Farewell, Duff Man …

Yesterday was another sad day in the Reilly-Davis household, as we had to unexpectedly say goodbye to another of our furry critters, McDuffy.


The Duff Man was six years old when we brought him home from the Marin Humane Society on January 23, 2010. McDuffy was a handsome Maine coon … who had previously been named Monterey …

McDuffy nee Monterey Marin Humane Society Photo

… though we chose to rename him.

He quickly proved to be an friendly, even-tempered and affectionate little guy … before long, he developed a routine of coming up to me while I was working, putting his paws on the side of my leg and looking up at me until I picked him up. He would then snuggle down in my arms, pressing his head against the side of my neck and purring up a storm.  Other times, he would simply climb up on my desk, flop down and go to sleep …

McDuffy Asleep on My Desk

…or would “help” with my work on the computer.

McDuffy Paw on Jim's Hand 160129 cropped close up

He also became one of Candy’s little napping buddies, lying beside her whenever she decided to take a nap …

Candy & McDuffy Napping 130819

… and, because of his stocky build, she began calling him “Bear”.

Right up until yesterday, McDuffy had no significant medical issues … he had slowed a bit the last couple of years … and I had to put some steps next to the desk on which he liked to lie under the window in my office because he could no longer jump up onto it. Otherwise, however, he showed no signs of health problems.

Yesterday, after three nights in a row of four hours sleep, I slept late (past noon) … as a result, I was late feeding the critters their breakfast … I fed them shortly before 1:00 in the afternoon … and Duffy jumped up onto the second level of the scratching post, where I often gave him his food bowl. He seemed completely normal.

About an hour later, Candy left for work … and I went upstairs to my office. At 3:45, I went back downstairs and Duffy was lying on the floor in the living room … in a spot where he often slept. I thought he was sleeping and got down on my knees to give him a quick rub … only to discover that he was dead … and, in fact, rigor mortis was already setting in. I turned him over and saw that his big, beautiful eyes were wide open … but it was obvious he had been dead for some time.

I cried over him for about 15 minutes … then wrapped him in a big, soft towel to take him to the vet’s office. On the way, I stopped off at Candy’s work so she could say goodbye, too … and we had another good cry together. Then I took him to Bel Marin Animal Hospital for a private cremation.

Candy had a tough time at work … having to hide in the treatment room several times to cry … and I didn’t do any better at home.

Apparently … as I learned today … Maine Coons are particularly prone to suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy … HCM … and that they can show no signs of the disease before suddenly suffering heart failure. For cats suffering from HCM, the muscle of the left ventricle is abnormally enlarged or thickened … which strains the heart as it tries to pump blood. HCM is described here:


Of course, we don’t know for sure if this was the cause of McDuffy’s death … though it seems likely … and, short of an autopsy, there is no way to determine exactly what happened. One thing we have learned, though, is that if we ever adopt another Maine coon, we will have him tested for the gene mutation that causes HCM.

This has been a difficult four months for us, feline critter-wise … on December 30th, our most recent arrival, Darby, escaped from our back yard … and we haven’t seen her since:


Then, just a few days later … on January 6th … we had to say goodbye to the cat who had been with us the longest, Frasier:


Because it happened suddenly and we had no time to prepare emotionally, however, losing McDuffy is proving to be the most difficult of the three.

Farewell, Duff Man, we are going to miss you.


More Photos of McDuffy



McDuffy on Office Chair

McDuffy on Printer DSC_1502

McDuffy -- Seeing Double DSC_1469

McDuffy on Scratching Post DSC_1185

McDuffy DSC_0953

McDuffy DSC_0976


McDuffy over the Rainbow Bridge

—– McDuffy Over the Rainbow Bridge —–

Three Dot … 133

Where’s Darby?

The last couple of weeks have been particularly difficult for Candy & I … we’ve both been sick … me since we got home from our trip on Dec. 28th and Candy for the past 6 days … most likely after catching her cold from me.

Neither of us, of course, was as sick as our little man Frasier … about whom I blogged yesterday:


And yet, that isn’t the end of our bad furry critter news, either. Early in the morning on Saturday, December 30th … just before leaving home for the trip to Southern California for the wedding of my niece, Nikki Lystne … I let our most recent arrival … Darby … out onto the patio. She had been out there often during the nearly three months since we moved … with no problems.

This time, however, she did not come when I called her … and then I had to leave for my trip. Candy & I talked several times while I was driving south … but still no sign of Darby … in fact, we have seen no sign of her since.

I made up and handed out to our neighbors flyers about Darby …


… posted about her on the lost pets PetHarbor.com website …


… and posted about her on the Hiddenbrooke Community Yahoo group.


Candy did receive a phone call from one neighbor who reported seeing a small black cat on the hillside across the street from Hiddenbrooke Plaza, the small community shopping center. I went over there and saw the cat … but it was almost dark and I could not tell if it was Darby. In any event, it ran down the hill and across the street when I approached … did not respond to my repeated calls of “Darby” … and disappeared into the bushes between the plaza and the homes on the hill above the plaza. I have been back to check several times, but have not seen that cat again.

Darby came to us through my friend Steve Davidson & his wife Amanda … she had been found abandoned in a home that had been foreclosed on … the contractor who found her asked Steve if he knew anyone willing to take her in … so he called me … we went to see her … and, no real surprise, brought her home.

We took her to our vet, who advised that she was about three years old … and, after doing blood work, found that she was FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) positive … a somewhat daunting pronouncement … but not enough to cause us to reconsider keeping her.

Darby is very friendly and has a sweet disposition … at least with humans … though she does not appear to like other cats.

Candy & I remain hopeful that Darby will turn up … perhaps after having been taken in by some kind person who has been caring for her.



Three Dot … 131

Wheel of Fortune … 2nd Anniversary …

Today is the second anniversary of my appearance on …

Wheel of Fortune

… about which I have intended to blog for some time … and now … two years later … here … finally … is the follow up I promised.

I have been a Wheel of Fortune fan all the way back to the original version hosted by Chuck Woolery. 

My family and I were living in Southern California when Pat and Vanna became the host & hostess on Wheel …

Pat Sajak & Vanna White

… and I remember watching Pat do the weather on a local news broadcast before he moved to Wheel.

We moved to Marin County, north of San Francisco, in 1985. One day in the late 80’s or early 90’s, I was coming down the stairs just as a new puzzle was displayed on Wheel …

… it was an “author and novel” puzzle …

J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye blank… and … much to the amazement of my kids … I knew the answer instantly, with no letters showing.J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the RyeI recognized the answer, in part, because I had written my major English thesis in college on that very book.

From that moment on, I wanted to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune … and, over the past 7 years, as my fiancée Candy and I watched Wheel every night, she often asked, “When are you going to get on Wheel?”

I signed up as a Wheel Watcher … and then, in August of 2013, received an email announcing a Wheelmobile event in Northern California …

Wheel of Fortune Wheelmobile at Jackson Rancheria 1

… to be held at the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort in Jackson, CA.

Jackson Rancheria

About a two-and-a-half hour drive from home … close enough!

So, on Saturday, August 17, 2013, Candy and I headed to Jackson, hoping that I would be selected for an audition to be a Wheel contestant. I previously blogged about this event here:


At the conclusion of this audition, we were told that all of the auditions would be reviewed by Wheel’s producers … and those selected for final auditions would be notified in two to three months.

Just a few days shy of two months later, my optimism was rewarded when I received an email inviting me to a final contestant audition … I immediately confirmed that I would attend … and, on Thursday, October 24th, it was back to Jackson Rancheria for Candy and I.

Contestants only allowed in the auditorium for these auditions … so Candy visited the casino while I … along with about 100 other would-be contestants … participated in a more intensive competition … followed by a further paring down to 30 or so for the final auditions and interviews. I also previously blogged about this event here:


Just a couple of months later I received an email from Contestant Coordinator Alexandra Reeves … advising me that I have been selected to be a contestant on Wheel … and that I had a taping date of Friday, January 17, 2014 (coincidentally, my parents’ 69th wedding anniversary, a good sign, I thought).

So, time to prepare … well, not really. I had been “preparing” for Wheel for more than 30 years and knew that “cramming” was not going to be much help. The only thing I did was review the capitals and other major cities of countries in Europe, in case one of them showed up in a puzzle.

Otherwise, I just watched the show every night and enjoyed the anticipation of being on it myself. Needless to say, my family and friends were excited and gave me all kinds of advice, such as “buy vowels,” “don’t guess letters that have already been played” and, most often, “win a lot of money!”

The day before my taping, Candy and I drove down to Los Angeles and checked in at the Culver Hotel …

Culver Hotel Entrance & Flowers

… just down the street from the Sony Entertainment Studios …


… for my taping … about which I blogged here:


and here:


Wheel of Fortune … March 4, 2014

Now it was finally time for my show to air … Candy & I had kept my performance a closely held secret … none of our family or friends knew the outcome. So, we gathered at #1 son Doug’s house to watch and enjoy the show together.


Photo by Carol Kaelson, Courtesy of Wheel of Fortune

My fellow contestants … Ashley Rieck & Dominique Washington … were both younger and better looking than I … and, as it turned out, quicker on the toss up button. At home, toss ups were always one of my strong suits … not so much on the show.

The $1000 toss up was a “Movie Title” …

Midnight in Paris blank

… and Dominique pounced on it quickly … with just 5 of the 15 letters showing …

Midnight in Paris 10 blanks

… she buzzed in and announced …

Midnight in Paris solved

… a good start for her.

We then did our introductions … for which I had decided that the most important thing of all was to name my fiancée, Candy … who was in the audience … and our combined six grandchildren, aged 1 through 9. I knew the grandkids would get a kick out of hearing their names on TV … and I actually managed to do it … Kohl & Cheyenne, Hannah & Quincy, and Finnegan & McKinley … without making any mistakes. After which Pat said, “We should give him some money just for getting all that.”

The $2000 toss up was “People” …

Faithful Fans blank

… and Ashley beat me to the buzzer on this one …

Faithful Fans 4 blanks

… but missed the second word of the puzzle, giving me a chance …

Faithful Fans 3 blanks

… and, since I am one … of the Cal Bears football team … I was able to solve …

Faithful Fans solved

This, of course, allowed me to start the first regular puzzle, something from “The ’80’s” … about which Pat said to me … “You & I remember the ’80’s, but I’m not sure about them.”

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go blank

I managed to take advantage of going first on this puzzle by solving it without ever giving up the wheel. I ended up buying four vowels … and got four of the consonants … but was hanging around the low value wedges just past the bankrupt every time I spun … so once I knew the answer …

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go 5 blanks

… I immediately solved it …

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go solved

… had $900 at that point …

Wake Me Up Befrore You Go-Go wof5972_089

Photo by Carol Kaelson, Courtesy of Wheel of Fortune

… so won the minimum $1000 for any puzzle solve … and had a “1/2 car” wedge.

When Pat came over to shake my hand, he said … “I never root for particular players because they’re all terrific, but I was hoping you’d solve this. I just wanted to hear it come out of your mouth.” We both had a good laugh at that.

Next was a “Before & After” puzzle …

Bowling Pins and Needles blank

… and thanks to a missed letter and a “lose a turn” spin, the wheel got back to me with no letters exposed. On my first spin, I was exactly one peg (a third of a wedge) short of a second “1/2 car” wedge … then two S’s got me $1800 … so I proceeded to buy four vowels … O, A, E & I … then spun a “free play” and won $2000 with four N’s at $500 each.

With the N’s …

Bowling Pins and Needles 8 blanks

… I also knew the puzzle … and once again, because I kept spinning close to the bankrupt, I decided to solve rather than spin again …

Bowling Pins and Needles solved

… for a total win of $2800.

The next round, the “Prize Puzzle”, proved to be decisive in determining who would go to the bonus round … in fact, as it turned out, that result depended on the guess of a single letter. This puzzle was an “Event” …The Year of the Horse blank

… and Dominique started out strong with two T’s for $1800 … and three H’s for $1350 … and then, after buying two vowels, she spun and landed on the Express wedge. An S won her another $1000 … upping her total to $4150 … and she jumped on the Express.

Then came the crucial guess. The fourth word of the puzzle at that point was HO_SE …

The Year of the Horse 5 blanks

… and Dominique’s next letter was a very logical U … logical, but crucially incorrect.

Unexpectedly, my turn again … and I once again flirted with bankrupt … stopping just one peg short of it … but this time on the high value side … on the $3500 wedge. At this point, I knew the puzzle … and that it had two R’s … so won $7000 for those.

This time I decided to keep going and spun twice more … with an F good for $900 … and a Y good for a Ricardo Beverly Hills Luggage $1000 gift tag and $500 in cash.

The Year of the Horse 1 blank

With just an obvious vowel left, I solved the puzzle …

The Year of the Horse solved

… for $9400 in cash … and also won a prize trip to China & a digital camera, valued at $9097 … for a total of $18,497 for this puzzle … and $24,297 altogether.

Had Dominique guessed the R instead of the U, she undoubtedly would have solved the puzzle … and gone on to the bonus round … that single letter made all the difference in the final result.

That was my last success short of the bonus round, as Ashley & Dominique solved each of the remaining three puzzles.

Dominique was once again quickest on the final toss up …

Career Counselor blank

… correctly solving …

Career Counselor 7 blanks

… an “Occupation” …

Career Counselor solved

… for $3000.

Then Ashley … who hadn’t had much chance to play … joined in on the next puzzle, category “Things” …

Investment Tips blank

After Dominique had revealed several letters, she missed one … and I whiffed on a guess of L. Ashley then spun the $5000 wedge … correctly guessed P … bought an I …

Investment Tips 4 blanks

… and solved the puzzle …

Investment Tips solved

… for a $4750 win.

We had time for one more puzzle … with Pat doing the “Final Spin” on a “Place” puzzle …

Scenic Overlook blank

… when he spun the $500 wedge … making each letter worth $1500 … I knew that I would be going to the bonus round.

This relatively short, two word puzzle, proved elusive for all of us … before we were done, I missed on three consonants (T, M & G) … while correctly guessing only two E’s … Ashley added an R … but Dominique did the heavy lifting, correctly guessing S, N, L and 2 C’s …

Scenic Overlook 6 blanks

… after which she solved …

Scenic Overlook solved

… for a $7500 win.

After having spent several hours together in preparation, we had been friendly competitors … and I was happy to see that Ashley & Dominique had each enjoyed success in the show.

However, thanks to my fortuitous Chinese New Year solve, I was going on to the bonus round. This gave Candy a chance to wave … and to mouth “Hi Swappers” to her life-long group of Swapper friends … and me a chance to nearly hit Pat in the head with the follow through of my spin of the Bonus Wheel! After which he said, “Missed me by that much!”

The Bonus Puzzle category was “What are You Doing?” …

Window Shopping blank

… and after RSTLNE revealed just 3 letters, it looked like this …

Window Shopping RSTLNE

… not many letters showing! I thought it likely that the last letter was G … and was hoping to catch a second one somewhere else … so guessed G, D, M and O, which gave me …

Window Shopping GDMO

… which prompted Pat to say … somewhat skeptically … “Well, I don’t know. We’ll find out soon, in about ten seconds.”

Then, without the thought ever having formed in my conscious mind, the words leaped immediately out of my mouth … “WINDOW SHOPPING” … surprising me as much as anyone else …

Window Shopping solved

Pat then revealed the bonus round prize of $30,000

Bonus Round Window Shopping wof5972_144

Photo by Carol Kaelson, Courtesy of Wheel of Fortune

… and Candy rushed out onto the set for a congratulatory hug and waves to the audience.

I had a final friendly chat with Pat and Vanna during the filming of the closing credits … and then this most exciting day was over. The taping went by so fast, it was mostly a blur … and I could not even remember some of the puzzles until the show aired and I was able to watch it myself!

This was a wonderful, literally once-in-a-lifetime, experience … everyone associated with the show was great to the contestants … the contestant coordinator team (Alex, Gary, Jackie & Shannon) … announcer Jim Thornton, who regaled the audience during the breaks with Wheel stories & trivia … and, of course, Pat & Vanna … American television icons … who were down-to-Earth and very friendly to our group of nervous contestants.

Candy and I took our two week Collette trip … “The Best of China” … in October 2015 … and had a great time … visiting Beijing, Xian, Guilin and Shanghai … about which I will blog … with many photos … sometime in the not too far distant future.

Three Dot … 121

Thanksgiving 2014

We had our Thanksgiving Dinner this year at the Brick & Bottle in Corte Madera. Ten of us gathered there — Candy & I, Matt & Doug, Risa & Jeff, and four other members of Jeff’s family — his mom Sue Thomas, sister Angie Reposa, brother Larry Reposa and Larry’s wife Karen.

After dinner, the Reilly contingent went to Doug’s house to hang out with Rose Estrada (who had Thanksgiving dinner with her father) and their two critters, Diego and Rusty.


Bears Kabam Sac State …

The California Golden Bears played their first game on their newly designated home field …

Cal v. Sacramento State 140906 3 Kabam Field North End Logo… this past Saturday … and recorded a solid 55-14 win over the visiting Sacramento State Hornets.

The victory enabled the 2014 Bears to double their 2013 win total … and gave them a 2-0 start for the first time since 2011.

Through a business association of Doug’s, Candy & I, and Doug & Matt, were privileged to watch the game from the Kabam sponsor’s suite …

Cal v. Sacramento State 140906 54 The Kabam Suite… from which we had a great view of the game …

Cal v. Sacramento State 140906 55 View from the Kabam Box… and enjoyed the hospitality of both the stadium staff and the Kabam folks in attendance.

The Bears racked up 579 yards in total offense … 253 rushing and 326 passing … recorded 26 first downs … and blew the game open early with 28 first quarter points.

At the end of the first quarter, the University recognized the Kabam Field sponsorship with an onfield ceremony …

Cal v. Sacramento State 140906 49 Kabam Presentation After 1st Quarter at Kabam North End Logo 8… and presentation of a framed Cal No. 1 jersey.

With the game well in hand, three Bears QBs saw playing time …

QB Jared Goff Passing

QB Jared Goff Passing

#2 QB Luke Rubenzer runs in for a TD

#2 QB Luke Rubenzer runs in for a TD

#3 QB Austin Hinder Passing

#3 QB Austin Hinder Passing

The 55 points on offense was Cal’s highest scoring output since they scored 63 against Presbyterian at AT&T Park in 2011 … and the 14 point defensive effort was the Bears’ best since they held Oregon State to 6 points, also in 2011.

Cal has a week 3 bye, then travels to Tucson on Saturday, September 20th, for a 7:00 pm game against the Arizona Wildcats.

Cal v. Sacramento State 140906 1 California Banner East Side of StadiumPremier Partnerships worked on behalf of Cal Athletics to locate a naming partner … which led to the agreement with Kabam, Inc., and the sponsorship of Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium.

Kabam Field Presentation

Kabam Field Presentation

Left to Right:

Bob Lalanne – UC Vice Chancellor of Real Estate (Cal ’78) …

Solly Fulp – Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Director of Cal Athletics …

H. Michael Williams – Interim Athletic Director (Cal ’82 and Cal Bears wrestler) …

Kevin Chou – co-founder and CEO of Kabam (Cal ’02) …

Holly Liu – co-founder and Chief of Staff of Kabam (Cal ’03) …

Chris Carvalho – Kabam Executive Advisor & former COO …

Jeff Marks – Managing Director of Premier Partnerships (Cal ’94) …

and Jesse Ryback – Premier Partnerships Director of Business Partnerships.

Cal v. Sacramento State 140906 4 Band and North End Kabam LogoCal v. Sacramento State 140906 5 Band on Kabam North End LogoCal v. Sacramento State 140906 6 Band on Kabam South End LogoCal Band Great!

Cal v. Sacramento State 140906 7 Band on Cal LogoCal v. Sacramento State 140906 8 Golden Bear Entry to FieldGolden Bears Take the Field

Golden Bears on Offense 1st Quarter

Golden Bears on Offense 1st Quarter

WRs Chris Harper & Bryce Treggs Line Up

WRs Chris Harper & Bryce Treggs Line Up

WR Darius Powe Scores on a 60 yard TD Pass

WR Darius Powe Scores on a 60 yard TD Pass

Cal Bears on Offense

Cal Bears on Offense

QB Jared Goff Going Deep

QB Jared Goff Going Deep

RB Khalfani Muhammad Runs Toward the Goal Line

RB Khalfani Muhammad Runs Toward the Goal Line

Game Action on Kabam Logo

Game Action on Kabam Logo

K James Langford Lines up for 2nd Quarter 33 Yard Field Goal

K James Langford Lines up for 2nd Quarter 33 Yard Field Goal

Cal Band Halftime Show

Cal Band Halftime Show

Matt & Doug Reilly and Candy Davis in the Kabam Suite

Matt & Doug Reilly and Candy Davis in the Kabam Suite

QB Jared Goff Passing in the 3rd Quarter

QB Jared Goff Passing in the 3rd Quarter

Bears final Kabam on TD Catch by WR Chris Harper

Bears final Kabam on TD Catch by WR Chris Harper

Kabam Logo on South End Scoreboard at Start of 4th Quarter

Kabam Logo on South End Scoreboard at Start of 4th Quarter

Watching the Game from the Kabam Suite

Watching the Game from the Kabam Suite

One of Only 2 Punts in the Game by Cal P Cole Leininger

One of Only 2 Punts in the Game by Cal P Cole Leininger

Kabam Logos on Student Section

Kabam Logos on Student Section

Bears Win 55-14

Bears Win 55-14

Cal Bear Paw LogoFor game stats and additional photos,see the official Cal Bears football website:


December 11th … A Shared Birthday …


My Mom, Marion Thomas Reilly, and my fiancée Candy Davis’ Dad, Thomas Havard Sayes, Jr., shared the same birthday, December 11th, albeit 8 years apart (Col. Sayes 1917 and Mom 1925).  See Note 1 below.

Yesterday was therefore a somber and reflective day for both of us.

Candy’s Dad, a retired U.S. Army colonel, died more than 30 years ago (May 1, 1982) in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he and Candy’s Mom, Margaret “Mimi” Sayes, had moved after his retirement.  They had just returned from a visit with Candy’s family in Houston when Col. Sayes suffered a heart attack.

My Mom, on the other hand, has been gone just a little more than a year, dying November 30th last year in Syracuse, NY, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Candy & I are both fortunate in that we each have a long-lived, surviving parent.  Mimi Sayes will be 88 the day after tomorrow and my Dad, Lawrence John Reilly Sr., will be 90 on June 18, 2014.

Col. Sayes was a combat veteran of World War II …

Thomas Havard Sayes -- WWII Soldier

Thomas Havard Sayes — WWII Soldier

… Korea and Vietnam, who also served peacetime tours of duty in Japan and Germany.  As result, of course, Candy and her siblings (my West Point Classmate Thomas Havard Sayes III, Morgan Sayes & Summer Sayes Purvis) enjoyed the peripatetic lifestyle typical of Army brats.

I met Candy and consequently her father while he was attending the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, PA, in 1963. 

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Havard Sayes, Jr.

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Havard Sayes, Jr. —– Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA — 1963-64

I was, at the time, a plebe at West Point and colonels were the next best thing to divinity (otherwise known as generals) in my world at the time.  For a young man, the prospect of meeting any new girlfriend’s father is always daunting — for me, the prospect of meeting Candy’s Dad was terrifying!

The actuality proved less intimidating than the expectation, as the colonel accepted my felicitations for his daughter with equanimity.  Truth be told, I ultimately discovered Mimi to be the more daunting of Candy’s parents!

Near the end of our plebe year … and upon completion of his War College studies … Col. Sayes was re-assigned to Fort Sill, OK, and he moved his family there in the Spring of 1964.  I saw him on only one occasion thereafter — during a brief visit to Oklahoma in December 1964 while I was on my Yearling (sophomore) year Christmas leave.  He was somewhat nonplussed to discover that, despite being 19 years old, I did not as yet have my driver’s license and therefore could not drive Candy anywhere while there.

Mimi & Col. Sayes -- December 1971

Mimi & Col. Sayes — December 1971

The move of the Sayes family from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma was the second of two major transitions in my life that came only a few months apart.

In March of 1964, my Dad, who was a Navy chief at the time, was also transferred to Long Beach, CA, and my family moved from my childhood home in Lindenhurst to Garden Grove.

Despite the fact that Dad, like Col. Sayes, was career military, my Mom had a radically different life as a military wife than did Mimi Sayes.  Dad had split service, doing six years during and after World War II. 

Mom & Dad Wedding Portrait -- January 17, 1945

Mom & Dad Wedding Portrait — January 17, 1945

Mom & Dad married in January 1945 and while he was overseas during the remainder of the war, Mom lived with her parents in Ozone Park, NY.

After the war, Dad had relatively brief assignments in Bremerton, WA, and San Diego, CA, and Mom moved to each of those cities with him (and their first born).

Dad left the Navy in 1948, rejoined as a reservist in the mid-1950’s, and his ship was called to active duty during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.  He then decided to remain on active duty and once transferred to California in 1964, he was thereafter assigned to ships home ported in or Naval facilities located in California.  For the rest of his career, his overseas assignments were always sea duty, meaning that his family could not accompany him.

This, of course, meant that Mom continued living in the family home, which after a year in Garden Grove, was in Costa Mesa, CA, until Dad’s retirement.

All in all, Dad was away on sea duty or training assignments, cumulatively, for years … years during which Mom was essentially a single parent.  And, by 1962, that meant five of us kids for her to care for … and four still at home after the move to California.

And yet, for the most part, Mom was undaunted by the separation, the anxiety and the difficulties attendant to being a military wife and periodic single parent.  I never saw her feeling sorry for herself and while I know she worried about Dad when he was overseas (worry which was, as things turned out, all too justified), she rarely showed that, either.



In short, my Mom was a strong woman, capable of doing what had to be done, loving us kids unconditionally, disciplining us when necessary, and defending us fiercely if she felt we had been wronged by others (see Note 2 for an example of this).

She was also extremely proud of her children, grandchildren and great-children.  She liked to recite the numbers … 5 children, 12 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren … and, as she always concluded, “Not a loser in the bunch”.  (See Note 3 below.)

As her first born, I of course knew her longer than anyone in the family other than my Dad.  She was particularly proud of my appointment to and graduation from West Point and sometimes expressed her pride, to my embarrassment, by calling herself “Mother of Jim”. 

Mom & I in 1946

Mom & I in 1946

Dad even had a special California license issued for her car:

MTR MOJ California License Plate 080517 cropped

Which of course, stands for “Marion Thomas Reilly, Mother of Jim”!

The mental decline of her final years was heart-breaking as her memory failed and she lost the vitality which had always characterized the mother I knew.

Mom & I in 2010

Mom & I in 2010

Looking back now, Candy & I each love & miss our lost parent, but take pride ourselves in their lives well-led.


Note 1:  The fact that two of our four parents shared a common birthday is a serendipitous coincidence, albeit one which has a precise mathematical probability, a probability which is actually the same as the likelihood that two people out of any group of four will share the same birthday.  That likelihood, taking into consideration leap day every four years, is 1.64% (I’ll spare you the mathematical calculation, which is straightforward, but involves a lot of division, addition and multiplication, topped off with one subtraction!)

Note 2:  https://jimsthreedot.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/take-off-those-red-pants/

Note 3:  Sadly, she will not know that the number of great-grandchildren has continued … and is continuing … to grow … and that there’s still “not a loser in the bunch”.


LTC Thomas Havard Sayes Jr.

LTC Thomas Havard Sayes Jr.

Marion Thomas Reilly

Marion Thomas Reilly