Looking Back, Looking Ahead

My friend Greg Spira passed away last week, the end result of a long and recurring battle with kidney disease. Greg was 44 years old, a Mets fan who grew up in Whitestone, Queens, and an editor who among other accomplishments was kind enough to solicit and encourage my contributions to the Maple Street Mets Annual over the past few years. I knew Greg only for a short time, and were he anyone else, he’d probably be one of those quasi-business acquaintences with whom you interact with from time to time but never get to know well. But Greg’s extraordinary intellect, curiousity and friendliness won me over. He was genuinely interested in so many things, a simple phone call to relay a message over a particular point in an article would inevitably become a hour-long phone conversation over a hundred more topics, and an assignment that could easily be relayed with an email would instead become a long lunch, or minitaure golf outing, or a Mets game. I liked Greg a lot. Our mutual friend Matthew Silverman knew Greg very well, and wrote a terrific rememberance of him at his website.

What a trial 2011 was for us Mets fans. In May, author Dana Brand died suddenly at age 56. Dana was in the process of organizing a scholarly conference all about the Mets to mark the occasion of the team’s 50th anniversary. How awesome was that? The great news is that event will happen in Dana’s honor April 26-28 at Hofstra University, and is open for presentation submissions through Jan. 10.

By the time Dana passed, my sister Jennifer was in the final weeks of her life. As I mentioned here before, but haven’t written about much lately, Jen had ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease: a progressive neurological disorder that despite our efforts remains undefeated. Jen’s loss at age 46 deprived her husband a great wife, her three kids of a great mother, my family of a great sister, aunt and daughter, and the Mets of another great fan. Jen was among MBTN’s biggest supporters and totally got the concept. She made sure each of her friends bought one of my books whether they wanted one or not, and she had a lot of friends. It’s impossible to say how much I miss her.

They say a year like 2011 is the kind of thing that puts Mike Pelfrey’s struggles into perspective, and I suppose it does, though the overriding vibe is an urge to see better days ahead. I’d like to think that all three of Greg, Jen and Dana would see this coming season not exclusively as a disaster in the making, but would appreciate it also for whatever it brings, for its particular moment in time. We only have so many of them.

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One comment

  1. Jon Springer says:

    Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/02/2012 – 11:24am.
    Jon, I’m so sorry to read about these wonderful people who died–particularly Jen. I was probably in the midst of a million and one things at the time, and this sad news slipped right by me. I know from experience with my late mother, that such degenerative diseases (in my mom’s case, Parkinson’s) are grueling for the victim to endure and those who love them to watch. I’ll certainly pray for her, as well as the two good friends you’ve lost.–Mike

    We can’t go undefeated in

    Submitted by EdgyDC on Mon, 01/02/2012 – 1:35pm.
    We can’t go undefeated in this life. But here’s to the people who fill our lives with wins, even as we lose them.

    May 2012 be filled with more such wins and fewer such losses.


    Submitted by Jon Springer on Mon, 01/02/2012 – 4:57pm.
    Tanks Mike & Ed. Still time to get that abstract in!

    True that…

    Submitted by gored82 on Tue, 01/03/2012 – 2:56am.
    “We only have so many of them.”

    I’m 51, an age that some folks don’t reach and by which most of us have begun to appreciate the brevity of life. Truer words (than the above) have never been spoken.

    Hope 2012 is much happier.

    Well Said

    Submitted by metsilverman.com (not verified) on Tue, 01/03/2012 – 4:54pm.
    2011 was a cruel year all the way around.
    Nicely said about Greg Spira. We talked a lot–especially during the production cycle of the Maple Street Press Mets Annual. I figured that I would be the contact editor for you since we’d just done MBTN the book. But Greg so artfully “stole” you, getting you on the phone early on, and talking through what was a difficult concept about the Mets’ identity as a franchise. When you were unsure what we wanted you to write for the 2008 edition, he talked to you numerous times until it turned into a fine piece.
    Those kind of editors are rare. I’m more of an “just hand it in and I’ll fix it” type, but Greg’s approach led to a better final piece and better interaction. That’s not to say he couldn’t drive me nuts with this approach when we were trying to get things in on deadline, but when you held the magazine in your hands at the end, I always felt he got the most out of the writers and made the finished product better.
    To better days in 2012.

    Wow, it seems that you have

    Submitted by Joseph.G on Sat, 01/07/2012 – 10:34am.
    Wow, it seems that you have lost some very important people in your life. Greg sounds like he was they type of editor anyone would want. When they take the time to get to know you, it helps with the writing process greatly.

    Two people have passed away leaving behind a lot of great memories if you are dealing with the wrong people and this article is only a small depiction of what their lives were.

    My deepest condolences, Jon.

    Submitted by ZP (not verified) on Mon, 01/09/2012 – 12:42pm.
    My deepest condolences, Jon. I can’t imagine what you must be going through, but to paraphrase Frank Capra, as long as you have people around you who love you, well, nothing much can beat that. God bless and know that you’re in our thoughts.

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