Beautifully Human / Jack Siebert

Updated: a day ago

As we continue our series today called Beautifully Human...

x

We focus on the beauty of humans and the power in their stories…

x

Through telling their stories we hope to connect this world. To spread some love and humanity...

x

To show a common thread of beautiful humans…

x

This week we go to San Mateo, California with Jack Siebert to hear his incredible story...

x

I met Jack at his home in San Mateo and spent a lovely evening in San Francisco with him, he welcomed me in like family from the moment I met him. 

Our car ride home really stayed with me. Jack lives 45 minutes north of Santa Clara where we were staying but drove us all the way past his home to make sure we were safely home. We shared stories of Romania and life lived. Such a kind and beautiful soul… 

x

Let’s all be beautifully human… 

x

Subscribe to our blog and follow us on Instagram (Wanderlustmoonduo) for our weekly Beautifully Human posts...

x

Beautifully Human is now a podcast! Tune in to hear more beautiful stories!

Give us a follow and listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

x

#beautifullyhuman #jacksiebert  #sanmateocalifornia #wanderlustmoonduo #stayhuman

Jack Siebert / San Mateo, California

Nik,

I don't look upon this as a homework assignment, rather I see it as a challenge. A challenge for me to remember things; many folks over the years have told me that I have an incredible memory. Well often that memory is for small details, the microcosm of life; however I often rue the moments I have forgotten in life. When I was 16, my step-father retired and we moved from my hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin to Sarasota, Florida. In some ways the move was great; I made friends, I learned how to water ski, I spent many a weekend day on the beach just walking; however, it seemed to have truncated my life in a town where I was born and raised. I lost contact with almost everyone there and even though I moved back to Kenosha three years later, it was never the same. But in 2005 I was invited to attend the 45th reunion of the graduating class from Mary D. Bradford High School in Kenosha, even though I had not graduated from there with that class; I graduated with the class in Sarasota in 1961. The person responsible for this is named Suzette and to this day I don't think she realizes what a gift she gave me; I returned for that reunion and have gone back for about 4-5 more, one time taking Nato with me. Never once, not once did anyone say anything about my being gay - positive or negative - they just accepted me and my husband as part of that family. Now that I write this, I realize that even though I have thanked Suzette for bringing me back into the fold, I haven't expressed to her what I just told you, so I will.

Now to your questions:

Tell me a story that shaped your life…

- I guess that a story which shaped my life the most must have been the divorce of my parents; it wasn't the divorce itself per se, but rather the disappearance of my father from my life. Soon after the divorce he and his new wife left Kenosha for Southern California where they remained the rest of their lives. They would return to Kenosha about every 3 years - ostensibly to see us, but I felt over the years it was more to see her mother. She, his second wife, had given up one of her children for adoption and her second child, a daughter, and she never had a very good relationship form I know. Anyway, my father was a non involved person in my life - no letters, no birthday cards, no attendance at important events in my life (high school and college graduation, marriage, etc.). Only when my 3 brothers and I were all older did he seem to want a relationship; the work of raising us was done (by our Mother of course and step-father) and he seemed to now want some of the glory of showing off his four sons, all of whom were successful with college degrees and grandchildren. We all in a way made our peace with him knowing that he had had a terrible childhood, but the absence of him in my life over the years was palpable. My step-father was a good man and provided very well for my Mother and us and for that I was always grateful. My father lived to be 94, longer than my Mother, and he lived alone in a double wide trailer in a retirement community in SoCal after his wife died. I would talk to him periodically and Nato and I even went to visit him once; he never questioned my sexual orientation which I was grateful for - he accepted Nato without question.



Tell me a story that almost ruined your life...

- A story that almost ruined my life, I have to go back to when I was in the Peace Corps. I had entered the program with high expectations as I was accepted to work in an educational television program in Bogotá, Colombia. So I was going to be able to put the 7 years of studying Spanish and one year of working in Educational TV at the UW in Madison to work. As it turned out, these two things did happen; what I did not expect to happen was coming to the realization that I was so homesick I couldn't stay there so I left after 6 months; I felt defeated and embarrassed and it took me many years before I was able to tell the truth about why I left - homesickness. I believe that in some ways I was emotionally in-mature and eventually came to grips with this and accepted what I had done wasn't terrible, it was just me. I think that I thought I might have a career in educational TV, but that never happened. However, I did end up with a good 40+ years career in education and I was pleased with that.


Tell me a story that enriched your life...

- A story that enriched my life is easy - the births of my two children. They have never disappointed me and have always shown me that they are strong individuals and have been able to deal with any adversity which has come their way.


Tell me a story that enriched another life...

- A story which enriched another's life - well for about 8 years I was part of a program called Senior Peer Counseling. It's a program administered by a local service agency and we received 50+ hours of training before being assigned a client. I was assigned to Frank, a man who was about 8 years older than me, from rural Kentucky. He left home at 18 to go to Berea College where he put in two years; he left only because he was "outed" as a gay man and he felt he couldn't stay on campus. He eventually met a man named Billy and together they moved to San Mateo, CA. where Frank had a career with an envelope company. By the time I met him, Billy had been dead for 12 years having been about 15 years older than Frank. I spent those 8 years with Frank visiting him weekly and asking him questions about his childhood, life on the family farm in rural Kentucky, school, Billy., etc. It was quite an experience finding out that coming from an area and family like that (he was one of 8), that his parents not only accepted that he was gay (however never talked about), but accepted Billy unconditionally. I was the only person who saw Frank on a regular basis for those 8 years; he had known some of his neighbors, but many of the elderly ones had either moved away or died. He knew a few of the younger ones and had a close relationship with one family; however, he called me his "rock." as I was there every week without fail, except if I was out of town, to visit him. On March 6 he ended his suffering by committing suicide; he had COPD and had been given a diagnosis of 6 months or less to live, which is mandatory under California law in order to commit suicide with the assistance of a doctor. He was at peace and I along with his nephew were there to be with him as he faded away.


Tell me a story of life...

- A story of life - wow! What immediately comes to mind is my Mother. Here was a woman who at the age of about 37, was divorced with four boys. She provided for us the best she could and we always knew that we were a family, that we had a roof over our heads and food on the table. She loved us unconditionally until the day she died and we revered her for having been our Mother.


What would you want the world to know about you...

- What would I want the world to know about me - well that I always, always wanted to do good in the world; that I tried my best to help those in need, be it emotionally, financially, educationally - whatever.


What did / do you miss the most during Covid-19...

- What I miss most during the Pandemic is the ability to move about freely and to do the volunteer work which I love so much, especially at SFO (San Francisco's airport). I have been able to continue some of my work with people seeking asylum in the US as we hold meetings via telephone or video, but it's of course not the same. So it's the human interaction that I miss.


What brings you the most joy / smile the most...

- The most joy of course comes from my grandchildren; I haven't seen one of them in person since November and the other since March, but we do facetime on a regular basis. Just to be with them in person, to play a game, go to a restaurant, whatever. It will come again.


If you were given a plane ticket to anywhere, where would you go...

- Plane ticket to anywhere - hmmm. I absolutely love Paris as I do Thailand and I will visit them again. But if given a ticket, I guess I'd go to New Zealand - because we have family from Nato's side there, but also because it has shown itself to be a socially aware and active country which handled this pandemic about as well as any other country, except for the US of course.


What brought you to where you are today...

- experience of many kinds, friendships of many kinds, mistakes of many kinds and love.


What is your most prized possession...

- My most prized possession? Well since it's a possession, it must be a thing as I don't possess anyone. I guess my computer as it connects me to the world which I love. I have friends in various countries around the world and I keep in touch with them by email, text, WhatsApp, facebook, etc. So yup, computer.

Traveling is my life, and has also saved my life. It shows the beauty of other cultures. tell me a story of your favorite travel moment…

- Oh my, my favorite travel moment - there have been so many. I have been fortunate and have traveled to somewhere between 35-40 countries and I always have wonderful experiences because I leave myself open to them. I do not go on tours except for maybe a one-day tour to get to know an area. So by traveling on buses, trains, planes, hitchhiking, etc. I have had many wonderful moments. One that stands out, and I just told Nato about this the other day, is when my ex-wife Aracely and I lived in Israel. We went there in 1973 with the idea of staying for 6 months; we were part of a program where we lived on a kibbutz and studied Hebrew 1/2 of the day and worked at various jobs on the kibbutz for the other 1/2. In those days, people who didn't have a car often hitchhiked; you would stand on the side of the road, point your hand in a downward motion and someone would pick you up. Well one evening we were returning from a nearby town to our kibbutz and a small pickup truck stopped to give us a ride. The gentleman was Arab and did not speak English, but he did speak Arabic and Hebrew. Our Hebrew was good enough to have a cursory conversation about who we were, where we lived, etc. and the same for him. He said that his wife was a nurse and that she spoke English, and would we like to meet her. We said sure not knowing that he meant right then, that evening. Aracely and I had no time to converse about the safety of such a move, but we said yes; it was probably the best thing we did during our four months in Israel.

From that night on, we visited Naim and Samiha regularly and they took us to different towns to meet friends of theirs. We attended a wedding in one village where the bride was sitting on a chair on top of a table at her parents' home while the women of the village were speaking out loud about her (in Arabic of course) saying things like, "He's so lucky to marry her. She is a good cook. She will bring him many children. etc." In the meantime, the same thing was going on at the groom's parents' home. It was an experience we never would have had if we hadn't met Naim.


Tell me a story of struggle...

- Watching my children struggle in life - both going through divorces, law school, illnesses, etc.


In another life, what are you doing...

- Playing an instrument as well as anyone in the world.


What is your greatest accomplishment...

- Greatest accomplishment - when I had to fight city hall in Madison for the right of my ESL students, who were refugees from war-torn countries, to be able to stay in high school for 4 years and receive public assistance while doing so. I had to go in front of the city council and state my case which made me very nervous - but we won.


What is your biggest fear...

- That something will happen to my children, grandchildren or husband.


What is your biggest regret...

- That I didn't pursue a career in the diplomatic corps.


What do you do for work and why...

- What do I work for today? Happiness and health - because it's better than being sad and sick.


If you had the ear of everyone in the world, what would you say to them...

- I'd say that we all want the same things and let's work towards a world where we all have : happiness, prosperity, good jobs, enough money to live on, and peace.


There you have it my friend—

P.S. The attached picture is of me, my husband Nato, son Aaron, grandson Ibraheem, daughter Andrea, son-in-law Tom and grandson Lorenzo on the occasion of my 75th birthday.





MoonDuo Dancin' News!

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

© 2020 Wanderlust MoonDuo, Moon Dancing...

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • WanderlustMoonDuo Instagram !