12 photos, 5 videos
On Sunday 4/25/21, my uncle Yan invited the family to a great and delicious meal at Servino's in Tiburon to celebrate his 68th birthday.
This was my and Al's first group meal out since the beginning of the pandemic 3/17/20.
Dad and I had prepared a song "Banano lemon Singapore" (officially "The Tango: Magnolia" by Vertinsky).
Yan had taught me a funny verse he bastardized "In the banano-lemon Singapore, in a storm/ we lie on a lion skin/ surrounded by the howling of drunk monkeys..."
I illustrated that for him.
It was a fabulous treat, and a lot of it had to do with the four toasts Yan made; one to each of us. In each toast he celebrated two positive qualities of the toastee, and gave some anecdotes to illustrate it.
He toasted my dad (whom he knows for 68 years) for
1.) stubbornness and bravery
2.) loyalty to friends
He and dad both told the story of a Crimean vacation when my dad and stepdad went swimming. Yan was afraid to swim. Dad got swept out on a rip tide, and Yan thought they lost him. Sergei reassured him, that if anything - my dad was fine and swimming to Turkey to defect. But what really happened was dad exited at some cliffs. The cliff face led to a political resort of some sort and he had to climb through thorns; and then get escorted off the premises by guards. The guards wouldn't give dad his clothing back until they returned the next day and paid a bribe of three bottles of good wine, and joined them for a meal.
Next he toasted his wife, Linh (whom he knows for 26 years) for
1.) also stubbornness and bravery
(you can hear her give a partial account of her escape from Vietnam at slide 15 starting at 3:26)
2.) and for how humble she is, putting so many other people first
Then it was my turn (Yan knows me for almost 46 years)
1.) he commended me for being a very good wife and partner to Al and caring for him
2.) and for spirit
He said this was rather personal, but that I give him hope for something beyond the here and now. When I was born, I was delivered into his hands (dad couldn't be there as he was trying to get reinstated into the university, and taking exams in Moscow). Yan said that ever since I was a little girl, my voice does not change.... is age-independent; and he feels I have spirit that is strongly the same.
Last but not least he spoke about Al (whom he knows for almost 20 years).
1.) he said the same about him - that he is a very good husband and partner to me; and has excellent mediation skills.
2.) He then said that he would feel very safe if he had to take a motorcycle ride with Al; that Al has excellent skills with his hands, and building things.
It think we all left pleasantly full, and somehow bolstered with the kind words.
Thank you Yan.
© Alan Lapp and Zina Deretsky