Walking down Spear St. a few weeks ago in San Francisco to meet my a small, tough group of friends and family to do the Bay to Breakers (Covid-style, no crowds), a vendor had a pumpkin stand and was calling it a day and putting away the baskets of these orange lovelies. It was an incongruous and delightful sight, and I snapped a few photos, thinking, “Where am I, Half Moon Bay or downtown San Francisco?” Anyways, that B-to-B group had way more grit than I did! My fierce brother outwalked the group, even with Parkinson’s (his 49th Bay to Breakers!). My sister is being beat by breast cancer, and she soldiered on to the finish line, as did her son and my brother’s two friends, the Michaels. I petered out after 4 miles as my hips were complaining too much and I don’t even have an illness to blame it on. Not so tough. But it was a blast. SF is a great walking city. Now, let me switch to another walking story, which will make this post a bit lengthy and thank you for your patience.
My ailing sister, who is squeezing every last drop out of her life (who on earth gets kicked out of hospice, twice? Because she wasn’t done traveling? She’s a rock star!), was recently visiting from Seattle and doing, in her words, her Farewell Tour. She wanted to walk around our old neighborhood in Mill Valley, and I asked to join her. I was a bit reticent, as there are memory-bombs around every corner, and many are awful. But I also very much wanted to go, especially with her.
We had a ball, sharing funny memories and remembering stories about childhood friends and neighbors. We walked to our house at the end of Homestead Blvd, which is now nicely paved instead of gravelly and filled with potholes. Kay knocked on the front door, asking the owner if it was OK to walk through the yard, and she graciously invited us in to see the house.
Lordy, it was amazing. Sandy has lived there now 50 years! And it’s beautiful. It is filled with light and love and art and paintings of birds instead of pain and loneliness and abuse. It was a wonder. It hasn’t changed a lot (a few added skylights), but it is transformed, as Sandy is a warm, kind woman (and a birder and an artist!). It was a seminal moment for me, as now I think of that house, that contained so much sorrow when I was a child, as a place of joy and beauty. It was one of those marvelous curveballs life throws at you — and it became a surprise home run. Score!
7″ x 10″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $90