I have never been a celebrity stalker, but there are still ones I hold in awe. James Doohan was one. Some of my earliest memories of TV are watching re-runs of the original Star Trek.
A few years ago, “Scotty” (as I will always remember him) attended DragonCon. It was his last appearance in Atlanta, and probably among his last appearances in general. He was scheduled to come back to Atlanta a year later for what was advertised as the last appearance here, but it never happened. Illness called off that showing as I recall.
Mr. Doohan, being one of the bigger celebs at the Con that year commanded one of the larger ballrooms. I was waiting in one of the foyers for the previous panel to end when one of the Con volunteers nudged me and said, “Scotty.” I thought it was a question about my waiting about in the foyer instead of going in and said, “Yeh, I’m here for the next panel to see Scotty.” Then he nudged me again and pointed and said, “No, Scotty!” I looked down, literally in front of me, and there sat Mr. Doohan on one of those little scooters that the old and infirm use to get about… I was mortified. A living legend was a mere foot from me and I had not even noticed. My mouth stood agape from a combination of shock at his condition and just the fact that he was there. He shortly shoved off and drove to the stage. He did stand during the actual panel, but the image of him on his “little rascal” just stuck with me the whole time. It was as if I could see the grim reaper standing over his shoulder.
During his talk, his aging memory was apparent. If my own memory holds up, the alzheimers diagnosis was either not known or not public at this time. But the way one story faded incongruously into another, I knew Mr. Doohan was not altogether in the here and now. But the glee with which he shared his stories at least conveyed some satisfaction with his life that made it all seem re-affirming in the end.
I was glad to see Mr. Doohan. Even if his body and memory was no longer at 100%, his exuberance of a life fully lived was not diminished. I actually ran into a couple of Brandy’s friends, Karilyn & Jan, who had saved good seats closer to the front and were kind enough to let me squeeze in. They echoed my sentiments of sadness but being happy to have seen the man.
Mr. Doohan, I’ll save you the corny Star Trek farewells. I wish you well wherever you are now. And I thank you for the memories that I hope to cherish until my own end. Thanks much!