[My partner, Susan, died two weeks ago of ovarian cancer. This is what I read at the memorial service today, December 16, 2012.]
My dear dear Susan,
In the much-too-short video you left for me, you told that me one of the most important things to you in our long relationship was that I had come to share with you your love for Switzerland. Many of our sweetest memories together (and then with Gus) were there, the homeland of your beloved father Gaudi, who inspired in you his own love of Switzerland. I am so grateful you shared with me: Basel, Samedan, the Engadin, hiking . . .
Remember in 1996, when we stayed at Il Fuorn, in the Swiss Nationalpark?
On the way there, we stopped in Zernez to find hiking boots for me. You explained in apologetic but, of course, very good Swiss-German that I needed boots that were curt und brite (short and wide). The shopkeeper found some, and then made a custom fit for me by pounding out the toes with cobbler’s tools.
The bus into the park went up an incredibly narrow, winding road next to a sheer drop-off. Just in time, I turned to follow your finger, pointing at the Tannenhäher, the bird your Dad had told us about, as it dove down to the valley below.
Remember the hallway at Il Fuorn?
It was lined with simple wooden doors on either side, most of them with dirty hiking boots carefully placed outside. We opened the door to our room, and found another door behind it. We decided the second door must be further insulation, against hallway noises. How Swiss!
It was October, your father’s favorite month of the year, and the larch trees were bright yellow. As you would throughout your life, you reminded me: they are the only conifers that are deciduous.
The Hirsch, the Swiss elk, were in rut. In the middle of the night, a deep sonorous bellow, turning into a sort of shriek, woke us up. Remember that there was a bright moon that night? It was still difficult to see through the darkness, but finally we found it. There was the Hirsch, right outside our window, maybe a hundred feet away.
Mountains, like Munt La Schera, which we first climbed together that year, and that we enjoyed so much that we later took Gus. To keep him going, we played Tour de France. You were George Hincape, I was Ivan Basso, and we chased eight year old Lance up the mountain, resting for all-too-frequent tire changes.
Mountain air surrounds us, its cold wind balanced by the warm sun in the brilliant blue sky.
We made so many wonderful memories together.
Being with you, and with Gus, on top of Munt La Schera, is a memory where I always know I will find us, together as a family, drinking in the spacious beauty of peace on earth,
and in the heavens.
Are you there now? On your pink cloud?
Wherever you are, I love you forever and ever,
Kim, these words are touching and beautiful. I am thinking of you often and hoping our Sunday morning soccer schedules align soon. Are you a hugging person or should I avoid the hug when I see you?
When Kim read this composition (and it was composed like music), her firm voice and passionate tone and careful portraiture all melded into a listening experience of depth and beauty.
What could possibly have been more fitting for the moment?
Yet the experience, and the composition itself, now show their perfect fit for eternity.
I'm very grateful.
– Andy von Salis
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