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A reversed image in a mirror.
December 30th, 1999

Spring Needs To Hurry
I left the office and walked across the street this afternoon to buy a newspaper and read it at one of the tables at the City Center. A friend from the office stopped in passing and said he'd recently read a wine column in one of the dailies saying my friends Ronn and Brenda had been in an automobile accident, that both of them had been seriously injured and that a wine industry group was giving a dinner followed by a wine auction to help raise money for their medical bills. Ronn and Brenda were my friends during the twelve year period I lived in Napa (I was Ronn's best man at their wedding) and to hear they'd almost died in an accident two months after the fact says something about time and distance and how I've managed to cut my ties. I'm am the tie cutting expert.

I called Ronn when I got back to the office. He was home, he'd gotten out of the hospital last week, six weeks after the accident, Brenda still in a convalescent hospital, still unable to eat solid food, unable, perhaps, to ever again eat solid food due to her injuries. She having one of the world's great wine palates, a judge at international competitions. I will drive to Napa and visit Ronn this Saturday and arrange to visit Brenda. There's a long story here and I'm feeling a little numb. Life passes quickly and there are no absolutes, no guarantees. It isn't useful to dwell on that, just enough to remind yourself every now and then what is important.

Evidently they were in an accident November 7th, both of them with broken bones and internal Lake Merritt area, Oakland. injuries, both boys surviving with minor injuries, but Brenda harmed close to death, Ronn having surgery in an attempt to correct damage to his pelvis, he, still in pain. I didn't ask the circumstances, the who or the what, just was it OK to visit and was it OK to go along the next time he went to visit Brenda. I haven't talked with him in a long time and I must call my sister tonight to tell her what has happened. She lived in Napa during my wine years when she worked in the advertising business and knew Ronn and Brenda well, had talked with them only recently when they'd passed through Portland coming home from some sort of wine conference in Seattle. Again, I feel somewhat numb. These are people I knew during a time when our directions matched, when I was a principal at a wine company and they were breaking into the wine business and deciding to marry and build a family. We drifted apart, of course, married couples don't hang much with bachelors, I starting a small Novell resellership, they gaining momentum in their food and wine direction. I hope the wine community puts on a real bash this February and raises a lot of money. Ronn's tough and Brenda's tough, but this has been hard. This has obviously been way too hard and it's not close to being over.

Ronn and Brenda know and work with everyone, with all the wineries, with all the names you're ever heard connected with the wine business. Ronn wrote a wine column for the Examiner when I lived in Napa and currently edits and publishes a wine magazine for the restaurant trade. I will buy tickets to the dinner whether I attend or not. The person who is putting together the dinner and auction is a mutual friend. I know about medical expenses when you don't have insurance or enough insurance. I don't want to think what they must have incurred, two people times two months in a hospital, weeks of intensive care, months of rehabilitation to follow.

My jaw operation ran $60,000 for five days in a hospital. I had insurance. I had lots of insurance and it took me eight months to pay off my share of the balance. They are two people self employed and there's no way they can have insurance that will cover this. Your health, your home, your children's education, all of them scrambled in maybe 30 seconds. And maybe you won't walk again without pain. And maybe you won't eat solid food again. And maybe, and maybe, and maybe. Yesterday I joked about bombs and gas in the streets at the New Year. Ha, ha. Joke. Tonight I walked home, hands in my pockets paying special attention to the traffic. A couple of drinks, someone slips at the wheel and don't have to worry about the New Year. Death and mortality. They're a cold wind always with us. Spring needs to hurry.

The banner photograph is of my reflection in a mirror in the pharmacy section of a Rite Aid store in Oakland. The man at the table was photographed at a cafe near Lake Merritt.