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My Father Dies

Sorry to be a bit disconnected here and on FetLife these past few days; we're in Santa Fe for my Father's (John H. Rubel) "Celebration of Life" service. He died earlier this month; he was nearly 95. He was a very accomplished and interesting person. He was
 
This party, for that's really what it was, was held in one of the largest homes I've ever been in. I would guess 10,000 sq feet or more. Lavish. Well staffed. Well catered. LOTS of people--perhaps 100.   My younger brother (William) made the Family's speech at the memorial service that took place before the “heavy appetizers” when everyone mingled in the lower level. According to Jewish tradition, I should have done it, but Robin (Father's wife) didn't want me speaking. Probably a good thing: our relationship had not survived my decision to divorce Margo, my first wife, as we still had young children at home. 
At any rate, I'm glad to have Master here with me. This house and the way the guests were served was a snapshot of a lifestyle you only see in movies.

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Trip to See Father

father 2011

I decided that since Keagan (my 32-year-old son) is in the US from Shenzhen, China (just across the bay from Hong Kong) where he lives and works. He had to come back to renew keep his Visa current. As it happened, he could come through Santa Fe on his return leg, I linked up with him for a visit with Father.

My father, who began working out during the Kennedy Administration in 1962 and who holds all the age-group exercise records at his local gym in Santa Fe, was finally showing his age. He’d been totally the same all his life until last June when he fell for the first time (as a function of his age) He is 94.

We spoke shortly after his fall, and he said that actually, falling for an elderly person is associated with end-of-life malfunctions and he really believed that the end is in sight.

One of Father’s stories was that at CalTech (where he graduated suma cum laude in Electrical Engineering in 1944) he used to break into the library at night in order to read medical books and history books. He read all his life; he knew a lot. Actually, he is the only truly literate person I ever met. His stories would interlink information of any epoch across literature, science, mathematics, or history and interlink them all.


Keagan and I linked up at the Albuquerque airport around 9am and drove up to Santa Fe. Father is in a hospital having a small procedure done. When we got there, he was sitting in a chair reading the newspaper with a drip bottle hooked to his arm. He is pretty cheery, but clearly has degenerated substantially in the past six months. He’s now about 5’ high, down from 5’8,” and stooped over. Still cheery, though.

Around noon, Robin came to collect him after the procedure; we returned to their home where we nibbled a bit and visited. They did not want to go in town for dinner, so we took our leave and told them we’d see them in the morning.

Keagan and I had taken a motel room together in town, and decided, after a while, to go down to the group of Indian vendors on the town square, where he found the “perfect bracelet” that was, of course, just slightly out of his price range at $500. He offered $300 but was turned down. It’s October and cold and not “in season,” but there were a number of hardy souls selling jewelry.

c 45 keagan selecting bracelet

c 44 keagan in hat

 

We spent about two-hours the next morning with Father. By the end of our stay, he was ready to take a nap. At that point, about noon, Keagan and I headed back down to Albuquerque and the airport. I returned to Austin; he flew back to Shenzhen.

 

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Taos

We decided to go out to see Father in Santa Fe. Jen had not yet met him. He lives about 20 miles west of the city in a compound for rich people. I suppose the adobe walls are ten feet high and four feet thick. It’s massive. It has a VERY upscale clubhouse and restaurant and bar. I can imagine that many people must get together there practically every night. Nothing else to do out there but go to the clubhouse, have friends over, or watch TV. It’s along way in to Santa Fe.

This is a shot of his living room.

c 15 livingroom

He bought a lovely house there after he sold the big house on the ridge overlooking the entire valley. You could see Los Alamos at night: street and house lights. He actually moved to Santa Fe in order to take a literature Masters’ degree at St John’s College’s rigorous liberal arts program. Its main campus is in Annapolis, MD, but they have this campus in Santa Fe because of the nature of the population.

It’s the only school in the US (probably the only school in the world) whose curriculum requires you to read the entire set of “Great Books of the Western World.” 

Anyway, we decided to drive up to Santa Fe to visit Father, who is 91. He’s in amazing shape. His mind is as sharp as ever and he spends most of his time reading or writing. Right now, he’s writing about old age.

The drive takes about 13 net hours. We spent the night near Clovis and arrived in the early afternoon. We’d found a reasonably-priced hotel and, after checking in, drove out to see them.

Father is now using the guest room as his bedroom, so they prefer that people not stay at the house. Also, he naps a lot now and there would be long stretches with nothing to do. Robin (his wife) prefers to schedule the visits. We spent the afternoon visiting and they took us in town for a lavish dinner. We had a lovely time; Robin was looking well.

We drove back out for breakfast at 10, spent a few hours chatting and left for Taos at the point that he wanted to lie down for a nap.

It’s a fairly quick drive up to Taos — about 90 minutes.

I’d found what I thought would be a really spectacular place to stay in Taos, the El Pueblo Lodge Room 140. I turned out to be right.

There was a light snow falling when we arrived; very romantic. We checked in and went to the room: it was lavish. It has a HUGE bedroom/living room with very nice fireplace and ample wood. SUPER romantic.

We had ample daylight, so we walked around town looking at the interesting shops. There is one in particular that is my favorite. They have handmade knives and (most important) outdoor bells made from cut-off diving tanks. Really interesting and very sonorous. It took all our will not to buy it — but it was in the $500 range and we weren’t spending that kind of money.

I’d made reservations for the Taos Inn months ago. They have an upscale restaurant that was well reviewed, and we were not disappointed. They have excellent food preparation, tables well spaced, and the dining room gave off an air of elegance. We had a lovely time and then returned to our motel room where we lit the fire, put on some music (through my computer) and had a fantastic, romantic evening.

We spent the next two days wandering around the city and the Indian reservations’ public areas, taking pictures.

I find I'm drawn to shoot interesting doors...

c 14 red door taos  c 13 door taos

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