S: Duke Laramore, A Celebration
BC: "This is my seventieth birthday, and I wonder if you all rise to the size of that proposition, realizing all the significance of that phrase, seventieth birthday. The seventieth birthday! It is the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach- unrebuked. You can tell the world how you got there. It is what they all do. You shall never get tired of telling by what delicate arts and deep moralities you climbed up to that great place. You will explain the process and dwell on the particulars with senile rapture." - Mark Twain
4: Dear Duke, I just want to first of all say happy birthday, with wishes for many more to come. My how the years have flown by since I first stayed with you in Reno , in 1973 and 1974 and then again for awhile in 1978. I dont think words can even begin to express the gratitude that I feel in my heart for you being there, or at least trying to be there for me. I really dont think that either one of us were really for those encounters, especially with me having such a bad attitude at the time, and even though I really needed help not knowing how to ask for what I really needed. I do remember when I was living in Las Vegas with Sonny and Anh and got caught at school with a knife, by the security guard, when they tookme to the office and he asked my name and I told him he asked if I was Duke Laramore’s brother and when I said yes he told me to go ahead and leave the office and I could come by after school and get my knife back. I thought, wow, just being related to you had just kept me from getting into serious trouble. Then there was a time in Reno when I was out doing things I no longer do that I was pulled over by a member of Reno's finest and I was fairly intoxicated , and once again just being related to you kept me from going to jail. Which is where I should have gone. One of those go directly to jail do not pass go do not collect 200.00 dollars moments. But just go home and stay off the streets. One time I remember goes back a little farther, back to Las Vegas when you had that tri hull boat and several of us were on it down at Lake Mead, I had for what ever reason decided to sit in the very front and you kept trying to get me to really hold on, which I wasn’t doing a very good job of, when we passed one of those big tourist boats, we were running pretty much at full throttle and that tourist boat pushing up a pretty big wave the old tri hull went for a leap in the air and I almost fell out, but at least it got my attention. I am going to close with this once again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, even though we may not always agree on things, remember that I will always love you. Your little(haha) brother, Rusty p.s. Sorry for being such a pain when I was younger.
7: Duke Laramore visits Boulder City Nevada, circa 1966. I’m not sure what year it was. Must have been 1966 or 1967. Duke had turned his last 20 dollar bill into a nice win on the crap table at the Golden Nugget and had traded most of that win for a blue 1962 Corvette. He had also changed jobs, having traded his Post House Cook’s hat for a Greyhound Bus Lines Operations Supervisor Blazer. Yes, Duke was on a run of good luck and was feeling like he could do no wrong. After all, everything he had touched lately had worked out in his favor, so one fine day off, Duke decided to take his little blue Corvette for a nice drive up Boulder Highway and pay a visit to Boulder City. Upon arriving in that fine town, Duke decided to stop off at one of the local taverns and have a beer or two. Once inside that establishment, (I don’t think I ever knew the name of the place), Duke was informed that he best be moving on since he would not be served. Taken aback at the lack of hospitality, nay, the outright hostility, Duke sought to discover just why his business was not welcomed in this fine establishment, he was simply informed that his kind were not wanted and would not be tolerated there. Not being one to try to upset the status quo, Duke decided that he would probably do well to seek a different watering hole and he got back into his little blue Corvette and drove away in search of friendlier accommodations. He had not travelled more than a short distance before observing that the local gendarme’s were seeking to interdict his travel, so he pulled over and awaited the policeman to advise the reason he was being stopped. Mr. Laramore was advised that among other offenses, he was being arrested and jailed for having run a local City Councilman off the road and for having upset the normal order of things in Boulder City by his presence there. Well, my memory is kind of vague on the details, but I believe that Duke did spend that night in Boulder City and I also believe that it was the first and last night he EVER spent in that town. Jack Godwin
8: Dear Duke, One of my favorite memories of you is when you came to see me at Edna and Paul's after Mom and Dad died. It was such a thrill for me to ride around with my handsome brother in his blue corvette, and watch all the female's ooh and ahh. Then when you, Gary and I went target practicing, and I beat you both. Of course, I had the edge since I'm not sure that either of you could see the target. Ha ha. It meant a lot to me to have time with you. I love you very much. Your "baby" Sister, Linda
9: DUKE "Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero? You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings." When I hear this song I always think of you Cause whether you know it or not The words are very true When we lost Mom and Dad You told me you didn't have to worry about me Because I was strong At the time I wanted to cry and say Big brother, you are so very wrong But I've remembered your words Many times through the years When life has dealt me a blow And reduced me to tears I hear your voice say, "come on sis I know you are strong" And it gives me the strength to Carry on And each time you try something new It gives me the courage to try things too You gave me the courage to spread my wings And try for bigger and better things | So when you hear this song Know that it was you who Helped make me strong And know that if I'm listening too When I hear the words I'll be Thinking of you Now as you fight your battle Day by day My heart and prayers are with You each step of the way I'm sure the battle you are fighting Seems to be taking way too long But I know that you will win Because I know you are strong. - LINDA BURNS
10: My Dearest Papa, My memories start when I was just a little girl, looking forward to my daddy picking me and my big sister up to go on another adventure exploring the world with you. Such adventures to a little girl, everything so colorful and exciting. You showed me so many things my curious heart longed for. From moonlit swims with my sister at pyramid lake, to the high,winding,scary roads to Eagle lake. But as scared as we were we knew our papa would keep us safe and protected, and you did. Not many little girls get to see all that I have, and I hope that I can provide the love and the patience you provided me throughout my life. Though there are times we do not talk, you are always in my daily thoughts and prayers and the love I have for you is neverending. I admit I miss those times and hope in the future we can be close again. I adore you and look up to you, my daddy, thank you for all that you have done. I couldn't ever ask for a better Dad. You are the best and number one to me for all time. I love you. Corina
14: Dear Duke, We sure have had some great times out camping. I can think of a few memorable times: | One was a trip to Walker Lake when the wind blew really hard overnight. When we woke up in the morning, the boat was "dry docked". The boat was full of rocks, and everything inside the boat was scattered all over the beach. The boat had to be towed onto the trailer, and John repaired some holes. | The other one was a trip we took to Bucks Lake in California. We took the boat, but it would not run. If you remember, we all blamed John for not checking that out before we left Reno and he hooked a rope to the kid's floaters and ran up the beach pulling them in to the shore.
15: Lov | We hope you have a great birthday! Love, John and Kathy Manfredi
16: I don't recall the first day that Jack's friend entered the Godwin clan, probably because he seemed to always belong there. He was a continual presence that commanded no more and no less attention than one of my sibs. I can look back with more specificity and discrimination than my teenage eyes beheld but never filtered. I recall a quiet man, even shy and humble some get- togethers where a few too many beers would bring a wonderful look in his eyes and a smile to his face. Though I was a teenage shit and he probably thought me a brat, I don't ever recall a harsh look or word or anything but politeness and dignity. He was always steady, and in my eyes, he never fell from the pedestal called Duke. And my mother adored him. Love, Wendy | THE DUKE IT WAS A WARM DAY ON PIPER STREET WHEN A BLUE CORVETTE PULLED IN THE DRIVE WAY AND A CLASSY MAN GOT OUT OF THE CAR. "HE IS THE DUKE," SAYS GLENDA. I THOUGHT, HE MUST BE REAL IMPORTANT. WELL, HE WAS, HE WAS DATING MY SISTER. AND SO FROM THEN ON, HE WAS A MEMBER OF OUR FAMILY . DUKE WAS A LOT OF FUN, I REMEMBER WHEN HIM AND JACK DUMPED OUT ALL THE PENNIES FROM MY MOMS GIANT JUG SO THEY COULD BUY BEER, WE WERE LAUGHING WATCHING THEM BECAUSE US KIDS WERE THE ONES ALWAYS USING THE PENNIES FOR CANDY. THOSE WERE THE DAYS. LOVE YA, CANDY
20: Duke has been a part of my life for about fifteen years. My first memories of him are of an active man. Rising early, packing ice chests and hooking up the boat. Cruising around Lake Havasu sipping Bud Light and deepening his tan. For me, Duke is a man of integrity and fervor. He's an example of how hard work and determination pays off. I feel very fortunate to have him as a part of my life. Duke, I love you as a son would a father. Samson
21: December 31, 1969, I left Vietnam to the USA with my husband and two kids. Two days -- we stopped at Bangkok, Thailand, Hawaii, Los Angeles, before finally landing in Las Vegas! Wow! I felt like I moved from Hell to Heaven!! Sonny decided to settle in Las Vegas because DUKE lived here. Las Vegas has become my second hometown as I've grown OLD here with most of my relatives. One of my memories is Duke's Jello. I normally am shy and quiet, but when I ate the Jello he made my mood changed to happy, laughing, talking...! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DUKE! Here's wishing you have many more! Love, Anh P.S. The picture is of a trip to Lake Mead, where I wore high heels!
23: An Interview With Your Grandchildren (Sterling, age 16; Hayden, age 9; Tenzin, age 4; Willow, age 3) How old do you think Grandpa Duke is? Sterling: “Seventy.” Hayden: “Uh...Seventy Five?” Tenzin: “Sixteen.” Willow: “Three.” What is Grandpa Duke's first name? Sterling: “You told me this, but I forgot...it's not Clarence...I'm giving you a bad interview, aren't I?” Hayden: “I don't know, and I'm not guessing.” Tenzin: “Grandpa Duke?” Willow: “Grandpa Duke.” Why does Grandpa Duke walk with a cane? Sterling: “‘Cause he had a stroke.” Hayden: “Cause he had the stroke.” Tenzin: “Because that's how he needs to walk. Is that correct?” Willow: “He likes sticks.” Where does Grandpa Duke live? Sterling: “Arizona?” Hayden: “In Fallon, but he used to live in Phoenix.” Tenzin: “With Grandma Kathy.” Willow: “In California.” What is Grandpa Duke's favorite thing to do? Sterling: “Golf, probably. It seems like it, anyway. Am I right?” Hayden: “Um, play golf, I think. Or sometimes watch golf.” Tenzin: “Eat stuff.” Willow: “He likes to go to California.” What do you like best about Grandpa Duke? Sterling: “It's never awkward. He's loving. Sometimes he can't say it, but he gives you a smile, looks in your eyes, and you just know.” Hayden: “He's cool and fun.” Tenzin: “I like him getting me stuff. I like when he lets me eat candy at his house...after dinner. He watches for me. He took me to see a clown with rides and toys and it was really really fun. And he let me get bubblegum.” Willow: “He's nice.”
26: Duke, the first time we met was out at the Island Golf Course. That’s when you walked that course all the time, but this particular time, you were riding with some guys. I was in the cart behind you and watched as the cart stopped, you got out, put your golf bag over your shoulder and said, “I can walk faster than you’re driving this cart.” I just laughed. Good times. One time, we went on a trip to Vegas to pick up a table for Kathy, when she worked at the surgery center. When we returned, we were hot and tired, so we stopped in at the Elks for a drink. I ordered a rum and coke, and you ordered a martini. You said, “Ginger, make that a light martini.” She started to walk away and turned, dead in her tracks, looked straight at you and said, “Duke, how the &%# do you make a light martini?!” I just cracked up laughing. It was a good time. Another great time was when you and Kathy came on the bus from Mazatlan to meet us and Ed and Sandy Godsey in Puerta Vallarta. We all sat around the pool eating and drinking and having a really good time. It was just the best. Lots of fun and laughs. Do you remember the time we met you and Kathy at Cabo San Lucas? We were on a ship that stopped in Cabo, and when we got off, you and Kathy were there waiting. We went down and had drinks and shopped and had lunch together. Then we went over to The Giggling Marlin, and they made those hats that looked like a certain part of the male anatomy. And Don had a set of boobs on his head. Then we went over to another place called Cabo Wallbo, or something like that. That was a lot of fun. I think Kathy took pictures, but then lost her camera. Ah well, it was still a lot of fun. One night, Kathy wasn’t in town and you came over for dinner and drinks. After dinner we talked awhile, and when it was time for you to go, we walked you out. That was when you had the cad with the sun roof. As you were backing out of the driveway, you just stopped mid way. We said, “Duke, are you okay?” You said, “I don’t think I have ever seen the stars like this before. I feel like I am laying down, backing out of this driveway.”
27: One time, we went on a golf trip to South Carolina (Myrtle Beach.) You and I were in the same room, and you said that I was snoring so loud that you decided to sleep on the couch. Then while you were sleeping, you fell off the sofa! That’s also when the Wevaer Bros cooked up all that really good shrimp for all of us. When you had the Away Golf Tournaments, that’s when they were the best. One time, you had the hospitality room, and it was your room, but the door was always open to all of us. Do you remember that bus trip you got going down to Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point.) On the way down, we were watching movies and all was going well...until you put in the movie “GoodFellas,” and all the cussing started in the movie. Some lady on the bus started yelling, “that’s in bad taste! We can’t watch this! Take it out!” She kept going on and on until you turned off the movie. That night, we were in that little bar at the hotel, and that same lady had been drinking and all the cussing in the movie were coming out of her own mouth! We had a good laugh with it. We have had some really good times golfing and traveling around. We really miss you both. Well, Duke, we want to wish you just the best 70th birthday ever, and hope for many more. We always enjoy seeing you and doing things with you. Just enjoy and be happy in all that you do. Miss ya, buddy and hope to see you soon! Love Ya, Don and Sandy Silverman P.S. Kevin sends his birthday wishes. He’s home in Colorado as of the 28th of June.
29: 1964 I was 14 years old when Jack brought Duke over for dinner. They sat at the table with Mother to share a wonderful beef roast. It was my attempt baking a roast. Supper went fine and after Duke left, Mother started laughing, telling Jack & I that she couldn't believe how the roast turned out. That we could have bounced it off the floor, it was so rubbery or used it as a door stop. And there was Duke, going back for a second helping when she and Jack could barely get down the first! 1964-1968 There were too many occasions regarding Duke, and what he was willing to eat at our house. Whether it was Jack waking me at the crack of dawn, when they came in together, wanting a hearty breakfast or just walking in at supper willing to eat whatever was being prepared. I was the worst cook in the world, and Duke still ate up without a cringe. He was a true bachelor! And Mother always had something hilarious to tell about Duke when they worked together at Post House. 1965 Mother was always stabbing some kind of food on her plate saying she didn't want that much, and placing it on someone else's plate. That person in turn would do the same thing to the person next to them. Quite soon, a food fight would ensue. One time, Duke was over for dinner and before suppertime was through, he was hiding behind a chair in the living room with peas and mashed potatoes flying. He never got out without getting it himself. He was always a good sport with the craziness, laughing as much as the rest of us. 1964-1967 I was never sure when Duke and Jack were drunk or when they were sober (if they ever were when together), because they were never fazed by much. Duke always took things in stride and became a family member from the very beginning. Sometimes they drank whatever happened to be around, including Creme de Menthe. I couldn't believe that one. They were both sick as dogs! We figured that money must have been very tight at times. All of us kids got a real kick out of those two together!
30: Dear Duke, Happy 70th Birthday!! Boy, you can’t possibly be that old. Ha, ha. Sabrina wanted us to write about some memories. I just can’t remember that much. We moved around so much that we all had to get along and keep each other entertained. I remember when we lived at Ryan Park Way. We would all pile on sleds and toboggans and go flying down the hill in the road. The log trucks would have to stop to keep from hitting us and then couldn’t make it up the hill. Remember Bear lived with us when we lived there and he kind of liked a woman that had a husband named Elmer. There was a song about that time named “Run Bear Run, Here Comes Elmer With a Shot Gun.” We would sing that over and over until Bear would yell “I’m going to kill you little sonsabitches!” Then Mom would holler at him to not threaten us. We loved teasing him. But I think he liked it. Anyways, all his life, he liked Mom’s kids. Well Duke, I think we had a pretty good life. We had lots of love and Mom’s razor strap when we needed it. She could swing that thing pretty hard for such a little gal. Never enough money, and we moved a lot, but I think we all turned out okay. I was always a little in awe of you; I always knew you were going to do good. You always said you were, and you did. I am really proud of what you accomplished through hard work, and not a hair out of place. That always amazed me that no matter what you were doing, your nice new head of hair was perfect. - even the duck tail. Even when you were driving the log truck up and down the mountain with dynamite caps in the truck! Well, brother, I hope you have the greatest birthday ever and many many more. I am so proud of the progress that you’ve made since your stroke. You are amazing, and I’m so proud to call you my brother. Love, Forever and Ever, Grace
32: Hey there Duke, I was just thinking about how many years I’ve known you. Wow, forty some years, that makes me feel my age and then some. How about you? Hahaha. In the early days of knowing you, the late sixties and seventies, I saw a serious and mature Duke. Later, in the eighties, I saw a more humorous and fun side to you. I’ve often thought while in our twenties, we were so serious and forgot to have read fun, partly because we were trying so hard to be so perfect and to please everyone. I recall Mother often commenting that her children did things ass-backwards. Seems it wasn’t just her children. You bet I had to bring Mother into this. She thought a lot of you and considered you one of her kids, as she did all of your family. I can visualize her now, just looking on us all with a huge smile, as though to say, “it’s all okay.” Do you remember in the early eighties when I lived in the condo at Smithridge. I really liked having a get-together, sometimes with other single people and co-workers. Do you recall me matching you up with a girl named Karen? What a mess that was! Kathy was horrified at who I matched her with, “Don’t ever do that again!” It was a teeny weeny bit funny, wasn’t it? I still today have a laugh at your reaction to my match making. I just thought you both wanted a lay...kidding! Goes to show my people skills! Do you remember introducing me to Lynn Baker? Whoa, I thought he was the greatest thing since hot apple pie. I forgive you for that match made in heaven. Oh the memories! That was then and this is now. I’m really glad we have stayed in touch as much as we have, and it’s mostly in Reno/Sparks. I guess there’s some history there. And then there was you and Kathy. You two connected because it was meant to be! I feel through these years you have brought the best out in one another, and I believe that’s what was supposed to happen. Thanks for being my friend and dad to Sabrina and Corina (a huge part of our connection, right?) Happy Birthday. Seventy Years Young! Love you Duke, Lydia
33: Dear Duke, I consider one of the best times I had playing golf was the time we spent in the Carolinas. We played four rounds together with you and my brother Larry against me and my friend Brent. Small bets, but a great time. We had some great food, shrimp boil and more than a few toddies! What a good time. Hope you have a great 70th and hope you're swinging again. I am happy to call myself a friend of yours, anytime. Dick Weaver
34: TIFFANY JOY & GLENDA 2011 | Duke, I remember thinking, as a kid, that you were so cool because you had a Corvette. Especially one that had two different tops! I admired how soft spoken you were, yet also felt kind of sad, because you were so quiet...even shy. That's how I was, so it was easy for me to relate. I remember having a lot of respect for you. So much so, that my eldest daughter, Tiffany Joy, is named for you! Happy Birthday! Love, Glenda
35: Duke, So now you aee passing into the Sonic Boom, same as me? I am delighted to be able to talk about several of the special moments in my life with you and Kathy. There have been so many special times like the Reno Air Races, Christmas dinner off of paper plates in Parker, Virginia City for my 75th birthday. In 1993, I visited you and Kathy's carnival food wagons, selling cotton candy, burgers and homemade pies by Kathy. My sister Joann and I visited Havasu and you took us to Oatman, AZ for the travel on Route 66. You picked us up from Laughlin, NV and entertained us with dinners and the sights of Havasu with the Christmas lights. For Christmas I received this beautiful red jacket from Oatman, embroidered with Route 66 on it, and a card from you that said "My Favorite Mother-In-Law." I wear that jacket on walks and everyone comments on it. Of course, I have to tell them that it's from my son-in-law. The Christmas celebration in 2009 with the family all attending was so memorable with all the festivities. We went to the Wildlife World Zoo outside of Peoria; Christmas dinner with Larry and his sister Delores and her friend David, Mike and Sue, Robert, Wade and Whitney, Pixey and McCain. We celebrated New Years Eve at the club with Duke, Kathy, Helen, Larry and Carol. What a grand celebration!! It was sad to leave the area and return home after such a beautiful Christmas all together. Special times. There are many which I will never forget in my memory bank. Carol (Doty) Walsh
38: Words cannot say how much I respect Duke. I have quite a few good friends, but none that I love and respect as much as him. Over the almost fifty years of our friendship, we have seen and done a lot. It all started when we were both working at Greyhound in Las Vegas in the early sixties. He was a cook and manager of the Post House coffee shop in the depot, and I was a dispatcher. I convinced him to go to LA and take a Greyhound Supervisor’s test. He passed it with flying colors and took a job as a dispatcher for the bus company, doubling his salary I think. I will never forget his wedding day to Charlanette. We had several beers that day, and I had to sober him up for the ceremony. Actually, we went across the street and got a beer to go just before the service. It was a little chapel on the strip. Sabrina came along awhile after that, and he had to trade his beloved Corvette for a bigger car! We have traveled together on cruises to Mexico and Alaska. We have spent New Years together in many, many places including: Puerta Vallarta, Reno, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Lake Havasu, Palm Springs, Pioche, Death Valley and more that I can’t remember right now. Duke’s work ethic is beyond reproach. I have always been jealous of his ability to face problems, head-on, and put them behind him immediately. I try hard to "be like Duke." I have hundreds of pictures of Duke that we have taken over the years. Here are a few: One is of Duke with "Mr. Lowman," our boss at Greyhound, and a man who meant an awful lot to both of us. Two photos were taken on a vacation to Puerta Vallarta, many years ago. One is of Duke, Dave Fitzpatrick and me enjoying a little adult beverages and the other one, believe it or not, is Duke taking off out over the ocean being pulled by some Mexicans in a little boat...he had several adult beverages before that!!There is also a picture taken on New Year’s Eve in Death Valley. I think that Kathy was still a little peeved because Duke had forgotten to make dinner arrangements ahead of time. I wish I still had the picture of him sitting there with a spoon drooping from his nose!! The last picture there is of Duke, Kathy and me at the Grand Canyon. I had no idea that this was the last time I would see him before his stroke. I could go on and on about all of the memories that we have shared over the years. I guess that we could write a book, and still not cover them all. I want to close by saying, again, that I value Duke as my best friend. I am so sorry that we have 400 miles separating us these days. When they visit us at our Utah Mountain home, it thrills me. I will say again, that I love and respect him more than words can say. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FRIEND!! David Cook
40: Dear Duke, Dear brother of mine. Here’s wishing you a very happy and special day on your 70th birthday. How time flies when you’re having fun...or an exciting life. You are and have been a very special person and I have always been proud to call you my brother. Lots of memories pass through my mind of you, but a few stick out, like: Making sure that ducktail haircut was just perfect before you went out to wow the girls. How sad you were about the death of a girlfriend in Encampment ____Weifierg. Looking so sharp in your Navy uniform. Being so strong when Donnie died. Wrecking your new Ford car at the Y in Fairplay. Being there for me and the rest of the family when the folks were killed. Chris and I riding from Missouri to Illinois in you Corvette. The great visits we had this year when you flew back. Any and all other visits we’ve had over the years. I cherish every one of them. I hope you are around for a lot more birthdays. My only regret is not being closer in miles to spend more time wih you, Kathy, the girls and the grandbabies. I look forward to seeing you in Missouri in October. We’ll make more memories. Until then...take care. Love You Lots! Ed, Dolly and the Whole Gang
41: It is a pleasure to know you. We recall a wonderful conversation we had with you about your trip to Alaska, and how you were describing each story as we were viewing the photos. As we were going through the album, there was an excitement in your voice and a sparkle in your eye. We felt you were describing a trip of a lifetime. We are so happy to have shared that time with you.. Love, Jim and Debbie Wilson
42: Sabrina and Papa
43: Words have been my friends for a long time now. Whether it’s been reading or writing, words are my haven. So why I’ve been struggling with them, when trying to find the right ones to express how much you mean to me, is a mystery. Looking back, I am in awe that you managed to teach me so much without any lectures. You simply led by example, and showed me the world through your eyes. I can see you in my mind’s eye, eating breakfast over a splayed newspaper or in a folding lawn chair, nose dipped in a paperback, it’s spine bent into submission. I don’t think I would have been drawn to reading if I hadn’t wondered what the hell my papa found so captivating. I can’t remember you ever raising your voice towards me, even when I deserved a good tongue lashing. You’ve taught me patience by your own example. You’ve taught me to listen, instead of talk. You’ve taught me to absorb and ruminate, rather than act rashly and impulsively. Because of all of the good times we’ve had together, whether at Yellowstone, or Disneyland, or camping or even at a boat show at the convention center, I find myself trying to recreate it with my own children. I want to make memories with them, because of the mental slide show of childhood adventure I have for reference. Even now, when I’ve tree sap on my fingers, the smell of campfire in my hair, hot sand scraping up my feet, the sound of percolating coffee...it draws me back to moments we have shared. And from those experiences, like sitting on a rocky shore listening to a crackling radio, a fishing pole in my hands; endless hikes to nowhere (where Kathy would inevitably fall, sometimes tumbling down a hillside, laughing at her own lack of physical grace); winding drives through thick forests that birthed wild daydreams - this is how I learned that it is the journey, not the destination. This is where I learned to appreciate that the experience itself is it’s own reward. I have to take the opportunity to thank you for finding and hanging on to Kathy. I’ll have been married for thirteen years in August. Your marriage has been an example to me. You’ve taught me how to laugh at each other’s foibles. You’ve shown me that a blow can be softened with a partner on your side. I recall a phone conversation, when you had received a financial windfall, but were struggling in your marriage, and you said, “all the money in the world doesn’t matter a bit, if you don’t have someone to share it with.” That has been the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard you say, and given your laconic nature, it was quite a declaration, and I found it very moving. You’ve managed to help merge our families into a cohesive unit. I didn’t understand how rare it is to spend a Christmas with your step-parents, birth-parents and in-laws at the same celebration, sans drama, until I was older. I see how special that is. I see how good I’ve always had it. I appreciate now how you’ve never said an ill word about the other people I love, and how it never even seemed to be an issue for you. You’re just a good man, and it always appeared effortless to your kids...whether it ever was or not. I don’t pray - not in the traditional sense, but when Kathy called me with news of your stroke, I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor, chanting, “please, please, please, please let him be okay.” And then I received a gift of getting to know you in a different way. You were still my Papa, but now you were climbing uphill with half a body of dead weight. I watched your quiet strength in therapy. I saw you struggle with your speech, with your legs, with your arms and with your mind. And not once, did I see you wallowing in your pain. You didn’t hesitate when it was time for another session of speech or physical therapy; you just pressed on. One afternoon, we were having another glorious lunch of hospital food after a really intense session of occupational therapy. I told you how proud I was of you. You shrugged and said, “you can’t give up on life.” In my years, I can’t say I’ve ever faced anything as devastating as a stroke, but I have had many occasions to call upon your words, and they have empowered me over and over again. I love seeing you as a grandfather. I love watching your face while one of the kids shows off for you, or says something odd or irritates you or just grabs your hand when crossing the street. They love you. And I am so happy that they get to know you and get to be close to you. That you are at the birthday parties and school plays and sporting competitions and holiday meals, means all the world to them (even if they take it for granted right now) and especially to me. So I’ve muddled through this meandering letter, giving you perhaps an eighth of what I truly mean to say. I hope these words have given you an glimpse of what I feel. I know it isn’t a complete picture of my love, because I now know that words, despite being my haven, are clearly not enough when it comes to you, Papa. I love you. Happy Birthday. Your Adoring Daughter, Sabrina
44: FRieNDS AND FAMILY
46: HAVING FUN & WORKING HARD