Day of the Dead


November 2, 2017, Prescott-

Hispanic families, in Mexico and elsewhere, observe this day as a way to honour their departed ancestors and strengthen the ties between this world and the hereafter.

As I looked out the window, this morning, I swear I could see Penny’s image, and that of her father, looking back at me, in a tree across the way.

Some have gone on, this past year, who had roles, large and small, in my life.

Uncle George Boivin, one of my last surviving father figures, gave me a paving stone from Boston’s old Scollay Square, which was transformed into Government Center, when I was about 12.  He was ever available, when I was in Colorado, to set me straight, in the difficult  2 1/2 years, immediately following Penny’s passing.  His mind was sharp, until the end, and those doll houses live on.

Al Tercero served our American Legion, at the post and district level, for over 30 years.  Now he is in what we call Post Everlasting.  The Honour Guard he helped establish is still the finest in Arizona.

George Marchessault, also a Past Commander and Honour Guard stalwart, stayed true to the Legion code and was ever present at our gatherings, on almost a weekly basis, until his last illness confined him to rest.

Bea Cronin, a grand-aunt’s sister-in-law, was always outside watching the Saugus High football team, from her back yard. There was an open door and welcome to the kids who knew her sons, and to us, her far extended family, when we were in the neighbourhood.

Ivaloo Mac Vicar was always in the hall, when I was passing to classes in seventh grade, admonishing us boys to WALK down the stairs, ONE step at a time.  She made it to the Century Mark, and a bit beyond, as did-

Evelyn Porter Anderson, who gave my mother a shot at success as a hairdresser and cosmetologist, in the uncertain days after World War II.  She never stopped doting on the five of us, until blindness and infirmity kept her confined to her last home.

Bernis Hanlon taught me, in fifth grade, to rely on my own wits and to start building  layers on my thin skin.  It took twenty more years for that lesson to really stick, yet less time for her next life lesson, appreciation of fine drama, to be absorbed, six years later, when she was the  High School Theater Advisor, who didn’t mind my being on the periphery of that club’s efforts.

Firuz Kazemzadeh was a high-level scholar of the Baha’i Faith, and one of our most accomplished mentors, serving in so many capacities, legal and educational.  His was always a bright and friendly face, at national and international gatherings, as well as at “our own” Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, held annually in Phoenix.

So many others have come and gone- and some day a person or two will write of my time on this Earth.  There is much to do, as yet, so let it not be too soon.


A Cup O’ Kindness


August 27, 2016, Prescott- Last Sunday, I spent some time with a World War II veteran, retired from the U.S.Army, as a colonel, who commanded a battalion on Utah Beach, during the D-Day invasion, in 1944.  He was fading, when I saw him, so I knew it was a matter of time, before his departure from our midst.

That passing came this evening, and John A. Mortimer, “only 96”, found himself looking down upon many friends who will miss his presence.  His widow, a native of Britain, called him her “Laddie”.  Certainly, during his years of service to his country, including time in the Battle of the Bulge, when he pushed his unit into Germany, with General Patton’s blessing, he moved with the swagger of youth- and made it count for something.

John was still on active duty during the Korean War, but stayed stateside, to monitor the testing of atomic weapons.  It was a decent turn of events, that he did not suffer any ill effects from those unfortunate days.

He served, at our American Legion Post, as a member of the Honour Guard, and was its flag presenter at funerals and memorial services, for several years.  John was also the first person one saw, on Sunday mornings, when breakfast was being served, as he was the cashier.  All that ended, about 1 1/2 years ago, when he became confined to the VA Hospital here in town, and to a wheelchair.

His wit, and keenness for Turner Classic Movies, remained, though, until a couple of weeks ago, when the Good Lord let him know that it was time to start packing up for the journey homeward.  That journey became complete, around 9:30 this evening.

We, his comrades at the Post, will honour John on Labour Day- looking back on his extraordinary life, and taking a cup o’kindness, for his service, and all those long ago days.