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Baltimore by the Sea

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Over the Weekend

Mixed bag over the weekend. Saturday was the annual Free Museum Day for all Sacto and I spent the afternoon at the State Indian Museum. The museum can’t hold more than 66 people at a time so the excess had to wait outside in line. I worked the queue, entertaining people on the line with an Indian game of skill; catching several rings (salmon or deer vertebra)on the end of a stick (deer shin bone). The museum normally closes at 4PM on Free day but this year it stayed open until 5:00, but I left around 4:30, heading for Napa to visit with Barbara and Hans & Irmgard Albertson.

My buddy Barbara’s parents seemed well enough last Christmas when I spent what must be my 25th Christmas with the Albertsons – yes! It is hard to believe but that’s how long I’ve known them and have enjoyed their generous hospitality.

I first visited the Albertsons when I was 25 years old, when they lived in Cotati a cute little town north of San Francisco, not too far from the coast. In recent years Barb’s parents gave up their 10 acres of Cotati - which required a good deal of work to keep up - and they purchased a home in the Napa wine country. I’ve enjoyed the past four or five Christmases in Napa with Hans, Irmgard, Barbara and Phil, Suzi and Bob O.

It was a couple of years ago that it dawned on me I was older than Hans & Irmgard were when I first met them. I decided I could allow myself to call them by their first names. My parent’s training that all adults should be addressed as Dr. & Mrs. was a difficult habit to break (Hans is a retired veterinarian).

Last Christmas, 2006, Hans and Irmgard had round the clock nursing care in their house. Barbara brought 2 of her new cats with her on the visit. Hans had fun playing with his furry grandchildren. Irmgard was cheerful, but was only a shadow of her former self; the hale & hardy Haus Frau that I have loved over the years. The holidays went quickly the New Year was barely started when Irmgard’s health plummeted so drastically that Hospice was called in.

So I visited with the Albertsons last weekend. I was shocked when I saw Irmgard; it was more difficult seeing her so frail than I could have imagined it would be. I think it is not only the shock of seeing how ill she is, but additionally, seeing her brings back strong memories of my own mother.

My mother’s illness in 1992 took her quickly. I couldn’t (ok, I still can’t) look at pictures of her because it is too upsetting for me. Seeing Irmgard was upsetting as it was, but additionally, although she bares no similarity to my Mother – I am reminded none-the-less of my Mother.

So the weekend was riff with emotion. On the bright side it was comforting to visit Irmgard and find some of the former Irmgard in the frail body the bedridden lady now occupies. And Hans is very sweet, like a big old teddy bear. We enjoyed ourselves. I played animal podcasts and Der Taggeshau newscast for him on my video iPod. Reminded me that my father would have had a ball with an iPod if they’d been around when he was younger. That goes for my friend Joann’s father too. Both of our Father’s enjoyed short wave radio and broadcasts and I know they’d have dived right into the Internet world – too bad it came to late for them to enjoy.

So the weekend was bitter sweet and I know there’ll be many more like it coming up as I visit with the family in Napa. Barbara and I have already decided that when we get old we’re all going to take one last trip to Alaska and at the end of it that last long walk through boreal forest and join the Snow Walkers.

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