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 all, 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 its instantions.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 and by April was spending most of the month with her.
Now in May she is coming to visit me in Kingston (along with a 45th reunion at Mt. Holyoke) and, Deo vult, will marry me in the fulness of time!
Joy and fireworks.
But first...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 paraphrade 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.
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 with Molly, 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 professors and recent graduates from the Med and Nursing
schools. 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 like up and do finger-pushups while grunting
for verisimilitude. One morning the rotten SOB actually got up to
lord over the troops and 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.
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. Here is a picture taken of the two
of them after she had recovered as much as she ever would of her
physical abilities and taken in a way that hid her paralysis.
Molly and Dad 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
Here's 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
What we did, we did at home; we didn't get out much....but
that never cramped Dad's style; he turned his Renaissance man
interests to things he could do there. Among other things,
we collected, restored and drove some wonderful cars, two
Bugattis (the Ferraris of the '20s and '30's) and a Maserati
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 and capable woman, but all
that was taken away 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 is no longer with us; he died on AIDS in October of
'84. He was gay....which he had about as much choice about
as he had of the
color of his 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 brother & his family
At left is my mother's brother, Jack Stewart and his wife, Ruth Rhinehart. He
commanded a destroyer escort in the South Pacific in WWI, her father
was a lead 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 at the dining table
On my father's side, his sister & her family
At left, my father's sister Martha Ann (now gone) and her husband A.J.
Widmer (who remans). A.J. was wearing the pride oan 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 32 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 Patti, now Patti Rust) 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 323 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 (ours together, now 24,
this taken a few years ago)
||Mara (mine, from my marriage
to Patti Rogers Rust) 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.
© COPYRIGHT 2002,2008, 2013, 2016 Stewart Dean. All of my web pages,
photographs and images included, are copyrighted material!
You may NOT copy or use the text, photographs or images without
my express permission.
Back to my home page