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Lobster Letter ~ August 21, 2020

Lobster Letter

 ~  86th Birthday  ~

August 21, 2020

Year of the Pandemic

Presidential Election ~ 2020

Trump vs. Biden

Fergus Chatfield ~ Our Faithful Companion



Clare ~ Sarah ~ Kate ~ Amy ~ Anne

My dear daughters,

I write to tell you how pleased I was with your lobster birthday gift.  It was incredibly sweet and delicious tasting, but I have to give some credit to the Chef who followed the directions to a “T”!

Birthdays were not much celebrated during my childhood years, due I think to the fact that I was born and raised in a very rural area that still was recovering from the Great Depression of the 1930s.  I have a recollection my parents telling me they returned from their 1933 honeymoon with only a couple of dollars to their name and a box of crackers to eat on the way home.

I have no recollection  my parents ever celebrated their own birthdays or birthdays of their siblings. If so,  they certainly never took a day off work  or went out to a restaurant for a special dinner. But even if they did, they had only two choices –  either the Diner on Market Street, or the Chinese place on Main Street in the skid-row area of town next to the Sacramento River.

But you also have to remember that my brother and I were born on the same day, two years apart,  and even though I never remember receiving a gift, if I did, it would have been exactly what my brother was given, and vice-versa.

Lastly, World II – 1941-1945 – was not a time for birthday celebrations, the entire country was focused on  defeating Hitler’s Germany and Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack on our country was uppermost in people’s minds along with widespread rationing, Victory Gardens and concern about what family members would be drafted to fight the war.  In the LaGrande family my Uncle Joe had been drafted and was serving in Alaska. His letters home, as personal as they were, were read by everyone who visited the home ranch of my grandparents.  My  Uncle Vic was drafted but rejected because he could not pass his physical. My father who was  patriotic wanted to enlist but my mother was adamantly  opposed, though she did agree  we could relocate to Marin County so he could work in the war effort at the Kaiser Shipyards as a welder.

After I left home at age 14 to attend the Christian Brothers boarding school in Sacramento,  I never celebrated my own birthday until after I married your mother 18 years later, and she took charge!  She loved birthdays, you were the lucky recipients, and even I had to learn how to  celebrate my birthday.

Fast forward to 2020. Your mother and I are well into old age – especially me at age 86, she at 78 – and because of the Pandemic our lives have been turned upside down. We live almost quarantined at home. All of our plans to visit grandchildren at their respective University campuses, to make our annual trip to Boston, our plan to spend more ocean view  and restaurant time  in Mendocino have been canceled. 

Within just a few weeks time, our life’s activity became virtual and we felt cutoff from you and your families. As understandable and necessary  as this is during a Pandemic – family members did not want to bring the virus to us, nor we to them – we feel more and more isolated and have much less to talk about.  In fact, this is one of the big take-a-ways of my Pandemic experience thus far.

In our old age, especially during our cocktail hour but, other times throughout the week as well,  we receive a great deal of mutual enjoyment and satisfaction talking about  all that you are doing , what your children are doing, your travel and vacations, your various careers and activities, your husbands and pets [not necessarily  in that exact order]-(this my long shot at humor!)

Actually, we take great pride in who you are, your many accomplishments and what you stand for. We are also grateful about how you relate to each other, how  much you enjoy each others company, and how you have avoided petty jealousies that create family drama and  tear families apart ~ which eventually would lead to the destruction of the the enjoyment and satisfaction we receive in our old age talking about you.

You have been caring and solicitous about our well-being and generous in your gifts that treat us to a favorite restaurant  or a gift certificate to a wine merchant. We thank you so much! 

And the lobsters?  During a Pandemic quarantine? That was a morale booster like no other! You never disappoint!

Love, Dad . . . and your Mother too!







Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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