In Memory of Adam

Adam Fourman (1940 – 2009)

My cousin Adam cast aside his earthly restraints on December 31st, heading off into the vast spiritual unknown to seek out whatever new adventures are in store for him.  His body was found at his cabin by his friend, Jim Hollenbeck, who came up and told me.

After talking with Jim, I called the Sheriff to see what needed to be done.  Since he was already dead, I was looking for the “non-emergency” phone number, but I couldn’t find one, so I called 911.  Turns out they consider a dead body an emergency even if it has been dead for a while, so there were great goings-on to find an available Sheriff (we don’t have many in the county).  I met him on the road about 2 hours later, and we went up to the cabin to see what was what.

It was my first dead body in situ but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Although he was half-way out the window, it looked like he had leaned out on the ledge for some fresh air, gotten comfortable and then died peacefully.  The Sheriff thought the position “odd”, but knowing Adam as I did, it seemed perfectly normal and reasonable to me.  I guess the Sheriff determined so as well, because the body was released to the funeral home without much ado (not at all like you see on CSI).

That left me with notifying family – his children Jerit, Jadene, Karen, Kelly and Eden, as well as sisters and close cousins.  As I didn’t have all the phone numbers, it resulted in somewhat of a phone tree with the information relayed from one to the next and then that person calling me for the details.  I talked on the phone with more family on New Years Eve and New Years Day than I have in months, maybe even years!

Adam was my cousin (my mother’s sister’s son) but 15 years my senior.  He’d been here on the ranch for several years longer than I, living in an septagonal (7 sided) cabin he built from bits and pieces scavenged from here and there.  He was proud to tell me the only thing he bought were nails.  It’s actually a pretty amazing bit of construction, built a little like a ship with slanted walls (like a hull), skylights and many windows.

Adam was born August 8, 1940 (which my sister points out made him 8 on 8/8/48, which is how she remembered his birthday).  Growing up in Marin County, California, he was a rebel and (by his own statement) somewhat of a juvenile delinquent.  Actually, I think he was kind of proud of that, since it meant that he never really “bowed to the societal norms”.  Our grandmother, Sibyl, taught him classical piano, although he took up guitar and rock ‘n roll early on.  In his later life (since I’ve spent time with him here on the ranch) he tended toward the accordion and piano, and recently been playing some gigs with friends – something that made him extremely happy, I think.  In the middle of his life he spent years in the Sausalito (California) houseboat community, living and working on various boats.  His stories were alternately hilarious and terrifying, but it was a period of his life which he regarded with great fondness.

My cousin Adam was a unique man (which you may have guessed from the picture).   He didn’t believe in soap (and me being a soapmaker!), laundry or haircuts except for very special occasions.  When he’d come up for holidays he always professed to “eat like a bird” and that he was “not hungry” … and then proceed to eat several platefuls of food and dessert and then take home some of the leftovers “for later”.  Even so, was thin as a rail, hardly ever sick, and exceptionally strong and agile for a man his age.

As for me, I have mixed emotions about his being gone.  For a couple of years now he’s been cleaning up and getting rid of things, like he was expecting something to happen.  Lately I’ve been trepidatious about going to the cabin … would this be the time I found him gone?

I don’t feel sad, exactly, but more like there’s a space where all that character and personality should be.  There’s nothing like it to fill that place and probably never will be.

My cousin Adam was uniquely Adam, an odd and special man, and somewhat surprisingly, I already find that miss him.

Comments

  1. Well done Marie! If I hadn’t been somewhat bored at work today, I never would have found this. You nut-shelled it quity fine! I too feel the rift in the space-time continuem, even ‘tho Adam and I weren’t close (10 years apart). Our mother always told me that Adam was very good and kind to me when I was little. And I remember being somewhat in awe of he and his teenage (boy) friends. I’ve always believed that Adam was a gentle and good-hearted soul, who ultimately chose to be at peace on The Ranch in Oregon. Thank you cousins for having him!

  2. Thanks for filling in some gaps Marie. We of his Sausalito musical family have missed Adam for a long time. We don’t understand why he wanted to live in isolation but respect his decision to do so.

    We are all thankful that he came and played with us one last time last year. his performance was outstanding. It was like twenty five years of pent up lonelyness was released. He went off like a volcano and we stood transfixed as he worked the piano. His beard was waving with the rythmn as his hands found the keys. His mangled left hand somehow found dexterity as if it were made anew.

    I can’t help but think he knew the end was near.
    He seemed to say goodbye though never shedding tears.
    With a laugh and a toss of the head,
    Old Adam said goodbye and went back home he said.
    If we ever meet again my friends you’ll see
    Redlegs forever! At last, at last I’m free

  3. Well, Adam and I go back a long way… to Brown’s Hall in Mill Valley where my mom used to drive me to hear Adam sing and play piano before I was even old enough to get a driver’s license. I’ll write more later regarding some of our musical adventures together. In the meantime, if there’s an afterlife, I hope Adam is up there playing that good old rock and roll with all of his fingers back intact! If not, maybe I can dig out an old tape of Adam playing guitar and singing his songs so that any of you who didn’t get to hear him might remember a guy who influenced so many of us, and far too few ever got to hear. His spirit lives on in all of us who knew him.

    Rob Moitoza
    Seattle, WA

  4. I wouldn’t be in the music business if it wasn’t for Adam Fourman. I loved his voice and his multi-instrumental talent. He was so gracious to me when I started that he hooked me up with guys in my first band in Mill Valley in the very early 60’s and he was one of the first guys to inbvite me up to sit in with the Swingin’ Deacons. I’ll miss him a lott eventhough I haven’t seen him for years. One of the greats. I have been involved with the Marin County Music Museum and I’ve talked a lot about Adam and those early Rock and Roll days. He was awesome. Bill Champlin, (Sons of Champlin, formerly with Chicago).

  5. I arrived here as an accidental (Audubon types will understand that reference) after reading an article on the Champlin family band in the Marin Independent Journal (also something of an accident), in which Bill Champlin strongly endorsed this musician with whom I was unfamiliar. Sounds like a great character. The world has too few characters, and the world too little appreciation of those we do have (and who, by nature, don’t publicize themselves). He and John Cippolina must be playing some fine music together again. Glad to read the comments by Champlin and Rob Moitoza.
    Bob Speed
    Port Orchard, WA

    1. Bob,

      I’m your neighbor. I live in West Seattle. I’m currently playing in the Pacific Northwest with “Snake Oil Blues Elixer” and my own funk band “The Fonkeys”. Both bands will be at the Snohomish Street fair on August 19th.

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