The Fallen

The last few months have been marked with the loss of very dear teachers, family, and friends.  So many have passed recently that I compiled a list of fallen friends and family, partly in response to a relative who said I must have exaggerated the loss.  There are 50 close friends and 33 family.  Granted, I had different relationships with various members.  But it is not the quantity, rather the quality of the closeness.  And being a soft-hearted person and one who feels loss deeply, it has taken a great toll.

At the end of January, I wrote to one of Nick Ferentinos’ dear teaching compatriots, Ken Crump, only to find out that Chuck Pelton, the AP English teacher at Homestead who famously waxed on about the “halcyon days of my youth” had just died.  Nick and Chuck were 2 of the closest teachers to me in high school that I stayed in contact with as an adult.  Others were either too far away, weren’t interested in being in touch, or had already died by 1999, the year that I reconnected with Nick at Homestead.  I had hoped to contact Renato Tripodi, my dear math teacher, Tom Baer, my beloved drama and speech teacher, and Yervant Andelian, my French teacher and the man whose kindness inspired me to visit his native Armenia last summer, as well as Jim Grayson, my English and drama teacher in 8th grade at Cupertino Junior High.  He was a wonderful man who loved theater and directed me as mama in Happy Journey to Camden and the advisor to the king in the Ugly Duckling.

Teachers have always been like second parents to me.  I was pretty much a latch key kid after my dad left when I was 12, and being an only child to boot only made the loneliness from his going more extreme.  I made contact with Chuck in early 2000 after reconnecting with Nick Ferentinos.  Apparently Mr. Pelton did not check email much, because months elapsed after my query.  I finally called and left a message, and was pleased to hear back from him some time later.

We set up an appointment at Peet’s Coffee on State Street in Los Altos, where he could park his siberian huskies outside and chat with fellow dog owners.  He had a remarkably busy life and though I plied him with requests to meet, we only managed to get together 4 or 5 times over the past decade.  He was a storyteller par excellence.  I remember listening with rapt attention in AP English as he waxed on about life at Stanford and other happy stories.  In any case, on one of our happy visits at Peet’s Coffee, he began telling me the story of his travels with Mr. Andelian to France and Armenia, among other places.  They ended up on the wrong train.

Mr. Pelton was a pussy cat.  On another of our Peet’s visits he told me about his time as yard duty at a school, and the way that students knew they could get away with their antics when he was the disciplinarian.

I found out last Saturday of the passing of two friends from the pagan community, Blue MacLeod and Brian Rush.  Blue died on March 3, 2015, and as rarely visit Facebook, I didn’t hear about his passing.  I last remember seeing him at a Scottish Highland Games in Campbell in 2006. He was wearing his clan tartan, his knobby knees dandy in a kilt. He was a gentle soul and a great poet whom I knew from Clan of the Oak Moon.

I found out last Saturday that Brian Rush died December 2, 2015 of a brain aneurism.  I was sorry to hear this, as he had been a dear friend and a housemate for 3 years. I remember the heated political debates we used to have, though we were both progressive and far left. I remember how dearly he wished to go to Corsica after discovering a French singer and learning French. I remember encouraging him to call his daughters and to reestablish contact with them. I remember how kind he was to me when my father passed away and I was inconsolable, and him reading his wonderful novels aloud to me. This news fills me with shock and sadness. I send his daughters Laura and Nicole my condolences, as well as other family and friends.  He asked me a few years ago if he could stay here and I said no, as I was worried he’d never leave.  It had taken me a year to get him to leave as a housemate.  I didn’t want to deal with that again, especially when he asked (2 months after my ankle had been shattered – I still wasn’t yet able to walk).

Brian was born on September 12, 1956 in Houston, Texas. He was a writer all of his life; his first written effort for the public was a one-act play written especially for his sister’s Girl Scout troop at age 15.  He grew up in Houston and Dallas, Texas. After attending college in Florida he moved to the west coast and for the rest of his life lived in Seattle, Washington and the San Francisco Bay area. In 1983 he married Theresa Morrow and they had two children, Nicole and Laura Rush, before parting ways in 1991.  He had a life-long love of fantasy and science fiction, especially Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which he passed on to his children. The defining passions of his life were spirituality, magic, fantasy, the writer’s art, and left-wing politics. Brian was also a wonderful cook, a talent he inherited from his mother; he loved to bake bread and tackle challenging recipes. He was a talented singer and drummer. In 2010, he published his first novel, The Stairway to Nowhere, and continued to write and publish eight additional works over the next five years.

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