Shakti Cove, Long Island Peninsula, WA

Screenshot

Who knew? I’ve lived around here for nearly 28 years and I’d never heard of it.  It’s a magical place.  Elizabeth found it and we stayed in a tiny cottage with three dogs and everything we needed.  

I told Elizabeth, the inside of this tiny cottage, c. 1939, reminded me so much of the tiny house I first remember living in in 1949.  

Outside my bedroom window:

Rhododendrons were blooming everywhere. 

Every place you looked was something magical.

Short walk to the beach:

Or you could drive right down:

Amazingly, we had bright blue skies every day. Sunsets were amazing.

Juno, the Alaskan Malamute, loved the cold water.

Sweet Gypsy is a Maui girl and had to warm up.

Of course, good food played a part. I brought Italian meatball soup, crusty bread from Trader Joe’s, and cake from Konditorei.

Apparently, the north end of the peninsula is the “Oyster Capital of the World.”  I can believe that from this pile of shells:

Had to enjoy some as well as some clam chowder.

Leaving was made easier by our decision to come back and perhaps try out every cottage there.  I kept that in mind as I drove back into Oregon across the Astoria-Megler  Bridge and into rain, rain, and more rain.

Of course, the rainy Oregon Coast is magical in its own way too. In fact, I think if you just look carefully, you will find magic wherever you look.

Obituaries

I sometimes read the obituaries in my local newspaper and I am amused by the era-appropriate names parents chose for their children about ninety hears ago. Vern Leroy and Iris Ethel this morning.

Last week, my children gave their father three amazing send-offs. One in his retirement community. One at the local Catholic Church. And one at the veterans’ cemetery.

For some reason, his mother gave him the timeless, classic name of James Stuart Urbanski. I have no idea how she happened to choose that name. For many years I loved being referred to as Mrs. James Stuart Urbanski. That was era-appropriate for women in my age group.

Mary-Margaret composed this perfect obituary for him. Appropriately, she touched on all the positive points of his life and none of the less-fortunate points. Most appropriate.

JAMES STUART URBANSKI 1937-2024

Jim Urbanski died peacefully in his sleep early on April 16 at Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku, Hawai’i. He was born in Buffalo, New York to Edward Urbanski and Florence “Florka” Osinski Urbanski on March 31, 1937. He belonged to a large and loving multi-generational Polish-American family. He was the eldest of 3 and was a beloved nephew to countless aunties. He skipped ahead two years in grade school, and attended the renowned Kensington High School. He was accepted to West Point and MIT but chose to stay close to home and follow an accelerated course of studies at University of Buffalo. He was president of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi and served as captain of various sports teams. He excelled in swimming, golf, and squash.

Upon graduation, he joined the US Air Force and quickly became a T-38 Talon instructor pilot, the two-seat trainer model for supersonic fighter jets still used today. While stationed in Lubbock, Texas, he met Jean Harrison Capshaw and they were married on May 8, 1965. He then left the Air Force and joined American Airlines.

After a year together in snowy Buffalo, he and Jean relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and there built their lives and family for many decades. They became active Episcopalians at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in San Mateo. Following a profound born-again experience, Jim also joined many evangelical organizations, including the First Presbyterian Church of San Mateo, The 700 Club, Teen Challenge, and Knox Fellowship. He often traveled to share his testimony. He studied at Regency University in the masters program in Norfolk, VA but ultimately dedicated himself to lay ministry and lectorship with great devotion for the remainder of his life.

He was a commercial pilot for 32 years. He retired in 1997 as Captain on the 767/757 (which of the two, he preferred the 757 for its sportiness). He moved to Maui in 1998, joyful to be able to golf year ‘round. He often shot his age. He volunteered as a math tutor at Kihei Elementary and treasured his time with the young students there. He was an active member of Trinity-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Kihei for many years.

As the demands of caring for a home and half-acre in Maui Meadows became too much trouble, he joined the Kalama Heights community where he made some of the best friends of his life, including Emily Bott and Kate and Don Sauer, together forming “The Table.” There he enjoyed helping with chapel services as well as singing karaoke, with just a little cajoling. He also returned to the Catholic faith of his upbringing and found community with St. Theresa’s church, where he was an eager lector. He also belonged to an ecumenical men’s Bible study group called the Band of Brothers.

He is preceded in death by his parents, aunts, uncles, dear cousin Felicia, his close friend William D. Fuchlow, and most beloved brother, Paul, with whom he is most grateful to be reunited. He is survived by his former wife of 42 years, Jean, his 3 daughters, Katherine, Elizabeth, and Mary-Margaret, his sister Susan, his nieces, Denise, Diane, Debra, and Dawn and their mother Carrie, and many great and grand nieces and nephews.

A celebration of his life will be held at Kalama Heights in Kihei on Tuesday, April 23 at 4pm with Reverend John Tomoso offering prayer. Liturgy of the Word and Commendation will be held at St. Theresa’s Church, Kihei, on Wednesday, April 24 with Reverend Arnel Soriano at 10am. Interment with military honors to follow the service at the Makawao Veterans Cemetery at 1pm with the Reverend Amy Crowe presiding.

 
 

James Stuart Urbanski

The man I was married to for forty years, my former husband, my daughters’ father died yesterday. I crossed that bridge a long time ago, so now my only concern is for our daughters who are making lovely, meaningful, thoughtful plans to cross it in the coming days.  

One of those daughters posted this picture.  I think it’s one of the nicest ones I’ve ever seen.

He was an Air Force  pilot when I met him.  I think I have mentioned here a few times that I was always a sucker for a man in uniform. Geeze!  I even went out with the postman a few times.

Then he had a long career as a commercial pilot. He loved flying. Playing golf. And those daughters.

Since I got the call that he had died ( I hate the word “passed.”) there has been a worm in my ear that won’t go away. Here’s a bit of it:

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly .

Oldies

I take an exercise class most mornings here at the old folks’ home.. The music is geared to the time the participants were in junior high or high school.

I sing along to a lot of the songs, to the obvious annoyance of those standing near me. I just can’t help myself. Wake up, Little Suzie, wake up.

And most mornings I remember the sweet boys I danced with to a particular song. Fast dancing was fun back then and these days it peps me up to work out a little harder. Slow dancing was the only excuse we had to snuggle in close in those days. Only the lonely, dum dum dum dummy do ah, know the way I feel tonight. Sometimes those ones make me melancholy. I can almost smell the classic Old Spice.

One in particular, Dusty Springfield, Son of a Preacher Man touches me like nothing else. It brings me right back to that first time I was in love. Actually, it was really the only time. He died young. The only one who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man. The only one who could ever teach me was the son of a preacher man. Yes he was. Yes he
was. Oh, oh, yes he was.

RIP

One of my neighbors killed himself last month. I imagine that’s pretty common in my neighborhood. I live in a retirement community, and I like to think that many of us will choose to take charge of our own demises.  

When you don’t take charge, the American way of death is god-awful. All the professionals in charge of that sort of thing seem to think their goal is to force you to linger as long as possible. I often think of having DNR tattooed on my sternum. 
 
I have some pills on hand should I ever choose to hasten my departure. And a scalpel. One of my favorite words is exsanguinate, and I think it would really be very cool for my obituary to read “she exsanguinated.”
 
 But the man who killed himself didn’t use pills or slit his wrists. As I have learned since then, people of his gender tend to use a firearm. Preferably a hand gun. But for some bizarre reason he chose to use a shotgun.  Makes a terrible mess and an awful noise. 
 
I don’t know how you could even kill yourself with a long gun. I mean I suppose you put the barrel in your mouth and pull the trigger with your toe. 
 
Anyhow, since you can Google anything these days I Googled, “How do you kill yourself with a shotgun?” What I immediately got was a dozen replies from suicide prevention folks. Oh my God!  One of those people had actually founded an organization to prevent people from taking charge of their own demises.  He wrote that he himself had attempted suicide eleven times. Naw.  If he had been serious, he’d have gotten it right after three or four tries.  
 
Then this last week, I had occasion to think about death in another context.  Someone asked me how I happened to be Episcopalian, coming from generations of Methodists.  I had to think about that for a minute.  Then I remembered.  I boy I went out with a few times in college took me to visit his church one Sunday morning. This was a common thing.  To take a girl to church on a Sunday morning date and then back to the dorm for Sunday dinner.
 
Anyway, I, a descendant of a great cloud of Methodist witnesses was instantly converted into a romantic Anglican. The liturgy. The kneeling.  The language of the 1928 BCP.  The women all wore hats.  For me, seeing men in three-piece suits was always a spiritual experience anyway.
 
Actually, it turned out, I was not quite that superficial or trite.  I became a devout high churchwoman for many decades.  Church was the center of my community activities, my service, and my social life. I raised  my children in the church and they always got the lovely certificates for never missing Sunday school.
 
 Though I am no longer a person of traditional faith, church-going is a part of my cultural heritage.  I no longer literally believe the Bible stories.  But I believe those stories embody some very real truths.
 
Anyhow, I began to think about how that sweet boy’s invitation to church changed my life and those of my children.  At that time I didn’t think of him as sweet.  He was tall and handsome and took me to fraternity dances. Superficial and trite. 
 
So I decided to find him.  You can Google anything.
 
I Googled everything. I could not find him.  It was crazy.  I knew what year he was born, what year he graduated from college, his hometown, the names of his parents.  Nothing. 
 
I kept after it.  I was diligent.  What I eventually discovered was that he has been dead for over forty years. I was imagining him a doting great grandfather, retired after a pleasant career as a popular literature professor. I imagined that I would email him and ask after his grandchildren and tell him thanks for taking me to church one Sunday morning many years ago.