2020

Retro travel poster of the firefall in Yosemite National Park.

Normally, this time of year, my wife and I would be traveling to San Francisco to visit relatives. Our son, niece, and my brother’s family live in the Bay Area. For the last several Christmases we’ve vacationed there. We take in a movie each day and dine out each night. It’s the perfect getaway to celebrate the season. This year, uh … not so much. Theaters and restaurants are closed. Due to a surge in Covid-19 infections, it’s too dangerous to travel.

Currently, the pandemic explodes without restraint. 2500+ Americans die everyday from the virus. Hospitals across the country are overwhelmed. Many approach their breaking point. A triage mentality pervades choices about healthcare. And, despite the beginning rollout of vaccinations, the end is not in sight. There is no vaccine for reckless behavior. 

It was a mistake to indulge in Thanksgiving get togethers. Now, the prospect of Christmas holiday travel, provides another ideal condition for the disease to spread. Family vacations are one more casualty of the epidemic. Add to that weddings, graduations, and funerals. This plague compromises our rituals. We must curtail activities that bind us in order to avoid exposure.

Retro travel poster of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

Last summer, we cancelled a reunion with my wife’s family. Over the last 25 years, we often vacationed together at our favorite Oregon resort. There, we forged bonds of love and family memories to last a lifetime. The carefree atmosphere of its beautiful setting helped us relax. Play replaced work routines. We shared our dreams. We celebrated life.

Looking back, my childhood seemed to revolve around annual family vacations to Yosemite National Park. My impressionable years were full of the warm associations of a happy family. My brothers and I rafted on the Merced River amidst the granite cliffs and pine forests of this national treasure. We camped in rustic tent cabins. Mom cooked meals on a cast iron wood stove. At night we told tales while sitting around an open fire. To this day, the scent of pine needles and woodsmoke still stir poignant ripples in the stream of my memory.

Yosemite, I believe, is where I first learned to dream of what life could be, should be. Those vacations eventually evolved into employment. I worked summers and Christmas breaks in the park. Then, upon freeing myself from the sticky tentacles of the Vietnam War, I dropped out of college while on the cusp of graduation. I moved to the mountains and invented a way to make my dreams come true.

Retro travel poster of the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite National Park. My wife and I met and got married there.

Now, we bid adieu to the sad saga of 2020. The New Year, a new president, and effective vaccines provide hope against the horror of Covid-19. The extraordinary mortality rate of this epidemic need not have materialized. Simple protective measures of social distancing, personal hygiene, and the wearing of masks can minimize the danger of this disease. But leadership, particularly from the White House, failed to insist upon practical behavior.

In spite of the craziness of 2020, I am grateful. On January 11th, my grandson, Sam, turns four. His sister, Savannah, will be seven in March. At the time of my diagnosis with multiple myeloma in December of 2007, doctors were not optimistic about my future. Yet, here I am, still writing bad poetry and putting it to music. I have witnessed the marriage of my youngest son. He and his wife are the proud parents of these two happy, curious, and self-confident children.

My oldest son turned 40 this year. He has settled into a successful lifestyle in Oakland, CA as an attorney with the Environmental Protection Agency. More importantly, he has regained independence following an accident in 2002, which left him paralyzed. He still experiences life from a wheelchair, but it is on his own terms.

So, for a guy who maybe shouldn’t be here, I am thankful. I’ve seen a lot and I expect to see more, the pandemic notwithstanding.

In closing, another song: The Inventor of Dreams.


14 thoughts on “2020

  1. Happy holidays to you and your family, John. And welcome to a new beginning of hope and change starting Jan 20. Glad you will witness it.

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  2. Your presence is a gift, dear John. Thank you for being such a quiet inspiration. Wishing you a holiday filled with laughter and love, and a New Year of miracles.

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  3. Merry Christmas, John! You are an inspiration to many, especially me, since my hubby didn’t make it as far as you have in years with MM. May God continue to smile upon you and give you once again those marvelous trips you’ve described.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Ann. I’ve been lucky, blessed perhaps, with time to enjoy my family. My gratitude is sincere and never taken for granted. Many happy returns for you in the New Year! 😊

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  4. Thanks for a thoughtful, bittersweet way to end 2020. Yosemite is like heaven on earth. We hope to go there this summer. I hope you and all your family enjoy a safe and very groovy Christmas holiday! Your graceful optimism makes me smile every time I read your words and listen to your songs!

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  5. Your tribute to your childhood vacations shows how good we had things back then, and is very inspirational. For now, yes, this plague compromises our rituals but it also allows us to build bigger dreams and your are seeing it with your children and grandchildren ~ really a great thought as we enter into a new year. The Inventor of Dreams, well done, John, and wish ’21 to hold many more dreams for you.

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  6. Thank you for such a beautiful song, The Inventor of Dreams. I too feel the same way about Yosemite! At the risk of sounding hokie, Yosemite is magical. It is nature at its best. It is God’s gift to mankind, and it too is an inventor of dreams!!

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