Dear J*** 2020.08.03

Dear J***,

Thank you for including me in your letter. I enjoy reading what you write, you have a heartfelt, insightful, yet playful writing style. i imagine that is like your personality, and imagine is all i can do at this point, not knowing you in person. Richard talked so much about you on his visits. For a man who was quite opinionated, i think you were his grounding, his safe place, his mirror of positive thinking.

There are people we see everyday, but don’t have any understanding of their life. There are friends we see very little, but they are always within our hearts. Richard is one of those people with a special place in my heart, and not because he was always agreeable, but because we saw through our agreements and disagreements with an underlying understanding of love.

we spent a pivotal time in our youth together, both in San Francisco and Rochester, as we moved from high school teenagers to young adults, and all the tumultuous changes that come with that first stage of being on one’s own. My first love (Jim K.) and Fletcher both wanted to be rock stars. The three of us were housemates for years, and we all lived and breathed music in some form. For Fletcher and Jim it was playing music, for me it was writing.

While we lived together in S.F., the two of them started by working as “roadies” setting up the equipment for other bands, and working their way into the business. 

When we returned to Rochester after a year in S.F., Fletcher was a brave soul, and made the leap to go to London where he worked for bands including Osibisa ( Fletcher made life long friends there as he did everywhere. I remember going with Jim to pick Fletcher up at the airport when he returned to Rochester. Both boys had leather jackets with fringe down to their knees and their hair was just as long. But the lifestyle of rock musician was full of long nights and few rewards for all but a select few. We were trying to sort out our futures and keep our minds open. During this time Fletcher was exploring art classes, and both Fletcher and I were introducted into TM practice.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

I remember sitting on the concrete steps out in front of our rented flat off Monroe Ave., discussing life options with Fletcher. He felt he had no clear direction at that point. I mentioned John Kennedy’s Peace Corp. It was an idealist program that exemplified those times, and was a way of finding yourself while giving to others. Fletcher went in that direction and never looked back. In those days there was no internet to keep in contact. Fletcher went overseas to S.E. Asia. By the next time he returned to Rochester, i was on a different path of my own. Having spent time in Puerto Rico, finishing art school myself in Florida, then settling in California where work options were best suited.

With the growth of connections through the internet, I started re-connecting with old friends and visiting Rochester, about 20 years ago. One friend led to another and eventually I was reconnected with our group from high school that included Jim and Fletcher. You never know what changes time will bring to friendships. But I think in general, you receive the love you give. Fletcher was able to spend a week with me while i was still working in LA, CA. I was able to introduce him to the close friends i had there. He visited me several times and i reciprocated by visits to Rochester. We made one trip to Las Vegas (my first and last trip) to visit one of his childhood neighbors. I stayed at his childhood home in Rochester and watched as he got ready to retire to S.E.Asia. Fletcher was so full of love for the community in S.E. Asia – the kindness and simplicity of the people was something that opened his heart. He willingly gave away his possessions to go back to the land he loved. And Fletcher still faithfully practiced TM and would remind me each time we communicated of the benefits that TM had produced in his life.

21 Wilmer Street, off Monroe Avenue

Each year that I would visit Rochester, I would plan my trip around the time that Fletcher would be there (mostly staying with John) so we could connect. When I retired myself 4 years ago, and moved outside of Portland, Oregon, Fletcher stayed a week at my new home, after his Rochester visit. He had stories about traveling in this area while getting his PHD in Sacramento. Fletcher had travelled widely, making life friends around the world.

Fletcher at Multnomah Falls

Each year, I would ask Fletcher if he was bringing “J***” along. I understood the financial side of things, but it would have been nice to physically connect those two parts of his life, and it sounds like he was getting ready to do that. He had also told me he would come back to stay at my house in 2020 after his visit to Rochester. His passing was all the more emotional knowing that we had plans to connect, and that you, Jumy, might be part of them. I can only say here, something that i say to those who have crossed with my path in this life…i have a humble home with a guest room that i enjoy sharing. if there is any reason you would have for visiting this area of the USA (of course post-Covid) you are welcome to stay here, I would be honored to host you.

If I never have the chance to meet you in person, know that I feel the connection through Fletcher. Know that his friendship renewed my resolve to practice TM , in earnest, again. Know that Fletcher was one of the few people who I could watch his face change (as if seeing into his soul) at times.

And in the end, all that remains is the love we share

Fletchers’  spirit is free now