Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Charles McGlashan!

Charles F. McGlashan (1961-2011)

My friend Charles McGlashan would have turned 50 today if he hadn’t suffered a fatal heart attack a few months ago.

I met Charles years ago when he married one of my best friends, Carol Misseldine. Carol – who is without a doubt one of the wisest, strongest and most compassionate human beings ever to walk the face of Planet Earth – didn’t deserve to lose her partner, her best friend, the love of her life. Fate really can be a royal, lousy, vicious bitch.

Charles’ life was celebrated by hundreds at a memorial service at the Marin Center Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael, California, last April 9. The Marin County Sheriff’s Department posted a Color Guard on horseback at the entrance to the facility. U.S. Representative Lynn Woolsey, author Paul Hawken, Charles’ brothers and others joined Carol in speaking about Charles the warrior, the public servant, the brother, the colleague, the friend.

Someone from the Golden Gate Opera sang. Hundreds of people who knew Charles or knew what he had done for them, for the community, for the planet, wrote messages on poster board set on easels outside of the ceremony. It was apparently one of those events where you laughed as tears streamed down your face, and felt miserable and grateful at the same time, and knew you were celebrating the life and gifts of a one-of-a-kind man who would not soon be forgotten.    
Photo courtesy San Rafael Patch

I wrote back in March, when he died, that Charles had been president of the Marin County Board of Supervisors who promoted sustainability, energy efficiency and renewable power. I wrote about the awards he had won and the important issues he championed like affordable and public housing, water conservation, local non-car transportation systems, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, smart community design, zero waste, green building, environmental justice, public health and habitat protection, among others.

What I didn’t write was how special he must have been to have caught Carol’s eye, to have lured and snared someone as discerning and exceptional as she is. I didn’t know him well – I had only spent hours with him – but I knew he was worthy of respect because Carol respected him. I knew he was a lovely man because Carol loved him. I knew he was making a significant mark on the world because he made one on my friend, who misses him so much, she admitted, that sometimes she’s brought to her knees by longing and sadness and the desire to see his big smile and feel his big embrace one more time.

I noticed in the few conversations I’ve had with Carol since Charles’ death that she talks mostly about wanting his spirit to be free now. She wants him to not be sad or in pain or lonely or afraid. She wants him to cross over peacefully and begin his new journey, whatever that is, in comfort. She doesn’t speak with bitterness or wallow in self-pity or dwell on how devastated she is or talk about herself at all, hardly, except to express gratitude for the support she’s received from the many who loved him.

She posted this on Facebook yesterday:

The mystics say that those who have passed are well served if those of us who remain behind send blessings and prayers their way. So if you are so inclined, please take a moment tomorrow to envision Charles enveloped in golden loving light, free of all disturbance and experiencing a profound and lasting peace.

I’m envisioning this a lot.

That’s how amazing Charles McGlashan was. He lived his life in such a way that people want nothing but the best for him even after he’s gone. Even in death, he’s still bringing out the best in others.

Happy 50th birthday, Charles, wherever you are. You are so missed.

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