Saturday, January 04, 2014

A Christmas gift to remember ...

The email below was received one day after the New Year was rung in -- and just as Dorian and I were recovering from this year's version of the flu epidemic.  After hobbling to my computer after drinking the final dose of flax tea (ugh!) and after almost 35 hours of not checking my mailbox, this lovely little note from a total stranger turned up and righted my world which was disastrously listing on the Sea of Life.

This is about my dear now gone but still-loved Dad,  Dorson Louis Chabonnet, artist and craftsman supreme and the best maker of kites, and stilts, and "draw-er" of the most meticulously-measured hopscotches on the block!

... and this loving stranger remembered my mother's much-mended white lace table cloth -- and the lace-trimmed dining-room curtains.

Mr. Nett will never know how much his  tenderly-written note meant at a time when Christmas season had turned into such a nightmare.

I'll include my response tomorrow, but now I need to get out from under my hat and into something more appropriate to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of Alyana Reid, my college-bound granddaughter (next fall).

How I wish Dad had lived to see his younger grandchildren -- but he spent his last decade in darkness.  His eyesight failed totally, and (presumably) blindness was already descending when Stephen received his kite -- though I don't believe that I was aware of it at the time.  A truth that may have been shared with his male friend (Stephen's father) long before his family knew.  He was always the strong protector of family, and would have played his hand that way to the end.

So lovely!

May 2014 be all that you may wish for ...  .

I remember Dorson Charbonnet

From:S Nett
Subject:I remember Dorson Charbonnet
Date:Jan 2, 2014 5:19 PM

Hello Betty, 

I've just visited the Charbonnet Family Tree page, which is where I found your email, and which compels me to drop a short note. 

I grew up on 83rd Avenue Oakland in the late fifties and early sixties. My father knew Dorson - I don't recall how - and on one occasion when I was a very young boy I had the pleasure of visiting at the Charbonnet home with him. 

I still have vivid memories (which is what brought me this afternoon to search for some record, and discover your website). Mind you, I was a child, but, I strongly recall lace on the tables and curtains, and Dorson as a tall, erect man, with proud bearing, and the most sonorous voice, with a flavor of Louisiana when he spoke. I remember being somewhat fearful in his presence. His hands were (to me) very large, and he had the longest fingers I had ever seen.  

At the time, my father had told me, Dorson was losing his sight. So I was awestruck when he  
took me aside to show me his kites. He made marvelous kites by hand, of colored tissue and thin balsa, string, in different and unusual shapes and sizes.  He gifted me one, and it was the prized possession of my youth. I don't know what finally became of it, but I can still see it today. It was small, with six sides, white, with red tissue designs glued to its back. At its tail it had a small red flap strung loosely, just so, so that when the kite dove it 'buzzed', with two, long, red tissue tails that swooped after it.  It was like a bird, marvelous.

I know my father attended his funeral when he passed. 

I'm sorry I have nothing more to add, but hope this reaches you, just a small fond remembrance.


Stephen Nett