April 14th, 2005


(no subject)

Years went by when my life and Mike's crossed intermittently. I was going to college for an insane length of time - started at 18, got my degree at 29 - almost 30. I was going to forget the graduation ceremony, feeling it was unnecessary, but I had the sense to realize that it mattered to my family. That is, my father and stepmother. It didn't occur to me that anyone else might want to come. They might have if they'd known, and I don't recall letting anyone know. I probably got those announcements, though. I am almost certain that I did. So they probably would have known. But just as I have not traveled to others' graduations, so it is that nobody else traveled to mine.

My friend Dorothy is deep inside a family that celebrates everything. To me it sounds almost unreal or superreal, maybe. I do not have that kind of family. It makes me feel guilty at times that we do so little together. Yet I am used to it and it would feel funny if we suddenly made big deals about birthdays and graduations and weddings.

As adults, just recently we have started to make bigger deals of these things. In the past, if I got an invitation to a relative's wedding far away, I would think about sending a card and gift, but would set the invitation aside and forget to do so. Lately I have made a point of finding out about birthdays and anniversaries and am sending cards religiously. Sometimes a few of us will get together and buy a nice gift. It's sporadic but it's a start. Some years ago I realized that in general we are getting closer to each other as we get older. So many families grow apart. We did grow apart, but now we are making real efforts to grow together in ways we didn't know before.

In 1994, when my father died, we four Lautner children got together to plan the funeral. The choice of church and priest was his wife's, who was a Catholic, who somehow was able to coerce a Catholic service for a man who was not of that faith. I understand it was mainly a matter of money. The four of us, though, or was it just the sisters? - planned the sequence of events. I chose the music. My sister Mary designed and printed the "programs". We arranged for a "reception" afterwards, where we met with and talked to many people who knew and cared for our father. I spoke about my father in front of the church, and I wore bright colors. I remembered that he hated black, hated depressing things, and I thought he would want that.

In 1995, when my mother died, we were seasoned funeral planners and we took this one on fully. I interviewed all of my siblings, asking what was special to each about our mother. The answers revealed that she was a different mother to each of us. Stunningly different, except for some common experiences. I think she taught each of us how to make a martini. She had two of those, complete with green pimiento-stuffed olives, every evening before dinner. We planned her funeral fully. Again I selected the music, and I spoke about her. I wrote her obituary, which the local paper refused to print. They print only the bare facts, no elaboration. So my sister Cathy chose, at her own expense, to pay to have my obit published "in memoriam". That is one of my fondest memories, that she did that for me and for our mother.

I don't remember Mike's involvement at this time either. Was he there? I think so. Why can't I remember? I remember asking him about her and his telling me about how she designed and made kites with him, flew them in Los Angeles, in Griffith Park, how they won some awards for the kites. He must have been there.

(no subject)

Nothing like these trips down memory lane. Maybe i can use it all later, somehow.

My father and stepmother Elizabeth had a place in Flintridge - now called La Canada-Flintridge. It was a large lot, no improvements. They installed a cupboard with a fold-down door, that could be used as a camp kitchen, and I remember there being many plants and trees all over the property. For a few years - I don't know how many - they had a thanksgiving dinner there. They brought the food, they set up a long table, and they invited family and close friends. Mostly family. i went to a few of these dinners and I think Mike did, too. I was a green college student at the time.

Later my father and Elizabeth bought property in Three Rivers, on the river. They erected prefabricated fibreglas domes, two of them, on a deck that looked out over the river. The insides were designed by my father, as well as the deck. One of his brilliant ideas - which I did not find brilliant - was to drill holes around each of the domes, in the deck, for drainage. Sometimes I wonder how far he saw ahead. Anyone could see that this was as good as perforating the deck, assuring the eventual descent of the domes through the deck and into the river. At this time, in 2005, we await the call, the one that says they are gone.

Then, however, it was a vacation place. Several times a year my father and Elizabeth would truck up there and enjoy the beauty and peace and try to let go of Hollywood worries. On Thanksgiving, and often other times as well, others of us came too. We had several family thanksgivings there, everyone participating in the cooking and eating and drinking. I did tire of the food along the way, didn't really want the dinner that much, but I went to be with the family. Mike and his family were a big part of this. Often they would claim the living room for their sleeping space. I made it clear that I couldn't hack waking up with too many other people, so my father grudgingly usually paid for a motel room for me and my daughters. Thank heaven. It made it possible for us. We would wake up and get dressed and then find our way to the domes, maybe have breakfast there, often have breakfast at a nearby restaurant instead. It tended to be chaotic there with so many people. Because we had our own space we could retreat if we needed to do so. Mike stayed close to the action and seemed to like that.

Most of the visit was a matter of lying around. I didn't get on with that, either. I went for walks, lurked around the river, visited little weird shops. Usually we all made one trip into Sequoia National Park, because it is so close, in whatever large vehicle was available. We didn't do a lot there but we got out and enjoyed it anyway.

I managed to keep my conversations fairly short. I had difficulty sustaining a long conversation with my father without getting into territory where we disagreed. And disagreeing with him meant there was something wrong with us. I learned to skirt touchy areas or to be noncomittal when I could, and I learned the areas where we could talk. I could talk to Mike fairly easily, although he tended toward a strange right-wing view that I couldn't fathom and couldn't easily discuss. There, too, I tried to stay on safe ground. We talked of kids and school, not always a great area either, depending on how well one or another child was doing at the time.

Before the domes were installed, we had a few thanksgivings at a campground in Three Rivers. We all had cabins, which was very cool, and there are play areas there, plenty for kids to do. The first time Elaine and Michelle met they were so very young - I think Michelle was four and Elaine three. They hit it off instantly. They were inseparable. We have several pix of the girls together, along with the littler mary, who hung wherever her big sister hung. Not long ago, Michelle unearthed one of these pics and labeled it "happier times". That's the truth.