I’ve never been one to care much about paying my respects to the dead. Before you get all up in arms about this, let me explain. Death is something that I deal with in a much different way than many. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s because of my New Orleans heritage where they celebrate death as a positive thing. Back in the days of slavery, if a fellow slave died, they were free. They were free from slavery, from illness, from persecution, and anything else that came with the torment of that horrid life. In New Orleans they would (and still have) Jazz Funerals to celebrate the passing on to a better place. With that being said, I never saw the point of paying respects to a grave.
Recently I was in California to see Dead and Company and being so close I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go visit the grave of Ronnie James Dio. It was a typically gorgeous Los Angeles day. No humidity, sun out, and the grounds of Forest Lawn Cemetery were gorgeously serene. I’m not a religious person by any means but walking through Forest Lawn, well, I don’t know what it is exactly but it’s almost as if all of the people buried there seem to exude this kind of energy that I can only describe as peaceful.
Ronnie’s gravesite wasn’t hard to find (thanks internet and my wife) but when I walked up towards it I felt the hair on my arms stand a full attention. It was huge with his autographed scrawled out on the front of it larger than life with the title “The Man on the Silver Mountain.” Not being good at shit like this I just kind of looked at his tomb and smiled. Silently I thanked him for making the music that got me through a very rough childhood. I thanked him for being a beacon of light for the lost and for being and adult role that let me know that someone out there understood me.
I never had the opportunity to meet Ronnie James Dio which is one of my biggest regrets. I would have loved nothing more than to have told him in person and in life just how important he was to me. I also feel that he already knew even without hearing from me because he saw so many others like me tell him so. I don’t believe in heaven and I don’t believe hell but what I do believe is that a person’s spirit lives on long after they’re gone in their music. Standing in front of Dio’s grave I knew he wouldn’t hear me. I knew that he was merely bone and ash but for some reason, I felt this closure. I felt like I finally did get my opportunity to tell him by being there and to me, that was a timeless and memorable moment for me.
RIP Ronnie James!