Saturday, July 31, 2010

Celebration of Life for My Dad

Aria with her grandpa
Bill at his 90th birthday party

2009 Grandpa and Aria touring the gardens at the San Gabriel Mission.

Today at 11:00 a.m. we will be celebrating the life of my father, Bill, who passed away on July 9, 2010. He would have turned 93 on the 15th of July. He lived a long and very good life.

He once was interviewed and said, "I married the girl of my dreams. We had three wonderful children and four beautiful grandchildren. Who could ask for anything more?"

My daughter Aria is the oldest of his grandchildren. Sadly she will not be able to attend the memorial service as she lives far away in Italy. She was able to see her grandfather in the hospital a few weeks ago, shortly before he passed away. Aria said her goodbyes to him at that time. She has asked me to read the following letter at the service today:

Grandpa Bill

I am writing this message in the midst of Florence’s hottest month. After an unusually long and rainy spring and then a sudden shock of heat that fell like a blanket over the entire city, all of my plants have died and we have just planted new bulbs. Each morning the sharp green stems poke a little further out of the soil, and I am almost glad to have once again chosen an annual rather than a perennial. There is something to be said for witnessing the entire lifespan of your flowers. As in my little garden, where life and death occur on a somewhat less unwieldy scale, I go back to my roots, the roots of my memories. I find that some have stretched and twisted, some have flowered while others have withered, like the paths I did or did not choose to take. There are many branches I could trace to find my way back to the strong, quiet man who was my Grandpa Bill. I am sad to have lost another flower, but happy for the roots that remain and to which I owe so many parts of my character.
Here is just one of those branches: I’m sitting cross-legged at a long glass coffee table. I am four or five years old. I’ve already completed the ritual steps that go along with being baby-sat by my grandparents, such as rubbing the belly of the Buddha and making a wish, and now I am coloring in one of the Japanese workbooks Grandpa Bill had found somewhere for me. In his nearly century-long lifetime and the not-quite three decades of which I was able to be a part of it, he never told me in so many words that he hoped I would learn Japanese, but every now and then he would take out the workbook and we would sit for as long as my four-year-old attention span lasted and I would repeat the words after him.

“Hana.” (grandpa pointing to his nose)
Hannah?”(my response)
“Kuchi.” (grandpa pointing to his mouth)
“Coochie?!” (Me giggling)
Mimi”(grandpa pulling on his ear)
“Me, me!”. (me gesturing to myself)

And the lesson would end when I would grow bored or burst into giggles and affirm, “Watashi wa enpitsu”—I am a pencil.

What is the weight behind three generations, two continents and a coloring book? How many truths and histories pass through our hands like so much water? Abundant, transparent and restorative, a grandparent’s love and knowledge could save our lives if only we paid more attention to it, drinking it down and absorbing it instead of splashing around in what seems like an endless resource that will never run out. But I can only be grateful for those things that I was able to learn from Grandpa during his lifetime. Most of all: Patience.

When you’re hoping or waiting with impatience, a single day can seem like a thousand years. Einstein joked about this in his playful explanation of relativity, saying that an hour with a pretty girl seemed like a minute, while unpleasant situations that last for a minute can feel like an hour. The Japanese say, ichi nichi senshÅ«, implying that a single day lived with impatience feels like a thousand autumns. If Grandpa ever lost his patience, he certainly never showed it. His patience was an art, and I mean that literally. From his lovely Bunka embroideries to his delicate origami cigarette wrapper umbrellas, to the soda-can wind chimes that decorated their yard, every aspect of Grandpa’s personality evinced his gift for accepting time for what it was, never hurrying it along, never challenging its pace, never wasting a moment. My grandfather waited a long time to marry my grandmother—a box of love letters from his time at Fort Sam Houston serves as a reminder of this. And after fifty years of marriage, she once urged him at the dinner table to repeat what he had said to her one morning. “Bill, tell them what you said to me this morning”. And, in his quiet way as always, he very calmly said, “Oh, you know, I just said, ‘Every day I love you more.’”

Grandpa has again waited with patience and grace to be reunited with the person he continued to love more and more throughout his life. If to him, each minute that he has waited has felt like an hour, or each day a thousand autumns, he never let on to this. He held onto life with strength, kindness, love, and a wonderful sense of humor until the very end, but I know that he was, again as so many years ago, waiting for the day when Grandma would take his hand.

As for us, I’m sorry that our garden has one less flower but rest at ease knowing that our sky is lit by one more star.

Within Us

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are
tiny matters compared to what lies within us."-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, July 30, 2010


"If a relationship has to be a secret,
you shouldn't be in it."-Regina Brett

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Summer's Night

"The summer's night is like

a perfection of thought."- Wallace Stevens

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

To Begin With

"If we begin with certainties we shall end in doubts;
but if we begin with doubts,
and are patient with them,
we shall end in certainties."

-Francis Bacon

22 January 1561(1561-01-22)
London, England
9 April 1626 (aged 65)
Highgate, England
Renaissance philosophy

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Expanding Truths

"The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself."-Anais Nin

Monday, July 26, 2010

Nothing Doing

"How beautiful it is to do nothing,
and then to rest afterward."
Spanish proverb

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Look Closely

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained."— Marie Curie, chemist

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Way To The Future

"Live not in dreams,

but in contemplation of a reality that is perhaps the future." - Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, July 23, 2010

Those Special Moments

" It is the tints of the morning


and evening

It is stardust caught...

image: D. Bush

It is a segment of the rainbow."

-Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Choices Before Us

"I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness,
immobilized by the gravity of my loss,
or i can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift i have-
life itself."
-Walter Anderson

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cheer Yourself Up

"The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer

someone else up."
-Mark Twain

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You Must Work At This

"Get a life in which you are not alone.

Find people you love,

and who love you.

And remember that love is not leisure,

it is work."-Anna Quinlan

Monday, July 19, 2010

In The Good Ol' Summertime

"We catched fish and talked,
and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness...
We had mighty good weather
as a general thing and nothing ever
happened to us at all."
-Mark Twain
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dappled Shade

"Dappled Shade on the Terrace" painting by Edward Noott

"To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment."
Jane Austen

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Summer evokes images of bright, bright sunshine,

golden afternoons with ice cold lemonade

and juicy watermelon slices,

and a hammock on a warm beach.

During summer,

everything seems more vibrant,


and liberating.

Everyone loves summer!

Friday, July 16, 2010

In the Morning Light

"Weeping may endure for a night,

but joy comes in the morning."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy 93rd Birthday Dad

Let your soul stand cool and composed

before a million universes.
-- Walt Whitman
My father passed away last Friday July 9th. Still today I am wishing him a Happy Birthday in heaven. Love you dad.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Willing to Let Go

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned
so as to have the life that is waiting for us."-
Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In The Midst of Chaos

In the midst of movement and chaos,

keep stillness inside of you.

-Deepak Chopra

Monday, July 12, 2010

Graduation Wishes

Graduation card to Athena from Mary and David

"Life is a pure flame,
and we live by an invisible sun within us."
-Sir Shomas Browne

"Go set the world on fire!"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Three Words

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life:

it goes on.
-- Robert Frost

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Light and Love

I’ve always thought that people need to feel good about themselves and I see my role as offering support to them, to provide some light along the way. - Princess Diana

Friday, July 9, 2010

When You Need A Shoulder To Cry On

"Cry with someone.
It's more healing than crying alone." -Regina Brett

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Grundvigs church Copenhagen

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all."
-- Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

And This Within

image via domino

"You must learn to be still in the midst of activity
and to be vibrantly alive in repose."
— Indira Gandhi, first female prime minister of India

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dare to Dream

"You have to imagine it possible before you can see something. You can have the evidence right in front of you, but if you can't imagine something that has never existed before, it's impossible."
— Rita Dove, first African-American poet laureate of the U.S.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Don't Give This Away

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."
— Alice Walker, author of "The Color Purple"

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Hot dogs, fireworks, bon fires at the beach, family and friendship and freedom and red white and blue...these things and more remind me of 4th of July.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Forget Me Not

"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up,

this diminishes fear;

knowing what must be done does away with fear." — Rosa Parks, African-American civil rights activist

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's No Accident

"Joy does not simply happen to us.

We have to choose joy

and keep choosing

it every day."
-Henri Nouwen

Thursday, July 1, 2010


"Celebrate summer--

Sun drenched days

and starlit nights."-Gooseberry Patch

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