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
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
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.
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!?'
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:
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)
I look back
at my family...
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.
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.
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
Dad in the medical school. Here they are at a pool
They married in '42. God, they loved each other
fiercely...through all the trials that came, I never saw their
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
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
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
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
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
They were legendary, what can I say...a free-wheeling,
intellectual,blithe and independent spirited bunch of people
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
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
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
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
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
the price of a new Buick). Which is not to say that anyone but a
handful in Louisville KY knew what they were.
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
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!
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.
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.
But after a few years, some old friends from Philadephia
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,
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
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,
by her parents' early death
She awakes from her dream..
I dream of her awakening..
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.
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
Aaron is holding grandson Dion whom Mara gave birth to on Mayday
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
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
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
|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
Ari. La (from Sue's marriage to Michael Heinrich) what a
who's gone out and made a wide vital life on the West
|| Sean (my stepson from my first marriage to Patty
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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