(G. Alain Chamot: 5 February 1971 – 14 April 2020)
I cannot express how sorry I am to have to write this post and inform all of you that Alain passed away sometime in the early morning hours between last night and this morning. He simply did not wake up and efforts to resuscitate him failed. His fiancé Carol has indicated that, as of now, they don’t know what happened. She has let both John and I know that as more information comes in, she’ll update us. And I’ll update you.
Most of you here knew Alain as the guy who kept the (old) site together with spit, baling wire, rubber bands, and a combination of hope and determination that he could stay one step ahead of whatever might stop working next. And that’s how I knew him, and had largely been interacting with him, until something tragic happened: his mom took ill and then died. We were friendly – I’m not sure Alain could be anything other than gregariously friendly – but I wouldn’t have said we were good friends. When his mother became ill, I stepped up communication to check on him. When she died I did what everyone from my religious community does when someone we know has someone pass away: I sent him food. Specifically a batch of brownies. I got his address from John, baked the brownies, and overnighted them too him once cool and set the next day. And with that I had transformed a friendly acquaintance into a friend for life. He called me up after the brownies arrived to thank me and until today, we’ve been in regular touch ever since.
Some of you may know that Alain struggled with his mother’s passing; they were very close. What got him through was his fiancé Carol’s support, his cats, his other hobbies and pursuits, and this place. No matter how frustrated Alain might have gotten with trying to keep the site up or running, he loved this place and everyone here. Just as I know he loved Carol and his cats. And his other passions like fishing, mushrooming, freemasonry, cooking, and baking. Last week I finally succumbed, despite not eating bread – even when it isn’t Passover – and told him to go ahead and send me some of his sourdough starter. I told him I’d find something to use it for and then I’d do a post about it for him. There was just no saying no to his infectious enthusiasm.
Alain and I talked about once a month on the phone, but we texted far more often. He was always excited about something. A fishing trip he was planning – the pandemic put that one on hold. Or the house hunting and then house purchase that he and Carol spent most of last year doing. Or some new cooking project he was working on. Or, more recently, now that he and Carol had finally found their house, bought it, and moved in, getting to work on the wedding plans.
We never met in person. Every time I was scheduled to go to DC for meetings, like last month, something came up. And when I was informed last August I was moving to the DC area for work, Alain was, if possible, more excited than I was and he had plenty of suggestions for what I thought would be my relocation. That assignment didn’t happen. And it is to my now everlasting regret that I never made it to the DC area over the past four years so we could meet in person.
Just yesterday we were texting about something completely trivial – HDMI cables. His last text to me, when I informed him the right cable had arrived by delivery, was “Excelsior!”. I almost called him today, about a 1/2 hour before John sent me the bad news. I had a stupid tech issue I was trying to fix for my mom, but decided it was so trivial there was no reason to bother him – I could look it up online. Alain never failed to make time when my mom needed tech help beyond my basic abilities. He never met her, I think he spoke to her once on FaceTime while he was walking me through troubleshooting whatever was the problem on her computer. But he was always there if I needed help.
And I don’t know a better way to sum him up: he was always there if I needed help. He was always infectiously gregarious. And he was always excited about something: Carol, his cats, freemasonry, opera, his other hobbies, and just life.
Let’s all keep his fiancé Carol in our thoughts. And for those of you who do such things, our prayers as well.
G. Alain Chamot: 5 February 1971 – 14 April 2020.
May his memory be a blessing.