The Flower Fades

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Daffodils have been abloom in Pacifica this past month. I love this flower — it is so delightful, so innocent, so cheerful, yet, sadly, so short-lived. At the end of January, the green shoots are standing tall. I was excited to see them. I knew the flowers were coming. Seemingly, overnight, the blossoms bloomed. There they were, in their yellow glory. But, now, the stalks are leaning and the flowers are beginning to fade.

Isaiah writes, “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades…” Daffodils as well as all flowers represent the brevity of life. I remember the lives that have faded from my life, and one life, especially, that was cut off before it was fully abloom.

As you know, my dad died four months ago. The hardest death I’ve experienced. Everyday, I think of him…and the ache…the sense of loss…the sadness overwhelms me. He was no daffodil, he was like, as my niece Katie described, the redwoods he loved. He lived a long life, his flower never faded, but the tree was struck down by the Great Inevitable; and the subsequent loss has shook our family like no other event. His presence will be missed, his voice, though many times formidable, is sought for…many changes are going on in my life right now, changes I’d normally ask his advice on. He was the one I turned to for stability, for wisdom, for continuity. The strong pier I latched my little barque to. And now it’s flooding, and the pier is gone. Thankfully my Heavenly Father provides an eternal mooring.

My uncle died six years ago. He lived a full and active life. His bloom lasted as long as one would expect. He was a teacher who was a perpetual student. His home was filled with thousands of books, a haven for a bookworm like me. His homes were the places where I fell in love with books, and for that I will always be thankful and blessed. He traveled, he entertained, and he only slowed down a month before his blossom faded.

My friend’s fiancé died six years ago as well. I didn’t know him very well, but I know my friend, and in many ways I knew him because of the reflection of his life in hers. He brought her so much joy and happiness and through her happiness, I could tell he was a great man, a beautiful flower — a flower that sadly faded too soon. A bloom that is painfully missed to this day.

Finally, this day seven years ago, my family and I (and many others I know) remember a flower that didn’t have the time to fully bloom or ever fade. He died at 22 just reaching the full, vibrant bloom of youth. He was a beloved son to his mother as well as other women, including me. He was a beloved brother to all my children, all ten of them. Many of them mentioned that Jesse was the only one that knew them. He was like that – he noticed you and he listened to you.

I was an overprotective homeschooling mom in the middle of a divorce when this kid came bounding down the stairs with my boys into my home. I smelled trouble. So I was apprehensive — but this kid’s irrepressible charm and contagious smile won me over. At a time in my life when I felt not only invisible, but defeated, dejected and definitely down in the dumps (I was progressing in my housekeeping, though), Jesse noticed me too, he even called me “sexy” when I felt and I am sure looked quite the opposite. I am still amazed at the capacity and depth of love that not only my children, but their friends felt for this young man. And to this day…we miss our Jesse, our “Jelly Donut”.

Leo Buscaglia wrote: “What love we’ve given, we’ll have forever. What love we fail to give, will be lost for all eternity.” We who loved Jesse, Robert, Uncle Bill and Dad will always have that. This life is so short….the blossoms bloom for a short time, then the flowers fade, let us heed the psalmist’s admonition: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Wisdom that will cherish our brief stay here on earth, and those who are among us. 

The daffodils and the Scriptures agree.

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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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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?