Monday, May 16, 2016


It's already been a tough year in a lot of ways and got a lot worse over the weekend. My stepbrother, Greg Collar, passed away on Saturday at the VA hospital in Milwaukee. He'd been there for surgery and it appears that complications ensued.

I'm struggling with the notion that any mentions of Greg must now be in the past tense. Greg was a character. I'm going to take the liberty of quoting a Facebook post my sister Carol wrote last night; she explains it well.
When my dad married my stepmother Darlene, we got a new batch of brothers and a sister that came with the package. Most of Dar's kids were older than we were, particularly Margie, Mike and myself. So there was an age gap that was a little different at first, but we soon found that Greg in particular was just a big kid himself, a goofy and lovable guy with a rather odd sense of humor and a big love of music- the guy had tons of albums! He loved what I guess you would call novelty songs- and all the pop music of the late 60's and 70's. He also loved movies, his collection of those was always impressive too. I particularly remember he loved the movie "Uncle Buck" among many others.
It was almost a genre, the "Greggie song." The guy had just about every oddball one-hit wonder song you can think of in his collection, especially from the early 1970s. I was posting YouTube videos of some of these songs over the weekend on Facebook. A representative sample:


And one more:

I was a little kid, barely in elementary school, when these songs were on the radio; Greg was about six years older than me, so they were certainly the soundtrack of his early adolescent years. Over the years, he found a way to amass an incredible collection of such music. Listening to these tunes now, all these years later, there's an innocence about it all -- while much of it was product and the bands were essentially interchangeable, the cynicism that pervaded the music business later on is largely missing from these grooves. It was happy, optimistic music. And there was an optimism and innocence that Greg carried with him, even though he'd seen his share of struggles. Greg was diabetic and he was in the hospital because he'd needed to have a foot amputated, which happens to a lot of diabetics as they get older. He'd had a kidney replacement a number of years back and while that helped, health was a struggle for him.

By the time I met Greg and the rest of Dar's kids, in the early 1980s, I had a foot out the door and was well on my way to college, so they were only sporadic presences in my life. There was a summer, 1983, where Greg was a major presence in my life. He spent a lot of time with us and he got to know a lot of my friends. We spent a lot of time together that summer and he was a comforting presence at a time of great transition in my life. There's more to the story of 1983 than I can share here, but I'll never forget that summer and how Greg was instrumental in making sense of it all.

I'll write more about this in the coming days. I'd appreciate prayers, if you're so inclined, for his wife Carmen, his daughter Connie, and his granddaughter Cavalina.


Brian said...

I am truly sorry for your lost. My best to you and to the rest of Greg's family.

Bike Bubba said...

Prayers for all around--my condolences, Mark.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

It's hard to know how to respond when you can't just give a hug and listen. I prayed and I trust that you'll have lots of love and listening ears surrounding you in these hard days.