Updated: Mar 11
My daughter gave me this self-portrait when she was in high school and it's always on my wall close to my computer. I love looking at it. It captures the magic that I see in her, the beauty, self-reflection, dreaminess, and brilliance. Here is a portrait my photographer friend
Bonnie took of her during that period.
Prema, aka Jennifer, was born the year after we lost Paul. It was a joyful event that took place in Buffalo. Sherm had just reported for duty at Camp Lejeune, North Caroline as a Navy doctor and we would soon follow. Grandma Gert helped move us all to the little house on the marine base, a few door down from the Wenglers, who soon became fast friends, kids all the same ages.
That period is a bit of a blur in my memory, nursing a baby, drinking martinis every night (while nursing?!), sharing meals, trips to the beach, long days with kids, all with the Wenglers.
Sweet to have that kind of friendship. Jennifer greeted a world full of children yelling and screaming, dogs running around, and parents relaxed, for the most part. (Photo of Jen at our Tarawa Terrace house)
When she turned two, we had to head back to New Orleans so Sherm could finish his residency in Ophthalmology. In order to face going back, I decided it was time to further my own career. With great trepidation, I applied to graduate school at Tulane. Got in! Little Jen was soon a tiny member of a nursery school. The tiny bus would pick her up each morning at our house on Broadway. (See photo below.) That first summer was so hot that she became the tiniest expert swimmer at the Jewish Community Center pool. With almost no coaxing, she took off and swam underwater like a fish.
Those two years in New Orleans were a story unto themselves, a dramatic unraveling and painful reweaving of a young man trying to master eye surgery, mixed in with memorized bits of Shakespeare and Browning so a young mother could pass the Master's degree exams. Once the pieces were all back together, we travelled to Santa Monica, and our California life.
When we finally landed on 25th St, we had another second family, this time perfect for Jen. The Dreyfusses or Dreyfii as Sherm dubbed them, lived a few houses down, three daughters, one of them Jen's best friend Kim. A bit of history again injected itself into our life, as busing to integrate schools became a liberal cause in Santa Monica. Kit Dreyfus and I joined a group that encouraged the Santa Monica school board to bus kids from the affluent "above Montana" section of town to Edison School, a small elementary school in need of an influx of funds and white kids in the poorer area. For two years, busing became a reality, and Jen, Katy, and their friend Amy set off for Edison school each morning. [Side Note: Kamala Harris was bussed across Berkeley during this period.]
Class photos from Edison School.
Jen is second row far left, her friend Amy same row fifth from the left.
Jen is top row second from the left, her friend Amy top row 5th from the left.
(to be continued)