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From The Sweet Grass To The Packing House

Thursday, June 10, 2010 Scotch Plains, New Jersey

At this point in my life, the passage of time has come to mean many different things. On the one hand, our children grow and we share in the splendor of their discovery and on the other hand, the ones who brought us here complete their journey as their time comes and we are saddened by their loss and enriched for having known them. I think of a Robert Duvall line in one of the many great westerns he did.

‘From the sweet grass to the packing house, from birth to death, we travel between the two eternities.’

The other day I got a note from my friend Chuck. His father in law Dave had just passed away. Chuck and Donna have been my friends for, well… a really long time. Sometimes I think we grazed on the sweet grass together, but that is another story. Anyway, I was up at Chuck and Donna’s recently in El Dorado County in California and in their lovely home was a little shrine to Dave. There was his flying gear from WWII. My Dad and my two uncles were WWII vets so I think I focused more on those items… but there was more… the trail of a lifetime.

Indeed there is more… his widow Toby has been an active friend of mine for some years. We email, she comes to shows occasionally and she and my wife, Vanessa, are buddies. She, and all of them are family to us too.

Dave had not been himself for some time so in some small way, there had been a long goodbye in progress. This does not make the final chapter any easier.

Still on the road of destiny his children, Michelle and Donna, a grandchild and Toby journey with eyes toward the future. The final chapter of his book has been written but it is there for us to re-read at any time.

Yesterday my friend Barry and I went out to Michelle’s place in Long Island to sit shiva with the family, pay respects and tell stories. We brought food… it was a cool rainy day… unusual for this time of year but a nice setting for reflection. There were somber moments, but also lots of laughter. That is all as it should be.

Dave was buried with full military honors in Long Island as he should have been. In his time he soared with eagles and perhaps back in the world he may have soared even higher as he raised a grand family. Toby shared her strength with us and I thank her for that.

An afternoon with friends in a moment of transition… a beautiful page from the book of life.
Fair winds and following seas Dave… Say hi to my Dad.

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