The last couple of weeks have been interesting. Not so much the "fun, new and interesting", but more the Chinese curse interesting, "May you live in interesting times." Not surprisingly, work on the house has been sporadic.
An old friend died of cancer of the esophagus. It's hard to believe Dave is gone. He was always enthusiastic about whatever he was doing, whether it was cheering for Cal sports, cursing various ESPN commentators, or randomly calling an operator in Atlanta a few years back when the Braves were in the World Series. (She of course was rooting for the Braves, but thought one of the opposing players had a cute butt. Which of course sent Dave into gales of laughter.) "Joie de vive" only begins to describe him. A golden retriever kind of personality, a Golden Bear, and a heart of gold. Or at least gold plated :-)
Another friend's father died of lung cancer. Amazing it didn't kill him sooner, since he smoked for over 70 years. I never met him, but I feel like I know him a little since I've been helping my friend prepare a video tribute to him. Chinese immigrant. Decorated WWII veteran. Restaurant owner. Loved to cook. Great sense of humor. Loving husband and father.
Our neighbor John died on Monday at the ripe old age of 95. A couple years ago he bought a hybrid Honda Civic because he'd seen our Toyota Prius and I told him how much we loved it and what great mileage it got. Even though age had slowed him down, he always had a smile and up until a couple of months ago walked his little dog.
Recently I received a beautiful gift, a copy of Galen Rowell: A Retrospective by the Sierra Club. I took a number of photo workshops with him, learned a lot, and was inspired by his work. I was planning on a trip to Antarctica on which he was one of the featured leaders, but the ship sank on an earlier cruise in the Pacific*. I took the picture on the left in Yosemite, one of Galen's favorite spots. He and his wife Barbara died several years ago on their way home from one of their many trips. I love the book, but it was a fresh reminder of their passing.
(* In the immortal words of Dave Barry, "I'm not making this up." It hit an uncharted reef, and the captain ran it aground to keep it from sinking completely. The insurance company called it a total loss, and the planned trip was delayed.)
But of course, people die all the time. Civil wars, hunger, disease, murder or just bad luck. It can all make you feel pretty small and helpless sometimes, even (or maybe especially) if you believe in God. So what's a person to do? Appreciate people like it's their last day on earth, because it might be. Give blood -- there's a continual need for it. Because the next life it saves just might be yours.