Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude always begins my week in writing, which for today is for Dennis Lange, a friend who recently passed away due to complications from the COVID-19 virus.
Dennis was someone I never really got to know all that deeply, but someone I always did admire from afar. It was never a secret to Dennis that I found him physically attractive, but what he never knew was how attracted I was to how giving of a person he was.
I first met Dennis many years ago because of an invite my partner Chris and I received to his annual Mardi Gras party held at his house in the Old West End of Toledo every February. Each year Dennis would open up his home to his friends and much of the community he was involved in to celebrate a roaring night of food, drink, costume, happiness, and cheer with each other. I never asked him how much time, energy, and money he put into those parties, but I know it was a lot. And he sure did do his best at every one of them, to let each of his guests know how appreciated they were.
Dennis was also part of a gay men’s social group here in Toledo that my partner and I attended regularly for a while. Dennis periodically hosted a number of the group’s events throughout the year at his home. Each time he did, it was apparent how much he had that soul of giving, as there was always plenty of amazing food and drink to go around, no different than his Mardi Gras parties.
And speaking of food and drink, when Dennis re-opened his restaurant, Pumpernickel’s, near its original location in downtown Toledo, I made sure to dine there a few times. He was always pleasant with there, and made me feel very welcomed. And whether there or at his home, he had this unique way to make me laugh and take life less seriously, especially when I was down.
While Dennis and I were two very different people in much of our belief systems, me more liberal and he more conservative on some issues and the exact opposite on others, he never once made me feel like my stances were wrong and instead consistently accepted them and me unconditionally. I appreciated him for that and for that strong stance he held in all his beliefs, as I found it to be a very attractive quality about himself.
There was a strength about Dennis and a determination in his personality, even when things were difficult in his life, and for someone I knew very little about in the six or so years I knew him, he always seemed like a pretty dynamic individual to me.
Extremely involved in the local community in many ways throughout his life, doing his best to make a difference many-a-times, regularly opening his home to plenty of guests, and even frequently giving to the homeless when they came right up to his own front porch, I am saddened to know this pandemic took yet another beautiful soul of someone greatly loved by me and many others.
While I’m not sure what Dennis’s spiritual beliefs were, as we never talked about them, I hope that he’s in a place now where he’s able to continue entertaining others with his great social skills, his culinary creativity, and his love to just bring people together to create happiness and joy and make others laugh.
Dennis, you will be missed by me and I dedicate today’s Grateful Heart Monday to you my friend. I love you.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson