smile, along with that great big voice saying, as his hand sweeps over his sweet bald head….

    “Well, blow my hair back.”

    We love you, Tate.

  18. #18 by Anonymous on May 31, 2012 - 8:50 am

    Couldn’t have said it better than Bonnie. I love you Tate.

  19. #19 by Gitta Schulz on May 31, 2012 - 10:24 am

    It’s in times like these that one curses the physical distance that separate so many of us — how I wish I were there, Julia, to give you a BIG hug and to cry with you and the rest of the family! I was 9 when I watched my beloved grandfather slowly succumbing to a metastasized cancer and your post brought back the sense of panic and grief that I felt realizing that I was facing a life without him. Saying good-bye is so hard to do but, as someone else commented, it’s important to let him know that it’s ok to go. As I write this I am in a state of shock, as I have been overseas and can only think of Tate as this funny, thoughtful, wise and strong man — the one I met when the 3 of you first moved to Hartford to start HartBeat and the one I have deeply admired ever since. From the sounds of it he is maintaining that same dignity as he faces death — telling you that he loves you and thus communicating his ongoing care for those around him. I mailed him a postcard from Paris yesterday, telling him to come over as soon as he can. How I wish that this could have come true!!!
    I hope that Tate is still conscious enough to hear about all of the outpouring of love that his condition has generated among all of his friends and acquaintances. And if you have the chance — blow back his hair, will you?
    Much love and a big hug from Paris,

  20. #20 by nick wolf on May 31, 2012 - 12:46 pm

    my prayers and thoughts are with greg and those who are with him at this time. this news has me thinking of many things. today’s hurdles and events in my life are being viewed in a different color.

    though i did not know greg as well as some, i always liked that he lived his life as he saw fit. period. no doubts. no worries about others’ views of what was his life to live. it seemed that he had no time to waste with thoughts and opinions that were not relevant to his analysis. his analysis was living his life to the fullest. he created the own parameters of his reality. also he got the best out of life as understood the importance of the moment.

    those attributes of how greg lived his life is what i am taking from hearing these latest developments. it something that i need to take into my own life.

  21. #21 by Nina on May 31, 2012 - 1:30 pm

    Julia and Karen, thank you for sharing this very tough news. I hope Tate is hearing these messages loud and clear and realizing how many lives and hearts he has touched and how many people care about and love him deeply.

    Tate, I am so sorry to hear this cancer has turned so vicious on you. You are a strong fighter and a great man. I’m glad I got to visit your wonderful house in Hartford and have all these fresh memories of you looking regal in your hooded bathrobe, eating Karen’s delicious roast chicken and enjoying a beer, and holding court on the porch, giving thumbs up to our breakfast kielbasa and eggs. I hope you know what a difference you make in this world, and that you’re surrounded by people who love you.

    Thank you for making Karen so happy, for filling so many lives with great theatre, and for being the one and only Greg Tate. I wish you peace of heart, and hope your fight gets easier.

    lots of love, Nina

  22. #22 by Junie on May 31, 2012 - 3:29 pm

    When I think of Greg, I recall your wedding Julia and a song from your CD~Your Lips, Your Lips are Juicy and all the laughs that Greg and I shared when listening to that song. Silly, I know, but a treasured memory. Please give him a hug and kiss those juicy lips! The good times spent with all of you will always hold a special place in my heart. The world needs to hear the messages you constantly live. Much love to all of you~Junie

  23. #23 by bernardo on May 31, 2012 - 3:38 pm

    Thinking about good memories of you comrade.

    Your old fan,

  24. #24 by Amy La on May 31, 2012 - 3:52 pm

    Peace Peace Peace to you Greg. You are so very loved in this earth plane, and everyone wants to see you heal and be among us, as you are in our hearts. Do what you must and as always, know that you are loved beyond measure.

  25. #25 by Kim on May 31, 2012 - 5:20 pm

    Julia, please tell Tate that we love him, and that Ben loves him deeply, and that even as we’re swept up in this chaos of our lives, he is always on our mind and in our hearts. We will try to write more tonight.

  26. #26 by Luis Cotto on May 31, 2012 - 5:27 pm

    All the fuckin new age meditation and understanding in the world ain’t helping. I’m going back to my ghetto self and just get mad. In the mean time, Mercedes is sending some genuine Chicago love and prayers and the Cotto women have all been apprised and are flowing some prayers against the winds to find you. Aché negrito!

    “Aqui, to be called negrito, is to be called love.” -Pedro Pietri

  27. #27 by Meghan Quinn on May 31, 2012 - 7:16 pm

    I am so sorry to hear the latest news. I know that we don’t know each other very well, but I have to say, in the times that I have been around you it’s so obvious how your spirit shines. You use your talent bravely and productively to make positive changes around you. I’ve always admired your fantastic sense of humor and insight. Many times after I’ve have the pleasure of speaking with you, at an event in Hartford or after a play or at your house, I come away thinking, “wow, he is truly a deep thinker.” I just wanted to say I am thinking about you and I have a lot of admiration for you. There are so many people who love you and it’s obvious why.

  28. #28 by Nora on May 31, 2012 - 8:38 pm

    Thank you for the updates here. It is so much appreciated. Please let me know if I can help with anything.

  29. #29 by Jacques on May 31, 2012 - 9:11 pm

    I hadn’t kept up with Tate’s progress and I guess I was hoping no news was good news. I guess ignorance is bliss and I prefer to think of Tate getting better and better. I found these two quotes from Twain that I hope will make Tate chuckle when he hears them: “As far as being on the verge of being a sick man I don’t take any stock in that. I have been on the verge of being an angel all of my life, but it’s never happened yet.” And “One should not bring sympathy to a sick man. It is always kindly meant, and of course it has to be taken–but it isn’t much of an improvement on castor oil. One who has a sick man’s true interest at heart will forbear spoken sympathy, and bring him surreptitious soup and fried oysters and other trifles that the doctor has tabooed.” I refuse to give up hope and willfully remain ignorant! XO Jacques

  30. #30 by susan and jay on June 1, 2012 - 12:36 am

    Tate fills my email box every day. He is the one who taught me how to use the internet to do even the smallest act for justice.

  31. #31 by Nina on June 1, 2012 - 2:31 am

    I just reread Julia’s post and the phrase that sticks with me is that even with a tumor blocking his throat so he can’t swallow, Tate is not only smiling, but saying “I love you too.” I can’t think of a better phrase for him, unless it’s the bedtime litany my daughter Maya and I used to share when she was little:
    “I love you.”
    “I love you too.”
    “I love you too too.”
    “I love you the whole wide world.”

  32. #32 by Conrad Cimarra on June 1, 2012 - 9:17 am

    Dear Greg,

    I know you, but unlike these other people who try give you an ego boost, I thought you were an a***hole to me. I am aware that we had our little tiffs here and then, and I am probably the last person you want to hear from.

    Having said all that, I have let go of our shady past and just to try to focus on the issue at hand. The issue at hand right now is you are not well. From what I have read so far from Julia’s updates, your illness is getting worse. I honestly hope this is not so. However you may have treated me, however I may have treated you, good or bad, I still think every person should have the right to live that is full of dignity, no matter what you think about that person.

    Well, if you are still breathing, just think of the best times we both had; at the SFMT studios, on the road, setting up the stage and tearing them down after each performance at the parks, the sunny days, how the sunshine always reflect on the dewy blades of grass, the thrill of hearing the band warm up before each show. Hanging out with you was a kick.

    You are a great guy, Greg. Hold on as long as you can. I hope you beat this tumor. It may seem like you are fighting on the losing side right now, but miracles happen every day. You’ll never know. I see you in my head, checking out the nurses who poke you with a sharp needle day and night that you couldn’t even get a decent night of sleep. I swear, who trained these nurses!?

    I hope you get well, my friend.

    – Conrad

  33. #33 by yvomendez on June 1, 2012 - 3:52 pm

    Dear Greg

    I remember the first time I walked into the faculty lounge at GHAA at Colt, and there you were sitting there at the table. “I know you!” I said because I was so happy to see you there. And in the days, weeks and months when I happened to see you in the hallways or the lounge, I knew that these kids were getting a real treat, being able to work with you. And I also realized in true fashion the depths of your dedication and generosity. I am thinking of you, and send love and warm hugs to you.

    Yvonne Mendez

  34. #34 by Michael Bussell on June 2, 2012 - 2:43 am

    Devastating news Greg. Sorry we were unable to get together in recent years. I have nothing but fond memories of you at SC. Even though we were often at opposite ends of the spectrum on many issues, I have always had the greatest respect and appreciation for you, your passion and commitment to the things you believed in. You are man of great love, wisdom, honesty and humor and it’s been a privilege to know you. You are in my prayers and I hope to see you on the other side. Love you brother.

  35. #35 by Dan Chumley on June 2, 2012 - 4:14 am

    Tate, with love and respect I send you warm thoughts and hope that where you are going the gas tank will always be full, the fast food hot and tasty, easy at hand as you roll down the road to next good place where cool shit is happening and smart people are taking it to the next level and they are only waiting on you to arrive to make the move. Some one can whisper in your ear you will not be forgotten. DC

  36. #36 by Leslie Alan on June 2, 2012 - 6:47 pm

    Tate I am so grateful to know you and it’s all because of the impact you made as a teacher to my Ivy who adores you. That connection gave me the opening to become your friend through events in Hartford celebrating the arts, social justice, and education. You are a dear one and know that Ivy and I are better people for knowing you. All our love to you! ❤

  37. #37 by vich33188 on June 3, 2012 - 1:09 am

    After a night filled with love, family, comfort, and community, I sit here in Elijah’s room rocking him to sleep and the perfect song come on. You are loved (don’t give up) by Josh Groban. I can’t help but think of how perfect and fitting it is for Tate. Although I have not known Tate as long as most of you. I have had the pleasure of getting to know him the last two years. I know how dearly he loves Tessa and Elijah, how much he loves his family and community, how he loves his cats (even when they are being a pain). As I have been here today I see the fear in his cats eyes, the loss they are feeling wondering and waiting for their beloved daddy to return I can’t help but feel saddened for them. As much love was in this house tonight there was a great hole in here as well. That hole represents the pain we are all feeling, the sadness we all have, the wondering and waiting, every phone call or text or blog entry we hope we don’t here our worst fears. Tate remember you are loved, don’t give up, and you are so missed by all at home.
    – Vicky.

  38. #38 by Michael Oosterom on June 3, 2012 - 4:29 am

    Greg- I remember sitting with you on the liftgate of the Mime Troupe truck, post-show. Tired. Then I leaned on you- and you are a big man. Not many people are bigger than me. But there you were, and I was tired, and you let me, a big man, lean on you like I was a little kid. And it was a real gift. You are a real gift, Greg. We love you.- Michael O.

  39. #39 by Joan Schirle on June 3, 2012 - 8:01 am

    Tate, as Michael reminded me, we first met you playing touch football when we were on tour in Napa. It has been inspiring to follow your journey. You have made the world a better place for having moved through it with such great heart. My love, respect, and support to you all….Joan S

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