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News

Obama's coming to town

Obama's coming to town

The president is scheduled to make a stop about noon today at a private residence in Los Altos Hills. He and his entourage are expected to travel south from San Francisco to the event, then head back north for San Francisco International Airport and ...

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Schools

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall


Town Crier File Photo
Starting in the fall, daily use of laptops in the classroom will be standard operating procedure for students at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools as the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District launches a pil...

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Community

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'


Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.” ELIZA RIDGEWAY/ TOWN CRIER

A massive troupe of young people and grownups gathered in Los Altos this summer to stage the latest iteration of a childhood sta...

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Sports

Football in July

Football in July


Town Crier file photo
Mountain View High’s Anthony Avery is among the nine local players slated to play in tonight’s Silicon Valley Youth Classic.

Tonight’s 40th annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic – also known as the Charlie...

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Comment

Pools should be included: Editorial

Los Altos residents should be receiving calls this week from city representatives conducting a survey to determine priorities for a revamped Hillview Community Center.

Notice that we did not say “civic center” – chastened by a lack of public support...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Trang Ly, left, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.
...

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Business

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Longtime Palo Alto law firm Thoits, Love, Hershberger & McClean plans to open an office at 400 Main St. in Los Altos after construction is complete in November.

A longtime Palo Alto law firm plans to expand into L...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

Resident of Palo Alto

Richard Patrick Brennan, journalist, editor, author, adventurer, died at his Palo Alto home on July 4, 2014 at age 92. He led a full life, professionally and personally. He was born and raised in San Francisco, joined the Arm...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

PYT stages 'Shrek'

PYT stages 'Shrek'


Lyn Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Dana Cullinane plays Fiona in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Shrek The Musical.”

Peninsula Youth Theatre presents “Shrek The Musical” Saturday through Aug. 3 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts...

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Spiritual Life

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting


Courtesy of Carolyn Barnes
The newly built Los Altos church in 1914 featured a bell tower and an arched front window. Both continue as elements of the building as it stands today.

Foothills Congregational Church – the oldest church building ...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Truly unconditional love: Haugh About That?

For the fourth week in a row, the piercing ring of the telephone disturbed my mother’s midday quiet in September 1960. Slowly picking up the receiver, she held her breath hoping it was just a wrong number.

“Mrs. Madden,” Sister Mary sneered, “Jackie will be spending the afternoon in detention – again.”

Chanting a mea culpa, my mom sought pardon for her 8-year-old daughter. As she was about to promise the black-frocked warden that I’d be duly crucified at home, the angry nun steamed, “Doesn’t she ever shut up?”

Later that afternoon, as I was released from my prison cell at St. Charles School in San Carlos, I came face-to-face with my parole office and her infuriated glare. “Jackie, what’s gotten into you? You used to be so good.”

Feeling the intensity of her disapproval escalate, I bowed my head and whimpered, “I’m sorry, Mommy. Does this mean you don’t love me anymore?”

Instantly, the stiffness in her back turned to rose-colored Jell-O as she bent down and took me into her arms. With a soft voice now void of all anger, I heard, “I’m not happy with you right now, but I’ll always love you.”

Over the years, this message was repeated not just for my benefit, but for my three brothers’ as well. But as the arms of the antique cuckoo clock spun in lazy circles toward adulthood, I wondered how she could keep reciting it when one member of the family’s choices constantly caused consternation.

As children, the Maddens resembled images from a Norman Rockwell painting. Life was innocent and sweet. The only discord that erupted centered on who got the last piece of chocolate cake. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, our baby brother’s actions chipped away at the peaceful serenity that cherished childhood memories bring. The phone calls received on his behalf made my indiscretions look like small dribbles of milk dotting my chin, easy to wipe away.

Every family has one member who makes us cringe at times. It’s just how life goes, but reflecting on my parents’ struggle with the twists and turns of raising a child laced in heartache, there was a question I needed my father to answer: “Dad, how are you able to still care so deeply?” I blurted one night while spoon-feeding his medications.

Looking up from his wheelchair, he took my hand and said simply, “He’s my son.”

Now, I’ve always understood that a parent’s love for his or her child is unconditional – that intense affection that has no limitations. I feel it for my kids every day. But when a person becomes toxic and poisons the surroundings you live in, it can feel like an impossible task.

Seeing the question still lingering in my confused eyes, Dad pulled me close to share a secret he’d been keeping all these years. “I understand that you might need to detach yourself from him physically, but it’s his soul you must love. That’s what God sees and holds in his hands.”

My father taught me many things during our time together for which I’m eternally thankful, but I have to say this was the most powerful.

I’ve always been grateful for those who are easy to love. Maybe it was because I was getting something in return – a warm touch, a positive response, a gesture of kindness. But my father understood that loving the soul unconditionally despite the fact that it may be hurtful not only encouraged a balanced heart, but also kept you in tune with God’s vision for the world. “We should love because of who we are, not because who they are,” he said.

Thanks, Dad.

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