Thursday, March 27, 2008

3 Cities and a Funeral

We’ve been gone for 11 days, flying first to Oakland, California, then Portland, Oregon, then back to Philly, then hopping in the car to drive to Syracuse. I’m thrilled to be a)back in our quiet house in Narberth, b)writing again, c)not having to drive or fly anywhere for the foreseeable future. Before moving forward, allow me to recap our trip.

Part 1 – Sophia

I love the Bay Area, and have logged a lot of time there over the years. Every time we visit I fantasize about moving there. About waking up every morning to the sun shining on the Bay, surrounded by calla lilies and birds of paradise. California has always been magical to me, first in my imagination, and then in reality. It was where I met my husband, and is closer to my ideal in temperament, temperature, and philosophy than the East Coast has ever been. Is it my spiritual home? The fact I would even think or write that sentence may answer that question.

But the highlight of this trip was my niece Sophia. She is 11 months old, and we have that instant chemistry that is so rare in human relationships. For whatever reason, we instantly understood each other. Love at first sight. Her little face made me smile every time I saw it. Above is a picture so you can understand what I mean. I didn’t know someone could be goofy at 11 months, but she is. What a ham. She’ll do anything for a laugh. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why we understand each other...

Part 2 – Suzy and Barry

Suzy and Barry are my dear friends from college. Suzy was my roommate, and Barry was her boyfriend, (now husband). Suzy and I also had that rare, love at first sight experience. We used to speculate if we hadn’t randomly been assigned as roommates freshmen year if we would have found each other and been friends. The answer, of course, is yes.

Suz and Bar saw me through one of the roughest times of my life. I hope everyone is so lucky to have friends who can just be there, at your ugliest, neediest, saddest, most pathetic moments, without pity or forced cheer. What an amazing gift. Thankfully, that period of darkness is long behind me, but these amazing friends are still in my life.

In a weird cosmic twist, at the same time I was leaving my law career and embarking on this writing journey, Suz and Bar were making some drastic changes of their own, leaving New York after thirteen years, changing careers, and moving to Portland, Oregon. It was great to see them in their new environment, to see the changes and to know that whatever changes life has in store, we can always reconnect, using humor as our home base. And food, of course. Who knew they had such amazing barbeque in Portland, Oregon? Suzy and Barry deny that played a role in choosing Portland, but come on, guys, I know better.

Part 3 – Gramps

My husband’s grandfather died while we were on vacation. What to say about Gramps? He was father to 12 children, grandfather to 41, great-grandfather to 26. Yes, those numbers are correct. I am honored to be one of the spouses who married into his tribe. He attended daily mass at his beloved parish church, Most Holy Rosary, and I’m told he especially loved the stained-glass windows. During the funeral mass, the sun broke through the clouds, illuminating the window with words from the Hail Mary, and I knew that Gramps was still with us.

My favorite thing about Gramps was his wit. He left behind hundreds of jokes, one-liners and stories. My favorite recent example was from just last week, lying on his deathbed, apparently unconscious. He woke up, looked at his daughter and asked if any mail had come. She asked if he was waiting for something. He said, “Yeah, I want my check from George Bush.”

God bless you, Gramps. Thank God you passed your humor on to your children and grandchildren, and apparently, the lovely Sophia. His legacy of laughter, love, and family will live on and on.


sulu-design said...

We were so glad to be part of your whirlwind tour and hope that you'll be back soon. We'll dangle brisket on a stick to get you here again if we have to!

Cecily said...

That little girl is quite the cutie! Sounds like quite the trip. Glad you're home; it was good to see you today!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being here for our Easter funeral/reserection. The love in our house was a great comfort. grandma

Historical Geek said...

Well done! I wrote a reflection on our trip for my students, but it wasn't as succinct and touching as your entry. Thank you for sharing. What a surreal trip! I ponder a new life in California at times. Maybe when they invent super fast jets that don't pollute the environment.


Kara said...

So sorry to hear about Carl's grandpa. But what a beautiful tribute. If I go before you, Jule, youre in charge of my eulogy. Perhaps a nice Hiaku.

disa said...


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