24th: Do not laugh too much or too loud in public.
I'm a proud
ALICE THRU THE LOOKING GLASS
16 September 2004
Walt and I were married in 1965. Walt's mother flew out here from Maryland to attend the wedding. A few months later she took a job in San Francisco and moved out here. (In the coming years she would be followed by both Walt's sister and his brother so that the whole family was now located on the west coast).
Since that original move, she has never lived more than 40 minutes away from us until today. Yesterday the movers packed up the rest of her stuff, she spent the night with us, and this morning she and Walt took off for Santa Barbara.
It was wonderful that she had a job that allowed her to relocate out here (she worked for the U.S. Department of Education). She was here when Jeri was born...
...and was able to enjoy watching all of the kids grow up.
By the time Paul was born, she had moved from her first apartment to a condo which was located, ironically, across the street from what would have been the location of my high school (but it had long since been torn down to make way for the fancy new Cathedral). The kids loved visiting Grandma because she always kept a plastic gumball machine filled with M&Ms that they could help themselves to. The machine has been empty for a long time, but we rescued it from her place in the moving process and Jeri will be keeping it--a rather strange family heirloom!
One memory I have of that condo is that we were all gathered together there when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Paul was nursing at the time!
Eventually she moved to Rossmoor, a "senior adult community" across the Bay from San Francisco. By that time, we had moved to Davis, and were still within that 40 minute drive space. We spent a lot of time visiting her in Rossmoor. The kids liked to climb the hill behind her tiny yard, or watch the deer grazing on the plants (the bane of everyone's existence, except people who didn't have to live with them). For many years, we would meet there on Mother's Day for a barbecue.
At some point during this time Alice also bought her condo at Lake Tahoe. Nobody has ever lived in the condo, but we have spent many happy Thanksgivings there, playing charades and laughing a lot. Alice always cooked the turkey; the rest of us filled in the other dishes, so no one person had an overload of work to do.
We celebrated her birthday each year--in 1989, we went to Sinbad's restaurant in San Francisco to celebrate her 76th.
Twelve years ago, she moved to a senior residence in the suburbs of Sacramento. She moved mostly to be near her daughter who, within the year, had been made an offer she couldn't refuse, and moved to Santa Barbara, 300 miles away. Still, Alice made a home at Eskaton Village and Walt took on the responsibility of being her support.
In 1993, we all got together and put on a surprise party for her 80th birthday (she knew we were having a barbecue; she didn't know we were asking any of her lifelong friends that we could find!)
A few years ago, she had an accident that began a constellation of problems which lasted well over a year and which is when she finally began to show her age. By the time she was pretty much back to normal again, her macular degeneration had begun to increase and now, at age 91, she is pretty much blind, with very little usable vision. Still her spirit is high and nothing is going to keep her down.
As I write this, she and Walt are on the road to her new home in Santa Barbara. It can't be easy to uproot at age 91 and establish yourself in a brand new community, especially when you are blind to boot. But she's done amazingly brave things throughout her life, and I think in the long run it's going to be a wonderful decision she has made. She'll have her daughter and Tom around, closer than we have been. I think it's going to be a very good decision for everyone.
NOTE: Good ol' Steve has set me up with a G-mail account, so I'm going to start using G-mail for personal e-mail and see how it works. I'm not going to link to it anywhere, like so many people are doing, so my new address will be basykes (at) gmail (dot) com. Send me an e-mail and let me check out how I like it!