Hospice

I want to start off by saying that for those of you who have been trying to figure out the meaning of the title for my last post “men,” you can stop troubling yourselves. It was an accident pure and simple.  I have no memory of the word that I was trying to write but I remember that I started to put a title in, realized I didn’t know what I wanted it to be, and decided I would come back to it after I finished writing the post.  Then of course by the end of the post I was tired and weepy and hit ‘publish’ without going back to the title. Oops.

Now for the important stuff. Although he is still in the hospital at CTCA, Tate’s care has officially changed to hospice care. That means that the goal now is comfort. They stopped the antibiotics and removed the NG tube. Today we picked a hospice facility for him to be moved to called The Arc.  It is just a few miles from O’Hare airport and it is a lovely facility.

Up until three days ago, Tate was able to talk a bit.  That evening he had this beautiful hour or so where he was quite lucid, able to talk, laugh and even crack jokes a little.  His room was filled with family and friends and he was holding court.  At one point toward the end of that hour he said, “I have a million hands on me.”

The next day he was mostly unresponsive.  He was in pain and agitated in the morning so the nurse gave him Ativan  which we think knocked him out for most of the day. Then yesterday he was more alert.  He couldn’t really speak but he tried to mouth some words and managed a ‘yeah’ or a ‘no’ when asked a question. And although it wasn’t a full smile anymore, he was able to half smile when things came up that made him happy.

Today he has not opened his eyes. We are told that he can hear everything so we continue to read him every email, letter, text etc. that we receive including the comments on this blog.  I know he is listening and feels the overwhelming love that you are all sending him.  I know that.

People have been driving and flying in to visit him and say goodbye.  I know that whether to do so or not is a hard decision. I truly think it is a personal choice that everyone has to make (and most people don’t have the option at all). Whatever you choose is okay.  It is okay with us and I am sure that it is okay with Tate. No one planned for this. No one thought it would end anywhere near this soon and no one thought it would end in Illinois (no offensive to Illinois or CTCA – everyone here has been amazing and we are eternally grateful.) This just wasn’t supposed to happen. None of it.

Our hearts are breaking.  Our bodies are tired and hurting.  But this does not compare to what Tate is going through so the best we can do is comfort him, love him, and let him know that it is okay to find peace. 

Julia

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  1. #1 by Rebecca G. on June 3, 2012 - 9:36 pm

    Tate, we send you big sloppy hugs and lots of love. You’ve been a wonderful friend, partner & mentor to Steve. We’ve enjoyed our time together & your amazing performances so much. We are so sorry you’re sick…
    Lots of love, the RI Ginsburgs

  2. #2 by Jordan Polon on June 3, 2012 - 10:04 pm

    Damn. I am so f’ing rarely without words, but I am totally dumbstruck by all of this. Tate, you have made such a positive and lasting impact on everyone who so much as met you – and that’s no small feat. You mean everything to someone who, for a very important time in my life, meant everything to me and I know you are in great hands right now. I am sending so much love your way; to you, and to those around you.

  3. #3 by Sarah (Hersh) Armstrong on June 3, 2012 - 10:28 pm

    Love, prayers and strength to you all. Tate, you are such a shining example of what it means to be a true participant in life, the world has been changed by your presence here… my world is better for the times we have shared. I admire you, love you, and send you love and light as you travel through the darkness of “now” into the light of forever. We will never forget you Tate.

  4. #4 by Rachel Marks on June 3, 2012 - 10:41 pm

    Tate- I’m sending my love and thoughts to you. You are one of my favorite people ever and I want to thank you for all that you have taught me.
    Love always,
    Rachel

  5. #5 by Kristina Marcus on June 3, 2012 - 11:01 pm

    I am a friend of Steve’s and have started to read this blog today. I have never met Tate or anyone of you surrounding him, but I wanted to let you know that I am very moved by your connectedness to each other, and I am sending my warmest thoughts and heart strength to your support. May you find peace in each others love. May your hearts stay connected. All the best on your way, Tate.

  6. #6 by Nora on June 3, 2012 - 11:02 pm

    Hospice is one of the very best things ever invented. I am so glad you’ve found a facility you like and that there’s been time to move away from aggressive treatment to this. I prayed for you all in church today. I wish I could come out there but I know my prayers and love having been flying all the way to you along with everyone else’s.

    I have been so blessed to know the remarkable Tate, and so many of his different sides– the artist, the cuddle bug, the badass. He is one-of-a-kind if ever there was one. When I think of Tate though, most of all I think of the laughter after a hot day in Yanko Park, the stories shared in Hartford bars after a show, and the look on his face as he watched Elijah and Tessa play. Watching him at his happiest was a gift I never fully appreciated, and it makes me think now of all the opportunities I have to see joy in every one I know and love. Mostly I am so thankful that these past few months have been full of loving embraces for him. Too many people walk through life without knowing how much they are appreciated, what a blessing to have had the chance to learn of it.

    I am grateful to the many who continue to bear witness in this moment and have been on the front lines of this difficult beautiful journey from the very first day. I have known he is in good hands and I know you are taking excellent care of each other as well. ❤ xoxo

  7. #7 by datingjesus on June 3, 2012 - 11:15 pm

    GregTate, I love you.

  8. #8 by Paul Abramowicz on June 3, 2012 - 11:17 pm

    Tate, the impact you have had on myself and so many is astounding. From being a fabulously (and simultaneously) down to earth and funny teacher at Academy, to having the privilege of helping work with you and HartBeat on The Pueblo, it is truly an honor to say that I have known you. So much love from France to you Tate. You are in my thoughts and in my prayers. God bless you.

  9. #9 by Hannah Vigneri on June 3, 2012 - 11:41 pm

    I am so sad to read that Tate has been put on hospice care. Although he was only my teacher for one of my brief three years at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, and only for an elective, he made a huge impact on me as a person. The discussions we had in Theater of the Oppressed were eye-opening to me as a freshman. He changed my outlook on so many things in life, and forced me to realize who it is that I am today. Any time I saw him after that, I always asked, “Tate! Do you remember me?!” And I was always shocked when he replied, “Yes, Hannah.” I hope that he can be as comfortable as possible with his time remaining, and I only wish that he knows how much he changed my life for the better.

  10. #10 by Sophie House on June 3, 2012 - 11:45 pm

    Dear Tate, your students are so blessed to have known you. You are an amazing teacher and artist, and a light in the city of Hartford; you’ve shown so many of us what it means to love this place through art and service. Thank you for sharing your spirit, creativity, and wicked sense of humor. You are in my prayers.
    Love,
    Sophie House

  11. #11 by Ted Stolze on June 3, 2012 - 11:55 pm

    I’m one of the few friends, I guess, who never came to call you “Tate”–you have always just been “Greg” to me. You know what I feel so strongly about you, even and especially now? I have really loved hugging you, it’s so difficult to wrap my arms around you, physically and metaphorically! I’m so glad I was able to see you and Julia at the Rethinking Marxism conference at UMass-Amherst a few years back, when HartBeat did a show. It was such a great event, and I was very happy to see you stepping into the light and recognition you have always deserved. All my love forever, Greg.

    Ted

  12. #12 by Martin on June 3, 2012 - 11:56 pm

    Greg,

    I’ve pulled out all of my photos of you and me from 1995 when we were together at the mime troupe… And when I “went on for you” to play your roles when you had hurt your leg. There was no way I could have filled your big shoes in more ways than one… But in every one of these photos I am happy. There you are with me and Bonnie in the park. It strikes me now that I was very alone in SF then, but you almost by yourself made it not lonely. You were an instant friend, just as willing to give me a hard time and have a laugh as you were to give me some advice, or trust me with the tasks that came up. You taught me what an art it is to pack a truck, and how to stand your ground when strong heads and hearts collide. You taught me how to rough it on the road with so many more miles under your feet than under mine. You taught me that here on the west coast there were like minded people who respect work, and feel there is still a job to be done speaking truth to power.

    And then you gave me another chance to enjoy your company and learn from you. I am so grateful that you brought me to Connecticut to work together again, and you gave me new friends to love. How can a student truly thank his mentor. That is what you are to me, one of my mentors… Among the 2 or three most important. Now and then. I will keep using the things that you taught me, about having a big enough heart to do the things that are hard and still sing and laugh. Peace to you my sweet Tate. I love you.

  13. #13 by Dena on June 4, 2012 - 12:10 am

    A brief candle; both ends burning
    An endless mile; a bus wheel turning
    A friend to share the lonesome times
    A handshake and a sip of wine
    So say it loud and let it ring
    We are all a part of everything
    The future, present and the past
    Fly on proud bird
    You’re free at last.
    ~ Charlie Daniels

    Tate, every time I try to think about what this earth will be like without you in it I start to get weepy, but I don’t have to search long to come up with a Tate memory that makes me laugh. For instance, whenever there was an event and I would ask, “What can I bring?” no matter where in the ArtSpace Studio, house, office you may have been I heard, “Pie…hmpf… yeah, pie.” (I’m sure most of you reading this can hear him saying this in his gruff Tate voice). So, I’m sending a note to heaven now with my pie recipe so they can have it waiting. I will not forget you or your huge hugs, kind heart, contagious laughter, or grizzly bear scowl that would try to hide the teddy bear inside to no avail. You will be missed by many, but we will know you are safe when we see a new big-ass star shining over Hartford.

  14. #14 by Brian Berry on June 4, 2012 - 12:24 am

    Tate – I wish I had been given the time to get to know you better. You have a lion’s heart. Long before you fell ill, your courage has been an inspiration to many, many, many people.

  15. #15 by Elvy Stepinoff on June 4, 2012 - 12:25 am

    For you all, and especially my sweet Julia, my heart breaks for you and your children. My tears are copious as I write, and they are tears of love and sadness. To you, Tate, I say thank you. Yes thank you for all you have given to those you love, those you know, and the many others you have touched and continue to touch. You have done well with your life, sharing your love and joy with all. Now it is okay to let go and say good-bye. The people you leave behind will always have you in their hearts and memories, and oh, the stories they will tell of big bear Tate.
    We love you, Elvy and Dennis

  16. #16 by Michael Gene Sullivan on June 4, 2012 - 12:41 am

    I was telling someone the other day about how you and me and Ellen almost died in the truck when the front tire blew out on the freeway. The truck going a hefty 55 mph, BAM! and we’re into the median, up into the oncoming traffic, cars coming at us and flying off into the trees, the steel of our wheel cutting into the pavement so you had to struggle to turn us back into the median where we finally came to rest a few miles later. And then the CHP officer who came up and asked “Who was driving?” and when he found out it was you he came over, shook your hand, and said that was some of the most amazing driving he’d ever heard of.

    I remember looking over at you while you struggled with the wheel, a look of shock and determination on your face as you wrestled with it. But as I think back, with all the pats on the back, and congratulations I don’t think I ever thanked you for saving my life. Oops.

    So thank you, Greg, for saving my life. I know you were busy saving yours at the time, and it was kind of a package deal, but still it has come in handy.

    Pooty on this.

  17. #17 by Jennifer Scholte on June 4, 2012 - 1:35 am

    I just got into town and am heartbroken to read my emails. Our thoughts, prayers and love are with all of you. Tate, I have met very few people in my life that I can consider truly honorable and you are one of them. The love and caring that surrounds you now is a reflection of the goodness that you bring into the world and it will live on. I wish you peace in your journey.

  18. #18 by Laura Shmishkiss on June 4, 2012 - 1:38 am

    Tate– my tears are streaming as I look at all of the beautiful photos of you that your loved ones have posted on facebook. You are such a beautiful and inspirational man, and a true embodiment of LOVE LOVE LOVE. Thank you for your kindness, your generous spirit, and for your example and for always gracing me with joy and laughter. I’m sending so many blessings and prayers to you.

  19. #19 by susan and jay on June 4, 2012 - 1:45 am

    Greg, the first time Jay and I met you was when the Mime Troop came to UMass. Steven took us to the performance, and you were standing on the steps of the theater. We came up the steps and you towered over us, reminding me of one the huge statues outside an Egyptian temple, like Ramses. Certainly powerful! We are grateful that you chose to come to Hartford, grateful that you applied that power to all the good works that you, Julia and Steve gave to the community and the world. There have been public times and private times, outrageous garlic bread and classic performances. You have been a gift to family and friends, and left friends feeling like family.
    Susan and Jay

  20. #20 by Anonymous on June 4, 2012 - 2:52 am

    Tate, you are love and laughter. You are artistry and fairness. You have touched more souls than you will ever know. For with each person you have been met, with each student you have taught and each artist you have worked with a legacy of you remains in them. Everyone pays you forward and thus, as we continue, you will forever be a part of all.

    I think I am holding our faculty room conversations as closest memories to my heart. Your passion for students who you felt just needed support were always trumped by those who you thought were “nut cases” only because of the humor in which you let your feelings be known. How I loved being almost late for class because I wanted more of your richness,wisdom and fellowship.

    You are a gift to us, Tate. And we will be carrying all you have taught us. Trust this. You are love and laughter. You are artistry and fairness.

    Julia, and all in Chicago, my heart is filled for you. Thank you for keeping him safe and in comfort. This journey has no words…..

    Eileen

  21. #21 by Briana Maia on June 4, 2012 - 3:25 am

    Tate,
    Thank you for helping a lost, bratty eighth grader learn that she could do anything if she was just willing to try. I wouldn’t be where I am without your inspiration.
    You are in my prayers.

    With love,
    Briana Maia

  22. #22 by Anonymous on June 4, 2012 - 3:42 am

    Tate, it truly has been a priviledge to know and work with you for the past 3 years. You were one of the first people I met after moving to Hartford and I am so glad to have had the honor. The collaboration and challenges and the heart behind the work were extraordinary, but you kept such a positive humor… I will never forget the Afro wig from Ebeneeza!

    While having words during times like these is seldom easy to come by, all I can say is you are loved by many, including myself, and we are so much better for having known you. Thank you for everything 🙂 You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Robyn Joyce

  23. #23 by Sara Miller on June 4, 2012 - 4:05 am

    Tate,
    I wish I knew you better, but even through our brief interactions you inspired me, encouraged me, and made me laugh. I am so grateful we crossed paths. Thank you for your warmth and infectious spirit. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Sara Miller ( ghaa ’07)

  24. #24 by Anonymous on June 4, 2012 - 4:30 am

    Tate, I think about you everyday. Thank you for being my teacher. I hope you find peace and comfort. Sending you all my love.

    Meg Scanlan

  25. #25 by Velina Brown on June 4, 2012 - 5:10 am

    Hi Greg, Peace be with you.
    Velina

  26. #26 by Anonymous on June 4, 2012 - 6:34 am

    Dear Julia–I just emailed you a poem for Tate. I sent it tp every email address i had for you, so forgive me if you get too many. Til then, I am sending love. Pam

  27. #27 by JoAnne Bauer on June 4, 2012 - 2:02 pm

    For Greg Tate 6-4-12

    Some are born
    with a destiny for art;
    spitting creativity in the face
    of daily smugness.

    You came to our city,
    gave all your heart
    (You wouldn’t give less)
    brought drama, satire,
    music, spicy zest,

    enough to transform us?
    Let us figure out the rest.

    Your HartBeat goes on…

    -JoAnne Bauer

  28. #28 by Anonymous on June 4, 2012 - 4:28 pm

    I woke up this morning at 2 am to a phone call. I just knew that wasn t a good sign.And I was right my Uncle Greg had passed away last night. RIP uncle Greg u will be missed and I love you.

  29. #29 by Anonymous on June 4, 2012 - 5:22 pm

    Dear Tate,

    You have not gone quietly into the night. The thread has broken but the fabric you wove in the beautiful life you lived has survived. It will cover the bodies and minds and spirits of those you have left behind. May the love, wisdom, and beauty you breathed into this world give some comfort to all who miss you dearly. We are better for having shared a few brief moments of this life with you.

    With love…

  30. #30 by Anonymous on June 4, 2012 - 7:29 pm

    Thank you my friend..I have known and loved you for more than half my life…For that I am so trully grateful…You are my sole mate, my friend, my advisor and so much more… You have blessed me and my children. You have been a major part of my past, my present and yes you will always be
    part of my future. I Will Always Love you “The Tate Man”..Painless peace will be here soon..
    All my love..

    .Ginny

  31. #31 by Anonymous on June 4, 2012 - 7:43 pm

    Thank you so much Tate for always being the great caring, peacefull, nice heart warming person that you are. You have been there for my Family and you have always been in my heart. You are a great loveable person that has never thought of yourself before anybody else. You will always have the best hugs out of everyone I know. Any time I need my hopes up….I will think of Greg Tate.
    Love you Tate, We Love You. I Love You

    Eddie Gill

  32. #32 by Chris on June 4, 2012 - 8:21 pm

    For Greg Tate
    June 4, 2012

    On the estate of Mister Twain
    Last Thursday found me once again
    Where we all met to stoke your flame
    Collective verbal fire.

    An hour preceding this return
    An update came of your concern
    Made me profoundly sad to learn
    Your health had gotten dire

    A year and change before that day
    In that same room, we staged a play
    Your joyous ghost of holidays
    Was ribbing Auntie Sneezy

    This bunker with a hint of dorm
    Designed to lecture, not perform,
    But with your guidance, it transformed
    And you made it look easy

    And transformation was the thing
    To every role and task you’d bring
    You’d grab that metaphoric ring
    And show: we too, were able.

    The chance you gave me years ago
    Through many stumbles did bestow
    Colleagues and friends I’m proud to know
    And food upon my table.

    I’m but a fraction of a lot
    to whom a world transformed you brought
    To youth of every age, who sought
    A rich, creative joy

    This Monday morning’s mail perused
    Revealed the sad, expected news
    A deeper, poignant sort of blues
    From Chicago, Illinois

    To lose you thus feels so remote
    With teary eyes and lumpen throat
    We struggle simply to emote
    Or even to accept it

    And Hartford feels the stinging loss
    Of friend and mentor, partner, boss
    Your presence here cannot be lost
    For so many have kept it.

    Your legacy is one of love.
    Your family, friends and kids thereof:
    The young, red-headed apples of
    Your warm adoring eye.

    The void you leave is truly great
    But we’re compelled to dedicate
    To do right by our brother Tate
    In that sweet by and by

  33. #33 by Leese on June 5, 2012 - 1:11 am

    ON behalf of all the members of Strike Anywhere – I am sending you love, light, laughter and strength as you move on your journey. You are a beautiful soul. Inspiring – so strong in your conviction to make things right – to use theater as a positive force for good. Thank you for pouring your self into activism, into education, into shedding light. What better gift can you give to the world? We are humbled by your strength, empowered to do more. Much love brother!

    Love, Leese, Rolf, Rob, Donna, Michel, Damen and Nolan.

  34. #34 by Julian Carreiro on June 5, 2012 - 4:47 am

    Dear Greg,
    I am writing in the hopes that somehow you can still feel me. I love you so much and will miss you terribly. Your great enormous loving spirit continues to warm me. My memories of so many good times are still here always here. You helped me to be brave many times when I needed your shoulder. I will always love you. May you be at peace knowing that you are so loved and that you brought happiness to many and did good in the world. So until later Greggy Butt. I’ll meet you again someday. Love, Keiko

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