Memoirs of Elihu King


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Chapter 6 .....and after


Summary 1957-1994

[see also the Chronological Map for this period]

After Malaya, in 1957, I went to England and tried to settle there but found nothing that I wanted. I lost all my capital, mostly in an investment that went sour but a lot too in wine/women/song, and decided to go live in Israel.

There I went to learn Hebrew on a kibbutz, where I met Diana who was also there in the Hebrew class. We worked on the farm to pay for our schooling and our keep. I courted her there, and when the course was over we went on a "tiyyul", a ramble through the country. Then we settled in Haifa and I got a job with an export firm and then with a firm selling cooking gas. Diana got a job doing market research for the large American-owned paper mill. Avi was born in 1960 and changed both Diana and myself into parents - lovely. Then I got a job in Jerusalem with the Israel Investment Authority, and we moved there and Tani (Richard) was born. My job moved to Tel Aviv and we found a house in Neve Magen, a pleasant suburb. I left the government and went into business with a friend, but it failed and we left Israel and came back to the USA, to Los Angeles.

I got a job at the national office of the City of Hope as PA to the Executive Director, Ben Horowitz, and we got a house in Encino Village. It was within walking distance to what seemed to be a decent primary school, and right near a huge park. But as it turned out the school was inadequate for Avi and Richard's raging intelligence and they were always getting sick because it was so dull for them until we got them into classes for specially bright kids and then they were okay. Diana had part time work managing an office, and I flourished in my job earning trust and doing great huge wodges of work. We did a lot of family camping and that was wonderful once we got the hang of it, the four of us and Lucky the dog. Then I left the national office of the City of Hope and worked out at the Medical Center, in administration but particularly in research administration.

In 1973 Diana and I decided we'd rather not be married, and I left home and soon after that Diana and Avi and Richard moved up from Encino to Berkeley. I went on as a research administrator and had some adventures and some satisfying achievements. Along about that time I got to know my father as a human person, and we became very close before he died in 1986. By then I had left the City of Hope and was studying for a Masters degree in San Francisco but when my father died the money he and his wife had promised me dried up and so I had to go to work again.

Got a job as R&D operations manager with an agricultural biotechnology firm called Calgene, in Davis, but that ran out and I was laid off after twenty months with them so I moved to the East Bay to be near Avi and Ed and because I like the area so much and then when they got the house at Dwight Way I moved into their apartment on Benvenue and Richard came down from Portland and lives not far away. And then came DAVID and my life was enriched so much. But I got sick.


Second Thirty Years Outline

(July 5, 1992)


OUTLINE FOR PART II

(July 28, 1993)

1964
leaving Israel (selling the house)
the flight to Zurich and London
the drive down to Kent
staying with The Kings; Geoffrey and Kate as rescuers
stopping off in New York

arriving in Los Angeles
the apartment on Palms; what the Paulls did for us
looking for a job
the interview with Ben Horowitz
the little house on Point View
living near Lena...and Esther

1965
moving to Encino Village

the Peace and Freedom Party
the Black Panthers
friends in Encinoland
relations with relatives:Israel/Berenica, Sam/Pearl, etc

a suburban life: Daddy at the office, Mommy multi-tasking,
kiddies at (ugh!) school and play

camping: a bad start, regrouping, a triumphant program

1966
life near the park
Lucky
Avi and Tani hate school
but find an escape
I do well at work
Diana is stuck at home

1967

1968
we go to Libre and I experience LSD
more camping
relations with relatives


Life With Eli, by his daughter

5/29/94

I wish Eli had written more about the later parts of his life. We teased him sometimes about having such an exotic and complex youth, and a staid middle age. But that wasn't true. There were four main strands of his life in the 60s through the 80s: his family, his work (mainly with the City of Hope), his successful work on growing up, and his participation in radical politics. All I can give is a child's perspective on these.

When I was young, he was a loving father, but often physically unavailable. We lived in the San Fernando Valley and he commuted to downtown LA and then to Duarte. When he got home, he was tired and read the newspaper. So in my memory, he just wasn't physically there most of the time. But when he was there, he was interesting and exciting, he read to us and talked to us and danced with us. I remember him explaining how inferior he felt compared to Pa Ingalls from the "Little House" series, because he couldn't play the fiddle or shoot a bear or build a house orÍ

From him I learned violent aversion to TV commercials--in that time before remote control mute buttons, we would stand up and turn our backs to the TV, or look up at the ceiling during commercials. TV was a fairly big part of our lives: us kids used to get to stay up late to watch Laugh-In all together.

We lived in Encino Village because, I later learned, it was cheap and filled the image of "normal". Both Eli and Diana had rather unusual childhoods, so they wanted ours to be normal (as defined by the movies). At least that's what Eli told me much later. There was a tension between our family's political and intellectual side and the resolutely middle-class middle-brow neighborhood. Some of the stress I felt was natural for an intellectual kid, and some was reacting to the desire for normality from everywhere, even my folks. I think we would have all been happier somewhere funky, like Laurel Canyon or Venice. But that's hindsight.

Our big communal family experience was camping. We started camping around 1966, with borrowed gear. There are pictures of our first trip to Death Valley, where we were very cold. But despite the bad beginning, we went for two or three weeks every summer. We had some favorite places: mine were Valley Forge in the Angelus Crest Forest, Lassen, and Sardine Lakes near Tahoe. There was a lot of driving involved, in our 1966 Volvo station wagon named Albert. Richard & I would lie in the back on top of all the stuff, with our black Laborador, Lucky. She had hard toenails and a tendency to tromp on our bodies. I was notoriously carsick and got to sit in the front seat sometimes. Eventually, Diana started driving as well, but it was usually Eli.

We had so much stuff that it had to get lashed to the top of the car. I remember one trip driving south (sea side) on highway 1 through Big Sur, with a strong crosswind, being sure that the car was going to be swept off at any moment. For years, I thought that crosswinds were a serious impediment for all cars, rather than just for boxy wagons with stuff on top.

The singing was the best part. Eli had a superb voice and loved to sing. He sang British Army songs and socialist songs and folk songs and most importantly, Israeli songs. When I sing them to my son, I feel close to my father.

Eli built this great camp kitchen for us, which was a box with many careful cubbies and a front that swung down as a work area. I think it also had legs. We used to hike and swim some, and do a lot of sitting and reading (and in my case, eating bushels of sunflower seeds). Once, we were on a hike and Diana and Richard had gone first. Eli and I were walking more slowly, and we got to see a deer, which seemed somehow karmically perfect.

One year, we borrowed a VW van and went to Colorado to visit my mother's sister, Stephanie. She lived on a commune in a hogan (it was the late 60s or early 70s). We got snowed in for about 4 days, and huddled in the hogan trying to stay warm. Eli took advantage of the situation to try out LSD, and I have a vague kid's memory that he reported seeing a dragon on the mountain. But that may have been from a book or something. I do remember that he was quite pleased with himself for doing such an exotic and self-aware thing.

I don't remember much about his work before he went to the City of Hope Medical Center. We only visited once in a while, but I remember flowers and lawns and donor plaques everywhere. There was one radiology treatment area (for the "cobolt bomb") that he was proud of because it was very cleverly designed. Rather than a big lead door to contain the radiation, the room had a curving corridor, like a spiral shell. The technician would walk down the corridor to start the machines. This may be a particularly vivid memory because he later used it as an administrative office (his secretary hated it).

In the '60s, both Eli and Diana were very active in and around radical politics. They were quite anti-Johnson and I remember writing to him as a six-year-old and getting a patronizing letter back (telling me to talk to teacher: I suppose they realized that my parents were a lost cause). I stuffed envelopes for the Fair Housing Council and went on peaceful marches and to love-ins at Griffith Park. I am glad now that they included me in their activism. They went on more confrontational marches -- I remember them coming back from Century City scared and angry. We postponed a camping trip to go on the memorial march for Martin Luther King, and I can't see a military cemetary without remembering our peace protest during the Moratorium (was that '68?). They helped found the Peace and Freedom Party in Los Angeles, and I've been told, considered taking in Black Panther fugitives. I don't remember what I felt then, but I feel proud, now that they did participate in the great movements of the time.

Eli, in particular, also grew up by going through several phases of the "human potential" movement. The main impact on me is that he was open and honest about his changes--he admitted his imperfections and allowed us to see him as a real human. It let us be friends. None of my friends had parents like this, and I was the envy of every kid I knew. His final discovery of Rational Emotive Therapy, which is sense and rationality codified, was a great achievement and a relief to him. I hope I can follow his lead in my parenthood, and be very clear that I'm a fallible human who is doing the best I can.

Once Eli and Diana were divorced, I pulled away from both of them and went out to be a teenager. But then I got closer again, particularly to Eli, as we spent time alone together. We talked a lot about politics and music and his job and my school and whatever there was to say. He told me about being a manager and balancing the various demands. My favorite story was from after he became a Research Administrator: he had one lab that was doing great research but was really messy. No matter what he said, they didn't keep the dangerous chemicals under control. So he finally sent them all notes, asking them to look over the enclosed letter, which he would send to their next of kin in case of accident. They got the point and cleaned up, for a little while.

He wrote me wonderful letters while I was in Europe. They were loving and funny and made me feel close to him. And they didn't natter and nag, despite his justifiable worry about what I was up to all alone. We met in Israel, and had a pretty good time travelling together--we saw the house we lived in when I was born, and had great falafel in Haifa, visited a bunch of relatives, explored Jersualem. It would have been better if I hadn't been liable to draft by the Israeli army (for being born in the country), and we had to spend too much time and money on arranging my release.

Eli gave me money when I was in college that let me live a fairly comfortable life (along with my own earnings). He gave me support financially, intellectually and emotionally, whenever I needed it.

When I was pregnant, he drove me to the doctor's office, and he was there while my son was being born. During David's first years, Eli took as much care of David as his health and sense of delicacy would allow (always being concerned about intruding). He took David for walks in the stroller and sat with him in the park, they played and sang and read together.

Eli was the best father I can imagine, because he wasn't perfect but he was himself, and I miss him tremendously.


Citizen Eli

I have been a citizen of many countries, in my time (ahem!).

Born a citizen of the USA, in Chicago, Illinois.

Was separated from my US passport in 1948 and the US Consulate in Tel Aviv and later in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur refused to give me a new one, so for that time I was de facto a stateless person. [the US Consul intimidated and threatened him into giving his passport up --AR]

So in order to have the protection of a nationality and to have a passport so I could travel, I became a naturalized subject of the Queen and a citizen of the United Kingdom, in 1954.

Then in Israel, after a few years of the privileged status of a "temporary resident" with the special privileges that inure, I became a citizen of Israel. That did not affect my British nationality, and by then Singapore had become independent so I had three nationalities then.

I returned to the USA in 1964 as the spouse of a US citizen - a holder of a "Green Card".

In the late 1960s I met an immigration lawyer at a party. He had helped my friend Akiva Ziv regain his US citizenship. In a social setting, I told this guy the outline of my story of how the US State Department had finally ruled that I had abjured my US citizenship when I became a British subject, and pointed out that indeed it was true. He told me that my action then was coerced by the US not letting me have a passport, and was therefor not a basis for the State Department action. Moreover, he pointed out that the State Department had not given me due process to defend myself in a legal way, before imposing their penalty on my: this was wrong of them, in law.

As it happened, Diana had got a bequest from her Grandma Gillis just then, and she volunteered to use those funds to mount a legal action to regain my US citizenship.

Burt Jacobson, the lawyer, subpoenaed my files from the State Department. In it we found a document that astonished me. It was the State Department's response to an enquiry from the US Consulate General in Tel Aviv, to which I had applied for a new passport to replace the one that the captain of the "Marine Carp" had handed over to the Italian Carabiniere when they took me off the ship to go to the dentist in Palermo. The response referred to me as "..this obstreperous member of a despised race..." and ordered that no passport be given to me but I was to be encouraged to seek naturalization as an Israeli. A copy of that ruling went to the US Consulate in Kuala Lumpur when I applied there in 1949, and to Singapore when I applied there in 1951.

Not being paranoid it had never occurred to me that the reason I was denied a new passport had anything to do with anti semitism. I had assumed that they shit on all Americans that way, at the consulates.

Well, the government (I was suing William Rogers, the current Secretary of State; it was called King v Rogers) appointed Cecil Poole, a lawyer in the Solicitor General's office in Los Angeles, and he came to Jacobson's office to take my deposition. For two days I gave my account of how I lost my US passport and my efforts to get it replaced, and how I finally applied for British citizenship so I could stop being a stateless person. It was a very painful telling, for me, recreating the emotions of confusion and apprehension as well as the motions I went through. But Cecil Poole was very correct and gentlemanly and did nothing to add to my distress.

The case was heard before Federal District Court, Judge Harry Pregerson. Pregerson was not your standard judge. He was Jewish, he was an ex-Marine and very, very tough, and he was pretty liberal. He had me testify for two days, about five hours a day, and once more I went through the whole sad story, this time in greater detail than ever before. Jacobson also questioned me, to bring out legal points in my favor, and Poole did too, to bring out legal points against me. Then the trial ended.

The verdict was in my favor. Pregerson held that my application for British citizenship was the result of duress. He also ruled that the State Department should have charged me in a court of law, thus giving me due process, and had no right to unilaterally cancel the citizenship to which I had birthright.

Huzzah! Oh, we danced around and hugged each other, a lot.

Then, a shock. The government appealed the decision. This was a very unusual step. Jacobson read it that it had nothing to do with me, personally, but resulted from the government's unwillingness to have its powers thus limited.

It cost thousands more dollars to defend the appeal (to have the District Court transcript printed in the required format, and an appeal argument prepared). Jacobson charged me a reduced fee throughout, but it was still many thousands up to this and now this extra. It taught a clear lesson: justice may be had, if you can pay for it.

The government assigned Cecil Poole to handle their appeal. He refused. The word I got unofficially was that Poole had thought the government action wrong from the start, and refused to handle the appeal on ethical grounds.

After many months, the Appeals Court promulgated their verdict: they reversed the judgement against the government, and dismissed my complaint. This decision became so notorious that years later when Diana was studying law she asked me for a copy of the transcript. Notorious because an appeals court can only rule on matters of law and not on matters of fact, but in this case the dumb schmucks ruled that Pregerson should not have believed my testimony!

I was stunned. Not so Jacobson. "What an outlandish ruling", said he. "Now we'll take it to the Supreme Court who will reverse it with vigor, and we'll have a classic!". But I had run out of starch and grit, as well as Grandma Gillis's bequest. ACLU may have funded the appeal, but I could not face it. I gave up. No more of that.

So in the middle 1970s I became a US citizen by naturalization. Birthplace: Chicago, County of Cook, Illinois, USA. So now I get to vote for the lesser of two evils., oh joy above imagining.


My experiences in the "human potential" movement

4/20/87

My first contact with the world of the psyche or psychotherapy was in childhood when I read works on psychology in my father's library including such gems as "Psychopathia Sexualis" by Krafft-Ebing.

I think I must have been 11 or 12 when my father took me to a psychiatrist at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. My memory of the experience is short and nasty. As it seems to me, I was asked to describe how things would be for me ideally, and I said that I would be in a remote and sound-proofed room lined with books, and that delicious food and drink would appear frequently but I would have no human contacts. This apparently was reported to IBR as evidence of severe neurosis. But the other thing I remember was that the doc told me I was "speaking in phrases" and enjoined me to stop doing that. From my experience now I can see what he might have been trying to get - more spontaneous expressions of what I was feeling, rather than literary and carefully formulated locutions which was how I spoke - but at the time I did not understand, furi ously expostulated that speech consisted of phrases strung together and that without that structure we could only grunt, and burst into a tantrum of frustration. I was not forced to return for a second visit.

That was all of psychotherapy for me, until my late teens in Los Angeles in the 1940s. I had been feeling suicidal - again, or still - and lots of pain. Somehow, perhaps it was by Esther Rosenbloom's influence, I ended up starting a course of psychoanalysis with an analyst named Helen Taussig, very well known. All I remember is that it was such extreme pain that after six or seven sessions I just dropped out.

In my early twenties I recognized my depression and tried to cope with it by avoidance: I left Israel in 1949 with the explicit intention of going to Malaya to "be a vegetable and not think". I knew that thinking - feeling was always hidden and denied - brought me pain. In Malaya I in fact did what I had set out to do, and led a hedonistic life by and large. Only in my reading did I continue an intellectual life of any sort, and kept avoiding emotions.

My next brush with the world of psychotherapy came in about 1969. I was living in Encino, a productive father and husband and worker and citizen - and feeling again that I was going over the edge.

(Maybe I should explain my emotional set. As far back as I can remember I had been convinced that I would go insane and be institutionalized and die young that way. I felt from time to time that I was teetering on the edge of the cliff of sanity, swaying out towards the awful abyss of madness. This terrified me and made it seem preferable to die before that happened. Also the pain of living made death seem a sweet release. I did not think through to any deeper level than that, until I went into serious psychotherapy).

After weeks of private agony, telling nobody not even Diana because I suppose at some level I really didn't trust even her, I went to Gateways Mental Hospital and asked to be admitted. First I had to be interviewed by their Chief of Psychiatry, Solon Samuels. Sol was the Los Angeles head of San Francisco-based Eric Berne's schola of Games Therapy ("Games People Play"), and when I said without knowing anything about how much of a tag-line that was "My script is a tragic one..." he told me that I was not to be an in-patient, he himself would take me for group therapy in his home, one evening a week. First I had a couple of private sessions with him. I don't remember if it was his idea or mine, but I wanted Diana to share the experience with me and persuaded her to join the group with me.

We were in that group for about four months. Mostly I felt like a piker, my problems were trivial compared to the awful stories I heard from others in the group. Perhaps that in itself was therapeutic. I do not remember any specific insights or progress that I or we made in that group. Finally I got pissed off with Sol nodding off as we talked, and left the group. I took four or five private sessions with Sol after that, and got some useful insights particularly as to my feelings of competition with Tani.

Then in 1972 Diana started going to group therapy. Always competitive, I started too, with a colleague of her therapist. Barry Hirsch was my therapist. He put me in a group that he characterized as "icebergs", meaning that we typically gave no outward signs of inside distress.

Barry is a superb therapist, using an eclectic battery of techniques and strategies. A rule he made for the group was this: we were not allowed to use the words "I can't". Forced to say "I choose not to" or something like that, we could no longer avoid responsibility for our actions. I had a number of insights in the course of my year in this group. They resulted from interactions with the other members as well as Barry's interventions. The other members were people with whom I would have nothing to do in the usual course of things, and in fact did not see outside of group. But how very close we became! When we realized how similar our problems were and the commonality, we became brothers and sisters, comrades as are combat troops in a small unit.

One learning was during role playing. One person was playing the role of another's parent. Suddenly I realized how deeply held was my intense desire to get my father's approval - and that it was not my actual father, IBR, but my ur-father, some Thing I had buried in my guts, a part of my Self that demands perfection (or death!) that I was trying to placate (since there was clearly no way I could satisfy its demands - no, my demands - on me).

Another moment of satori was provided directly by Barry. I had been whining about how I don't know how to play. "Eli" quoth Barry, "can you dance?" "Yes," said I. Barry fetched a tape casette player and a tape and put on some music, some acid rock. "Dance!" said he, and I danced because I love to dance and Barry said "Dummy, that is playing. Not working not sleeping not shitting not fucking - playing is what that is called" and I knew he was right.

Another significant breakthrough came in a variety of ways. It had to do with my realization that my image of having fooled people into liking (detestable) me, and then losing respect for them because they were so dumb that I could fool them - was just nonsense. I was forced into the realization that people really did see real parts of me, and when they like them they like them and it is real. Later I learned about the Johari window (I know and I show + I know and don't show + You see though I don't + Deep Mystery) and that helped too.

My final story in this series, with Barry and group, has to do with the ending of my marriage. I was moaning in group about how bad I felt about the children in terms of the separation and divorce. A young woman who had been in the group for a few months and had not talked...flew at me verbally and gave me hell. She said her parents had stayed together in a loveless marriage because of the children, and the children would never forgive them for making their home so strained and false a place, a place of dislike and discomfort! It was a valuable learning for me, both as to the immediate situation and in larger terms about being authentic.

Then my marriage ended, I moved out of our home in Encino and into a motel in Pasadena and thence to a flat in South Pasadena in January of 1973. I plunged deeply into all sorts of encounter groups and growth activities - and there was an abundance then.

I had used tranqilizers and sleeping pills before, not to excess, to still my anguish and to deal with chronic insomnia. My anguish and insomnia were intensified at that time by the turmoil of feelings around the failure to keep the marriage good. Here were my worst fears realized! But somehow I made a momentous decision, a decision that started me off on the road to mental and emotional balance. I decided to let myself feel whatever I was feeling, alone and separated from my wife of fourteen years and from my children. So I stopped taking tranquilizers or sleeping pills. Never went back. I learned that I could cope with heavy emotions without chemical help, that I was stronger emotionally than I had given myself credit for, before. I learned that emotinal sets are not monolithic, that I could giggle at something in the midst of a fit of weeping or burst into pain in the midst of pleasure.

I tired bloody well everything, determined to say "yes" rather than decline any experience.

I went to Elysium for nude encounter, and in fact found some liberation in stripping off those symbolic masks my clothes.

I went to this and to that and to 'tother thing. I went to a lot of "singles" seminars, events, dances and thingles, and found no joy in any of those. (One workshop on massage, though, were I was paired up by chance with a beautiful blonde, was a prickmoving experience though I declined to score when on a date the next night when ripely in my apartment she revealed a really strong devotion to Richard Milhouse Nixon and my erection dissolved).

I did get some benefit out of a seeming rogue but probable savant and his "Fair Fight for Change", his name escapes me right now (Bach, it is) , and I did well for myself in something called Radical Therapy in which I learned how important it is to ask for 100% of what I want. And with a group out of City of Hope, I learned that at work I was perceived as regal and authoritative, and decided to accept that. In fact it was around then that I learned that I seek power (because I feel safer that way), and that is OK, and I use it well. But I still have trouble with polarization about power, and tend to be either in control or passive.

I went back to Barry Hirsch a few times when my emotional going got rough. The last time we had five or six sessions and then I felt better and told him I would not be continuing. He told me that If I left at that stage he would not accept me again later: that I was doing myself no good by coming to him when I hurt and then stopping just before I made any real changes. I was angry with him - because he was right. But I left anyway.

Some time in 1983 I went to a Friday night introductory presentation on RET, Rational Emotive therapy, and was so impressed that I joined a group led by Leo Rubenstein. I stayed in that group, though other than a core of 4 its membership changed over time, until I left Los Angeles in November, 1985. I still use the RET methods, I've given the basic textbook (Albert Ellis) to Jon and Avi...it has been very useful.

Like Barry, Leo is pretty eclectic and uses Gestalt and other techniques as well as RET. He is an outstanding therapist. Mostly he elicits wisdom and insights from the members of the group.

The concepts are not complicated. They are based on some understandings that help keep us in touch with reality. A central idea is that it is not events that make me feel inappropriately intense emotions, it is my perceptions of the meaning of the events. If A is the stimulus and C is my inappropriate emotion, I can look for B which is the "crazy belief" through which I have perceived the stimulus. For example. I recently had a dermatologist burn out some pre-cancerous growths on my face. My timing was atrocious: it was just a few days before I was to make a presentation to a large meeting of my professional association. There I was going to appear in public with extraordinarily ugly marks all over my forehead! Before RET, I would have been in agony. So, A was the appearance so marked before my peers. C was shame and fear. B turned out, on inspection, to be a string of crazy beliefs that went like this: If I look bad people will dislike and reject me, and I need people to accept and admire me because anything else and it will be awful and I can't stand awful and I'll die. With the use of RET, I challenged the crazy belief by saying: first of all, my ugly markings may not please people but they don't care much and anyway, secondly, even if they do say "ugh!" and not accept me, so what? In fact, even if nobody likes me I still won't die. That would be really unpleasant, but it is not awful. And so, as I had learned to do, I first identified the crazy belief I was using, and then effectively challenged it, and dissolved the whole issue in the acid of reality.

There is a lot of similarity between RET and what I have heard about Alcoholics Anonymous. I love them both. That's not too strong a word. For a person who has tortured himself mercilessly and just about at all times all my life until I learned RET, the process is truly lovable.

Since leaving Los Angeles I have used the RET techniques I learned, solo. Sometimes I have used the fantasy that I was back in the group and listening to another person describe my predicament - and I would respond as I would have responded in group. Since it is easier to give advice to another, this is a good and useful fantasy method of advising myself. I know that I know all that I need to know.

A crutch in a way, and a useful one when "my leg hurts", is a rationale that I formulated a few years ago when I got tired, perhaps, of my unending quest to find out "why am I here?". It came to me that I "am here" to fulfill my biological mission, which is to reproduce. Since I have done that - and done it splendidly judging from the quality of the results - I have accomplished my mission. I don't have to do any more to justify my existence. Now I can play...........

So, using that crutch and RET sayings ("I will not should on myself today" and the like) and AA sayings ("Just do what's indicated....Let go...) and the real understanding of life (in its highest and most ethereal form, as in "this, too, shall pass...") I am going along. I have irritation at the flavorless life I lead, at having to get my ass to work every day, and having to share my home and time with MJK - yet am also aware of the departure of terror from my days and nights, of the blessing of structure and being wanted at work, and at the warm benefits I get from sharing part of my life with MJK. And that is how it goes with me, in these days of April of 1987.


....towards the end of his life....

His working careers ended when he was laid off from Calgene, Inc., at the age of 59. It came as a harsh surprise; he had assumed that this last job would take him through to 65. It also shocked him that he was not valued more highly, though later he realized that in fact he was not very well suited to the world of commercially oriented research.

At first he thrashed around looking for another job. The possibilities in and around Davis were obviously limited, and any way he wanted to be nearer his children (Avi, at least, was living in Berkeley at the time) so he moved down near San Francisco. Assuming that rents in Oakland were lower than those in Berkeley, he found a one bedroom flat in Oakland. And he looked for a job with an intensity that grew thin and sour as the realization sank in that age discrimination applied even to himself.

Slowly he realized that his confidence in his omnipotence in getting a good job was without foundation in reality. He looked at his finances and realized that he could live on his capital until the age of 62 and then go on partial Social Security supplemented with an annuity of his savings. He reminded himself that he had claimed to be retired, when asked for his occupation by the landlord. So be it, then. He would stop the sweaty struggle of job hunting, the twistings to seem suitable to prospective employers, the false smiles and optimism and implied promises. Thus it was that he....retired.

Soon sought and found "right occupation", as a volunteer. He signed on with an adult literacy program in Oakland, took the training and tutored one client. That lasted for four months of his six month commitment, before the client dropped out. At the same time he found a second volunteer position, this one with the World Security Council, and worked there for a year before that post dried up. Still sometimes looking at job prospects, he declined the position of Executive Director of A Travelling Jewish Theatre but worked for four months as an office volunteer.

These activities lasted him and kept him happily occupied until February of 1989. It was then that his illness began, and made him an invalid. At first it was a flu. It lasted for weeks. Then it became clear that it was not the flu. His doctor said it was not the diabetes; in fact his blood sugar readings were pretty good. What was it? He seemed to get weaker and weaker. Doctor ordered test after test, with no diagnostic decision. The only sickness that seemed to account for his condition was "chronic fatigue syndrome" - and nobody knew what the hell that was.

He was pretty weak and debilitated in April 1990 when he moved into the family apartment on Benvenue Avenue in Berkeley when Avi and Ed moved into the house they had bought. The apartment was a very welcome change from the violence in Oakland, and in itself suited him wonderfully well. He sank down in it vowing never to move again. He kept getting weaker - then a degree of recovery - then down again. His doctor thought maybe it was depression, and put him on Prozac. After three months with no change, he stopped taking that. He tried acupuncture but after some improvement (probably psychosomatic; he always did get enthusiastic over new things) there was no change.

In August 1991 he started having chest pain. His doctor referred him to a cardiologist, who made some tests and said that cardiac catheterization was needed, first a diagnostic procedure (to obtain an angiogram) and then if indicated a corrective procedure to ream out the plaque in his arteries. After a couple of months of frantic search for a way to finance this (at a cost of about $20,000), he got a referral to a cardiologist at the County hospital and applied for MediCal on the basis of disability. That got him into the loop. He had the angiogram, and it showed blockage enough (75% blockage in three major coronary arteries)for his cardiologist to recommend a triple bypass procedure.

In discussing that possibility (which he rejected, preferring to take whatever came rather than subject himself to so physically and psychologically devastating a procedure) his cardiologist mentioned that its success would not relieve him of the fatigue and weakness that so concerned him. Those were not, it transpired, manifestations of his coronary artery disease! The cardiologist noted the considerable wastage of his thigh muscles, and sent him to the rheumatology clinic. There his diagnosis was polymyositis. He was put on a regimen of prednisone. At first it helped reverse the problems, then as a side effect it weakened him again. Since then the dose of prednisone has been adjusted many times, methotrexate was prescribed to offset some of the bad effects of the prednisone, and folic acid to offset a bad effect of the methotrexate. His physical condition has improved and deteriorated - a cyclic pattern. Perhaps the net improvement will be good, in time. He also takes medicine for his coronary artery disease, as well as for high triglycerides and of course the insulin.

The main pleasure in his life is his grandson, who lives two miles away. Visits three or four times a week energize him and thrill him, and this activity is the center of his life. Visits with his son-in-law and daughter are also a source of pleasure, and his son too (not too far away, in Santa Cruz so he comes to Berkeley every six weeks or so). These warm, loving relationships are of vital importance to him. He tries not to cling and not to intrude, and has succeeded - but inside himself he accepts this degree of dependency. He knows that he is important to them, too, and that they are very glad he is near and available to them....and that is a high and central matter to him.

His friend Amy is also a joy, and their weekly lunches have a tonic effect - the company, not so much the food. Other good friends are kept in communication by telephone: Naomi, Ken, Lynne, Yehuda, Julie, Paula, Richard Hammerschlag, Sally Martin, Deb Huffman, Marlyn and Ray Teplitz, Julia Hunter-Blair. Now that his mother has moved to New York State, his relations with her are less stressful. He feels warmly for his two brothers and their wives and children, too. And his Aunt Lela, and Cousin Sergei, and Bunny Zimberoff.

His work on the IRB [Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects Research] at Childrens Hospital Medical Center of Oakland (since July 1990) continues to satisfy.

Other than that......he gets up, makes breakfast, reads the paper, cleans the apartment, does his physical therapy routine, does his walking, goes to the Library, buys food, makes lunch, has a nap, visits with David, reads, listens to music, has dinner, watches TV and sleeps.


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