Dear Dad

15 Jun

It’s a jolt to realize I will soon turn 10 years younger than you were when you died.  I wonder what you would think of the past 13 years I’ve lived without you.  What would surprise you, shock you, delight you?  It would be interesting to have your view of what’s been going on without you.

You and mom were the first ones to introduce me to Laguna Beach when you lived in San Diego years ago.  There, with the bright blue sky dotted with pelicans, the creatively landscaped cliffs going down to an incredible expanse of the Pacific Ocean, I had a thought that I had never had before — I could be happy here for the rest of my life.  And, years later, after mom died, you and I moved to a large retirement community then called Leisure World only 6 miles from Laguna Beach.

I was then among the youngest in the retirement community, but even now I’m still “a kid” compared to some of our neighbors whom you would still remember.  At this point in my life, I no longer wander the world.  I eventually adapted to a small, simple,  and sweet world combining friends, a wide variety of activities, chances to ponder the sea as I walk in the smooth sand of the beaches,  warmly wrapped in a year-round gentle and happy climate.

One of the main attractions of this retirement community was a bus system that would enable you to stay active without driving.  Three years ago, I gave up your old car and now use the community bus system, subsidized taxi vouchers, and the county bus system.  With careful pre-planning, I can get where I want to go, plus my legs are stronger from walking more.

I’ve made some changes in the house, but it would still be familiar to you.  Our patio and yard have improved with more flowers and plants than you would remember.   I still take joy puttering in the garden, but gave up trying to grow anything the rabbits want to eat.

The death of my brother in 1996, mom in 1998, you in 1999, and my son in 2003 have made me very aware of my mortality.  Your sister lived to 88 1/2 — the longest of anyone in our family.  I am very aware now that I am the last limb on the family tree.  I am the one my younger cousins turn to for family history and to identify people in the old snapshots.

I’m so sorry you can never read the book I just published called “Out of Step:  A Diary To My Dead Son.”  Nor the one I wrote of my 16 years of wandering the world published in 2006 called “Memoirs of a Middle-aged Hummingbird.”  Nor my blog as the Senior Hummingbird.  But you and mom did get to share a bit of my traveling life by visiting Israel and China when I was there, as well as through my many letters.

You would most likely be pleased that I often say thank you to you for bringing me to what is now called Laguna Woods Village.  Since you lived here with me for 4 months, I still feel your presence in our home.  You were a good man, and a loving dad.  Happy Father’s Day!


Your daughter



Losing Liz

23 Mar

I didn’t follow her every move, but Elizabeth Taylor has been around all my life.  She was as strong a woman in real life as she brought to life through her movie roles.  Can we ever envision Cleopatra differently from the beautiful, determined, passionate woman who entranced us on the screen?

Her marriages were many and stormy.  The husband that stands out in my memory is, of course, Richard Burton.  And that diamond — oh, yes, some big, huge diamond.  But I didn’t know that she had 4 children and several grandchildren.  I also don’t think I knew that she had converted to Judaism so many years ago.  I didn’t know she hated the name, Liz, either.  In her later years, I remember that she was ill and that she was best friends with Michael Jackson.  She also devoted her money and name to AIDS-related activism.

There are few actresses that are burned into our senior memories like Elizabeth Taylor.  Although her beauty withered with age and illness,  her exceptional beauty and her intensity live on through the magic of keeping old movies fresh and vibrant.  For the young people who didn’t grow up with her, her greatness as an actress may be revived through “old movies.”

Age is not just a number; age matters.  Elizabeth Taylor died at 79 on the same day that I was turned down for a volunteer job I really wanted because I’m “too old.”  Sixty-seven is a difficult age — no longer strong, and not yet dead.

For seniors like me, her death is one more loss in the growing losses of people we grew up with.  She was only 12 years older than I am now.  She is another reminder once again of my encroaching mortality.

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