Happily heavenly birthday! Remarkable to think that you would have been 104 had you stayed with us these last 15 years and hard to imagine that I’ve been 15 years without feeling the vibration of your voice with my hand on your back. But as this letter testifies, you are far from forgotten. And in case you’re curious, I thought I’d tell you the family news.
First and foremost, we’re all still here and that alone is a great blessing. Zadie turned 11 years old yesterday, Malik is 7, Ronnie still working as an occupational therapist, Kerala doing some wonderful writing published online while continuing her non-profit work. They’re in a hard place at the moment, due to an extreme panic attack that Ronnie had, but are working hard to re-build stability and trust and making progress. Talia is in her 12thyear teaching at The San Francisco School and one of the best teachers I know. No progress in the boyfriend department, but she knows how to care for herself and keep a beautiful relationship with the natural world as she camps almost every weekend! Karen continues on with her biking group, hiking group, sketching group etc. and is doing wonderful volunteer work at a Food Bank and writing postcards for political action.
As for the Matthews, Ian is still outside Portland with his wife and two children, Kyle in a completely new life in Texas with an older woman with kids, Damion happily married outside Sebastopol and acting in some plays again along with his drama therapy study. Jim is still working part-time at 75 years old, Ginny still teaching some dance classes and starting to do some work in various spiritual retreats. She recently re-connected with cousin Grace at her granddaughter’s bat-mitzvah. Miraculously, all of the above are generally in good health.
And me? Well, you can get all the news from these blogposts, but not sure if the i-Cloud goes quite that far. Ha ha! You might be tickled to know I’m improving in my daily Crostics puzzles (learned from you), still playing morning Solitaire, still working on Bach, another gift you gave me when you agreed to those organ lessons at 6 years old. And guess what? I’m in a movie! As Mom would say, “Imagine that!” How sweet it would be to share that with you, this documentary made about my last year of teaching. I think you would love it.
This country that we almost lost to fascism is taking a turn and there are signs of hope and renewal. Not as much and not as fast as I would wish, but each piece of good news is welcome. Though some people are reluctant to name the moment “post-pandemic,” for all practical purposes, it is. I just took away the basket of masks in the hall, with one or two on hand for a few select moments.
I’m 71 now— another “Imagine that!” moment. When you were this age, you still were living in my childhood home in Roselle, your grandkids were 9, 6, 5 and 1. In a few years, you’d move out to California and so begin the next phase of our long time together. And wasn’t that marvelous? You loved the weather, you liked being closer to Ginny and me and we loved the way you were there to witness the various big events of our’s and the kid’s lives. We were blessed to share it all together.
Remember how I always called you before taking a trip? At the end, you’d say “Thanks for calling” and I’d say, “Thanks for being there”— until one day, you weren’t. But in some ways, we still are calling and responding. I’m still loving you in your absence as I did in your presence and I hope you feel that in whatever form you’ve taken.
Happy birthday, Dad.
Your still-loving son,