“Moment by Moment ….” column for Dec. 2, 2014

Life is made of moments. Some are better than others. But they all fit together in the end. On the last day of a two-week, whirlwind, 1,500-mile road trip in sunny California, it rained.

I love rain. I took it as a parting gift. And I hated to leave, so it matched my mood.

My husband and I had driven from our home in Las Vegas to begin our vacation with two days in Sonoma, visiting his older son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, Charlotte.

Next came two days in San Francisco. We had lunch with his younger son; took BART to Oakland to see the Warriors beat the Jazz; and celebrated the christening of his niece’s sweet newborn, the latest addition to our rapidly growing clan.

Finally, we drove down the coast to Pacific Grove to spend a week by Monterey Bay listening to the surf, watching waves crash on rocks and hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 21 people, our kids, grandkids, family and friends.

It was a lot to pack into a couple of weeks. But we are nothing if not good packers. When you live far away from people you love, and don’t get to see them as often as you wish, you try to make the most of every moment together.

Even the moments you might rather forget.

On our last day of the trip, we said our goodbyes and took one last quick ride along the beach before getting on the road for home. Three hours into a nine-hour drive, my husband asked the question that I usually ask him first.

“So,” he said, “what was your favorite moment?”

“Not fair,” I said. “You first.”

He listed several, then chose the one I knew he’d choose: “I really loved playing music with the grandkids.”

I smiled, picturing him sitting by a window, with his bass in his arms, the ocean at his back and a couple of curly-headed 3-year-olds bouncing on every note.

My oldest caught it on video with his cell phone and sent it to us later in an email he titled “School of Papa Mark.”

“I loved it, too,” I said.

“What about you?” he asked.

Where to start? How to pick? A thousand memories flashed through my mind in no special order, far too many to name.

Charlotte’s tutu. Henry’s kisses. Randy’s gift (a candle holder he made just for me.) Baby Wiley’s sweet smile as he said, “Nana.” My daughter-in-law’s beautiful belly with another grandbabe on the way.

Cable cars in the City. Ice skaters at Union Square. The breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Getting to hold our newly christened nephew.

Sitting on the couch between my basketball-crazy boys, watching a game on TV in which Andrew Bogut passed behind his back to Steph Curry, who gave it back to Bogut for a slam.

Letting my son-in-law do the turkey and the mashed potatoes.

Watching my daughter make a dozen other dishes and hearing her joke (I think) when I offered advice: “Mom, I’ve got this. Don’t get in my business.”

My favorite moment is usually a conversation. I love to talk almost as much as I love to listen. This trip was a wealth of conversations with all sorts of interesting people, young and old, family and friends, plus a few passing strangers.

But my favorite moment this time is a three-way tie: First, before guests arrived, I sat alone at the beach remembering loved ones, present and past, those who’d be with me at dinner and those who would not.

Two, I joined hands in a circle of 21 people and gave thanks for another year to be together.

Finally, at dinner, I sat for a while watching the faces of all those people and listening to their voices, a fine mingling, old and new, of laughter and love.

I wish you could’ve been there.

Maybe you’d have done dishes and managed somehow to get people to go to bed before 2 a.m.

Who knows? That could’ve been my favorite moment of all.


  1. I’ve been following you via your column for years and am always inspired through tears and/or laughter. I knew that you love the beach, but I feel even closer to your experiences now that I know you follow the GS Warriors! Meet Christmas and a blessed new year to you and your clan.

  2. lynn Deutsch says

    It was so nice seeing you over Thanksgiving Sharon. But I forgot to tell you that during that Tuesday, your son Nathan took his class and a few parents I think on a little walking field trip to show them the home where he grew up. He didn’t see us lurking behind a bush listening–but you should’ve heard how tender he told the kids about the bird bath, the tree in the front he always tried to climb, and showing them his bedroom window. Some of the kids tried to touch the front tree! It was so sweet seeing the look in his face as he was sharing a slice of his life with his class. Now that was a moment to remember!

  3. My mother lost her husband of 36 years this year, a few days before thanksgiving to cancer. He fought a good fight. We still cooked the turkey dinner, remembering all the memories, good or bad, laughed and cried…so many moments tangled in the fabric of our lives. I speak less and listen more to capture the love and the faces who mean so much. Happy Holidays to you and yours….

  4. Kate Sciacca says

    Thanks for painting a beautiful picture once again with your words :-). We had 26, but my sweet daughter (due with #3 on Dec.11) welcomed her mama’s help…. That was my favorite moment… Oh, and seeing all my boys enjoying wine and getting along…. Never thought THAT would happen ;-). And watching all the little cousins play together…. So many blessings to be thankful for.

  5. well explained all those moments of togetherness . we never forget those moments till we meet again ! Thanksgiving day ! Love this festival when someone makes a special dish and we enjoy eating it .

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