A Solemn Story

Sometimes the best photo isn’t the best shot but the one you need. The Featured Image won’t flatter my photographic skills—or entice you to do the same. But the serene view, overlooking the stairs going down to Swami’s Beach in Encinitas means to soften today’s grim story.

In the hospital where our daughter recuperates, the woman in the room’s other bed isn’t so fortunate. She has moaned in pain, for several days now, and a mass of relatives has come to see her. The lady looks to be quite large, and because she suffers from failing kidneys, I assumed she must be diabetic. I was mistaken. Grossly.

This afternoon, while waiting in the hallway, her father and I spoke about her. The (I believe former) schoolteacher is 43 years old and dying. “We signed the directives yesterday”, he said. I happened to be in the room when a notary, who had been hastily called, processed power-of-attorney documents for one of the relatives.

The dad found his daughter in bad shape two weeks ago, unexpectedly. Her legs were so swollen that she couldn’t walk. He got her to the hospital right away. Doctors diagnosed renal failure, which is why she is so big. It’s water weight, because her body isn’t properly processing fluids. The woman’s liver also is ailing.

The father speaks in a clear voice that is authoritative and confident, despite also expressing anguish. He isn’t a tall man, but has stature—for good reason. He is among California’s most endangered species: The farmer. His major asset is “dirt”, of which he is proud and proud to work. Stretching his arm out, palm downward, he showed how a couple seasons of avocado leaves pile up to create fertile top soil.

California, which is hellbent on green energy initiatives, encourages the fostering of another crop—and one that rapes rather than reaps the land, he told me. Solar farms are replacing croplands, that otherwise are as richly fertile as the proud farmer’s.

He and I spoke about family, and how could we not when so many people arrived to see his daughter. Today, her blind, 93-year-old grandpa visited. She perked up in bed, soon as she heard his voice, the dad said. Family—three, four generations living together on the same homestead—is, or was, the external bedrock upon which this nation was built. Internal foundation is the Judeo-Christian character that established moral principles and framework for a constitutional republic.

The beach view, taken with Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, isn’t the photo that should accompany this post. But I couldn’t bring myself to ask a man grieving about his dying daughter if he would pose for a photograph. Vitals: f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/2500 sec, 13mm (film equivalent); 12:45 p.m. PDT.