September 5, 2021

Perhaps there has never been a stranger year for me than the one that we are getting ready to say goodbye to in the Jewish calendar at sundown on September 8, 2021.  It ends much more than just another year in my life.

It has been an end to my independence, my mental competence, and where I called home for many years.   It is the end of me as I know me.

I am still alive, but reconfigured into an “old person” to whom many things that used to be easy are turning into the impossible.

Revisiting the past 78 years of my life causes many memories to surface, either true or perhaps reconfigured with time.   While I may fade, some memories become even more colorful and full of life.  After all, I had a varied and adventurous life.  I lived, loved, hoped, demanded, and fervently wished.

There is a statue I love to visit in the assisted living home garden where one dedicated worker works  his green thumb wonders.  I sit near a sculpture on the bench that brings two young children, one boy and one girl,  together,  to read.    For me,  that easily becomes my brother and me who both loved to read.

My brother was a very bright kid — much brighter than I.  Unfortunately, he was one of the bright ones pushed into competition with Russian students to see which country would achieve world leadership.   He was of the early smart kid generation that taught themselves about computers.   But, he burned out too early.  All that is left of his college years at M.I.T is a cap that I hung on my balcony for years.

He didn’t ever graduate from college, but came to visit me in California, loved it, and never left it.  Eventually, he got the best job of his life.  His task was to play with computers until he broke them.

He died of a heart attack at 46, two years before my mother died.  For those last two years, the only thing my mother did was read one book after another.

But young death wasn’t over with my family yet.   It was the power of AIDS that relentlessly ate away the youth,  beauty, and vitality of my gay son in his 30’s.

Along with the tragedies of life and the very tough years of the 1960s,  were thousands of miles crossed over land, seas, continents,  and cultures.  I had a case of extreme wanderlust that never left me for long.  And it catapulted  me into a life without borders, writing all along the way while I was figuring out how to keep going hither and thither on a shoestring.

It was my parents who brought me once long ago to Laguna Beach.  I can remember clearly that I sat on a bench at the beach and heard a very clear message that I had never heard before — “I could be happy here the rest of my life.”   And that message kept me coming back until I finally bought a home in Laguna Woods and lived happily almost ever after.

The attraction of the ocean still holds me close 22 years later.  When dead, I look forward to being cremated and my ashes put into the seas I love so I can continue my journeys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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