Through the decades that Mark Felt worked his way up the ranks of the FBI, ultimately becoming one of the most mysterious figures in 20th century American politics -- the Watergate saga's "Deep Throat" -- Felt resided mostly in Virginia.
Today he lives in the moment.
At his Santa Rosa home the other afternoon, he sat in his favorite recliner and savored the glass of juice his friend and 24-hour attendant, Yara Tikoilakeba, served him. Felt was just back from Memorial Hospital, where doctors discovered that the good-looking and gracious ex-heir apparent to iconic FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has congestive heart failure.
Felt was released from Memorial just in time to celebrate his 95th birthday at his family's house off Marlow Road.
As he took in a dwindled and simplified world from his recliner, his daughter and housemate, Joan Felt, took hold of his hand. "Aren't you glad to be home?" she said.
"I sure am," came the robust reply of the snowy-haired, blue-eyed man who 35 years ago whispered to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward the leads that helped bring down the corrupt presidency of Richard Nixon.
"Mark never complains," said Tikoilakeba, who bathes and prays and jokes with Felt. The high point of their day comes when they get in the car and Tikoilakeba drives them to the coast, into the hills, who knows where.
For the most part, Felt no longer can summon the memories of his long career with the FBI and the secret that endured -- from the early 1970s until 2005 -- as one of the country's greatest political intrigues.
It was three years ago that Felt, then a virtually unknown Santa Rosan diminished by a stroke, revealed that he'd been the high-placed informant whom Woodward and Post partner Carl Bernstein code-named "Deep Throat."
In the early days of the Watergate scandal, Felt was associate director of the FBI, No. 2 man to Director Patrick Gray, a longtime friend of Nixon's. Though some critics of Felt have charged that he leaked information to the Post out of resentment for having been passed over as director on Hoover's death in '72, his family maintains he was a patriot outraged at White House attempts to cover up crimes that originated in the Oval Office.
In fact, Felt told Woodward several times he didn't trust Nixon and his lieutenants, calling them "underhanded and unknowable." The heat was building under the White House when Felt left the FBI in mid-1973.
For a man who suffered a serious stroke in 2001 and turned 95 eight days ago, that was a very long time ago.
These days, Felt's life consists largely of his daughter and four grown grandsons, the spacious and airy room he shares with his Fijian helper, their daily drives and the healthy meals Tikoilakeba prepares for him.
Joan Felt said from near her dad's easy chair that he eats pretty much the same dinner every night -- organic chicken and vegetable soup, salmon and mashed potatoes -- and never tires of it. Her father tracked every word of the conversation.
"My mouth's watering!" he said, smiling broadly. Another time, Felt's daughter and caretaker were discussing a typical day at home when Felt piped up, "Today's a typical day.
"I love it here," he said with certainty. "It's very important."