August Wilson

It was strange, even a year and a half after he died, to see in the Post-Gazette today that a plaque was dedicated to “the late” August Wilson.

After all, August Wilson doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who should be dead. I don’t mean that in the “why, o cruel world” sense, but in the sense that a dead August Wilson doesn’t quite add up. Old and living in New York, maybe, but it still feels like he, or someone like him, should be out there somewhere, writing about Pittsburgh. Not writing about me, exactly, but maybe about the guy down the street or the lady he used to know.

It is a strange thing, feeling that way about someone you never met, and it isn’t just fame. The far more famous Gerald Ford outlived Wilson by more than a year, but I feel as if he might as well have been dead since before I was born.

It is not just the Pittsburgh connection either. It didn’t seem this bizarre to me when Mr. Rogers died, maybe because I had the chance to actually meet him over the years and recognized that he was, in addition to everything else, an old man.

I think that isn’t all of it, though. Mr. Rogers belonged to everybody, all over the world, and children everywhere were his neighbors, even though he lived here. August Wilson, even though he lived elsewhere, was ours, and we belonged to him. Saying “the late August Wilson” may feel a bit too much like saying “the late Pittsburgh.”

I think I will visit the August Wilson plaque sometime soon. Not today.

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