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in memoriam

Louis Mammato
Louis Mammato

1957 - 2006

The Life GROUP

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Thoughts and Reflections


TO ALL THOSE FRIENDS WHO HAVE
OFFERED THEIR CONDOLENCES

For ten and a half years, Louis Mammato was my lover, my best friend, and one of the most remarkable people I have ever known. Although we only had a few brief years together, those years were full of a very special love that few people ever get the chance to experience. We never grew bored with each other, and we remained as "in love" on the day he died, as we were in the first few months of the relationship.

I am gratified by the many people who have been sending me their condolences, and I am a bit surprised at the sheer number of people who have expressed how much Louis helped them through difficult times, and how our stability as a couple gave them hope that love does exist out their in a world that is often so judgemental and cold.

At heart, Louis was a very shy man with a deep love of music (He was a member of the Glendale College Master Chorale for six years), with a talent for playing the oboe. He wasalso a voracious reader with a penchant for Murder Mysteries, and typically read as many as five or six books a weeLouis Mammato at the Saddle Up LA ride.k. He was also dedicated to the type of work done by The Life Group LA, and when Sunnie and Ric began to rebuild the weekend seminars, he worked at every event, willing to do pretty much anything to help make the organization a success. Although he hadn't ridden a horse for over twenty years, he got back in the saddle for the Saddle Up LA AIDS Benfit Ride, and was the on trail medic. He leafletted cars in Hollywood and Silverlake to help with outreach for the POZ Life Weekend Seminars, worked The Life Group LA booth at the Los Angeles Gay Rodeo, and gave of his time to facillitate groups, or work Technical Support whenever he was needed.

I wish more people had the chance to really get to know this very special man, but problems with his spine, and the exhaustion that can accompany advanced HIV disease left him too tired to do everything he would have liked. He was a talented Pediatric Intensive Care nurse who was forced to retire because of the same problems with reduced energy, and his disc problems that left him unable to stand for the long hours necessary. For many years being a Registered Nurse defined his character, and shaped his life. Giving it up was very difficult for him, but he was never one to complain about things over which he had no control. To me he was my inspiration, my comfort, and the defining element in my life, and I would like to thank all of you for helping me to bear the burden of his loss.

With love and my deepest gratitude, Jim Flood

Jim Flood asks, in lieu of flowers,
please to The Life Group LA.

A tall, lovely, cool drink of water comes to mind when I think of my friend Louis. I will miss brushing and braiding his goldy locks and sharing my bright red, MAC lipstick with him. Then there were his warm, encompassing hugs with long arms draping over and around me. At 2:30 am the night before he died, Louis spent an hour on the phone with a friend of his, who was trying to figure out a reason to keep on living. Louis was using his intrinsic, compassionate presence to flood his friend with his all consuming love even at the end of his life, here. I will hold Louis and the gifts he gave me near to my heart and know that I am blessed for having known him.

~Sue Speth

My Reflections of My Dear Friend, Louis……

Louis Mammato VolunteerCaring, compassionate, loving, giving, sharing, warm, cuddly, animal loving, tiara loving, bobble loving, laughter loving, music loving, romantic!

Never in a moments thought could I have or would I have ever imagined that so soon after our founding volunteers formed The Life Group LA we would be saying good bye to one of them…. just last week, we spent two weekends together laughing, showing off new cowboy hats and providing loving support to our community of HIV affected and infected brothers and sisters! Never did he complain once about pain, fatigue, or his own discomfort.

This loss has hit me hard, as it has others and although Louis is not here in flesh, I know he is here in spirit and will continuously guide us all though our roughest times, giving us the truest and most sincere direction.

His long golden locks and Mediterranean Sea blue eyes are embedded in my mind forever. His soft-spoken tone, I hear daily, his soft touch and warm embrace something I will never not feel! He is here… I know.

His humanity to others has been inspiring to all, and in his honor, we will all continue the work he was so passionate about supporting.

Never take a day for granted, love and live life to the fullest, give when you can, never not say I Love You when you have the chance and mean it, never not grab an opportunity that you gut says grab, never pass up that tiara or bobble that you would love to adorn!

Louis, You are Forever in my Heart, and in my Consciousness.

~Sunnie Rose

Just after recieving the news of Louis's passing this afternoon, I received a beautiful Da Vinci' ish painting of an angel with golden wings and hair email from a fellow coworker telling me to believe in angels. i do believe and hope to hear of a new angel taking flight soon.

we are all beautiful children of god. much love and comfort.

~Don Garrison

In person Louis always impressed me as a divine Soul, his countenace/face held the most beautiful yet masculine grace while his personality revealed a very special human intellgence and compassion... truly an angel in the flesh.

Alas, my time with this entity was all too brief this past year but I know with all my heart that he is among the vast Divine Universe- our own special Ambassador- and that we WILL know him again.

He is a part of all good things and people- always was, and ALWAYS will BE.

My love is greater for having been blessed with his acquaintance. I am proud and honored to have been embraced and taught by him.

I shall remember him in times of joy and whenever I encounter life's love and beauty in others. With affection & admiration.

~TJ Walsh

My thoughts are with you Jim, and memories of my experiences with Louis during training are flooding over me. A calm, loving presence who never seemed to let anything get him down. Knowing what he was doing the night he died makes me so proud to say I know someone like that.

~J. Wierski

When you are with everyone but me, you are with no one.
When you are with no one but me,
you are with everyone.
Instead of being so bound up with everyone, be everyone.
When you become that many,
you are nothing.
Empty.

...Rumi...

~John Sovec

Dearest Jim:

There are no words to convey how much seeing the two of you together made me feel about the possibility of a loving realtionship coming to me. Your bright eye'd gazes at each other made my heart sing. Your loving devotion to one another and to your relationship gave me much hope. I shall miss him very much. My thoughts and prayers go with you both in this time of sorrow. May you pass through your grief with the knowledge that He has never gone away, he has only left our sight.

In loving rememberance, Everett C. Alexander

Louis and JoeAlthough my time knowing Louis was very short, I know that I have been blessed with having that time. Louis meant a great deal to everyone that he came in contact with, and within the first few days of meeting him I felt connected with him and Jim and felt like I had become a part of their family.

Louis always had a smile, a kiss, and a hug for me when I saw him, and I know that even if he's not here in the flesh, I can still feel his love and his life in and around everyone he has touched. The love that Jim and Louis shared gave me inspiration that true love can exist in this world.

~Joe Moore

Louis and CarlaMy 1st memory of louis was at my l.a.shanti training in july, 1996. He and jim were my welcoming committee, like 2 guardian angels at the portal of this enchanted work we call compassionate presence! And through these years, both jim and louis have been an anchor for me - a constant in this tumultuous world. When i think of louis, i think of PRIDE, INTEGRITY, HUMILITY, and LOVE. I think of a gentle giant... I am so grateful that louis decided to attend our last POZ Life weekend.

Although he was mourning the loss of his beloved cats, louis chose to honor the SACREDNESS OF LIFE by SHOWING UP and PARTICIPATING!!! Thank you, louis, for your inspiration! Thank you for making a difference!

with love and gratitude...xoxo...carla

Dearest Jim,

Your reflections of Louis in this memoriam speak of the most important and wonderful aspect of life - that being love. I enjoyed seeing you two together and demonstrating what love is.

The times I had the pleasure of meeting Louis were very few but I still strongly remember his beautiful presence and his kind, gentle, and bright spirit. The special ones like Louis always seem to leave us early and I know it is because their spirit is needed in a new and greater capacity.

I would love to know what incredible work Louis is doing right now...

~Robert Halsey

Always willing to help, always a devoted volunteer that never asked anything in return. Louis was compassionate presence in action. He and Jim "Saved the Day" on many occasions and I'm sure Louis will continue to do so in spirit. He will be missed deeply, but never forgotten.

~Ric Parish

Jim and Louis.
Distance is no boundry for love,
and I keep you both in my heart and prayers.

~Daniel Garcia

It has taken me a while to be able to view this page. The loss of Louis has hit me hard and am completely floored and yet not too surprised by the messages I've read and the things I've heard. Below is an exerpt from my MySpace blog that I posted the day he passed: Louis was a bright shining star. A beacon of light and beauty. He had a quiet strength and sharp wit. Always in the background, his presence was easily felt. Louis was/is a powerful presence in my life and I am a better person for it.

Louis came into my life when I needed him and it was obvious to all that he and Jim had a true love. The kind of love that you hear in songs and read about in Harlequin romance novels. It was corny and funny and beautiful. I only can hope and pray that one day I will be blessed to experience the love that Jim shared with this wonderful man.

When I met Jim, I had lost my own father, and immediately adopted Jim as my new dad. When I told Jim of this decision, he informed me that his partner, Louis, would then become my step-mom! I howled and laughed and to my great surprise, Louis would constantly refer to himself as my step-mom. That's the kind of humor he had.

I now have confirmation that there is a God and Heaven. I have met one of his angels. And the world is a better place for having been graced with his presence. Because that's what it was. Grace. The kind of grace that the bible talks about. Louis had that grace (rather irreverently, but still, it is what it is.) Anyone who knew Louis could feel it.

Louis, wherever you are I know that you are with us. I can feel you in my heart, and in my memories. You have made me a better person and make me want to continually be a better man.

I will miss you step-mom. You were/are a great friend and you and Jim are the best dads a gay boy could ever ask for.

I love you

~Chris Bradshaw (step-son)

Louis possessed more energy and spirit than a dozen people working together. In the ten years I have had the pleasure to know Louis as a fellow volunteer, few were quicker with a smile, few were as resourceful and no one was as pretty in a prom dress, especially with those long blonde, ribboned pig tails. Louis, you are a bright light that I have no doubt will continue to shine above us in that firmament. My heart goes out to Jim...for their love was that special, that tender and that palpable to me and others around them.

~Brian Risley

Louis will forever mean a lot to me. He was a great support to me and the programs he volunteered tirelessly for. Always with a smile, a joke, and good will. I learned a lot from him and the lessons that he taught me still reveal themselves to me to this day. He is forever in my heart.

~Ximena Morgan

Dearest Jim,

I also did not want to face reality and the pain it sometimes brings. However, reading your loving memories of Louis as well as others makes the pain lessen and the gratitude for having him in our presence return. I firmly believe no one dies as long as one person remembers. Louis will be remembered. I think of a rose growing by a wall. If one goes to the other side of the wall, he may no longer see the rose but it still exists. All my love in this difficult time.

~Allan Klein

Although I spent a very short time with TLGLA, I was immediately impressed and welcomed by Louis, helping out in the kitchen, laughing about life, and what impressed me the most was the sheer radiance of his soul. Louis and Jim were models for me of service, compassion, caring, and the pinnacle of a loving relationship. It is one of my true regrets that I lost my chance to learn from them as much as I could. I know that Louis remains in the hearts of all of the people that he touched in mind, body, soul, and spirit. I will carry the blessings of his memory always.

~Abby Spivack

“He lives on in our hearts . . ..”

It is a familiar refrain, used often when someone dies. The words never held much meaning for me until now. So much so I find myself startled, confused.

And envious.

Of a love whose name is spoken only in tandem with his beloved. So true be that love so both shall live on.

“I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz, or the arrows of carnations the fire shoots off. I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance, risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this: where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep”

Pablo Neruda – Sonnet 17

Blessed be.

~jody

Jim, I was just beginning the privilege of knowing Louis...I been robbed! We all have. I pass on the words below, which have comforted me in such times. I hope they do the same for you. Much love to you and continuing courage, stamina and good humor.

“Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well.”

-Canon Henry Scott Holland-

~Harlene Marshall

Respect is the only thing I have for Luis. Nothing will proxy his presence. He stood in clear light of compassion for others. To witness his relationship with Jim was like standing in front of a pair of Red Wood trees…clearly solid, and well rooted to the ground. Luis, you will live in the hearts of many, and I feel privileged to have witness your magical presence.

~Xavier Mejia

Dear Jim,

I just got word from Shanti yesterday that their days had ended. And I was feeling sad and thought of all the wonderful people that I had met there. Shanti mentioned in their email that Sunnie and Ric had a new organization and Google led me to the web site. I was reading along when I came to the news about Louis. I know from your conversations during the many PLUS weekends that we shared how much you loved him -- although I only met him once and very briefly. Being in love myself these days (I found my soul mate almost 4 years ago), I know how deeply the pain of separation must be searing your soul. So, Jim, although I can really offer no words of comfort, I wanted you to know that I am thinking of you and sending my loving thoughts your way. May the days ahead once again lead you to the peace and joy you so obviously found with Louis.

Love and best wishes, Jim Stoecker

Dear Jim,

I wish there were words.  I wish there was something I can say or write or
do to make it hurt less.  All I can do is simply remind you that you are
loved and that I'm here for you.

~Army Cachero

My memories of Louis;

I remember how gorgeous he looked at Pete and Garry's wedding as he eyed the dress I was wearing stating he'd have to borrow it sometime, or taking me out to lunch with other volunteers and making me laugh till I peed, or this little look and quarter smile he'd get just before he was going to deliver the perfect quip, or how he liked "sparkly things", or listening to how he and the love of his life, Jim,began their relationship, or how fiercely protective of Jim he was, or how intelligent, funny, sweet, always ready to listen, caring and peaceful he was to be around. Spending time with him always left me wanting more; I am sad that for now, there is no more. Thank you for being in my life Louis, I will miss you greatly, beautiful! Auf Wiedersehen (Unil we see each other again).

Very much love, Kelly Ford

Dear Nurse Jim,

I had only gotten to know Louis during the POZ Life weekend. I remember sitting next to him during the facilitator meeting, and spoke to him during lunch break. He was a very sweet man, and I have only just begun to learn more about him from everyone else recently.

My sincere condolences to you and Mrs. Mammato.
Louis represents a whole lot of love. Best regards/ -duane

~Duane Abner

Even though I didn’t know Louis well, I’ve always enjoyed his quiet and gentle presence. It’s been comforting to read such kind words about a lovely man. And those striking blue eyes and blonde hair will, forever, be remembered by all of us. Louis, I will remember you always and know that you are with us.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Jim, friends and family.

~Rob Beckon, fellow volunteer

Louis and Jim showed me what a loving couple be like. They volunteered endlessly and were willing to do anything and could do it all without complaint. Took me a while to understand how unusual and absolutely priceless that kind of volunteer support is when running an event. Louis was a real sweetheart. He was supposed to be sick, but I swear that he had more energy than me! When I was going crazy he would flip his long blonde hair and say something funny and give me a hug. It made me realize that the details of life meant nothing, but friendship means everything. I will truly miss him. All my love to you Jim!

~Melinda Arizmendez Chan

The time that I spent with Louis over the past 9-10 years that I have known him proved to me what a wonderful and gentle soul he was. I never saw him angry. He was always happy, smiling and doing great things for others. He always had kind works for me and was always willing to listen and give the best of himself. I will always remember his peaceful smile and this tender touch. It is going to be challenging for me to continue in my volunteer activities without him, but at the same time, I know that he would want all of us to continue the mission to help our brothers and sisters, gay and straight, and to give them the love, compassion and understanding that we all got from him. I will always miss you buddy. I will always remember you.

God Bless you, Roy

My Dear Friend Jim~

My heartfelt prayers and love go out to you during this time in your life.
May all the wonderful thought of Louis give you continued strength, courage and nurishiment. I will truly miss Louis' wonderful humor, smile, friendship and words of wisdom. He was truly a wonderful man and taught me a lot about keeping a positive outlook when things weren't going in the right direction.

When the Day Turns into Night
    When the day turns into night, and you’re way beyond my sight, I think of you, I think of you.
    When the night turns into day , And you still are far away. I think of you, I think of you.
     Even when you’re not here, We still can be so very near, I want you to know, my dear, I think of you.
     There isn’t any one of us who hasn’t felt the loss of someone who’s “way beyond our sight.” From childhood on, we human beings know the pain of separation as well as the joy of reunion. There is something so comforting to realize that life goes on one way or another – even when those we love are way beyond our sight.

From Life’s Journeys according to Mister Rogers
Things to Remember Along the Way ~Fred Rogers

My love always, Tory Topjian

Though I'd met Louis a few times before, it was the last POZ Life weekend in July that we interacted the most. Jim, not satisfied with merely leading his module on sexuality, made it a memorable moment by dramatically losing his mind, his balance and then his consciousness, in that order. Louis and I, like bodyguards at a Liza Minelli concert, gently led Jim 'offstage' and out of the room into a quiet area to rest.

Louis's calm demeanor and gentle strength in the face of Jim's unknown condition let me know that he had reserves of such fortitude that I could only guess and marvel at. I saw the kind of support and love these two wonderful men had for each other and wish that we should all be so blessed.

Jim, my love and support go out to you.

Much love, Brian Adams

Jim, I never met Louis, but just knowing that he gave you that sparkle in your eyes and that spring in your step, it is enough for me.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

~Mauricio Bragatto


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Louis at Saddle Up LA

Jim Flood asks, in lieu of flowers,
please to The Life Group LA.

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