Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The NatureBridge Gala was Ga-lorious! ... .

It was held in San Francisco at the Bentley, the beautiful historic building on Battery Street in the Financial District.  I gave the keynote address, followed by a speech by young Dylan Lew, a handsome young high school student being honored as this year's  most outstanding participant in the environmental program for youth.  We made a great team, and I plan to be watching his rise in the Movement as he spreads his wings over the years to come.

Despite the headlines, hope springs eternal each time I find myself before audiences of such idealistic and energetic people of all ages, genders, races, ethnicities; those drawn to the environmental movement.

Last summer I was invited as a panelist to the Telluride Mountain Film Festival where I found myself both surprised and delighted with that crowd of the fit and tanned young men and women who people that world -- when they're not climbing mountains, filming great white sharks,  skiing down impossible slopes, probing the bottom of the sea, and saving endangered species while filming it all for the rest of us.  They seem to be doing all that good stuff that we ordinary folks don't have either the time or the financial resources to take on.  Came home thankful for the One Percenters, and vowed to silently support their efforts whenever and wherever possible.
I'm not sure that I can justify this attitude among my peers, but it made sense at 9,000 feet!

I felt somewhat the same way at the NatureBridge Gala.  That evening they raised $750,000 at their annual auction.  I tried to keep my eyebrows from rising to my hairline when a man at our table bid $50,000 on an item!

I know of the incredibly valuable work this organization provides -- an environmental education for thousands of school children every year; children from K through 12.  It is an amazing program that perfectly meshes with that of our National Park Service.

Our Rosie's Girls -- a summer program sponsored by our park that introduces middle school girls to non-traditional roles in the work place -- and that features two 3-week sessions that ends with a weekend trip to Yosemite --  which is fully funded by NatureBridge.  There is no cost to students which allows many to experience the wilderness for the very first time.  Some of our inner-city participants who have lived in the Bay Area for their entire young lives, have never seen the Pacific Ocean.

It is impossible to be depressed despite current headlines when moving around in circles of great minds doing great things with the zest of a people who share an uncompromising expectation of a world that fully intends to meet its challenges and prevail.

I do believe ... .

Catching up in my journal ... this one slid by but needs documenting ... .

Author/historian Daniel Howe and photographer Simon Griffiths visited our park a few weeks ago to conduct an interview to be included in a book featuring profiles of National Park rangers across the country.  To be included in such a work is a great tribute when you consider that my history with the parks is relatively short compared to others.

I learned that they'd flown out from their homes in the Carolinas to spent a day each with Ranger Shelton Johnson of Yosemite National Park and me.  Of course, Shelton is the iconic park ranger who was featured in the Ken Burns huge PBS special on our national parks.  To be considered in the same league -- much less the same book -- as Shelton is beyond my wildest fantasies.

Filmmaker Carl Bidleman and his photographer, Stefan, were also on hand to cover that interview for inclusion in their 30-minute film in production for other purposes.  That film will feature my recent life as a park ranger and should be released in late fall.

Makes one wonder, doesn't it?

Monday, May 15, 2017

One lifetime in which any one of the great adventures of these past few years should occur, is unimaginable, yet ... .

Saturday, May 13,  2017, will go down in my personal narrative as comparable to the Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, or, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, or the sharing of the tree lighting ceremony with the First Family -- with that frayed-around-the-edges little picture of my great grandmother, Leontine Breaux Allen, clutched in that little maroon velvet pouch in my left hand as I introduced the president to the nation; the memory of the warmth of the hand of President Barack Obama as he slipped that coin engraved with the presidential seal into my palm ... all of it was embodied in that moment when the beautiful cowl was draped over my graying head and slipped into place by the gentle hands of President Elizabeth Hillman.

There were two teams of filmmakers somewhere out there in the audience of 4000, filmmakers who by now have become indistinguishable from my friends and were no longer to be feared or even noticed as they go about their work of documenting this extraordinary ordinary life of Betty Reid Soskin.  They've now been with me in the shadows for over a year, and by Saturday had become almost invisible despite the paraphernalia necessary to their mission, simply because there was so much in the way; family and friends scattered throughout the VIP section, over 200 graduates capped and gowned eagerly and daringly standing on the threshold of "Life". I'd caught a glimpse of my two sons and granddaughter, nieces, cousins, friends from my Unitarian world who are no longer a part of my daily life, but who helped to get me over many of the rough patches to today.  Friend and mentor Farai Chideya who had flown out from New York a few hours ago just for this ceremony, and would be back on the afternoon flight for her return trip!  My National Park Service family was well represented.

The young Muslim woman who gave the opening address, and who was wearing the traditional scarf covering her head but with 3 inch strapped heels, and California casual peeking out from under her somber black robe!  Fiery political activist Lateefah Simon who gave the commencement address to an adoring audience -- and you knew somehow that -- given just a few more years on the earth, that I was watching the next rising star in the State legislature.

From the moment of arrival, I'd been shepherded from place to place by gracious Mills faculty, board members, all manner of hosts and hostesses, so that there was never a moment in which to connect with friends and family, which was one of the unexpected disadvantages.  I'm now receiving loving messages from many who were witnesses to my great moment, but were unable to ever connect during the event.

Also unanticipated was the strength and power of the "virtual" community that has now become the source of energy and courage that I'm consciously drawing from each time life hands me one of these larger than life experiences.  Some in that "family" have been with me for the past 25 years, from the world we created on Seniornet, an online community emanating from San Francisco many years ago.  Quill, Janina, Jayne, oh so many, whom I've never laid eyes on, but who have been the  wind beneath my wings for a very long time.

So much is owed to so many ... .

In those rare moments between thrills sitting on the platform as the graduates paraded past receiving  their diplomas, I was so aware that -- rather than "We shall overcome" playing in the back of my mind in the rich contralto of Mahalia Jackson, it was something quite unexpected.  This was my Brigadoon moment, and my black metaphors were hopelessly overwhelmed by a long life in the rich diversity of the greater Bay Area.  It wasn't the voice of the noble Dr. Martin Luther King whispering in my ear, but a tiny brown leprechaun resplendent in green garb sitting on my left shoulder channeling Al Jarreau riffin' on Look to the Rainbow!  

Oh, and this song, "Look at me", was written over 40 years ago.  Only the last line was changed to fit the occasion.  My music, including  Look at me, is becoming the sound track to one of the documentaries now being filmed.  There is talk of an album to be released along with the films.

Which  brings us to yesterday, the day after this memorable celebratory ceremony, but while I'm still in my paper hat ...

Photo by Mike Pompa
Look at me!

Look at me and you'll see how I'm flyin'!
Can't you see this is me, no more cryin'
Feel like I'm Series time and this is my inning
Maybe this is a game
but this time I'm winning!
People say she's like a girl from the moon
she's a dead one
Now I'm like a balloon
and a red one!
Twelve feel high still growin'
and all my dreams aglowin'
Look at me, look at me, look at me
Look at me, Look at me and you'll see

I'm finally a Mills woman!

Monday, May 01, 2017

Saturday brought another of the occasional interviewers to the Visitor Educator Center ...

... but this one was a bit out of the ordinary in that his name was Brian Yochim, and he was from St. Louis; an academic.  He wanted to interview me for a textbook he's writing for psychiatrists and psychologists.  The Psychology of Aging is his subject, and I suppose those of us at the upper end of the Pyramid of Life are increasingly of interest since there are so many more of us now than ever before in history.  How these years are spent by those of us fortunate enough to reach this final decade with our cognitive functioning intact are quite the phenomenon.

I've suspected for a long time that much of the interest in my work tends to lie in the fact that I'm such a late bloomer.  Though I cannot say that I didn't work -- I'd been a stay-at-home mom for the first half only but after having helped to start our little family business in Berkeley until motherhood took over my life.  Didn't have my first significant formal job until I was almost fifty, and have been working ever since.  That the National Park Service hired me as a permanent park ranger at 85 continues to bring smiles to the faces of the elders who stop in, especially when I playfully suggest that they keep their resumes updated, "you never know when the call will come!"

In this interview which was not from the usual perspective -- but from a very different line of inquiry, I became more aware of the fact that I'm now living day-to-day out of context.  My world is peopled by the young.  That probably effects the way I look at life, because there is far more future and hope in those under fifty than above the half-century mark.  I'm guessing that life would look much different were I living in a retirement community among peers.

Found myself wondering how much our attitudes about growing old are "caught" from the setting in which we find ourselves?  Wondering how much power lies in external definitions of the nature of aging?  Is the dementia so prevalent among those over 80 due to contagion?  Is the fact that -- as I am realistically dealing with end of life issues -- I'm still moored to the present through the environment that is provided by my work -- is that what's making the difference?  Has the ghettoizing of the elderly been destructive to our well-being?

Had my annual physical mid-week and was curious as to why the physician wasn't guided by the state of my well-being rather than what I'm projected to be at 95.  No longer are certain tests done routinely.  No longer checking for cholesterol levels, for instance.  There are tests that get dropped off the schedule after a certain age.  No mammograms.  No PAP smears.  (Have I outlived my PAP, maybe?).  Just a great young doctor going into raptures of delight at how great is my continuing state of excellent health, no meds except for a 12 mg tablet to control blood pressure, no chronic illnesses; no arthritis, no diabetes, no, no, no ... .  He says, "My God, you're like a 60 year-old!"  So why is he not treating me like a 60 year-old?  Why is he suddenly taking my blood pressure in a standing position "because that's what we do after 75," instead of sitting down as my fine state of health should demand?  But that's what the doctor's manual says, as he showed me on his computer when I looked quizzical.

I live in Hilltop Village, about a 35 year-old low to moderate income housing development where there are children, young parents, middle-aged couples and singles, dogs and cats galore, and at least one parrot.  My work involves day-to-day contact with young rangers with varied life experiences and attitudes plus a few of those nearing retirement age having put in their 20 years.  All are firmly invested in NOW, and are deeply engaged in meaningful work.

Really, by the end of the interview I found myself with more questions than answers ... .

I wonder if Mr. Yochim went home scratching his head and wondering, too?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The schedule for the Commencement if you're planning to attend:

You should plan to arrive and be seated by 9:30.  

Schedule for Mills College Commencement

Saturday, May 13, 2017

7:45am Car sent to pickup Mrs. Soskin at her home
8:50am                 Arrive at Mills College, met by Renee Jadushlever, Chief of Staff
8:50am-9:15am     Continental Breakfast, meet and greet trustees, platform party
9:15am                 Robing with Trustees, other Distinguished Guests (Mills will provide regalia)
9:30am                 Line up for Processional
9:45am                Processional  (Platform Party: Director of Spiritual
                                & Religious Life, Provost, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Commencement
    Speaker, President)
10:00am               Blessing, Welcome, Student Addresses, other speeches
                                           and ceremonial issues, Introduction of Speaker
10:30am-10:45am Presentation of Honorary Doctorate of Arts & Letters (3 minutes speech by Betty Reid Soskin)
10:45am              Commencement Speech - Lateefah Simon 
11:00am               Conferring of Degrees
12:06pm              President’s Charge to the Graduates
12:10pm               Benediction
12:11pm               College Hymn
12:15pm               Recessional
12:30pm               After recessional, take off robe and go to President's House for
12:30pm-2:00pm   Reception in the President’s Garden immediately
                                           following the ceremony.  (150 people - speaker, distinguished guests,
                                           trustees, donors, alumnae)

2:00pm Car sent to bring Ms. Soskin home

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Surprises abound!

Opened my federal IPad yesterday -- when the world was looking impossibly dark and unpredictable -- and there it was; a message from President Elizabeth Hillman of Mills College announcing that I'd been selected to receive an honorary doctorate at their May 13th commencement!  Can you imagine?  But of course you cannot.  No one could possibly understand how much this means.

I grew up at a time when college was only for the privileged.  Young women whose parents could afford to, sent them to higher education in order to enable them to marry well, though some were sincerely seeking higher learning in prescribed fields, getting an "Mrs." was worth far more than earning a Ph.D.,.

As a child of the depression era -- college was unthinkable, but being a part of the crowd heading into life-changing careers was important.  Like most parents, mine saw to it that the young men I was dating were those who were on the ladder to great things.  That I would aspire to be a student was not encouraged in the least, and was generally thought to be a waste of time for girls.  Graduating from high school was, at that time, quite enough.  I'd fulfilled my parent's hopes by the age of 18.  That I would be married and a mother (in that order, hopefully), by the time I was 21 would surely not fulfill my own ambitions, but being educated beyond high school was simply not a part of the equation.

Yes, that's me -- top row.
I grew up in East Oakland at a time when there was little opportunity to even ride past Mills College unless the bus on which I was riding was within range of that campus.  At such times I would ride by and wistfully wonder what magical things went on behind those lush ivied walls.  I could barely see beyond those magnificent fortress-like gates just off MacArthur boulevard  that led into who knows what Secret Gardens ... .  Maybe the likes of Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison, the Bronte sisters, Amelia Earhart, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Willa Cather, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Georgia O'Keefe, Jane Addams, Clara Barton,  Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony and Cady Stanton, Rachel Carson, Helen Keller, Madame Marie Curie, Louisa Mae Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe et al, were waiting behind those walls.

There was that turn in the road that would bring the scruffy flatlands into view as we descended from the foothills to our home on lower 83rd Avenue -- where such names might be rarely heard, but who were already familiar names to this inquiring young mind.  But, of course, I grew up as a second generation Californian studying from an exclusive curriculum designed for a white and homogeneous America.

It would be decades still before the wisdom, voices, and likes of Phyllis Wheatley, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Zola Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, Teri McMillan, Isabel Wilkerson, Sonya Sanchez, Gwendolyn Brooks, Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde, Olivia Butler, Bessie Coleman, Dr. Mae Jemison, Ida B. Wells, Fanny Lou Hamer and our own Rep. Barbara Lee, could be imagined behind those walls of a by now more inclusive institution of higher learning. I only learned of Dr. Katherine Johnson, the brilliant physicist/mathematician of NASA fame, on Netflix a few nights ago!  Or that I would be a middle-aged 46 year-old woman when, in 1967, the Lovings would be imprisoned for loving one another enough to marry in the state of Virginia, a State where such unions were then prohibited by law.

No longer am I invisible or unrepresented.

I am worthy.

Education was generic then, and did not yet reflect the changing racial and cultural demographic of the City of Oakland that we've since grown into, though at that time (pre-Proposition 13) our state system of public instruction was the envy of the country and the world.  That I've experienced a long lifetime of an ever-evolving curiosity and always an avid reader probably harkens back to that early training under the guidance of a succession of strong white teachers who cared enough to nurture the spark evident in my questions despite the flawed social system imposed by the times.  Fortunately, to their credit, I was never forced to perform under the crushing burden of low expectations, though there are the lingering effects of cultural deprivation and expropriation still to be overcome.

I would be a young adult before Ruth Acty would become the first African American woman to be hired to teach in the public schools of California.

It was much later in life when -- in the early months as a new and untested member of staff of our park -- Martha Lee, our superintendent, received an invitation for someone to participate on a panel sponsored by the National Women's History Project's annual national conference to be held on the Mills campus, and no one else was available to send.

The assignment would present my very first opportunity to be behind those beautiful ivy-covered walls and storied historic buildings -- and I could hardly wait.  That was in spring of 2006, and as the result of my participation on that panel, I was named as one of ten of the Women, Builders of Communities and Dreams, honored nationally in ceremonies both at Griffiths Park in Los Angeles, and in Washington, D.C. at the historic John Hay Hotel -- just across from the expansive grounds of the White House.  This would be my introduction to the nation's capitol, and life was never the same thereafter.

Mills College and I now have a shared history, and that this beautiful campus should now become the site of this ultimate honor caps the dream that was so far beyond imagination of that little girl of color riding so wistfully by on the MacArthur Avenue bus line so long ago, dreaming the impossible dream ... .

Those little girls of color are still riding past ... past those seemingly forbidding gates that, symbolically, stand for the unseen forces against which so much energy must still be expended.  To some those gates may still be perceived as protecting those within from those without.  There is still little awareness of the depths of unexplored potential, or, that the barriers of old have lost much of their power to exclude the curious, or limit the reach of those who aspire to greatness.  Over time, Mills College has contributed much to the lessening of the obstacles to fulfillment for so many.  In all of our names, I thank you.

... and, it is true that all things are possible, even if one has to wait a very long lifetime for the fantasy to become breathingly, livingly, and lovingly real!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

In our little theater in a moment of reflection post-talk (Getty image)
Interview with Richard Dion from The Soul of California, Podcast from Germany ... .

... went well, I think, though I have no way of knowing, actually.  I have no idea what audience it will be aired for, or -- since it was in English and not German -- whether the intended audience is in Europe or the United States.  The Internet had made the world so small that one can originate programming from almost anywhere -- including outer space.  The direct connections have been obscured irreversibly.

It occurred to me that -- when I'm giving my talks in our little theater with its limited seating capacity (48) the intimacy is so clear -- that it's possible to deal with sensitive subjects easily, and that fact colors my presentations, and keeps my truths fresh for me.  As long as I can see faces that are hearing my words for the first time, those words continue to be alive for me.  Were that not true I think my talks would not be possible without gradually going predictable and boring.

My talks tend to vary over time, with differences in stresses and accents because my audiences continue to bring newness and freshness with them each time they enter into my small circle of listeners.  New questions give rise to new or changing memories; the dynamism goes on.

It is hard for me to establish those conditions with a radio audience.  If I allow myself to stray from the singular voice of the person on the other end of the telephone line -- it tends to become diffuse and I lose focus.  On the other hand, if I simply stay with that voice (an audience of one) maybe  something gets lost ... .

I'm so dependent upon the ambiance provided by my setting that it's hard for me to judge whether my effectiveness comes through when the access to those faces, eyes, questions, are not possible -- as in radio interviews -- that these are a waste of time and yield little but noise.

Maybe that uncertainty is the reason that I tend to never listen to those programs after the fact.  Maybe I'm afraid that I've not lived up to expectations -- the reason my opinions are sought by
"the World," and that I must not trust this publicity-manufactured celebrity at all.

I truly don't know.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Singing at UU Convention, Cleveland - circa 1968
Under the heading that reads Invincible, there has always been, "of course" ... .

... but then that was at a time when the days, weeks, and months were not yet measured, and all things still possible.  In this final decade the traffic is horrendous as items such as End of Life Issues are bumping up against a still vibrant and active everyday life of park rangering, giving interviews for podcasts and publications in faraway places.  This week it's a 43-minute piece to be aired in Germany by host Richard Dion who is on my schedule by phone on Thursday afternoon at 12:30 (PDT).  Also am the subject of one half-hour film based on my life as a ranger and another 90-minute documentary on our family leading up to those 85 years that came before.  The longer film is planned for a PBS airing in February of 2018; or at least that's the goal of our young filmmaker.

There is some irony in the fact that I lived in obscurity for such a long time before the world discovered that I was here doing all the ordinary minuscule acts of normalcy that everyone does just to keep the world's sanity in check, and weighing in on those things where my small life touched with the lives of others in meaningful ways.  I've never known that all those scattered moments of passion, joy, sadness, and rage acted upon, represented history, and that I was creating the nation's narrative along with the rest of humanity whose lives coincided with mine.

Two filmmakers, Bryan Gibel and Carl Bidleman, and their teams have been at work on documenting that history for over a year now, and in the process have created work samples to support their grant funding applications that have exposed segments of my life long forgotten while hidden away in storage boxes and moved from place to place as life demanded, never anticipating ever surfacing into my re-created life as Betty the Ranger.

There was, for instance, a box holding 30 large reels of audio tapes, contents unknown.  The hardware on which to play them had long since disappeared. The entire collection is in the process of being digitized and archived.  That means that 50 years of my life will soon be ready to be scrutinized at a time when it brings me in direct confrontation with a far younger self.  It's mind-boggling!

The long-hidden artist Betty has sprung back into existence and with an unexpected older Betty now in charge.

For a few days now I've been watching a few minutes of a fragment of young Betty singing 3 original songs while being videotaped by a team of at least 3 cameras.  It's a work of art -- and I'm watching that performance in the third person -- free of ego -- and able to see and hear the undeniably great talent of that youthful self.  There is no audience; no sound beyond my own voice, obviously performing for cameras in a professional studio somewhere -- but there is no memory of the experience.  Only of the dress that I'm wearing, and the strong memory of feeling pretty in it.  I have no idea who created this piece, or why it was done, or for what purpose? I wonder why the smiles when watching and listening, and the conscious checking and wiping my face of expression each time I play the tape, even though I'm alone and unseen ... .

What an experience ... .  Strange!  I'd 50 years ago slammed the door on any possibility of emerging into the world as an entertainer, only to have this younger Betty rise up now ready to re-enter the world in this final decade.  Of course this is happening when any possibility of being swept up in that world has been eliminated by age.  Maybe it's safe now.  It almost feels too unlikely to be true, yet it is, and I'm no longer running away.  It's no longer necessary. It's the final blending of all of the women I've ever been through my music, and this time it feels right.

The documentary will feature an unknown number of original songs written and performed in the 60s and 70s, and that collection of music will form the sound track for the film.  There is a proposal for an album to be released with the film.

Aboard the USS Hornet where I would, decades later, give the International Women's Day keynote address as a ranger
The music carries an accurate record of those historic decades, documenting all of the drama that we were living through as We the People changed the nation -- the  Civil Rights struggles of the late 50s through the 60s; Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964, the Vietnam War Peace Movement, the birth of "Black is Beautiful," and the beginnings of the feminist movement; all still relevant and still largely unresolved.  In listening to those songs I'm so aware that they could well have been written yesterday or last week.  The content is relevant to today's headlines.  The sad truth is that so much remains unaddressed.  The songs are 40-50 years old, but remain as fresh and as poignant as tomorrow morning.

Hay House, NY, will publish my memoir for a February release with their Black History Month listings.  Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor is editing the book from this blog, so the writing has all been done.

International Women's Day aboard
the USS Hornet in 2006
Young Betty was left in the suburbs when I returned to urban life in the early 70s.  Given the eucalyptus curtain that exists between those places -- separated by the Oakland hills -- as well as by the social policies and strategies that created and maintained the division between the haves and have nots; it was easier to leave than one might imagine.  To some extent it had been like decades of life in a kind of Disneyland with mortgages!

Returning to the east side of those hills was easy once I realized that life in the suburbs was truly and tragically culturally-deprived, though the truth of that is still not realized by most.  It was increasingly obvious that my kids had grown up with a distorted system of values -- that the nation was slowly but surely waking up to that fact, and that the glitz and glamour of the "burbs" needed to be balanced by some of the urban grittiness and harsher realities in order to grow into the grownups they needed to be in a fast-changing country.  We were ready for the change, painful though it proved to be.

Rick, now 21, was living on his own in an apartment in Berkeley.  Bob was hitch-hiking his way across Canada (with my permission) on the return trip from a Unitarian-Universalist annual conference we'd attended together.   We'd moved David to live with our dear friends, Jean and Roger Moss, to complete high school in Berkeley.  Dorian was safely enrolled in St. Vincent's Academy in Santa Barbara, and Mom was now a free woman about to start a new career as an administrative assistant on a research project at the University of California, upon return from the Democratic Convention at Miami as a delegate.  It was a year of major life changes in the lives of each of us; a year that began with that critical and long-delayed divorce decision.

I'd rejected any notion of a career in the entertainment industry due to the primary responsibility to continue to provide a safe place for my 4 children at a time when my marriage was crumbling.  Dorian's intellectual deficits were not going to ever allow her to have a full life, and our eldest son was struggling with gender issues complicated by problems generated by racial prejudices he'd had to endure throughout his young life.  I've always believed that it was Rick who paid the price of his well-meaning young parent's attempts at declaring full freedoms for their children, and that his death from alcoholism that brought on the fatal cirrhosis will haunt me through the rest of my days.

I chose to move back into the city when my boys had weathered adolescence and Dorrie was in the care of those progressive and loving nuns at St. Vincent's where she spent the following 4 years of the critical training that would prepare her for as much independence as would be possible, given her limitations.

For me, it was time to develop new edges to grow from.  Fortunately, there were enough of those to make possible a completely new life.

I've never looked back.

... nor did I ever regret those decisions.

Young Betty has re-entered my life just in time to provide -- through generous advances and royalties from these almost forgotten works -- the potential capacity to sustain Dorian's life without interruption into a future without me.  How's that for love's power to reach back even from the grave?  Her Dad, Mel, died in 1987.

From now on we will co-exist, young Betty and me, and quite comfortably, finally.

How poetic is that?

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