I. At first, there was an old woman who lived in another room in our house. She never got out of bed. Then one day she was gone. There was Hopalong Cassidy and The Lone Ranger, and my brother played Frank Sinatra songs. I went fishing in a small lake near our house, and my parents took me in the car for long rides to another house in the summer. There was communism, and then shit happening in Vietnam. Something, I think two things, happened in Cuba. A Kennedy got shot, King got shot, and then another Kennedy got shot. More shit happened in Vietnam. Planes crashed into buildings in New York. We lived through a pandemic.
On May 6th, 1985 I met someone I loved. Today I still love her and she loves me. That’s enough.
II. For years we had a dog, a black and white springer spaniel. Brewster required a lot of exercise. I’m sure he saw it as play, and perhaps, so did I. My right arm was strong then, and I would throw tennis balls in our yard, or on the beach. But whenever we did take him to the beach, Brew would immediately charge into the water. If I threw a stone, he would swim to where it landed. And then I would throw another, and again he would swim to the place where it splashed down. This would go on and on as my wife and I walked along the beach. Stone after stone, Brew would swim from one spot to another apparently overjoyed at the prospect of never-ending opportunity. Discovery. Conquest. His favorite beach stretched along a shallow bay. The water there was always calm. At low tide his feet would reach the sandy bottom and allow him to half swim-half- run from stone to stone.
That was the beach we took him to late one morning in June. He had become confused, walking in circles at home. He would stumble into a corner and not be able to find his way out. We knew his time had come, so we arranged for our veterinarian to visit us at the house in the afternoon. But first we went to the beach, then came home and cooked some tender chicken pieces. His appetite was still good. The vet arrived and administered the fatal injection as Brew, half asleep after his meal, lay on his blanket. Afterwards we buried him, still wrapped in the blanket, in a sunny corner of our yard. Now, twenty years later, daffodils bloom there in May.
III. We built a house in a small town in Mexico. We named it Casamar — Ocean House — as it was set on a rocky point very close to the waves. We made new friends, attempted to learn the language, and spent months absorbing small fragments of Mexico’s culture. Every day was hot. We looked out at the Pacific Ocean and saw whales migrating. At night we watched the lights on small fishing boats and then saw them head home at dawn to the nearby village. We did not have a television, so we read books and went to bed early. But first we would watch the sun go down and the colors in the sky fade, and the stars would come out. By first light we would be out walking, me alone, and my wife with her friends.
We did this every winter for sixteen years, and then decided to sell Casamar. It was a painful decision, but managing a house on the west coast of Mexico while living thousands of miles away had become a burden. And there was my shoulder operation which kept me off my surfboard. And my wife’s bout with skin cancer. We left Casamar with a multitude of fond memories, and enormous respect for the hardworking lovable people of Mexico.
IV. Our children are not our children, but rather two of my wife’s nephews from Vienna, Austria. As children they lived with us summers for almost fifteen years. People who hear them speaking English are always amazed that there is no hint of an Austrian accent, and that their English is not the British pronunciation that is taught in Europe. Over the years they have visited us both at home and in Mexico. The youngest has a family and lives in Chicago, while his brother works in Vienna. My wife tries to stay in touch on social media, but the replies are often less frequent than she would like. We try to remember how it was when we were their age. Sometimes that helps.
V. My brother was eight years older than me. He died tragically nearly twenty years ago. He was sixty-six years old. His loss grows in me.
VI. Of course there is more. But that’s enough. Now is more important.