Delayed sad news hit me late last night, via the Internet – specifically by visiting a radio show’s website I hadn’t seen for months, and learning that the wife of one of my favorite DJs growing up died this summer.
Freda, who was married for 23 years to Don Geronimo of “The Don & Mike Show,” and who I heard on the radio on and off for 20 of those years, was killed in a car accident in July. Don, their son Bart, the radio show family – and it really is like a strong, contentious but loving family – and Freda’s family have been dealing with this as well as they can. And I know it’s terribly presumptuous for me to think this wounds me, because I’ve never lost someone as close to me as a wife or a mother. What the hell is my reaction compared to people losing the most important person in their world, so suddenly and so young? But I’m still mad.
A car accident. It had to be a car accident: my choice for That Thing Which Kills Too Many People. I’ve known three people who died that way: first Jeremy, a guy I sat with in my high school cafeteria. Then Jen, a colleague on my high school paper. Then Mike, my best friend. This happened in the space of five years, from 1992 to 1997, and seemed to me to be a grotesque game by someone saying, “Hey, think you could handle that? How about this?” And now it’s as if that force has turned towards people I like, and dealt them a blow.
I still have tapes of the show: Freda staying calm on the phone while their toddler Bart (now a college student) had what Don called “a Damien-like tantrum” in the background. Freda teasing Don for having shared a piece of gum with ’80s singer Samantha Fox: “You’re not just sharing gum with Samantha Fox,” she said, “you’re sharing gum with every person Samantha Fox has ever shared gum with.” Her calling him “Boo-Boo”; yes, they were sweet to each other like that. Don happily letting her watch a nearly naked dancing man in the studio on air as a birthday present; I’ve seen a photo of that, and Freda was having a grand time. And while they could be contentious on the program – because they knew they could make it into good radio – they were tight and loving in other ways. They had their life, and it was a good life.
They deserved more life like that.
And I don’t think I want to say anything else, or I’ll wander into cliché territory.
Still…damnit. This just continues to be a bitch-slap of a year, doesn’t it?
P.S. The archive of articles Freda wrote for her husband’s website remains up, with a notice remembering Freda, and this message: “The Freda Files will forever be available for you to read and re-read. Her thoughts are funny, touching and wise. Not one word will ever be altered. We miss you, Freda.”