August 6, 2000
10970 Lucky Oak Court Cupertino, CA 95014
Our summer of “three funerals and a wedding” is drawing to a close, and we are grateful to have a little bit of time and space to ourselves. What a year! Dick and I were both sick with the flu starting right before Christmas and lasting until nearly the end of January. Mother apparently had a stroke (we thought it was the flu, also) in late December, and her health deteriorated rather quickly from that point forward. Tim and Colette separated in February, and they are now in the process of getting a divorce. We moved Mother to a nursing home in March, and her health never recovered — she died on June 27 of congestive heart failure.
Miranda turned one and Matthew four.
There was a memorial service for Bill (who died in 1999) in Charlevoix, Michigan. Dick and I and Jill attended, and we also drove to the Port Huron area to scatter Mother’s and Dad’s ashes. I saw several of my beloved freighters and some of the Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race. I also got a chance to converse with a few good friends and close relatives.
Jill and Mike were married on July 29 in Fallen Leaf Lake (near Lake Tahoe, at Andi and Richard’s beautiful cabin), and they are in the process of selling most of their worldly goods (most of which are in Minnesota) and moving to Vancouver where Mike will take a 10-month photography course starting in September. We spent a wonderful week of vacation with all our immediate family.
All this plus the more mundane work-, home- and family-related happenings. Whew! We feel as though we have been through a lot so far this year, and It’s not over yet! Much of it was sad, but a lot was fun, and all of it was “profound.”
We are especially saddened by Mother’s death and are extremely grateful for all the phone calls, letters, and cards of support. As so many people have pointed out, she was a wonderful person and a real mater familias. I’d like to share with you something she wrote to my cousin Gretchen (Westman) Braswell that helps to express my own feelings about the fragility of a life and how swiftly it passes and becomes one again with the rest of the universe. Thanks, Gretchen, for keeping and sending it. Mom and Dad, your spirits are now and will always be with me in the rest of my own journey on this earth, but how I miss your real presence! Did I really know you for almost 60 years?!
The Pear Tree
Now, I have a memory I want to share with you, since you, too, have a pear tree you love! When I taught in Downey, California, there were ornamental pear trees on campus, and one just outside the window beside my desk. As I taught I would often look out at it. On this day, the leaves were all colored, but still attached. As my eyes fell on it, the wind swept up from below and lifted all the leaves, as though they had been on little hooks! Like a cloud of confetti, the leaves were suspended by the wind for a few seconds in the brilliant sunshine, and then, sigh, the hold was released and the leaves dropped. As they were caught up, it was so beautiful that I held my breath — expiring as the leaves dropped. I will never forget it. Just moments in time, but such beauty! I did so wish I could have all the kids in the class see it, but it was over before I could speak. Just the space of a caught breath.
Aunt Nettie, May 1993