I am just completing a wonderful three days here with Dan, Jo, Bill, Lani, Twyla and Maxine and a large cast of League of Wmen's Voters members (I was about to write 'ladies', but the League has gone thoroughloy co-ed, so the president of the Southwest Santa Clara League is now a man). Jo and I spent Saturday with the Southwest Santa Clara League members at a retreat in which one member, Dale Hill, was awarded the Helga Ruby Outstanding Member award. This was the first year the award has been given, but it will be an annual affair. It was a moving occasion for Jo and I to see and hear from so many League members about what a critical role Helga played for them as a League activist, and in many cases, as mentor and friend. Sadly, I was all too often disinterested when Helga told me about her involvement in a succession of Leagues (Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Gatos) over a period of decades, and only got interested on one of two occasions in her last year or two, when I suddenly realized that I have become very interested in grass roots politics covering it as a reporter, and here was my mother delving into it in great detail and full of passion for so many years--and I hadn't paid attention. But now I'm contemplating finding out my local League in New Jersey and getting involved. (note to readers: last summer Walter returned from Israel saying he had decided to make aliyah, so we'll believe this thing about joining the League when we see it).
Then Jo and I had a mellow afternoon in Los Gatos visiting Helga and Stan's close friends Suzanne and Jo and then to the trippy 'Halfway to Heaven' house of trippy Charlie Walton, filled with wired electronic contraptions, including an electric train montage that could lowered from the ceiling at the push of a button, and with majestic views over the Valley and surrounding mountains. We also went for a short hike on the mountainside that one gazed at from Stan and Helga's place on Overlook Drive. Altogether a deeply enjoyable 'return' to Los Gatos, which somehow has gone on with its unhurried existence without Stan and Helga.
The rest of my visit included a serious hike with Jo in that wonderful endless preserve in the hills overlooking Oakland; a visit to the cemetery, where we paid on the ground beside our parents gravestone and told stories about them; three terrific dinners, one in a Thai Restaurant and one superb meal each cooked by my gourmet siblings; Dan did a shish-kebab thing with the lamb perfectly cooked and suffused with all the right spices and Jo did a marvelous shrimp and rice dish. We had a lot to catch up on in terms of who is doing what--a lot of the story of Lani and Jo's all-but -certain move to Paris in September, where Lani will attend the International School, and Dan's recent trip into the heart of darkness of a red neck music festival down in the deserts of southern California. We made a 'dent' in going through boxes of photos and artificats of Stan and Helga, but honestly a rather small dent. There was a lot of nachas all around concerning the achievements and plans of Twyla, Gene, Zach and Lani.
So it was wonderful, relaxing, theraputic and a chance to come closer as a family both as we look back on our wonderful parents, but also as we look to the future.