Closing my eyes I can imagine myself at a booth at a Salute to Seniors event many years ago. I was running for city council and greeting people as they walked by.
A good looking couple I had never seen before walked over and their energy just seemed to connect with my energy. The man, very distinguished, carried himself in the way most past servicemen of rank do, with pride, and quiet confidence. His wife was petite, darling and dressed in what I found to be her own unique stylish fashion.
Mike and Carol Mogan and I quickly became friends. Whenever I saw them I felt such warmth, and enjoyed being with a couple so obviously still in love. When Ron died they stood by his Memorial book for me. They had me over for dinner shortly after Ron died along with Father Barry. Listening to their stories was a tonic. When I first started dating Grover I took him over to their place to meet them, but also to get sort of an approval. They were noncommittal.
I spoke with Carol shortly before I left Los Banos, and Carol shared how serious things were with Mike, her husband of almost 58 years. I recognized the tone in her voice, the fatigue, the sadness, as she had heard in my voice many times when Ron was dying. There is hopelessness, surrounded by love that is always haunting. I was so sad to read in our paper about Mike’s passing. But I was so glad we have a paper now that prints obituaries!
It seems like Carol and I have walked the same road, I was but a bit ahead of her. One year I was working on my Valentines column. Always one of my favorites, but each year it was a challenge to find new approaches.
Knowing her charm and quick wit, I thought to call Claire Soares. Talking with her always lifted my spirits and had my pulse racing a bit trying to keep up with her quick banter. When I asked Claire about Valentine’s Day she said, “You do know how many children we have. We celebrate it year round.” Somehow the conversation got around to speeding and tickets, Claire laughed, “Well. You know I used to be quite pretty, so if I was pulled over, not saying I was, I would smile and look up and all I got was an excuse me mam. Ah, miss.”
I feel like shouting with anger as we keep losing such significant members of our community that were of a breed that just no longer is coming up. A world without Claire, has lost a lot of its charm.
I was back in Los Banos last week for the day, an emotional trip of being back surrounded by the world I had known so long. I have been gone only five weeks, and it seemed strange. Where was my place now? I had come in to have my hair done by my dear friends Lou Vierra, one thing that can never change, and visited with Linda Allegretti and Marion Lisotto. It was wonderful seeing them, but the whole time back in my mind a small voice said, “Don’t get to comfy. You have to leave soon. You’re not a resident but a visitor.”
I whispered back to myself, “Well I still own my house on Page.”
“Ah, for now,” it replied. We will see.
I remember crying 32 years ago when I moved to Los Banos. I knew no one, the place was strange. I would never fit in. Then when I left on June 11, I cried knowing I will never feel the same way again. Even if you can go home again, it will have changed for it had gone on without you. Life is like that too, and it is something we struggle with from the moment we realize this is not a permanent gig. You have seen it, lived it.
People are so important, so necessary. Yet somehow the world goes on after they are gone. Of course it has to, but most of us have enough vanity to hope that people will notice and think of us from time to time. Although I have lost most of my family, I still feel that grief, as I do for past friends. When Ron died it literally split me in two. I almost felt myself climb in with him as he left. You see everything is perspective really. LIfe, death, in between. Parts of you start leaving before you make your final bow.