Pre-Preface: This blog was published 2 days before Christmas in 2016 — but it’s still an appropriate blog to send to “amigos” for the holidays in any year. So, please read on …….
Preface: These two holidays are the “good ones” — they both celebrate friendship and good cheer — but this year; uniquely, Hanakkuh starts at sundown on Christmas Eve — now that does indicate a bit of togetherness. I guess we’re all just one big human race!! In a fit of nostalgia, I went back and re-read some of my fav blogs — no, not my heroic naval exploits, nor flyin’ around and almost crashin’!! And not livin’ in the Memphis “hood” — while participatin’ in sports and ROTC at Central High School. I didn’t re-read anything about our Navy life or the career at IBM — I just wanted to “re-remember” some friends that we (the wife and I) made along the way!! So, here’s to all our Mexican amigos, my IBM company-mates, my Navy fellow officers and classmates at the Academy — here’s to life and to health — and some great children who are carin’ for a very, very, very ole couple livin’ at the CAN (Casa de los Ancianos del Norte)! As you might have guessed — I am writin’ this preface at a halfway point in my blog! (And in an effort toward brevity — I’m only gonna mention three damn great buddies of ours!!)
I have been spendin’ a heap o’ my time cogitatin’ and frettin’ over the fact that we are bein’ evicted from the CAN (Casa de los Ancianos del Norte)!! I always like to explain “CAN” upfront, since some folks might just be readin’ my blog for the first time — and not have a clue what the CAN means!! It represents a bit of a connection to some of the best years of our lives — for the wife and me!! That’s why you might see a touch of the Spanish language spotted in my blogs’ text — I’m not braggin’ that I speak and understand “beginner’s” Spanish — I just like to re-live some moments of nostalgia now and then — about a part of our lives that is truly memorable and cherished!!! And that was only 24 of our 66 years together — the wife and me — that bunch of excitin’ adventures south of the border (we even drove that 2nd-hand Hertz-purchased Ford Tempo, we named “Pastel de Crema” [Cream Puff], thru 30 of Mexico’s 31 states and deep into Guatemala!!). They truly were some fantastic adventures — and the wife and I have shared one helluva great time together!! And, in retrospect, my three bouts with depressions — were worth it. Yep, even the happiest guy in the world, may have hit a snag or two in 92 years — and with each bout I became a better human bein’ — I think!! I did not begin this blog with any intention of writin’ about bein’ depressed — but I defy any reader, with any maturity, to deny they haven’t hit a perceived “rock bottom” in their lives — in their career; or maybe with one’s health — or even with a relationship, either with family or friends. Fortunately, at this phase of my life — age 92+; married 66+ years; three great kids; those past fits of depression make the world seem even brighter to me than it does to most folks. I can relate to how it was — when things were bleak — and can appreciate all the good things!!
That’s why I re-read three earlier blogs — and, boys and girls, it sure put me in the spirit of both Christmas and Hanakkuh!! And the three blogs — I’m referrin’ to –had nothin’ to do with our bein’ evicted from the CAN!! [aside: It’s Thursday, 12/22/16, and I had stopped bloggin’ and was off to lunch. While there, one of the so-called “kids”, who are fightin’ to keep us — very, very, very ole folks — from bein’ evicted — came up to my table and introduced herself, and complimented me on my “brilliant” blogs. If you’ve been keepin’ up — my last 5 or so have been about that eviction notice we received on Dec 2nd — how dreadful it has been to treat us ole folks so dastardly, and our chances to wait ’em out are slim; but!!!! (or words to that effect). I told her I would mention her name ’cause she and another daughter or two are leadin’ the fight to have us all stay put — here at the CAN. Her mom is 95 years-old and is a longtime resident here; and it would be a crime to evict her along with the rest of us very, very, very old inhabitants. So, Jeannine Frank, here’s to you and the rest of the children who make up the Residents Assistance Committee — thanks from the bottom of our hearts — the wife and mine — we so appreciate all the work and effort you are puttin’ in to “save our home”!! God bless!! And by the way — it’s now Friday 12/23/16!!]
The three pals I’ve been thinkin’ and reminiscin’ about are Benno, Pablo and Patricio!! I just love it that all three names end in the letter “o’!! Benno is German/Mexican, Pablo is French/Mexican and Patricio, who passed about 1999, was Spanish/Mexican — [Aside: Truly, it’s Hamburg for Benno; Paris for Pablo; and Seville for Patricio — those are their birth cities and Mexico refers to the country where they profess citizenship (there’s a city, a state and, of course, the country — named MEXICO!!) And most gringos know it as a pleasurable place to go and fish; to swim and sun on the fantastic beaches; or to dine at some great eatin’ spots (especially in those “starred” Mexico City Restaurants)!! Some folks go to trace the history of Mexico — even to wander among the ancient ruins and climb some real pyramids!! While Harriette and I did all of the above and more — we attended two of the most spectacular weddings as friends of — first,the bride — and then the groom — both were children of Dr.Patricio and Sra. Maria Rosa Beltran of Mexico City (and Valle de Bravo). But, we also attended the weddings of the daughter of our house-maid at the spa in Ixtapan de la Sal; and that of the sister of Rafaela Urbina Reyna in San Miguel de Allende. In a past blog, I wrote about Rafaela and her husband Pepe — they named their first child “Emiliano” — probably after General Emiliano Zapata, a leading figure in the 1910 Mexican Revolution — but I like to think that the ‘ole guy’ was considered in the mix!!
But, enough of the wonderful adventures and memories of our time South of the Border and back to those three fellas I mentioned: Benno, Pablo and Patricio!! On 4/29/16, I blogged about Patricio and how we became “best friends” — I called the blog: “The Three Amigos …..” We met by almost crashin’ our cars at the entry to the popular ancient site of Polanco. And I’ll probably repeat this for all three guys but I “loved Patricio” and miss him to this very day — he and Ma. Rosa even attended my son Gary’s wedding at the Harvard Chapel in Cambridge, MA. We sure spent some wonderful times together — and just yesterday, Ma. Rosa, their daughter, wrote on Facebook that the wife and I were “the best gringos we’ve ever met”!! That makes us feel so proud; and it helps explain our total affection for Mexico and the folks down there. But, I have to move on to Pablo and his wife Paty — who rescued a weakened and forlorn gringo when he had his bursa removed from his elbow — no need to elaborate on the why’s and wherefore’s — but I was alone 40 miles away from home with a wife wonderin’ what the heck happened. They even made sure that one of Pablo’s employees drove me home in my car. We spent many a Saturday in the company of Pablo and Paty and sure had one thing in common — all four of us loved good food — in restaurants!! I blogged about our relationship in my 4/30/16 blog — “Error, I Meant ‘Two Amigos!”!! Pablo called me often when I was “under the weather” from 2011 until we departed Mexico in 2014. Friendships like that just don’t happen every day. I’ll always cherish that relationship — and Pablo damned well knows it!!
My third, and very, very dear pal, is Benno — Benjamin Gerd Wenske!! He was born in East Germany, but later moved to Hamburg (West Germany)– and ultimately performed cookin’ chores all over Europe — as I recall, in Switzerland, England, etc. He ultimately arrived in the good ole USA; and when we met — accidently in San Miguel de Allende — he was the Chef/Partner/Owner of the “Tuba Gardens” on Sacramento Street in San Francisco, CA (one former excellent restaurant). We met at a cocktail/dinner party in San Miguel, and we became pals for life — almost immediately. If one knows Ben, it’s like a love-affair — and I have to be careful here — because I’m a very, very “straight” guy and Benno is very “gay”!! It was my first experience in life — becomin’ close to folks in the LGBT community!! But I doubt if there’s a single soul in this universe that would not love to call Benno his or her friend. And it’s not just because he’s the bestest chef, ever. And we have had the breakfasts, lunches, dinners and cocktail parties — all shared with Ben — to prove it. But, besides all this ‘foodie’ stuff — Ben-ha-meen’ (as pronounced in Spanish) is a true friend — until death do us part!! And that particularly goes for the wife as well. Our days in San Miguel de Allende would have been a bit dreary — if we had never met Benno!! And the two of us still exchange ‘niceties’ — both with Facebook and emails — almost daily!!
I have left out some wonderful friends — some true pals — we’ve met along the way — in the Navy, at IBM, livin’ in Patuxent River, MD — Key West, FL — Corpus Christi and Dallas in Texas — Saratoga and Northridge in California — Paris, France — Westport, CT — and finally those wonderful 24 years “devourin’ Mexico while livin’ in San Miguel de Alende, GTO! So — we are now livin’ here at the CAN — and hopin’ we won’t be evicted — the two of us, Harriette and me — we can only say we’re happy to be alive and sufficiently healthy to wish everyone readin’ this blog a very Happy Holiday Season — we play no favorites — it’s for jews and gentiles alike — and you can include all others with or without a faith — let’s just take a deep breath and not watch TV too much — only view the folks at the other end of the festive holiday table or at the other end of the well-wishin’ telephone call or tweet!! Enjoy!!!!! — while we can!! ‘nuf …..