I was diagnosed with bile duct cancer stage 4 back in August 2016. Due to my illness I am unable to work and have gone through my savings and I am unable to pay all my bills with the money I receive from social security. I live with Sophia (my living companion of 24 years) and our 2 cats (Zoe and Sam). I am trying to raise enough money so we can stay in our current apartment at least through the end of the year and so Sophia and the cats will be able to get situated in a less expensive apartment after my passing.
Our Story by Sophia Gates:
Warren and I are sitting here in the office talking as we have so many times during the last 24 years. We are looking back at our lives together, thinking of all the wonderful people we’ve known, the amazingly diverse communities we’ve worked with and of course all our crazy jobs. We’ve had happy times, bad times, good times, lean times – we’ve been blessed to share them together and blessed with so many marvelous friends and acquaintances over the years.
Warren studied computer programming back in the early days of computers. He worked for companies like Montgomery Ward and Allstate, but never fit comfortably into the corporate world. So he went out on his own, teaching himself as technology evolved. He became an expert at pre-press, desktop publishing – he created his own cookbook in the 1980’s. Warren loved good food and took lessons, becoming highly accomplished. Early in our romance he made dinner for me and we created huge feasts for our friends. He was a terrible task master in the kitchen and I decided that sous chef must be a really horrible jobJ
We loved the Indian/Pakistani community on Devon Avenue and tried to learn how to create Indian food. He worked with many of the vendors on Devon, a small Indian newspaper; a Pakistani company called Cotton Connection – traditional Muslims – and like so many of us here in Chicago we lived side by side and worked together and learned about the world together. We collected volumes of classical Indian music, ragas; the music of Central Asia; music of Persia – he’d already possessed a huge collection of Western classical music when I met him – my mom too had loved music and his was the only collection I’d ever seen which rivaled hers. I loved Middle Eastern music of course because of my work as an artist/dancer, so we had a great deal in common – our love of music, the cosmopolitan city, people and of course chess. We played in tournaments – Warren was truly gifted. He’d published the Illinois Chess Bulletin for years, and was well-known in that community and respected for his play.
Warren worked for several years at a printing company in Edgewater, Allied Print and Copy. He excelled at precise work and loved to solve problems – characteristics that echoed his expertise at chess.
We used to sit up and argue about chess positions. We got along MOST of the time but would get really mad at each other over chessJ It is kind of silly in hindsight especially considering how bad a player I am compared to him. But it was fun too!
When Warren and I met I had two beloved cats, Mr. Bear and Elizabeth. They grew old as the years went by and when Elizabeth got sick and died at 17, shockingly, we were bereft. I’d gotten her and Bear in 1982 and he was just devastated. They were so tiny they could sit on my hands and he missed her terribly. So we went looking for a little female cat to keep him company and help us stop missing Liz so much. She was a lovely thing, delicate and beautifully marked – a little Lynx Point Siamese – high strung and fragile and fierce and loyal. We were so lucky to find our Zoe, the darling in the picture with Warren. She kept old Bear too busy to miss Elizabeth and he didn’t have time to die either, so we were happy. But he was old, so we adopted Zoe’s two little half-brothers, Sam and WokWok the Great, and for a while we had all four. When Bear passed on the three siblings had each other, and we were a family of five for many years.
I was close to my stepfather, Red, a painter, and my sister Kathy and my nieces, but they were all in Denver. So for holidays we often travelled to the suburbs to see Warren’s parents and his sister and her family. We went to Colorado for three precious days to see my dad and say goodbye to my cherished friend Toni Hoag, who was dying but living joyously, each day.
Leo Tolstoy said, “All happy families are alike,” and I guess we were boringly like everybody who shares meals with loved ones, who likes to wake up and see their sweetheart next to them, who likes to read the news together and argue about little things and share the gossip, the stories of winter, summer, the return of the birds and tiny bunnies.
So twenty four years pass in a flash.
A few years ago things took a darker turn. WokWok got sick, my sister became ill. A high wind blew the trees down on Albion, out of a clear blue sky. Beloved cats died, ours and neighbors’ – Toby, WokWok, Chica, Tigger. Toni had died; my dad died; my sister, shockingly, died a few days after the birth of my little great-niece Tesla. Then Warren was found to be ill.
Through it all he’s been stoic and brave. I love him more every day. It is shattering but we have kept on with our lives as best we can. A day is a treasure now! Maybe days should always be treasures.
We are grateful to all of you for sharing our lives. You’ve made us rich. There’s no replacement for dear friends, for good food and good art and mental challenges, for beloved families; for lovely skies.
Thank you all.
Our cats through the past 24 years, (Mr. Bear & Liz)
Below is, from the left, Zoe, Sam, WokWok