It is apparent that from now on each and every birthday, anniversary, holiday and special time of year will have its special memories, joyful recollections and certain difficulties in experiencing them as our family begins to deal with the loss of Chole in our lives.  The first of these for me was this past Sunday which was Father’s Day.  The memories and importance of fatherhood for me have never been more deeply felt.  The real joy of fatherhood for me was never an individual experience but a family experience from the very moment of our son’s births which I shared with Chole into each and every day of our lives. I cannot possibly think of fatherhood and Father’s Day without thinking of Chole.  It cannot be separated as she is fully intertwined in my relationship with Howard and Isaac.  She is woven into every piece of the fabric of our family’s history including all of our 40 Father’s Days we shared.

There was no special celebration or recognition last Sunday as we prepared as a family for the difficult days ahead.  There was no need.  The boys did express the words “happy father’s day” to me but it was their love, support of me and their deeds that allowed me to experience a most deeply felt Father’s Day. There were cards, expressions of love and of course one of Howard’s incredible ties.  However, it was their response to each other and our extended family, friends and acquaintances that gave to me the most wonderful Father’s Day experience in 40 years of celebration in our family. 

It has been the support and love they gave to their mother over the past months as she struggled with her illness and final days.  There was the constant search for food and drink that she would enjoy.  There were the nights they slept at her side on the couch. The watching of NCIS reruns for the fourth time which she enjoyed.  Towards the end it was the gentle bed turns and moistening her mouth and helping her to be as comfortable as possible.  At the very end it was being at her side in her final hours and minutes savouring each and every moment.   But in the end it was and always has been the meaning Howard & Isaac brought to both of our lives.

It was and continues to be an expression of love that Chole would have felt so deeply proud and appreciative as do I.

When I woke up on Monday morning the day of the celebration of Chole’s life I found a card from Emma and Sophia on my bathroom sink wishing me a happy Father’s Day, and expressing their love and their loss of their Abu. The intertwining of all of us into theses special days for our family continues.

This Father’s Day will always be special.



Saying Goodbye…

June 24, 2009

family2We spent the hours after the funeral and the luncheon yesterday at the house. Of course my dad and the Chowchillan’s were there, as well as Isaac’s good friends Mark and Sonny, Aunt Lydia and Cousin Victoria. In the tradition of all of the summers that I have spent in this house, we had good food, several hours in the pool and lots of laughs together.

This morning we all gathered together at Cuca’s in the Tower District for breakfast – another family tradition, and then drove to the cemetery to place my mother’s urn into its final resting place. My dad had found the perfect place: a niche protected from the elements in a room filled with sunlight filtered through windows that look out upon a view of grass and trees. Mom’s niche is right next to one of these windows. I think she would have liked that.

I will not share our private moments at the cemetary on the blog. Please trust, however, that every word that was spoken, and every gesture that was offered seemed to feel just right for the moment.

However, I will share this. My mother’s urn is a beautiful box made of cherry wood that fits within the niche perfectly.

We had asked my aunts Irene and Lydia to place a stone cross into the niche not knowing that just the urn alone would leave little space for anything else. I adjusted the urn a little to the left and the cross was then able to fit alongside the urn, although admittedly, the symmetry was off.

As we all started to walk outside, my niece Sophia went back to the niche on her own, and quietly placed the cross on top of the urn. She then added a small silk flower with a broken stem and some petals that she had found discarded out on the lawn.

When I looked back for one last glimpse of the niche, all of my senses immediately recoiled at the thought of a childish pile of salvaged plastic flowers adorning my mother’s urn for perpetuity.

 I was then suddenly reminded of my mom, who loved to adorn every surface of the house with her keepsakes. While all of the clutter would drive me crazy, mom would never allow to me touch any of the items that she kept on display, not because they were expensive or rare, but because they were important to her…everything from expensive art books to cheap post cards and old pieces of wood or rocks that she had found on the beach. And yes, on occasion, fake flowers.  

I knew that Sophia had made the right call. Symmetry was restored and the glass window was attached to the niche protecting all of its priceless contents.

Thank You

June 23, 2009



June 18, 2009

Please click this text to be directed to my mom’s obituary in today’s Fresno Bee

Soul Renewal

June 18, 2009

Chole often said she believed that the ocean still ran through our veins and that we needed to return to the ocean periodically to become re-energized and our “soul renewed” as human beings.  It was certainly one of the reasons we made several pilgramiges to the coast each year at her behest. 

And each year in September we would meet with very special friends on the Central Coast. We did that for over 30 years to renew friendships and to experience the uplifting of our souls through the special bonds of a long family friendship.

Yesterday Howard Joseph, Isaac, Alicia, Emma, Sophia and I made a pilgrimage to Monterey Bay and the Aquarium, this time at little Sophia’s behest.  It was a renewal of our family’s energy and our souls as Chole promised.

Last week was Sophia’s 5th Birthday and she had requested a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the ocean to celebrate and to mark her attainment of this very special age.  Unfortunately, that celebration needed to be postponed.  But on the spur of the moment yesterday we decided to fulfil what we perceived as Sophia’s request to go to pay a visit to the seashore.

On the way back from Monterey, I asked Sophia what she enjoyed most about the trip. She said it was playing on the beach the previous evening after we had enjoyed a delicious seafood dinner on Cannery Row.   The joy she showed running on the beach and rolling in the sand making her “sand angels” was a beautiful site that contributed to my renewal and to some healing for our family.  I know that Chole would want that for us all.  She and Sophia knew where we needed to go at this time. 

Thanks, Sophia.

Howard Lee

A memorial luncheon will be held at International Catering immediately following the service on Monday. Further details including street directions will be provided during the service at the St. Paul Newman Center.

Just a few brief details regarding the services for my mom, especially for those who are traveling from out of town. More details will be posted to the blog as they are confirmed, however, we have made arrangements for services to be held at the St. Paul Newman Center, on Monday, June 22, 2009 at 10:00am.