Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One year after

Commemorative Cake from Feel Good, Jean's favorite Bakery

Jean left a year ago, but she has not been forgotten. Sunday we gathered in the backyard at Wood Street, sharing memories, and appreciating the stirrings of spring as she would have: the plum tree overhanging the potting table already sports a few of its five-petaled white blossoms.  And we
Blossoming tree, which will bear
little yellow plums in early summer
talked about her grave marker.  Our memories of Jean, condensed to a few bare phrases, must soon be set in stone.

The surviving spouse designs the gravestone, and according to Jewish tradition I had a year.  Time's up.  Could not do it, did not want things finalized, the necessary phrases eluded me. There was a little room for manoeuvre: Jean was a Unitarian, so the tradition does not fully apply; and Oakmont was prepared to be patient, up to a point.  They'll reach that point Friday, February 28, when I go in to show them a design.

Part of the job will be easy.  "Jean Mary Lewis" on one side, with "1956 - 2013" underneath; "Matt Pico" on the other, over "1950 - ".  Somewhere on Jean's side, an acknowledgement of the esteem of her colleagues, "Talented Editor."  Also her major personal roles, "Wife, Daughter, Sister, Friend."  And as space allows, emblems of a few of the things she loved intensely: a cat, a rose, musical notes, a stack of books.
One minor problem is that "Talented Editor" does not quite do the trick. If you have a better phrase that captures her career, do tell, I'm open to suggestion.  But something big is
Clockwise from left: Vivien, Tom, Lulu, and Pearl
engrossed in a book on making silly sock creatures
lacking, a reach for words that tie the roles, the career, and the emblems together, that say how wonderful it felt to be in a world with her in it.  I was stymied, looked through the talks given at her memorial for inspiration, and came across this from Derek McCulloch, her manager at URS:

"...She improved every document she read...She would take plants that wouldn’t grow, and make them thrive.  She’d take in lost and sick animals, and care for them, and as much as possible she’d make them well. If her friends were in difficulty, she would try, however she could, to help make things better..."

He could have added "husband" to the list of improved entities.  I was a bit like a domesticated feral who, contrary to previous experience, discovered he thrived in married life.  "Thrive," that word stuck with me, so I tried using it on the cake.  What do you think?  Again, tell me if you think you have something better before 28th.

Clockwise: Tom, Lulu, Pearl, Melba, Scott, Charlie, and Bob
One final design note.  Bob Bulwa, ever creative, suggested an image of dancing flutes, one resembling Jean, the other me.  Not sure if that would work; for one thing, only Jean was a flautist.  Perhaps a Pied Piper motif?


For the backyard crowd Sunday, life went on, and there are important successes to report. Our good friend Nick Galloro, who we turned to for help in our darkest times, is now in a relationship
Clockwise from bottom:Oded, Pearl,
John, Melba,  Sue, Charlie
with an attractive, personable woman by the name of Ronnie: so far, so good.  John Gregorin and Sue Torngren continue as great resources for gardening help and advice; they spent part of their time Sunday grafting apricot scions onto our plum tree (see photo).  Our friend and neighbor Tom Borchelt recovered nicely from knee
Apricot scions on our plum tree
(thanks John and Sue)
surgery.  Derek and Tara's daughter Pearl is no slouch at "making things better" herself; this last holiday season marks year II for "Cards from Kids Who Care," an activity to help the homeless she conceived, with help from her parents, after an encounter with a street person on her way from a performance of Dickens' Christmas Carol.

Others of us have faced challenging times, as the economy sputtered along, and loyal corporate citizens were rewarded with layoffs and reduced hours; and then there are those of us, such as my younger son Sam Kurtz-Pico, who have never even tasted the good life of health plans and 401Ks.  If you'll forgive me for ending with a shameless plug, Sam is making important changes in his life,
Clockwise from bottom: Oded, Vivien,
Derek, Tara, Pearl
after having a very rough time of it in 2013: one additional change he'd like to make is to find a paying gig, any time after 3 pm on weekdays, and at any time at all on weekends.  Sam is highly intelligent, with a bachelor's degree in Political Science from UC Santa Cruz, and has computer
Sam Kurtz-Pico, job seeker
skills; ideally, he would like to find work that draws on these strengths.  He is also an extremely personable lad, with experience as a political canvasser and camp counselor; so a job involving sales or customer contact would play to his strong suit. But he is not particular, and is open to offers for dishwasher, janitor, you name it.

And of course there were flowers:
Bouquets courtesy of John Gergorin
and Sue Torngren

No comments:

Post a Comment