Christmas 2015

Happy holidays to all of you!

Greetings of the season and best wishes to you all! What a year it has been—some travel, great moments with grandchildren, an engagement (with a family wedding in our future), and a discovery that has rocked Larry to his core.

Larry Discovers He’s a Sullivan

Larry's Mother, Patricia Mary Margaret Rogers, at about 18 Larry’s mom died in 1964, taking with her to the grave the true identity of Larry’s father. So in August, Larry spit in a bottle and submitted his DNA to Ancestry.com, hoping only to learn where his ancestors had come from. But DNA analysis has improved dramatically in recent years and can now identify close relatives among the samples that others have submitted for testing.

Larry’s Father at 29 in Early 1944 and Larry at 14 in 1954 Among the DNA results was a second cousin whom he didn’t recognize, so Larry contacted him. With his help, Larry discovered who his real father was—Regis J. Sullivan (1914 – 1989), a 1939 colleague of his mother at Montgomery Ward in Dearborn.

It was an unsettling finding, to say the least. He is making some progress in learning about that side of his family, and there is more to come, I’m sure. It was eerie to look at a photo of his purported father, and see Larry’s eyes and David’s mouth on this total stranger.

Larry has written up the full story at www.riggsca.com.

Spring in Holland (Michigan)

Our May Tulip Time Trip Itinerary In Front of the DeZwaan Windmill in Holland, Michigan In early May Larry and I visited the Tulip Festival in Holland, Michigan, with his sister Sue, after spending a couple of days at her place in Chicago. The two of us then headed north to the Upper Peninsula—Mackinac Island (think Somewhere in Time), Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Lighthouse at Whitefish Point (The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald)—and then south to Milwaukee, after a stop for a tour of Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

New Bride and Groom Kelly and Steve with Cathy Looking On Approvingly We returned in time for friends Kelly and Steve’s wedding—it was a beautiful and emotional ceremony.

Summer in the Pacific Northwest

In July Larry and I flew to Spokane to start the “cousins tour.”

Our Spokane to San Francisco Itinerary

In Moses Lake, Washington, we had dinner with my aunt Patty, her daughter Tina, and grandson James. In Coeur d’Alene, we saw my Uncle Tom; in Twin Falls, we dined overlooking the Snake River with my aunt Jackie, daughter Becky, and son-in-law Rod. In Boise, it was lunch with my Burke cousins Susan, Roberta, and Kathy.

In the Town Center of Idaho Falls

From there it was a long haul to the Pacific coast and Bandon, Oregon, for a visit with my college roommate Elaine and John, who live there half the year. In Grants Pass, we breakfasted with Larry’s cousin Jeanie, and finally in Mill Valley, California, we brunched with her dad, Joe, and siblings Tom and Margie and their other halves Jemma and Alex.

Cousin Jeanie Maxwell and Mary at the Taprock Restaurant in Grants Pass Joe, sadly, had a fall a few weeks ago and passed away the day before Thanksgiving, at 91 years of age. He will be greatly missed.

The best part of this trip was being able to connect with so many relatives and friends we haven’t seen in a while.

The White House and David’s Proposal

Air and Space Museum Stewardess Solicitation from the 50s—Do You Qualify? Warren and Larry in Front of the White House (along with Lots of Other People) Larry took a solo (guys) trip with our friend Warren to Dayton, Ohio, and toured the National Museum of the USAF. They flew on to D.C. to visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum as well as sites on the Capital Mall. Larry’s phone rang while he was standing in front of the White House. It was David. “Yesterday I proposed to Jen. We’re going to get married next year.” Perhaps that’s why they’re smiling so broadly on this year’s card photo.

Health Issues

Jen and David, Survivor Mary, Cathy, Larry, and Jen’s Dad Jeff Pose after the Making Strides Walk His return to LAX was marred by my hospitalization with cardiac problems—Cathy sent a cop buddy to pick him up and take him to the hospital, where I stayed for three days and experienced every cardiac test known to man (and woman). It’s possible the virus that hit me on the Idaho trip caused some damage, but the bottom line is I have reduced heart function and will have a follow-up echocardiogram in a few weeks. I am feeling better, walking again, but being challenged by hills and stairs.

On the positive side, Larry’s decades-old chronic cough is for the most part cured, thanks to the depression-treating drug nortriptyline—not only has he stopped coughing but he’s become much more positive about life.

The Girls

Cousins Tori and Lucie and Nicky and Jamie Mug for the Camera after a Day in the Fountains Cathy is doing pretty much the same sort of training for LAPD this year, although because of so many sad events in this country, there’s more emphasis on teaching strategies for responding to active shooters. She’s become very involved in PTA activities at Tori’s school, which include the Safety Committee, Ability Awareness Week, and the upcoming Jog-a-thon. Jenny continues litigating for Meyers and Nave, and while I’m guessing most of the work is rather pedestrian, getting to close down an illegal strip joint in San Diego sounds quite interesting.

The Guys

The Laurel and Wolf Team, Featuring Dave, at the Making Strides Walk Brian’s work at Adobe continues as lead developer on their subscription platform team, and Marion is working part-time in graphic design. David has left Experian, and has become marketing director for Laurel and Wolf. Marketing means getting the startup placed near the top among the results when you do a web search for interior design. His fiancée Jen has also changed jobs and is working for a new enterprise that helps companies offer employees a benefit that pays down their college loan debt. It’s called www.tuition.io. Get it?

And Us…

Larry's Supercomputer Nerve Center, Where He Keeps an Eye on the Pulse of the World Larry still does his Computer Whisperer work, and has slogged through months of PT for the wrist broken in Romania last year, as well as eight months of ineffective weekly allergy shots. I’m still painting (oils) and gardening, reading thousands of books per month (not!), and enjoying watching Tori grow and become more independent. Grandma Camp in late August was lots of fun and took us to some different venues, including a delightful children’s museum in neighboring Oxnard.

Jerry, 94, and His Two Daughters Mary and Teresa We had a big group for Thanksgiving again this year, for which we give thanks. Especially we are grateful that my dad, great-grandpa Jerry Burke, is still able to join us at 94 years young, and enjoys explaining the subtleties of football to Nicky and Jamie (aged 6). Tori and Lucie will celebrate their 9th birthdays in January, and are amazingly articulate and interesting young ladies.

Our best wishes to all of you for a healthy and happy 2016.