Palo Alto, CA 94301
December 12, 2004
Dear Friends and Family,
It's been a year of bad news and good news for me, and as I look back on it this Christmas, I'm content to say with Job, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:21). But unlike Job, who had lost seemingly everything he had on earth at the moment he said that, I've only suffered one loss this year, and the Lord has granted me new blessings as well.
On the loss side, my mother Ruth Mann passed away from kidney cancer this August, just before her 86th birthday. The cancer first appeared in 2000, at which point Mom's doctors removed her kidney. This is the only really effective treatment for kidney cancer, and in Mom's case it seemed to work for a few years, but in 2003 she began to feel short of breath, and it turned out the cancer had returned in her lungs. She was able to stay at home until this May, when she moved to the nursing home where my sister Mary works. Happily, I was able to get back for a last visit early in July, when Mom was still lucid and able to enjoy having me there. I've attached a picture from an outing to the Mitchell Park conservatory that Mary and I took Mom on. Just over a month later I was back for the funeral, along with most of the rest of our family.
One big new blessing that I'm enjoying is the house that I purchased in Palo Alto on October 12. It's a three-bedroom townhouse, with 1721 square feet of living space spread over three stories. It's in a great location, just 4 blocks south of University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto. I worked in downtown Palo Alto for many years, and I've really missed the neighborhood since I changed jobs in 2001. So I feel very much at home living here now. The house is 20 years old and in quite good condition, though it needs interior paint and some minor repairs. I've been keeping busy working on little things around the place whenever I have a free Saturday. The complex is small, only 10 units, and the neighbors I've met so far are very nice, friendly folks. I've attached a picture.
I also bought a new car back in March. It's a Subaru Impreza WRX wagon—basically a sports car in a 4-door hatchback body. It's very practical for me to haul my music gear around in, but also lots of fun to drive. A big upgrade from my old 1987 Toyota Tercel. In the summer I took my music equipment to Bible camp in my new car, but I wasn't able to stay myself because I'd used up my vacation, so I turned the music leader duties over to a couple of talented campers in the high school group. From all reports they did a fine job.
One blessing that I'm about to enjoy is a visit from my niece Beth and her family—husband Tom and children Nathan, Meagan, Ethan, and Abby. They are in the US for a short time while Tom is on leave from his three-year Air Force tour of duty in Japan. The timing is great, since I have lots of room to put them up now!
This year will be my first Christmas in California after having lived here for 23 years! Mary is my only close family member still living in Milwaukee, and Christmas isn't really that great a time to visit her, since she's a nurse and it's hard for her to get time off then. She plans to visit me early in the new year. Since I have a real guest room now, I'm well equipped for any friends or family who might like to come and visit, so let me know any time you'll be in the area.