Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Life Well Lived and Saying Goodbye

My mother's older brother -- my uncle Don, aka Tauno, passed away last week. He was 98 years old. He retired from the postal service in 1974 and enjoyed his retirement years in Oklahoma City as a luthier specializing in violins. He turned his garage into his workshop and had it so neatly organized. A button suspended on a string from the rafters told him exactly how far forward he could park his car when the button touched the windshield. There was very little wasted space.

He made his first violin at 11. A neighbor had a violin and he took measurements of it by using an arm and a hand to make note of the basic dimensions, then he did what appeared to come naturally to him: he made a violin of his own.

He was the go-to guy for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic orchestra for any repairs musicians may have needed. He was also sought out by people throughout the country for his stringed instruments and for his expertise in repairing damaged instruments. Don would occasionally enter international competitions for luthiers where he would often win the first place prize for tone. That would seem to me to be the award I would most want to walk away with. He also won Grand Champion for violins one year.

And he was an author.

He was very kind to offer to make Rachel a violin many years ago when she was taking lessons. He wouldn't accept any money from us so we made him a reproduction of Tiffany's tulip stained glass lamp. We drove to Oklahoma City with my mother and my sister Claudia and her husband Ron to make the exchange. I think that may have been the last time I saw Don and Dorothy. Rachel has a gift from him that she will cherish forever.

Don's was a life well lived, and I'm proud to say that I see glimpses of him in me.

We had our biggest snowfall in 10 years a few days ago. I know it's fun to take jabs at weather forecasters but I'm more often impressed by what they're able to do than not. I recall hearing of the chance for this most recent storm while it was still out over the Pacific, nearly a week in advance. That's impressive!

Our neighbors of 25 years, Bob, Karen, and Rochelle have moved away. Bob is in town yet for another few weeks until he retires while Karen has loaded up her car, sedated Sam and Boo (her cats) for the drive and is now on her way to Florida where they'll establish new roots. Rochelle will remain in the area for at least the next year. We're going to miss them! We hosted a going-away party for them a couple weeks ago and had a nice turnout and a nice time. It's not a Jalisco Terrace party without Bob taking the mic at least once. I'll miss that, too.

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