Epilogue…

River

In the many cards my parents have given me on my birthday, my father would often write the chapter of life I was entering. On his past birthday in January, 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. 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 his 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.” In his mind, though, 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 anxious.

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)

 

 

It Was A Dark and Stormy Time

cemetary

I am a late baby boomer, born at the tail end of that teeming generation. Growing up during the 60’s and 70’s, Halloween was always such a fun and safe holiday. That protective umbrella of childhood fostered an innocent enjoyment of ghosts and goblins. I remember going trick-or-treating in some store-bought costume. I remember spooky stories, I even wrote some. However, in 1973, the stories didn’t give me that thrilling fear I’d usually enjoy instead, the fear of real life crept into my waning childhood. My friend Vicky suggested a Halloween column that describes the real terror we faced that year in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Halloween was very scary in 1973. Life was scary. The war in Vietnam had finally come to an end; but, unfortunately, the warfare just moved to the hearing rooms in Washington. The storms created by Watergate would ultimately remove a sitting President, but there were terrors close enough to home to transform my Halloween experience from a childhood past time to a glimpse into the scary world of real life. The umbrella of childhood was closing.

On Halloween in 1973, the headline ink was still wet describing the random murders of what would be called the Zebra killings. I had to bus to school from Daly City and was frightened every time I went to the City. These events also reignited the chronic terror of the Zodiac killer. San Francisco was a scary place. The world was a scary place. The borders of my world were expanding, and the new territory was dark and frightful.

It was this Halloween that my sister found a razor blade in her Three Musketeers bar. It was this Halloween that I limited my trick-or-treating to just up and down the base of Skyline Drive. And it was this Halloween that would be my last. My childhood ended that year, I suppose that is about the time it does. Fourteen. No coincidence I was reading Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked Way This Way Comes that first semester at Mercy. Bradbury writes: “And that was the October week they grew up overnight, and were never so young any more…” For Will and Jim, on the eve of their fourteenth birthday, their experience with the traveling carnival changed their lives forever, and closed the door to their innocence and childhood.

So in the fall of 1973, the dark cloud of the world’s wickedness blew across our city so it seemed to me. The next year the Patty Hearst drama would begin. The decade would close with two traumatizing events: the death of Leo Ryan and the Jonestown massacre to be followed by the brutal assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk. I will never forget those events, never forget that our world is not a safe place.

Were times tougher then? No, we have our horrors now. And even as I put my feet into my parents’ shoes, they had their horrors. My mother watching the bombs dropping and the smoke rising from Pearl Harbor and my father watching his brother leave for Europe during that world-wide conflict. As I look back over the pages of history, times were always tough. But our childhoods, for the most part, certainly not for everyone, provided a little insulation from this cruel world. It’s nice to have had an innocent childhood, but if we’re to grow up, we must acknowledge that the world is a dark and stormy place.

San Francisco’s Mariners

mariner-logo

The signs are up. Pacifica Tigersharks, Daly City Titans and Redwood City’s Jr. 49ers are among the many I’ve seen lately. Pop Warner Football and Cheer will be kicking off another season. Soon it will be time to suit up and hit the field. Yet, when I think of Pop Warner Football, I don’t move down the field with the current lineup; no, I spiral back to a past season, a season when I was the young daughter of a Pop Warner Football coach.

My father, Bob Moore, along with John Shea and San Francisco Police Department’s Steve Spelman assembled the first Mariners team over 50 years ago in the fall of 1961. Spelman was coaching PAL’s Happy Hibernian Warriors at Douglas Park while my dad and John Shea were coaching Park and Rec’s flag football teams at South Sunset Park. Together, along with Sully Cassou, they created a football machine that equipped, trained and prepared a generation of young men for high school, college and even professional ball playing.

Initially they played down at 26th and Vicente and then moved to SFPD’s Taraval Station whose garage served as their locker room. They practiced across the street at McCoppin Square and played their home games at Lincoln High’s football field. The turnout was so great that eventually the Mariners formed two minor teams, the Mariner Mates and the Mariner Seaweeds for the younger boys.

For the next fifteen years, the Mariners contended for the top spot in the league’s standings. Joe MacKenzie remarked that the 1964 Mariner team was one of the best he’d seen; he even remembered my father shouting instructions through his green and white Mariner bullhorn. In 1966, the Mariners lost the championship to the San Francisco Steelers. But in 1968, they took all the wins. According to Tom MacKenzie, assistant coach at the time, “the Mariners won the San Francisco City Championship at the Junior Bantam level. They beat the San Ramon Thunderbirds 14-0 in the Joe Lacy Memorial Bowl.” As head coach, MacKenzie outfitted two strong teams in 1970 and 1971. At the year-end banquet, guest speaker 49er Charlie Krueger admired the 1971 Mariner record.

Many of the players went on to help coach the Mates and/or the Mariners. Many Mariner coaches, like John Shea and Tom MacKenzie, went on to coaching careers; but most of these men, Hank Espinal, Jack Olson, Merle Peacock, Larry Kaaha, Dick Galliani, and a host of others, were regular businessmen, construction workers and policemen. Bill Morgan and his family were folks we visited on our Sunday afternoon drives; both his sons, Jack and Craig, were Mariners.

Despite the tumultuous societal and political storms of these fifteen years, especially in San Francisco, these men quietly gave of their free time and their talent. The motto from many of the Mariners’ programs was “A man never stands so tall as when he stoops to help a boy.” These men stood very tall helping a generation of young men understand that the rules on the field can easily be translated to the game of life. Hard work, teamwork, respect and good sportsmanship are qualities that can be applicable in any endeavor.

By 1976, the Mariners organization had folded. The lockers were cleared out of Taraval Station’s garage, the green and white jackets and the Mariner memorabilia found their way to many Sunset District attics. As a native San Franciscan, the trinkets in my mental treasure chest include memories of the rickety bridge at Playland, ice cream at Polly Ann’s, A.P. Giannini’s insurmountable chain link fence, the long walk up 40th Avenue to Holy Name, and— that green and white Mariner bullhorn.

I would like to thank my dad, John Shea, Mrs. Joan Spelman, Bob Mahoney, Rob Helmstreit, Tom MacKenzie, Joe MacKenzie and Joe Hession for their contributions.

Mariners coachesSF Mariners Pop Warner football team coaches. Sully Cassou standing second from right. Steve Spelman kneeling second from left with Bob Moore and John Shea on his left.

“More Blazin’ Basketball”

5th Grade Blazers

Back row: (l to r) Coach Marcus Marcic, Ava Marcic, Katarina Duguay, Ellie Fentanes, Sydney Gallant, Coach Brian Arenson. Front row: )l to r) Helen Eichensehr, Emma Bradshaw, Audrey Beaumont-Bent, Maya McKinney.

Last year, Good Shepherd fielded two fourth grade girls Catholic Youth Organization basketball teams. Each team won its respective division title. This year, there was only one fifth grade team; it moved up to Division I competition.

Faced with unfamiliar teams, the Blazers went to work and won seven out of their eight games. Their loss to St. John’s early in the season proved to consolidate the team, and they worked harder, winning the remaining games and taking a win in the semi-finals. The Blazers went against St. John’s Eagles for the championship.

The Blazers were the obvious underdogs facing a strong St. John team again. After their semi-final victory and in light of St. John’s trouncing of their semi-final opponent, Coach Marcus Marcic planned his attack. Equipped with knowledge of the Eagles’ offense, he sought to bolster up the Blazers’ defensive strategy. The Eagle annihilated their semi-final opponent scoring 40 points, with the Eagles’ top contributor scoring a whopping 26 points. If the Blazers had any chance at winning, they needed to shut down the Eagles’ scoring leader.

The Blazers had some extended practices the week before the big game. They were ready to go on May 18 to work their hardest to win a Division I title.

The game was a slug fest from the get-go. There were turnovers, fouls, points lost and points made. The girls hustled back and forth, Blazers would take the lead, but the Eagles would fly ahead. It was a white knuckle ride for each six minute quarter. In the end, the Eagles prevailed 25-22.

The Blazers successfully shut down the Eagle‘s top scorer and held her to only a few baskets. Coach Marcic commented to the Eagles’ team when his team received their second place trophy, “I look forward to the battles that are to come playing (the Eagles) through the eighth grade.”

“This Good Shepherd team earned the right to remain in Division I,” Marcic added, “In their first year playing Division I, the girls more than exceeded expectations. They performed week-in and week out, and relied on each other to battle all season. Each and every player contributed at critical moments to help win games for the Blazers. It was a great season and I look forward to playing an even tougher group next year in sixth Grade.”

— Donna Fentanes

 

THE BALCLUTHA

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Once upon a midday dreary, I dropped my daughter in the livery, for a trip on a ship.
The Balclutha!

Eager her mates were to greet her, a quick pic for me they rendered, before the trip to the ship.
The Balclutha!!

Dashed they down to the dock, where they assembled lock and stock, for the trip on the ship.
The Balclutha!

From bow to stern, and hull to mast, the little crew stood aghast. At the barque known as
the Balclutha!

Gently moored at Hyde Street’s door, this tall ship remains ashore. The adventures locked forevermore on
the Balclutha.

Ten and four score minutes was the shift for the novitiates. That night on the barque.
The Balclutha!

No squall, no storm, no gale, no gusts, just the gentle lapping at the husks was the shift upon the barque.
The Balclutha!

Silence broken by barking seals and Ghirardelli blinking very near were the highlights of the trip upon the ship.
The Balclutha!

Now, the crew has dispersed, but they remain fully immersed in the memory of the trip. On the ship.
The Balclutha!

About my blog: I am a mom of 10 kids living in Pacifica. The name of my blog, “From the Shoe”, is swiped from Cheaper By The Dozen’s Lillian Gilbreth’s summer newsletter. The “shoe” reference is to the children’s’ nursery rhyme. I mix humor and philosophical musings with everyday events. I hope you like it. From the Shoe artwork by Alec Maloney.

Kinda Irish

IMoore Emblem

I’m kinda Irish. Actually, I’m half Irish, but it’s old Irish blood that runs through my veins, and I’d like to think there’s still a “lilt of Irish laughter” in me. On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone feels kinda Irish. It’s a happy day that celebrates the beauty of an old culture. Of course, we all know that St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish, but he has become the patron saint of the Emerald Isle for his missionary work nearly two millennia ago. Everyone wants to be an Irishman on St. Paddy’s Day. Well, there are some Irish folks that I want to be like.

Every summer, my family went to the Russian River like a lot of San Francisco families did. One of those families was the Murphy’s. I knew Tom Murphy. He always drove by the pier in his totally cool green boat and would wave. I liked how it matched his red hair. Tom was a nice guy, a good guy, solid. I met his sister in my sophomore year at Mercy, she was a year behind me. Ann Marie – I can still remember clearly – was always laughing, smiling and telling jokes. You couldn’t be in her presence long without cracking a smile and heaving a laugh. I didn’t know then that an illness ran in the family, a devastating illness to which both Tom and Ann Marie would succumb. Surely, a mother’s hell.

Some years ago, I was reading the Irish Comics — the obituaries — and came across Mrs. Murphy’s obituary. The obituary writer summed up the character of this amazing woman.  She was “a woman of faith, patience, endurance and grace, she faced head on the heavy onslaughts that nature threw against her and she stood up with courage and hope and without complaint.” What a eulogy, what a legacy! In the midst of my own troubles, none worthy to compare to her sorrows, I was encouraged, if she could endure “with courage and hope” all that she lived through, so could I. I was strengthened to go on “without complaint”. I am still working on that one. She exemplifies the kinda Irish I want to be like, and the kinda Christian I’d like to become.

I know some other Irish folks — the kinda Irish I want to look like. I first met the Carlins when I was a wee lassie, probably up at the River as well. I envied their twinkling blue eyes, beautiful wavy auburn hair and chronic joy. According to Mrs. Carlin, Mr. Carlin was a “hundred-percenter,” meaning both parents were all Irish. He reminded me of James Cagney – not “Public Enemy” Cagney or “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” Cagney — but the charming “Yankee Doodle Dandy” Cagney. Decades ago, I spent a couple days with this family, one of my first outings alone. “American Pie” played non-stop on the radio Helen kept on all night. I took that habit home, much to the consternation of my sister. Helen and her sister walked me all around from West Portal to Stonestown.

Often when I take the kids on a drive through the City, I drive by St. Cecilia’s. I tell them that’s where their grandfather went to school. I drive pass the Carlin’s house, but can never remember which one was theirs. I hoped to see one of them in front yard. No such Irish luck — well, not until a Sunday in 2013.

My daughter had a CYO game at St. Cecilia’s. She had gone ahead with a friend, and her sister and I were meeting her there. Impatient to get to the game on time and not wanting to get stuck turning left at Sloat, I drove straight and took West Portal to Vicente and happened to drive on the Carlin’s block. As I passed, I saw a figure stooped over the little garden in the front yard. It was Mr. Carlin. Yay!

“I’m gonna drop you off, I’ve got to visit someone.” I said to my older daughter and dumped her at the St. Cecilia’s parking lot, “I’ll be right back.” I was so excited to see Mr. Carlin. By the time I got there, he was no longer in the front yard, but the garage door was still open. I illegally parked across the street and skipped over to his open door. “Hello…, Mr. Carlin,” as I knocked on the door frame. He got up and was happy to visit. I wasn’t sure if he remembered me, but he remembered my father. I told him I had always wanted to stop by and say hello, but forgot which house was his. He said I was always welcome, told me the number and to come by again. After our little chat, I told him I beat him and had ten kids…then he remembered, “Yes, your dad told me about that.” His beautiful blue eyes still sparkled as he smiled. I hopped back in the car, very happy and went to the game.

No big deal, huh? That little visit blessed me so much. I had hoped for so long to say hello to this old family friend, and I got the opportunity. I’m sure he was as blessed as I was. Everyday we have opportunities to say hello to someone or smile at someone, even if it’s the Burger King guy who is just trying to get the order right. Those little things are blessings that we can be a part of. It doesn’t take much, folks, to lighten another’s load or warm another’s heart. “You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while.”

So this St. Patrick’s Day, I am gonna roast me a leg o’ lamb — I don’t do corned beef and cabbage — listen to some Christy Moore and Ronan Tynan, and top it off by watching “The Quiet Man”. I will also remember the kinda Irish I admire, Mrs. Murphy and her strength of character and Mr. Carlin and his smiling Irish eyes. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, folks!!