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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

California

Some of you may remember that I am from California, though I live in Oregon. I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, in San Jose. I lived there until college then moved up the road to Palo Alto. After college I lived in southern California for too many years then found my way back up north to Santa Rosa. I love California. It will always be my home. California, at least a bit of it, lives inside of me.

Santa Rosa. It’s a small town in Sonoma County, about forty-five minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s in Wine Country. And right now, it’s on fire. There is currently a horrible fire storm in a number of counties in the area. I didn’t keep up with the statistics over the weekend because I took a bit of a break from all the news, most of which is horrible or sad in some way. But I know that as of last Friday it had consumed more than three thousand structures, killed at least thirty-one people, and over six hundred were reported missing. Yeah. A real tragedy that has made me so sad.

As my connection to the Houston hurricane which some of you may remember, this Santa Rosa fire has saddened me greatly. Structures that I am well familiar with were totally lost. The beautiful trees and hills have been charred. And, in this case, one of my aunts lost her home. I am just glad that they weren’t home because she and her husband both take sleeping pills and I’m afraid that if they had been home, they may not have been aware of the fire in time. They lived up on a hill top cul-de-sac, where the only way out is a very narrow road. But they weren’t home which is a blessing in some ways. Because they weren’t home, they didn’t have the opportunity to save anything at all. Everything they had, other than what they had with them in their RV (they were on their way to Wyoming) is gone. Their cars. Their clothing. Her doll collection. His extensive gun collection. Their wall safe with a lot of cash melted. (Don’t believe it when they claim they are fire proof.) Their personal memorabilia. Photographs. Mementos. It’s all gone.

My aunt says they are too old to rebuild that custom home. I’m not sure where they will choose to move to. My aunt has lived in the area her entire life and her husband has too, with the exception of his time in the Navy. Their lives are so closely tied to the Santa Rosa area.

My daughter’s former co-workers and friends, some of them anyway, also lost their homes. These are younger people who might not have been properly insured. This is so devastating for them, as well.

Entire neighborhoods are gone and unlike the popular thought, they are not the fancy neighborhoods like the one my aunt lived in. Many of these are where working class people lived and worked and went to school and played. Many of these people lost not only their homes and everything in them (the fire came through without warning, in the middle of the night and people had just moments to grab keys and run), they’ve also lost the place of employment with so many businesses burned to the ground.

There have been some bright spots. Some incredible kindnesses shown. Perhaps I’ll write about some of those this week.

The fires are still going. It has been an entire week of flames in the area and the smoke continues to blacken the skies. If you’re a praying person, please pray for the area and that the fires are put out as soon as possible. And of course, let’s pray for the firefighters who have been working round the clock, often working three back to back to back shifts with no rest.

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What do you do when someone dies and they are in you address book or contacts or Facebook feed?

I struggle with this all the time. I still won’t get rid of the address book that I used over thirty years ago when my brother died. His name and address and phone are in there and I can’t bring myself to get rid of it even though none of the addresses are any good.

And then there’s Facebook where my other brother’s name  pops up. And where my friend Lydia’s (who died in January) name, picture and comments keeps popping up in my Memories Feed.

When I was updating my old phone yesterday (my most recent phone died so I am resurrecting my previous phone) I came across phone numbers for my one of my brothers who died awhile back. And some of my friends who are no longer with us, Lydia, Sally, Dan, Jody, and some others. I couldn’t bring myself to delete them from my phone.

Of course, this means that I will keep seeing their names and pictures. Yes, I get sad when I see them and they aren’t here anymore. Sometimes I can’t keep myself from tearing up. I know that I should think of good times with them but that’s tough. I eventually do but the tears still come.

What do you do?

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The other night, I streamed a couple of movies. It had been one of those days when I had needed a nap in the afternoon and had ended up sleeping more than I wanted to so then I couldn’t sleep that night. So I went to my watch list and picked one. Redwood Highway while being a 2013 movie is also the name of one of my favorite highways in California. In that stretch of Redwood Highway that goes from the Golden Gate Bridge to the northern coastal tip of the state (this stretch is not only U.S. Route 199 but also U.S. Route 199), one can get a condensed view of what California has to offer…the big city, wide open fields, vineyards, the rocky yet serene shores of the Pacific Ocean, and the California redwoods, to name just a few of the gems found along this stretch of the Redwood Highway in California.

So when I picked this movie to add to my watch list, I picked it expecting to see some of the familiar sights along the Redwood Highway, as well as because of the synopsis which tells us that Marie, a resident of a retirement home, feeling neglected by her family, decides to embark on an 80 mile journey to her granddaughter’s wedding, on foot. Doesn’t that sound interesting? That’s all I read of the synopsis. That was enough.

I was not disappointed. Shirley Knight plays Marie who is in her 70’s and lives in a retirement home (we’re not told where but from photos, it appears to be somewhere in the area of Rogue River, Oregon) where her son placed and sort of forgot about her. She doesn’t have much family, only her son and a granddaughter who doesn’t visit her. Marie feels that she has been forced to live in the retirement home where she has been abandoned. She had lived in her own home until her son sold it and moved her out. She feels like she has lost control of her life and others are making the decisions for her. Her journey is inspiring and surprising. What struck me was that over and over Marie had been made to feel like she had no control over her life. Because she had reached an elderly age, those around her made all of her decisions, not always based on what was best for her but what was easiest for them. Marie’s life had been hijacked; stolen without her permission. This solo 80 mile trip, by herself, on foot, was the only way she could take back control of her life. And so she did it.

It’s an enjoyable movie. It also features Tom Skerritt (one of my favorite actors) as one of the many people she meets on her journey and one of the only ones that truly understands her.

After that movie, I streamed Renoir, a movie about the last few years of artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s life (French language with English subtitles). At least that’s the setting. The story is more about the relationship between Jean Renoir, the artist’s son and Andree, one of the artist’s models. But what struck me about this movie was the way that Pierre-Auguste Renoir maintained control of his of life, even in his last years. He didn’t slow down. He didn’t stop painting, even though his health was quite poor. He suffered from, among other things, arthritis which left his hands painfully deformed. He had to have an assistant strap and position his hands, placing the brush in his fingers before he could paint. This assistant also had to mix his fill his palette with the colors he chose. He could no longer position his models or dress them with any props. He had to have others do that for him. Yet he continued because to him, to stop painting, which had been his life’s work, would be to stop living and to give in to death.
Both of these films had aging as a topic. Aging and its consequences and how those around us treat us when we age. They both dealt with the loss of, not only our youth, but also of control over our lives. They gave me a lot to think about as I age. I think we would all benefit from thinking about these issues. Do we let go of control and allow others to take that control from us? Do we allow ourselves to lose our independence and our dreams because someone thinks we are too old? Lots to think about in these movies. In fact, I’ll probably watch again.
Note: Both of these titles are available on Netflix as well as on Amazon Instant View.

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No, he was not the best father.  But he was my father.  I have just as many good memories of him as I have bad ones.  The bad memories are probably stronger because the emotions are fresher and very powerful.  But there were good times, too.

He became a father with no role model to follow as his father was not in the picture, ever except to impregnate his mother.   As soon as he could work he became the provider for his mother.  He was six years old at the time.  By the time he was in his early teen years, he was sent over the border to Texas to earn American dollars to send to his mother, and by then there were siblings, too.  Not only did he have to leave his family behind, he also had to leave his name behind, his very person.  Instead, he used the legal documents of a dead cousin that had been near his age.  So he became someone else, yet he remained the provider.  When he married and started his own family, he still provided for his mother AND for his children.  He worked long, hard hours to support us.  We didn’t have everything we wanted but there was always enough food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs.  And in the three months of the year when he did not work seven days a week, he was the loving and playful father that took us places and did things with us.  Those were the good days. Those are the days to remember.  Those are the days he was a young, loving, productive father.

Then came the bad days.  Unable to work and provide for us, he turned to the prescription pain medicine and the booze.  Basically, he became lost.  He was no longer that loving father to any of us.  He was no longer the husband that he had been.  He was no longer the man he had been for most of his life.  He felt it.  It destroyed him.  He became angry and violent and hatefull, and even hate filled.

That’s who a lot of people remember.  And they are right to.  I will not take that from them.

But there were other parts to him, before he was used up and spit out by the company that he worked for.  And even after that, there were glimmers of the father that I remember from my childhood, the loving one.

So I understand the mixed feelings.  I just don’t understand the ones that choose to forget the good parts.  I don’t understand the stone throwing.

Just as in all people, and in all stories, there was good and bad.

Who will I remember?  I think I will choose to remember the loving father.  I won’t forget the hate filled one who became so empty, for there are lessons to be learned from that person, too.  But for now, in these final days, I will remember the father who pushed us on the swings and taught us how to ride a bicycle, running alongside us and holding us up.  I’ll remember how he taught me to dance as I stood on his feet letting him lead me around the room in his strong and loving arms.  That was all a long time ago but for now, those are the memories that I will allow myself.

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We’ve recently lost a lot of celebrities and while their passing is sad, most of them been quite elderly and had lived a long, rewarding life.  Yesterday came word of another loss.  This one is different.  This one hit me.  Hit me hard.  Sally Ride is gone.

She was a shining star for a lot of us, not just for women, but for a lot of us who grew up in that era of space exploration and space travel.  I remember being home, watching on TV when JFK announced our mission to the moon.  I remember watching  John Glenn before and after his first space venture.  I remember the day Neil Armstrong took that first step on the moon.  I remember the first space shuttle voyage.  I remember the trip Sally Ride took on the Challenger in 1983, becoming the first American woman and the youngest ever American space traveler.  I remember the hallmarks of the space program.  I lived through them. 

Sally Ride was not only a part of the space program but she was also a symbol of youth and of women reaching beyond the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary.  What a role model she was.  How many young girls did she inspire to go beyond the boundaries to reach for their dream?  In how many youngsters, both male and female, did she light that spark to enter the world of science and of the world beyond this one we know?

I will miss her.  I will miss knowing that somewhere on this earth, walks the likes of such an inspiring woman.  I will miss having one less awe inspiring person on this earth.

This one hurts.

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[This blog post was inspired by Truddle’s blog post here. Thanks, Truddle.]

When I was in high school, I worked all summer long in the school office the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. I worked a six hour day, five days a week. I earned $2.65 an hour, which at that time, was a bit higher than minimum wage. Although I did spent some of the money, the bulk of it was saved up so that I could buy myself a bicycle at the end of summer. I didn’t drive and there were too many siblings ahead of me to even dream that I would have a car when I got my license, or that I would get my license at 16. My parents knew that as soon as we got our license we had to be insured so we didn’t get our license, regardless of our age, until it became necessary for us to drive. (more…)

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