In New Mexico for a few days, and I thought of Bandel Bezzerides, my parents' godson and physics whiz who had moved to Los Alamos about 37 years ago. Bandel, now retired, was first in his class at UC Berkeley at the age of 20 and went to work in the Livermore labs and then in Los Alamos. Don't ask me what he did there...
At one point, he brought his parents, Marianthe and Aghapios -- formerly of 1409 E. Channel Street in Stockton -- to Los Alamos so they could be near the grand-kids. I visited Kyria Marianthe on a trip to Santa Fe in 1990 (he died in 1989), and she seemed very glad to see me. Did not get a chance to see Bandel then or now. But we did speak at length by telephone.
Amongst my parents' papers/photos there was a letter Bandel had sent them in 1994 to let them know his Mom had passed, in his arms he told me yesterday. He then asked me how my folks were, and it dawned on me that I had not returned the favor in either 2002 or 2007. My bad.
"I miss her dearly, but bow to God's will." he wrote about his Mom in that letter. Indeed he still holds his faith dear, but perhaps not as dear as his wife Elizabeth (a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy) does. She purchased a property down the street from their home and worked with others to establish Saint Dimitri Orthodox Church (OCA) of Los Alamos. Call that a labor of love.
And their son Vasillios, a pediatric cardiologist in Boston, is married to Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides, Director of the Office of Vocation & Ministry at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Oldest daughter, Annamarie, is Associate Vice-President for Advancement at Georgetown University. And Marianthe, a multi-instrumentalist since the age of 5, is a gifted composer. The fruit did not fall far from the tree.
We spoke of his sisters, Margaret and Liz; both died of cancer some years ago. Margaret had four kids with Father George Makris (also now deceased). Peter -- the only one I remember -- is now a chiropractor in Portland, Oregon.
Last but not least, we spoke of something else we had in common: Agnes Hoffman. She was an English teacher par excellence at Stagg High School that we both loved. Bandel, however, was Miss Hoffman's Gold Standard for the rest Greek-American kids to live up to and a very tough act to follow...I still hope we see him back in Stockton one day!