Sunday, June 27, 2010


When my dad was visiting me a few weeks ago, he fell in love with my orange tabby, Golda. Golda is a rare cat because she’s a female. Most orange tabbies are males. Golda is a sweet girl and quite beautiful. She spent a lot of time curled up in Dad’s lap during his visit, purring. Dad has a friend whose cat died a few weeks ago and he was of the opinion that this friend should get a new cat, specifically a female orange tabby like Golda. So he googled “female orange tabby” and printed out information about this kind of cat and the other night he put the printout in his pocket and took it with him to his dance group where he would see his friend. He approached his friend and said, “I think you should get a new cat.” His friend said, “I just got a new cat!” So dad asked what kind of cat it is. The friend answered, “It ‘s a rare kind of cat, she’s a female orange tabby.” Astounded, Dad produced the printout from his pocket to prove to the friend that he was just about to suggest this kind of cat. Synchronicity.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with my friend S. and she told me that some close friends of hers had just discovered (within the previous few days) that their two-year-old niece has a brain tumor. The family was in shock. S. wished she could do something, anything, to help. But what can one do? A few days after that conversation, my friend G. came to visit for a couple of days. She lives in the Bay Area and I don’t see her very often. I forgot what she did for a living. In the course of conversation she reminded me that she works in the neurology department at Stanford, and that her boss is a neurologist who is a national expert in treating brain tumors in toddlers. His office is plastered with photographs of children whose lives he has saved. I hooked S. up with G. and they figured out how to link the family of the ailing toddler to this national expert for health care. Synchronicity.

I suspect there are more synchronicities that occur in life than we realize. Perhaps I should start keeping track of them. I remember a story a friend told me once. He was having a conversation while standing on the subway platform in New York. My friend was saying that people have a misperception that a large portion of the population of New York is Jewish when in fact there are proportionately very few Jews in New York. Just as my friend was saying this, a subway pulled into the station, the doors opened, and a mob of Lubavitcher Ultra-Orthodox Jews with the side-curls, beards, black suits, and black hats stepped off. Synchronicity.

Why does this stuff happen? There’s got to be more to it than we can fathom.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daddy Stories

My husband Ron is sitting with the portable phone next to his oatmeal bowl as he reads the Sunday paper. He’s waiting. He says he’ll see who’s paying attention. He deserves a few calls today.

Gene (my dad) came to my rescue during the winter of my freshman year in college, when I got the flu or a cold (maybe a sinus infection) of some sort. After a couple of miserable days, I went to the student health service. The doctor gave me a prescription for an antibiotic called Erythromycin, which sometimes has the side effect of causing nausea. Here is Amy’s law: Any side effect that can occur from a drug will occur if taken by Amy. I shared an apartment with a friend who had gone out of town for a few days so I was alone. Lying in bed with a cooking pot to wretch into because I was too dizzy to make it to the bathroom, I called home. Dad left work and immediately drove 120 miles in one of the most wicked snow blizzards of the Upstate New York winter to look after me. By the time he returned home on Monday morning, I was well on the way to recovery (after seeing a doctor in private practice).

Ron didn’t receive much fathering from his own dad, who left when Ron was very young. So he vowed that he would do all the father things with his own children. Mort and Brian came to stay with us during the summer every year while they were growing up. One year we took them to Disneyland. Once we went to Yosemite. And one time their Daddy insisted on taking them fishing so they would be able to say they went with their dad. They caught nary a fish but they had a good time. He took Akili to a baseball game when Akili was two years old, bought him a souvenir cap, and took a heap of photos of his boy in the stands. Akili was actually too little to appreciate the game, but he had a lovely time out with Dad (and great hot dog). I think all five of Ron’s children would agree that one of the most valuable things their Dad has passed down to them is the love of music (and significant knowledge about music as well). For Sudi, the inheritance includes a talent for creating and playing music. What a fine thing for a father to pass down to his children.

Happy Father’s Day Gene and Ron.

Our Gang in Tahoe (1994)

Our Gang in Santa Cruz (2008)

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I had a completely different blog in mind today, but then I woke up and remembered it’s my mother’s yahrzeit today. Although the solar calendar anniversary of her passing is not until early next month, the Jewish lunar calendar anniversary is today so this is when I light a candle. I don’t need to light a candle to remember. When I checked in at Facebook this morning, my friend Adilah had posted that she watched a rehearsal for a performance in which a dance team of young people performed Michael’s moves to a T for “Beat It” and “Man in the Mirror.” Her reflection was that Michael is still very much alive. Shakespeare had it all wrong, the good that men do is not interred with their bones. It’s the good that lives after them, Willie. Everybody wants to be remembered. That’s what the mad scramble is all about. Yet when the galaxies turn and the climate changes and humans follow the dinosaurs into the tar pits, no physical trace will be left and the things we left behind to show that we were here will vanish. I want to live in the good moment and contribute to the positive spirit. If anything remains, anything at all, it will be that positive spirit. Count me in.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lake Merritt Walk with Sara

After helping Sudi move into his summer sublet in Berkeley, I went to spend the night with friends Jim and Sara in Oakland. Saturday morning found me on a brisk walk around Lake Merritt with Sara, who talked about her latest project, which is related to raising awareness about disability rights. With a partner who uses a wheelchair to get around, she has extensive firsthand experience with the prejudices and injustices that confront a disabled person on a daily basis. She described an evening dinner at a restaurant with Jim (who uses the wheelchair) and her mother, who is in her 80s and completely mentally competent. The waiter came to the table and made eye contact with Sara only, asking something like “Do you know what these folks want to order.” I don’t remember exactly what it was the waiter said or exactly how it went down, but, as Sara described it, the way it was phrased, it was obvious that the waiter assumed that the guy in the wheelchair and the old lady lacked the mental capacity to decide or communicate what they wanted to eat!

I told Sara that it reminded me of the previous week when we were at Akili’s graduation and our family went out to eat along with Akili’s girlfriend Tina and her parents. It was our son who had graduated and we were treating everyone. But when the waiter brought the bill, he handed it directly to Tina’s father (who is white). I took it from him and passed it over to Ron, my Black husband, who was paying for the meal. I confess the significance of the scenario did not dawn on me until later when Ron mentioned that the waiter’s assumption made him angry (even though he didn’t say anything to the waiter). Neither one of these waiters set out to insult or devalue anyone. It’s just a case of unlearning prejudicial assumptions. An ongoing process for all of us. The conversation reminded me to remain vigilant to my own assumptions and to continue to ask and learn, remaining open to the fact that my worldview is not the right one but one of many and that we are still learning from each other every day how to be more human.