Saturday, June 5, 2021

Life with My Sister

As noted, I just celebrated my sister Ginny’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. Between that and a recent co-interview for a film, I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about the life we’ve shared together and it struck me that this is not normal. In the best way. A few highlights:


• 70 years of sharing this life, the only people left who have known each other in each of our countless incarnations (though I missed her first two years, having not been born yet.)


• Coming of age together in the late 60’s and early 70’s— never marched on Washington together, but did smoke some pot, took one acid trip, listened to the same music. Visited her at college, she visited me, played organ at her wedding in 1971.


• First trip to my future home of California in 1972, driving across the country with her husband Jim and a dancer friend in a VW bug! Camping and crashing with friends.


• Stayed at Ginny and Jim’s apartment in San Francisco when I first moved out in 1973 and the three of us went to our first (of many to come) 7-day Zen retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center in Southern California. (25 years later went to Ginny’s ordination ceremony as a lay monk. Both of us continue to practice zazen)


• First jobs were accompanying modern dance classes Ginny taught or took at the Margaret Jenkins Dance Studio.


• Moved in with Ginny and Jim at 247 Downey St. in the upper Haight, beautiful view of the ocean and $125 per month rent split three ways! Lived together 1974/1975. Learned vegetarian cooking, shared books, music, Japanese movies and the alternative San Francisco lifestyle. 


• Ginny part of the team for my first daughter’s home birth with midwives in 1980.


• Ginny began her labor with first son at our Thanksgiving meal. Was with us vacationing in Calistoga when my wife began her labor with our second daughter. I was part of her home birth team for her second son. 


• In 1984, I taught body music to her dance troupe, composed piano music that she choreographed with them, performed both and more together at a concert in which our parents came and included her dancing solo to me playing a piano piece my father composed. 


• Our families began a 30-year tradition of going up to the snow in December with two other families (later to the West Point Inn in Marin), to Calistoga in the Spring. With another family, another 40 year tradition of an annual New Year’s walk. 


• Her two older sons went to my school and I was their music teacher. 


• She moved to Sebastopol in 1992, had her third son (who just got married last week) and our parents moved to from our New Jersey home to Novato, California.


And so it continued. I played music for her high school students’ dance recitals, she helped choreograph some dance for my elementary students. I went to her dance concerts, she to my music concerts (and some performed together). I visited her first son Ian in Japan, her second son Kyle lived with us a while in San Francisco and worked briefly at our school, I went to many of her third son Damion's performances in plays (he's an excellent actor). Ian now has two children and lives Portland and gets together with my daughter Kerala and her two children. Ginny and Jim were at my children's graduations, visited Kerala whenever they visit Ian, celebrated the last Thanksgiving at my daughter Talia's house. We've celebrated all our Thanksgivings together and they come to our annual Christmas caroling party. We were all together for the weddings of 3 of our 5 children, the Memorial Services for our Mom and Dad. 


In short, we influenced each other artistically, spiritually, practically, shared life’s big moments of birth, death, weddings, retirements and life’s small moments of Sunday brunches, haiku contests while walking in the park and playing Boggle or Taboo. Weirdly, she and Jim have never been to my wife’s summer place in Michigan and we’ve never travelled together to another country. But that gives us yet more to look forward to.


This my deep appreciation of my beloved sister. Our Mom and Dad would be happy to read it.


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