Posted tagged ‘death’


March 1, 2015

spockAs I was reading the news on my Android tablet this Friday morning, a banner drifted across the top of the screen in red:  Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83.  Like many others, I’m sure, my first thought was that Spock is dead. And I wanted to write this post … with this title.  But I wondered: Is it dismissive to say goodbye to an actor in the name of his best known character rather than his real name? Perhaps,  but perhaps not. Nimoy himself was ambivalent about his identification with the half Vulcan, half human member of the crew of the Enterprise.   In 1977, Nimoy authored I Am Not Spock, in which he wrote about the rest of his life and seemed to distance himself from his alter ego.  After publishing his second autobiography, I Am Spock, he expressed regret that he wrote the first.  At any rate, I only knew Nimoy as Spock, so this is the only personal farewell I can write.  If you are interested in more about the man himself, I’d recommend the article in Variety.

Dr. Chuck

February 28, 2015

dr chuckThis morning, while I was sitting in the park I received a text from my wife that a neighbor in our old neighborhood had passed away after a long battle with an assortment of ailments.  We were not close friends and we’d pretty much lost touch since we moved to Anaheim Hills 15 years ago.  Muri would occasionally run into his wife in a store and we would hear bits and pieces about him from mutual acquaintances.   His son, who we knew as Jay-Jay was probably my daughter’s best neighborhood friend and he played on several teams that I coached, so we saw a lot of each other.  Besides, he was also our kids’ pediatrician … Dr. Chuck to them.   He was always there for them, whether in his house or in his office, and his gentle humorous way made them trust him, whether they were there to have booster shot or a broken bone set.

The news hit me harder than I thought it would.  You might think that the passing of a contemporary makes me sad because it reminds me of my own mortality but you’d be wrong.  Being reminded of my own mortality makes me determined to use the time I have wisely.  Lately, though, every passing seems like another missed opportunity, an opportunity to tell someone they made a difference in my life.   I suspect that at some level, Dr. Chuck knew how many children … and parents … benefited from his care.   But it would have been nice to tell him.  I have no idea what an afterlife looks like, whether it’s streets paved with gold or a giant family room where we get to sit around with the people we’ve missed.  I don’t believe in a God that burns souls for eternity but I do expect we have to face up to our misdeeds in some way or other.  If we do, I hope that we also get to feel the gratitude of those we’ve helped in life and left behind.  And I hope our friend can feel what I never got to express in life wherever he is now – Thank you, Dr. Chuck.  You made a difference in our lives.

It’s so easy to take for granted the good people bring to our lives and assume they know that we appreciate them.  That we like them.  That we love them.  There will always be time to tell them later.  But there won’t.  Tell them … now.



March 9, 2014

During the person’s lifetime, we get lost in the details. But when death strikes, we have the chance to study the kaleidoscope, the bigger picture, with utmost clarity. And at that point, we discover – a bit too late – the beautiful life led by the deceased – Levi Avtzon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen my friend Stan was in the hospital with pneumonia and began to realize he might not recover, he called me close and asked if I would deliver his eulogy.  It was a difficult request to hear but it was also an honor.   I was Stan’s sponsor and as such, I knew him better than most.  In the too short six years I’d known him, we’d come to trust each other completely … something rare under any circumstances but especially  so for two men in their sixties.  Yesterday, under the shade of a sycamore tree in the park, I got to keep my promise to Stan in front of a small group of his family and friends. (more…)

Friday Favorites 5/3/2013

May 3, 2013


At 5:00 pm on August 15, 1969, a mostly-unknown African American singer in a dashiki walked onstage in Woodstock, New York, and began to sing Minstrel from Gault.  He had a gravelly voice, and a simple, percussive style on the guitar but his impassioned, soulful style riveted the crowd.   He was scheduled to play four songs but when other performers were late, he played ten, including his version of several Beatles songs.  His encore, Freedom … interspersed with passages from Motherless Child … was improvised on the spot and became an anthem for the Woodstock Festival.  Shortly after Woodstock, I bought his second LP, Something Else Again.  For a number of years, he was one of my favorite performers.  He never achieved enormous commercial success in terms of hit records partly, I think, because his music was hard to categorize but also because he was most electrifying when seen live.  On the Johnny Carson show, he was so well-received with audience applause continuing through the commercial break, leading Carson to invite him back the following night. (more…)

Behind the Bedroom Door

November 10, 2012

If it’s there, it waits behind the bedroom door until the house is dark.  Mom thinks I’m asleep as she tiptoes into her room to sleep alone, so she turns out the hall light.  Electricity costs money and money doesn’t grow on trees, she says.   I wish it did so that we could leave the lights on all night.   It hates the light, it’s told me so, the way it talks to me in my head while I’m lying there watching it.   The lights are out, Billy, and here I am.   I hate the light, and if you reach for that switch, I’ll  rip off your arm.   It could, I know.   Even though it shimmers faintly in the darkness behind the door, I can see its mouth and its long, sharp teeth.   And I’ve smelled its breath. (more…)


November 7, 2012

I first met Dr. Irving Reed as I was completing my graduate work at the University of Southern California.  The class he was teaching, Information Theory and Coding, was required for my major, Communication Sciences.   Dr. Reed was tall, thin … almost gaunt … and distinguished, his usually pensive face often lighted with what appeared to be a bemused smile.  I would eventually learn that his slim physique reflected a regimen of running every day, even though he was seventy years old.  He was a less than excellent teacher, prone to monotone monologues on difficult subjects like finite arithmetic and to losing himself in theoretical derivations at the blackboard.  Partway through the semester, we encountered Reed-Solomon codes, the most widely used system for protecting the integrity of both stored and transmitted data.  Yes, he was that Reed and also the Reed in Reed-Muller codes.  I began to realize how fortunate I was to be learning from Dr. Reed.  At some point, when he came to know my last name (the same as his), he began to refer to me as his long-lost nephew.  Eventually,  I asked him to be on my doctoral committee.  During my oral examinations, most of my committee members asked me questions requiring complex derivations at the blackboard but Dr. Reed asked me one question that kept me sweating for almost half an hour.   In the end, it was the most exquisitely simple and fundamental of questions, requiring only a two word answer.   An emphasis on fundamentals was typical of Dr. Reed’s approach. (more…)


April 25, 2012

In posting my paintings on Wednesdays over the past few weeks, poking through my old sketchbooks has been like running into old friends unexpectedly.  Some are harder to look at than others but I like them all.    Like Rorschach’s famous inkblots, they provide a glimpse of what was going on in my head as I painted them.  This one started with a wash in shades of gray.  I then dabbed brush fulls of grays and touches of red onto the wet paper and allowed the paint to spread where it would.  India ink from a drawing pen and metallic red from a paint pen were added once the watercolors had dried.  Gray was painted on August 1, 2010, probably in the park.  My Dad had passed away in July after hanging on bravely for quite a while.  It wasn’t the best of times but in writing his eulogy with my brother, I had a chance to look fondly back on Dad’s life, to appreciate what he’d taught me and chuckle at his peccadilloes.  I think Gray was my way of saying that even on the grayest of days, there are bright places if I look for them. (more…)


March 6, 2012

I’ve occasionally said here on Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog that I sound better on paper than I really am.  Yes, I know … technically, this isn’t on paper.  What I mean is that sometimes I talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.   I know that’s hard for you to believe but it’s true.  Yesterday was one of those days.  After writing Monday Smiles in which I tried to appear undaunted by the prospect of fixing may ailing desktop, I spent the morning in my bathrobe and jammies nursing it back to life.  During my breaks, I was hyper-sighing and complaining to Muri.  At noon, I threw together a sandwich, got dressed without showering and started in again. It turns out that something called the BIOS was corrupted.  The BIOS is a small program stored on the computer that runs when the machine is turned on, identifying components and initiating the boot sequence. My BIOS had lost its way to my internal drive, so that the computer wouldn’t start.  Resetting the BIOS didn’t help until I reinstalled the operating system, which means all of my programs and utilities have to be reinstalled.  Fortunately, a recent back up saved all my data, precious and otherwise.  In case you haven’t guessed, there weren’t any Monday Smiles.  By dinner time, I was pretty much back on line but tired and grumpy.  A shower, six games of Word Mole, some really mindless TV (Night at the Museum), and some blog reading got me to bedtime. (more…)

Goodbye to The Voice

February 12, 2012

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, you know we lost another singer yesterday.  As Sasha Frere-Jones said in a tribute in the New Yorker, With the weird blend of investment and helplessness that typifies kin, we’ve watched Whitney Houston die in front of us, slowly and unmistakably, for more than a decade.   Those of us who have been listening since the beginning hoped against hope that the downward spiral of addiction would end, and now it has, regardless of the cause of death.  Whitney Houston was more than a singer … she was an unmistakable voice that was as thrilling live as it was in the studio, whether it was singing the National Anthem, performing at the Grammy Awards, or singing her signature version of Dolly Parton’s composition, I Will Always Love You. (more…)


January 22, 2012

He walks on, doesn’t look back
He pretends he can’t hear her
He starts to whistle as he crosses the street
Seems embarrassed to be there – Phil Collins, Another Day in Paradise

Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills are quiet suburban community where many people live but few actually work, what we always called bedroom communities.  In the years we’ve been here, only the death of Richard Nixon (who was born in Yorba Linda), the dedication of the Richard Nixon Library and the periodic wildfires that sweep through our hills attract the attention of the national news.   That changed on Friday, January 13 when a homeless man was murdered in Anaheim Hills near a fast food restaurant.   A bistander by the name of Donny witnessed the vicious stabbing and chased the man into a local mobile home community, where the police apprehended him.  The killer, an Iraq veteran, had killed three other homeless men after stalking them over a period of two weeks, stabbing them up to forty times. (more…)