A grey weekend … foreshadowing somber anniversaries ahead this week and next? A grey weekend … closing out a dark week in which friends too young to die, go. In one case, leaving a family stunned and dazed.
The children, young adults now, face the first death of their adult years; terribly, this awesome, frightening event happens to be the death of their own mother. They wonder how they will clutch and keep memory of her over the years ahead.
What they don’t know – how could they? – is that they needn’t clutch memory. As time goes on, when they least expect it, but when they need them most, aspects of their mother’s fine character – traits, qualities, penchants they didn’t even know she had exhibited – will come to them quietly and lovingly, if surprisingly. It’s a rich consolation, but the experience of death is new to them and they can’t know that their mother, in the best way, will abide with them.
Meanwhile, friends, feeling helpless, knowing that words cannot beguile – and they are Chinese and Irish, the most voiceful of cultures! -- help with hands, and hearts, touches and smiles. But when the children move away, the friends, themselves not old, look grey. For a moment there, in the countenance of a friend, not yet fifty, I see not the look of the sister back home that she resembles, but I see the face of my grandmother. Then the sorrow passes, and she is young again.
A grey weekend in San Francisco. But it’s a city, and it moves, not on our own moods, but on its own tides. The last of the Giants, living in my building for the season, moves out on the 15th. The wife, in grey J. Lo sweats with sparkles, supervises the packing of the U-haul trailer attached to their Cadillac SUV with orange-and-green Florida plates. As they take off, she leans out the passenger window and yells “Happy Holidays!”
And although major league ballplayers and their families live in a world of seasons all their own – Spring Training, The Big Show, and The Holidays – she is not premature. Across the street on Pier 32, a jovial gang from Delancey Street is setting up the candy-striped poles and fences for their Christmas Tree sale yard. So good holiday anniversaries are coming, too. And even now, all is not somber. Down the street, headed for the far reaches of McCovey Cove, come a bunch of excited kids and grown-ups, on their way to the circus, the Cirque du Soleil in its swirled tournament tents. … And as if to counter the gloomy grey of the sky, the usually grey waters of the Bay, roll in on the late tide green! … Tides and tidings, sad and good … passings and passages … all in a day, all in the steady way of an old port city. …