Saturday, September 18, 2010

Angela, we miss you

The Way We Were, performed by Barbara Streisand

Mmm. Mmm.
Memories, light the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories of the way we were.
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we give to one another
For the way we were.
Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me would we? Could we?
Memories, may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were.

Angela, you have been gone for one year, and we miss you dearly.

Vicki has never had a friend like you and she never will again. You were always there for her, and Vicki knew that she could share anything with you at any time. If she ever needed anything, you would come to San Diego from Arizona as soon as humanly possible, and she was always welcome to visit you in Arizona. I thought of the above song because both of us and our family have so many great memories of you and your wonderful family.

Funny memories: Vicki remembers how the two of you went on a cruise to Ensenada from California many years ago, and you ended up being situated with a large group of lesbians because the people who booked the cruise just assumed that you were one of them. The lesbians would see you together for meals and, noticing how you were so close, just assumed that you were lesbians, telling you, "Isn't it wonderful being a lesbian and sharing your innermost thoughts with another woman." You would tell them, no, we're not lesbians, and they would keep telling you, it's OK, you can come out of the closet now, we are your sisters and we are there for you. Finally, you and Vicki got tired of hearing it, and said to them, OK, you're right, we are lesbians, it's just hard for us to talk about. After that, you and Vicki had a great time hanging out with the sisters, and experiencing (from a distance) the joys of being a lesbian!

Memories of our kids' childhoods: Our kids remember hanging out with your kids, Bobbie and Stevie, from the time they were little, in Torrance. We had so much fun walking around the Torrance neighborhoods with enough candy to feed about twice as many kids, with your kids greeting every neighbor with the words, "Happy Halloween," and putting a smile on the face of everyone who met them. You and I and Vicki would walk, it seemed, for miles and enjoy watching such a cute group of kids having such a good time. Our kids got to know you so well that for some reason, they were always afraid of you (even though I can't remember your actually yelling at them no matter what they did.) I just think you had a commanding presence which immediately inspired the respect of everyone who met you.

Sad memories: Vicki flew to Phoenix on the date that you died and found that your extended family from California was crowded around you and down the hallway of your room in the hospice, to the point where, as she entered your room, Vicki felt that it was as if the Red Sea was parting for her. Everyone in your family told Vicki that Angela waited for Vicki to arrive before you passed, and when Vicki kissed you goodbye on your forehead, that you died soon thereafter. I cannot think of a more stirring goodbye that anyone could have, and I know that no one deserved it more than you.

You would be happy to know that we know have an old dog, Cookie, who follows Vicki everywhere and is her loyal companion, no matter what. She is always there for Vicki, she cries whenever Vicki is gone, even from the room, and she even sticks her paw up for Vicki to hold when she feels lonely. Vicki can take Cookie for walks first thing in the morning, when the weather is chilly, and the day is young, and she can enjoy a type of quiet companionship with her that she cannot have with anyone else, including me.

Angela, there will never be another one like you, and I really wish you could be back again, even for one moment, to share your life with us, and be there for Vicki.

Happy Birthday, Zook

Mama Tried, by Merle Haggard

The first I remember knowin' was the lonesome whistle blowin'
And a youngun's dream of growin' up to ride.
On a freight train leavin' town, not knowin' where I was bound
No one changed my mind, but mama tried.

One and only rebel child from a family meek and mild
Mama seemed to know what lay in store
In spite of all my Sunday learnin'
For the bad I kept on turnin' and mama couldn't hold me anymore.

And I turned 21 in prison, doin' life without parole
No one could steer me right, but mama tried, mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleadin' I denied
That leaves only me to blame cause mama tried.

Dear old daddy rest his soul, left my mom a heavy load
She tried so very hard to fill his shoes
Workin' hours without rest, wanted me to have the best
Oh she tried to raise me right, but I refused.

And I turned 21 in prison, doin' life without parole
No one could steer me right, but mama tried, mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleadin' I denied
That leaves only me to blame cause mama tried.

Happy birthday, Zook (David). You would have been 45 this year, and all of us in San Diego still cannot believe that you aren't here anymore.

I included the above song, Mama Tried, because you provided it to me on a tape you sent me of a Live Grateful Dead concert, circa 1971. At the time, I frankly did not pay a lot of attention to the tape, but, like most of the approximately one hundred tapes you gave me, I came to enjoy it over time, much like a fine old wine. In fact, I played this one so many times that (like so many of the other great tapes that you gave me), it wore out over time. However, I am happy to say that I found a copy of this song, and now I have a CD of this album, which I play all the time.

To me, this song is about two things: expectations and disappointment. I know that this song meant a lot to you. In fact, I think that you may have played it on your acoustic guitar the last time I saw you, in July, 2008.

I know that you had high expectations of yourself (and others), and, like me, you found that often reality did not meet your expectations. Like me, the profession you chose was not your first choice, but you simply shook off the negativity of not pursuing your original career option, and you instead found that you could build a successful working life and home life anyway. I think all of us go through the ups and downs of having high expectations and searing disappointments, and persevering through them, and I know you worked very hard in difficult conditions so that you could feed your family.

et me give you a quick update on what you have missed, since I know, if you were still around, I would have heard your strong opinion about these things:

  • The Padres--They have had an amazing year, since they were picked to finish last in their division, the National League, major league baseball, and, all in all, were in line to be probably one of the worst teams in the history of organized sports. At one point they were ahead by over six games over the Giants. I know that if you were here, you would have predicted their demise, and said the whole thing was a fluke, based on good pitching and a few timely hits and bounces of the baseball. And, of course, as the Padres seem to be burned out, and are now behind the Giants in the Western division, you would have been right.
  • The Chargers-Yikes, if you had seen their first game in Kansas City, where they were ran up and down the field in terrible weather conditions, and were handily defeated by a team that they have owned for a long time, you would have laughed your head off and said, the Chargers suck once again. And, unlike me, you maybe could have watched their second home game against Jacksonville since, out in Dayton, Nevada, you would have had a chance of seeing a game that is being blacked out in San Diego due to crummy ticket sales.
  • Music--I never realized, during your life, how much my sons Alex and Josh discussed music with you, in person, during the July 2008 cruise, and via email and blogging. The kids bring up, all the time, things that they went over with you about music. Recently, when we were discussing Subterreanean Homesick Blues, by Bob Dylan, the kids said they had discussed the version of this song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and you said that you thought it sucked. Josh regularly blogs about music, in his latest blog, which is, of course, dedicated to you.
  • Your musical interests and knowledge were quite diverse and amazing, and you were always generous in taking the time and making the effort to provide me your mixtapes of probably up to a hundred different artists. Also, you had the creativity (and the courage) to regularly record new songs and make videos of them on You Tube. At your funeral, where the videos were playing on a screen in the front of the room, more than a few people were moved to tears as they saw your moving portrayals of your hopes, dreams, and joys.
  • The Tea Party--You would not believe how these nut-jobs are all of a sudden winning primaries against established Republican candidates. I am sure that by now, you would have done extensive blogs and probably recorded some more songs about how those tax hatin', gun-tottin', immigrant despisin', extremists are now in a position to win some Congressional seats unless the country wakes up, in the general elections, to see how if these folks get in power, God help us (pardon the irony, Sarah P)
We lit a yahrtzeit candle last night, in your memory, David.

Thanks for all that you taught us, and for all of the memories we have of you.

Rest in peace.