Title 2

As I sit here thinking about various ones who will get this letter, I am flooded with images of shared adventures, visits, and life experiences. Being a bit starved for social contact is probably driving my mental journeys, yet I accept that it would have been worse without the ease we have to communicate electronically. Phone calls, face time, texting, email, these have kept alive the important connections. The ability to spend time with friends and family despite the distance has been a great benefit this year.

We had some challenges this year beyond Covid. I completely tore the quad muscles to my knee early in the year. Thankfully, surgery was immediate and physical therapy worked well and I'm almost at 100%. We said good by to Latte, our 13 year old Labrador Retriever, which was expected but not easy. And, we said good-by to my step-mother, Flo Webster. More on that below.

Like most of you, our year was local, devoid of pioneering exploits to the tourist traps of the world. However, like our great movie production companies, we will ply you with images and pretend that they are exciting, if only for the purpose of being a place-holder for more inviting times.

 

 

Gallagher visit Hearthfire

Kathy, Mike and Tom Gallager (Pat's brothers), Pat and Don at the Hearthfire Grill, Bellingham, WA.

 

In March, Pat's brother, Tom, visited us from Austin. We had several days together, which was the first nice long visit in many years. Pat's brother, Mike, and Kathy drove down from Vancouver and we rendezvoused for dinner in Bellingham. At the time, rumors of a Covid lock-down were swirling, and indeed, Tom just made it home before the airlines started shutting down.

 

When it was clear that travel options were scant, we invited my nephew, Steve Moehl, to completely redo our master bath. He is creative and a perfectionist; within a couple of months he produced a stunning result.

Our large family here incorporates a number of skill-sets. Pat and I have slowly accepted that our children and their generation are the drivers now. We admire their diligence, judgement and parenting. They are human and need recognition and encouragement as we did, but more often than not we turn to them for a bit of assist or advice; we are not quite the masters of the universe that we once were, if we were.

bathroom remodel

 

 

We frequently see posts of friends who must say good-by to a pet and it is never easy. When Latte could no longer do stairs she lived downstairs in our family room. When she could no longer walk to Tugboat Park, we did short walks down the street. But, when she could no longer push open her doggie door to use the side yard, we knew the time had come. We bundled her into the car for one last walk at Tugboat Park where she saw her doggie friends and human friends who would sneak her treats, one last time.

Yes, it is a loss that takes time to get over. I find myself glancing from my book to see if she is at her favorite place near my feet. When we swing open the door, we look up expecting to see her wagging her tail with a stuffed duck in her mouth. But it's getting easier now. The overburden of dog-hair is slowly being suctioned from the carpet, and the circle around where her dog bowel was in the kitchen is no longer wet and slimy.

Saying goodby to Latte

Eric running with Latte when she was younger. Her last walk at Tugboat Park.

 

My step-mother, Flo Webster, went to be with the Lord in October. My mother, Lucille, died of cancer when my sisters and I were in high school and Jr. Hi. Dad married Flo two years later, and we have been happy to called Flo, "Mom," for 55 years. She was a remarkable person and I've written her story here: jali.net/flo

She was a Christian mentor to many people, even within her assisted living home. She handled Parkinson's disease for 20 years with dignity and grace. Her last two years in memory care were hard, but she looked forward to when she would go to the Lord and to be reunited with her husband, Dick. Indeed, she left us in her sleep and while we miss her, we find great relief that her struggle is over.

Flo Portrait

Flo Webster in 2013.

 

This photo of Eric, Irene and the girls is emblematic of 2020. Everything this year has been a bit virtual. I think their facial expressions aptly capture the level of joy that comes from an intimate visit with plastic Santa.

I wrote Eric and Irene and expressed how we view them as heros for getting through a year of internet schooling. Our two granddaughters were on different schedules, one mostly home and the other mostly at school. That meant shuttling one and proctoring the other.

Except for the fact that Eric came up for Mom's funeral, we have not seen our kids or grand kids this year. We do use facetime and that helps.

Eric has worked largely from home, which creates the situation that Daddy is home, but must not be disturbed. He does go to work some just for the quiet and privacy. Meanwhile, Irene has been creative and comes up with all manner of ways to provide stimulation and activities which comport with the distancing regulation of the week. Interestingly, Eric commented that despite the stress and frustrations, it has been a year filled with family activities and he has really enjoyed the extra bonding time.

What I've described is no doubt familiar to many of you who have had similar challenges with educating and caring for children and grandchildren this year.

 

Kate Lauren Santa

Visit with Santa, 2020..

 

In January, Corey went to work for the Buck Institute in Novato California. He loves his work in molecular biology with a team of interesting scientists. Here he describes his year:

This year has been a most interesting one, and challenging for so many. For me, despite all that is happening, it has been a year of renewal, growth, transformation, and healing. About a year ago, I finished my PhD at Berkeley, marking the end of a 6 year process that had been challenging in positive ways, but also the source of distress that forced a lot of introspection. For me, 2020 was the year that I was able to break free of many of those burdens and start fresh, using the mental toughness I had gained in grad school to create new habits in place of toxic entities. I started running consistently, now in the morning, something I’ve never been able to do voluntarily before. I got rid of dopaminergic stimulants, such as caffeine, sugar, alcohol, junk food. Most importantly, I found a supportive environment in my Postdoc lab at the Buck Institute with people who care deeply about using science to do some good in the world. For me, 2020 has been about climbing up so that I can remember who I am. I’m very Thankful for all the gifts this year has brought, even the ones that come in the form of reminders of how strong we actually are.

Corey Webster

 

 

Corey coastline

Corey on a coastal run in the Bay Area.

 

Sorensen Visit

Larry Sorensen, Pat and Don Webster, Ed and Dorothy Moehl, Darlene Sorensen (Don's sisters.)
A family gathering at the time of Mom's funeral.

We are conscious of the Lord's protection and guidance during this unusual year. Pat and I have appreciated so many of you who have provided friendship support and helped us to keep our sense of humor. We wish each of you a Merry Christmas and may the Lord be a blessing to you in the year ahead.

Don and Pat Webster