TWAS THIRTY YEARS AGO NEAL CASSADY DIED
His son, John Cassady, wrote this upon reflection on his dad's death:
A sad anniversary, but one worth noting, I think. 30 years ago today, Pop's demise in Mexico. I'll never forget sitting at the dining room table at the house on Bancroft when the phone rang that morning. It was JB from San Miguel de Allende telling my mother the news. Janice Brown was presumably the last American to see Neal alive, and she said she would ship his ashes home.
My mother was in shock; ashen faced and stoic, but apparently not too surprised, as she delivered the news. My sisters cried; I felt
kind of numb and vaguely uncomfortable. On one hand I was relieved for him, he had been in such torment the last few years. On the other hand I felt cheated that I had not been able to say goodbye, or able to really connect with him recently. Anyone who has lost a parent knows the feeling. I had to get out of the house, this place of grief and mourning.
I went up into the mountains above Los Gatos, with several of my closest buddies, to a favorite redwood grove on some property that my friend's father owned. I mentioned the news to my comrades in the car, and they seemed more blown away than I was, looking at me sideways for reaction throughout the day. We drank beer and popped empty cans off a fence with a 22 LR bolt-action rifle, as 16-year-olds are wont to do when in the woods, and reflected on this amazing man.
The last time I saw him, he said, "Son, don't fret." And I replied, "don't YOU fret," and meant it. But I think he took my tone the wrong way, and he looked hurt and sad as he walked away, with a recently familiar furrowed brow of pain and guilt on his face. A haunting memory, after what was to happened. Today, as I did that day thirty years ago, I wonder, "Dad, what were you going through that night? What demons possessed your mind and what were your last thoughts." I guess we'll never know. Although I'm convinced that his death was an accident on that particular night, he had been working on killing himself indirectly for decades. He was adamant in his believes regarding suicide, but he couldn't cheat fate forever. The party was over, he was done.
I was going to the Instituto-Allende, partly to get distance from my sister and her wild and crazy friends when she decides to join me there and along comes Neal and George, pulling into town in that Lotus. The American ex-patriots in San-Miguel loved Neal! He spent many hours on our large concrete terrace twirling his mallet and spinning tales with only the slimmest thread of lucidity. One day I remember walking to the town square with him, sitting around talking, I got the strongest feeling that this guy had done so much in his life, not once, but many times, and that he was tired. Neal seemed ready for this life's final experience. Also, the day I left San Miguel, he played my favorite song for me on my cheap little record player, then drove me to Guanajuato to catch the bus, because he wanted to. I had never even had any thing other than a brief platonic friendship with the guy. He was sensitive, kind hearted and a beautiful spirit! I was also saddened to learn when I learned of his death 30 years ago. I appreciate sharing these memories.
I've thought of him many, many times. Best regards, Anne X
I found out from the deadhead dictionary that neal cassady would've been 72 today...happy solar return, mr. moriarty...hope he's not too (dharma)bummed that he's not here to physically celebrate with us...i know his spirit is all i need, & i feel it real strong...his perservering big smile furthurs... Yrs, firstname.lastname@example.org
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