A beloved actor passed away earlier this week. I didn’t know him, not personally. My only interaction with him was through the magic of TV and the power of a sitcom titled Frasier.
Week after week, I’d wait eagerly for the appearance of the Crane family on the air and laugh right along with the witty comebacks and the heartwarming equation shared by the brothers Crane and their father.
Death itself is no stranger to my world. I’ve had more than my fair share of close encounters with this inevitable merchant of doom. From the loss of a grandmother when I was 13 to the painful demise of aunts, uncles and many other beloved relatives, it’s never been easy, no matter how often I’ve seen it.
News of his passing, which I noticed through a tweet by Kelsey Grammer, left me with a sense of emptiness and I chided myself. Why was I mourning the loss of a person I didn’t even know personally? It wasn’t like he’d been to my graduation or cheered me on while I won accolades at school. Our paths had never crossed.
But, deep down, I knew that this connection was beyond anything that could be explained by logic.
Frasier was a show that I’d watch with my uncle, a kind, wise and witty soul who left us 12 years ago. I had no dearth of loving and kind father figures in my life; in fact, quite the opposite. But the absolute love for wit and the ability to appreciate the nuances of said wit, I learnt from this uncle.
In all the years I knew him, I’ve never heard him raise his voice. If he had a point, he’d get it across with kindness and with a hint of impishness.
Much like Martin Crane.
I’ve heard him counsel the family, especially the kids, when they reached out to him with dilemmas and troubles. And each time the wisdom he’d share would be helpful yet unobtrusive. All he did was point towards the solution. The choice to move forward on that path was totally up to the questioner.
A lot like Martin Crane would do in every episode.
Reports say that Mahoney passed away due to cancer and a combination of other factors; just like my uncle did, in the Spring of 2006.
People may be amused by the fact that I choose to draw parallels between a real human being and a character on a TV show, but isn’t all life that? Drawing connections between the virtual and the real? Finding our way through messages and ideas that float around in the ether and manifest in relationships with people we care?
And that’s when I realised why I truly mourn the passing of the actor, John Mahoney also known as Martin Crane. Through his death, I experienced what it was like to lose my uncle all over again.
Rest in peace, Marty Crane. Thank you for the laughs and thank you for the memories.