In 1978, my parents split up. I was eight years old. Mom and I left the family home to live 1/2 mile away in a crap apartment while my brother and sister stayed in the 'big house', as I began referring to it, with Dad.
Dad, from what I could make of it, not only kept the house, but the bulk of the friends with whom Mom and Dad occasionally socialized. There were the Rordorfs' from up the block and around the corner. There was Barbara just up the street. And, of course, there were Dad's pals from the old neighborhood in San Francisco: Jerry Mordasini and Chuck Weidinger. All the time I knew them, Jerry and Chuck had steady girlfriends. Lilly, or Lil, was Jerry's and Yuki was Chuck's.
Lil worked as a bank teller out in West Portal. She was with Jerry until he died of cancer at the age of fifty in 1990. Jerry's death marked one of the few times I had seen Dad largely inconsolable. Jerry swam daily at the local public pool. He wind-sailed, he ran. He was only 50, and his death was a terrible blow. With Jerry gone, Lil moved her adult children into the house she'd inherited from Jerry just up the hill from SF City College ostensibly to keep her company. Dad made it known that he didn't like the idea of Jerry's house becoming home to Lil's underachieving brood. Lil and Dad drifted apart after that. About five years after Jerry's death, I was shopping in my local supermarket and recognized Lil in the check-out line in front of me. The bulk of her purchases was a large, plastic jug of rot-gut vodka, Winner's Cup, I think it was called. I chimed in, 'Lil!' She turned to look at me without a smidgen of recognition on her face. 'It's me...Doug's daughter. It's good to see you!' Lil looked worn and sad. She said hello, but did not seem glad to see me. Perhaps I reminded her of better times when Jerry was still alive? I dunno. She paid for her items and left with a mumble of a goodbye trailing behind her. I remember telling Dad that I had seen her, but I don't recall what he had said in response. That was that, really.
After 20 years of being together, Chuck moved out of Yuki's house off of Columbus Ave. sometime in the late 80s/early 90s, and moved into the apartment of a woman named Karen who lived out in Concord. Dad said that Yuki had been devastated by Chuck's leaving. I don't think Dad did much if any socializing with Yuki after Chuck left.
Just months after Dad's death in October 2002, I was standing on the BART platform in Daly City waiting for my train back to the East Bay when I spied a woman who looked remarkably like Yuki, Chuck's ex, standing on the opposite platform. I waved and yelled, 'Yuki!' She noticed me, but I don't know if she knew who I was. After all, I hadn't seen Yuki since I was a teen and I was now in my 30s. I ran down the stairs, over the the other staircase and up to the opposite platform. There stood Yuki, hair pulled back, eyes still marked with liquid eye-liner, lips still filled in with a flattering shade. She asked me how Doug was doing, and I remember saying something like, 'Oh, Yuki, he's just died.' Her eyes welled up. She took my hand and held it. I don't remember all of what was said, but I do remember her asking me if I were single and did I fancy Asian men. She knew of a nice, young Korean man that she could set me up with, if I wanted. She smiled as I let out a little laugh. Aside from talk of match-making, I asked if she knew how I could get in touch with Chuck. I wanted to tell him of Dad's death. She happened to have Chuck's no. and gave it to me. Yuki told me that Karen had died of cancer sometime in the late 90s.
Shortly thereafter, I called Chuck to tell him that Dad had died. He was a tearful mess on the phone. It was difficult to talk with him, and I recall I did the majority of the consoling. He was crying for Dad, he was crying for Karen. It was a tough phone call, and a stark contrast to the warm and friendly conversation I'd had with Yuki. I wonder what Lil would have said about Dad's death? How would Jerry have reacted...?