Sunday, March 29, 2009









4-4-08 are numbers etched in my mind forever. 4+4=8. How easy it is to remember when the numbers add up. This is the day my dear wife, Patti, so suddenly and unexpectedly died. She was caring for her mother at her home while she was recovering from surgery.

I have not seen her or spoken to her for several days prior to this day and when I found her lifeless body on that fateful Friday morning, it was a moment that changed my life forever and profoundly.

When a loved one's life abruptly ends, quite literally overnight, and you did not have the opportunity to have that one last conversation, one last moment together, one last hug or kiss, it's like suddenly plunging into the abyss and flailing away without hitting bottom. Your body forever suspended in space. It is a empty, hollow, incomplete feeling. I think only those who experienced a similar situation can comprehend the depth of this feeling.

My biggest unfulfilled wish was to have that last conversation. To say how much I loved her, what she meant to me. I would want to thank her for the great 40 years she's given me, what a wonderful and supportive spouse she was, and the absolutely splendid life we shared. She allowed me more slack than any guy deserves.

A good friend said she knew my feelings and that these words needn't be said. But not having the time nor opportunity to have our last conversation, to say at least goodbye, leaves such a gigantic void.

The year has gone by so quickly, yet it feels like I was moving in slow motion. It's been a surreal year. A year of grieving and healing. It is an understatement to say that to go on with life without one's soul mate was daunting.

If I could describe my feelings in one word, I guess it would be "endure." On the surface, I may appear to be fine and adapting to a new life alone, but just beneath the surface is a lot of sadness. As the months crawled by, the pain has lessened but I will assure you, it is still there - a feeling of melancholy that just won't go away. I discovered that a broken heart is a real feeling.

I talked to several people who have lost a loved one suddenly, just like me, and the consensus is that it will take years for the melancholy to go away. But they said that someday it will and life will return to some sense of normalcy. So with that in mind, I will continue to march on and continue to endure.

What made my life bearable this past year were my family and very special friends. There were so many people who rallied around me and given me support and encouragement that on this anniversary of her passing, I want to express my deepest appreciation and give them my thanks. These people gave me strength to deal with my grief in the best way I know how.

First my two sisters - Yuki and Emi. They loved their sister-in-law as much as I did. I could see the joy Patti brought to them every time they got together. They mentioned what a lucky dude I was to have someone so well grounded, so creative, so respectful, so loving as a mate. They didn't have to tell me. I knew that from day one. Thanks sis's for giving your kid brother all your care and support.

Many years ago, after about a year of marriage, I recall over-hearing my mom telling my dad that Patti was a pretty cool daughter-in-law and a terrific spouse for me. That she passed a mother-in-law's muster was no small accomplishment. She observed all the wonderful qualities that a wife should possess for her "favorite" son. Ha! I never did tell Patti about mom's comment since I didn't want her to get a swell head.

To my other relatives and in-laws who have also shared their love for Patti - especially Cathy, Arlene, Dian, Tod, Wendy and their spouses and families. Thanks for keeping my spirits up, sharing in the grief, and importantly, keeping me well fed now that I'm flying solo.

And to Patti's sister Maria, her mom Flora and siblings and respective families, I know this was as tough a year of adjustment as it was for me. I know in my heart that you miss your big sister very much and in your own quiet way, will be thinking of her on this day.

It is said you do not have a choice in choosing your relatives but you do pick who your friends are. . . or they pick you. There is another wise truism which says, "your character is defined by the friends you keep." If that's true, then I guess I'm one lucky joker cuz' I can't imagine having a finer group of friends than I have. You guys make me look good. Double Ha!

I can't sing enough praise for you all. Collectively, you have kept my life active, involved, and my mind in a positive frame.

Dick and Jan, Jim and Jo Ann, Peter and Susan, Eric and Marie, John and Sally, Steve and Judy, Dick and Audrey. You guys are the best and I cannot thank you enough for your friendship, love, deepest empathy and support and for all the great meals and wonderful times we shared. The fun times discussing politics over good wine and cheese are some of my most cherished moments. The only thing that would have made it better is if Patti was here to share in the yuks like old times. And Peter and Susan, a big thanks for introducing me to the calming virtues of meditation.

To my close biking and hiking buddies - Herb, Jay, Don, Frank, Dennis, Bob, Mike, Rich, Ward, Jim and Dan the Man to name just a few special guys. I so much enjoyed your good company, laughin' and scratchin' , trips and travels which kept my body moving forward and my attitude going upward and onward.

A very special thanks to my vagabond RV friends, Dawn and Jeff, who we had the good fortune of meeting in Arizona 5 years ago. Dawn and Patti became fast friends and shared many common activities including a keen interest in computers and love for the great outdoors. I look back fondly at the memory of you two intently digging for shells and precious stones on Morro Strand and mushrooming in the forests of Cambria. Our periodic rendezvous's over the years were memorable and always something special we looked forward to.

Thanks Dawn for putting the tremendous tribute to Patti on your blog and letting me cry on your shoulder via email during my darkest days. There is so much to be said about serendipity. This was one of the finest.

To my new RV friends who Patti barely got to know - Charlie and Al, Ron and Jo Anne, Ralph and Kathy. I am happy she had the opportunity to share the secrets of our favorite places to set up camp. It is regrettable that Patti will not be able to rendezvous with you in future trips and share in the cocktail hour and talk about the best places to find fish tacos. Some day I hope to regain my zest for RV'ing and meet up with you guys again.

A salute to my great next door neighbors - Barb and Bruce and my little buddy Nikki, the cutest little schnoodle (half schnauzer, half poodle) you will ever meet. Every time we left on our extended trips, Barb would maintain our house and yard in good order. In return, I would dog sit Nikki when they traveled. Nikki was my best pal and during this past year, took the place of Patti keeping me company and cuddling up next to me to watch TV. The first time after she was gone, Nikki looked in every room looking for Patti. Sadly, she had to settle for me to spoil her.

To Brooke, daughter of Dick and Jan, who lives with her marine husband, Paul, in Hawaii. Thanks for your timely shipments of Kona coffee to feed my caffeine habit. You inherited the sensitivity of your father and generosity of your mother and I know Patti was proud to see you grow up into such a responsible and beautiful young lady.

And lastly, to the extensive cast of characters who I got to know over the years and occasionally run into in and around town. Thanks for extending your warm hand and gentle pat on the back. I deeply value and appreciate the friendship we developed over the years.

Well, one door closes and another opens. Although I have a heavy heart and the memory of my loss is still vivid, I will march through the proverbial open door to see where the new path takes me. Thank you all for being there for me, for all your love and support, and for nudging me down this path.

If there was one big lesson I learned from this experience this past year is the empathy I have for other people who have lost a love one, particularly if death happened suddenly. I have the deepest empathy for their spouses and families since I know exactly how they feel and the emotions they are going through. I particular felt terrible sadness for the families of Natasha Richardson, Tim Russert, Beverly Eckhart, and the four police officers recently slain in Oakland, just to name a few. I just hope they shared a beautiful relationship and life with their spouses like I did.

I close with this story: I carried her high school graduation picture in my wallet for over 40 years. After she passed away, I took the dog-eared photo out of the plastic window to take a closer look. I flipped it over and saw what she wrote on the back more than 40 years ago. She wrote, "I love you more than you'll ever know."

Yes, my dear, I DO know, and I'm sure you held this thought until the moment you took your last breath. And I say the same in double right back at you.

I can't thank you enough for everything you did for me and giving me a gift - the 40 best years of my life.

I sure miss you.
Love you. . . more than you'll ever know. . .

Flower pics taken in my yard this spring

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Folsom Lake Crossing

On a beautiful spring day, Frank, Eric, Dennis and I rode our bikes to Folsom to participate in the celebration of the opening of the Folsom Lake Crossing, a new bridge spanning 1,000' over the American River. The new bridge constructed about 100 meters down stream from Folsom Dam will link the communities of El Dorado Hills with Granite Bay and provide much traffic relief to Folsom's Historic District and residential neighborhood.

The $139 million project consists of 4 lanes and a wide bike/pedistrian path on the north side of the bridge. For cyclists, this new connector will provide another great link to the foothills from the American River Parkway and another means of crossing the river.

An aerial photo of Folsom Dam prior to the construction of the new bridge. The narrow 2-lane road on the top of the dam was closed to auto/cyclist access after the 9/11 terrorist attack on NY's Twin Towers.

The new bridge constructed 100 meters away from the dam face now provides fantastic views of the dam and river.

The view of the dam outfall from the new bridge about 100 meters down stream.

Before the ribbon was cut, speeches from the local politicos and music from the Folsom High School marching band

A proud day for the City of Folsom with many dignitaries in attendance

The Folsom High School marching band provided the pomp!

Two happy flag gals of the marching band

The first view of the American River from a new perspective - from the middle of the bridge

The bridge was closed to auto traffic for most of the day to allow peds and cyclists exclusive use - Pretty Kool!!

This guy was advocating the new bridge be named Johnny Cash Crossing. Folsom Prison is located a stone's throw away.

Frank and Eric on the new bridge

Me and Frank 200' over the river

Frank, Dennis and me with a grand view of the old dam

A wide ped/bike path was incorporated into the bridge design providing a new short-cut from Auburn-Folsom Road to Natoma Street.

Old Glory flapping over the thousands of people who came out for the grand opening

Manuevering our bikes through the throngs

Twin dog days in Folsom (above and below)

Bikes of all description were joining in.
This enterprising fellow used his for advertising a business.

Even ye' ol' 49'er!

Some cool retro bikes

Fugal Frank and his PB&J lunch

Meeting some old biker friends - Eric with Eleanor, Debbie and Warren Andersons

At Lake Natoma, the rowing crew unloading the long boat