You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Angel Contreras’ tag.

Losing someone from your life, be it parent, child, sibling, friend, colleague, or mentor affects each one of us.

When does a death become a tragedy?  Death is a normal event. When is it a tragedy?  What does it depend upon?  The relationship of the deceased person to you?  The age of the deceased?  What they achieved during their life time? The circumstances of their death?

Losing my mom two years ago was one of the greatest losses of my life.

The other deaths were  of close friends – Tausi in Kenya, Angel in California, Claudio in Venezuela –  and my mother-in-law Hsiao Li Lindsay in China.

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

Of the four, Tausi was the youngest.  She died of HIV/AIDs at a time when most people in Kenya were in denial.  As Mandela once said, people with AIDs often died of stigma, even when treatment was available.  When Tausi died, her own family was in denial and treatment was generally unavailable in Kenya.  Her death reverberates with me as a tragedy.  She was young , talented, a mother of two – a very special warm person. If she had been diagnosed and received treatment in time she could have lived. We miss you Tausi.

Claudio

Claudio

 

Then there was Claudio –  a very exceptional person – a musician in the Venezuelan National Orchestra in Caracas — a humanist and role model for everyone who knew him.  Claudio lived a wonderful full life, although it was cut somewhat short by cancer.  We miss you Claudio.

 

 

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000

Angel was another exceptional person.  He was an activist for working people and human rights all his life.  Angel was a community organizer in the Mission District of San Francisco, a leader in early childhood education for all and an all round exceptional, warm human being.  Angel lived a very full life and left it peacefully.  We miss you Angel.

 

 

 

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Hsiao Li Lindsay died four years ago at the age of 93.  She was a heroine in the modern history of China.  She and her husband Michael Lindsay were in the underground opposing the Japanese occupation of China, which began before World War II. She wrote a wonderful book about her life in those years Bold Plum.  She lived to see Bold Plum published 60 years after she first wrote it.  She died surrounded by her family in Beijing.  We miss you Hsiao Li.

 

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

 

My mom was within nine days of her 89th birthday when she died in March 2011.  Her death was a tragedy to me as her daughter.  Her childhood was a struggle in a family with challenges of alcoholism, poverty and divorce.  Her adult life was one of sharing and participating in activities such as building support for the Kansas City Art Institute.  She loved to travel – to Mexico, to Africa and to Europe.  Her front porch in the Brookside area of Kansas City was open to all – for talk, games, and pot luck dinners.  I miss you Mom.

Of the five deaths, the one that seems to me to be a tragedy was that of Tausi.  Her death was probably preventable.  She died very young.

More thoughts on Death as Tragedy in my next blog.

 

Advertisements

Why do I have

all of the dead

on the desktop

of my computer?

My mother

Hsiao Li

Tausi

Claudio

Angel

Do I think

I will forget them

if I don’t see them

every day?

Did I see them

every day

when they were alive?

Did I even think of

them every day

when they were alive?

So why now

trying to remind

myself

of the dead

memento mori

of my own mortality

And the living

my sons

my partner

my self.

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000
Pamela, Angel, Margaret

Claudio

Claudio

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

16 October 2013

The day started in the middle of the night.

A Dream… I was having lunch with an old friend Angel Contreras, who lives in San Francisco.  I am currently in Venezuela.  I woke up.  Feeling guilty.  Our return flight next month to Australia is through Santiago Chile to see old friends.  What about my older friend Angel, recently diagnosed with cancer.  I should have routed my return to Australia through San Francisco.

Sad News… At dawn, my spouse, Jim is already awake.  At his computer.  He looked at me. He was very sad, crying,  Angel died.  I am crying and yelling…What?  How is that possible?  I dreamed of Angel.  And I tell Jim about my dream.

Angel did not die yesterday, but almost a month ago in San Francisco.  The email was just sent yesterday by his wife with the sad news.   I dreamed about Angel the same night that the email was on its way from San Francisco, California to Tucacas, Venezuela.

My day begins, thinking of Angel.  Disturbed by my dream as well as his death.  Is it possible that other, deeper connections between people exist?

My usual routine: early morning and late afternoon swims in the Caribbean Sea (avoiding too much harsh tropical sun).  Early morning already full sun. Just me in the sea.  No one but birds in sight. Even the few fishing boats gone in. The chipi-chipi (a small shell fish) gatherers will come out later in the day to sit in the shallows, digging into the sand with their hands.

Walking through the waves. Walking out far enough to swim.  Very shallow bay.  Male frigate bird with red neck pouch dives past me. A pelicans plops down on the water near by.  Two black cormorants skim the waves, flying by.

I’m thinking of Angel.  Wanting to dedicate something to him.  The frigate bird?  The palm trees?  The clouds? The grey green sea where I am alone, floating?  Nothing in sight belongs to me.  So am I free to dedicate it to Angel?

How to describe Angel? So people who do not know him will feel his warmth, his humanity which reached out to all.  His boundless energy.

Angel, an activist, was born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco, California. Father Mexican. Mother Colombian.  Mother very tough, outspoken woman.  I never knew his father.

The Mission District is “Latino”, that is, many families from Central America and Mexico live there.  Angel was head of Mission Head Start,  a bilingual, early childhood education, community-based program.  I worked with him for several years.

Angel was an advocate of quality early childhood care for all, both in Head Start and the San Francisco School District.  He fought for justice and human rights for all people, wherever they were from.

Angel was fun to be with,  well-informed, energetic.  Angel was a jogger and a cyclist.  We shared many dinners, news updates, jokes, reminiscences with Angel and his family in the kitchen and dining room in their house in the Mission District.

Living a global life… moving from continent to continent,  with family and friends everywhere… means that, at any one time, I am isolated, separated from those I love.  I miss  sharing their lives and their passing.

I am grateful that  Jim  (my spouse) was with his mother when she died in Beijing four years ago.  I am grateful that I was with my mother when she died two years ago in Kansas City.  I am sorry that I was not with Angel and his family to celebrate his life.

Not being there when someone dies, means that I continue to assume I will see that person again, somewhere.  No, wait a minute, not true. Even though I WAS present with my mom when she died, I still from time to time think I see her.  Most recently I thought I saw her on the Metro in Caracas, Venezuela.  When the lady turned in my direction, she was a white-haired woman who looked nothing like my mother.

So will I see Angel again, somewhere, some how?  Who knows.  I hope so.

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000

I dedicate my 100th post on this blog to my dear friend, Angel Contreras.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog

Join 96 other followers

Advertisements