I’ve been thinking about death lately. Not in a morbid, depressed way, but in a more philosophical way. Someone fairly close to me, someone I have liked a great deal and respected even more over the years, died recently. The death was neither unexpected nor was it tragic. Her loved ones are handling things with equanimity. They knew what was coming and were able to tell her how loved and valued she was.
As you all know, my religious beliefs live in the vast space between shaky and inchoate. I now question the casual atheism that once characterized my thinking. There are too many unanswered questions about the world to allow me to negate God. Science may clarify the details but it leaves the biggest questions more boldly exposed and completely unanswered. Yes, there was a Big Bang — but what preceded that cataclysmic event? Reason and humility demand that we accept that science most definitely does not have all the answers.
For example, contrary to the hard-line scientists who would consign us to the dust after we die, I believe in immortality. But as with all my religious beliefs, I do not believe in any specific form of immortality, whether a heavenly paradise, reincarnation, or some sort of earthly resurrection at the end of days. I just know that, because humans are truly greater than the sum of their chemical parts, there is some divine spark in us that transcends, and survives beyond, corporeal death.
There is one aspect of immortality, though, that is provable, never mind the fact that it lives in the realm of the intangible: Memory. My father died almost twenty years ago, but there is a part of my brain that is entirely dedicated to him. I see him vividly in my mind’s eye and I hear his voice. When I act upon the lessons he taught me, I am completely aware of his presence. English was his passion, and every word I write is the living, immortal embodiment of that part of him.
The woman who died recently left behind a great many loved ones. She always felt triumphant about the fact, because each descendant (and there are many) is a great big, fat raspberry blown in Hitler’s direction. Hitler is dead and gone, and was incapable of immortalizing himself through his DNA, but this lady, despite losing her parents to the Holocaust and being herself at risk, founded a dynasty. A vast, vibrant, live-loving dynasty.
That same dynasty that keeps her immortal through shared DNA will also keep her immortal in memory. Every person carries in his or her memory a little piece of her. At first, this little piece can be painful. Every memory is a burning reminder of the recent loss. With time, though, these same memories become very comforting. As I know from my Dad, these memories mean you are never alone. The person is an integral part of you and your relationship to the world around you. More than that, if you have children, you pass down those memories through the stories you tell and the lessons you teach. They may not know the man, but they know his memory.
Whether through genes or our acts alone, those of us who venture out into the world, gathering around us friends and family, are fortunate enough to be assured of immortality.
The friend who sent this video to me noticed what’s so fascinating: the pragmatic approach the Brazilian rescuers had. Without any undue energy or hysteria, they just waded into the surf and did what needed to me done:
My mother is a testament to the wonders of modern medicine. But for the drugs, surgery, and implanted equipment upon which she relies, she would have been dead a long time ago. Perhaps even more importantly, to the extent that she’s not dead, she has a fairly good quality of life. Thanks to cataract surgery and high tech glasses (trifocals, anti-glare coating, etc.), she has twenty-twenty vision. Thanks to teeny little hearing aids that are practically invisible, she’s not deaf. Thanks to state-of-the-art pain medicines, delivered via state-of-the-art technology, she tends to forget that she once suffered from chronic pain. She also takes medicines that control the pain and nausea associated with all the other medicines she takes just to stay alive. She is a walking wonder.
What’s truly amazing about my mother is that she takes all of this for granted. She is peculiarly unimpressed that modern medicine has her alive and functioning, even though she’s basically held together by glue and spit. She’ll periodically complain about past or present sufferings, but I never hear from her an awed exclamation about the absence of pain in her life, or about the joy of twenty-twenty vision, or about the pleasure of hearing her grandchildren’s voices, or about the fact that she’s alive at all.
I’m quite different from my mother in this regard. I’m am constantly overwhelmed by the wonders and miracles that see me alive and kicking (and doing some pretty damn fine kicking on my good days, if I do say so myself).
Modern medicine means that, a long time ago, when I needed emergency surgery, I got that surgery rather than hemorrhaging to death.
Modern medicine means that I didn’t die when I was delivering one of my children, despite the fact that things went wrong. And thanks to the epidural I had, not only did I not die, but I didn’t even realize that something had gone wrong. (The kid was all right too!)
Modern medicine means that, although nature intended me to be practically blind, I not only see thanks to my glasses but, when I put my contacts in, I look gorgeous and I kick butt at martial arts.
Modern medicine means that, thanks to over-the-counter products, I have ridiculously young looking skin for someone my age. (And yes, I’m boasting.)
And that’s just medicine! I have iPhones and iPads welded to my hands; telephones in every room of my house; cars that talk to me; machines that wash my clothes and my dishes, and then dry them too; a computer system that has me actively connected to most of the world, 24/7; and that’s just the beginning. The wonders of technology permeate every aspect of my life, including the allergy free pillow on which I rest my head at night.
Despite the fact that I grew up in this modern world, something that distinguishes me from my mother, who is old enough to remember little European villages that had no cars, I’ve never become blase about the wonders of science and technology. I am endlessly grateful for the manifest benefits these things have brought to my life.
This sense of gratitude is, I think, part of why I am so proud to be an American, specifically, and part of the western tradition, generally. All human beings have the capacity to create, but it is the West that had the curiosity and America that had the driving competitive energy, to take theory and make it fact. Put another way, man has long dreamed of flying, but it was Orville and Wilbur, two American hobbyists, who made flight a practical reality.
A Susan Boyle-esque surprise on Britain’s Got Talent. Simon Cowell divided his feelings between head and heart. His head’s right, but I’m glad he followed his heart:
UPDATE: I should add that this video is about three years old, but it’s new to me.
I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, because I didn’t want to ill-wish a positive trend, but I’m happy to report that my Mom is doing extremely well. She was in the hospital last week and came out a new woman. For the first time in years (perhaps decades) she’s . . . oh, I don’t know how to say it, but alive. She hasn’t had her youth restored, but she’s had some of her personality and vitality brought back. For so many years I’ve been dealing with a depressed, anxious, angry, paranoid, neurotic, hypochondriacal sick person, that it’s just amazing to walk into the room and see a fairly alert, rather sweet little old lady. I’m not sure what alchemy happened at the hospital during her last stay there; I just know it made her, and therefore me, happy. No matter how much longer this lasts, even if only a few more days, I’m celebrating each moment.
As I’ve mentioned at this post, one of the negatives in my life is the fact that my mother is a deeply unhappy person. Conversing with her subjects me to a never-ending stream of complaints about her life: her physical surroundings, the food she hates, the people who are mean or boring, her failing health, her chronic worries, etc. Everything is bad, a disappointment, mean, scary, or any word out of the thesaurus that spells negativity.
The net result is that, despite the fact that she’s nearing the end of her life (nothing specific, just the nibbling away of very old age) and despite the fact that I do love her very much, I cannot manage to be in my Mom’s company for more than an hour at a time. It’s just too demoralizing. Mom throws at me the entire weight of her unhappiness in the expectation that I can lighten her load. I can’t, though. She’s like the hydra. For every facet of unhappiness she passes on to me, she quickly develops three more anxieties and two complaints.
What troubles me is that my son seems to be going down the same path. Although I know he has many friends, several good teachers, and a generally good school environment, when he comes home, he speaks only about his boredom and troubles. Although he loves sports, when he comes back from an activity, he tells me only about the people who cheated or injured him. Although he loves to go and play with his friends, when he comes running back into the house from a four-hour playing spree, I hear only about the physical and psychic injuries his friends visited upon him. I see a happy life, but I hear an unhappy life. When I call him upon it, he assures me that he is happy — and certainly, he shows no signs of depression. He’s just negative, which is different from depressed.
My tendencies are also towards the negative. Growing up with an unhappy mother and a chronically clinically depressed father, I didn’t get many life lessons in happiness. In my life, it’s easy for me to point out all the bad things, but I won’t — and that’s the point. I will not enumerate the bad things. My rule to myself is that, if I want to complain, I must be funny. That is, I’m allowed to articulate things that make me unhappy only if I can be assured that I won’t drag my audience down. Those who know me will state truthfully that I break this rule periodically but, if I realize I’m breaking it, I catch myself, so that’s something.
The single most important thing I do is that, every single day, without fail, I count my blessings. It is a reminder to myself that no matter the situation in the greater world or the minor injuries in my life, things are pretty darn good. I have beautiful, nice, decent children; my dog is perfect; I live in a comfortable house on a beautiful lot; I have the best neighborhood in the world; I live in a delightful town; America, my country, is still the best place in the world; I find tremendous joy in martial arts; I have many very good friends, both in the corporeal and the cyber world; and on and on. If I think about it, the list of my blessings is pretty endless. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that irritate me or make me unhappy, but it does mean that, on balance, I have a good life and I know it.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here before, but my dog is perfect. Her perfection isn’t always obvious to the uninitiated. Those who don’t know what’s really important might think that, because she’s a mutt, she’s a little goofy looking. They may feel that her habit of slipping on the kitchen floor and crashing into kitchen cabinets bespeaks a lack of that grace and elegance that the best dogs should have. And maybe, just maybe, there are some who think that, because she doesn’t do tricks (no rolling, no shaking hands) she’s not too bright. As I’ve said, the people who see only those traits — traits I find endearing — are missing her essence.
My dog is perfect because she is quite possibly the nicest dog in the world, which is exactly what one wants in a family pet. She adores people, but in a diffident way that precludes aggressive friendliness. She stands there, face smiling, tail wagging gently, signalling to people that she would be very happy to engage with them, but allowing them to make the first move. No wonder the little girls in the neighborhood are her biggest fans. She’s tidy, obedient, cuddly, playful, etc., etc. Where it matters, she’s the best.
What does this have to do with Tim Tebow?
Well, Tim Tebow didn’t win his last football game. It was a biggie, and his team had a fairly ignominious defeat. That allowed the usual crowd to talk about the fact that, as a quarterback, he’s still immature (which, given his age and short career falls into the “well, duh” category), that he’s got a bizarre playing technique, that he’s too slow to react, etc. He is imperfect and, the naysayers imply, unworthy of the attention lavished upon him.
These naysayers, of course, are missing the point. Well, I agree that Tim Tebow is not perfect, because no human being is, he is an exemplary young man in all the areas that matter. He is deeply kind, humble, generous and, as we learned today, truly stalwart. Despite sustaining very painful injuries after this weekend’s game was already good and lost, Tebow did not give up and, instead, played through the pain:
“I just wanted to show character. You just continue to fight and it doesn’t change who you are, how you play, how you go out there, you should be the same at all times,” Tebow said. “That’s what I wanted to show, it didn’t matter if it was the first play or the last play or you were down by 42. I was going to be the same player and I was still going to give everything I have. Because that’s all I have to give.”
There is a fundamental decency in that statement that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with whether Tebow ever wins another football game. It is enough that this season placed Tebow in the public eye so that as many people as possible can hear his message. Certainly, his message his about his faith, and I don’t want to belittle that core component of his personality. To limit what he offers to faith, however, is to do him disservice. His approach to his faith means that, in his conduct, he sends a larger message about the human spirit, and this is a message that should reach all young people, whether they share his faith or not.
Certainly, I want my children to know that you can be famous, good-looking, talented . . . and courageous, kind, generous, moral, chaste, and all the other good stuff he is. In a world saturated with Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan, Gansta Rappers, and all the other foul people polluting pop culture, what a tremendous gift Tebow is to our young people. He uses his bully pulpit, not to tell people to use one sheet of toilet paper, buy $100,000 electric cars, or have sex, but, instead, to lead by example in the purest sense. His is a doctrine of love, not just for God, but for human-kind.
It is this last point that makes a mockery of those anti-Tebowists who claim that they fear criticizing him lest his fans become violent. No, I’m not kidding. Max Lindenman, who feels as I do that Tebow has become an important symbol in the culture wars, caught a liberal columnist make precisely this point:
Yesterday in the Atlantic, I read a blog post that really turned my head. Robert Wright warns non-religious people, especially those he calls “liberals,” that “dissing” Tebow is a bad idea…because it might make the other guys really mad. Extreme “religious conservatives,” who “consider themselves to be at war with the prevailing culture,” will take cracks against Tebow as cues to “reject the entire liberal agenda, ranging from gay rights to uncensored science education in the public schools.” Liberals, he advises, should be as discreet regarding the Broncos QB as the Jyllands-Posten wasn’t regarding Muhammad, prophet of Islam.
Unlike the Islamists, Tebow is the Abou ben Adam of faith, one who manifestly loves his fellow man as part of his faith in God. No one who respects Tebow is going to use violence as a means of expressing that support.
There are others like Tebow — Marine Lance Corporal Donald Hogan, for example, who
earned was awarded a posthumous Navy Cross — who have this abiding love for mankind. What they lack, however, is Tebow’s prominence. There are too many heroes whose work is done in the quiet and the dark. Tebow brings their ethos into the light.
I don’t care that Tebow is a somewhat ungainly quarterback. As a parent, and as someone who has watched our pop culture decay for too many years, I care deeply that Tebow is almost perfect in the areas that matter. He is a gift to our culture, and I hope that as many people as possible appreciate this gift.
I just have to pat myself on the back here, because I came up with a genius idea. We bought our Christmas tree (er, pardon, Hanukkah bush) today. Prices this year have been surprisingly low, so I ended up purchasing a 7′ tall tree for all of $40.00. It’s a gorgeous tree.
Getting a 7′ tree in the house, in the stand, upright, and watered is a daunting task. Here’s where my genius idea comes in: I took an old king size sheet with me to the tree lot, one that I bought years ago for the kids to make play houses with. I put the sheet on the ground, rolled the tree onto it, and then tied the sheet together at both the bottom and the top of the tree. The tree slid in and out of my minivan effortlessly, and left no needles.
When we arrived home, and while the tree was still wrapped up and lying down, I put the tree stand on. The kids and I then carried tree (with stand) into the house. All of the needles remained neatly in the sheet. We got the tree upright, adjusted the stand, added water to the base — which was easily accessible — and only then let the branches down. A hail of needles followed. Since the tree is in excellent shape, I assume it was the one at the bottom of the truck, and that the needles came from every other tree in the truck.
I shudder to think what the mess would have been like if it hadn’t been for my excellent idea. As it was, I vacuumed around the base of the tree, and everything was perfect. I’m really quite pleased, both with myself and with my tree.
You guys have probably already thought of this idea (and I’ve heard of Christmas tree bags, although I’m sure that only excessively well-organized people think to buy those), but I’m still pretty pleased with myself. The fact that no one at this busy, busy lot had either sheet or bag tells me that this wrapping technique isn’t common. Indeed, the Christmas tree salesman was very impressed and said that, henceforth, he’ll bring a big sheet for his own tree.
Sorry for being the boastful rooster, crowing on my own dunghill, but it’s so rare for me to have these light bulb moments that I get ridiculously excited.
There’s a distinct possibility that this is the best half time show ever, combining heartfelt patriotism, pitch perfect music, and marching the likes of which most of us haven’t seen outside of a Busby Berkeley movie. Even better — no wardrobe malfunctions.
(If the video doesn’t show, go here to watch it.)
I got the following in an email from a good friend:
Meghan Kinney’s achievement-packed life took a bit of a turn recently, offering a up a tough, new challenge, which she’s faced with her typical determination. A member of the 2008 US Olympic Synchronized Swim Team, and the captain of the current team in training for the 2012 London Olympics, Meghan was diagnosed last summer with a rare form of bone cancer.
Shortly after her treatment of chemotherapy ended in July this year, her boyfriend John, an US Air Force Lieutenant, asked her to marry him.
Without telling Meghan, John, a recent Air Force Academy graduate, entered the two into a contest sponsored by Operation Homefront called, “Salute to Love,” which is for young members of the military in which the contest winners have their wedding paid for. It’s a pretty cool idea.
Anyway, if you have the time, would you please vote for them?
You can do it here, in the video John put together.
Looking at the other submissions from engaged couples, I wish all of them could win — but that’s not how life works. One of them will win, and I think Meghan and Johns’ story is compelling enough to deserve our votes.
During WWII, too few in Nazi occupied areas extended help to beleaguered Jews. In the aftermath of the war, the State of Israel recognized those righteous people. The criteria for those who achieve the honor of “Righteous among the Nations” are few and demanding:
Since 1963, a commission, headed by an Israeli Supreme Court justice has been charged with the duty of awarding the title “Righteous among the Nations.”
The commission is guided in its work by certain criteria and meticulously studies all pertinent documentation, including evidence by survivors and other eyewitnesses.
In order to arrive at a fair evaluation of the rescuer’s deeds and motivations, the commission takes into consideration all the circumstances relevant to the rescue story, including the following:
- How the original contact was made between the rescuer and the rescued.
- A description of the aid extended.
- Whether any material compensation was paid in return for the aid, and, if so, in what amount.
- The dangers and risks faced by the rescuer at the time.
- The rescuer’s motivations, in so far as this is ascertainable; e.g., friendship, altruism, religious belief, humanitarian considerations, or others.
- The availability of evidence from the rescued persons (an almost indispensable precondition for the purpose of this program).
- Other relevant data and pertinent documentation that might shed light on the authenticity and uniqueness of the story.
In general, when the data on hand clearly demonstrates that a non-Jewish person risked his (or her) life, freedom, and safety in order to rescue one or several Jews from the threat of death or deportation to death camps without exacting in advance monetary compensation, this qualifies the rescuer for serious consideration to be awarded the “Righteous Among the Nations” title. This applies equally to rescuers who have since passed away.
I think when you read this story, you will conclude that Darwish Darwish passed the righteousness test.
Some in the town of Grand Rapids took umbrage at being tagged as a “dying” American city in some magazine or another. One man, who has a reputation for showmanship, raised $40,000, and got 5,000 people to participate in this amazing ONE SHOT video:
I’ve written about the warriors among us. By that, I do not mean people who are simply willing to kill. That’s easy, if you have the right mind set. Instead, I mean people armed with an overwhelming sense of justice and morality, who will push themselves far above and beyond ordinary people in order to do the right thing. This teenager reminds us that age is not a necessary requirement for this kind of moral courage:
Hat tip: Hot Air
Yeah, I know it’s not quite Memorial Day yet, but sometimes things come my way that I can’t wait to pass on. This morning, it’s two posts from Greyhawk, at the Mudville Gazette. The first one is both a memorial to the dead, and a bit of background to the second one, which honors the living. Both will make you feel incredibly proud of our American families and their children and, if you’re like me, at least one of them will make you cry.
I got an email from a friend about Ed Freeman, a Medal of Honor winner due to his courageous and inspiring service during the Vietnam War. The email implies that Freeman died recently, which isn’t true — he died in August 2008. Nevertheless, having learned of his service history, I would be remiss if I did not reprint it here, at my blog. I think we all benefit from learning about those people who, because of transcendent courage, values and generosity of spirit, go far above and beyond the call of duty. Here is the citation from Freeman’s Medal of Honor (which I’ve edited to add paragraph breaks, to make it easier on the eyes):
Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, of Boise, Idaho, who distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November 1965 while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).
As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The unit was almost out of ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force.
When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone because of intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water, and medical supplies to the besieged battalion. His flights, by providing the engaged units with supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, directly affected the battle’s outcome. Without them the units would almost surely have gone down, with much greater loss of life.
After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area because of intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing lifesaving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers-some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter, where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements.
Captain Freeman’s selfless acts of great valor and extraordinary perseverance were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
By the way, if you feel like being inspired, please visit the Medal of Honor website. Pick any war, and fall back in amazement when you read of the courage our troops have shown over the years. It’s certainly a nice website to visit when you feel soiled by the tawdry headlines about so many of today’s pop culture “heroes.”
I love the old Lerner and Lowe song:
What a day this has been,
What a rare mood I’m in,
Why, it’s almost like being in love….
As I get older, though, the song has become somewhat bittersweet. One of the shames about growing older is that emotions don’t feel as strong. It’s nice that I don’t cry as much, but I don’t laugh as much either. My intensity is simply reduced. Sometimes, though, something will happen that punches through the emotional carapace age has created. (For those who don’t know me, I’m not that old. Haven’t hit 50 yet, but it’s in striking distance.) If you’re unlucky, the emotional punch is something rotten, such as the death of someone close to you. On a lucky day, though, that moment comes when two thinkers you admire tremendously give you an accolade on the same day.
I woke up this morning to discover that my post about Rush Limbaugh had been Instalanched. I was thrilled. A nod from Glenn Reynolds has two pleasures: someone whose intelligence and world view I admire has looked approvingly on my work and I get lots of hits. I may blog obsessively (that is, I’d write even if no one reads), but I’d be a liar if I denied the pleasure I get from traffic. As far as I was concerned, my day was already off to a healthy start.
And then, just as I was about to leave to take my Mom to an appointment, I suddenly got a slew of emails from the many wonderful friends I’ve made since I’ve started blogging, and all said the same thing: Rush is talking about your post. “Oh, my God,” I thought, “they’re kidding.” Higher rational brain kicked in. Twenty different people who have no connection to each other cannot be kidding. “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”
And — here’s the bad part — I can’t do anything about it. Because I’ve got to go, I can’t sign into my blog, which has crashed anyway. And because my mother needs my undivided attention, I can’t listen to Rush on the radio, nor will I have access to the KSFO archives on which I rely so heavily. I’ve had my biggest moment ever as a blogger, and I’m completely paralyzed.
But there is a good side to that. Had I instantly gone on line and instantly been able to participate fully in my own exciting moment, the thrill would have been over as quickly. As it was, while driving and sitting with my mom (very pleasant experiences on their own merits), I was also able to nurse a little excitement. I knew something big was out there, but I just had to wait patiently, take care of things, run errands, etc.
So here I am at home, almost four hours after this whole thing started, and I’ve finally heard Rush reading from my post. And I’m excited all over again. I wasn’t kidding in my post when I said those nice things about Rush (i.e., it wasn’t just a publicity stunt). I’ve come to believe that Rush is one of the most brilliant conservative commentators on the scene. I trust my analysis about Rush’s ability precisely for the reasons I mentioned when I opened this post: I’m not young anymore, and I don’t rock ‘n roll purely with my emotions. I’m an analytical person who avoids the highs and the lows. I hear Rush with my brain, not my heart, and my brain tells me something very good is going on there.
Given the respect I feel for Rush, you can imagine how utterly delighted I was to hear him read the words I wrote, and say my blog name aloud. He may not know me, but I’ve spent enough hours in his company to know him, and I am mighty flattered. As they said in the old days, and don’t say much anymore (shame, too, ’cause it’s a great expression), “Praise from Caesar is praise indeed.”
UPDATE: Two post scripts I want to add here.
First, I cannot thank enough those of you who sent me your congratulations and your kind words. For the last six years, I’ve lived in two different worlds simultaneously: the corporeal world, which is made up of family, work and friends; and the cyberworld, which is made up of politics and those friends I’ve made through my blog. Although I’ve met very few of my cyberfriends face-to-face, I value these friendships every bit as much as I do the corporeal friends I meet and greet on the street. (Whoo, and she’s a poet too.) That means that, when you write to me to congratulate me, or to say nice things about me, I value those words as much as I would if I were in the room with you. So thank you, and many cyberhugs (which you should really appreciate, because I am so not a huggy kind of person).
Second, since I’ve had this launch, please believe me that I will take seriously this opportunity to write more thoughtful posts, and not just ruminate about the wonders of Las Vegas, as I did all last week. But really, I do think Las Vegas was deserving of some posts. Barack Hussein Obama may diss it, but I think it’s an awesome place, one that has something for everyone, even a tee-totalling, non-gambling, non-smoking mom with two kids in tow.
I remember the floods and slides of 2005. Significant parts of Marin were inundated with water. One of my friends, an elderly lady, was homeless for almost a year (living in various friends’ houses) while her house was being repaired. Harold Lezzeni’s house was under repair for four years, but it wasn’t a dilatory insurance company that caused the delay. It took so long because Lezzeni, who is now 85 years old, repaired the entire house by himself:
THERE’S A Celtic blessing embedded in the stone wall near Harold Lezzeni’s Fairfax home. The sign, placed there by his father almost a century ago, reads, “May God bless the dwelling, Each stone and beam and stave, All food and drink and clothing, May health of men be always there.”
The signpost is almost all that’s left of the wall. The rest – as well as the blackberry bushes that grew behind it, the orchard that grew behind that and the hillside that supported them both – came crashing through Lezzeni’s living room on New Year’s Eve 2005, filling his home with mud and debris 4 feet deep.
Lezzeni, 85, has spent the past four years restoring his home in the Fairfax hills. He’s rebuilt the walls, replaced the windows and painstakingly restored the inlaid oak floor his father designed in the 1930s. And he’s done it without financial support from his insurance company, the federal government or the owner of the property whose slide damaged his home.
“I had a lot of people tell me it was too big a chore, too much to handle. But I kept at it,” said Lezzeni, an architect who designed the post offices in Fairfax, Ross and San Anselmo.
Lezzeni had been asleep for only a few hours on New Year’s Eve 2005 when he was awakened by what sounded “like a freight train” striking his home.
“The mud was approximately 4 feet deep in his living room,” said Fairfax Building Official Mark Lockaby. “The picture windows in his living room were bashed out, and his kitchen was completely full of mud. (Lezzeni) was trapped upstairs. The fire department had to rescue him out a window.”
The wall of mud hit Lezzeni’s home with such force that it knocked the tiles from the walls of his kitchen and bathroom, pushed his ’85 Buick up and over his retaining wall and twisted the trunk of a massive oak tree.
Read the rest here. It’s inspiring.