Friday, December 30, 2011

Into The Light...

In case you missed it, all the major evening news programs carried a story about a young man named Craig Breedlove last Thursday evening.   They told the story of a young man, just 18 years old, with an incurable heart disease who made the most of his young life.   But, what really makes this story so powerful is his description of his previous near-death experiences where he described being bathed in a white light and later in a white room, so full of peace, a place he did not want to leave.

Mindy believes that Spirit used Craig Breedlove to deliver a message to the world at large about how people should not fear their eventual "passing over".

You can see the set-up piece here:

CBS Morning News Segment on Ben Breedlove

Ben died on Christmas day.   But the message he left the rest of us... too long at over seven minutes to be shown in full on the networks, it can be seen in its entirety below.   So far, over 1,000,000 people have viewed the message of hope and everlasting peace that he left... now you can too...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Political Discourse...

My friend Dave K is a libertarian. In response to a recent email dialogue where someone suggested...

"Anyone is better than Obama."  

He replied...

"Really?  The Republican party is supposedly our salvation?  Does it really matter any more...?"

Upon further reflection, perhaps Dave is right after all...

Monday, December 26, 2011

...Everybody Hurts...

The New Year is just several days away.   For some, a hope for a new beginning… for others, a time to forget to the past.   But for many, an excuse for raucus celebration, and for a few, the beginning of a long, never ending journey into a life of sadness.   Please take the time to review this incredibly powerful Australian video about drinking and driving and pass it along to your friends and loved ones.   So if you must drink…, on New Year’s or at any other time of the year, please do so responsibly.  And let someone else drive.   THINK about what COULD happen…  is all that worth it?  ... Really?

When your day is long and the night
The night is yours alone
When you're sure you've had enough of this life, 
Don't let yourself go
Cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes...sometimes everything is wrong
Now it's time to sing along
When your day is night alone ...hold on...
If you feel like letting go
When you think you've had too much of life well hold on...

Cause everybody hurts
Take comfort in  your friends
Everybody hurts
Don't throw in your hand, oh no hold on
Don't throw in  your hand
If you feel like you are alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

If you are on your own in this life
The days and nights are long
When you think you've had too much of this life to hang on

Well, everybody hurts... sometimes
Everybody cries
And everybody hurts... sometimes
And everybody hurts... sometimes
So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, Hold on
Hold on, Hold on

Everybody hurts
You are not alone...

as sung by REM...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Veteran's Christmas Wish

On this Christmas Eve, December 24th, 2011, I would like to share a poem by my friend, Robert A. Hall, a former Marine and Vietnam Veteran.   His words could equally  apply to those who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan as well… and we should not forget that…

A Veteran's Christmas Wish

Each year when Christmas comes around again,
I pause on Christmas Eve to take a dram
Of whisky, and I think of absent friends,
And Christmas in a place called Vietnam.

I think of boys who never had the chance
To see their kids on Christmas Eve at play,
Their lives were spent that freedom might advance
From Valley Forge right up through yesterday.

They fell at Belleau Wood and Normandy,
At Gettysburg, at Iwo, and at Hue,
They gave their lives to keep our people free,
And never saw another Christmas Day.

So take a moment from your festive joys,
To think of soldiers who were young and true,
And say a pray on Christmas Eve for boys
Who gave up all their Christmases for you.

                  Robert A. Hall
                  Former SSG, USMC

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Deck The Halls!

If you were able to come by our house, you would see that it is the brightest in the whole neighborhood, both inside and out!  In side we have at least SIX fairly large Christmas trees and plenty of other decorations to go around as well...

No one does Christmas like Mindy and she always has.  She knows how to spread around the Holiday Spirit that's for sure.   And that is something I hope I will always remember!

Merry Christmas to All of You!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't Worry - Be Happy!

Apologies to those regular readers who've been wondering where I have been.  After conducting a successful whitetail population count in Wisconsin over Thanksgiving, I must have caught a virus on the airplane on the way home... within a week I had a bad cold...which for me usually means two weeks as it usually settles into my chest the second week which it did.   Usually I resist antibiotics, but after a self diagnosis of pleurisy which it was, I relented and took the antibiotics (after the Doc popped that chest rib back into place that I had coughed out of place).  All that took about another painful ten days and so...  here we are... not all better, but better than I was...

The first thought I want to post now that I am back is one that came from Paul Allen's autobiography "Idea Man", a book I read on the flights to and from Wisconsin.  Paul Allen, along with Bill Gates, founded Microsoft.  Despite all his success, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer, at the age just 29.  Fortunately for him, it was diagnosed at its earliest stage and he was able to beat it into submission. doing so, it taught him perspective about life.  Working with Bill Gates, a very focused and difficult person, had always been tense and Mr. Allen used this health challenge as a pretext to permanently sever the partnership.  For the first time in his life he began to travel, to act upon his many interests outside of the business.  Two years later, his father, an encouraging mentor throughout his life, died unexpectantly from a pulmonary embolism at the age of just 61.

Both of these experiences changed the way he viewed and has since led his life.  One of the most important lessons is that wealth, while very empowering, cannot control the way the world works.  Despite being worth some $13 Billion, owning the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Seahawks, and Octopus, the 9th largest yacht in the world as well as numerous other real estate and technology investments, Mr. Allen was again stricken with cancer in 2009.  He wrote in his book that...  "I've come to realize that many things happen at their own pace, beyond your control, whether it's the development of a young point guard or the trial of a potential Alzheimer's therapy.  I'm learning to less harried in anticipation and more accepting of each necessary, incremental step." 

He points out that YOU are in control of your own happiness and that happiness is all relative.  If you are not happy, then you should act to change the circumstances of your surroundings to become so.  But sometimes, due to circumstances beyond your control, you must find the happiness in the hand you had been given.  And that my friends, is a lesson all of us must learn.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Ed is hunting and cell reception is unavailable. I feel sad to not be able to speak with him, and worried about his well being. I am his nemesis right now as he in his frame of mind and thinks I am trying to control him. He does not seem to grasp the gravity of trying to protect him and us for future care, and keeps telling me he is not "goofy" yet. Of course his behavior warrented the diagnosis without him having a recognition of it, and in the present he cannot see the changes within himself either. As a partner it leaves you feeling lonely, angry, scared. As a caretaker you have to continue to do what is right, and try to disregard his anger. Tough time of this disease when your loved one is not quite "there" but enough to have to manage things despite their objections. I remind myself to just do my best and its only the ad that makes him so pissed off at me! I am in hopes that he is having a wonderful time with his friends and enjoying being at his hunting camp and will come back feeling a little lighter. We'll see....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What you don't know

What you don't know from reading Ed's blogs are the changes we see in him. He is a very good writer, and expresses himself very well through the written word. What you don't know is that he spends hours alone in his office, not working just reclusing. He has had total personality changes and is often, hate to say it this way, but just plain weird. He says bizarre things and often engages with our 2 year old grandson like he is another child ( a conversation about farts comes to mind). He is very angry that I am "controlling him". He says he's not "goofy" yet.He jokes that he "forgot" over and over...cute the first couple times...not so much on the 1000 time. He truly does not see some of this, God love him, and it scares me to death. Will the boys at hunting camp see it? Or will he ralley and they will relinquish and let him in the tree stand alone (Pat promised not to). He couldn't open a laptop the other day or count out 20 dollars...will he remember how to use his gun if he choses to shoot a deer? It makes me crazy...but I have to let him go. This is a tough time for us as a family and we miss his steadfastness. That's what you don't know from reading Ed's blogs...and apparently he doesn't know either!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Leavin' On A Jet Plane...

"How the hell are you, you old son-of-a-bitch?"

Next Tuesday, I’ll board a plane that will take me on a round about journey to the north woods of Wisconsin and to the door of the Deer Camp I have  shared with the rest of the boys most Novembers since 1994.  I board the plane in Phoenix about 8 AM... ride the five hours to MSP... in an MD 80 this year, layover an hour which is about the time you need to walk across the vast Minneapolis  airport up there to the commuter jet terminal.  I then board a CRJ for the short up and down hour ride back down to La Crosse, WI.   Most years there is already snow on the ground and we fly low enough to admire it in the farmer's fields as we parallel the mighty Mississippi south to LSE.    Patty will meet me at the airport about 3 PM with the pick up already loaded, the ATV in back and my rifle and gear already packed and we'll ride the three and half hours north across the Wisconsin dairy and cornfields through towns that get smaller and smaller the further north we go into the darkness...  we'll stop along the way for a cup of hot, steaming coffee and maybe some homemade apple pie at a favorite truckstop... and we'll get there well after dark, in the cold, to open up the shack and to get that wood fire's a ritual we have repeated together many years...

I  almost didn't get the ticket this year.   Despite having been around firearms all my personal and profession life, my doctor had some understandable reservations about my being at hunting camp this year.   Finally, after some discussions with Patty about being closely supervised,  Mindy agreed that I could go…

I know some of you reading this and some in my own family don't understand why anyone hunts  and I've tried to explain it to others in some years past.    It's not about the  thrill of the kill anymore... it's long since  been way past that... (though I did see the biggest buck of my life last year... but at a distance too long for a good, clean shot.)   Deer hunting is part of the culture  where I grew up in a small town in the wilderness  of central Maine.   It's about being outdoors.   It's about mediation,  reviewing life and reflections from a treestand.   But most of all... it’s about friendships.    Since I joined the this group in 1994, some friends have come and gone, and new younger faces have replaced those who have departed… RIP Jim K…  and I know now my time there will be limited too… and this year could be my last…

But no, I bought the ticket after  reading the two essays below.

Perhaps they will help you all understand why we come back every year... until we don't.

Field and Stream

Why We Love Deer Camp

by David  Pezal

Technically, a deer camp is any place where a group of people congregate to hunt deer. I've been in a great many of them, starting in 1968, ranging from a dilapidated canvas tent in New York's Adirondacks to a trophy whitetail establishment in south Texas that was more like a sheik's villa in Brunei.    Let me describe a real deer camp for you so you can see why it is what is and why deer hunters keep coming back to it, season after season.

It's in northern Maine, just a few miles south of the Maine -Quebec Border, very, very far from tourist Maine.   This is hard country... too rocky to grow anything, too cold for too much of the year for most people to stay.   In November the skies turn grey and stay that way until May.  It's the Great North Woods, pines and birches and hemlocks that extend all the way through Canada until you reach the tundra.

Deer season in rural Maine has the same effect on daily existence as the World Series once did in America.   Life doesn't exactly stop, but it certainly changes for a while.  The most interesting thing around is found in the local general store -- a blackboard listing who got what, where, how, how much it weighed, and how many points it had.

In Maine, they pronounce the word "dee-ah",  and if you get a whitetail in this part of the world, you have got yourself a deer no matter how you say it.  This far north, high body mass equals survival, so the deer grow huge.   If you look at the weights on the blackboard, you'll see many poundages that exceed 200, and some that hit 300 or more.

The antlers are neither particularly big nor particularly handsome, but when you look at the meat pole and you can see something hanging head down that is big enough to pull a plow, who cares?

You drive to the camp on logging roads, a combination of potholes, mud, dust, and puddles so deep that they come up to you rocker panels.  It's a half hour off a paved road.   There are no power lines, and no planes in the sky.  Not much can live here.  The deer are scarce in the best of times, and an extended winter takes a terrible toll.   Moose are probably more numerous than deer --- they do better in the deep snow.   There are grouse,  and big coyotes that interbred with wolves, and black bears, and beaver, but not much else.

The camp was, for many years, a resort that catered to hunters and fishermen, but a few years back, it was bought by a wealthy individual to entertain his friends.   After the resort was sold, some of the past guests --- a group of regulars who had hunted there every year during the third week of November--- got together with the former owners, and together they convinced the current owner to open the camp for that one week.  

These men, ten in most years, are cut from the same bolt of cloth.   They are all New Englanders and all lifelong deer hunters.   Most are retired, or close to it.   They come up here for seven days of hunting to get up at 4:30 in the morning,  freeze,  fight to keep from falling asleep on the tree stand (-try it when you are 70) and maybe shoot a deer.

I say "maybe" because the odds of killing a deer here are not high.  One of these men went 13 years without filling his tag.   If there are three deer on the pole at the end of the week, it's been a good week.   Two years ago, after a frightful winter and spring, not one person saw a single deer in the entire seven days.

Most of the men live long distances apart, and all the contact they have in the 51 weeks between seasons is a couple of emails.  But they all come back.   They come back because they get to spend a week in the woods, and not shave, and argue, and share in one another's successes and failures.   They come back because of the unspoken acknowledgement that for any of them, for any number of reasons, this may be his last season.

The cover story in this magazine this month is about developing skills and outwitting a buck on its own turf.  And  that's fine; in fact, that's terrific.   But that's only part of why you come to deer camp.

The 10 men who congregate in Maine each November know the real reason.  It's the same thing that draws war veterans or college classmates together after they've parted.   It's shared experience, and a brand of friendship that occurs nowhere else.

You'll understand what I a talking about when you're hauling your duffel bag out of the pickup and a fellow whom you haven't seen in a year comes up to you, unable to hide the joy on his face, and says:

"How the hell are you, you old son-of-a-bitch?"

When that happens, you'll understand.  Whether you are old or young.

Or a son-of-a-bitch.

Welcome to deer camp.

I had a friend or two in the last couple of years give up hunting too...  like me, one of them made a long trip to do so...  but when the personal dynamics of his hunting  group changed...  I understood his decision...   like below for example... 


July 25, 2008
Why We Finally Stop Hunting
I have an unnatural fascination with prehistoric man and, like a lot of paleontologists, spend time wondering what killed off the Neanderthals. They were around for 260,000 years in the face of some of the worst weather the earth has experienced, but 2,000 to 10,000 years after Cro-Magnons showed up, they vanished. Neanderthals lived in small family groups, and bit by bit, the groups ceased to exist. Finally, it probably came down to one man or woman, and that must have been the loneliest death imaginable.
I'm sure that last Neanderthal's last thought, just before his (or her) heart stopped was "Screw it. Why bother anymore? There's no one left."
And so it is with hunters. Hunting and shooting are intensely tribal. Only another hunter or shooter can understand what we do, and we tend to hang around with hunters and shooters of our own age. The pissant punks who can't remember before GPS and Gore-Tex and laser rangefinders will never understand how older generations view things.
Eventually, you reach the point  where you look around and there is no one left who remembers the things you do. Unlike the poor damned Neanderthal, you may not decide to die, but you very well may decide to hang up your guns. If you have no one left to share your sport with, why bother anymore?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Famous Last Words...

"OH WOW!...  OH WOW!...  OH WOW!"

According to Mona Simpson, the sister of Steve Jobs, those were his last words as she described them in a moving eulogy about her brother recently published in the New York Times.    See:

I've often thought about what my final last words might be, but it's unlikely I'll be lucid enough to remember them.

One thing I do know is that I do not want to be all hooked up to machines and IVs with a tube down my throat in some hospital as I struggle to get the words out, whatever they might be.  Just give me the "happy kool-aid" and I'll be on my way...

You should think about that too...   So... if you have not as yet created a "Living Will" with a medical directive, I would urge you to do at once.  Having one should help you avoid the uncontrolled hospital exit described above.   Mindy and I have updated ours in the last several weeks and you should either think about one or review the one you have...

In a related segway, let me also recommend this book to those whose loved ones may be dying in hopes you might better understand the concept of   "nearing death awareness"  which should not be confused with a "near death experience" with which most people are more familiar.

The book review said...

"Final Gifts has become a classic.  In this moving and compassionate book, hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelly share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years experience tending to the terminally ill.

Through their stories we come to appreciate the near-miraculous ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings, and even choreograph their own final moments:  we also discover the gifts - of wisdom, faith and love- that the dying have for the living to share.

Filled with practical advice on responding to the requests of the dying and helping the prepare emotionally and spiritually for death,  Final Gifts shows how we can help the dying person live fully to the very end."

I'll also post the link to this book in the Related Thoughts and Resource section in the menu to the right.

It is very beautiful over there.
~~ Thomas Alva Edison, inventor, d. October 18, 1931

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat?

Mindy is a big believer in reincarnation.   But I'm afraid of what I might come back as... and then even if I did... I probably wouldn't remember it....  go figure !   .....ha ha ha

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Friend Came By Today...

My sister-in-law Linda sent him to see me...





When He gets to your PC, escort Him to the next stop. Please don't allow Him to sleep on your PC.  The message He is carrying  is very important.

I asked Him to bless you and yours with peace, happiness and abundance.

Say a prayer and then pass Him on to bless others as I sent him on to bless you. Our assignment is to spread love, respect and kindness throughout the world.

Have a blessed day and touch somebody's life today as hopefully I have touched your life.

He's walking around the world via e-mail!!
Please pass it on so He can get there.... 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Congratulations St. Louis Cardinals!

Wow... what an unlikely journey to a Championship.  I love baseball because anything can happen.

Friday night's Game 7 win over the Rangers was sort of anti-climatic after the incredible Game 6. So many improbable be within one pitch of winning it all on three separate occasions and then ... not to.  That has to be extremely hard to deal with whether you are a player or a fan.

Not since the 1986 Red Sox, has a team been within one pitch, one strike, one out of winning the Championship three times in a single game.  That year of course, a million hearts were broken all over New England and the rest of Red Soxs Nation as that ball rolled under Bill Buckner's glove at first base.   I know, mine was one of them..

If you did not see either Game 6, it's hard to explain.  But like Yogi said, " ain't over till it's over."

I know how those poor fans in Texas feel...   I do....

Everyone says that this Game 6 will one for the ages.   I certainly doubt I will ever see a game like that again in my lifetime.  Perhaps this one will now replace that 1986 Red Soxs Game that comes up when you Google "Worst Baseball Loss In History." for the ages...  after the meltdown of my beloved Red Soxs this year... again...,  I wonder if I will ever see them win another World Series...   ... well... probably not in my lucid lifetime.   Anyway, those were great memories...

And thanks for going to Fenway with me last year Mick... even if the Yankees did lose we still had a good time.  That will make for a great memory son...

I wonder if they have baseball in heaven?   Ted Williams may be still be a frozen pop sickle  in Scottsdale, but I've always wanted to meet that guy... that may be my best chance to talk fly fishin' with the "Splendid Splinter"...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Ticking Meter

My head feels like an old depot,
Worn by time and tears,
No more locomotives passing through,
Café filled with tales and baggage,
The old depot’s barren now,
There has been a great brain robbery.

“One cool spring day in 1971, the kind that makes New Englander’s smile at each other, I was driving with my husband down the main street of a small coastal town south of Boston.  I spotted a parking space in front of our destination, a café where we dined frequently, sharing chowder, fried clams, giant iced teas, and dreams of the future.
              I told my husband, ‘Look there’s a parking space.  Not only that – there’s money in the meter.’
              ‘I’m glad’,  he murmured, seeking my eyes through his sunglasses.   ‘But I think my meter is running out.’
              His metaphor fell on deaf ears.”

- From the first page of the opening chapter of “Learning to Speak Alzheimers” by Joanne Koenig Coste
And so begins an important book for both early AD sufferers and more importantly, for their caregivers.
It contains many useful checklists that explain the progression of AD and the behavioral changes associated with each stage... a checklist to know when to stop driving for example... and many other useful tips.   Most important, it discusses  "Habilitation"  a new approach for caregivers in understanding and dealing with the frustrations that AD sufferers undergo.

- I must remember to give it to Mindy to read...  it's a good thing she reads my blog entries, in case I "forget" ... ha ha ha...


On another level,  the metaphor  Ms. Coste's husband unintentionally spoke does create a realization of time ticking away.   One good thing from the book was Ms. Coste's statement which reinforced what my neurologist, Dr. Flitman, had said... and that was that the progression of the disease can take 3-10 years to progress from one stage to the next.

The problem is ... every person is different, and none of us really know how much "reality" time is left on our individual "meters"  do we?

I remain hopeful that the new drugs I am taking to slow the disease's progression will be like dimes to buy me a little more time in the real world.    But I also remain hopeful that, in the real time I have left, that AD research will turn up some quarters to turn the meter back a bit for all of us...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Notes From A Morning Walk...

Now that the weather is nicer, Samantha, the German Shepard Dog (GSD) and I try to get out for a 2-3 mile morning walk at least 3-4 days a week.  We have several neighborhood circuits we can choose from and at least so far, we have been able to find our way back home.   We sure miss Elvis, our “Little Monster” dog who used to challenge every dog, large or small, whose path we crossed.  But since Elvis left us to cross over the “Rainbow Bridge” several weeks ago, it’s generally been a lot quieter along these lanes.   That leaves a lot of time to think about the future and our own unsure path that lies ahead.

Today however, in the parking lot at the end of Mill Avenue, there was an SUV with the following bumper sticker…

That was some food for thought for the next 1/2 mile or so...  

"How would they know..."  I wondered?  Closed or not, I'd like to keep mine for at least several more years...

I am sure there are some other lessons in it somewhere...   but... I forget....

Life Cycle...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bob Seger Wait For Me

I Will Answer The Wind

Wait For Me  - Bob Seger

I will answer the wind

I will leave with the tide
I'll be out on the road
Every chance I can ride

No matter how far
No matter how free
I'll be a long
If you'll wait for me

There'll be times when I'll rise
There'll be times when I'll fall
There'll be times when it's best to say nothing at all

Knowing you're right
But letting it be
I'll be around
If you'll wait for me
If you'll wait for me

And I'll fight for the right to go over that hill
If it will only means something to me
I will not be persuaded
I won't be still
I'll find a way to be free

In the cool of the night
In the heat of the day
If you're ever in doubt
I'll be on my way
Straight to your side
I guarantee
I'll be around
If you'll wait for me
If you'll wait for me

how do you measure love?

How do you measure love? Is it measured by time? I think it can be...the more you go through together, the deeper the love. Ed and I really have no history, although in these 5 short years we have been through much. Before we were married my oldest child, then 34 years old almost died. He was in a coma, hooked to a ventilator, in icu. When he got out of the hospital he had to go back to the hospital daily for treatment for 6 weeks. I didn't know how I would be able to get him there and take care of him. If I don't work I don't make money. I have a private spiritual counseling practice. My family of course all pitched in to help out. But Ed said " bring him to my house, my schedule is very flexible I'll take care of him". We were just dating then. And that's how he got to know my Jason. He took him in. Drove him to the hospital and read the paper while Jason had treatment. He is a man with deep caring. He was always very good to my Mother. When he met her she was in her toothless, drooly, diaper stage. He always kissed her hello and goodbye.

He is a man with true compassion. When my Mom died he was the one to tell me. The day our grandchild was born, he was over the moon. He never had kids of his own and was so excited to share all the stages of a child. Elliot is our light, truly.

Perhaps even 5 years is enough time to create deep love with just the right ingrediants. I don't know. I do know that Ed's humor, compassion, caring, and the depth of his soul is what I love. I'll never know how deep and sustaining it could be from the foundation that we have built so far, but I feel grateful for this much and know that I do love him deeply. He's not always himself anymore and it saddens me, but mostly I just feel angry about it. I realize it is one of the stages a caretaker goes through. I am short with him at times and then feel guilty. If I was counseling myself I would say that it was a normal way to feel and be. But I vow to do better and then act badly again, impatient. I'll keep working on it. Praying about it. And reminding myself that yes five years was good. Better than nothing with such a great man.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It actually scares me to death that he's driving even though his doctor suggested he not. He is not seeing some of the personality or behavior changes...will he recognise when he needs to stop driving?....I will have to get some help on this one. I certainly understand why he doesn't want his freedom taken away.

I remember how upset my Mom was when her little yellow mercedes was grounded...she insisted she could drive even though she rear ended someone at a light. It was a struggle for a long time ..explaining over and over again where her car was.

Tonight Rick, Amanda and Elliot carved and painted pumpkins, They put on loud music and made it grand. Rick carved his beloved Denver Bronco logo on one. Amanda painted a "momma, daddy, and Ellie pumpkin. Ed and I sat and watched until he became over stimulated and returned to his office where he recluses. Before he got up he had such a funny look on his face...he said he was going to try to remember it, but he won't... and more than likely since we have all been together less than 5 years won't even remember us at all. I am facing it, but it's hard.

Fast and Furious...

No... not a guns or roses story... we'll save that for another time.

It's Saturday morning and I am just back from my morning fun run... and no I am not talking about the two legged kind...  I gave those up years ago... all those years in the Army and I had to run 2-3 miles a day three to five times a week.  I took alot of pride in that I never failed an Army PT test and still finished #4 in the two mile run... well ahead of most of those younger guys... in my last PT test before retirement...  but that was 50 pounds and over 15 years ago.   There's another lesson in that too... but again... another time, another day...

No... today I am talking about a FAST, FUN, top off run in a four wheeled fiberglass red roller skate...

When Dr. Flitman was going over my early AD diagnosis, he suggested a number of things... and one of them was that I might consider not driving on the open highways, and maybe not at night ... and perhaps I ought to consider a co-pilot as well.   When he said that I was not FURIOUS, but I was annoyed.  Maybe I can't remember the governor's name all the time, but I have not had any spacial disorientations, at least not yet.

Maybe he was afraid I might forget I was on the freeway... or what the speed limit was ( - "But officer, I can't remember what the speed limit is - I have Alzheimer's you know?" )  ... or how to get home.  Or maybe he was just saying that to cover himself legally.   But none of that has manifested itself as yet... and until it does... I don't plan to give up riding in the roller skate or hanging up my keys...   maybe some day... but not yet...   no... not yet...

I grew up in modest circumstances in a small town in Maine.  While my family never lacked for anything (as least so far as I knew), we only had ONE brand new car the entire time I lived at home.   And indeed, being the thirfty, flinty old New Englander I am, I think it was my fourth car before I broke down and bought a new one.

But as a kid, there was only one car I lusted after, a red Corvette.  And when I turned 50, having achieved a certain modicum of success in life.  I got one.  The one I drive is 11 years old, highly modifed, but she will still go pretty damn fast... as least fast enough for me.

Life goes by fast.  Grab some of it before it all passes you by is my advice.  I plan to keep reaching out and gettin' me some while I can.

P.S.  If you live in Phoenix, stay off the damn freeways on Saturday mornings between 7 and 10 AM!  That could be me out there blowin' your doors off as I blast by.    SEE YA!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The 3 Faces of Ed

These days when I get home from work I don't know which Ed will be there....they are all new to me. There is the very animated goofy Ed, there is the angry sullen Ed, and there is the very tired I don't feel good Ed. But we are still finding humor in it all. That is all we can do for now.

Our joy is in our family...Jason, Micky, Rick, Amanda and Elliot. They remind us how important it is to stay the course.

A Story Of Getting To "Acceptance..."

On the day that Dr. Flitman told me...with 90% certainty, that I had Early Onset AD... I reacted... calmly.  I think I remember my wife breaking into tears and squeezing my hand. Her mother had died from AD and now she was facing yet another passage and another eventual... passing.

I just thought to myself...  "well, what a kick in the nuts."  Still, I was not shocked, but instead I found myself in a strange state of acceptance, grace, and peace... even when faced with such bad news.   Thinking about it later, I wondered how most of Dr. Flitman's patients reacted to such news.   I'll have to remember to ask him next time I see him.

A couple of Saturdays later, at her suggestion, I went with Mindy to see "Michael", a counselor we have used in the past to help us improve our "being married" skills...  well... mostly... MY "being married" skills.  After 18 years as a bachelor, marriage was pretty foreign to me, and I admit, even after more than four years in this second one, I am still learning how to be a better husband.    Anyway, I like Michael.  He brings a neutral, third party perspective.  And perhaps Michael can bring us both some perspective on this journey as well.

So Michael  asked me how I could be so "calm and accepting" of my dilemma.  I guess that perhaps other people might go through the well known Kubler-Ross five stage model of grief made popular in her book, On Death and Dying.  These include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

But I seemed to have jumped immediately to ... acceptance... at least initially.

It was a lesson of personal strength I had learned many years previously.

My first career had been spent in the Army.  And, as most anyone who has spent a career in the military, you rarely go through all those years without a few close calls, especially if you spend a few years in the Combat Arms, or the Infantry, as I did.   And, in the very first of what turned out to be "several" helicopter incidents over my career, that first one was nearly my last one.  

We had been scheduled to fly a "recon" mission in a Bell OH-58 helicopter.  I wasn't even scheduled to fly, but at the last minute, the guy who was supposed lead the mission was late and the CO pointed at me, knowing I knew how to read a map and that I knew where we were supposed to go and the pilot did not.   So I jumped in the co-pilot's seat and two other guys jumped in back to snap some photos and away we went.

 The weather that day was lousy.  Light rain, a low ceiling with heavy cloud cover, but still enough visibility for the pilot to maintain VFR flight.   After a ten minute flight out to the target area, we made several low passes over the area we were supposed to operate in later that week.   Steep mountains, big rocks, a swamp, trees, but really no place you could land or crashland a helicopter.   When the guys in back said they had enough photos, we climbed back up to about 1800 feet, just under the overcast, and headed back to our landing zone.  During the flight, the pilot and I had been talking about flying.  I told him what flying floatplanes in the bush in Maine was like  and he explained a little about flying a helicopter.

"Wanna try it," he asked?   "Sure...",  I replied. Who wouldn't?  I had hardly had my hands on the stick and the collective and my feet on the rudder pedals more than ten seconds when I heard this  BEEP BEEP BEEP in my headset and noticed that the Master Caution Light had illuminated on the cockpit panel.   

"I have the aircraft!"  the pilot said forcefully as I quickly removed my hands and feet from the controls.

The pilot pushed the collective to the floor and pushed the nose over.  It occurred to me that we were going to ... CRASH!  I turned to the two guys in back and yelled... "Brace, we are going to crash!"   I can stil see the color drain from their faces in my mind's eye.  And then I turned back to face the impact.   The thing I remember most was how it all seemed to be happening in s-l-o-w motion even though the whole thing probably took less than 30 seconds.   As we were coming down, I suddenly a sense of peace and acceptance wash over me.   I was without fear as we all looked death in the face.    It was... calming.

But that day was not the day on our life's calendar to meet St. Peter.  Our pilot had had two combat tours in Vietnam and this was not his first autorotation... though he later admitted he was a little out of practice...

At first there seemed no place to land, but he had headed for two farmer's fields separated by a treeline.  As we rapidly descended toward the ground, he noticed a very large boulder on our intended landing spot.  So, at the last minute, we veered toward the second field and just barely cleared the treeline.  This caused the pilot's concentration and depth perception to be thrown off just a little and we flared a little too high... at about 20 feet altitude... and dropped in with some forward motion.  We hit on the rear of the skids and rolled forward...  I watched... again, in s-l-o-w motion... as the still rapidly rotating rotor blades came down ...down ...down... I knew that if it hit the ground we would likely be ripped apart... so in one motion I clicked the emergency release on the door and it fell off.  I then flipped the release on my seat belt harness... I was going to jump out... but then I noticed the rotor still furiously spinning out of the corner of my eye and hesitated... I decided I'd rather take my chances inside the helicopter than possibly be cut in half when the rotors broke apart...

But like a giant green flying grasshopper...when the rotors were only about two feet from impacting the ground, we rolled forward on the skids and jumped forward about ten feet... hit again... rolled back and forth a couple of times on the skids... and we were... down.

I looked at the pilot, he looked at me.  "You OK?" he asked... "You OK?"  I replied... ...and then we both laughed that laugh of two guys who had just dodged a very big bullet.

I forget about the two guys in back... but they were probably both sitting in wet spots.

I later heard the cause had been either fuel contamination or a vapor lock in the fuel lines.

But... it was on that day... many,  many years ago, that I learned about acceptance,  grace, and peace ...and a lack of fear in the face of a helpless situation...     I've  had occasion to apply those lesson several times more in my military career.   You learn to accept situations you cannot change.   

I also learned that every day after that first incident had been a gift.

And now...  I am faced with a new challenge I can resist, but I cannot change it's inevitable outcome.   So why waste the energy in trying change something I cannot?   We cannot stop the winds of this disease washing over us, but perhaps we can use our sails to adjust it's effect in some way.

Time will tell...