But, here is a post anyway. Sorry about the no pics. I did get pictures of Luther Burbank gardens, Julliard Park, and my very first apartment in Santa Rosa. Those will all be posted as soon as I can get Hijo Segundo to send the cord to me.
So, without further lame excuses, here is the first, very long, very melancholy, California post.
I landed in California on the afternoon of June 26th. It was a warm, sunny day by New York state standards; cool and partly cloudy by those of the California crowd. My sister, my best friend, greeted me at San Francisco International with a huge smile on her beautiful face and a hug for me. As soon as my bag was retrieved, we set out for the North Bay area – Sonoma County.
The trip north was like a trip back in time. The heady scent of my childhood home, a mixture of eucalyptus and redwoods, fennel and dill, was like wine to my senses. Calming and invigorating all at once.
San Francisco was just as I remembered. A dichotomy of past and present. The pastels of the old Victorian homes clinging to the hillsides, the peace signs and psychedelic art of the 60s revived on store fronts and walls, and the chrome and gloss of the current era, all melded together to form the city.
We reach the Golden Gate. The rust orange bridge is a tourist attraction in and of itself. People travel miles to walk across it. People travel miles for the privilege of standing in the center of the structure to gaze to the east toward Alcatraz and west to the great, massive waters of the Pacific. It is a beautiful sight. If you haven't seen it, you must.
As we near the home of my teens the changes became more apparent. The orchards and fields and dairy farms gone; replaced by condos and homes and shopping centers. The occasional “green area” or park hinted at what once was. A plum tree in this one. An old barn, now a sitting area, in another. The field, where I would ride my beloved horse is now an “exclusive” neighborhood, not a trace remains of the trails or the stream my horse and I visited.
My father's house with the rose bushes, ponds and garden that my mother cherished is now overgrown. The grass a patchy remnant, the roses clinging bravely to life. The jasmine and gardenias, although still there, are being choked by blackberry bushes. The walkway to the front door is almost a memory as the juniper grows to cover most of it. This first view of my old home is a vivid, shocking, slap upside the head at the condition of my father's health, of his rapid decline from strong and active to weak and near invalid.
My internal checklist began to kick in. Yard work: prune and water roses – check – reseed lawn – check – Paint Front Door – stat! How he must feel. Knowing that his decline is reflected in the decline of his home.
I steel my heart for what I knew I would see once inside. But, I was spared. His health was a gentle decline. His spirit intact. His eyes glinted with the humor that was his and his alone. Although his body and pace were saying age, his words and laughter spoke of defiance. He was ready to live again; live as he hadn't since my mother's death in 2002. I was so glad to welcome him back, excited to meet my father again.
We had a few days to relax before his hospital stay. It was nice to be with my dad. His was a comfortable companionship. We laughed, we talked, we made plans. We. Made. Plans! So different from my last visit when he was giving up. Yes, I was so glad to welcome him back.
Today, I sit in the surgical waiting room, awaiting the visit from his surgeon, telling me that the aortic valve replacement went well. It has been a long wait. The surgery began this morning at 7 am and it is now almost 2 pm. My brother has called 3 times. My sister, 4. And, as I write this, Nieves, the surgical family counselor informs me that he is out of surgery and I will be able to peek in at him within the next half hour.
So, until next time...