I started 1st grade at Ben Franklin Elementary in 1955. Mrs. Hance was the teacher and last year she celebrated her 100th birthday, which meant she was 34 when she taught us. She seemed like she was at least 80 to a six year old. She was a great teacher—strict, fair, caring, and occasionally fun. I did spend time in the “coat room” but I never had to go to the principal’s office to meet his paddle. It was in the 1st grade that I met my dear friend Karna. I often joke when I introduce Karna, “I knew her the first time she didn’t have teeth”. I can still see the front four missing in her zesty smile. We were blessed. Our families of six all skied. From about 1962 on, we spent many a weekend and break at Monarch Ski Mountain. Karna and I were pretty good, but our little brothers Charley and Tony, were fantastic. We were never boyfriend/girlfriend, however I was her date to Winter Sports 1967, as her real boyfriend was about 30 (true). We have stayed connected all these years. Karna is my friend.
Wednesday I got this text— “Mark.. I want you to know that brother Tony died from Covid this afternoon. I’m bereft beyond measure and pray God has him!” Later that evening we cried with each other on FaceTime. Tony, was a cowboy — movie star handsome. He was gone in three days. We talked for a few minutes, laughing and crying in the same sentence. Tony was a risk taker, seemingly fearless, at least on the slopes. Two months ago the only Corona (beer) we knew I had sworn off in 1987. Now it was hunting down, and yes killing indiscriminately some while scaring others. “Mark, this sh__ is real. You’ve lost a brother, you know”. “Yes, I do”.
Well the theme of the current blogging for this ‘now retired Lyft driver’ is the ongoing “grief and grace”. This week my grief moved from the loss of personal contact and vacation dreams, to the tears of a lifetime of friendship. I fear there is more to come.
Tony Serfling, thanks for sharing your life with all of us. “Hey, Pumphrey how have you been”? Then, Tony would listen thoughtfully as we laughed about gravity and its toll on our bodies. I can still see Tony sailing through knee deep powder, zigzagging by the fir trees on a brilliant early spring morning. The Stellar Jays and Ravens mocking us as we thought we owned the world… on that day I think we did.
Onward and Upward Mark