Tag Archives: Jane

showing pictures

Mary Beth and I had our first picture showing yesterday. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped but it was still good for Mom & Dad and Rose to see all of our pictures and hear our stories.

I forgot to bring my packet of souvenirs including my journal even though it was sitting right by my front door. Mary and Jim flew down but took a relaxed approach in the morning so they didn’t arrive at Palo Alto until about noon. Mom had the lunch spread ready to go when we got there so we all dug in and had some good visiting. No one was in a hurry.

I think it was around 2 that we all got up and got serious about showing our pictures. I had loaded mine onto my laptop because it had an HDMI output that I knew I could plug into Mom and Dad’s big TV. Mary had hers on her iPad and also on Google Drive.

The first problem was that the computer wouldn’t talk to the TV. I was using an HDMI cable that I had that I was sure I had used before. I fiddled around with all kinds of settings but nothing worked. Mary wondered if the USB  on the TV would take a connection to her iPad. No, that was no good. The input selector didn’t even have USB. What’s the USB for???

Then I saw another HDMI cable under the TV. That worked! Yay!

Then I had the issue of figuring out what program to use to show the images. The laptop was running Windows 10 but it’s setup to be my work machine so I hadn’t used it to show pictures before. I thought I could just go to the file manager and select the folder and start the slideshow. Not so fast, pardner! I finally got a program going that showed the images from each folder only. I had to exit the program ( I don’t remember what it was called) each time I finished a folder – and I have many – then reselect a new folder and start again. Tedious.

Of course I showed every picture I took, including pictures of flowers and multiple images of essentially the same thing at different exposures. I think everyone nodded off at one point or another.

Finally it was time for Mary to show her pictures. The TV was working well so she logged onto Google Drive on my computer and started showing her pictures. But the videos didn’t work. There was a message about restarting ‘your device’ to make them work. Never mind, now we’re getting short of time.

Mary and Jim had to time their activities so that they could be back on the ground in Auburn while there was still daylight. When the issue came up, Mary was about halfway through her pictures and it was 5:30 already. They needed to leave by 6. Oh, too bad about dinner! Then some of my images that were on Google Drive started showing up along with Mary’s. What?? She soldiered on and we got through at 6 exactly. Rose and I had picked them up on our way down but we wanted dinner so I ran Mary and Jim up to PAO and came back. 40 minutes round trip.

The four of us had a nice dinner on the patio and we left a little after 8 but the whole day had seemed way more rushed than I liked. Teresa is going to want to see everything as will Jane so we’ll likely have a chance to do it again. On our drive to the airport, I suggested to Mary that we consolidate our better pictures on Google Drive in a special folder for showing. I don’t know what we can do about the videos. There’s work to do.

I left the original HDMI cable in the trash.

the second week

Jeremy and Ashley had rented a nice house in North Bend months ago as a place to land in Washington. It was there for them when they flew out on June 20th and they were still there on Thursday afternoon the 29th when I pulled that ungainly rig up in front of it. Jane had flown up earlier in the week and Joe and the boys had driven up. They were all there. Before long, Rosalie had me out across the street to the little park there. Actually, it wasn’t so little. It had a group picnic area and two play areas next to a rather large pond surrounded by trees. Here’s Rosalie beseeching the ducks to come back and play:

Here’s the merry-go-round:

Jane and her family left Friday for points south and home. We got in the car and headed north to Duvall, where we met with the landlord at the new house. They signed a two year lease. The neighborhood was very nice. The houses were newish, about 1980’s vintage, but many of the (presumably) original trees had been saved so there were tall firs and cedars all around. All the houses were well kept up.

Saturday was moving day. Jeremy took the truck, I took the Forester, still loaded with things from Georgia, and Ashley followed in the Murano after doing last minute clean up at the rental house in North Bend.

We got the truck situated in front of the house with the trailer off by around 10:30. Most of the unloading was done by 1:30 and the truck was off the lawn by 2:30. Rosalie had had a chance the day before to select which bedroom would be hers. It didn’t take long on Saturday for her to establish herself there.

Her new bed came not long after I took this picture. It went where the yellow bear is sitting.

Here are some earlier and later pictures of the inside of the truck:

That evening we went out to dinner in Carnation, which is the next town south of Duvall.

The next day, Sunday, I had volunteered to take the truck back to Yakima. Jeremy had done this as it was about $1,000 cheaper than dropping it somewhere closer in the Seattle area. That was another 145 miles in the truck and the same in the Forester coming home. 7:15 am to 2 pm.

Here’s a last look at the combo at the rest stop outside of Yakima. Mt Rainier is in the background. I thought I had Mt. Adams too but I couldn’t see the phone viewfinder very well in the bright sun light. It’s either just out of the frame or behind the sign, honest!

Jeremy and Ashley had lots of shopping to do so I said I would stay with Rosalie after I got back until they were done. They had to go to Monroe and Redmond and some other places with big box stores. After a nap and a snack with Rosalie, I got to play tea party and dress up for about three hours. They finally got home about 7:30!

Monday we didn’t do much except work on putting the house in order. I got in touch with my friends from Bellingham, Teresa and Susan. I wasn’t willing to go that far, but Susan had a spot in Oso, only about an hour from Duvall, that she went to on weekends in the summer. It floods every winter but there’s a spot for her Airstream 100 feet or so from the Stillaguamish River. In the end, Teresa couldn’t make it so I sat with Susan by the river for a couple of hours in the afternoon and chatted while the dogs occasionally chased toys into the river. Before going to Susan’s place, I had gone up to the site of the mountain collapse and paid my respects to the lost lives. The county has purchased the land and will eventually make a memorial park there. Now there are just 43 newly planted trees in rows by the road.

When I returned, much had been done in contacting the neighbors. We got invited to a 4th of July barbeque. Rosalie had discovered that the girl next door was just a few months older than her. They weren’t instant pals but it didn’t take long before they were chasing around together.

Tuesday all Rosalie could talk about was wearing her new swimsuit to the party and going in the pool. Finally the hour arrived and we went over. It was very nice and we met lots of new neighbors. Jeremy had to leave early as he was going to Portland for a basketball referees workshop. Before he left, we went home and lit a couple of sparklers. Rosalie wasn’t sure about them at first.

That night the explosions started well before dark, around 9:30, and continued without letup – literally with out so much as 15 or 20 seconds silence – until at least 11 pm, when my sleeping pills took hold. At least two different skyrocket shows could be seen out the back window of the house that were no more than a couple of hundred yards away.

Wednesday I went into Carnation to do laundry. The washer and dryer that Ashley and Jeremy had bought on Sunday wasn’t going to be delivered until the following Sunday and I was out of clean underwear. (It did come today and Ashley was on her 4th load when I talked to them earlier tonight.) Rosalie played a lot with Emma, the girl next door.

Thursday, Ashley took me to Snoqualmie Falls, about a half hour up the valley from Duvall. It’s a pretty falls but also a hydroelectric power generating facility. We waked the trail to the bottom and checked it out from there as well.

Friday we went to McCormick Park, which is a little city park right off the main drag in Duvall and right on the river. This was maybe ten minutes from their house. There was a nice sandy beach to play on. Rosalie made mud pies (or something) and dabbled in the water looking at the little marine animals. Afterward we had lunch in a little cafe and got a library card at the library across the street. Rosalie took out three books.

Saturday morning, Ashley took me to Sea-Tac and I came home. I had originally intended to come home on Amtrak or a bus but it would have been 24 to 26 hours en route vs 2 1/2 and the cost was comparable. In the end, it was about 12 hours short of two weeks. It was great!

my trip with Jeremy

Two weeks ago today my alarm went off at 3:30 in the morning. I had a 6 am flight to Atlanta. From Seattle, Jeremy was doing something similar. He got there first and got his car out of long term parking and was waiting for me when I came out of the terminal. It was about 4 pm local time.

We stopped for a bite to eat, then went to the Home Depot where the Penske 26′ bobtail and trailer were waiting for us. The trailer was for his Subaru SUV. It took about an hour to do all the paperwork and get instruction on how to hook up and get the car onto the trailer. Jeremy had gotten a TB test in connection with one of his volunteer fireman gigs and had to get it read within a 48 to 72 hour period. Basically, now, so he headed to the clinic and I head to his house with the truck. Rather gingerly.

At his house we fell to it. The truck wouldn’t go up the driveway so everything had to be carried down the hill to the street. Early on, I asked if he had any rope to secure the load. The answer was no so I had a trip to Home Depot at 8 pm on a Sunday night. We kept plugging away and at half past midnight we were close enough to call it and go to bed. The beds were the last things remaining.

Originally, Jeremy had wanted to leave his house at 4:30 to avoid Atlanta morning traffic. I told him we had at least another hour of work to do before leaving so at midnight he consented to getting up at 4:30 with the goal of leaving by 5:30. I had suggested we push on and get out of town and stop somewhere a couple of hours past Atlanta but he wanted the rest first.

In the morning there were a myriad of little things, and then there was lining up the truck ball with the trailer. The trailer weighed almost 2000 pounds (without the car!) so picking it up and rolling it to the truck was not an option.

Finally, we were ready. I took a picture of the rig at 6:45 and we headed out.

The clinic had been closed the night before so Jeremy had to find another one right away. He also had his Comcast modem to return. He had looked up ahead of time and found that there was a Comcast store near the freeway in Murfreesboro Tennessee. We got there about 11 am. I had found a clinic close by to the store so that was good but they had to be talked into doing what Jeremy needed. Once I saw that it was going to be difficult, I bailed and got some lunch. Jeremy was in there at least a half hour for a test reading that took ten seconds. Paperwork. Turning in the modem was not a problem and we were off again by noon.

I had vaguely remembered seeing something the day before about the maximum speed with the trailer being 55 mph but I couldn’t find it in the cab. Eventually, I pushed it up to 65 on the Interstate and felt pretty secure. We were still passed by lots of big trucks. When Jeremy took over he got it up to 70 and passed a couple himself. After the trip was over, I was unloading the car and saw the notice on the trailer: 55 mph maximum speed. Oh well. Once I got used to it, the whole setup seemed very stable. The roads were generally good. Through Tennessee and Kentucky we mostly kept it at 70. Slower up the hills.

The weather was perfect. Sunday night loading the truck I soaked my T-shirt with sweat but it was warm enough that I didn’t worry about getting a chill. Monday was sunny and pleasantly warm with a few wispy clouds.

Google had us routed up through Paducah and thence to I-64, then west through St Louis joining I-70 there. At the rate we were going, I saw that we would go through St. Louis at rush hour. We actually used a combination of Google maps and Jeremy’s trusty 2002 Road Atlas for navigation. I found a highway, US 60, that led west out of Paducah straight over to Missouri via Cairo, IL. Looking at it now, I don’t see why we didn’t take US 62 which covers essentially the same route through Kentucky in less time.

Whatever. We crossed first the Ohio River, then about two minutes later the Mississippi River on high, two lane bridges. I think we were technically in Cairo for those two minutes but we saw nothing of the town. I took videos of the crossing complete with enthusiastic narration. Jeremy, who was driving, later told me he thought his blood pressure was at about 200 during those crossings. That was about 4 pm, now Central Time.

We eventually stopped for a real dinner in Arnold, MO, still short of St Louis, at around 7, so the issue of traffic was moot. Our goal was Kansas City and we made it around midnight. Actually, we went through KC, MO into Kansas and stayed in a motel on the west side. Here’s a map of our first day. 843 miles and 18 hours on the road. Whew!

Tuesday morning we were out getting gas (diesel) at 8:30. West on the Kansas Turnpike. Our goal this day was the home of Jeremy’s cousin, Suzanne, and her partner, Greg, in Avon, CO. Per Google maps, a mere 688 miles. We made good time across Kansas but unfortunately couldn’t avoid Denver at rush hour.

This was about 6 pm local time, now Mountain of course. Jeremy was at the wheel and pushed on up into the mountains.  We found that the Colorado I-70 grades were much steeper than the ones in Tennessee. In some cases, we could only go 35 mph with the accelerator floored. The final pass was of course much higher too. I’ve got a crappy picture of the sign: Vail Pass summit, elevation 10,662 feet!

Going down was an adventure, dropping into lower gears to slow the truck, and watching apprehensively the runaway truck ramps.

The weather was holding. We saw some rain and lightning in the distance approaching Denver but only a few drops fell on us. Every night we saw spectacular sunsets. Here’s a map of our second day. 693 miles in 13 hours.

Suzanne was on duty in Vail, so we ate a late dinner with Greg and chatted before going to bed. We had gotten to Avon at 8:30. In the morning, we headed back up to Vail – about 6 or 7 miles back up the mountain – to see Suzanne. She is an EMT and the shifts are 48 hours. Anyway, we had a brief visit with her at her station in Vail and we got back on the road about 9:30 am.

A couple of hours later, I was merrily getting settled after fueling up in Grand Junction when I saw a state patrol car along side of me with his lights on. I pulled over, expecting a lecture – or a ticket – for going too fast with that rig. Instead, the very young Trooper Pritchett (he gave me a card when we were done) wanted to tell us one of the straps had come off the car wheels. He helped us get it fixed and in ten minutes or so we were on our way again.

Unfortunately, our timing around big cities was again poor. We came into the Salt Lake City area around 5 pm and suffered through the slowdowns there. The Wasatch Mountains behind the city in the westering sun were beautiful, though. Around 7, Jeremy found a Mongolian ‘Bar-B-Q’ place a couple of miles off the freeway in Ogden so we stopped there for dinner. Here is where we were parked:

At dinner we discussed stopping earlier for that night so we settled on Twin Falls, ID as an objective. We figured we could get there by 10 but in reality it was more like 11 and there were no rooms available there.

We pressed on, Jeremy still driving since Ogden but determined. My efforts at securing a place to sleep kept failing. There wasn’t much between Twin Falls and Boise. I did have Internet access on my phone along the highway. I was thankful for that. Finally I made a reservation for a motel in Boise. We pulled in about 1 am and had to park a couple of blocks away. In the lobby, though, my name wasn’t on the manager’s list. I had talked to an operator for Super 8 motels and she hadn’t understood that I wanted a room for right now. It was confusing because by then it had already passed midnight. The Super 8 guy told us there were other motels nearby that likely had rooms. I called one who confirmed that and I said, ‘We’ll be right over!’

We parked in an office building lot. I figured that we were going to be gone before anyone showed up to work in the morning. We hauled our tired bodies out of bed and into the truck by 7 am. Destination: North Bend, WA, the end of the road! Belatedly, I had thought of potential problems with morning rush hour traffic in Boise but most of the slow downs were going the other way. Phew!

Here’s a map of our third day. 763 miles in 16 hours.

By now, everything was started to blur. I guess it was the country north out of Ogden that I thought was pretty: wheat fields in the evening sun. Or maybe it was the country west and north of Boise on up into Oregon. I remember crossing the Columbia River around 1 pm. I remember the Yakima River valley starting around Prosser with its beautiful vineyards and orchards.

This picture is from Oregon. It shows how our rig was almost as long as the guys towing the 53 footers.:

While eating lunch in Prosser, I convinced Jeremy that we should take the car off the trailer so he could go ahead so as not to be late for his training class. Originally, he had set 3 pm as a time to be in North Bend. His class was at 5 but he wanted time to clean up and eat. It was becoming clear that the truck wouldn’t get there until 4 at the earliest. We had the grades of Snoqualmie Pass coming up. At Ellensburg, we pulled off the highway, did that, and he went off in the car.

I got to their rental house in North Bend as predicted, about 4. Rosalie came running out to give me a big hug and Jame and her family were all there with Ashley too. Jeremy had gotten there about a half hour earlier and was ready to leave in his clean clothes.

Here’s a map of our fourth day. 475 miles in 9 1/2 hours. Actual miles driven start to finish using the truck odometer were 2,858. I’ll leave it to you to do any averaging arithmetic. It was a fast trip. Jeremy and I had some good talks. He had some Bill Simmons podcasts that he & I listened to. I tried to write in my journal but eventually gave up as it was too bouncy. I took a few pictures with my phone. Good times.

I’ll put up another post about moving into the new house and other activities in Washington.

Life

I keep saying I want to cut back but I keep failing. Last week was the return from the work weekend Monday. I was so tired when I got home I couldn’t go to band that night. Tuesday I got my laundry done and napped but had work that evening. Wednesday and Thursday I took classes for professional development in Hayward. By the end of the second day I was wondering why I bothered. The new big Yamaha mixer is interesting but the likelihood of me driving one for a job are slim to none.

Friday morning was our first graduation of the year at Davies. I stayed down there to work the evening shift. Saturday, Rose’s sister Leigh had a gathering at her house in Antioch to celebrate the life of her husband, John. Saturday traffic was an abomination. 2+ hours each way.

Sunday morning up early for the Youth Orchestra in Davies until 5 pm then a dash down to Santa Clara for Mother’s Day dinner. In addition to that, we celebrated Jane and Julian’s birthdays. Julian is 21!

Yesterday an early call (6 am) for another graduation then concert dress rehearsal for the jazz band in the evening. I did lay down and try to nap in the afternoon.

Today I am waiting for the laundry room to become free. I have a couple of errands to run but they can wait until tomorrow if it comes to that. The rehearsal showed me that I need to practice the guitar more, although I really already knew that, so I’ve done some of that already. I finished the jigsaw puzzle I’ve been picking away at for almost a month. It’s one of the hardest I’ve ever done so that is satisfying.

Tomorrow night, work returns. Thursday I signed on with Hal to be part of the sound crew for the Disney/Pixar movie presentation at Davies. It’s going to be an 8 am to midnight (at least) day plus I agreed to do the graduation at 7 the next morning. And the house head job in the evening . . .

All this to clear my weekend for personal things. Saturday afternoon in San Francisco Sarah’s quartet is hosting a benefit that I will attend before heading back to San Bruno in the evening for the jazz band concert. Sunday up to Rose’s brother Steve’s house in Plymouth and another chance to play with Allen Frank and his Doghouse Blues band at the Drytown Club.

Monday I think I’ll collapse but Monday evening is another jazz band rehearsal, this time for the school graduation. I really want to go up to Eagle Creek Falls before the summer madness starts so right now it looks like Tuesday or Wednesday will be my best options before Memorial Day.

I have Sarah’s next quartet concert on my calendar for Friday the 26th but yesterday realized it overlapped the Skyline graduation. Hmmm, I may have to weasel out of that one.

Franz

I looked at my birthday calendar this morning and I noticed that it’s been a year since my cousin Franz died. It was actually the anniversary last week but I didn’t note it then.

I’ve been better (if you want to call it that) about anniversaries lately. I’ve made it through quite a few 14th’s of the month now without getting all knotted up about Zach. The sorrow comes at odd places and times now. Odd in the sense that they are not predictable. Sunday I was in my car on the way down to Santa Clara when I just started weeping. There was no obvious trigger; I was just missing Zach.

Today Jeremy sent me a detailed itinerary of his and Ashley’s move in June. Seeing in glorious detail their plans for finding a place to live and jobs while also being concerned about places my sister Jane’s family can take Rosalie for fun brought on the waterworks again. It’s the kind of gutsy move you don’t see often. I am so full of admiration for them.

My thinking about Franz recently has mostly been about looking forward to visiting Germany this summer. I will be paying my respects to his mother – turning 100 in August! – his brother and sister, and his grave. Two men gone too soon.

Women’s March

I don’t know what it was officially called. I heard it a bunch of times but it just didn’t stick with me. It was the afternoon one. Evidently the morning one was anti-abortion. They both started and stopped in the same places. Anyway, Rose and Jane and Julian and Julian’s girlfriend Lisa went. All the demonstrations going on this weekend around the inaugural and I’ve been in SoundBox. I’ll try to do a post about that but for now I’ll just post (lightly edited) my impressions from last night.

left home at 5:15 for a 7 pm call. Daly City BART. The train was from Millbrae and packed – I was lucky to get a spot by the door. Being at the door at Civic Center, I didn’t wait around to see how many got off, but there were lines of people waiting to get on a la 5pm on a weekday. Many people coming down the stairs and many, many people in the ‘foyer’ lined up to buy tickets. Really, folks? Did you think you’d never come back?

Up the stairs to the street, lots of people coming down, many with umbrellas as it was raining lightly. Up on the sidewalk, tho’, it was jammed. Just like the BART car shoulder to shoulder but slowly moving towards downtown. I got to the edge and went up Hyde to the other side of the library. Hardly anyone was there. A crew was taking down the sound system for a stage there. I didn’t go over.

By the time I got to the front of the library, Grove was practically deserted. I guess I had seen the tail end of the parade. It had a really good vibe tho’. I did some musing on people and their hopes and dreams and their tendency to fuck them up. [By the time I was writing this last paragraph inside at S/B, people were talking to me about work and this doesn’t seem very coherent. It’s a theme I hope to expand on someday.]

7 pm time to start work

Dad’s birthday

Dad turned 87 today. Teresa hosted a party at her house. All the Bay Area Woods were there. Mary called and sang him ‘Happy Birthday ‘ over the phone. He couldn’t hear her with the handset so Paul got the speaker phone going and that was better.

After dessert of lemon meringue pie (his request) he opened the cards from his children. All contained heartfelt personal statements of love and admiration. He had trouble reading them because they were handwritten, though. Jane was sitting next to him and helped out.  He was in good humor all evening and even made a couple of jokes but sometimes the conversation moves too fast for him and he checks out. Other times he makes self deprecating remarks that recognize his limitations.

I had tea and conversation with Tom V yesterday who I haven’t seen in nearly a year. He lost his mother in the spring of 2015 and many of his reactions to the loss were familiar to me. He’s still feeling the effects. All death is traumatic, even when one is older and has lived a long life. It just makes me treasure Dad and Mom all the more. One day they’ll be no more and all we’ll have left are memories.

good things – people mostly

This past year has been one of much sadness and tears. On top of that, I’ve never been a fan of the Christmas season. The days are shorter and the ubiquitous ‘buy’ messages everywhere are cloaked in false bonhomie. Feh.

So it was with a bit of surprise the other day when I found myself thinking of all the good things that are in my life now. Jeremy, Sarah, Ashley, Rosalie, Noah, Mom & Dad. Teresa and Jane, my two sisters who live nearby and keep checking on me. Tom, Mary and Tim, my brothers and sister who live further away but I treasure them as well. Rose, my neighbor who is also my best friend. Allyson and Dave, Noah’s Mom & Dad.

Work is going ok, too. I got through SoundBox with only a couple of glitches and the show got great reviews. There is a great group of Local 16 people that I get to work with at Davies Symphony Hall. All are competent and congenial. I hate to name names because I would leave someone out but Hal and Gus are my long-time compatriots in the Sound Department and extra special to me. JJ, the unquestioned head of Davies stagehands, always willing to share his knowledge. In management, Michele stands out among many fine people.

Of course, many of these people were in my life before Zach was killed but the experience of losing him has made that which is left more precious.  Merry Christmas!

‘Thank you for your service.’

Veteran’s Day. I’ve been out on Facebook already this morning and seen this phrase, or variations of it, quite a few times. So I’ve got something to say about that and being that this is my blog, darn it, I’m going to say it.

Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are when this sentiment gets thrown around the most, but we see many other examples throughout the year of this. I think it was one or two Sundays ago that I noticed the NFL football games had some kind of ‘Thank you for your service’ theme. For the most part I just let it slide but today I’m going to rant about it.

What bugs me is that the implication of this phrase is that it is referring to the military performing some kind of ‘service’ that is worthy of this kind of adulation. We’ve been set up to think that this is a superior kind of service to our country. Yes, men and women in the military have sacrificed their lives and limbs in war. But we have to recognize that there are other forms of service that are just as valid. Is Jeremy performing less of a service to our country by being a firefighter and never having been in the military? Is Ashley or Jane performing less of a service to our country by teaching our children and never having been in the military? Is Teresa performing less of a service to our country by being a nurse and never having been in the military? No.

And there are many people who do time in the military who are never near the front lines and whose lives are never in any more danger than any other American. My uncle Pat was in the Army during World War II and he drove a supply truck behind the lines. My brother Tim served in the Army during the first Gulf War. He went to Iraq and was a guard at a prison compound. As far as I know, he never fired a shot in anger nor was he ever shot at by enemy troops. Tim, if I got this wrong, please tell me.

The point is that while the military is an organization designed to kill people for the state, the part that actually does the killing is relatively small. And nowadays we have soldiers sitting in air conditioned room playing video games (running drones) for their service – killing people for the state.

So I think we should talk about what service we really want to value in our country. I remember reading about the ancient Greek city states in school. Athens, where democracy reigned supreme, and warlike Sparta, where everyone was a soldier. My takeaway from that was that ultimately Sparta failed because democracy was good and war was bad. Now here in America we have a kind of democracy but we are also very war like. It pains me that we don’t value forms of service to our country that don’t involve killing people or blowing things up.

Jeremy, Ashley, Jane, Teresa, thank you for your service!

Jane’s visit

My sister Jane had been saying for some weeks that she wanted to visit Zach at my house before we all took his ashes away. I called her yesterday morning to remind her that time was getting short and she was able to stop by later in the day.

Earlier, I had offered up several options for her visit, thinking that she would want private time but in the event she and I just talked. We didn’t talk a lot about Zach per se, as one might at a wake, but more about our reactions to his death and the arc of our griefs. She cried a little but I was strangely calm. I was able to talk about how I had cried so much in the early days and then as time passed I cried less but then I felt that not crying was to somehow invalidate the grief. I’ve learned that grief has no time line nor is there any formula for it. When I’ve cried recently it has been triggered by some random thing not directly related to Zach. I told her about the Bereavement Support Group I have been going to and said that it was open to her as well if she wanted.

We talked about souls and what they might be really. What is the difference between a living person and his earthly remains, be it a body or a box full of ashes or a headstone somewhere? My contention is that the things that Zach touched and were part of his life – his clothes, his books, his computer, his phone, etc. – are just as much Zach as his ashes. His ‘soul’ is his memory within those who are still living and all of those things contribute to his memory.

Jane saw a picture I had of our beloved Uncle Bob who died in 1999. She commented that there really were very few family members who had died in her adult lifetime and she didn’t know how to react. We’ve had Aunts & Uncles die in the last 10 years ago but they were in other states and we weren’t close. None of us kids went to the funerals. Our grandparents have been dead for more than 20 years and they all lived far away. I remember thinking something similar years ago: that I’ve lived a charmed life and no one really close to me has died. It’s not really true; I’ve lost colleagues, some to age, some to suicide, some to AIDS, but no one I was really close to personally. I’ve been to some funerals now.

Here’s the picture of Uncle Bob with Teresa:

Teresa and Uncle Bob