April, 2010

...now browsing by month


Apr 29. Mourning Roman’s death and celebrating his life.

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The funeral service was beautiful. Meticulously executed, just like Roman would have wanted it and done it. It was a funeral mass. Father Seamus Laverty presided. A tenor sang Roman’s favorites like the Ave Maria and Panis Angelicus. The pianist played “Sheep will safely Grace”, “Jesus Joy of Men’s Desiring” and the like. Amber, Roman’s granddaughter read the second reading for which she had picked Romans 8 verses 35 through 39.

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: 
 “For your sake we face death all day long; 
 we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

This brought strong emotions up in me. This is the same passage that gave strength and hope to our mother when she was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps. See her story at  www.cometosea.us/albums/thewar.htm or go directly to www.cometosea.us/albums/omajun45.htm 

I feel extremely grateful to have been part of the farewell service to one of my most precious friends and heroes. May he sleep in heavenly peace.   

Tuesday, April 27.Roman’s memorial this Thursday.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Roman Wydra’s funeral mass will be celebrated this Thursday at

at 11.00 A.M.

St.Patrick’s Catholic Church,
1001 North J Street
Tacoma, WA 98403-2125 

Quite a few folks have already advised me of their participation.

Sunday Apr 25. Amsterdam e.t.a. now May 1st

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Because of the possible funeral arrangements for Roman later this week I have delayed my scheduled Wednesday departure to Friday morning arriving at 9.25 a.m. in Amsterdam on May 1. I should know more on the wishes of Roman’s widow on Monday.

The second reading at today’s Sunday mass was from Chapter 7 verses 9 to 17 of the book of Revelation:

The Great Multitude in White Robes

 9After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice:
   “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying:  “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength 
be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” 

 13Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”  14I answered, “Sir, you know.”  And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 

15Therefore,  “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.  16Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. 17For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; 
he will lead them to springs of living water. 
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

I am convinced, from the rare moments in which we shared our beliefs, that Roman is now robed in white.

Saturday April 24. Roman has left this world

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

And he is now with his Maker. I walked into an empty room. As much as his death was anticipated it still came unexpected and our world is not the same any longer. He was so huge and he made such an impact on so many, yet he and his wife wanted to modestly slip away into obscurity. So, I am not supposed to tell you that he spoke eight languages fluently, fought with the Yugoslav partisans, had a Polish mother, Austrian father, was conceived in Poland, born in the Ukraine, lived in Austria, Serbia, Slovenia, Kroatia, Italy and the United States. That he was introduced to Eleanor Roosevelt in Paris, seduced by Leonard Unger, then a young foreign service employee at the U.S. Consulate in Trieste ( Unger later served as ambassador to Thailand, Taiwan and as the U.S.  undersecretary of Asian Affairs) to spy for the U.S.A. etc., etc.  I recorded a 10 page life story that I managed to extract from him 15 years ago. 

But the story that just proves the size of this man goes as follows: I meet an Austrian riding up in the ski chair lift in Lech, Austria, around 1974. He turns out to be an Austrian-Canadian from Toronto. I join him and his 3 friends that evening in the village. One of his Toronto friends whose name is Joe Skelly is a Yugoslavian-Canadian.  When I get back to Tacoma I tell Roman about Joe Skelly. Roman tels me: ” Oh, I know him but his name is Joseph Skreli and he is not Yugoslavian but Albanian”. And then he tells me that he fought with him in the partisans in Yugoslavia in the 2nd WW. I have Joe’s telephone number and ring him in Toronto with Roman standing next to me. A female answering the phone, turns out to be Joe’s sister. :” Is Sephi Skreli there?”  She answers: ” Who are you, where did you get that name?” I tell her that Roman is standing next to me. She gasps. The last time that Roman saw Skreli was when he kicked him out of the apartment they shared in Milan in 1949, because they had an argument on sharing the rent. She tells me that Joseph Skreli is now known as Joe Skelly. I hand the telephone to Roman : ” I do not vant to talk to her!!”  You just did not ever want to be on his bad side, it could be for ever.  I once was for a year and I’ll never forget when we settled and his handshake. I have very few male friends that I ever exchanged: “I love you” with. Roman and I did. Friends for ever.                

I posted an album of pictures with Roman over the last years at :https://cometosea.us/albums/albums/Wydra.pdf

Friday April 23. Still s-lapped down by my lap top

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

My lap top crashed two weeks before leaving Vietnam. Technicians in Saigon, San Francsico and Tacoma failed to resurrect the files that I had last backed up in December. Next I sent the laptop to Florida where, so I understood, they could repair and resurrect the file. The promised two week turnaround turned into 4 weeks and two days ago I  found out they could not do any better than what I was told in Saigon. With a little luck I get the lap top back the day after I leave for Amsterdam, this Wednesday…..  To make matters worse, I had sent in a good story that I spent a lot of time on in Vietnam, about the basket boat and boat building. The publisher received my CD with the pictures and manuscript and it turns out to be blank…. At the request of one of the members of my church group I sent her a group of pictures I had taken that week in Cambodia. I had hoped to be able to have these back. She lost the zip file in her hotmail account….. Besides the photos I lost all my e-mail correspondence/attachments for the three months and many of the addresses from the new friends I made. If you are one of them, (re)send me a mail. The pictures that I inserted from time to time on this blog are all preserved in the web library, but they are in a compressed format.

All hope is not yet lost. There are, but often expensive, ways to extract lost files. But why all these dead ends?

Yesterday I drove to Vancouver to have lunch with Colette Riml. I had hoped to catch a few other friends in Vancouver, the Nesbits in Bellingham and Ken House in Stanwood but all had conflicts. I stopped in Seattle and purchased an AIS (Automatic Indentification System) VHF radio for “Fleetwood”. This assures me that I can see the locations and direction of the vessel traffic in my VHF radio range on a small screen. It also has a an alarm that will wake me up when a vessel approaches my area. I can then also call up any vessel to coordinate any course changes if necessary. This will make me sleep even better and take a lot of the guess work out of distances and direction. I also purchased  a good used back pack I found on Craigs List in Bellingham. I liked the one I borrowed from Donnovan for the Indochina vacation.

The weather turned sunny and warm in the afternoon. Rose Marie let me use her late model Jetta Wolfsburg edition. With the sun roof open I took my favorite scenic drive down Chuckanut Drive. Few know that this curving road along the Puget Sound shoreline south of Bellingham was named for a brave Squaw who performed  a similar operation as Lorena Bobbitt.  Through the sleepy little hamlet of Edison where “Fleetwood” was built in the 1979-1980 winter, where nothing has changed in the last 30 years. I took the below picture at Bayview. This is the view from the Bayview  cemetery, on the hill above. This is where I want to be buried after 2037. Roman has another 2 1/2 years to make it to a 100. He is hanging on and still displaying his fighting spirit, sense of humour, mischief and love. I will see him again in the next hour. Last Wednesday he was trying to tell me something but he cannot bring out the words any longer. But he can talk with his hands, eyes and and face. I believe that he understood that I will be away after this Wednesday. Tears welled up in me. But somehow I do not think that being away and not seeing him again will change our friendship much from before because his presence and love will still be there.


Sunday 18 April Lisa’s Birthday

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Yesterday, after my visit with Roman at the rest home, I had lunch with Ozzie Bender. We first met in 1970 when we worked on the same floor at Weyerhaueser Company. From 1973 till 1984 we were practically neighbors in Tacoma. I am not sure why I lost track of Ozzie and his Belgian wife Liliane. We had a lot to catch up on. We stopped to see two of his three daughters. The oldest, Maureen, used to baby sit Lisa and Rose Marie in the mid seventies. Lisa has her 46th birthday today.

I went to 8.30 mass at my former parish church, Saint Nicholas, in Gig Harbor. It will probably be  the last time I’ll see the familiar faces of my brothers and sisters there, for the next couple of years. It was a beautiful warm sunny spring day, after the fog burnt off. I rode Lisa’s bicycle to Federal Way and back. Tyler, my 14 year old and youngest grandson had a baseball game there. He played a good game and he is an awesome pitcher. The sun brought out the smells of the spring blossoms, in particular the sweet cinnamon scent of the cottonwoods, and sunday afternoon barbecues. Later this week I’ll be driving up to Vancouver and Bellingham again.

Friday April 16

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Another beautiful sunrise over the Cascade Mountains.

Coming down 19th street from my visit with Roman I took this picture of the Tacoma Glass Museum’s Wig Wam sawdust burner effigy through the gate to the University of Washington Tacoma campus. In the background the container cranes of the Evergreen Line Port of Tacoma terminal.

April 14 back in Tacoma

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
The weather and company in Palm Springs was fabulous. The desert air was crystal clear. I was the guest at Terry and Janet James who are spending the month of April in Palm Springs. Marlys and Gregg had flown in from Ft.Lauderdale, the day before. We all have been friends for the last 25 years and at one time all belonged to the Gig Harbor Yacht Club. Marlys used to commute in their outboard dinghy from their home, a 56 foot motor yacht, across Gig harbor Bay to the office I had on the bay. Greg drove me back to Redlands on Sunday morning. Joan and I went to her church and attended the Spanish mass. I flew back to Portland with son John and his friend Jessica. Then drove all three to Eugene where Jessica lives. Monday morning I visited with Joanie Rippe and Mark. My hosts in Eugene, Evert and Judy Slijper, had me over for dinner with two more of their sailing couple friends.
To many of you this might all sound like a bit of a dizzying round of visiting. It is not easy to keep these long time friendships and family relationships up when I am moving around the globe and continue to make new friends. This web blog helps to keep the presence alive. Amtrak carried me back to Tacoma on Tuesday morning from Eugene. Yesterday evening I met up with Pete and Jackie Clement and Tim and Martie at the “Shorline” restaurant in Gig Harbor, they are all four close friends of the same 3 couples I was with in Palm Springs. After dinner I stopped in with the “Taco Tuesday”ers. I followed Roger and Judy Rue out to their home in Tacoma and watched Roger’s dog “menage(rie) a trois” do their evening walk and tricks. Then it was time to pick up Lisa from her 6 to 10 p.m. weekly college class in down town Tacoma.
I saw Roman, my 97 year old friend, at the rest home. He is slowly slowing down. I fed him his lunch. He barely reacts to conversation. His handshake is still strong. What more could I ask for from a friend? 

April 10 Redlands, California

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

In my previous blog I promised a picture of the 1970 V.W. bus.


All seven of us went for a scenic drive upto Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. I learned to ski at Snow Valley at Big Bear, in 1958. Memory Lane.

This afternoon I take a side trip to Palm Srings, 60 miles to the East of Redlands. I will be visiting with sailing friends from Gig Harbor, Janet and Terry james, Tom and Doris Gordon and a surprise encounter with Marlys and Greg Clark. You might remember my visit with the Clarks in Fort Lauderdale with “Fleetwood” parked right next to the Super Yacht they work on, last April. Tomorrow, Sunday, I fly back from Long Beach to Portland, Oregon with John and Jessica and then will visit with my Eugene, Oregon friends on Monday.

Wednesday 7 April Portland,Oregon

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

The last days of Holy Week I stayed with daughter #2  Rose Marie in Federal Way and I attended the services for Holy Thursday and Good Friday at nearby Sainte Therese church. The liturgy and songs were alternated in Spanish and English. A group of about 25 high school age boys and girls acted out and sang Christ’s Passion. I was impressed by the perfect coordination and a professionalism that one would at best expect from a much more mature group of young people. The girls choir accompaniment was flawless.  A memorable experience. On Easter Sunday I sang in the choir at my longtime parish, St. Nicholas, in Gig Harbor. The last time I sang with them was in 2004. Where will I be for Easter in 2011, Greece? Last year at St.Therese in Portsmouth, Va., 2008 Saint Augustine, Florida, 2007 Island of St.Helena, 2006 Hanoi, 2005 Santa Barbara, California.  

Today I  rode with daughter #1, Lisa, to Portland, Oregon. She had a business meeting and I looked up long time friends from my lumbermen days, Jim Rodway and Pat Burns at Patrick Lumber Company. Her meeting was in the Montgomery Park building. The below picture is of the center court that joins two, over 100 year old warehouse, buildings, converted into modern offices. Son # 2, Seth, works near Lloyd Center in Portland and he joined Lisa and I for dinner at Sanford restaurant at lloyd Center.

Tomorrow, Thursday, I fly to Southern California to visit my first wife Joan. Jeannine, daughter #2, Sean her husband and daughter Gabrielle from Virginia are visiting Joan this week. Son # 1, John and his friend Jessica, will also be visiting from Portland, Oregon. So, I get to see nearly my entire offspring, in three different locations within the same week. The exceptions are grandsons #1 and # 3 , Mark in Texas and David in Virginia and my great grandson and great granddaughter. Now you’ll understand why Joan is still driving the 1970 Volkswagen bus we bought in Europe in 1969. I promise a picture……

My 97 year old friend Roman is still hanging on to life but getting weaker. It is difficult to communicate but I am grateful for the firm handshake and wave when I visit. Please, keep him and his wife in your thoughts and prayers.