August 15th came and went and I forget to light a candle for you to mark the 9th year since you left us on this day. Of course, you would have said, “Bah, humbug! Who cares about things like that?” But I do and I’m sorry I missed it. Better late than never and so my annual letter to catch you up on the news and remind you that you are missed.
I’m writing from the Shultz cottage in Michigan, where you once helped my shave off my 10-year old beard on the morning of my 30th birthday. The only time you and Mom came to this place and other than the shaving, don’t remember much about it, whether we went swimming in the lake or went out on the canoe or ate dinner out in Frankfort. I hope we did all of that, but time in Nature wasn’t ever one of our strong connecting points.
At any rate, here I am again, with two grandchildren and a son-in-law you never met, with Karen’s brothers and family who you did and the same lake and woods and beach unchanged by the human footprint— a rarity these days. This a constant amidst so much change. This past year alone, said goodbye to our faithful Toyota car of 26 years and 260,000 miles of service, Karen retired after 42 years at The San Francisco School, your grandson Ian had a boy named Ezra and then Kerala had your new great-grandson, Malik James Taylor, the middle name in honor of you.
In the world at large, it continues to be “the best of times and worst of times,” some breakthroughs in human rights (gay marriage, Confederate flags taken down, better health care), an epidemic of terrorism from all sides, a call to end easy purchase of guns while the NRA shamelessly blocks all progress. We’re about to end eight years with one of the best Presidents of my lifetime, a man you never knew got elected. I think you would have liked him, as you always appreciated intelligence and amongst many other praiseworthy qualities, that he has. Meanwhile, I can’t even talk about one of the candidates in the upcoming election, a despicable excuse for a human being who has released the worst amongst us to come forth. You always kept to the side of politics and sometimes I wish I could. But the stakes are too high.
As for me, I’m soldiering on at school and traveling and teaching, but that’s the wrong verb because it’s all still so much damn fun. 42 years, but who’s counting? I’m eligible for Social Security, but can still swim 1200 strokes in the back lake and hike up to the giant sand dune and ride bikes around the Michigan back roads and I’m grateful for all of that. Still doing Crostics on plane rides (thanks for that!) and playing morning Solitaire on leisurely days and playing lots of piano, including occasionally (but not enough) some of your compositions.
So Dad, that’s the news, such as it is. As always, astounded by the passing of time. Nine years without hearing your voice and hugging you and of course, it had to be, it’s just the way the whole deal is set up. You could still be with us—you’d be 98!—but 89 is a good long run. We had 56 years together and that’s a lot. But as they say, we still are here together in a different form and it’s good to talk to you, even if it be this weird format of an electronic blog and letting others listen in. Hope there’s some way you can share the news with Mom, but who knows how things work on the other side.
Until the next time, I remain your loving son,