Down Memory Lane

Last week I had occasion to visit the neighborhood where I grew up in Santa Venetia, also derogatorily known as Scabo. I’m not sure what that stands for but since it’s an ugly word, I’m guessing it wasn’t known as the most desirable place to live. But I beg to differ.

Santa Venetia

Kids don’t know they don’t live in a mansion. I certainly didn’t. We had 4 bedrooms that weren’t much bigger than some large walk-in closets and closets not much wider than a refrigerator. Now don’t get me wrong; I didn’t care one bit. I had what I needed and that was enough.

our house

Our little house

To me, our Doughboy Pool was the bomb (better known as groovy back then). Other neighborhood dads helped my dad install it. That’s how it was; neighbors helping neighbors. On summer afternoons, being in that pool or playing ping pong on the patio were my favorite places to be.

me in pool

Even as a teen, still in the pool

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Why I Almost Killed My Sister

I almost killed my sister on my birthday.

say it isn't so

Now don’t get me wrong; I realize it’s shocking to lead with that, especially since this is supposed to be a humor blog and death isn’t funny. Spoiler alert: there will be a happy ending. Sort of.

It started 3 days before my birthday when I called Vicki to see whether her doctor contacted her with test results from the previous week. At 64, she’s lived most of her life with debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder, is developmentally and physically disabled and now has a muscle condition forcing her to use a walker. Life has not been particularly kind to Vicki.

Bill, Vicki me at Tahoe

Me, brother Bill and Vicki at Tahoe circa 1960

Vicki sleeps late and doesn’t have a cell phone or computer. I can only contact her via her home phone. She often can’t reach it before it goes to voicemail so I leave a message and hope she calls me back. But this time she didn’t. I figured she’s probably out getting dinner and will call me later. But no. Continue reading

In My Mind’s Eye: Remembering Dad

Here’s my annual Father’s Day post, adapted from an article I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle in 1997. Here’s to you Dad…There’s an image I have captured in my mind. I’m in my car in front of the home my parents have shared for most of their 45 married years. Mom and Dad are standing on the front porch.

From the street, I can see the huge eucalyptus tree in their backyard, silhouetted against the evening sky. It’s gently swaying in the warm breeze while the full moon illuminates the manicured lawn. My parents are smiling and waving as I drive away after a visit.

Mom lives alone now that Dad is in an Alzheimer’s nursing facility, so that scenario has changed. But it never does in my mind. My parents always stood on the porch to wave good-bye when I left. Even in pouring rain, they still stood in the open doorway together. I always looked back and returned their waves. Continue reading

The Sweetest Gift

Here is my annual tribute to my mom, my best friend and the greatest lady I’ve ever known. How lucky was I? Happy Mother’s Day!

My mom, Loretta Rose, with Bailey

She gave me love as well as life; so whatever goodness I may bring to Earth began with the gift of my mother’s heart……Robert Sexton

At some point in our relationship, my mom transitioned from being my parent to also being a great friend. I’d say it happened in 1985, when she was diagnosed with incurable, inoperable lung cancer.

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In My Mind’s Eye: Remembering Dad

Here’s my annual Father’s Day post, adapted from an article I wrote in 1997 for the San Francisco Chronicle about the relationship I shared with my dad. Here’s to fathers everywhere…There’s an image I have captured in my mind. I’m in my car in front of the home my parents have shared for most of their 45 married years. Mom and Dad are standing on the front porch.

From the street, I can see the huge eucalyptus tree in their backyard, silhouetted against the evening sky. It’s gently swaying in the warm breeze while the full moon illuminates the manicured lawn. My parents are smiling and waving as I drive away after a visit.

Mom lives alone now that Dad is in an Alzheimer’s nursing facility, so that scenario has changed. But it never does in my mind. My parents always stood on the porch to wave good-bye when I left. Even in pouring rain, they still stood in the open doorway together. I always looked back and returned their waves. Continue reading