CRB with Mrs Meyers, 1997. Sadly, I could not track down one picture of Mr. Meyers
I have been dealing with what has been a very emotionally trying situation lately. It is not a unique situation however. In fact it is one most everyone on the planet will have to deal with at some time or another, and that is the loss (or impending loss in my present case) of a parent.
I had one of my parents, my father, pass on some years ago, but truth be told it really did not affect me much. I had only met my father once, when I was 16 years old, and it was a meeting that lasted all of a minute. He had left the family when I was two and never visited, never wrote, never sent a single birthday card. So being told of his passing was pretty much like reading a strangers obituary in the newspaper - sure, it was a tragic loss for someone I suppose, but it meant nothing at all to me - just the passing of a stranger.
On one of my recent visits to San Diego however, I was informed of the passing of a close friend's mother, and this after I learned a few years ago of the passing of this same close friend's father. Neither of these people, this mother and father, were strangers to me.
They were, from when I was four years old until I left for the USAF, people I saw nearly every single day. They were almost surrogate parents to me at times, and for that I owe them more than mere thanks or gestures of appreciation.
I owe them a memoriam, and this is it.
The Meyers family moved into the neighborhood when I was four. The family mirrored mine in that they were Catholic, there were 3 boys & 3 girls, and they were Navy.
I met Mike, the youngest son who was a month and two days younger than me, a week or so after the family moved in. We became the best of friends almost immediately.
Eventually, Mike and I grew to be as close as brothers and Mike's parents, Mr & Mrs Meyers, treated me as if I was another son.
Mr & Mrs Meyers took me (as well as my younger brother) along on family fishing trips (Mr Meyers taught me how to fish), family camping trips, family trips to the beach, family trips to the Navy pool, and family trips to the local amusement park (Belmont park in MB). Mr & Mrs Meyers even took me on my first visit to Disneyland
All those trips, all those activities, were of course great fun for me, and at the time that was all that I thought they were.
However, when I grew much older, and became consciously aware of just how difficult my mother's lot in life was, I realized that all that time the Meyers family had included me (and my younger brother) in their plans, was also a great service to my Mom, as it not only allowed her a chance to relax, to have a bit of peace and quiet secure in the knowledge that her youngest children were safe, it was also a chance for her to see her children being given the opportunity to enjoy the same activities most of our friends and classmates took for granted.
For that, and so much more, I am eternally grateful to Mr Richard J. and Mrs Elizabeth A. Meyers.
Mr Richard J. Meyers was born on March 4th, 1934, in the small hamlet of New Haven in northeastern Iowa, not far from the Iowa/Minnesota border. He was raised on a farm and grew to be a big man (he was 6'4" and 250 lbs when he joined the US Navy, at a time when the entire NFL only had two players who shared those measurements) with a tremendous thirst for adventure and knowledge.
Mr Meyers was a voracious reader and always had a stack of two to three inch thick novels in the house. He introduced me to the works of James Clavell (I remember him handing me a copy of Shogun and saying "Read this, it'll spark your imagination more than any of those comic books you like."), Phillip Roth, Larry McMurtry, and James Michener among many, many others.
Mr Meyers was also an avid photographer and movie-maker, and every time he returned from a naval deployment there would be a night at the Meyers household where he would show either the slides of pictures he took while deployed, or the movies he had filmed. The slide shows and pictures were great to see, especially the films of everyday life onboard a Naval ship at sea.
He spent 27 years in the Navy, retiring as a Chief Yeoman (YNC). He attended San Diego State University after his retirement and after graduating (with a degree in English Lit I think), worked as a teacher in the San Diego Unified School District for awhile before going to work for the State of California's Social Services department.
This man was a greater influence on me than he could ever have possibly known. He passed on to me his thirst for knowledge, his love of literature, and his appreciation for sports (for a big man, Mr Meyers was extremely athletic - he used to ride his ten speed Schwinn from our neighborhood in southeast San Diego to the mountain communities such as Julian or Ramona and back in a single day - that's about an 80 mile round trip, btw).
Richard John Meyers passed away on August 24th, 2005
Mrs Elizabeth A. Meyers was born on November 26th 1933 as Elizabeth A. Flaherty. For years I believed she was also born and raised in Iowa, but now I am not so sure, as I have since learned that Mr. & Mrs Meyers met in Los Angeles, California where he had been stationed with the US Navy. They married in L.A. on April 28th, 1956.
Mrs Meyers was a remarkable woman. She had taken Judo lessons and achieved the rank of green belt, read just as voraciously as Mr Meyers, was an active member in the Libertarian party (she and I attended a San Diego Libertarian Party meeting together in the md '80's) and always cooked more tacos than anyone could eat on taco night.
When she was in her early fifties Mrs Meyers got the itch to return to school in order to become a teacher of disabled students, but with a bit of a twist - she wanted to go to China and teach. So she learned Chinese via formal language classes and by listening to recorded lessons (on old vinyl albums no less) and repeating words and phrases over and over and over again.
Upon graduation (not sure from which college) and long since she had become proficient in Chinese, she took a job with the Chinese government teaching children with disabilities - in mainland China. She and her youngest daughter left the comforts of home in San Diego and spent an entire year in China - in the mid 1980's, when this was just not done. I'm still astounded by that.
Mrs Meyers was instrumental in making much of my childhood and adolescence not just a little more bearable, but actually enjoyable. She had the patience of a saint and tolerance beyond measure for the antics of wild, unruly boys. There is not much more I can say than that, until I left SD for the USAF, I considered her my second Mom.
Elizabeth Agnes Meyers passed away on October 28th 2016.