I think you would have been 96 today. It's a beautiful day in Ridgefield. The sun is shining & there is a delicious fresh breeze. You might find it a bit chilly having spent all those years in Puerto Rico but, trust me, it's extremly pleasant.
We still have our Bouviers Truman & Stella. You never knew Stella but Truman was with us when you visited. He is now almost 15, very old for a Bouvier. I know dogs weren't your 'thing' exactly but, short of the children we never had, they are the next best thing. They are both sleeping in the cottage with me.
Stella is sad little girl. Born in Alaska, she was shipped off to Missouri where she grew up in a puppy mill -- a terrible place to live -- kept in a cage & mated over & over to produce puppies for sale. She had 5-6 litters which translates into 25-30 puppies at a minimum. We are her first true family & we adopted her when the was about seven. She knew absolutely nothing about being a family dog or how to play or how to take a treat; quite sad. And although she is still extremely shy, she has come a long way. She's sweet & very quiet. It's easy to forget that she's around. She's always behind me as you can see in this picture.
I have taken up photography again; I guess I never really left it & am slowly uploading albums to the internet where they will remain for many years to come. They are available to the general public so, hopefully, future generations will be able to find them to see what all of us were like in the 20th & 21st century. Don't you think that is neat? I do.
The gardens are almost in full bloom. I don't know the names of all these flowers but I love working with them. I can see the main garden right from my desk. It's a perennial garden & it always amazes me how it dies back every winter & regenerates bigger & healthier in the spring. It's pretty large as gardens go as I extended the original from when we bought this house in 1998. This fall, I'm going to widen it just a bit to soften the shape.
Your memorial garden is a little less than a half done. It's built around that big rock in front of the house. I have plantings in the cracks of the rock that flower both yellow & blue... Also a couple of succulents. Around one side, it is planted almost totally with purple Japanese ferns. They are mixed with the seedlings from the yellow basket-of-golds & in the early spring we have yellow with the purple. It's quite striking. However, I'm not satisfied with the other side & so I've had all the forget-me-nots dug up & moved. Except for a large old winter fern & Jacob's ladder, it will be bare until I figure out what to plant for next year but I promise you will like it. That, too, I can see right from my desk.
Dad died in March but I guess you know that already as he's right next to you again. He was honored by a variety of people in the medical world in a variety of ways. Besides having a chair named for him, there is a neurological wing at a private hospital dedicated to his memory. Dr Lastra -- you remember him -- that wonderful, soft spoken resident that visited you every day @ the Medical Center -- heads the Neurosurgical team there & had that done in dad's honor. We were all there for the dedication; Joselia, too. Also a gamma knife project, something he championed, has his name attached to it & finally there are annual medical meetings held by the Nathan Rifkinson society of neurosurgeons so I don't think he will be forgotten any time soon.
His memorial funeral was very nice as funerals go. The rabbi was young & well spoken in English, Spanish & Hebrew. I made a speech which you can read here. Skyler spoke and, of course, Stephanie did, too. I had an obit published in the Ridgefield Press with a picture I took of him.
By the way, you're a great grandmother now; Skyler had a baby son in November. I didn't know about it until a few days ago otherwise I would have mentioned it before. I don't anything about him as no one from the family has informed me of his existence. But that's ok. I'm used to this kind of secretive behavior. I've come to expect it, sad as it is.
Carol is off with a client as I write this. When she's finished, we will go to lunch together. Thursdays are our date day & today I've got two wonderful ladies on my mind today as your birthday has fallen on a Thursday. It'll be fun. We're all going to lunch at Luc's, a fun French Bistro in town. Sometimes we take Stella with us when we eat outside.... It's so French.
We have a 24 hour candle lit to commemorate your birthday as we do every year. The hell with death anniversaries. We prefer to celebrate birthdays.
There's probably a lot more I could tell you but I think it's important that you know that I think about you every day in some way & I miss you like hell. I'm an orphan now but your memory constantly reminds me that I'm still your son.
I love you, mom.