Friday, December 31, 2010


This year has certainly been the worst of my life, but I do feel grateful for so many things despite the trauma and tragedy we've endured.

I am grateful for my friend Bob Welch, a columnist for the Eugene, OR, newspaper and award winning author ( for inspiring me to also focus on giving.

Bob writes a column each year around the Christmas holidays about an anonymous donor who gives him $1000 to disburse to needy people in his community. Bob and the donor's example helped me this year after Kaiser Permanente adopted us and showered the kids with at least fifteen gifts each and a trove of gift cards.

So I bought twelve $10 gift cards at Starbucks, and Maya, Miguel, and I handed them out on Christmas Day and on the 26th.

My only instructions were to give a card to someone who seemed to be in need. To Miguel I said, "Maybe someone homeless."

"How can you tell?" he asked.

Maya gave one to a man seated a few tables away from us at Starbuck's. He came over a few moments later, smiling, and thanking us as he tried to surreptiously slide the card into my hand.

"I don't need this," he said. "Please save it for someone else."

"But my daughter gave it as a gift to you," I said.

"Well, thank you, sweetheart," he said to her.

Miguel gave one to a young man drawing caricatures on the sidewalk. I handed three to a trio of firefighters outside the station, and three more to some guys eating pizza at a local sports bar.

Pay it forward, I hope.

I am grateful to my father-in-law, Martin, for being one of the most generous people I know. He babysits for Maya most Tuesday afternoons, and he is always beneficent with his time and money.

I am grateful for my mother, Beverly, and her husband, Fred, for sending us bi-monthly checks and babysitting for Miguel and Maya in 2008 when Verna and I took our first (and last) vacation without children in 11 years. We had a glorious time in Cabo San Lucas.

I am grateful to my father, Marvin, and his wife, Joyce, for trekking out to California when Verna and I renewed our vows in late July, and seven weeks later for her funeral.

I am grateful to my brother, Scott, and his wife, Amy, for coming out to California many times just to help out.

I am grateful to my brother-in-law, Jim, and his wife, Liz, for being there with me when Verna took her last breaths.

I am grateful to my brother-in-law, Marty, and his wife, Donna, for taking our dog, Gigi, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in early August. After Verna's death, I really could not handle the extra responsibility of caring for her, so they opened up their loving home. Now the kids and I can still see her.

I am grateful to my friends Amanda and Mercedes for staying with me for several hours on the morning of Verna's death. Both came over almost immediately and sat with me on my kitchen floor, consoling me, listening to my stories, and helping to ease my pain with their presence.

I am grateful to our neighbors and friends who organized meals and cared for all of us, especially Miguel and Maya, which meant I earned some time to myself.

I am grateful to my co-workers at Drake Terrace Retirement Community for shouldering extra responsiblities all year, and for comforting me during my darkest days.

I am grateful to Hospice by the Bay of Marin, Jewish Family and Children's Services of Marin, and the Living and Dying Project for their compassionate and professional support and guidance for Verna, our family, and me during the last several weeks of her life.

I am grateful to so many member of BHS' Class of 1977 for their cards and FB wishes and contributions to Verna's Caregiver Fund. It's amazing to reconnect with people at such a difficult time and be supported so graciously and lovingly.

I am grateful to Miguel and Maya for entertaining me and frustrating me and challenging me to be the best father possible and for blessing me each and every day with their love and unique approaches to the world.

I am grateful to Verna, the best friend I've ever had, for giving me Miguel and Maya, and for setting the parental bar fairly high, but not too out of reach. Her examples will guide me as I strive continually to be the type of person and parent she asserted to Hospice that I was when she said goodbye to us a week before she died.

To 2011, upward and onward.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Steve, this is Desiree. I received your email today and it blew me a way. I thank you so much for reaching out to say hello and flattered that you still remember me. I live in CT but work in Worcester and soon Westborough MA. If your ever out to visit your brother in Boston please give me a call. Your blog is very moving. Your teaching of 'paying it forward'is a great lesson for your children and yourself. For when you give to other's it is the greatest gift of all, it's a gift of a kind heart. Keep in touch, Desiree