Leo Collins 1919-2010

Three weeks ago, my life changed forever. Three weeks ago, my father died.

Three weeks ago, I woke up to a  typically foggy, San Francisco summer morning, and before the day had a chance to blossom, the phone rang. It was the call no son wants to receive; my father had collapsed and was near death, being kept alive by machines- and I had to return home, home being upstate New York. So, in shock, I did that, and spent a surreal day traveling back east, racing to be with my dad. There is perhaps no more difficult thing, when needing family and friends at such a moment,  to travel  alone, all day, through the masses of  travelers that crisscross this great land in summer. They, giddy with expectation of the unknown and promised, and me, isolated in my knowledge of the expected and dreaded. My Dad was 91, and in this very space, I feted him (thank god) a little over a year ago on the occasion of this 90th birthday. So, while not a complete shock given his age, its never expected.

Continue reading “Leo Collins 1919-2010”

My Dad's 90th Birthday

A couple of week’s ago, we celebrated my Dad’s 90th birthday. The celebration was in the house I grew up in, in the little town of Camillus, New York outside Syracuse. Now technically, this photo is from his 89th birthday last year, but I really like the photo. So that’s him- and does he look 89 to you? That’s my Mom on the left. and they have been married nearly 50 years. They had two children; my sister Sue and myself, and those are my sister Sue and husband Bill’s 3 wonderful girls.


So, what to say about my Dad.

Well first I suppose, his name is Leo. My Dad’s life has spanned an extraordinary time in this country’s history. Backing up a  bit, my Dad’s ancestors all came from Ireland, settling in Central New York as part of the influx of Irish immigrants working on the Erie Canal and related industires of upstate New York in the 19th century. Here is his mom’s family, taken about 1900, she’s the second from the left- Kitty, short for Catherine. His grandmother ran a boarding house, she is the rather stout woman in the center


Dad was born in 1919, he was the 13th of 16 children. Yes, I said 16.  The family didn’t have much, but they got by on the largely Irish west side of Syracuse. My Dad’s brother Wimpy was known to say that when leftovers were offered up by their saintly mother Catherine, you needed to call for a fair catch to receive them. Continue reading “My Dad's 90th Birthday”