Just to let you know I am well, very well. I have felt so included in our family, by Char, by Steven, by Gabe, and by Al. Somehow, I feel that I excluded myself from my family and didn't know where I was for months. But I'm coming around, thanks to all of you, thanks to everyone. I've been able to walk again. Char and I walked 3 1/2 miles in Tilden Park the other day, up to the ridge, and we walk a couple of miles in Albany almost every day. We start our days at 7am and work out for more than a half-hour, doing qi gong warm ups, physical therapy exercises, stretching, and meditation. I also have joined the qi gong class at the Albany Senior Center led by Charlene on Monday nights - I've not forgotten the warmups and now Char leads the group at our house on her zoom account which works well. She hosts a group of about 20 people each Monday which I really enjoy.
I don't drive any more, maybe later. Char drives us everywhere. Or we walk. Now since social distancing, when we food shop, I stay in the car and listen to the radio. Shopping at Monterey Market was a weekly occasion, now maybe every two to three weeks. I make my own breakfast and cleanup in the morning and after dinner. I used to take a nap for a half-hour, more or less, per day. Lately I haven’t needed a nap.
Here is something I wrote the beginning of March when I was starting to write more regularly:
Writing is difficult. Not easy but I can do it. What do I have to say? I don’t know, I’m at a loss, but I can be found, not far away, sitting in my little room, behind the bedroom, and I can hear the chickens, a year gone by. Where have I been?
Not far from Charlene, who’s taken a year, now, from her own life to nourish mine.
“I’m planning to rejoin my writing group. Will they take me? I don’t l know.
Mary will eat here tonight and I will make MaPoTofu. That will make a meal. My first in a year.
I’m at a loss. A year ago I slipped, after crossing a ten-foot wooden plank. Charlene saw me tumble and fall into the water below, bouncing rock to rock, rescued by Vincent and Emily lifesaving graduates.
I was told I didn’t lose consciousness. I stayed aware, even smiling, Charlene said.
I’ve never been a swimmer. My Uncle John rescued me from the bottom of the Big Sur River when I was four years old. I’d done a backwards dive off a tall rock and can still see the colored pebbles through the clear water on the bottom of the Big Sur. Uncle John pulled me to the surface. .
Years later in Vietnam I waded across a river up to my chest, holding an M-16 rifle over my head. How did I survive? On the other side of the river my team and I scrambled up a steep incline. At the top of the bank we took cover and looked back down the slope. We’d made it!
The next mile was all swamp and we never dried out. Our jungle boots were soaked and our camouflage fatigues were dense bamboo 5 inches thick in triple canopy jungle, no trail, no path, all swamp.
The next day we were exposed, climbing uphill until we reached the top. We stared down the face of the hill. Two male tigers were visible in a clearing, half a mile below. We called in a single round of light artillery on the face of the hill but the round was a dud, landing not more than ten feet away from our position. I never wanted to kill any people or animals.
At night-fall, I fished a plastic wrapped, black and white photo from my breast pocket, the snap shot of a high school girlfriend. Was she still my girlfriend? I didn’t know. I had carried her in my breast pocket, soaked or crimped, during every mission, never leaving her behind.
I am grateful for your good wishes this past year. I have read all of your journal comments and cards and your words continue to encourage and give me hope.
Thank you so very much for your caring and patience. It’s been a long year.
All my gratitude to my family: my wife, Charlene, my sons, Steven and Gabe, and my daughter in law, Ally.