I am truly knit from your influence, and therefore you cannot be torn away from my heart, memory or identity. One of my earliest memories is of you standing in the back porch practicing arpeggios on your trumpet. I was 3 or 4 yrs old, looking up, and you looked 12 ft tall to me. You may as well have been, as I do believe your music became one of the biggest influences in my life and one of the best things we shared.
You were my image of a true hero, a great example of self sacrifice and self discipline, humor, bravery. You listened, cared, and responded in unselfish and well thought out ways, when the predicament allowed for prudence and thoughtfulness. But I remember your impulsive reactions almost more, the things you did that surprised us. Once we were all enjoying a 4th of July party at the Corwin's. You came late, still dressed in a tux. You walked out onto their raised deck and spotted Bret struggling in the pool below, (the rest of us were oblivious) and dove in to save him -- tux, wallet, shoes and all! I remember a time at the River when I started to float out beyond the little peninsula that kept us from going out too deep. I yelled for you, and you swam out immediately, but then decided to teach me a lesson by using the situation to illustrate life guarding techniques! You said if a person panics, the life guard must push them under water and spin them around so they wouldn't cling and grab the life guard! Another rescue that will never be forgotten was the time you jumped into The River when Mom had fallen skiing and was nowhere to be seen! You cut the motor quickly, then decided she must be UNDER the boat, so you leaped in. There were more subtle things you rescued us all from through the years, and many, many important lessons you taught us (and the over 900 Manhattan Beach 5th graders you taught throughout your 32 years at Meadows and Pennekamp Schools).
Some of the more inspiring lessons were taught through example rather than words. You started jogging to lose weight and improve your health, then worked up to running in marathons in your 50s and even participated in a triathlon or two! For as long as I lived, I witnessed you doing lower back exercises (even when we were staying in motels on vacation). These exercises were prescribed when you were in your 40s, but you never stopped doing them, just like you never stopped walking 'God's Country' as you referred to Manhattan Beach - - 4 miles a day until the age of 89, making friends along the way! What an example!
You and Mom also illustrated what it means to keep in touch with people. You received Christmas cards from the same people for over 50 years, kept in touch by phone and hand made cards and calls rather than just texts or emails! I remember all of the neighborhood gatherings you hosted, and even the smaller events where you'd go to dinner at neighbors' homes and play cards. I'll never forget being half asleep at the door over your shoulder while you and Mom were saying "good bye" to the neighbors over and over again, amidst conversations that would start then end then start again. We'd gone to sleep in the neighbors' beds to reassuring background sounds of you and the others' laughter and happy conversations at the card table.
You praised others generously and often. Doing this encouraged AND thanked them all at once. It also fostered respect and conveyed appreciation and admiration for us. You were quick to praise the type of person Mom is and the artist and wife and mother she is. You praised my musicianship to your band buddies, which always made me proud. You talked highly about Bret's many accomplishments, ideas and intelligence. You appreciated the loyalty of long term friends and their gestures of love. Those who went the extra mile and were clever both tickled and impressed you!
I remember the long weekend mornings of waiting and waiting and waiting (seemed like forever) for you to get up so we could see whether you'd make us your spectacular waffles!
I remember how you let us "help" build our tree house and problem solve having to build it around the trunk and figuring out how to put in a window cover that rose with a pulley to reveal a view of the PV Peninsula!
I remember your great joy when your grandkids were born, and how much you loved all of them, teased them, told them stories, shared your music with them, inspired them and made them chuckle!
This isn't "good bye", this is "I'm gonna miss you! Thank you for everything! Take good care, and don't do anything I wouldn't do until we meet again", and LOVE YOU FOREVER! XOXOXOXOXOXO
Tracy Keraly (Howe)
October 15, 2021