Thursday he would have been 88 years old.
“I’ll return to Tulsa early enough in July so we can celebrate mums’ 89th and your 88th together (as we often did). And I tell you what, I’ll figure out how to make homemade Sangria for you,” I said to my dad during our last time together.
“I’d like that,” he said. His voice was soft but his eyes clear and focused, as anticipation gently swept over his gaunt face. My dad and I: We like our wine, perhaps a bit too much. We like a party.
Why had I waited 10 years to make the offer? During a visit to Sydney in late 2000 my cousin Michael’s charming wife Dora surprised my father with homemade Sangria on Christmas day. The feast was at the home of my Uncle Ron and Auntie Dawn’s. After stuffing ourselves we posed for photos by the pool wearing shorts, Christmas cracker paper holiday crowns topping our heads. The trip was a gift from my parents to my sister and me and our families. I hadn’t been to Australia since 1985. The gift was more than generous, it was life changing.
Tonight in Portland I arrived at R. damore, a new art gallery in the Pearl owned by photographer & portrait artist Robin Damore. Author Wendy Burden was talking about her book, Dead End Gene Pool. Serving refreshments was a beautiful, engaging, Latin woman, just the type woman my Pop would have flirted with – shamelessly! She put ice in a stemmed glass and poured a Sangria Roja for me. When he drank red wine, much to the horror of all around him, Bob (JR, Pops…my dad) always asked for ice, unless he could help himself to some. “About 3 cubes,” he’d tell me. Around the table eyes would roll. Winos can be such snobs! Hosts, proud of their wine selections, sometimes seemed insulted. Bob’s pleasure was never diminished by their attitudes. He asked for and got what he wanted; there is a lesson in that, I think.
The sangria I enjoyed will soon appear in Portland gourmet grocery stories such as Zupan and City Market. It’s maker, Maria Corbinos is a woman who came to Portland to earn an MBA. In no time her friends quickly encouraged her to bottle the sangria she made to share at gatherings. Her personality and business accumen earned her an Angel Award and is bringing her product to launch shortly. (Visit http://www.mividasangria.com/index.htm) As I listened to her story, I shared mine.
At the end of the evening I walked home with a bottle of Mi Vida Sangria Roja – a gift from Maria. I also had three new business cards in my pocket belonging to new friends I planned to call later this month, after returning from Tulsa. As I walked home, my father’s spirit filled my heart and lightened my step. True, we won’t dine at Andina’s, the Peruvian restaurant I told Poppy was a must when he came to see my new home. The trip is one he didn’t make. But my dad is here, he’s wherever there is goodness and a sense of adventure… An absence of expectations but a hope for something special. That is his legacy. That is what I will play forward.
Always, Jabberwalkie (my dad’s nickname for me)
Medaris, Jesse Robert (Bob) of Tulsa passed away June 14th, 2010. He was born July 22nd, 1922 in Denver, Colorado to Jesse Roy and Loretta Mae (Wolfe) Medaris. He attended Hawthorne Grade School in Englewood, Colorado and graduated from Englewood High School in 1940. In September 1941 he enrolled in Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. World War II interrupted his engineering undergraduate work. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps for three years, reaching the rank of First Lieutenant as a navigator with the 13th Air Force in the South Pacific. He was proud to have seen many of the islands in that theatre: New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, New Britain, New Guinea, the Halmahera and most of the Philippines. After the war he completed his studies at Mines, graduating as a petroleum engineer in 1949. While at Mines, he was a member of Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Gamma Epsilon and Blue Key.
In May 1947 he married Dorothy Patricia (Pat) Shelley, whom he met in February 1945 on Bondi Beach while on military leave in Sydney, Australia. Marriage followed a nine-day, whirlwind romance and two years of long-distance correspondence by mail. The couple had two daughters, Shelley Anne Ricks and Tracey Elizabeth Norvell. Three grandchildren survive Mr. Medaris: Michael Andrew Ricks, Corrine Elizabeth Mueller and Clay Alexander Norvell. Also, great-grandson Andrew Paul Mueller and brother Francis Medaris. His brother Charles Medaris and sister Ruth Medaris predeceased him.
Immediately following graduation from Mines, Phillips Petroleum Company in Eureka, Kansas and then Venezuela employed Mr. Medaris. In 1954 he began a 15-year career with affiliates of Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon) in Venezuela, Libya and Indonesia. Outside professional assignments, the Medaris family also lived in Palo Alto, CA, Sydney, Australia and Houston, TX. Mr. Medaris’ second career as Manager of the Studies Department for Crest Engineering led the family to Tulsa, OK. His work with Crest took him to Nigeria, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Siberia, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, the North Sea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada and other oil and gas-producing areas. When Crest Engineering relocated to Houston in 1985, Mr. Medaris remained in Tulsa, serving as Vice President of Crown Tech, Inc. In 1987 he joined Fluor Daniels Williams Brothers as a consultant until his retirement in late 1993.
Mr. Medaris learned many languages during his travels. He was a quiet man with a quick, contagious laugh. Somewhat a rebel and never a follower, he was well respected and tremendously admired by colleagues. His gentle spirit made him an instant favorite with children and pets, and his love of life and travel gave him countless friends worldwide. He enjoyed golf, ice skating and worked tirelessly in the garden. During the past seven years he kept the residents at Inverness Village well supplied with the jokes and stories he collected from magazines and newspapers. His blue eyes always sparkled with life and mischief. His favorite song was “ Begin the Beguine,” but the ones his children and grandchildren will most remember are those he sang at bedtime: “You Are My Sunshine,” “Oh! Suzanna,” and “Red River Valley.” While some might mourn the loss of this most lovely, gentle, caring, kind soul, who was also extremely bright, funny and handsome, his response would be this poem he especially liked:
I AM NOT THERE
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.