August 6, 2012

Enough of Death, Dying, Suicide. Let's Talk About Love, Living, Family.

Last week, we spent some time talking about dying and planning for the "final exit." I came away from those discussions feeling inspired rather than depressed. But not everybody is as strange as I am, so some may worry that I'm overly focused on the dark side of life, particularly as many of my posts also deal with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer and other ailments. Not exactly cheery subjects.

Not so. In fact, far from it. As long as I spend as little time as possible brooding about the transition of our democracy into an oligarchy, I'm a happy camper... for an 83-year-old with a variety of ailments. Heading the list of what makes me happy is my family and friends.

I'm particularly fortunate that everyone in my traditional family is still based in the Washington/Baltimore area. My Kathmandu and Pokhara families are also right here.

So, here they are: the jewels in my crown.

1. The Schappi Family 
Here's the cast of characters:
  • Son Todd lives in his dream house up in the woods off route 15, a few miles south of Thurmont, MD. From there, he commutes to his job as night building maintenance engineer at an office building in downtown Washington.
  • Daughter Ann lives in her house in suburban Alexandria, VA. She works as an editor at Mercer Consulting's DC office.
  • Granddaughter Jessie is married to Dan Dreisonstok, and mother to my great-granddaughters Kaylee, 6, and Mckenzie, 1. Jessie started her own business, and she and Dan are buying their first house near Frederick, MD.
  • Granddaughter Emily is entering her second year at the University of Maryland-Baltimore law school and buying her first house there.
  • Grandson Colin just graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. He's taking a year off from academia to see the world, starting with his just-completed month in Japan.
We all gathered a few weeks ago for a cookout at Todd's house.  Here's the gang.

Daughter Ann (back to the camera), Dan, Mckenzie with Jessie, and Todd.

Todd gives a flying lesson to Mckenzie as Kaylee watches.

And Mckenzie flies safely into her mother's arms.

Kaylee prepares a sneak attack on her uncle Colin.

Ann entertains Mckenzie.

Sisters Emily and Jessie and Jessie's husband Dan.

Todd grills the shish kabobs and corn.

Todd's partner Jill hates to have her picture taken so the pony tail is all you're going to see. Jill's mother sits on the other side of the table.

2.  My Kathmandu Family Who Now Lives with Me

Here are Nimesh and Bhawana in native dress, ready to leave our house for a Nepali wedding in a nearby Maryland suburb. I've known Nimesh and his family for years. His father owns a bookstore in the tourist section of Kathmandu where I'd buy my International Herald Tribune. Nimesh has lived in my house for several years while getting his masters degree from American University. He's now working at the World Bank in DC. Nimesh returned to KTM in March for his marriage to Bhawana, who is now a welcome addition to our household.

One of the many joys of having Nimesh and Bhawana living here is having their young friends come by the house. Here a few of them are lunching on the back porch.

Here's the just-married couple back in Kathmandu with Nimesh's family.  Back row: His grandparents, parents, and brother Ritesh. Front row: Sister Sona, the bridal couple, and Ritesh's wife Salina.  Sona is finishing her graduate nursing course in Australia and Ritesh and Salina are pursing their advanced MD degrees at a teaching hospital in China.  On most Saturday mornings, Nimesh and Bhawana can be  found on their laptops in our dining room in Skype conversations with Ritesh and Salina in China and Sona in Australia.

3.  My Pokhara Family Reunited in DC
I've spent most of my time in Nepal in Pokhara, one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I've lived many weeks in "John's room" in the Pokhara house of Ramesh and Laxmi. Ramesh came to DC with a green card in January, 2009. His wife Laxmi and seven-year-old son Rahel finally were able to join him this March.   I was on the same flight with them when I returned from Nimesh and Bahwana's wedding.

Ramesh and Laxmi are happy to be here.

As is Rahel (although he keeps saying he'd rather be staying at John's house than in his parent's apartment)

Here's the extended family in the Pokhara house. Laxmi's mother is standing while Ramesh's mother is seated, both wearing red sweaters. Nobody looks happy since they are gathered to say goodbye to Laxmi and Rahel.

Which is another reminder of how fortunate I am to have all of my wonderful family members in the DC/Baltimore area.


Surya Gamal said...

Dear John, You are great, you did such a great job in your life time, I appreciated with all of your hard job.

Helga Schwartz said...

Dear John, thank you so much for sharing "all your families" with us; they're all beautiful and happy looking.

gleeson1929 said...

Thanks Surya. You're part of my extended Pokhara family -- John