Friday, April 18, 2014
Tal Streeter : August 1, 1934 - April 17, 2014 .
Romig and I slept beside him that night and the next morning we stayed gathered 'round him taking turns sitting beside him. He had visits from many of his friends. Gerry came and his eyes fluttered open as we listened together to Chopin and a quartet of Robert Schumann with Pablo Casals and Rudolph Serkin on the piano.
Romig and I started to sing songs that we loved, listening to a bit of Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and Randy Newman. We read from the Philosopher's Kite and started telling him the story of Little Talkite.
How we walked out line and with a tug, launched Little Talkite, Romig and I . We started letting out kiteline as he started to pull to go higher and higher. We described the creatures he would see up there : a bumblebee, a dragonfly, clouds and a moon . A small white butterfly came and sat alight on his right shoulder. We described how the clouds would come buoy him up, so light was he...he found thermals and started to climb even higher. He was so far up, we told him he appeared to us as a tiny dot. We let out more line. I told him that I had a pair of scissors in my pocket . When he was ready, I said I would cut the line and release him. He said the words "higher and higher"...and he seemed to just float up there for awhile.
Ellen Ambujam Verkerke, his massage therapist, someone he trusted so much, came. She shown a small light on his chest and he visibly calmed even more. She offered council to mom and I, that perhaps we shouldn't try and stimulate him too much more. that it was difficult for someone to allow themselves to go. She left.
Then Virginia Gilstrap, his hospice nurse came in. She listened carefully to his breathing.and took us aside for a few moments and described how the process would look. Not five minutes later, I saw his eyes open as if startled, we went back to him and held his right hand, mom and I and sat quietly beside him as he took his last breaths. He clenched my hand tight and pulled it up towards his chest and then...was no more.
I cry as I write this now, but at the moment I felt a great well of release. We all did I think. He had great peace on his face.
David and Gerri (Tal called her "Gigi") came back in and Virginia helped us the four of us wash his body and dress him in simple white shirt and pants. Gerry put a black jet bead necklace with one red bead on him that she had made and was precious to him. We put two paper airplanes his godson Tiger made for him in either hand. One was the "Swallow " that Toki -san had taught Tiger to make, carefully curling the wings like one curls a mustache. Fiona put a packet of licorice tea in his sock. Mom put a ring on his left hand that his friend Chimney Butte made him.
His aides and more of his friends came to see him...and we sat around telling Tal stories. Where and how we had met, his flight on Tom Odai's small plane when they flew him down from Manhattan, Kansas to Santa Fe almost four years ago this coming August, We wished all of his friends could have come and joined us for what was a really happy moment.
We will certainly be holding a memorial service for Pop in the coming months to coincide with the opening of the Dream of Flight Museum and Library. I will let everyone know well in advance so that you may all join us, in celebrating this life and ongoing legacy that Tal leaves us with.
Look Up! You will see him up there flying very very high!
Tal's Dream of Flight Family
Santa Fe, New Mexico April 18, 2014