Sunday, April 24, 2016

I left my heart...

in San Francisco.  This time, for real. 
 Margaret's final resting place is lovely, and quite close to my parents.
The priest said all the right things, and I was comforted by his words, and by her family and friends.
 My friend Judy took great care of me.  The night of the funeral, we went to dinner and, at the request of Margaret's ex husband...
set a place for Margaret, with her favorite drink at it.
We toured around SF the next day, quietly remembering times with Margaret.
We also remembered Jane, who was a friend of Margaret, Judy and mine, and who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge when she was 20.
I'm back home now, and had hoped to feel some peace after the funeral, but it's not working out that way.  I should know by now that grief is unpredictable, and takes its own time.
My heartfelt thanks to everyone who wrote words of comfort on my last post.
I appreciate all of you.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Childhood's end

A few days ago, I got the terrible news that my oldest, dearest, best friend Margaret had passed away.  It was actually only by chance that I found out: an email I had sent her was returned as undeliverable, so I called her to see why.  Her family was so torn apart and in shock that they hadn't managed to organize themselves to begin to notify people like me.
This is the last photo I have of Margaret; it was taken on her 50th birthday, almost 2 years ago.  I haven't seen her in person since my last trip to California, in 2008.  I wrote about Margaret once, here.
Margaret and I have been friends since we were both 11 years old.  For our whole lives, my nickname for her has been Piglet; I only started calling her by her real name a few years ago -- because, at our age, Piglet had just become too silly and childish.
Even living so far away from each other these last 14 years, we have kept in close touch by phone, email, and visits. I wouldn't dream of going to California and not making Margaret's house my very first stop.
This week, I'll make the trip back to California for her funeral.  It doesn't seem possible.  It can't be real, it is too sad for's the last thing I expected to be doing now.
You see, Margaret's death was as a result of alcoholism. It goes without saying that I have tried everything over the years to help her overcome her addiction.  If you've ever loved an alcoholic, then you also know how complex and difficult it can be. 
I can't imagine what life will be like without Margaret?
I hate it that I will have to find out, now: too soon.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

If I had a hammer...

If you're my age, or a little older, you probably can't read that line without getting an ear worm; it's the first line of a folk song that was very popular during my childhood.

If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
And I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

Last night we went to see Peter and Paul -- but not Mary, as she passed away in 2009 -- the folk singers who made that song so famous back in the day.

It was a treat to go; at work, we are sometimes offered free tickets to local events that take place at venues the hotel is associated with. They are first come/first served when announced via a company-wide email. I normally don't see the emails for these giveaways in time -- but Friday, I did, so Dennis and I found ourselves at the Pikes Peak Center last night for the show!
We had really great seats.  The Pikes Peak Center is a small venue so when you see shows there, they always feel intimate.  I was reminded of how nice it is to live near a little city like Colorado Springs.  We can get to an event like this in about 1/2 an hour from our home, park for free just down the block, and enjoy the show as part of a small audience.  This in comparison to the San Francisco bay area where we used to live, where nothing is close by, parking is difficult and expensive, and you are always fighting a crowd.

I wish I could have gotten some photos of the concert -- but the lighting was poor; here's what they looked like, though, from one of their ads:
Sometimes I joke about what I call "geezer rock" -- older performers, gone gray and off the grid for years, who reunite to tour and play for nostalgic crowds.  This show was certainly like that, but I didn't find it cheesy like I expected to; instead, it made my heart happy to hear these two very old men sing ballads that were so popular when I was a child. The music brought back the late 1960's and early 1970's feeling I'd forgotten.  It awakened memories of a time when I was small -- short and closer to the ground, always looking up at the world,  and always on foot. Days seemed to go on and on and on back then. My clearest memory of that time is of afternoons at my grandmother's house in San Francisco, the summer that all of my uncles were returning home from Vietnam.  They all came back dressed in green uniforms, very thin, and with eyes that were faraway and tired.  There was joy and relief because they came home safe, but also despair that everyone tried to ignore: big, dark clouds that followed so many people around.  And there were new words and phrases to learn, spoken in hushed tones; words like shell shock, POWs, and dope-smoking.  These words were uttered and then floated up and got stuck in the dark clouds.

Through all of that, it was Peter, Paul and Mary's songs providing the background music: Puff the Magic Dragon, Blowin' in the Wind, This Land is Your Land, Where Have All the Flowers Gone.  They were simple songs that everyone learned and sang, together.  We don't do that much anymore, do we?

Well -- we did last night, at the concert.  It was fun.  And thought-provoking.  Among the things Peter and Paul commented on was the ugly way that politicians are speaking to each other these days, and how children are listening to their awful examples.  It made me re-think my disdain for political correctness.  I, who am such a fan of telling it like it is, and truth. It reminded me that there is a wisdom in being gentle -- gentility is something I've lost track of over the last several years, and I'm not sure why; so I'm thinking about that, too.

I think what stuck with me most last night after the concert was the last line of the Hammer Song: I'd sing about the love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land.  It reminded me that there was a time when I sat cross-legged on the floor in front of a small television set, and watched a commercial for a soft drink where people stood on a hillside and sang, I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.  It really happened -- I was there, I remember it, and it made me feel safe and happy.  So I wonder now, why don't we talk about each other as our brothers and sisters anymore?  And, what happened to those people who did -- those that wanted to change the world?  Without even knowing it, I realized I am very nostalgic for those days.