My Family

  The River of Life flowing on....

My marriage of 32 years to Sue (née Heinrich/Sachs) is over, but lovingly, caringly over.  We graduated honorably and are each building new lives.

I am a man who wants a partner, so in 2014, I went looking for a woman from deep memory of my youth in Lousiville, KY: Carol Francisco, a smart, gorgeous, spirited, even fierce, young woman....she had persisted in my memory and imagination down through the years.  Back then, 50 years ago, we had both been green and wildly different: she, the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher and theologian at the Southern Baptist Seminary, me, the son of a free-thinking agnostic eye doctor....but there had been sparks.

And, thank God, I found her in mid-2014.  We all accumulate miles and wrinkles and scars; the trick is learning from them, gaining wisdom and center.  She was in Colorado, an hour north of Denver, in Fort Collins, near the Rockies (large format pictures here)...still beautiful, but with the badges of honor time endows those who listen and pay attention, still passionate and now a writer and imagist.  She takes stunning images as easily as a fish swims through water; it is part of her existence.  And after a difficult young life in the South and in the Southern Baptist faith, she is still profoundly a Christian, if at odds with institutionalized religions She has written some wonderful books on Christ and the beginnings of Christianity, and her connection to the numen often humbles me and my busy obsession with the insanities of wordly events.

http://clfrancisco.com/



Carol as a teenager...and in motherhood, with her son David and daughter Genevieve (who, in this wonderful picture, seems to be clutching her fists together as if to say,
'How did I ever get so lucky as to get this wonderful mother smiling at me with such joyous love!?'



All growed up...

        


We've hit it off fantastically...our lives had taken different paths, but we'd ended up in very similar and congruent places, in mind, heart and spirit.
I went out for a week in December 2014 and by April of the next year was spending most of the month with her. 
On June 30th 2019, Deo vult, we married!  Joy and fireworks.       

     

Carol is a an artist of considerable talents...my Christmas present was this drawing of the two of us:

  
    
 She also works in artistic crafts.  She made this gorgeous 14"x80" colored glass creation of twining trees, and I mounted it in an oak frame over the side lite next to our front door.  Shown here with Carol and our long-haired Shar-Pei Ren (click on on the image for an enlarged image you can pan around in).

And over the the fall, she collected seed pods, berries, pine cones and the like, then made the Christmas wreath on the right, for which I made a lighted mahogany shadow box.

            

She's now working on a book for her grandson.  In it, there are four illustration of a 'wind cat' , one for each season. 
So far she has made these draft preliminary digital graphics mockups of paintings she plans.

    Summer and Fall in portrait orientation
   
         


============= But now...those who came before and have passed on =============

Attend.  See these souls. I hope to make them real in your mind as they are in mine;
for in the realm of matter, they live now only in memory.

(Free paraphrase of the words of Lois McMasters Bujold, from her Paladin of Souls)

My Mother Molly and Her Family                          My Father Wynant and His Family

As teenagers

    `

I look back
at my family...
I see...
the centrality,
the endurance of love...
and the shortness,
the fragility of life
...and how spirit can transcend everything.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.
...
These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

First Corinthians 13


My Parents Together


My parents met at Yale, in graduate school, she in the nursing school, Dad in the medical school.  Here they are at a pool party.  They married in '42.   God, they loved each other fiercely...through all the trials that came, I never saw their absolute devotion to each other ever faulter.

Then Dad was off to WWII. Here he is on the left with Molly; on the right is her brother Jack (an Annapolis grad who commanded a Destroyer Escort, DE-166, the Barron in the Pacific) and her older sister Ruth.  Dad and Molly had time enough to start my older brother Bill who was born while Dad was gone.



He was an Army doctor in the African and Italian campaigns, where the image below was taken.   When brother Bill and I took Dad to see MASH, when the movie first came out, he emerged shaking his head and saying, "You know, that's just the way it was...if anything, it was crazier". His Evacuation Hospital (not actually a MASH, as them came later in Korea, somewhat closer to the front line, thus the M for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) consisted of Yale Med/Nursing professors, staff and recent graduates.  Very smart, very dedicated self starters.  For a while they had no CO, and the

    

unit, of course, ran fine.  Then they had the misfortune to get a non-medical red-neck lifer CO who determined to crack the whip over the eggheads and young whipper-snappers. At this point they were on the beach at Anzio and just barely within range of the German 88 artillery...and the CO had them get up every morning (after they had been up until the early hours of the morning the night before putting the soldiers back together) and do calisthenics...which was so petty and pissy.  So, when the CO never showed, they would line up and do finger-pushups while grunting for verisimilitude.  One morning the rotten SOB actually got up to lord over the troops, discovered the ruse and was livid.  Life was merry Hell for a month or so until the poor SOB came down with an enlarged prostate, the only treatment for which then was a finger wave every day or so, finger massage with a finger stuck up you-know-where....being a red-neck, he was utterly mortified, retired to his tent and the unit ran itself again.



Dad visted the souks of Africa and the bazaars of Italy; he was endlessly fascinated by artisanry.  He designed and had made a pair of gold (frog) earrings for Molly and after the neighborhood tradition of his childhood, wrote and illustraed (in watercolor) a children's book for the son he'd not yet seen, who'd been born after he was in the war in Italy.  He had it beautifully bound in leather and colorful cloth and entitled it The Story of Oliver Clock. The dedication read:
To a little boy who will one day show his father how to play
...and signed it with his little sigil, a bear or dog....and dated it Italy 1944.

Molly visited and charmed her new in-laws

...and bore my older brother Bill in '43.  They didn't see Dad until he came back at the end of '45, war's end.  The family then moved to Philadelphia where Dad did further medical study in ophthalmology under Francis Adler. I came along about a year later. Here are all on at our home in Germantown, a carriage house apartment, on the "porch".  That's me reading the newspaper along with my 4 year older brother Bill. Molly and Dad loved the Philly milieu...the culture and sharp minds there. 

   
The medical pranking, so much like that shown in M*A*S*H, continued.  Dad's residency in ophthalmology was at U Penn, a Land Grant university; as such it could freely requisition surplus military equipment.  Someone pranked Dad by signing a requisition for a surplus pontoon bridge pontoon in his name. It arrived when Dad was in the middle of an operation; he heard the hospital PA system requesting 'Would Dr. Dean please go to the loading dock'.  The ponton was some 30' long by 6' wide by 3 ' deep...and was still on the truck; Dad had them deliver it to our home where he filled it with water and made a dandy swimming pool out of it.

A lightning bolt of fortune, of misfortune


Molly had polio when I was a year old.  I recently found a letter she wrote a year after she had 'recovered'.  She had been a vivacious, atheletic fox of a woman.  Much was taken from her, but her spirit and love never faltered.  Physically, she could move her head, and while she could not lift her arms, she could crawl her hands to some degree.  With aids, she could barely write and dial a phone.  But.  She was a towering flame of spirit, the vital heart of our family, and has always been my criterion of courage.  She fought to have a life, one day at a time. She read voraciously, some 8-15 substantial fiction and non-fuiction books a week, crawling her hand to turn the pages. Not infrequently she would go on a book review program on the local TV station.  She could barely write a letter or, with difficulty, dial a phone, yet once she took something like 9 months to knit a intricate pattern Arram fisherman's sweater with popcorn stiches in the center panel.

At left is a picture taken of my parents after my mother had recovered as much as she ever would of her physical abilities, taken in a way that hid her paralysis.



They had planned to join a group medical practice in Santa Barbara, California and have more kids.  Polio changed all that: Dad joined his father's medical practice in Louisville, Kentucky and bought a house a block from his parents, in the Highlands inurb.  That's where I grew up,

Louisville and 1629 Cowling. 

Here's Molly and Dad in the back yard.

Also here, of course, is Dubout, the first of a wondrous string of full-sized poodles

Dad with Yum-Yum and more on the poodles

Here's two images of the way I remember my parents: thoughtful, heartfelt. engaged. In my mother's picture, at the bottom left, you can see the feeder, a metal tray with ball bearing supports that held her arms and allowed her some agency.

For all that Molly's partial paralysis trimmed their wings, my parents made fantastic lemonade from what they had.  They hosted parties and a sort of salon that brought the free thought, spirit and culture they'd loved so much in Philadelphia to Louisville. 

My Parents' Legendary Parties

They were legendary, what can I say...a free-wheeling, intellectual,blithe and independent spirited bunch of people living wide
in a time and place that worshipped conformity and complaisance

Here is my 5th grade report card; my father's comment: These grades reflect the limitations of the teacher rather than the inattention or maldirection of the student.

My father, the Renaissance man.

What we did, we did at home; we didn't get out much....but that never cramped Dad's style; he turned his interests to things he could do there.
My father was a Renaissance man, not an intellectual man but absolutely omniverous in his fascination for knowledge and artisanry.  He knew of things, of places, of people, before they became courant.
Places: We had one vacation a year, 2-3 weeks in the spring, because moving my near totally paralyzed mother (a Smith grad, an intellectual, and fiercely alive; she formed my spirit, conscience and consciousness) was such a dog-and-pony show.  When I was 8 or so, aobut 1955, it was Hilton Head before it was'discovered", then twice in the French Quarter of New Orleans at the Maison De Ville (highly recommended) when I was 11 and 12 or so...I roamed the French Quarter as a kid safely.  About 1960, it was Sanibel Island, before it was discovered, and there we stayed ever after.  Dad even got beach frontage land....and later a condo there.  A neighbor was one of M.M. Kaye's daughter who I visited when in England  and met the gran dame herself (author of The Far Pavilions).  She had eidetic sensorial (smell, taste, sight, everything) memories of India when her father had been head of the Royal Colonial Indian Intelligence and she ran wild through the palaces and treasuree rooms of rajahs and nabobs and the bazaars of India.
Skills and artisanry:  While a world class ophthalmologist, his fascinations were polymath: painting, cooking, baking, sculpting, wood and metal working......underneath it all, a glee and fascination with artisanry and the natural world hat he passed onto me. He was avid naturalist (tromping the woods of Kentuckiana and bringing back wild flowers for a wildflower garden), gardener (we built a lean-to green house on the side of the house that was filled with camellias blooming in mid winter, and there were all kinds of trees: hollies, magnolias, a Kentucky coffee bean tree, espaliered fruit trees and a monster tulip poplar above all else in the back yard).  He was a tool freak, an appreciator of fine machinery and antique car enthusiast.  So it was that in 1960, he bought not one, but two Bugattis together for the price of a new Buick...cars that weere the Ferraris of the '20s and '30's, that I grew up wrenching and driving.  And when a man in his 50's died of cancer and left his Maserati to an uncle in his 80s (who hadn't driven a stick in 40 years), my father got that too (again for the price of a new Buick).  Which is not to say that anyone but a handful in Louisville KY knew what they were.
People:  In WWII serving in a MASH equivalent, roamed the souks and bazaars of North Africa and Italy, watching the artisans.  When he came home, one of this chief delight in medicine was meeting people, finding out what they did, and collecting a sort of Rolodex of their characters, skills and artisanry.  He had a case for his test lenses custom constructed by a  backwoods master cabinet maker.  When one of our Bugattis needed a valve job, he knew a wonderful merry hunchback dwarf master machinist who could do that (Bugattis didn't have detachable heads, you had to pull the engine, turn it upside down pull the crankshaft, conrods and pistons and reach way down the cylinder to grind the valve seats).  He did Colonel Sanders' (of KFC) eyes.  People were a fascination to him; how many doctors have you come across that really look at you and listen?  He did. He learned from everyone he met, a rare talent.

There's more here on my father's protean and catholic interests

A final image of Dad.  This was taken by a family friend, Dr. Howard Eskind out at Dad's country house....a place that was a culmination of a life-time dream of his. He was searching for country land as far back as I can remember and I would sometimes go with him as he tramped the woods and country land....for Dad, the looking was as much joy as finally finding it...which took him at least ten years....out southwest of Louisville on the upstream side of an oxbow bend on the Ohio.  Here he is at ease and content with one of his poodles...
My thanks to Andy Eskind for the image and to Carol for some Photoshop cleanup.


A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself he always seems to be doing both. Enough for him that he does it well.

“Education through Recreation” by Lawrence Pearsall Jacks.

Ave atque vale

"We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverably for ourselves and for others."  - Goethe


Ring Down the Curtain on Act I

Molly died of throat cancer (she smoked, and it killed her, as it had her older sister Ruth) in the early '70's. Her indomitable courage in facing cancer's claws was beyond belief.
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

My father tended her faithfully in the terminal phase, put his practice on hold for months and was with her, the light and love of his life.  One afternoon he opened the front door, let the dogs out to "do their business" in the front yard and stood on the stoop, not 20' from his beloved in bed in the master bedroom.  Not more than five minutes was he gone....but when he returned Molly was gone....an artery weakened by the cancer had burst in her throat and she had exsanguinated in moments.  When I think of that end to a live of love, I can't but imagine it to the wrenching conclusion of La Boheme.

Not all courage is the stuff of sword and gunfire battle, there's an even deeper courage of just going on when you are trapped. It is the weakest who are the most courageous.

Dad and Bill and I had an enormous hole in our lives.  She had been our warm, fiercely vital and loving center.

My parents had such a fierce love for each other.  The affliction of paralysis made their love all the stronger. 

You could warm your hands by holding them up before the two of them. 

I always thought Marvell's poem To His Coy Mistress summed their love in its ending:

And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

They did.

Biddy

But after a few years, some old friends from Philadephia thought of a woman they knew that Dad had to meet: Helen LeBlond, Biddy.  They struck it off famously; Dad had a second time with love.  And finally, he had a partner he could get out and do with.  They were both avid naturalists, and their honeymoon was a white-water raft trip in British Columbia.

At the left is Dad and Biddy in '81 at our wedding; right is taken the summer of '98 at the Cape.  Here are separate pictures of them that do them justice.

My father died in the early days of '99; Biddy, ten years later in May, wrapped in the toils of Alzeheimer's.  She had been a loving, cheerful, competent, smart, self-possessed and capable woman...all of which was taken from her over some 10 years. Her daughter Hannie Bannister wrote this obituary .



My Brother Bill, the handsome one


Bill's caption: "1976: Me at Mara's christening doing a watch ad."

He lived the life Edna St Vincent Millay spoke of:
“My candle burns at both ends;  It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends — It gives a lovely light!”

Alas, Bill died on AIDS in October of '84.  He was gay....which he had about as much choice about as anyone has in the color of your skin. 
He was a man of rare wit and taste, well loved by his friends and respected in international banking.  I miss my brother. 
Here is is on a mountainside in Montana (at the working ranch of a college class mate); what a Marlboro stud!

He was dealt a difficult hand of cards, but he played them with grace; everyone that knew him misses him.

Mark Halperin wrote:

... for soldiers who have been blooded are soldiers forever... That they cannot forget, that they do not forget,
that they will never allow themselves to heal completely, is their way of expressing their love for friends who have perished.
And they will not change because they have become what they have become to keep the fallen alive.


The Path to the Door

A dream recalled

In my dream,
I read the story
of a woman
and her dream...

A dream within a story within a dream

I was a woman

....the eldest daughter

Head of house,
all untimely
made so
by her parents' early death

She awakes from her dream..

I dream of her awakening..

She
waking...

disturbed,
confused,
fearful

she finds the Wise Woman
on the threshold.

Stumbling, she speaks:

"I dreamt my childhood home.
I was beyond the gate
with the path long and confusing...

I could not find my way to the door."


"But my dear, that path is short
and straight. Had you gone there to stay?


"No, I only wanted to visit,
to see them again and visit."


"Ah!  Well then...
when you come to go in earnest,
the way will be short and straight."


Other family at the table of memory

On my mother's side...

 her mother, Nana, Margaret McLoughlin and father, George Wesley Stewart

Nana was born shanty (poor and often disreputable) Irish.  She was hard-working: her neat and respectable life and home were so very important to her after her deprived childhood.  She didn't have much of a sense of humor....but she wasn't dour and had a heart of marshmallow. You could eat off her floors and downstairs half bathroom had ironed embroidered linen towels you Did Not Use.  There were cabinets of ironed linens and sheets and best china in glass-windowed cabinets.  She was born (in the late 1800s) and lived her life in Bradford, PA,  the major city of America's first oil boom.  She had never had good shoes as a kid, and had had holes in their soles such that she'd get splinters from the boardwalks and stairs (Bradford was build into hills, with many boardwalks and wooden stairs).  So every Christmas she would drag us kids out for new shoes to exorcise that ghost and preserve her eacting sense respectable dress and shoes.  She married Scotch, George Wesley Stewart (where I got my given name) that was the light of her life...and who died when my mother was in college.  Ever after her life was empty: she would go on about how she had nothing to live for, yet, because she never stopped working, she lived on until age 102, outliving both her daughters and nearly her son (who died a few years after her).  She never struck me as smart or the least interested in things of the mind, though both my mother and aunt were brilliant intellectuals.

George was a butcher, from a lively and big family.  Family legend had it that he gave too many people credit during the Depression, but he appeared to have left the family well enough provided for that my mother finished Smith and then went on to Yale Nursing.  Another story has it that at the big Stewart family Sunday dinner get togethers, one of them would wait for everyone to be talking, then pass food around and see how many times he could get it to go around the table before someone noticed he was pranking the family

her sister Ruth

Oh Ruth, Ruth.....she was that paragon of that wretched doom that could befall a woman in those times: to give up a life, marriage and family of her own to care for her mother.  Nana may have been a Trojan worker, but when her husband died, he came unglued and Ruth gave up a life just starting to be her mother's companion....and the guidance counselor to Bradford's senior high and all the shining young of embarking on their own lives.  She had so damn little that she could call her own....and she never complained.  Her pleasure?  Those incredibly wickedly difficult Double Crostics crossword puzzles from the Saturday Review which, when completed would reveal a quotation from a published work.  She smoked...and, as with my mother, it was a death sentence.

her brother Jack & his family


    
At left is my mother's brother, Jack Stewart and his wife, née Ruth Rhinehart. Jack commanded a destroyer escort in the South Pacific in WWII,  Ruth went to Vassar and her father Andrew was an architect of Rockefeller Center.  Middle are my cousins, Nancy and David in 1955. At right Nancy is being sucked into some madness with my father's hat collection.
Jack was a man's man, who hunted with retrievers, fly fished, He was a man of integrity, which perhaps did not serve him well in the corporate world, where he rose to be an Executive Vice President in Essex Wire.  He was always frustrated by me, because he saw me as having the brains in the family, but no ambition to use them and go place.s  He had a commanding presence, and would damn near suck the oxygen out of the room with it.
I remember a trip to Ft. Wayne when I was perhpas 13 or 14; we took Sam and Posey along (brother and sister standard poodles).  Getting my mother's wheelchair in the door was a bit of production with the door held open wide...and in the midst of this, the poodles barrelled through the door first.  Sam then proceded to mark everything he could life his leg at, including the TV (Huntley & Brinkley news hour) and Jack's mother-in-law, the redoutbtable dowager Reinhard. What. A. Hullabaloo! Dad and Jack were getting Molly and her wheelchair though the door and couldn't immediately respond.  But soon each of them had a dog by the collar and were hustling them down the hall to the garage, doggie non grata.  Many years later, my father told me that when he apologized for Sam leaking on Mrs. Reinhard, Jack choked and said, "You know, I've always wanted to do that myself!"

On my father's side, his sister & her family


       

At left, my father's sister Martha Ann and her husband A.J. Widmer, both gone beyond.  A.J. was wearing the pride and joy of my father's hat collection, a gen-u-wine Metropolitan Opera Wagnerian Rhine Maiden helmet.  At right, one of my cousins, Walter, getting a kiss from his wife Lynn.  Not shown is cousin Susan.


Our Help, Queen Esther Williams and Willy Mae Fuqua


Not to be forgotten, the two wonderful black women who made our lives in Louisville work, who gave of their heart and were there for us and for me, who held me sometimes when my mother could not. "The help", who were so much more than that.  Now let us praise famous women.  The humblest life can be a witness to great spirit.



Finally, friends!


The moveable feast of the vital, brilliant and brilliantly alive circle of my parent's friends in Louisville in the '50's & '60's...and some of my own


The quick.....but of the past


Of the past, but still loved and peripherally in each other's world...

My ex-wife Sue, with whom I had 33 good years and raised 3 kids

Here we are.....

Me, the big fathead on the left, Stewart (my mother's maiden name)
My lovely and sweet and smart daughter Mara (by my first marriage to Patty Rogers) next to me
My kind and sweet and smart son Aaron
and Sue on the right
oh....
Aaron is holding grandson Dion whom Mara gave birth to on Mayday at sunrise

We are at Aaron's graduation from Oakwood, a Quaker private school, summer 2006
Not here are:
Stephen Cardile, Mara's amazing, thoughtful and spiritual husband
and
Ari Larissa Heinrich, from Sue's first marriage to Michael Heinrich (in Australia at the time)




       

On the left: Getting married back in '81; my nose isn't that red and, yes, Sue is beautiful.  She also has an exceedingly warm heart.  Also from the marriage, Bill (God he was handsome and dressed with flair), Biddy and Mara

More recently......11/7/2011, 30 years down the road, at our anniversary dinner.

30th
        Anniversary Sue and Stewart

  We have separated after 33 years, still with much love and fellow feeling (we have shared so much, seen so much together.  Who can understand you like a partner of 32 years?  Even if you can't stand them any more..).  She nows lives her dream life in dry warm southern AZ (which is good for her arthritis) and rides her horse daily (is a cowgirl!!) and lives by herself in a quiet small house (to finally sort herself out...without the mess and hoorah of job and family and a big house....a separate peace) with a faithful loving little dog (which is good for her soul).

I remain in NY, making music and imagery, making life and spirit with Carol and trying to sort out the Hazerai  (Yiddish for mess, a hazzer is a pig) of a lifetime


The Children of Sue and I

Click on the highlighted names for more photographs of our children

     
Aaron (from Sue & I, born 1988, this taken many years ago) Mara (mine, from my marriage to Patty Rogers) born 1975, with her husband, Stephen Cardile



Ris, Ari. La (from Sue's marriage to Michael Heinrich) what a super person who's gone out and made a wide vital life on the West Coast and Australia  Sean (my stepson from my first marriage to Patty Rogers),
 here discussing the finer GameBoy points with Aaron

                        

Bujold has said that parenting is a race without a finish line.  And like our lives, it comes without a manual; you learn it by stumbling around in the dark.  One does what one can.

A coda at the end: our dogs.  When Aaron was a sprout, we got a bearcoat SharPei female as a rescue: Emma.  Here's Aaron and the left with the best stuffed animal ever!

  
On the right is Ren, who we got in 2011 and who recently passed.  There's more on her here.


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