It’s been a wonderful and tragic couple of weeks, which, as most of you know, is how life gets stitched together…the good, the bad, the shallow, the profound…all of it jumbled yet fused somehow to chart our time here on this little blue ball in the great big blue sky.

Today, at the end of this particular two week period, I had a casual lunch with Uncle Stan who made me realize once and for all that counting life by minutes or hours or days or months or even years is not the way to count a life at all.

chair me


First, the wonderful: Nettie and I traveled to Portland, Oregon to visit friends and partake of some classy wine tasting in the Willamette Valley outside McMinnville. Those two names, Willamette and McMinnville, they seem cozy and old-fashioned, don’t they?

Well they are.

The picturesque Main Street of McMinnville could have been plucked from any one of a hundred homespun American Classic Movies – You Can’t Take It With You or It’s A Wonderful Life come to mind. With a Five & Dime store, candy shops, and even an old-fashioned vinyl records hang-out.

red tree wine


The charming Willamette Valley of boutique and bucolic pinot vineyards recollects Napa Valley thirty or forty years ago. Undulating, gentle roads amidst the verdant hills bathed in honey sunshine and Pacific breezes. Lovely. Tranquil. Seductive. We got drunk on all three adjectives.

chihuly 2


Seattle and the San Juan Islands of Washington State were hardly in second place. Our friend there, an ex-Island girl from St. Thomas, played host and tour guide to us and rolled out the city and waterways over a three day period of perfect companionship, weather, and scenery, including a dazzling stroll through the Chihuly Museum of blown glass.



We ate spotted shrimp until our fingers turned pink from the shells, and we drank our Willamette Pinots to wash ’em down. Delightful. More than delightful, fantastic!

But all good things must end. A harsher reality is never too far away.

We returned home to learn that a family member, our brother-in-law, George, will be going in for open-heart surgery as soon as it can be scheduled. Needless to say, the news gave us pause. But he’s healthy otherwise, and the required procedure is considered a “normal” procedure these days. Sure it was troubling to hear about, but a simple fingers-crossed should carry him through the day.

dodger dog


In fact, we went to a Dodger game with the soon-to-be-heart-patient. We ate our fill of dogs and fries (good for the heart, you know!), drank our share of beer (also good for the heart!), and consumed the requisite peanuts, ice cream, and Crackerjacks (well, not the Crackerjacks…we’re watching out for our heart, you know!).

As I sat there, enjoying a listless Dodger performance, my phone vibrated in my pocket. An email. Should I look at it? Who doesn’t look these days?

I shouldn’t have looked.

Far away, on Long Island, New York, a dear, dear friend’s heart had stopped beating…David Chaikin had passed away suddenly, shockingly. He was the husband of one of Annette’s closest friend’s from high school, Wendy, who is now and forever a widow.



David and Wendy visited us here in Los Angeles last year. The four of us walked out on Malibu Pier on a spectacular winter’s day and then had a leisurely lunch.



Time was on our side we thought. We didn’t say that then, of course. We didn’t even think it that day. Why would we think it that day? The sky was blue, the ocean was blue, our lives were in the pink.

And then time moved on…the ball spun on its axis…

Today, which is July 7th, I made my world famous egg-salad sandwich, packed an Igloo cooler, and went over to Uncle Stan’s for lunch. He’s Nettie’s Uncle. He’s in his 90’s and lives nearby in the guest house cottage of his daughter and son-in-law.

I’d never had lunch alone with Stan before. I planned this lunch many weeks ago, long before the death of my friend, David, long before the wonderful journey to the Pacific Northwest. I looked forward to hearing the stories of Stan’s youth, to talking about his passion for history, to telling a joke or two.

And we did that. We both reminisced, we both told stories, we ate lunch together. Then it was time to leave. I stood up, said my good-bye and then I added, meaning nothing really by it at all, “You’ve had a long life, Stan, good for you…”

“Oh no,” he interrupted, “My life wasn’t long. It’s very brief. All that time gone by doesn’t exist now. It’s not part of my life. And my future’s not long, either. It’s not part of my life. My life is very short. This moment. That’s all I have…it’s all I’ve ever had.”

I must have looked dumbfounded as I stood there staring at him. He’d said it so casually, so assuredly that there was nothing else to say. No comment required. Indeed, the moment of his saying it had long ago passed. A new instant had now bloomed to replace it.

I’d heard such philosophy before, of course. Who hasn’t? Live in the moment! Carpe Diem! Be Here Now!

But somehow, here…in this little shaded cottage…in the hushed, unassuming tones of Uncle Stan, the words pierced the veil of the everyday to become, however briefly, an eternal truth.

I nodded back to him, “Yeah, you’re right. Yes,” I turned to the door, “Enjoy your afternoon,” I said.



He nodded back, “And Frank,” he smiled and I held my breath for more wisdom, “I really liked your world famous, egg-salad sandwich.”

I laughed, “Thanks, Uncle Stan.” And he laughed too, loud and hearty.

I carried his laughter with me as I walked through the lovely garden to my car, and I held onto it tightly almost all the way home.


2 Responses to Two Weeks…A Moment…A Lifetime…

  1. Sherry Harris says:

    Thank you Frank, for a beautiful description of your weekend getaway and the more important wisdom from Uncle Stan. May we all take his message to heart.

  2. George Savsge says:

    Thanks Frankie, and thanks for the franks! You and Annette bought that day! See ya soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.