During the time that I moved back to my parent’s house in Los Gatos, CA when my ex-husband asked me to leave our Mill Valley home, I returned to the community in which I had been raised. Unlike some who feel as if returning home represents a failure on their part in some way, I was turning toward a community for a giant hug of support and love. I am fortunate that at a young age, I put a lot of energy into Los Gatos, and everyone that I knew that was still there reached out BIG TIME. I was invited to BBQ’s with my children, swim parties, evenings out with friends, lunches with my friends’ parents. The love, care, deep empathy and support was truly incredible. I could walk the streets at night in comfort and silence with my dog. I could smell the jasmine blooms fragrant in the warm south bay air under the large canopies of oaks and other trees for which the town is known. I could meander through the high school, sit on the steps and look up at the tall pillars, extend my gaze across the front lawn and just know that life is truly good despite ALL I was going through. That there are good people that really just care. Care in simple, simple, simple ways that radiate with an elegance. The simplicity of the caring within a community can be incredibly palpable and Los Gatos is one of those places.
Each night (10pm) I returned from having commuted to Mill Valley where I maintained being Mom for my kids who still lived with their Dad having left Los Gatos around 5am to be there and make breakfast and get them off to school, pick them up, cook dinner, etc. etc.(long story, INSANE…more on another day). I would pull off Hwy 17, pass the Los Gatos Lodge (still the same), turn right on Los Gatos Blvd. and come to the stop sign at Loma Alta. There are homes scattered throughout Los Gatos with friends parents that I know are there, but there is only ONE house that NEVER EVER changes. I wish for everyone that they have one house or one place in their life like this. While everyone else’s families have upgraded their houses for convenience or to keep up with the Jones’s…not the Mussers. A beautiful old brick house with a pile of bricks still there left over from the Loma Prieta 1989 earthquake, an iron gate with a brick path to the front stairs, maybe 8-10 stairs to reach the door. You stand at the front door, turn around to face the front yard, and you can see in time lapsed photography the home being TP’d (toilet papered), TP’d again, TP’d again, TP’d again…for about 10 years straight, through out the time the 4 children spaced two years apart went through Los Gatos High. The citrus trees once small are large now, and the home you look at…it just feels like home. Like it’s your home. You could go in, grab a bite to eat, have a nap, watch TV, play some music (sneak one of Kristi Musser’s records). It has a very welcoming feel just standing outside.
At this point, you probably would like to enter, so you think, “hmmm, i’ll ring the door bell.” My joke to my dear friend Jill Musser was, ” how many times do you have to ring the door bell before a Musser comes to the door?” You weren’t supposed to ring. You were just supposed to go in. But if you did ring or knock, you most likely heard a booming response, “COME IN” – this is John H. Musser (I just knew him as Mr. Musser…since about age 7), my Jill’s Dad. So when you enter, it’s a little dark, and the voice continues from the room to the left, “Oh Margaret – COME IN. Have a seat! How ARE you?” Now this “How are you” isn’t just, ‘how are ya” It is the most heart felt HOW ARE YOU. He really wanted to know! Mr. Musser really truly cared.
Mr. Musser died after having lived with a cancer that his body could no longer support and the whole community feels an empty space without this very big larger than life man. For sure his family feels this most of all. For the last months, people have been coming to be with Mr. Musser at this home. To be with him during the last part of his life. How blessed I feel that I was able to be one of those people. To be graced with being with someone about to cross over. Someone lucid enough to give me one last smile and small chuckle. For me to see that though he was too young, he was in a sense receiving a way of completing things here with everyone coming to him. Last Friday, there was a celebration for Mr. Musser’s life and SOOOO many people came. It was a clear tribute to how one really good hearted person can create such an impact on a community. He was simply always there. He was at every kids sporting event, even if they weren’t his child…you might see him there. Anyone who knew him can close their eyes and hear his voice. His laugh was infectious. These are things that bring instant tears to my eyes.
I ask in prayer, that your spirit be there to comfort your family and those who were closest to you as you move on to the next place and they release you from the space they knew you to reside. That each and everyone that is feeling saddened by their loss of having you, feels at the same time a depth of gratitude for knowing you and having you in their life. That each of us will, in our own way, feel your touch at places we most remember you within Los Gatos.
I don’t see that his death in this physical life is an end, but a transition to the next. And I believe he has great places to go! A new adventure! Thank you Mr. Musser. Thank you for being there always. For being one of the fatherly anchors in my world that held a piece of Los Gatos so that I knew that I was on solid ground no matter what emotional turmoil I was going through as I grew up. Thank you for encouraging me on the sidelines at soccer even though I was just terribly uncoachable at that time (head looking at ground and shaking, hands pulling on your hair). Thank you for always being there when I walked through the door. Thank you for having such an amazing family: Kristi, Jill, John and Joe. Thank you for whatever transpired between you and your amazing wife, Carol that allowed her to be the same welcoming force within the community and is still there holding us all together. Thank you for making Los Gatos, Los Gatos. It simply wouldn’t be what it is today without you. You are loved and each of us who knew you, holds a piece of who you were in our heart that will always, always, always, be with us.
The essence of what Mr. Musser did in creating community in Los Gatos was imbuing it with his deep love of family, community, sports and life. As a tribute to Mr. Musser, I leave you with this song that I believe embodies exactly what Mr. Musser did.
With deep love and reverence for this beautiful experience we call LIFE!
Margaret, The Mother of The Mother Rising