Alice (my Martha's sister) sent me a CD containing a lot of pics from Martha's childhood; I've extracted some of them and posted them here in the Memorial web site .
I absolutely puddled while looking at the photographs - seeing the body language and facial expressions on the child Martha with which I was/am so familiar in the adult Martha - yeah, this old curmudgeonly male is extremely sentimental, and I wouldn't have it any other way because Mou treasured that in me.
I'd also gone through a lot of storage, and consolidated one hell of a lot of the pics I took over the years Mou and I had; three full storage boxes worth, with a fourth one well under way - and about 30 more 35mm film cartridges yet to be developed.
Lordy... methinks I lost about 10 pounds body weight from tears... many tears from grief, because Mou and I won't be able to revisit those many many special places; many tears from sheer joy that we did have those places. Treasures... seeing pictures of places we went to, spent time in, had fun in, laughter and joy and wtf moments in... absolute treasures that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I try not to think of how sad it is that you are gone Martha/Mouzer, but rather how empty it would have been had you never come. I try, but don't succeed very often.
I guess what I'm saying is what my Princess and I had/have far, far, far outweighs the regrets about things I wanted to do with her, regrets about the time I never spent with her because of "obligations" and false priorities... time I could have/should have spent with her, but never did...
It's not just the photographs reminding me of all the incredibly good, fun, healthy times we had either.
There's lots of things in this home that also remind me. Sitting here, looking across the living room to the fireplace, I'm looking at the Wolf and Cougar replica/signed carvings we purchased at Timber Cove on our fifth anniversary - which brings to immediate memory how, while there, we enjoyed the hot tub outside of the room on the second floor, listening to the waves of the Pacific soughing into the rocks and sand 100 yards away, relaxing beneath the incredible smog-free crystal clear star-studded sky above us.
After we got out of the hot tub, Mou went inside to get in bed and read; I stayed outside (making sure the sliding doors were shut) so I could enjoy the night air, smoke, and read.
OK. There I was. Warm, comfortable, magnificent star-studded sky above me, milky way very visible, buried in a book, reading -
And something grabbed the big toe on my right foot.
I yelped, the cigarette went one way, the book went another; Martha exploded out of bed and opened the curtains/patio door -
And we're looking at about 15 raccoons who wanted a hand-out, and Mou and I subsequently stayed up until the very wee hours of the morning visiting/being visited by raccoons. I have pics of some of that which, in my copious free time, I'll add to the photo galleries.
Heh - raccoons indeed.
October, 1994. I flew out from New Jersey for a job interview in Portland Oregon, and to go to a picnic afterwards to meet some friends we knew from the net, but whom we'd never met before. Mou met me there; and after the picnic, we drove from Portland to Mou's home in San Francisco. I hadn't been there before. When we got to Rainbow House (her home) and parked in the garage, the first thing I noticed was a box of dog biscuits - and I remarked "you never told me you had a dog" - she replied she didn't. "OK", asks I, "what are the dog biscuits for?" "Wait until dark", she says.
So, I accept that. Around 10 PM that night, she says "Time to show you about the dog biscuits." We go into garage, she takes the box of biscuits with her, and we go into the back yard. She whistles -
And five raccoons come scrambling over the back yard fence.
I boggled - the middle of San Francisco, major metropolis - and raccoons are coming over the fence.
Mou tosses them dog biscuits, and they're coming within a couple of feet of us. I offer a biscuit to one of them; it hesitates - and comes up to me and takes the biscuit out of my hand. Within 10 minutes, Mou and I are sitting cross-legged on the patio, and raccoons are climbing in our laps, taking and eating the biscuits in our laps. Their palms are softer than the finest chamois leather -
Yeah, I know raccoons can easily shred a human; but I've been around wild animals for a huge chunk of my childhood and more, and prior to letting the raccoons take a biscuit out of my hand, I had filled Mou in about how to move, act, etc.
The smile on Mou's face when a raccoon climbed in her lap, took a biscuit, and munched it quite comfortably while sitting in her lap cannot be described other than absolute delight.
Jumping forward to here and now. I've been cleaning out the bookshelves, getting ready to distribute Mou's books per her wishes... Finding the Robert B. Parker, author of the Spencer series books... Me, mysteries? detective novels????
Yeah, right. Easier to expect a house cat to enjoy swimming in a pool daily... but, Mou suggested I read the first one. I trusted her judgment, so I did. Well, that kind of back-fired on Mou, because I was absolutely hooked. We'd be sitting in bed, side by side, her reading one of her mysteries, me reading Parker - and I'd see parallels between Hawk and Spencer - and Mou and myself - and would comment on that, interrupting her reading. We had many long, wonderful conversations about life, dealing with the unexpected, ways of looking at life's curve-balls... all to our mutual benefit...
OOPS. One aside here.
Do NOT interupt Mou when she is reading. Actually, don't interrupt either of us when we are reading (unless you are suicidal) ;)
Yet - she enjoyed our conversations over Spencer and so many other books she and I had read; going over the insights of the authors, their perspectives, and so much more as it applied - or did not apply - to our own lives, societies, cultures, and history; where the authors "got it" - and where they did not -
Mou's absolute favorite reading material was mysteries by female authors. Any thing other than mysteries or solid non-fiction books about recovery, healing, growing, language, semantics, mathematics; Uh uh. Mou wouldn't touch'em.
YET - yet.
There were exceptions to Mou's reading interests that further enriched both of us.
When we first met, Mou introduced me to an author I had never ever heard of; Mercedes Lackey - a fantasy writer. She'd read several of Mercede's books, and suggested I read a particular one (the title escapes me) in which Elves work hand in hand with particular humans in the NASCAR circut; and they (the elves and the gifted human) observe a little girl who (through telekinesis) prevents a very horrible accident on the track - a little girl who's fictional life had remarkable parallels to our own lives.
I now have every single Mercedes Lackey book ever published, which delighted Mou to no end; and the resulting conversations about Mercede's insights into human behavior, social structures, societal interactions, person-person interactions, and the parallels to our own lives had us talking more times than I can count into the wee hours of the morning, with resulting deeper understanding of each other, deeper closeness, deeper communication -
Through the years, we enjoyed Narnia, Trilogy of the Ring, Harry Potter and much more together; books and movies... Star Wars; I'll never forget the night after Mou, STella, and I went to see Episode One. We were heading for the car, and Mou was giggling about Jar Jar Binks - and then she proceeded to absolutely flawlessly duplicate Jar Jar's walk. It took STella and I about five minutes to pick our jaws up off the parking lot, much to Martha's absolute delight...
Movies... Lord, the times we went to movies together... Lion King, Prince of Egypt, Brother Bear, Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond (heh, that alone is worthy of a separate post!), Zorro, Balto, so many many more; going to see Yanni live, taking her to Phantom of the Opera live for her 48th birthday... watching the delight, pleasure, joy, excitement on her face, in her body language, in the way she hugged me when moving scenes occurred... collecting and watching obscure movies at home - Purple People Eater (yes, it IS a movie!), The Raven (classic, wonderful Vincent Price/Boras Karloff/Peter Lorre), Fried Green Tomatoes, Princess Bride, Alfred Hitchcock, many many more while cuddling on the couch...
Laughing gently too about one particular movie experience...
Mou was never ever an audiophile... as long as she could hear the music, hear the words - she was absolutely fine. Monaural sound was fine by her, she had no need nor desire for stereo at all.
I had purchased a 5.1 surround-sound system for our TV/VHS/DVD/.Cassette system - not a high-end one at all, as the acoustics here at Rainbow House are well, residential, not music hall. She didn't get it, and mildly objected to me spending the roughly $300 for the system, but granted that even though she didn't understand why one would want it, she did understand that some people such as your's truly did appreciate it.
One week later, we were watching the Mulan DVD. Towards the end of the movie, there is a scene where the puppy is chasing the chickens towards the temple. The initial scene shows the puppy starting to chase the chickens to the left and rear of the main characters; then the camera goes to the main characters - while the puppy and chickens are off-screen to the left and rear.
Mou is sitting there, watching the screen - and the puppy barking sound is coming through loud and clear through the left rear speaker. Mou turned around to her left, looked at the floor (the garage where the dogs are is below us), and she yells "Shasta, enough!" (thinking it was our dog Shasta barking) - and then she realized what really was happening.
Mou looked at me, and said "OH! So THAT is what surround sound is! I Love it!" :)
Jumping now to the deep (for me) past... The years before me; Mou going on trips with with her previous husband and family to Russia, London, Mardis Gras in New Orleans, Scotland, Italy, Israel, and many other places (I have the pictures she has of all those) - all (from my perspective) far out of my reach, all glamorous stuff I have always dreamed of doing but never could afford - but which Mou and I never got around to doing or affording -
Instead, I shared with her what I could afford - we camped, explored natural wonders such as Big Basin, Russian Gulch, Fort Bragg and the Super Skunk steam train, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen, Mt. Ranier, Death Valley, Sequoia national monument, rocky coastlines along northern and mid-California (Timber Cove); the many trips south to Sylvia (her High-school friend) in Thousand Oaks with side trips to Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, the Santa Barbara zoo and beaches, the Portland Zoo and parks, the Vancouver B.C. area while visiting friends there; the narrow gauge train in Roaring Camp, the antique stores and trains in Jamestown and Sonora; the gigantic Sequoia trees and redwood trees in oh so many parks; and many other beaches and parks in California, Oregon, Washington - drives along highway 1 on the California coast (Big Sur, Carmel, more).
All of which, much to my surprise and delight, she deeply deeply enjoyed and told me more times than I can count that she enjoyed far far more than seeing Moscow or New Orleans or Big Ben or Stone Hedge or... whatever.
I showed her a different world, a gee-I-don't-have-the-$$-so-here's-what-I-can-do-world that she told me so many times that treasured more than anything she'd experienced before...
Camping in Death Valley in December... Seeing her smile and awe and wonder when she got out of the tent in Death Valley that first morning and saw the Coyote tracks right next to the tent; laying next to her that very night as we listened to the coyotes snuffling around the tent and seeing her bright-eyed wonder and awe and delight as she listened to "snuffle, nudge, snuffle" of the coyotes one foot away; the days of exploring the canyons, salt flats, borax mines, Scotty's Castle...
Camping and fishing too... She tried fishing, but didn't care for it - and she made it very explicitely clear she would never set foot in a boat smaller than a car-carrying ferry. Conversely, she absolutely loved sitting on the shore in a comfortable camp lounge chair reading her mysteries, watching me fish - I'd putt by in my little boat, and she'd ask "catch lunch yet?" or "catch dinner yet?" Martha loves fresh-caught fish. We always had fresh fish for lunch and dinner, and I'd cure and smoke the rest, which we'd take home and put in the freezer.
She took to calling the frozen smoked fish troutsicles (trout is 90% of what I catch), and every time we got down to one ziplock of troutsicles, she would always bring that last ziplock to me, hold it up, and say "We're going camping and you're going fishing this weekend, right?" Heh, twist my arm :)
I'm finally realizing I gave Martha/Mouzer/my Princess 12 years of joyfull discovery, pleasure, delight, and far far more than what I couldn't/didn't give her...
Yeah, I wish I could have given her more; we wanted to see Yellowstone, wanted to see the glaciers in Alaska, wanted to see the wolves in the wild, wanted to camp in Montana and Colorado with the fall aspens, wanted to see moose and elk and volcanoes and deep wilderness together, but never got to do that.
Life and responsibilities and career demands prevented that - it always was "maybe next year" for us.
But that didn't prevent the absolute treasures we did have, do have.
And I rejoice and smile and am glad; for my life would indeed been empty had she not come - and she let me know before she left that was - is - true for her as well.
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Article Copyright © 2007, David Castro and used with permission of Jerry Rudisen. All rights reserved.