Friday, February 19, 2016

Family in California

During our first visit, Christmas 2010
Since year one of our RV travels (2010), we come as far west as California to visit my uncle who moved to the Golden State in 1958. Sadly, and suddenly, he passed away last spring. As executor of his will, I carried out his wish to be cremated and return to California to pick up his remains and his few personal belongings. It's a bittersweet trip, knowing we'll never being able to visit Uncle Bill again, but we do meet his best friend, and visit with my aunt and cousins (not Uncle Bill's wife and daughters, but his brother Frank's).

 Background story - my dad had three brothers. Two, Uncles Frank and Bill and their families, moved to California in the mid and late 1950s; my dad, his oldest brother and their parents (my grandparents) stayed in Ontario. Uncle Bill's wife didn't like living in California, so she and their daughter returned to Ontario within a few months. They divorced, she remarried and Uncle Bill lost touch with his daughter. Unfortunately, their relationship didn't survive the distance.

 From the time I was a youngster, maybe 9 or 10 years old, I've written letters to Uncle Bill and we always exchanged birthday and Christmas cards. It was a practice we continued until his death. He was my favourite uncle. I don't know why; we rarely saw each other. We just clicked. I will miss him dearly, but having listened to stories about him from my aunt and cousins, and Uncle Bill's best friend about his life in California, I am convinced he lived his life exactly the way he wanted to. And isn't that all any of us can ask for?

Back - Bev, Dan; Middle - me, Aunt Irene, Jan; Front - Brad
A fun and very chatty day is spent with my Aunt Irene, cousins Jan and Bev, and Jan's husband Dan. We haven't seen each other in almost 10 years. We also share our best memories of Uncle Bill.

Uncle Bill's best friend, Tony and his wife Libra. Uncle Bill spent a numerous holidays, weekends and evenings with Tony and his family over the past 30+ years, being granted honorary grandpa status to Tony's three children.

Century old olive trees shade this outdoor patio
Tony takes us on a tour of the area, something we could never get Uncle Bill to do during our visits. At 80+ years old, Uncle Bill didn't want to venture far from home. This is Padua Hills Theatre about half-way up Mount Baldy. Originally privately owned, it was bequeathed to Pomona College in Claremont, which later transferred the title to the citizens of Claremont. It is beautifully preserved and still used for dinner, dancing, theatre and special events.

San Antonio Falls, Mt. Baldy
One of Uncle Bill's favourite spots on Mount Baldy, San Antonio Falls. Ice pellets start to rain down as we begin the short, 1/4 mile hike from the parking lot. But we have to see it.

Brad and I near the Falls. Yup, that's snow up there. And it's drizzling ice pellets!

The last photo I have of Uncle Bill, taken during our visit during the American Thanksgiving in November 2014. He's enjoying a beer at our campsite in San Dimas above the Puddingstone Reservoir, a spot he really loved for its great view and tranquility in the maze of California highways.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

1 comment: