January 11, 1921 – November 10, 2013

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Pops: son, brother, friend, student, naval officer, professor, uncle, husband, father, grandfather.

And now, blithe spirit.

 

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return

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D is for Dad

Go back
Pops, posing on the Central Freeway, San Francisco, CA.

Honestly, here’s what I remember. I remember us driving along the freeway, heading into San Francisco, around about the point where Interstate 80, the Bayshore Freeway, branches off due west and into central San Francisco. I remember us thinking somehow that this sign was hilarious, and then actually stopping the car along the freeway (was there some lane blocked off for road work that made this less insane, and actually plausible? one can only hope), hopping out, the both of us, him going to pose next to the sign (oh, yes, that is a four-plus story drop behind him), and me pulling out my trusty Olympus OM-1 SLR film camera, and taking this picture. Circa sometime in the late 1970s, maybe 1980.

What, exactly, about the sign we found hilarious, I can’t remember now. The thought that: DUH! If you are reading this right now of course you are going the wrong way. Maybe the lack of the article “the,” due, one must imagine, to the exigencies of getting the urgent message across: STOP, FERCHRISSAKES! Maybe also just the stark Puritanism of the statement, generally speaking.

Heaven only knows.

But I know that I have kept this photograph through the decades, a badge of his willingness to pretty much go along with anything that smacked of adventure with his daughters. A sign of his inextinguishable sense of humor. A reminder to try very hard never to take anything, even what seems like the gravest calamity, without a hint of mirth.

 

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C is for Childhood, anointing purity thereof

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Granddaughter holding grandfather, Hayward, CA.

A month’s daily output here has been dramatically interceded upon by a marked jolt to my Pops’ biographical timeline, in the form of another stroke. He has surprised us by being the proverbial Eveready bunny after past setbacks.

Not so, this time.

This afternoon, my daughter took his hand in hers (first holding it alongside my hand, and then taking it into both her own). For minutes upon minutes on end, she stroked the back of his hand, and then his forearm. Put her soft-soft nine-year-old girl cheek against his hand. All the while, smiling at him radiantly, deeply. As if she knew something he and I didn’t quite.  We both looked on in wonder.

(By way of explanation to the children: “Think of DadDad as a magnificent castle, and room by room –  sometimes a whole wing at a time –the lights are going out.”)

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B is for Buddha

Polaroid Transfer Buddha-Old Sukkhothai
Buddha in Bhumisparsa Mudra, Old Sukhothai, Thailand

Buddha, providing me positive role modeling since the late 1990s.

This is a bona fide Polaroid transfer I did of a bona fide analog film slide I took with an actual, physical film camera in 1997, on my beloved’s and my “sweetiemoon.” (That’s non-marriage for “honeymoon.”) We went to Thailand for about a  month following our commitment ceremony. Her brother’s gift to us had been frequent flier miles enough to go anywhere in the world. First class.

Back in the olden days, there were actual physical bookstores, so we went to one (Cody’s, the late great Berkeley institution), sat down in the Travel aisle, and pulled book after book off the shelf. Seychelles? Chile? Thailand, a Buddhist country in which it was reputedly easy for two “unaccompanied” women to travel, won out. So did we.

 

 

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A is for About time

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Girl at dusk, Berkeley, CA.

“A” could be for a hundred and one things, A hundred and one things, but we have to start somewhere. Apolplectic. Amblin’. Anti-social. Agita. Anima animus. But one has to start somewhere, and so thus with About time do I start a month o’ photos, a semi-annual (by which I mean, somewhat annual and not every half-year) tradition here at Casa LD. Casa El Dee, as a reader long ago suggested.

About time I return to this very helpful place. One of my biggest challenges is about time, generally speaking and particularly in an era governed (perhaps ruled? not always benevolently?) by Moore’s Law.

I usually resort to this month o’ photos thing when I’ve fallen to a very low output, which I have as of late. This time around, it is attributable to some of the usual reasons, and other less than usual. The usual: the press of the actual of life  against the virtual, and the increasing challenge of representing the lives of increasingly subjective subjects. The less than usual: some good – such as a big redirect of my online writerly (mostly editorly) att’n to VillageQ, née Lesbian Family; some less than good – such as renewed/ intensified internal familial stressors, stemming from the gentle, insistent decline of an aging father, the difficult-to-process (and -manage) estrangement from sibling, and protracted employment instability. By which we really mean, insufficiency. The stuff of early 21st century midlife living.

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Hey, folks, I’m a lesbian!

Details at this post over at VillageQ, the last in a series honoring October’s LGBT History month.

 

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This is what 51 looks like

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Northbound on San Francisco Bay, CA.

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For the short time that we’re here, we are here together

Partly to get that ginormous picture of me in the previous post off the “top of the fold” of this site (gadzooks that’s a big picture! even though I hope you locals will spread the word about that event!), partly because I just happened across it again today, and was struck anew at its depth and eloquence, partly because now, nine years later (weeks after my daughter’s birthday), I now know every word of my dear old friend’s to have been not just brave but prophetic, I share with you my friend’s essay, “Extended Family.”

 

UntitledI wrote an ode to her here: “Happiness is an old friend.”Context: I met Sybil Lockhart,  author of “Extended Family,” in September 1980, when we were both fresh-faced, mulletted freshmen in college (okay, maybe it was only me who was mulletted; memory is a tricky thing). She is a neuroscientist (really! a Ph.D.! in neuroscience!) and a very gifted writer. The essay appeared years ago, first at Literary Mama, where she wrote a column and served as book reviews editor.  Later it formed a part of her moving caregiver’s memoir, Mother in the Middle.

Two more things to keep in mind, as you read what Sybil wrote. One, the children she speaks of – hers and ours – have now been special cousins to each other for as long as my children can remember, and probably most of what hers can. Sybil’s youngest now strolls over to our house once a week after middle school. We’re an old, familiar way station-away-from-home, a place to sip a smoothie and do homework (or play with our kids) ’til one or another parent picks her up at the end of the afternoon.  She comes to us now just like her older sister did before her years ago, when she was in middle school, needing a place to come to rest as much as we needed to provide it to her.

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