Something Wistful This Way Comes

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Man, it’s a hot one…like seven inches from the midday sun…” Yeah, that’s the Bay Area these past few days. If I was on the coast like I was before I moved, I would bemoaning the heat and anxiously awaiting our lovely natural air conditioner. But I’m not. I’m in Concord. No hope for fog out here. Hang in there, Donna!!

Concord…not where I expected to end up. I knew a move was coming late last year, and I had hoped to move up north where I’ve been trying to relocate for decades, probably deep down since 1971 when my family moved from Santa Rosa. In 1993, my own family and I tried to get situated up by Windsor near a small church we wanted to minister with. But no such luck…no such opportunity, no door opened. Again in 2006, after my divorce, I wanted to take the profits from my East Bay home and buy a place in Santa Rosa. I put an offer on a little home (with lots of rooms), counter-offered even and still none of my offers were accepted. I ended up back on the Peninsula….not where I wanted, but definitely where Providence led. Definitely, Donna!! (See other blog – Positively Providential)

Finally, last winter knowing that my SSF job was ending in the spring, and, coincidentally (providentially if you will), my apartment lease was up at the same time, I became proactive for the first time in my life. I took the reins. All the kids got on board to move up to Santa Rosa. I knew a firm that I was SURE to get a position, a position with comparable pay. I was looking forward to returning to the quaint town I lived in as a young girl, all my fond memories of holidays, seasons, schooling and community are rooted in Santa Rosa. I was pretty happy that I was finally planning and doing things the “right” way. I even had my finances in place for this move.  Go Donna!!

However….it did not happen like I planned. I don’t know now…with three strikes against this desired move…if I will ever get up there. Let me tell you what did happen. I didn’t get the job nor the others I applied to and interviewed for. No job, no move. Only one promising job prospect came my way, and that was in Pittsburg. Pittsburg, really!!? I didn’t want to go to the East East Bay…I wanted to return to a place that had the elements of home to me. I wanted to be near the river, where I would feel close to my dad. But after all the Santa Rosa efforts failed, I just told the Lord, I will go where you lead. Yay, Donna!!

Once I yielded, things fell into place quite quickly and perfectly. The new job was available the day after my limited term position at SSF ended. An apartment was secured with ease. Ellie finished her course work right before our move, so she didn’t have to commute to Baden, and Eloisa was able to get into an independent study program to complete her freshman year at home. And away we went! Bye, Donna!!

We’ve been here for almost two months. I thank the Lord for the cooler weather we had through May, and I am so thankful for the crisp, cool air conditioning at my new job. I feel the Lord has welcomed me over here. My first day at work, I went into the break room only to be greeted with a coffee aroma, an aroma just like the one at my first construction job 40 years ago, a job I worked at with my dad. I’m sure it was just a plain pot of Folger’s, but it smelled like that old brand, Farmer Brothers. One of those deja vu olfactory experiences. Very cool, Donna!!

God knows I love bluebirds, and in Pacifica, I took lots of pictures of our Scrub Jays. Right before I moved, someone posted a pic of a Western Bluebird. I didn’t know there were any bluebirds over in this part of the state. So I looked them up and found that some were nearby in Antioch. One lunch I took a jaunt up to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Park camera in hand, and I wasn’t even in the parking lot, when, lo and behold, there’s a male Western Bluebird perched on a fence post just waiting for me to take his picture. Welcome, Donna, bienvenidos!!

Finally, something wistful this way comes…so, this morning. I’ve been taking public transit to work since we’re in between cars, and this morning I took the local bus from Concord Bart all the way to work, two buses, lots of stops. The AC on the bus was freezing and looking out through the bus’s tinted windows to a slightly overcast sky, I was somehow transported from being in late Spring to feeling like I was in late Fall. It was weird. And, then, all of a sudden, all those lovely, wistful sensations of my most pleasant memories, many of which come from Santa Rosa, splashed over me. As I enjoyed and bemused this very pleasant experience, I thought, maybe, maybe God is bringing me home, bringing me to a place where those feelings and sensations reminiscent of late ’60’s Santa Rosa can be cultivated or experienced over here. Maybe my home is forward not backward, maybe….something wistful this way comes. Maybe, Donna!!

“The belonging you seek is not behind you – it is ahead.” 

Maz to Rey, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

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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?