Front: Andis (my man in the Star Wars t-shirt!) and his father Ivars Lindbergs (1978)
Back: His brother Ingmars and mother Ingrida
Men do well to mourn for the dead: it proves that we love something beside ourselves.
– Percy B. Shelley (“An Address to the People on The Death of the Princess Charlotte,” 1817)
Many thanks for all the recent blog comments and emails. I’m afraid that my inbox is overflowing at the moment and it’s going to take some time for me to respond to everyone. There’s been a death in my family and naturally the grieving process and various responsibilities are taking precedence over everything else at the moment.
Lately I seem to be posting brief tributes to lots of dead actors. It comes with the territory I suppose since I write about older films here at Cinebeats. Today I’d like to write about a member of my family who was an actor as well as a poet. It’s extremely doubtful that anyone reading my blog will know the name Ivars Lindbergs but he was my father in-law and last Friday he passed away after a long battle with cancer. It was an ugly fight, which ended with him being bedridden for the past six months and having to rely on his family to care for him. This wasn’t easy for a 75 year-old man who was well over 6 ft. tall with a booming voice. Ivars loved hearing himself talk and enjoyed drinking, smoking and eating whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it. When the cancer reached his brain he had trouble speaking and naturally he couldn’t enjoy the simple things that gave him pleasure anymore. In the end I suspect that he was probably more than ready to shuffle off this mortal coil but he fought his battle with cancer to the very end. He will be missed but I can honestly say that he lived one of the richest and most fascinating lives of anyone I’ve had the pleasure to know.
Ivars was born and raised in Riga, Latvia and lived there until the brutal Soviet occupation forced his family to flee the country. At the end of WWII, young Ivars and his family found themselves living in a Displaced Person’s camp in Germany before immigrating to Australia where he worked doing hard labor including shoveling concrete to help support his family while he attended school. After he met and married a beautiful Latvian girl (my mother in-law) they moved to the U.S. and eventually settled in the California Bay Area in 1965 where they started a family. Ivars began working for the Bechtel Corporation as a designer and in the ’70s they offered him a job he couldn’t refuse in Saudi Arabia. So he packed up his family and moved them to the Middle East for many years. By all accounts the cultural shock caused by the move seemed to be a little tough for some members of the family. But living in the Middle East for so many years provided them with the opportunity to travel to various places in the world they would have otherwise never seen. And it definitely enriched my husband’s understanding of different cultures and people, which he has gratefully shared with me.
Even though my father in-law was a working man, his true love and passion was writing poetry and acting with the Latvian Little Theater of San Francisco, which he helped form. His celebrated artistic pursuits and his untiring support of Latvian culture and arts earned him the Latvian Medal of Honor, which was given to him by the President of Latvia in 2005.
My father in-law and I were not as close as I wished we could have been. But despite the distance between us, I had great respect for the man; especially since he was the father of the wonderful guy I married. Ivars was also the last living parental figure between my husband and myself and his death has been hard to bear. Naturally his passing has stirred up a lot of memories of losing my own parents as well as my mother in-law. They say “time heals all wounds” but I know from experience that the death of loved ones is never eased by the passing of time. We just learn to live with the losses.
I’m taking the three-day weekend to sort myself out and try and catch up on emails, etc. and I hope to be back posting regularly at Cinebeats soon.
– Ivar’s obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle
– His profile in Jauna Gaita (A Latvian language literary & arts magazine)
– A page devoted to his first book of Latvian poetry
– Offical site of the Latvian Little Theater of San Francisco