birthdays


I’m especially glad to have my mom present for her birthday today. We came close to losing her twice in the last year–scary, painful experiences, but quite clarifying. It can be difficult to know what someone means to you without experiences like that. The best way I can think to say what I learned in the last year about my mom is that she is the heart and soul of my family and that when she does eventually die, the world she’ll leave us with will be more sad and empty, less rich and inspiring than the world we get to enjoy today.

So today I’m celebrating my mom and her 66 years.

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Mom, after Christmas 2014, with Christina & Julian

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Mom, after Thanksgiving 2014, also with Christina & Julian

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Mom in 1951, with her brother Don.

 

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I’ve written very little about my wife, Reanna. She prefers to stay out of the public eye, for the most part. But she’s been blogging more lately, and it’s her birthday today, and I’m feeling optimistic about getting away with it:

I am so lucky to have married Reanna! I’ve always been a lucky man, but she takes it over the top. I am certainly going to  have a bigger, happier, prettier, more interesting, more connected life because of her. And when my eventual death occurs to me, I feel noticeably calmer about it.

I get to hang out and talk with Reanna every day. She’s super fun to talk with because she’s so smart. It’s not just that she grasps and manipulates concepts and models so easily, it’s that she’s hungry for them and tenacious with them, working and talking through them until she’s made them her own. I love it!

And I love how physical she is. She inhabits her body fully. I’m so lucky to get to watch her swimming, dancing, stretching, smiling, to feel her confident touch.

I love how she is compulsively honest. I love how she thinks about her friends and family. I love her family and feel so lucky to have them as my family. I love that she makes quilts and tailors my clothes. I love that she likes gardening and loves cacti.

I love how she inspires me. I think of her as my audience when I write. Hers is the voice of my internal devil’s advocate. I take on projects I never would have because of her–our trailer renovation is a good example. We’re planning to write books and blogs together, have a family of our own, and who knows what else?

Best of all, with my family’s genetics I very well may get to live 50 or more years with Reanna. Lucky!

I’ve known Maya since my first session of Not Back to School Camp in 1999. It was her last year as a camper and I had the good fortune to be able to be heading in the same direction as her after camp. We drove to California together and exchanged life stories. She charmed me with her friendliness and her feistiness. When I asked her why she had purple hair, she said, “I like the way it makes people smile.”

My good fortune has continued. I am so grateful to have made a lifelong friend in Maya, that she married my brother Damian, that she has chosen to live near my family in Joshua Tree, that she created my first nephew, Oliver, and that she has made herself such a strong, kind, smart, beautiful woman.

Happy birthday, Maya! I love you.

Maya, with Ollie on his Birthday, 2012

Maya, Ollie, Damian, 2012

My Grandpa Bob turns 93 today. I feel so lucky to get to live with him and interact with him every day–he lives most of the year in a trailer on my parents’ property in Joshua Tree, so we’re neighbors right now.

Grandpa Bob is one of my best role models, and his current living situation reminds me of how he inspires me the most. Instead of focusing on his own material security, for the past 45 years he traveled around the country, helping our his friends and family wherever he went. Whenever Grandpa Bob showed up, you knew that things were going to get done. He’d tune your piano, help build your house or shed or boat, dig a septic, whatever. He would enthusiastically join in or start projects. And when the work was all done, he’d always have good conversation about some topic he was delving into, usually from the fringes of human thought.

The result of this lifestyle is that now, when his memory and mobility are keeping him from being as helpful and active, he has built up so much goodwill that he has a lot of options in his old age. He lives with us in the winters and with our cousins in Idaho in the summers, but I imagine he could live with any number of friends and family around the country who would gladly take him in. He didn’t worry about money. He just built community. And that is a good model for living, in my opinion.

Here’s Grandpa Bob (who actually flew biplanes) with my brother Ely, about to fly model airplanes–both of their favorite activity:

Ely, Grandpa Bob at Sunburst Park, December 29, 2011

It is my dad’s birthday today and I was lucky enough to spend it with him in Joshua Tree. One of the nice things about growing up is that I get to appreciate my parents more and more. Today I have been thinking about some things that I appreciate about my dad.

I appreciate having always had such a solid masculine presence in my life. My dad figured out a way to work from home. This was partly, I think, because he could never tolerate having a boss, but it was also so he could be near me, my brothers, and my mom while he made our living. Unlike so many other kids, I got to see what my dad did for work. I could hang out with him while he worked. I watched him be creative, flexible, intelligent, persistent, and diligent. I watched him charm his clients. I saw him take his work seriously. And he was available. It has been rare in my life to not be able to talk with my dad whenever I needed support.

On top of that, he is very affectionate, fun, funny, and he is a great dancer. I love him very much. Happy birthday, Dad!

With My Dad, 1974

 

With My Dad, June 13, 2011