Sunday, April 15

Dear Jim,

There’s sure been a lot of wind lately. I’ve been inside all day. At least it’s nice not to wear shoes.

Last night my neighbor and I went to dinner. We hadn’t been in at least two weeks.

Instead of going to the Chinese place like we used to, we went to a Mexican place over where I lived for eleven years. It was the first time in the thirty-eight years that I’ve lived here that I went. I used to pass it all the time no matter where I lived.

I liked the food and I enjoyed the company of my friend, but I did not like being in my old neighborhood. Living there was the most unhappy period of my life. It aged me.

My friend was telling me how much he loves the houses in that neighborhood. They are beautiful – built in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s with a ton of trees on the street. He hopes he wins the lottery so he can buy one. I hope so too. I wonder if I’d see him again.

Remember your house? I didn’t like it or your neighborhood. I know you didn’t like your neighborhood. Did you like the house? I loved my house but didn’t like the neighborhood. Too suburban.

The important thing for me isn’t whether I live in a house or an apartment, but whether or not there is a lot of light, a lot of windows, especially on the south. I’m becoming more and more light deprived. Part of it is fluorescent lights, but an increasing part is that aging eyes receive 40% less light than the eyes of a young person.

I’m going to get a new tablet before winter. It will not have bad lighting built in like the one I have now. I’m also going to get a tall lamp with healthy bulbs.

One of the things I read is that you need healthy light coming down on you like the sun, not up to you like a desk lamp. And I don’t know if you can do this in an apartment, but there are tubes that can be hooked up to a device outside that will bring natural light over your work area.

I’m supposed to go to the eye doctor this month, but I’m thinking of changing doctors. I love the office though. It feels great to be in.

You know how the media talks about how depressed old people are in rest homes? One of the reasons is the fluorescent lights. Another is the bad light from all the TV’s and the third is the inability of old eyes to absorb natural light like they used to.

A long time ago I looked up lighting in rest homes. There was a guy who designed rest homes so that the rooms receive a lot of natural light and, I assume, use light bulbs that make rooms feel good to be in.

I will not be able to afford to live in such a place. I won’t be able to afford to live in even a gloomy rest home. If I did live in one of those lousy places with fluorescent lights and TV’s on all day, I would lose my mind. Remember the movie about the insane asylum where at the end the Indian breaks the window to escape from the place? That’s what I think I would do in a rest home.

I remember one time that you said ”Television is the killer of the soul.” I say television is a weapon parents and the staff in rest homes use to kill the souls of children and old people.

If I won the lottery like my neighbor hopes he does, I wouldn’t buy a house. I would make arrangements to move into one of those well-lit rest homes as soon as I turned sixty-five or seventy, whatever age I thought I would begin to need assistance. It would be great to be an old man in a place that feels good to be in, basking in the peaceful glow of natural light, listening to birds instead of television.

What we do to old people is horrible. What we’ve done to dad is terrible. Dad is defeated.

I feel defeated too. I have to force myself to pray. That’s scary.

I’ve heard on religious radio stations that faith is something you sometimes have to work at. Sometimes you have to ask God to keep you in faith. You have to keep praying even when you’ve lost your faith because eventually you will regain it.

I think dad has lost a lot of his faith. He hardly prays. What means the world to him I think is when we hang up he says, ”Be careful. I love you. God bless you.” He may have lost hope for himself, but he hopes everything works out for me.

Sometimes when I don’t feel like saying a prayer for dad, I’ll ask God to let him right into heaven when he dies. He just can’t believe what’s happened to himself.

There’s that priest from Miami I think I told you about. He has a radio show for two hours every night. At the end of the show, after he’s done listening to the troubles of some people and bantering with others, it’s prayer time.

A listener will call. The priest says, ”Por su doloroso pasión.” The caller says, ”Ten misericordia de nosotros y el mundo entero.”

They say it ten times. What reverence and humbleness. Do you think it’s beautiful? It reminds me of dad.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Easter

Dear Jim,

What a great week off. I haven’t worked since Tuesday. Each day I’ve been outside over four hours reading, writing, and walking. I feel healthy doing that.

Before my holiday, I worried about how I would make use of the time. I looked up an outdoor walk commemorating the Stations of the Cross for Good Friday. I participated five years ago, but did not see any notices for it for this year.

I thought I should go to the Holy Thursday service, or three hours on Good Friday, or a sorrowful music performance on Good Friday night, or communion on Holy Saturday, or Mass today. With so much free time and extra energy, I ”should do something” to honor Easter, worship God, thank Jesus.

But I didn’t want to. On Palm Sunday I felt a change of mood. I felt solemn. I told dad I was feeling the Easter spirit.

I put the clock radio in the drawer. I didn’t listen to my other radio. I didn’t worry about getting things done.

I didn’t go to any of the Holy Week rituals because I didn’t want to be inside and I didn’t want to put money in the collection basket. The main reasons are I don’t think Catholics take their faith seriously. They want to ooo! and ahhhh! on Good Friday as the huge lightweight cross is passed from the people in the front pews to the people in the back pews. ”Aren’t we progressive?”

It is really very phony. When did that shit start? I’ll have to ask dad but he probably won’t remember.

I feel lonelier at church than I do anywhere else. To sit through one of the long rituals would have killed me: ”I don’t know these people. They aren’t my friends. There is nothing to talk about. I don’t want to see people I know from other places and don’t like.”

On Friday I said Happy Easter to the cashier at the grocery store. She appreciated it. She said ”Happy Easter to you too.” Our exchange meant more to me than attending all the Holy Week ceremonies and Easter Mass would have.

The Good Friday walk I mentioned at the beginning of the letter. When I was volunteering at a church, one of my co-volunteers encouraged me to take the walk. She wasn’t physically able to do it.

I arrived at the place it started at least fifteen minutes early. The musicians were rehearsing. During a lull I asked them if this was the Good Friday walk. They said yes, but they were not warm. Nobody said ”Glad you could make it.” Nobody smiled. They looked at me as if I were less than.

So I sat on a picnic table until the walk started. The leader and an important priest were there talking. They had an attitude of self-importance. I was looking for reverence.

The walk was a struggle. We stopped for every station. Whenever we stopped I wanted to sit down, but it would not have been appropriate.

It was warm in the sun. Cool in the shade. I kept taking off my ski cap to put on my sun hat, and I kept taking off my sun hat to put on my ski cap. In the sun I stood in the shade of a telephone pole or street lamp.

Finally the walk ended. I ran into the woman I volunteered with. She had driven down to say hello to people.

As we were talking, she saw the leader of the walk coming toward us. She said ”Oh! I’ll introduce you guys.”

After they said hello to each other, she said ”So-and-so, this is David Vaszko. We volunteer together at one of the parishes.”

He says, ”Oh, weren’t you the one who kept putting his hat on and off? That was odd.”

”Yeah. That was me.”

”Don’t you walk by my office every day? You look familiar.”

”I walk all over.”

But he didn’t tell me where his office was or what its’ name was.

Then someone he knew came up to him. He said ”Excuse me,” then talked to the guy. I wanted to leave but didn’t want to be rude, so I waited.

Then he turned to me and said, ”I’ve got to go to breakfast with my friends.” He didn’t invite me. ”I hope you come on the walk next year.” But he didn’t say ”We’re always looking for volunteers.”

I thought ”No way in fucking hell am I going on the walk next year with you snobs.” He talked down to me. He should have invited me to breakfast and encouraged me to volunteer with the group.

On the way home I thought that guys like him are why people leave The Church, and why so many who try to return to The Church say fuck it. He wasn’t warm, respectful, diplomatic, or Christian. He was just a busy-body.

I never told the woman what I felt about him. They were close and she and I had a good relationship. I wanted to tell her he talked down to me but I’m glad I didn’t. She was really good to me – always encouraging me to do more in the parish because she respected me and knew I was struggling.

During the week I kept thinking about what Holy Week means. I was wishing I felt part of The Church. I would have loved to participate in one of the ceremonies. When I was coming home at 6:30 Thursday evening, I thought “In a few hours Jesus will be arrested.”

I got lucky. When I came home yesterday there was an invitation to dinner. The real short friend of mine who I told you has the sick sister and the old girl friend of mine who you guys adored and now has a husband, wanted the four of us to eat dinner and then watch a movie.

So the couple picked up my short friend, met me at the Mexican restaurant around the corner, paid for our dinners To Go, then drove us back to their house. The food was great. They all wanted to taste my menudo and they all loved it.

I was leery about watching the movie because movies overstimulate me and most TVs bother my brain. But I knew I should go and I was right.

The movie was The Darkest Hour. It’s about Churchill’s appointment to Prime Minister and his struggles to outwit Chamberlain and Halifax so that Parliament and the nation would accept his demand to fight to the death against Hitler.

You would have loved it. I told dad he would have loved it.

I didn’t get home until 11:30. Some neighbors were having a loud party that didn’t stop until 1:15.

I laughed. I got to spend Holy Saturday night with people I feel good being with, and one of the few nights I went out happened to be one of the few nights my neighbors were loud and I couldn’t have gone to bed early.

Happy Easter to you and mom Jim.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Wednesday, March 28

Dear Jim,

I’m sitting in a nice patio garden at the utmost of snobby coffee shops. The guy who took my order did not say ”Hi how are you?” or smile or make small talk. The guy who put my drink up on the counter didn’t smile. I thanked him, then he said “You’re welcome.”

But no warmth. Each guy was dressed meticulously with an expensive haircut and with tattoos. It reminded me of San Francisco’s snobbery and pretension. All show but no go.

So I’m here, protected from the cool breeze on a warm morning. I needed to do something different. I feel good. It feels good.

Last night I went to the Spanish group I only go to once in a while now. I was actually able to speak, although it was hard and I had to repeat myself sometimes. But there too. It amazes me how terrified people are of strangers and it pisses me off that someone refuses to talk with the person next to them or across from them. I didn’t have a good time.

I had a great burrito. I don’t know what was in it. It had red sauce and the perfect amount of spice for my bland taste buds. I also had a great cup of fresh squeezed orange juice. It was $5.45, but I am glad I bought it.

You should see the machine they juice the orange halves with. Vrrrrrrrrmmm! and they are done. The machine really looks classy. The travel books say that in Mexico fresh squeezed orange juice at restaurants is an inexpensive tradition.

It’s been a stressful week or ten days. I’m really getting too old to work. It drives me crazy and I’m bored to death. We are short a really good staff member and we’ve hired some new people who I like a lot.

One of the reasons I’m stressed is because I am pushing hard to speed up Spanish. It takes a lot of time and effort and is hard for me, even though I love it. But I understood almost everything people said last night.

I did not enjoy the crowd like I used to, but I told myself that I really need the group, so go like it is a business meeting and don’t worry about whether the guy next to me is an asshole.

And then there’s a book I’m reading: Domestic Tranquility: a brief against Feminism. It’s incredible. It was written in 1998 by a woman seven years younger than dad. She went to law school, became an attorney, then gave up her job to be a housewife.

She loved it. She said being a housewife was more rewarding to her and more of a contribution to society than being an attorney. She said anybody can take your place at the law firm, but nobody will or can raise your kid the way you will or can.

The main goal of feminism was to destroy patriarchy and it worked. We all know that, but she puts a different angle on it. She said that rather than fight to make motherhood more respected, the feminists encouraged married women to leave their husbands, and single women not to marry. What these women should do said the feminists, is pursue a career just like the males who oppress them so they can be aggressive just like the men who oppress them.

The author said that feminists felt that motherhood was bullshit, then tried to bring the sensitivity that housewives used to bring to their family into the male-dominated work force by pushing for things like day care at the office.

One of the things she said was that the main reason that feminism of our time got started was because men were abandoning their role as breadwinners. She talked about the beatniks, Playboy Magazine, and the hippies. She said the beatniks did not respect women. Women were just a pain in the ass and you may as well give a blow job once in a while.

To her, Playboy made men teenagers, rather than a proud bread winning husband and father. Men were told that being single is the best way for a man to live. His manhood is based on his job title and on all the expensive toys he has.

As for the hippies, she goes on, at least they didn’t acquire all the horseshit playboys do. But still, they wanted to be promiscuous and they expected women to be promiscuous. There was no expectation or desire for hippie men to be an adoring husband or dynamic father.

The book has me thinking about my sexuality and what I need or want from a woman. She said women need to demand that men adore them and are willing to support them before they sleep together. I’d love to meet a woman I adore to see if I would devote myself to her and to a happy few years together.

There’s a real short book I just read that this author quoted from – The Penitent by Isacc Bashivas Singer. He wrote it in 1983. Did you read it? It is incredible.

It’s about a Jew who had run all over Europe during World War II starving and freezing trying to avoid the Nazis. After the war he ended up in America. He had no money and didn’t know what to do. So he used the business skills he learned from his father, then became unexpectedly wealthy. He didn’t care about money.

He was a philanderer. Then after a failed affair and during his failing marriage, he decided he had to give up the adultery and inhumanity of the modern world. He longed for the purity of the Jewishness of his father and grandfather.

He took a taxi to the airport, then a plane to Tel Aviv to begin his difficult journey to become a Jew the way Jews were before they embraced the soullessness and immorality of the post war Gentile world. One day he sought a Jewish religious library to delve into his roots in order to save himself.

An old rabbi came over to him with a twinkle in his eye and love in his bearing and said, “Welcome home my son.” Isn’t that incredible! I never felt anything like that from a priest.

You know I often refer to things I’m reading or doing but never talk about them again. So I’ll mention some.

On Sunday I watched the Paul Newman movie I told you I was going to watch. It’s set in Antioch and Rome when Saint Peter was old. There is a great scene of Peter healing a girl who can’t walk. She is between her parents struggling to stand as Saint Peter exhorts her. Finally, she awkwardly walks to Peter where he hugs her to him.

What was amazing is that the guy who made the movie had the insight to think that maybe the apostles, since they weren’t Jesus, couldn’t heal as effectively as he did. And Peter, as an old man, probably couldn’t heal like he used to. So the girl didn’t just get up and walk delightfully away like the cripples who Jesus healed did.

Remember the 1300 page book about Texas I was reading and told you I would stick with like a Texan? I stopped on page 1100. I wasn’t interested in what happened after 1970. I guess now I can’t go to Texas.

Well Jim, it’s been great writing. I’m filled with passion, and you always admired me for it.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Sunday, March 11

Dear Jim,

It’s daylight Savings Time. Last night, instead of hurriedly setting my clock ahead before I went to bed, I calmly set it ahead as soon as I got home. Then I relaxed and went to bed at 10:00. (11:00)

Today I feel great! I listened to a half hour of The Psalms and a half hour of church hymns on the Christian station I told you about.

I love The Psalms. The Psalm writers are pissed off like I am. They are suffering a lot too. You talked about suffering – how it can make you take yourself less seriously, become empathetic or more empathetic toward others, and get you on the path toward God.

I remember when that woman you loved dearly broke your heart. You said to me, “For the first time in my life I have truly suffered.” It was wrenching for you. The Psalms are wrenching.

I needed to keep going on the religious theme, so after the church hymns I turned to Radio Vaticano. I love the narrator’s Italian accent as she speaks Spanish.

After she got through giving the news and reporting upcoming events, she interviewed a woman who just published a book about women in The Church and their quest for power. The interview was hard to follow because they were talking so fast. The writer spoke different Spanish than I’m used to and the one being interviewed usually doesn’t speak as clearly as the interviewer.

I needed to be still, so I didn’t get up to try to write her name or the title of the book. I will try to look it up.

As far as I can tell, The Church has two big problems. Women are pissed off and men don’t give a shit. Sounds like the country.

Then I listened to the sage priest in Sacramento who grew up in Mexico. He talks every Sunday about the three readings from Mass.

The theme today was light versus darkness. He said we call ourselves Catholics, but we embrace the selfish aspects of our culture like pornography and violence.

He said really, we are not Catholics because we do not accept that Jesus died for our sins, died to bring us the light. He said we must dump our egos, admit to ourselves that everything about us – our money, job, title, property, talent is because of God, because Jesus paid the price to bring the world out of darkness – if we so choose.

He said we better so choose because the barbarians are at our gates just like barbarians burned Jerusalem before the Jews were sent into exile. Like the Jews who lived a life of debauchery before their fall, we are doing the same thing. He said America has fallen apart because we Catholics have accepted contemporary paganism just like Jews accepted the paganism of their times.

There were a couple of other things too. He said the Mexican devotion to Maria is horseshit if Mexicans believe in abortion. He said presidential candidates need to speak against abortion, because if I understand him right, abortion is a great evil or our time and an example of paganism at its’ worst.

While he was talking he made the distinction between being in the darkness like America and Western Catholics are, and stepping into Jesus’ light to reclaim ourselves, our church, our country, and our Western tradition.

That got me thinking about The Psalms I listened to an hour before him. In The Psalms the psalmist is protected by God’s shadow. He can either walk in it or seek shelter in it. He can be good knowing he is protected by God.

In the New Testament, people are challenged to walk in Jesus’ light, step out of their darkness and into the world’s darkness to do good, to try to get others to trust in the Lord like they do.

A lot of people trust in the universe. That is good because if you listen to the universe you sing your own song. It might be painful. If it doesn’t bring you peace it will cause you to stand your ground, say I’m going to live my truth no matter what.

The problem with the universe is what do you do if you end up on the street? I’ve had homeless guys say ”Jesus loves you” and ”God bless you” to me, but I’ve never had a homeless guy tell me “Trust in the universe.”

If I were homeless it would be terrifying for me to say to somebody, “Trust in the universe,” since the universe hadn’t gotten me money or a place to live.

But if I say “God bless you” or ”Jesus loves you,” I’m acknowledging not commanding. I’m hoping that he will thank me or say ”God bless you too.” But even if he doesn’t, Jesus said don’t expect to be rewarded. Until later. I would be trusting in the Lord.

Trusting in the universe is attractive. It’s becoming more popular. It’s drawing a lot of young people away from the Lord, away from The Church. And with the powerful technology that we have, you can communicate with the universe instantly.

The reason I bring this up is because young people, with the new technology that anyone can afford, are creating political movements intended to take our streets back from the police and our neighborhoods back from the real estate industry. Even though the groups I am aware of are not religious, are not Christian, they are putting into practice the Gospels.

In addition to visiting prisoners, they are trying to close prisons. In addition to giving food to the homeless, they are tying to pass rent control laws so people do not end up on the street.

If these things happen, what wonderful cities we will have. The love of Jesus will have taken over the world. We won’t need a savior. People will raise their kids to ”Trust in the universe. It will give you everything you need. If you aren’t greedy.”

So Jim, maybe what’s going on today will usher in some great changes for the better. Before Jesus there was God the Father. For two thousand years we have had God the Son. Maybe we’ll have an Age of the Holy Spirit, the Age of Aquarius, and Jesus’ work will be over.

That’s it for now.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Friday, March 2

Dear Jim,

March came in like a lion. It rained from midnight to 9 am yesterday and the wind blew like hell. When I woke up there was a puddle on the window sill and water on the floor.

I knew it was going to rain after I got to work, so I put a rug and thick towel on the floor beneath the sill. Then I put some buckets to catch the water below the leaking points. Then I took a heavy classy new bath towel that Sis II gave me and that I hadn’t used yet on the sill to absorb the water.

That was a brilliant move. When I got home from work there was no water in the buckets or on the towels on the floor, but the towel on the window sill was soaked.

It’s been a stressful week, more because of the weather than anything else. It’s been very cold and windy. I itched like crazy, but I was pretty good about not scratching. The rain has made me itch less.

This morning I went downtown to a quarterly staff meeting. It was boring. The organization is so full of positive horseshit it makes me ill. I felt like retiring.

Downtown is as ugly and lifeless as ever. I used to think beautiful architecture made cities great, but I don’t think so any more.

A city is great when there are lots of people walking who are too busy to be afraid, or when people are not afraid and so they come out to walk leisurely. Sacramento could build buildings and design neighborhoods to my aesthetic satisfaction, but people would continue to be afraid and lifeless and Sacramento would continue to be soulless.

The other night I listened to a Bishop Sheen program from World War II. I stumbled across his rebroadcasts a few years ago on Catholic Radio.

Mom and aunty always listened to him. Dad remembers him. Do you? Did you listen to him? At the seminary did they make you guys listen to him?

I was impressed by his sense of authority. He definitely was not positive. The current pope is, but I wish he spoke with authority about what is wrong with the West.

Bishop Sheen wasn’t cool. The current pope is. I liked Benedict because he wasn’t cool and didn’t try to be. He was full of love and respect for others, even those he felt were destroying the West.

What I like about the current pope is he loves the great poet from his homeland – José Hernández. Hernández wrote an epic poem through the eyes of the narrator, Martin Fierro. I read the first book in Spanish as best I could. It was incredible.

Fierro is a cowboy on the pampas – Argentina’s Great Plains. He talks of his struggles there, the land, the Indians. Someday I will buy the book, and the Spanish equivalent of the OED, then take my time to gain a better understanding of it.

Anyway. Sheen was speaking about godless modern man. Sheen said that man wants Eternal Life, Truth, and Eternal Love and seeks these as God; therefore God is man’s ultimate end.

He said that the reason ”Christianity does not speak to modern man is because modern man is only part man, a disconnected man.” I agree. People today want to live forever and expect to live until they are ninety. but they are not interested in a transcendent God to live with when they die.

People don’t want Truth to guide them through life. They want facts to build a career, get the prize, and become rich. People want to be able to fuck into their eighties, but they don’t want to feel or cultivate God’s eternal love or eternal mercy.

Sheen is intense. I’ll try to listen to one broadcast a week, but I don’t know if I will be able to. Nobody talks like that anymore.

Or I should say, Catholics don’t talk like that anymore. A lot of times when I am tired of listening to Radio Católica or the Mexican station from The City, I turn the FM dial all the way to the left than back to the right to tune in to public stations.

Every time, the first station I get is a fundamentalist Christian station from Oakland. I’ve always hated the pompous tone of the guy either reading from The Bible or giving a lecture. I’ve said, ”Oh please!” or ”Fuck you asshole!”, then changed the station.

But last week the narrator sounded authoritative to me, not pompous. I listened. He read from Malachi. Here’s the quote I like: ”The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel.”

Yes. Truth is a burden. Honoring God is a burden. Obeying the Ten Commandments is a burden. Loving God every second of every day is a burden, especially nowadays when God is hated every second of every day.

Listening to that guy read in an authoritative tone fit the authoritative tone of The Bible. If a positive reader read that passage, the listener would not feel the seriousness of God’s message and would not feel the heaviness and fear that Jews felt when they heard the word of the Lord to them, God’s chosen and burdened people. Now I understand what professors meant when they said you have to read the classics from the point of view of the Jews, Greeks, or whatever.

For three days I listened to that station and went to its’ website. On the website is a list of songs sung on the station. One of the titles caught me: When I Survey This Wondrous Cross.

It got me thinking of the cross and the crucifix. Which is better? When the Protestants broke from the Catholics, did they reject the crucifix? Is the crucifix too negative, too bloody?

I think with the crucifix the focus is on Jesus’ suffering. With the cross things are more abstract. We are at a crossroads. We have a burden to carry. There is hope. What exactly does one focus on?

So I got to thinking about the cross as something to see from a distance – sitting in the parking lot looking at the cross on the steeple. Or being on a hill in San Francisco seeing the cross on top of a church far away.

The cross is a beacon, a symbol of God’s suffering and our redemption. A crucifix makes Jesus’ suffering real. What did he go through for us?

Remember Mt. Davidson? I wonder how many people have surveyed that wondrous cross. I know liberals hate it. Maybe Catholics hate it too.

I like it. I’ve never meditated on it. But I’m glad it is there saying fuck you to all the godless juvenile artists. The left never sees the cross as a symbol of God’s infinite mercy, but only Western arrogance.

I don’t think you liked it, but we never discussed it. Maybe you thought I didn’t like it, which I didn’t until twenty years ago. I wonder if an artist or progressive ever buys a home because of it’s view of Mt. Davidson.

It’s funny that in a city that so many people come to with so much hope, the great symbol of hope is far removed from the neighborhoods they move to. They think it’s BS anyway.

That’s it for now Jim.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Friday, December 22

Dear Jim,

The days are getting longer.

I am trying to get in the Christmas spirit. On Wednesday I finally took out the battery-operated Christmas tree that mom gave me. I love it. She received it from two swingers at church who bought it at Gumps.

I remember you bought somebody a present at Gumps, but I can´t remember what it was. The old lady across the street from us when I graduated from high school had a friend twenty years younger than her who had a great position there. I still know his name but never met him.

It´s a struggle this year. I took out the tree, but left the Silent Night chimes in the closet. I definitely do not feel the peace of Christmas.

On Sunday I´m going to Sis II´s. I don´t think there will be a lot of people. I want to relax, so I hope not. I really want and need to talk with Sis II. Dad´s mind is shot, so she is all I have in the family.

Speaking of family, I was reading the New York Times the other day and thought of you. Two years ago a 25 year old New York City cop was murdered on duty. The other day after the trial but before the verdict:

¨the officer´s mother addressed the courtroom in an emotional plea for the maximum
sentence for her son´s killer, whom she refused to look at. She spoke of Mr. ____´s
lovable personality and living with the knowledge that she would never dance with
him at his wedding or see him become a father. ´This is my life sentence, without
parole,´ she said.¨

A totally different perspective than what mom and dad had toward your murderer. Mom and dad forgave him and prayed for him. If you had read the article you would have said the family of the murderer suffered too.

When the guy who killed you hung himself in jail, I wonder if his kids were happy for us because either he evened the score, or because we were spared the trial and all the questions people would have asked us, ¨Do you hope he gets the death penalty man?¨ I wonder if they were relieved for themselves for not having to go through the stress of the trial or having to visit their father in San Quentin.

I was glad he hung himself. I didn´t give the slightest shit about his kids.

One time when dad was driving you, mom, and I somewhere, you were talking about something that happened in the Bay Area in the 1950´s. A guy was sent to prison for arson. He claimed that he did not do it. He told the prosecutor something like, ¨You´ll pay for this.¨ When the guy got out of prison, he looked up the prosecutor then killed him.

My reaction was ¨Good!¨ ¨What balls!¨ ¨Serves the career-building attorney right!¨ Your comment was that the guy in jail could have tried to make peace with himself in jail, to learn forgiveness, to not waste all those years cultivating vengeance.

I wonder what the two families thought. Did the prosecutor´s family say, ¨Yes. Well even though that was 15 years ago, our dad/brother did ruin someone´s life. We don´t like what happened, but we cannot complain.¨? Did the family of the murderer say, ¨If he had broken out of jail the first week and killed him, that would have been OK, but now we lose our father/brother a second time. We wanted him back.¨?

Well Jim, Merry Christmas.

Thanks for praying for me.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Friday, October 27

Dear Jim,

Happy dad´s and mom´s anniversary. Today is number 72. I told dad it was number 62. Do you think I am getting Alzheimer´s?

When dad and I talked at the beginning of October, he was already remembering his anniversary. He remembered the Blue Angels flying over his and mom´s 50th celebration at the fancy club in the Presidio.

It was a great party. Indian Summer in The City. Mom and Dad looked great and were in their glory. Everyone from everywhere was there. People were very happy for them and told me how much they respected mom and dad.

But it wasn´t so great for me. On the way to the party with dad and mom and our relatives from Ohiuh, mom made fun of the sun hat I was wearing, the one I wore when I was gardening and felt unique in.

It hurt my feelings because it was true. I didn´t look good in it.

It also hurt my feelings because I knew I would not be able to continue gardening for very long, but I did not know what I was going to do. All the effort I was putting into gardening, but I was failing. All the pride I had in being independent, but it wasn´t making me money. All my lust to be outside living my truth working with my body, but it was going to have to end.

When I talked with all the solid accomplished people at the party, I was very uncomfortable. I had to pretend I was confident and that things were going well. I shoveled shit a few times to make myself look good.

Another reason the party brought me down was the place it was in. It was beautiful.
How come I do not have a place like this? How come I´m not a hot shot like the pilots in the Blue Angels? How come I´m not prestigious like the officers who drink here? How come I do not like to wear a suit and tie like other men? Oh I wish things were going will so I could glory too.

The party was so good people talked about it for years. Some people asked dad and mom to have one for their 60th.

So they did. It was at the church hall, which I never liked. But at least the celebration was in the afternoon when the hall is sunny.

The party was very good, but nobody took pictures. Mom was mad after. It hurt her. There should have been a designated photographer.

I think the reason none of the parishioners took photos of mom and dad was because as much as they wanted to support a church member, they were envious of their great marriage, they didn´t like mom´s outspokenness, and they felt threatened by dad´s humble silent goodness.

I liked the party. I was not comparing myself to anybody and I sure as hell would not want to own the church hall. What I remember about the party was the priest who said the blessing.

He was ten years younger than dad and mom. He looked like a man sure of his place in the world. We listened.

He said that mom and dad were truly a great couple who had an exemplary marriage. The greatest testament to Charles and Dolores, he said, was how they handled the murder of their son. It was truly remarkable, the forgiveness they granted the man.

Jim, you´re the product of dad´s and mom´s wedding night.

Congratulations,

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Sunday, October 22

Dear Jim,

It´s the Dodgers v. s. Astros in the World Series. I´m glad eastern teams are not in it. Houston plays in a dome. It isn´t going to be cold or rainy in L. A.

The season is already too long. I don´t want a rain delay.

Today I was telling dad the Astros used to be the Colt 45´s. How Texan. I don´t know if the name was changed to be modern or because of political correctness.

It´s been a stressful week. My mouth is still recuperating from gum surgery.

I was going through all my papers and cupboards to see what I can throw away. I made four trips to the donation store with my day pack full. I threw out a kettle, toaster, waffle iron, a card table. I will be throwing out a big pitcher, a crock pot, and a 4 inch pile of notes I took.

I am worried the landlord will raise the rent or evict us. He hired a property manager because he cannot do as much work here as he used to. He´s 80. So, I want to be ready to move quickly and easily.

It´s amazing. I have only kept a few books: a bible in Spanish, two Spanish poetry books, a small Spanish verb book, a Spanish/English dictionary, a small English dictionary, a Ty Cobb book, and the family bible. I love the family bible. So does Sis II. I think we all loved it.

Remember all the books you had? They were in dad´s garage until at least 2000. I brought Why Catholics Can´t Sing back to Sacramento. I loved it. I underlined in it. I kept it until last year.

A friend of mine joined the choir at his church. He can´t sing either, but at least he sings in key. I would love to be in a choir. I wonder how often a choir feels like one – like they are experiencing God.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko