Tag Archives: Goodbye

Too soon, too soon

I don’t know if Marc was at the first Dan Bern show I attended. I don’t think he was at the most recent Dan Bern show I attended. I do know, however, he will not be at the next Dan Bern show I will attend, or any other Dan Bern show whether I attend them or not.

Marc passed away in July. (oh, fuck cancer, by the way).

I don’t remember when I was first aware of Marc. Thinking back, I know he was at the first Birchmere show I attended. I had great front row seats and Marc was behind me, filming the show. I remember ducking out of his way several times during the show.

He was friends with Chris and Winelady — I think I must have known her name at one time, but have since forgotten it — and the last time Dan played at IOTA in Arlington, I know Marc was there because I accidentally left without paying my bar tab and asked him, then Chris and Winelady if they were stuck with it. No one admitted to paying my tab.

Marc was always behind a camera or video recorder. He always wore a baseball hat and a windbreaker kind of coat. He always had a modest smile on his face.

The first time I drove out of my comfort zone (Delaware) to see Dan Bern play, Marc was there to make me feel comfortable.

The second time I drove out of my comfort zone to see Dan Bern play (Baltimore), Marc introduced me to Dan and his girlfriend, Danielle. Dan was in a jovial mood (he was playing Carnegie Hall the next week!) and I got a Dan Bern kiss on the top of my head.

The time I asked Dan Bern to sign my daughter’s autograph book, Marc was there to tease Dan that I wanted my breasts signed instead. (apparently someone asked for that type of autograph during the previous show).

Marc met my husband at one of the last Dan Bern shows I saw and I took Marc’s photo (that I cannot find) at another relatively recent show. We promised to keep in touch, but didn’t. It was through an Internet search that I found his obituary. His death was confirmed by one of Dan’s old band members who knew Marc.

If you happen to follow Dan on Facebook, take a look at this cover album photo. Marc took it.

Dan’s playing in Arlington on Thursday. It won’t be the same without the possibility of Marc showing up.


Gone for good

The miracle zinnia has died.

Andrew has returned to Oberlin.

Clare has left for her Big Adventure in the Northwest.

Clare leaving

The zinnia had an incredibly long life — for a zinnia — so its demise doesn’t really bother me. Andrew’s permanent address continues to be the same as mine, and he can still legitimately call our house home. Clare, on the other hand, has moved out for good. She’ll probably continue to call Bethesda “home” for a while — I still sometimes say “I’m going home” when talking about visiting Elgin — but after a while this will be a place she once lived and where her mom and dad live.

I am truly grateful I had this summer with her (Andrew too, of course — but he’s not gone for good yet). I think we both were able to have some closure.

And no, I didn’t cry.

Farewell Apollo

In or around 1996 Dean’s mom bought a new car. If my memory is correct she wasn’t exactly delighted with it at the time — I think she thought it was too sporty.

Apollo, the intrepid traveler
Apollo, the intrepid traveler

After she passed away the car was passed down to my kids. Dean drove it back from Illinois in or around the summer of 2009. Dean’s brothers put some time and money into making it as safe as possible for the kids and for that we are grateful. The car was a familiar sight on our corner for several years — the kids tended to park it across the street. In recent years when I’d look out the window and see it, it made me smile because it meant one or both of my kids were home. At some point they named the car Apollo and Clare decorated the ceiling of the car with the solar system. She said that anyone who worked on the car was always pretty impressed.

This past March the kids’ spring breaks overlapped by one week and the plan was for Clare to pick up Andrew from college and drive him to Maryland after visiting a friend in Ohio. The plans changed somewhat so Clare drove from New York to Maryland and spent some time with us before heading to Oberlin to drop off the car for Andrew and then continuing on to other adventures (in my car). Andrew drove the car back to Maryland that same day. I posted on Facebook that I was somewhat concerned that the car could handle such a trip, but Andrew got home safely.

A few days after the Big Trip and shortly before Clare was to drive it back to New York the car would not start. After several attempts and Internet searching the conclusion was that it had something to do with the head gasket. We’d pretty much decided that we were not going to spend much more money on the car — we’d already spent several thousand dollars more than our knowledgeable car mechanic thought wise — so it was decided that Apollo would be donated to a charity. Clare is borrowing my car for the final stretch of her undergraduate career and remarked that she was relieved to be driving an automobile that didn’t cause her to fear for her life.

On Tuesday the tow truck arrived to take Apollo away for good. I never liked the car (That fear for your life thing. Also chalk dust.) but was sad anyway.

A Tree Grew in Bethesda

Siberian Elm tree today

When we moved into our home nearly 20 years ago we were pleased to have a number of trees on our property. We had a ginkgo, two maple trees (one sugar and one red), a tulip poplar and a mulberry — probably female because it doesn’t bear fruit. We also had a small tree in the front yard that the local master gardener said was an unusual tree for this area. He later told me it was an Oxydendrum or Sourwood (which happens to be my favorite kind of honey).

Andrew hiding treeOne more tree grew in our yard — it was in the back next to the fence and could have been easily cut down with a hacksaw when we moved in. It was so small that baby Andrew’s head nearly covers it in the photo on the right. (click on the photo to make it larger)

The tree grew quickly and before long it was big enough for the kids to climb, which they did. They climbed much higher than they should have, but thankfully, neither of my children fell out of the tree.

A few years ago with help from my Peterson’s guide to trees of North America and the Internet, identified the tree as an Ulmus pumila or Siberian Elm. I’m pretty sure it was not planted by the previous owners, but was a volunteer tree.

The tree towers over the house now — nearly catching up to the tulip poplar in height. It casts a shadow over the back yard and nothing but weeds grow under it.

Now that the kids are away at college and have not climbed the tree in years and we’ve gotten rid of both the playset and trampoline, Dean wants to grow grass instead of weeds in the backyard. And I’d like to try to grow vegetables. We’ve got someone cutting it down right now, and to say I feel guilty is an understatement. I look out the window at the sugar maple and imagine it is quaking in fear that it will be next. I also sense a bit of resentment that we are murdering a backyard companion.

We’ll see if the loss of this tree brings more life to the back yard. I kind of doubt it, but I hope so. Then the tree may not have died in vain.

Best. Neighbors. Ever.

Skippy John Jones G.
Skippy John Jones G.

I look across the street tonight and see the blue Volvo and silver minivan parked where they’ve been for the past couple of years. I see Chris mowing his lawn. The other day I talked to Madeline, Anna, Molly and Carter about vacation Bible camp, Subway meals and trips to the Bay.

Nothing really, except the sad knowledge and “Under Contract” sign, indicates that tomorrow a moving truck will collect their furniture and move everything to Richmond. In two days a new family will move into the house across the street.

The current family couldn’t be any better. They are some of the sweetest people I have ever known. Chris took care of Andrew when he had his skin infection (knowing a dermatologist is handy). Madeline actively  participated in our neighborhood book group. Anna once stage whispered to a friend that Dean was really nice. Molly and Carter entertained us with their 3/4-year old antics.

And then there is Skippy John Jones G. who, although may have pooed on our lawn a few times, was the friendliest cat in the ‘hood. At least to neighbors and the mailman, who on more than one occasion sat on the stoop and gave Skippy a cuddle.

The new family has an incredible act to follow.

The G. family will be missed. Very much.

Happy Birthday Saul Korewa, wherever you are

I am writing this on the last day of February, 2011. It will be posted on the 55th anniversary of the birth of a unique person. He won’t turn 55 years old today, however. And that’s the bad news.

The good news is that Saul was. He was a good person and cared deeply about his daughters. He was a teacher. He was a religious leader. He even was a TV movie actor.

In the earlier days of the World Wide Web, long before the phrase “social media” was a term and it was considered okay to get to know people solely online, we “met” via a piece of software called ICQ that had a unique “random” feature. One of us, probably Saul , pushed the random button and found my profile and requested a chat. We hit it off immediately. We talked nearly every day (mostly about raising kids) for at least a year — possibly more — until he went off the grid and moved to a remote “ranch” in Nevada.

He loved the da Vinci painting Ginevra de’ Benci. He fiercely defended his faith. He didn’t always follow rules. He was a good son and a good father.

About a year ago we reconnected on Facebook, but he’d disappear for months at a time because of loss of Internet access or a misplaced or lost cell phone. Our last conversation was about how proud he was of his girls and that the middle daughter might go into education and he wanted her to talk to me since I’d been a teacher.

Every so often I’d check out one of his two Facebook profiles (yes, he was a rebel) to see what he was up to, or if he’d checked in recently. Today, knowing his birthday was coming up (remember this is being written February 28), I checked his profile and found a message from one of his daughters saying he’d died in December in a house fire.

I used to tease him about being older than I was. Very soon that won’t be the case. I’ll bypass him. I’m sure he’s laughing about that somewhere.

Since he’s devoutly Jewish, I suppose I shouldn’t think of him at that table in Heaven with my Uncle Don, JFK and my Dad, but if he’s there, he’s sure to be telling some fun stories.

On December 20th he posted a photo of  a composite of the recent total lunar eclipse and tagged me as one of the phases. He died a week later. It’s comforting, somehow, to know he thought about me a week before he moved on.

(photos snagged from the Internet)

Standing Room Only

There was laughter. There were show tunes. There were jokes. There were stories.  There was a bagpiper. There even was a 7th inning stretch during which the audience of over 400 was asked to sing, “Take me Out to the Ballgame.”

And there were tears.

Bill addressing the ladies Burns' Supper 2008
Bill addressing the ladies Burns' Supper 2008

I thought I knew Bill Chin. I’d seen him many times at Alison and David’s  home. I knew him as a loving father who was active at the local elementary school when his kids were young. I’d heard stories about near mishaps and half-thought through ideas that always turned out fine, but caused a little light anxiety at first. I knew Bill as a listener and a questioner. I knew Bill as a physically strong man who could effortlessly lift his 18 year old daughter, Jessie, over his shoulder and carry her up stairs to watch videos with Laura. I knew Bill as Robin’s husband. As Lucy and Jessie’s father. As David and Alison’s friend. I more recently knew Bill as a dance instructor — his contribution to this year’s Burns’ Supper.

Last night as I stood in the aisle of the packed Imagination Stage auditorium I discovered that I didn’t know Bill Chin at all. I learned he was a St. Louis Cardinals fan. I learned that he was still active at ‘s school (also my son’s school). I learned that he was always helping people in need. I learned that he rarely took no for an answer. I learned that he grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. I learned that his parents owned a mom-and-pop store. I learned he was a twin. I learned he had 4 siblings. I learned that Bill packed an awful lot of living into his 52 years on Earth. I learned he was “larger than life”.

I talked to other people last night who said the same — they knew some things about Bill, but not everything. I regret that I was not more of a listener and questioner and had listened and asked Bill questions on the occasions we were together.

Last night it was obvious that Bill was loved by many — not just his family and friends, but by an entire community. A community that he was a huge part of. A community that I live in, but seclude myself from for reasons even I don’t understand.

Bill’s brother asked us, last night, to think about the words in the song from Wicked that was sung earlier in the service:

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good

There is nothing at all good about Bill Chin’s death. Nothing. But maybe I can make some changes in my life to make his death meaningful in a good way. Maybe I can be changed for the better because I knew Bill.

A year of goodbyes

In April it was Joan’s mom — suddenly and at home.

In May it was Jerry. He was a couple of years older than I am. He was on his way home from picking his daughter up from college — and luckily not driving.

In August it was Aunt Nancy — she’d suffered for years from lung cancer so the end might have been a blessing.

In October it was Dad.

In January it was Joe — our cat.

Last Friday it was Bill. I’m not sure of his age, but suspect he was younger than I am. I sat next to him two weekends ago at a Burns’ Supper and participated in a dance afterwards in which he was the leader. He carried his 19 year-old daughter who has CP up the stairs with what looked like no problem at all that evening. It was sudden and at home.

And the most disturbing part is — it’s going to get worse.

Mr Tuttle’s Orbit

Once a year when I was in elementary school our class would take a field trip to the local planetarium. We’d get to the planetarium on a school bus — a novelty for me since I was a “walker”. The bus would drop us off in front of the planetarium and we’d file into the domed white building. Inside the planetarium, it was cool and dimly lit, almost church-like. We were instructed to find a seat on one of the pew-like benches that encircled the large star projector. The backs of the benches were tilted to make it easy to lean back and look at the dome over our heads on which the projector would project the stars and planets.

Once seated, the planetarium teacher, Mr. Tuttle, would step up to the podium and welcome us to the planetarium. He’d slowly dim the lights and take us on an amazing journey that involved sunset, moonrise, constellations, planets, and an uncountable number of stars. For several years all I saw was a blur because I was nearsighted but had not gotten glasses yet. Once I got glasses, I was awed by the number of stars on the screen. The huge star projector seemed to move (perhaps it did) and sometimes I’d pretend it was a monster.

I don’t know that I ever talked to Mr. Tuttle when I was in grade school, but I vividly remember him and his lessons.  I did have the opportunity to talk to him when I was in high school. I’d signed up to walk for the “Hike for Hunger” in the early 1970’s with my best friend, Cindy. Her father was a teacher and a friend of Mr. Tuttle. Because of that connection, Mr. Tuttle walked with Cindy and me for most of the 25 miles that day. I felt honored beyond words that of all the other students in the crowd, he chose us to walk with.

moon and venus
The Moon and Venus

I never really got “into” astronomy and although I can name all the planets and a handful of constellations, I don’t know where they will be in the sky on any given evening. However, I love looking at the night sky. I get updates from Spaceweather.com telling me when something cool is going to happen in the sky and sometimes I remember to watch for it and when I stand outside looking up to the heavens I always think of Mr. Tuttle — even though I’ve known other planetarium directors, having taught elementary school.

A few days before I set off on my trip to Illinois I read on Facebook that Mr. Tuttle had died the previous Sunday and that a memorial service would be held for him the following Saturday. I wanted to go to the memorial service because it was for a man who I thought about several times a month.

I did go to the service and am glad I did. I discovered that he was more than a planetarium director. He was a loving father and husband, a musician, a maker of quilts and an active church member (of the church in which I was baptized).

I did not know, as a child, that Mr. Tuttle was religious. It never occurred to me to think about it. If I had thought about it — years later — I would probably have thought that since he was a scientist, he probably was not very involved in a church. Sitting in the church on Saturday during Mr. Tuttle’s memorial service, I was struck by how similar being in the planetarium was to being in a church. The benches were wooden pews. The atmosphere was serene. If I recall correctly, there was even a “pulpit” of sorts where Mr. Tuttle would stand and tell us about the stars.

Courier News Article

Daily Herald Article