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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another week has passed, and today is Saturday and the day of the 26th Annual Kite Festival on the Berkeley Marina ... .

Dorian and I will get out our sweats, warm hooded jackets, binoculars and cameras -- pack a picnic lunch -- and head for the marina.  We'll spend the morning lying on our backs with eyes cast skyward, and if we're lucky, there will be not only kites of every possible description, but wind surfers and graceful sailboats to wonder at as well.

This afternoon at one o'clock I have a tour to guide for some members of the cast of "Rivets," starting at the SS Red Oak Victory and ending at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial; a full day in a week of full days.  But for now, it will be kites on the Green!

There are small rewards in life, one of them is that precious blue placard for the handicapped prescribed for Dorrie that proves to be almost equal to valet parking.  It means that we'll have no need to consider the walking distance from our car to our destination;  at times a real challenge.

Received a call from New York from the son of a childhood friend earlier this week informing me that his mother had died in late June.  In my busyness I'd not heard.  He was inviting me to her memorial service on August 20th here in Richmond.  A momentary flash of guilt clouded over as I remembered that the last time we talked by phone  (perhaps in late May), she sounded so confused -- hardly knew my voice.  I'd noticed when we last visited that her hearing was failing.  I stopped by a day or so later, rang her doorbell, and felt almost relieved when there was no answer.  Jacqueline was in the hospital at that time, and I didn't know.  I made a silent pledge to myself to stop on my lunch hour in a day or so to visit with her again; a pledge I failed to keep.  Having recently learned of another friend, Careth, on the eve of her eightieth birthday suffering a stroke, I felt a chill running along my spine, and invisible bumps along my lower arms.  Survivor's guilt?

But today is kite day on the Marina, and the last time Dorian and I attended this great event was a few years ago on the day that we delivered the remains of her beloved cat to the Berkeley SPCA for disposal (see post for July 31, 2005).   She woke that morning to find that Speedy -- who was pretty old and had been ailing -- had died during the night and was now frozen board-like into a lifeless lump.  Dorrie was devastated!

On the return to Richmond we saw them, kites of every size, shape, and hue dancing high against the cloudless sky.  Hoping to distract her from the feelings of loss, I impulsively slowed and pulled off the freeway to double back to find a place from which to watch.  We parked and walked along the road (this was before her accident and she was not yet needing a walker) where we soon found ourselves following the huge Sunday crowd to find a place where we could lie on our backs for the next few hours of pure joy!  I watched Dorrie's delighted face as the kites soon lifted her spirits skyward.   It didn't take long.   She asked if Speedy could see them ... .

Maybe kites will work for me today.


Later:  A dirge has been sounding all morning in the background of my mind; a feeling of disquiet; life-dulling disembodied overwhelming sadness. And once settled on our sleeping bag  (remembered seeing it in the trunk of the car, luckily), and lying on our backs watching the sky dance of an amazing array of kites -- suddenly the tears began to flow as I remembered that this is July --  the one year anniversary of the death of my younger sister, Lottie.  It was last year on the Day of Remembrance of the Port Chicago explosion in 1944.  I'd worked at the ceremony.  On arriving home from Concord, the call came from my niece to let me know that Lottie had died that morning in approximately the same time period as the ceremony; some time between eleven o'clock and noon.

This year's commemoration ceremony was held last Saturday, and though I was aware of this sad anniversary, I've been able to fend off the affects until now when it, uninvited, rose to consciousness to be dealt with and tucked away.

Just as the tears began to flow Dorian shouted out urgently, "Look, Mom, it's a cat!"  And looking up there she was, a black and white "tuxedo," a large kite replica of her beloved Speedy complete with four legs and tail and prancing kitten-like on the winds high overhead -- to Dorrie's total delight!

Then came the hugging, the rolling on the ground,  and the laughter at the absurdity of it all!

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