It’s been more than 30 years since I’ve seen you. I remember, as a child in the late ‘70s, walking down your San Anselmo staircase to the basement. Above my head, hanging on the walls were hundreds of shark teeth. You so loved the ocean.
As I read about your legacy and the impact of your work on our precious Marin coastline, it gives me chills to hear how related your Earth-loving work was to your Christianity. As you may know, I was 7-years-old at St. Rita’s Catholic School when I declared that Love was my religion. It remains so today, and still I feel such harmony with you and your widow Maxine, who I was named after. Your Christianity feels based in Love. I admire that about you, and I felt it from you as a young child.
Had I been born male, I’d have been named Matthew Gordon, an equal honor to being named Jessica Maxine. A master diver, you did things in the sea that I would never do, and that’s OK — we all have our art — and I admire you greatly for how you served Earth’s oceans.
For jumping rope with your students… for living fully in your one precious human body… for honoring Maxine in the ways you did… for that huge, vibrant smile that greeted my heart as a child… I thank you!
As you know, Maxine turns 90 in four days. You are with all of us as we celebrate her.
You left your body 25 years ago. Still, when Maxine plays the piano I can feel your presence in the sounds made by her hands.
You are remembered, and what you left behind is a gift to all of us, both human and the wondrous vastness of non-human life.
Thank you for all you gave~
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Readers: Here is The Legacy of Gordon Chan from Bay Nature magazine.
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, is a lifelong letter writer, Love-based leader and eternal fan of Mr. Rogers. This deeply personal blog and our free recorded conversations are devoted to one of her greatest passions: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.