Only a few come along in each generation, and it seems they get less and less talented - diluted? - as the generations go by.
Kurt Vonnegut was one of my heroes. Cynical and sarcastic and pessimistic, yet with undertones of hope and love and kindness. Vonnegut went through his own personal hell (his mother's suicide, his own depression, the near simultaneous deaths of his sister and her husband) - and he even had to sell Saabs for awhile, after a promising career as a short story writer dried up as the market for them did.
While he bemoaned the muck our political system and world had become, while he professed certain doom, he told us to treasure each other, go out and enjoy ourselves. I think he was secretly hopeful for the human race.
He thought the solution for all of our problems was to have stronger family support systems. He obviously didn't meet my extended family :)
But seriously -
He was amazingly resilient, adopting his nephews, going to therapy instead of turning to substance abuse or personal destructiveness, pushing on when most of us wouldn't have been able to put one foot in front of the other.
He said, in one book, "I didn't expect to amount to a hill of beans." But he did. He was an inspiration for those of us who were frustrated with government evils, the tyranny of censorship, and the general malaise of our country.
I should have written him and stated as much. I'm sure thousands of others did, though.
My brother was lucky enough to meet him - twice! - and said he had a wicked twinkle in his eye. Fortunately for us, he had a wicked persistence with his pen.
And although he didn't believe in an afterlife, as the Humanist Society, which adopted him as their honorary president, would put it, Kurt Vonnegut is in heaven now.
And as Vonnegut recalled his uncle Alex saying, What could be better than that?