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Misty Water-Colored Memories

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Today is Super Bowl Sunday. A big day in the Moore household growing up. From late August to January, football dominated the television on the weekends. College ball on Saturdays, pro ball on Sundays. I was more familiar with the likes of Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas than I was with any female athlete…until, of course, Olga Korbut in 1972. In order to get any attention from my father, I had to be athletic. I could play baseball, football, basketball and swim by the tender age of 12. I had two older brothers to compete against, so I had to try.

As the months have passed since my father’s death, I find many memories falling by the wayside. The acrimony, the fighting, the disagreements and the emotional misunderstandings, for now, have minimized. The memories of playing catch, watching football, talking about construction and the various moments when my father stood tall stand out. I didn’t realize that I’ve been missing this person for quite some time, even before his death. My dad, who I could call when times were tough, would listen and be supportive. Even when my ex was arrested, my father, who ordinarily wouldn’t miss an opportunity to hurl a criticism, was supportive of me, and even said, “I’m not gonna kick someone when they’re down.”

But Super Bowl….always a day I talked to my dad. If I wasn’t with him on Super Bowl Sunday, I called him many times. Football was one of the avenues we could walk side by side. We would scream and yell at the TV, my mom too…not screaming at her, but she was screaming too. It was fun watching the games with him. I miss my dad today more than I did on his birthday last week. It’s hard to watch football without hearing his voice…albeit swearing most likely. This game ran through his veins.

Today I had to venture into the City to drop off a kid at the bus. I passed out all my cameras to the others in the car and ordered them to take some good city shots. I don’t often get into town, so when I do, I like to be camera-ready. We passed by Third & Mission. Ellie mentioned that Eva worked right there near Moscone Center. I responded that I worked at that high-rise hotel next to the church, and your grandfather and his father worked right on this corner as well. History lesson.

To wander through the City on Super Bowl Sunday only exacerbated my father’s absence. We drove all the way on Geary from Downtown to the Beach. We hoped to grab burritos at Gordo’s, but parking is cursed on Sundays around noon. Took a slight bypass on Clement so I could swing by my grandmother’s place on 36th Avenue. Misty water-colored memories of enchanted Christmases long ago.

Great Highway was closed, so I chose to jump up to Sunset and drive to Sloat from there. Passed S.I. and all the memories of going to high school games with my dad…at Kezar. Even though I should have been embarrassed to go to those games with my dad, I don’t remember being that put out. I was just glad to go.

Today I am explaining some of the game to my youngest. She doesn’t remember football being a part of her life at all, she said she should watch football more often. That’s a good idea. But today is the last day of the season….we’ll have to catch up with the boys of autumn later this year.

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Be Still, and Know…

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Today’s devotion from Mrs. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert was wonderful. I mean, I was nearly weeping in the bath from its extraordinary beauty. She shares a quote from my Scottish brother in the Lord, George Matheson, who I happen to share a birthday with. I wish I could write like he did. Such beauty, cadence and meaning are captured in these words. As I read, I glanced up at the only wall hanging I have in the bathroom…a cheap wall decor from Ross, yet with these priceless words: Be Still, and Know.

One of my items on my bucket list would be to write a devotional. However, when Mrs. Cowman has already collected these kinds of entries, I doubt whether I have anything to add to her collections. So, here is January 15th’s devotion from Streams in the Desert. Enjoy!

“And the Lord appeared unto Isaac the same night.” (Gen. 26:24)

“Appeared the same night,” the night on which he went to Beer-sheba. Do you think this revelation was an accident? Do you think the time of it was an accident? Do you think it could have happened on any other night as well as this? If so, you are grievously mistaken. Why did it come to Isaac in the night on which he reached Beer-sheba? Because that was the night he reached rest. In his old locality, he had been tormented. There had been a whole series of petty quarrels about the possession of paltry wells. There are no worries like little worries, particularly if there is an accumulation of them. Isaac felt this. Even after the strife was past, the place retained a disagreeable association. He determined to leave. He sought a change of scene. He pitched his tent away from the place of former strife. That very night the revelation came. God spoke when there was no inward storm. He could not speak when the mind was fretted; His voice demands the silence of the soul. Only in the hush of the spirit could Isaac hear the garments of his God sweep by. His still night was his starry night.

My soul, hast thou pondered these words, “Be still, and know”? In the hour of perturbation, thou canst not hear the answer to thy prayers. How often has the answer seemed to come long after! The heart got no response in the moment of its crying – in its thunder, its earthquake, and its fire. But when the crying ceased, when the stillness fell, when thy hand desisted from knocking on the iron gate, when the interest of other lives broke the tragedy of thine own, then appeared the long-delayed reply. Thou must rest, O soul, if thou wouldst have thy heart’s desire. Still the beating of thy pulse of personal care. Hide thy tempest of individual trouble behind the altar of a common tribulation and, that same night, the Lord shall appear to thee. The rainbow shall span the place of the subsiding flood, and in thy stillness thou shalt hear the everlasting music.  — George Matheson

Tread in solitude thy pathway,
Quiet heart and undismayed.
Thou shalt know things strange, mysterious,
Which to thee no voice has said.

While the crowd of petty hustlers
Grasps at vain and paltry things,
Thou wilt see a great world rising
Where soft mystic music rings.

Leave the dusty road to others,
Spotless keep thy soul and bright,
As the radiant ocean’s surface
When the sun is taking flight.

(from the German of V. Schoffel)

 

 

Where, O Where Could Our Walgreen’s Be?

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Celebrating the tenth anniversary of my first publication in the Pacifica Tribune!

January 14, 2009

I recently returned to Pacifica after living in the East Bay for fifteen years. Many things remained the same, many things changed and many things were changing.

Mazzetti’s still makes the most delicious chocolate-slathered, custard or whipped cream filled eclairs. The air still has its lingering fish aroma, and the salty wind still blows fresh and fierce off the mighty Pacific.

Of the things that have changed: Seavue Theater is long gone, but not my memories of the Sunday matinees for a dollar where you saw not one, but two movies. Best way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The gas prices are no longer 76 cents a gallon, and the old Manor McDonald’s sign, the one indicating how many billions were served, is gone too. The Five and Dime where you could get a bag of popcorn for ten cents – gone. Sadly, these places that hold many fond memories have gone the way of many things from the 70’s.

However, the things that are changing are the most exciting to note: Manor McDonald’s built a whole new structure with a playground. (That’s not fair; it wasn’t there when I was a kid!) I considered it my sacred duty as a former employee to pay homage during its grand opening last August (2008). Safeway is reinventing itself, with a new Starbucks, no less.

Perhaps the most anticipated change is the construction of the Walgreen’s where Seavue Theaters used to be. In the East Bay, my kids and I would go to our neighborhood Walgreen’s every week after church. It was one of our weekly routines. All the clerks knew my kids, and it was walking distance from our house. So cool. So, when I saw the “Coming Soon – Walgreen’s” sign, I was certain I made the right choice to return to Pacifica. It was a sign! We love Walgreen’s.

However, now when I drive down to Manor, I feel I am being teased with the unfinished building. I had hoped it would be completed in time to do all my Christmas shopping like I used to do in our East Bay Walgreen’s. Alas, it was not to be. I long to peruse the weekly ad, and cash in on the specials. I can’t wait to get to know the sales clerks. Maybe, even, one of my kids will work there. But for now: When, O When will our Walgreen’s open?

 

A Sober Thanksgiving

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The blog below was written in 2013. Even five years later, there is much to be thankful for. Although this Thanksgiving is a somber one for me personally, and for our state due to the immeasurable trauma from the fires, there is some room for thanksgiving.

November 2013

Wow, Halloween came and went. October came and went. What a whisking whirlwind the beginning of fall was. I was driving up Skyline Drive just two nights ago….early November…and I saw a Christmas tree in someone’s window.  Whaaat?? Already. There is a special holiday that sometimes gets drowned between the ghosts and goblins, and the tinsel and trees. My mom is saddened that Thanksgiving is overlooked. Well, this next column is dedicated to the sentiment, the emotion, which has its own holiday, a sentiment that I hope my children cultivate, and an emotion that Henry Ward Beecher so delightfully expresses:

“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!”

I’ve strove to be grateful and appreciate all that has come my way. I know I take much for granted, but there is much for which I am deeply and truly grateful. Here are a few things.

Over five years ago, I had to go on assistance. This was a hard decision to make and I had to swallow a lot of pride, but it was necessary for me and my family. Actually, I should have done it much sooner. I want to say thank you to the taxpayers who support this government that provides this service to those who are in need.  I am slowly weaning myself off assistance and am glad to be working and paying taxes to replenish at least a fraction of what I used. Nonetheless, I am thankful to have had this resource available, and I thank the community for supporting this program.

I am thankful for the many friends I have in my life. To those who have given me emotional and prayer support as I raise these kids on my own, I thank you. My Facebook friends have encouraged me in my writing. Thank you. I am thankful to my family and all the help they have given me. And, of course, my ten children and one son-in-law. In countless ways, great and small, they bless me, they love me, they honor me and they are my greatest gifts.

Finally, and supremely, I am grateful to the God who is. I am grateful for his creation that I thoroughly enjoy. In Pacifica, we are beyond spoiled with natural beauty. The ocean with her perpetual pounding, peridot-colored waves is but an earthly example of an eternal entity. I am grateful to a church that has been entrusted with the Gospel, the good news, and its noble and transcendent themes: redemption, reconciliation, eternal life and love. All I can do is echo the psalmist’s declaration: “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Even in my trials and afflictions, I can be thankful, I stumbled on this verse from Psalm 119 during a dark time of my life: “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.” (v. 71) As difficult as it was to be thankful for the trials in my life, I have learned that those times have yielded the precious fruit of patience, trust and an increased faith.

I hope my children learn to be grateful and be thankful for all the benefits, as well as the difficulties, that come their way each day.

“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Epilogue…

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In the many birthday cards my parents have given me over the decades, my father would often write the chapter of life I was entering. On his birthday in January 2018, I wrote on my Facebook page, “Happy Birthday, Old Man…here’s to Chapter 86!” I feared it might be the last, … and it was. Hence, the title of this blog.

Years ago, my father asked me to write his obituary. No doubt we were fighting at the time, so I retorted strongly, “You don’t want me to write your obituary!” He smugly asked, “Why?” “Because I would tell the whole truth, and you’re not gonna like that.” And off we went into another argument.

Well, today, I’m gonna tell the truth, but not the whole truth…so, please help me…God. I am going to use some of his very own words to sum up the man.

When I was little, I looked up to him….literally, of course. I felt safe when he was home. I felt he could solve all our problems. I thought he was the smartest man I knew. Then I became a teenager…and my parents didn’t seem to know that much. It would be decades before I realized how much they did know, how much they suffered, how much they sacrificed….

I loved my father, I loved him when I hated him. For years, he was my rock. I knew he loved me unconditionally, despite his inability to express it. In my fifties, I came to realize my father was just a man, a man fraught with all the weaknesses of being human, and then some. Weaknesses I share with him. Did I love him less? No, in fact, my heart grew to love him more, even when I knew he would never change, even when things were very difficult. I can thank God’s grace for that.

I used to look askance at the Serenity Prayer, thinking it was kinda trite….well, in the nine years I lived with my parents, I came to cling to the words, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” God did indeed grant me his wonderful serenity. A serenity that enabled me to help in my dad’s final, difficult months, help with some compassionate patience (not all the time, mind you) and that also provided me with a wonderful, gracious final moment with him. “Until we meet again, Dad….”

The past couple years have been brutal. My father’s descent into dementia was exacerbated by his worsening COPD. The COPD is what did him in, but the dementia is where we lost him. One moment he was his rascally self, the next he was sickened with paranoia and anxiety…just wanting to go home. All of us, in a rousing, frustrated chorus for over a year, tried to reassure him, “You are home.” But, in his mind, he was not.

There’s only one story I’d like to tell. In the summer of 1983, I went to Belgium with a summer missionary group. As we all know…my father was not the “nice, quiet, peace-loving man” like John Wayne in “The Quiet Man”, a movie he loved. He was robust, loud, gregarious, pugnacious and often worried a great deal. Every family member can tell a story in which he helicoptered them, sometimes calling authorities to make sure they arrived at a destination and were all right. So, now, here I’m off to Europe. Pretty far away. I know he was a little nervous. So I wrote out a scripture verse for him with strict instructions to read it everyday, especially when he got worried.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”    –Philippians 4:6-7

I had a great time in Belgium even though the first month I received no letters from home. I wrote home expressing my homesickness….and the following card – a card which I treasure now, a card that I copied and gave to my dad on one of his recent birthdays – sums up the man, sums up the things he loved. A card that could almost be a self-written obituary, if you will. This is the Dad I miss even today.

7/14/83 – Thursday – 7:07 p.m.

Dear Donna:

I just got home from work and your letter dated 6/31/83 arrived today in the mail. I know how you feel, I was overseas for almost two years & you always look forward to mail from home. I was homesick the whole time I was overseas. I even sneaked home Christmas of 1952 for a few days. You will also learn that San Francisco is the most beautiful city in the world, the Russian River Area & the land of the Redwoods is the most beautiful countryside in the world. (proof on the reverse side of this card.) And always remember “There’s No Place Like Home.”

We all miss you, especially your Dad, please let us know about your travel schedule, i.e. dates, time & destinations. In other words, when are you coming home? Your city, your block, your house, your room, your bed keep echoing the refrain “When is the Jibser coming home?” I keep telling them, she ate someone’s big toe & then she split. (ha ha!!)

The weather here has been gorgeous, quite hot at the River, 100° plus & 80° right here on the Coast. I’m looking at the Pacific Ocean right now, right outside our window, its almost sunset here now. It’s going to be a lovely sunset.

Joe Hurley’s father-in-law, George McKeever, passed away Sunday, he went all thru College (St. Mary’s of course) with my Dad, they were very close friends. I went to the Funeral Mass yesterday morning. During the Offertory, the choir sang “Danny Boy” & at the conclusion of the Mass when they carried the casket to the outside of the church, the choir sang “The Bells of St. Mary’s”, very, very moving, even though old George was 93, he was the last of the “Old Gaels”.

Well, anyway, that’s about all for now, I will write soon again, everyone says hello & all miss you very much. Hurry home.

Love, Your Dad

P.S. I read the card every night!

You’re really home now, Dad. But, your city, your football field, your river, your wife, your kids, your grandkids, your great-grandkids and the many, many friends you’ve left behind all miss you; but with a somber gratitude, we know you have finally gotten home. May you rest in that peace that transcends all understanding. We’ll be along soon.

Thank you, Dad, for all you gave me and my children. You’ve given me a legacy which includes being Irish, a San Franciscan, a river rat, a Gael and a Moore as well as the rich construction legacy you inherited from your father that I now enjoy. I hope your legacy and your parents’ legacy will be carried on by my kids and my grandkids. Aloha…

Free Pizza* recorded a song in my dad’s memory:

“Goin’ Home”.

https://donnafentanes.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/goin-home1.mp3

*(John Moore, Eugene Fentanes and Audrey Maloney)

 

 

The Warmth of the Sun

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It’s one of my favorite Beach Boys songs. Like “In My Room”, it’s haunting melodies underscore the quintessential feeling and mood one feels while drinking in the congenial rays of a friendly sun. As autumn dawns, the warmth of the sun, when it does shine on the Northern California coast, especially in Indian Summer, is a truly invigorating, kind and soothing phenomenon. Unlike the brutal summer sun, as welcoming as it is after a cruel winter, it becomes unyielding and unbearable when it beats down into triple digits.

Today is the beginning of fall. Like my fellow fall-a-philes, we look forward to the shorter days which are bordered by crispy cold mornings and brisk evenings while filled with a warmth of the sun that beguiles the season. Autumn is “the season between summer and winter comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of September, October, and November or as reckoned astronomically extending from the September equinox to the December solstice,” or as we “poets” muse,  “a period of maturity or incipient decline”. While the days shorten, the year faces its end and the leaves fall and die; this season, and the warmth of its days, for some reason invigorates the soul and all its creative impulses.

The colors associated with this season construe earth, nature, home, if you will, at least to me. Browns beckon us to the dust from which we were formed. Burnt yellows and oranges warm our hearts like a small fire. Deep forest evergreens envy their deciduous cousins whose deaths make such a spectacular display.

It’s been a tough couple years, years fraught with demanding work, family discord, parental decline, loved ones’ depression and, sadly, death.  So much so I haven’t been able to appreciate the little rays of warmth that have shone through the storm clouds. But as I get older, I am learning to appreciate those very rays, those rays which are, indeed like photosynthesis, life giving.

My office is away from the main hub of activity where I work. I have to walk over to that office a couple times a day. Despite the cool summer we had on the Peninsula, many mornings the sun would shine in such a gentle fashion that I’d just look up and let the warmth of the sun wash over me.  Like the plant converts the sun’s energy into life, so the rays from the sun convert my sadness into joy,  my darkness into light and my pandemonium into peace. It’s amazing that this free resource of peace surround us daily.

I took a little trip up north for just a day. I needed to get away and stop – just stop – no activities but sitting on the pier, lounging in the river and soaking up the trees, the birds, the smells of by-gone days and, of course, the gentle end-of-summer sun. I told my niece I was enjoying the ministry of nature. The difficulty of the past few years reminds me of a story from Mrs. Cowman’s devotional, Springs in the Valley.

In the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trek. Coolies had been engaged from a tribe to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly and went far. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested. On inquiry as to the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.

This whirling rushing life which so many of us live does for us what that first march did for those poor jungle tribesmen. The difference: THEY KNEW what they needed to restore life’s balance; too often, WE DO NOT.   –July 11

One of the reasons why I like photography is that I can capture some of these free resources that surround me whether it is a spectacular Pacifica sunset, a cool morning by some “still waters”, a plucky stellar jay, Erin’s sunflowers or the last blackberries of the summer, to name a few. All these little things, like the warmth of the sun and the colors of autumn, help me sustain my life and perspective in a big way, and allow my soul to catch up with my body.

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Teen Times, Vol. II – Fortnite

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Fortnite, or correctly spelled: Fortnight. That deliciously English word which means a unit of time of two weeks; ergo, fourteen nights. No doubt my first acquaintance with this word was in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice: “I  honour your circumspection. A fortnight’s acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight.” I’d add to Jane’s observation, and wager to say that one cannot know what a man really is even by the end of a score or two.

Other English writers have toyed with this verbal antiquity.

“Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Dr. Johnson

And…

“I can’t see that she could have found anything nastier to say if she’d thought it out with both hands for a fortnight.” Dorothy Sayers

And even our friendly American humorist, Mark Twain, dropped an f-bomb…

We have been housekeeping a fortnight, now long enough to have learned how to pronounce the servants’ names, but not how to spell them.  We shan’t ever learn to spell them; they were invented in Hungary and Poland, and on paper they look like the alphabet out on a drunk.” 

I think my kids feel pretty smart now that they know the meaning of this interesting word, but they didn’t stumble upon this word from reading the classics or from their vocabulary lists or even chatting with their English buddies. No….they know what the real fortnight means because of the current bane of my existence: Fortnite, the Video Game.

The first indiction of the Fentanes Video Game Experience began harmlessly with Duck Hunt, but before I could even reload, we were running the hallowed hills of Halo,  partnering with the precious Pikachu in Pokemon, dodging desperadoes in Call of Duty, meticulously making maps in Minecraft, learning harmony and happiness in Harvest Moon, seriously slugging siblings while playing Super Smash Brothers,  liberating the princess as Link in The Legend of Zelda, and the winner of them all, spending hundreds of dollars for air time for the World of Warcraft. WOW, really? Video Games 1; Mom 0. Game over, Mom, acquiesces to video game reality.

Before the second indiction began not too long ago, video game playing had subsided to a few hours of Pokemon and Harvest Moon. But, recently, a new phenomenon took over my household: Fortnite. The only good thing about Fortnite is that it doesn’t cost any money, at least not my money. That’s all.

My son and I watched Psycho last weekend. Still don’t really like that movie, but you’ve got to hand it to Janet Leigh and her ability to produce blood-curdling screams. The selfsame screams are uttered by my daughter during Fortnite. You’d think she was being stabbed in the shower. I’ve watched them play, all they are doing is running and shooting up some people every once in awhile. I leave the room and then the blood-curdling screams begin, the frantic orders to comrades to “Watch out, watch out!!!” “He’s behind you.” Followed by more blood-curdling screams. To add to this mayhem, unnamed female offspring wears a headset, which causes her to amplify her responses to the game. Hence, mother stomping into the living room at 10:30 p.m., and yelling “quit screaming” which, of course, she does not hear because of said headset. I don’t know why the expression on my face doesn’t cause her to scream.

Fortnite is the latest craze of video games. I’ve about had it. About a fortnight ago, I ran into my upstairs neighbor. I’ve been meaning to apologize for the Psycho-like screaming, and wanted to reassure them that I was not harming anyone in anyway. The neighbor kindly responded, “No, I don’t hear anything. Do you hear us when we play Fortnite?” “No…, I don’t, the insulation must be good,” I bemused. “Thanks.”

In the three decades of my child-rearing experience, I have come to appreciate video games and the entertainment they provide my children. I remember fondly the years of Halo and Super Smash Brothers because those are the years all my kids were together as well as many of their friends. Video games were one of many things they had in common with their friends, friends they still have, one who has become a family member. Now that the aforementioned unnamed female offspring has been working for about a fortnight, we’ll see if she continues to give her time to this game.

I admit I have no halo as a mom, but my call of duty is to raise kids, and part of that responsibility is to pick the battles in this battlefield, a battle royale. I am happy to report that none has yet been arrested for grand theft auto or any other felony that I know of, and though the fallout has been minimal in permitting extensive video game playing, I am grateful they don’t overwatch them. I consider my kids to be in a league of legends, and hope someday, they will triumph in the trenches of life.