Gone From My Sight

My mother passed away more than two years at the age of 81. It was a challenging time for our family. She had in-home hospice in the house that she had lived for 50 years and where my father still lives. Between my work and children, I would make the hour drive to visit my parents often, to be with my mom and to be supportive to my father.

A visiting hospice nurse left a pamphlet at my parent’s house and I found a poem on one of the pages along with signs that the time was getting close. The poem, entitled “Gone From My Sight,” is about a ship that sails out of sight, that is not gone but at another port. I read that poem many times and felt the words were exactly what I needed at that moment.

After my mom passed, I left the cemetery and went straight to Joshua Tree with my family to spend time away from the schedules of work and life to pause for a few days. When we got back, life was waiting and thoughts of my mom’s passing went from heavy emotion to passing thoughts like clouds going by in the sky.

We took our time going through her belongings and a few months ago, my dad had me look at her purses when I was visiting. We had very different tastes and my brother had no use for her clothing, so most of her belongings were donated. When we were going through her purses we found one hidden in the back of her closet. I had never seen it before and my father did not remember it either. It was not her style at all. It was a tan, leather purse that looked like it had Aztec designs, possibly from Mexico. It was very unusual looking and I decided to keep it. Since it had begun to dry rot I took it to Tucker’s Express Shoe Repair. On the way to the repair shop, I used the purse as I ran errands and was surprised by the compliments I received about it.

When I came back to Tucker’s a week later after dropping it off, he said several people had seen the purse hanging in his shop and wanted to buy it. I took my purse home and put it at the bottom of my closet. It needed polishing but I did not have time. After a few months of traveling with my family and everything else that keeps me so busy I noticed the purse in my closet. No wonder my mom kept that purse in her closet for 50 years, life really does get away from us at times. While my mom is out of my sight, she is not out of my mind or heart. The purse was a gift at just the right time, from my mom in her own special way.

“Gone From My Sight” by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”
“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear the load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”
And that is dying.


Nightmare Parking at Field of Dreams

As much as I love to watch my children play soccer, every year I secretly wish they would decide to play flag football instead, in a field where I can park close by and watch games under a shade tree. For years, I have endured the nightmare parking situation at the Field of Dreams so my children can play soccer in San Pedro. But getting to the treeless field is like a trek to the outback and it leaves me feeling like a pack mule carrying chairs, coolers, and umbrellas a mile to practices and games.

There are 1,400 youth registered to play AYSO soccer at the field just below the flaming refinery flare and across from the butane tanks, which is another story altogether. The field has 150 parking spaces and on game days the lot is open to only coaches and referees. All of Westmont Drive and part of Gaffey Street is used as employee parking for the warehouses above the fields, leaving very little parking options for soccer families. It would probably be easier if I could figure out how to parachute in with my children and chairs.

Street parking on Westmont is a popular parking ticket trap with confusing signs whose arrows point across the street and at hills instead of the street. It is anybody’s best guess where it is legal to park. Knowing this, I have been extremely cautious where I park but still end up with a parking ticket while parked against a curb not painted red. The parking enforcement vultures are there every week, preying on hard working families who honestly are confused by the inconsistent red curbs and confusing signs. Wouldn’t it be better to have the city directing the thousands of people at the field instead of taking advantage of them? I fought my ticket and won but still the curb is not painted red.

To make matters worse, Recreation and Parks, who maintains the field owned by the Bureau of Sanitation, fails to keep the pedestrian gate open, which creates a dangerous situation for the families walking in. There is a narrow opening in the lot with no curb or sidewalk forcing families to walk inches away from moving vehicles. With only one way into the narrow lot, it is like entering the Bermuda Triangle at peak practice times, cars go in and do not come out. Some vehicles are too large to turn around so they have to back all the way out after dropping off their children. There is no loading area on the street making drop offs very challenging, especially with big rig trucks speeding down the hill.

My children have had such great experiences playing soccer but this parking fiasco needs to change. Collaborating with other parks and schools would be a good start. My son’s team once tried to hold a practice at Peck Park but we were asked to leave the empty park by two park employees. Possible solutions could be to have some games at other local parks or have a shuttle service (red trolley) and create an exit at the back of the field’s parking lot. The field is at full capacity with children playing soccer in every possible area so cutting into the field to add more parking would only create new problems.

The youth and families of San Pedro deserve a better situation. With Councilman Buscaino’s office actively looking for solutions, I feel like maybe after all these years we finally may see a positive change (no pressure Joe). For starters, they can take the overgrown city tree in front of my house that will not be trimmed for another 50 years by the city and move it to the Field of Dreams for much needed shade.

Anyone else with similar adventures at the Field of Dreams can contact Councilman Buscaino’s office with feasible solutions at (310) 732-4515. spt

Jennifer Marquez writes about low-cost and free events in her blog www.grassrootsmama.com. She can be reached at jennifertmarquez@yahoo.com.