Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013 Family News

Dear Friends,

This has been an inward-looking, family-centered year.

Keith, Jean, Jory, and Jim
Keith lost his mother Jean in early April of complications from open heart surgery at the end of 2012.  Supporting her and then dealing with her death dominated our time and attention (and that of Keith’s sister Jory and husband Marty even more so)  -- and strengthened Keith’s bonds with his two siblings and extended family.  Jean was 91, but until her final illness had maintained a high level of energy and social engagement, chairing her continuing care community’s Activities Committee, introducing wii bowling, playing bridge, leading a painting group, reading to the blind, etc. Even in the post-surgery intensive care unit, she amazed staff by playing word games and making silly Christmas hair decorations out of hospital supplies. But during subsequent rehab, she suffered a stroke and then an infection. We feel her loss strongly, not the least because she was "much the same Jean” to the end. We miss her.  And celebrate her life.

Family gathering on the day of Jean's funeral


Family gathering with Kay
 at Thanksgiving
Jessica made regular visits to her mother, Kay, resident in the assisted living part of a continuing care community in southeastern PA.  Kay at 92 makes use of a walker and wheelchair to remain mobile, gardens (on her hands and knees), reads the New York Times editorial pages, and enjoys contributing to various causes.  However, she is increasingly frustrated with declining short-term memory.   Jessica is grateful that her sisters--especially Margy but also, in spite of a full-time job, Bethany--are also devoting significant attention to Kay.

When at home, Jessica has continued hiking, working out at the gym, and participating in several bicycling groups.   She’s also read more (including a range of books on neuroscience, as well as her old staple – fantasy/science fiction “candy”).  She has tried to stay professionally informed in natural resource management and land tenure developments, but for the time being she relishes her flexible schedule and has had no “drive” to return to the job market, or even spend much time at a computer.  She is beginning to re-engage with her Quaker meeting.

Keith returned from attending to his mother to a hectic spring collection season at Bikes for the World.  Highlights include receiving 5,000 trade-in bikes through a partnership with a national retailer.   By the end of this year, 14,000 bikes will have been shipped, and three corporate partnerships will have been formed.  With a strategic plan in place and a fourth salaried employee hired, Keith is feeling increasingly confident that the program will “take off”, but challenges remain.  A professional video on Bikes for the World produced by a Texas foundation can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6oSi-RLYJU.

Together, we found time to enjoy a broad range of music -- folk, reggae, and Broadway musicals including John McCutcheon, Bobby McFerrin, Soja, and Showboat --overcoming what was in retrospect several years of cultural drought, and lifting our spirits.

Kate and Alex at Iguacu Falls
Kate still enjoys her apartment and her work as a reference librarian. Living and working nearby, she visits regularly.  A favorite family activity is watching taped Jon Stewart programs.  In November, Kate traveled to Brazil for tourism and a friend’s wedding in Rio de Janeiro, joined by Alex for a second week visiting Iguacu Falls and the Amazon.

Alex and girlfriend Carla moved to a new, more satisfactory apartment—with a responsible landlord—last spring.  They acquired a cat during the summer.   Alex continues to enjoy the work at the Geographic Information Systems “help desk” at MIT while Carla began her third year of a PhD program in American Studies at Harvard.

Keith, Jessica, Carla and Alex
overlooking Crawford Notch
Keith, Jessica, Alex,
and Kate overlooking
Mount Washington
All of Keith and Jessica’s personal travel this year has been by land.  We drove twice to New England last summer– the first in June for Keith’s 40th Middlebury College class reunion and then over to New Hampshire for hiking, the second in August back to New Hampshire for more hiking.  The kids were able to join us for portions of the hiking.  We spent Labor Day with Quaker friends near the beach in Chincoteague VA.   After 35 years of countless airline trips, mostly long flights for the World Bank, Jessica has enjoyed a 22-month respite from airports and planes.  We will break this hiatus, however, flying to New Zealand early next year.  While we face the economy fare flights there and back with some trepidation, we look forward to enjoying the 19 days in-country.

Speaking of the world…   May we all witness one that in 2014 is more peaceful, equitable, and environmentally-sound.

With affectionate best wishes,   Keith and Jessica