It has been a couple years now

This meditation has guided me through these last few months since I read it. I have edited it a bit for me personally. I try to read it and hold it in my heart each day. In an email from him, James Clear makes points about success, happiness, health, wealth and peace of mind. I try to use mindfulness as a way to reduce my own anxiety and understand what it is that any higher power may have in store for Cheryl and me.

Wealth is the purchases you don’t make.

Spiritual wealth is tied in no fashion to material wealth. Over time Parkinson’s disease has robbed Cheryl of her abilities to control and reconcile our check book. Through our entire fifty years of marriage she has done this family task. My interest was usually – how are we doing this month dear? Are we winning or losing? Her response was often – we are winning but it will be a little tight this month. She is frugal. Material wealth is not in our cards. Neither of us are risk takers. But over time if it is not important for one to have the latest, newest, nicest shiny new object enough material wealth accumulates to see one through to the end.

Spiritual wealth is more illusory. Spiritual wealth requires work. How can I do my best job to acquire more spiritual wealth, more inner peace? What sort of spiritual purchases can I avoid to gain or regain wealth spiritually?

Routine in life is calming to me. Routine provides a place for one to put your thoughts and displace the anxiety that arises from new PD behaviors. But lately, my routine is not my routine. New things seem to get added each week. Like laundry, which I never did in our previously un-parkinsons life. I have adapted to this addition. Friday is now laundry day for clothes. Monday is laundry day for the sheets. Wednesday was for towels and the like but I left this up to Cheryl because every now and again she would decide it was time to clean and part of that was to wash the towels. Over time with her parkie mind it became random. I suppose this is a new routine to be added. Service given freely to others, in my case, my wife, who needs my help provides an opportunity to gain spiritual wealth. Not purchasing the anger that arises from the constant tug of war between my way v. the previous (her) way can help with spiritual wealth. Remaining mindful of the mental fragility that comes with some PD patients may add to stress in a caregiver. Acknowledging that fragility, recognizing the tug of war, and then letting any stress or anger with the disease go often for me gives way to a bit of grief for what is to come and a calmness (acceptance?) of what is to be. This is a sort of meditation.

I think we all long for an easy road regardless of whether we are giving care to someone with a chronic illness or not. I know I do. I long for the pre-parkinson banter. The snide comments and the snappy comebacks would make us laugh. We spent fifty years becoming comfortable with that banter and learning how to push each others button and how to not do so.

From Sunday’s Gospel–MT 21:28-32; ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but he did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ They said, ‘The first.’ … after this Matthew wanders off into the weeds talking about tax collectors and prostitutes.

This is an odd gospel reading. The first kid responds as a teenager might — nope, not today pops. I’m hangin’ with the guys. Then he changes his mind. He does not apologize. He just goes. The second kid is a liar. Families are complicated. The first child is a reluctant helper. The second child is an asshat. I do not know where Matthew is going with this story and he does not tell us. He goes off into a ditch about the less desirable elements of any societal group.

Greater spiritual wealth is gained by doing for others without grumpiness about it. Lesser spiritual wealth is achieved by doing only. Spiritual wealth is gained in both cases. It is human to grump occasionally. Don’t beat yourself up about it but do not be a liar. Liars are below prostitutes in the social order and they are asshats.

Happiness is the objects you don’t desire.

I desire very little in life. It is a low bar but as long as the money and I run out at about the same time, I am good with that.

Health is the injuries you don’t sustain.

Exercise and eating your veggies add up to relatively good health. Stretching when you get “on in years” is a must. If it hurts, stop! Physical therapists will tell you that over and over. All good advice.

Find some sort of exercise that you can enjoy and stick with it. If you want to body build do it. If you are a runner, do it. If you are a dog walker, do it. If you are a stroller, do it. If you can do yoga and like it, do it.

Take care of your mental health. If you spend a great portion of your day caring for another or others, take time for yourself occasionally. When your grumpiness takes control it is time to go out and find balance.

Do not hurry your relaxation.

Peace of mind is the arguments you don’t engage.

Taking extra meds to fight side effects brought on by the Parkinson’s meds. It is an argument that is unwinnable even without the loopy logic of PD. Stay away from there.

Cheryl first; me second. It use to bug me a bit that she would schedule my time without warning after she quit driving. I became a built in Uber driver. I actually referred to myself as the driver — as in — Do you want to join us for dinner? My reply — Don’t ask me I’m just the driver.

Do not do that to yourself as a caregiver. You are in this too.

Someone else is using my pads. Virginia is making some sandwiches. She is taking care of the baby left here. … it seems that more and more Cheryl is slipping into her own reality. Trying to correct her thinking about what is real and what is delusion merely creates heartache and anxiety.

Avoid the bad to protect the good. — Stay off Facebook and avoid political crapola in your life.

Success is largely the failures you avoid.

Failure can be turned into success if one takes the time to learn from that failure. Life is rarely a straight line.

Thoughtfulness, meditation and mindfulness help to bring peace of mind. These are all different names for prayer.

More Air on the Chair

In a previous story I reported that THE CHAIR did not come as predicted on the tenth of September. I have since learned of other fat fingered fumbles one encounters when there is human involvement.

Between the attempted delivery of the incorrect chair on Thursday September 10th and my third attempt at acquiring information about delivery of the correct chair September 20th there was a furniture buyers convention at an undisclosed location. Woo Hoo! Party time with some work. I get it. I have been there. But there is a internal structure flaw that shows within Furniture Fair’s receiving and ordering system.

Mistakes happen when humans are involved. The incoming inspection department, if there is one, missed the fact that the Prestige Power Recliner was not powered. That is an easy check to make because the buttons to operate it are on the side. The manual chair has nothing at all. The incoming inspection merely requires looking two places; one look at the order sheet to read “Power” and one look to the right side of the chair itself. Alas, that did not happen.

Since incoming inspection was flawed and no report was made to the buyer it has been eleven days before manufacturing in Mississippi knew of their mistake. Longer in fact because an email to their customer service website (Southern Motion) revealed they had no knowledge of the mistake.

The customer – me – was not disappointed with the furniture store until the customer discovered through conversation the compounded error. In fact I was not disappointed with the manufacturer. After all shit happens. One just fixes it and moves on. But there was no reaction from the receiving department. Alas. And there was no reaction by the buyer group because they were away discovering new things to buy.

On another topic when I called to talk to someone at the Furniture Fair organization to ask about what was next I was always referred to the original salesman. That always seemed odd to me. I was pretty sure that other than the original sale he was no longer directly involved. At the store itself there was a clerical staff backing these sale guys up. I was pretty sure that when he entered our order it was merely going to the purchasing staff. He would not have been involved in the ordering, shipping, receiving and delivering process. At the outset he explained that the typical order to delivery time was 8 – 9 weeks and the pandemic had slowed that a bit. A very honest synopsis of the eventual process. When he was unavailable I was able to speak to the store manager. Nice gentlemen all, but why were they involved in my dilemma? Their whole role seemed to be to look in the computer and tell me nothing was happening. The girl who answered the phone line could have told me that nothing was happening.

Customer perception is one of inability to react to errors. The back office must be chaotic at best.

Make Time & Wellness v. Forced Time & Illness

Last night I found my clothes and Other conversations

The day that we had these conversations, generally speaking, Cheryl was having a pretty good day. When she is in this “pretty good day” mode she remembers many of the funny little conversations we have had in the middle of the night if I ask about them. It is as though she can step away and talk about what she was seeing or thought she was seeing . Her cognizant brain is able to view her in-cognizant brain’s thoughts and interpret them as not quite right or even odd.

We were walking on our 1-ish mile loop

We were walking on our favorite one mile (not quite but close) loop near Mill Creek. She tells me – you know when I get up at night and some times I go into that closet by the bathroom where my pads are and get a new one because it seems like I leaked a little? I have pads in there. Do you know where I mean? Me – yes. The closet by the bath tub you mean? (I am not sure where this is going.) Her – yes. That’s the one. Well, I saw a lot of clothes in there that looked like mine. How did those get there? I don’t remember putting those in there but I’m pretty sure they are mine. At least they look like clothes that I have. (Insert a puzzled loving face here. Most emojis do not work.)

… Patience, wisdom or empathy — which one of those is necessary now? I just go with the flow most times because I am unsure if she is standing outside her thoughts or reliving them. I said to her that we put our clothes in that closet when we moved into our condo. And when I do the laundry I hang your shirts and pants in there if they need hanging so maybe I put them in there when you were not looking.

a foggy day

She responded with – I have no memory of moving. (Oh, poop.) She goes on to tell me – I remember looking at the condo but I really don’t have much memory of the day we moved. She phrased that in a fashion that indicated to me that she knew we had moved to a smaller place about 4 years ago but was simply fuzzy about the details. Four years ago she did not seem to be struggling mentally. I could have not noticed at that time because her mother was still alive and she was making a daily trip to Bridgeway Pointe where her mom was staying. Our life was busier then. Her main complaint was her knees which in my mind was the main reason we moved. Our condo is a flat one floor two bed-roomed affair with a small den that I have taken over for my man-space. There are no steps in or out.

She continued with – If you are looking for my clothes there’s some in there. At least they look like my clothes. Me – yes, I think they are. There are some in a tub too. Those are your winter things that are saved away for the season. Her – yes there are. Now at this point I am thinking she is coming to believe that her clothes are hanging in the closet. But then she says – I am not sure where your clothes are. Me – that’s okay I will look for them when we get home. They might be in my armoire. I will look. She seemed satisfied with that and we walked on talking about other things that were sky and weather related.

Which clock?

our bedroom clock

Early one morning the clock in our bedroom which is electronic and looks like the image above did not alarm at 7AM as it usually does. I woke up anyway at about a quarter after 7 and went to get Cheryl’s meds for 7 that day. I helped her up to the bathroom and after she took her meds and was heading back to bed for a bit she said – I don’t understand how do you know what clock to use. Me – I use that one to get up for your seven o’clock meds. It’s a little off. (I was thinking of the wind-up in the living area which bongs out the hour all day long.) Her – is it eastern time? Me – yes it is.

It was my mistake thinking she was comparing the clock’s displayed time to the gongs from the living room clock. No such thing. What she was really telling me is that this clock is confusing to her. About now it displayed 7:22AM or so because the alarm did not sound at 7AM. She did not recognize that the first dose of meds were a little late but she did recognize that the time was wrong. She could not make that connection.

Admittedly when I bought the clock I thought it would help her understand the time of day. In the picture above it displays “Morning”. it also says things like early morning, evening, afternoon, late afternoon and so on. I turned these messages off because at first she would say – what does that mean? Early morning? It is dark out. It seemed to be too much information so I turned it off. I said to her – yes it is eastern time. The whole daylight savings thing is confusing to her and an unimportant imposition by the deep state agency called NOAA. (smiley face.) It occurs to me that I could “spring ahead” or “fall back” at 2AM. I am often up about then for a potty break about then. I do not think the time police get up until about 6AM.

For the rest of this morning she was tired. And the same throughout the day. It is as though the whole discussion about time wore her out somehow.

Everyday comments

Who is eating with us? Sometimes phrased as – Is (name) here too to eat? Or similar. Is everyone eating? — she will ask when I get her out of her office to eat the dinner I have prepared.

While she is working on her birthday card list or Christmas card list the people that she is thinking about become real to her. Occasionally she will talk to them. She will ask questions and talk about what she is doing.

With the pandemic pandemonium we have had many Zoom meetings – She will ask; Where will they all sit? Do we need more chairs?

Carpe diem – I attempted sourdough bread today … a bust on the first experiment. I guess I was hoping the starter would react like real yeast in a jar. Nope!

Maybe in a week after I can find a better name for the starter other than “Larry the Loser”. Maybe “Jack it Up” or “Spring Forward.” (another smiley face)

Perhaps this is one of those “aha” moments.

Today was Amusing

Most times I write about what is going on in our Parkinson’s life a day or two after I make little notes about what happened or was annoying or what was joyful or simply going well. Often I say “Carpe diem!” It is useful to take advantage of the good times and ignore the less good times. Waiting a day or so to write personal experiences gives one the opportunity of hindsight. Sometimes hindsight is crystal. Sometimes it is merely asinine. In both cases amusement creeps into the story.

Thursday was the day!

In June we ordered a new recliner to deal better with Cheryl’s unsteadiness as she got out of her chair. Additionally the mechanism is powered. It did not rock or swivel. It was a bit taller. It was perfect in every way in the store but when the salesman alluded to different colors and material Cheryl went into full on shopping mode. She selected the same pattern but lighter background to align better with our overall eclectic mix of furniture. After nine weeks of waiting, today was the day it was coming.

We had a – gonna be delivered – time window text message from the furniture store that said the delivery would occur in the mid to late afternoon. Sweet! We could sleep late and have a leisurely breakfast. So we did and enjoyed the rest of the day’s activities.

We went to the Parkinson’s community fitness for her stretching and exercise class. It was a good class for her. If the class has benefited her, she will have a lighter mood and often we will go somewhere for lunch. Today, however, she wanted to go home in anticipation of the arrival of THE CHAIR. The text message gave us the window of 2:30PM to 4:30PM, so, in her mind THE CHAIR was only an hour or so away from DELIVERY. We do not want to miss it. Looking back from 4 days in the future my sight is very keen. I can remove my glasses and see all perfectly. (I can see clearly now. The rain is gone. — Johnny Nash)

Shortly after we returned home the smoke detectors yelled (screeched) at us. In our small condo in accordance with the Ohio fire code we have five. Two at each bedroom entrance – one in and one out – and another in what is intended to be a den or office but the real estate folks want to call a third bedroom. They are all tied together properly so that if one screeches they all do. It is really annoying and very hard to sleep through. It has been approximately one year since they were installed and no doubt the battery in one of them is no longer up to snuff. Time for replacement. I had the batteries. I had been ignoring the job for a couple weeks. No longer could I ignore it. I used up ten minutes and replaced all the batteries.

(Writing this I found out that some of these have been recalled for a manufacturing defect. Not mine because I checked. If you have one to check look here. Thank goodness for the existence of the deep state consumer product safety commission.)

Right chair wrong mechanism

After a light lunch at home we settled into the waiting process. Having changed the batteries in the smoke detectors there were no more home repairs to be completed. This was Thursday so there were no other chores to do either. I could do the laundry but what would I do on Friday? The waiting began. Cheryl disappeared into her office to “organize some things”. I sat in the blue recliner that I decided I was not going to keep for my own to continue reading the novel I had selected from the electronic library. 2:30 PM came and went.

3:30PM came and went as did 4:30PM. Alas, the delivery was late. At 5PM there no sign of the delivery van. At 5:02 PM as I was considering who to call for an update, my cellphone buzzed on the desk. The screen revealed a mystery number but I answered anyway. “Attention! Attention! This is to notify you that the warranty is about to expire on your GE microwave oven. Press two to expand your Covid-19 insurance coverage, etc.” I terminated the normal 5PM robocall. Lord, who needs that when THE CHAIR is late?

At about ten after five, Dan the truck driver called and explained that they were running about 30 minutes late. Would it still be okay to come and deliver the chair? Sure, I replied. Where are you? We are about twenty-five minutes away. I disconnected and looked around the room. All was ready. I put on shoes in anticipation of holding doors or whatever needed to be done to smooth entry of THE CHAIR. I moved a possible interfering dining room chair from the front hallway that Cheryl uses to put her shoes on when we go out. I settled in my chair again to wait.

The front door buzzes. I have long out grown buzzing in people through the outside front door unless I am sure they are family. The postman has a key to let himself in through the super secure entry panel that anyone with a paperclip can trigger. I walked out there to find not Dan the truck driver but Sam his helper and minion. I showed him how to slide the flower pot over to the open outside door to hold it open for entry of THE CHAIR. Anticipation was building.

We proceeded to the back of the truck were Dan had wrestled THE CHAIR out of the bowels of the truck and held it in all it magnificence on the back of the truck. We all took a moment to admire its exquisite design, its smoothly applied upholstery fabricate and its simple elegance. Dan broke the spell by asking – is this the correct chair? I had no idea. It had been nine full weeks since I had seen the chair in the store and the fabric was wrong. Cheryl had ordered different fabric. Taking the manly way out of my ignorance, I proudly announced – it is. Dan and his lackey wrestled THE CHAIR gently down out of the truck and we proudly paraded into our abode for product placement.

After they had set the chair were I had indicated, Cheryl pronounced it to be the correct fabric and of wonderful design. Sam removed the last of the bubble wrap from the legs and I asked Dan how does the motor plug in? No one from the manufacturer to the warehouse receiver to the truck driver to me, until now, had noticed that although THE CHAIR was called a Prestige Power Recliner, it needed no power to operate. Drat, oh dreadfulness, oh woe is us! And crap on a crutch.

“911 warehouse, what is the nature of your emergency?” … The invoice says it is a power recliner but it is a manual recliner Dan says into his phone. He puts it on speaker so the 911 operator and he and I can all communicate our mutual disappointment with the state of our affairs. The clerk at the warehouse asks if we would like to keep the manual chair until the correct one arrives? I decline and point out that the whole reason for purchase was the power mechanism. The simple elegance, swell design and elegant fabric notwithstanding the power mechanism is where it is at. Dan and Sam take the chair which has now been reduced to mere chair significance back to the truck for the degrading ride back to the humiliating warehouse of cast offs and misfit chairs. Alas.

We part company in high spirits. It solves nothing to bring forth rage on the mere deliverers of chairs. I will call the store tomorrow and discover what is up with that and suggest certain motivations to persuade the swift getting of shit together to satisfy a disappointed customer.

I like Charlie Brown.

Fretting is never a good thing. Fretting takes up a great of time if one’s heart and soul is thrown into the effort. Life is too short for fretting and concern over things gone awry.

I had been so caught up with preparations for the coming of the chair that I had not prepared anything for dinner. We selected Mio’s’ Blu Ash Pizzeria for our evening repast. Neither of us had pizza. Cheryl had her calzone that she often has had when have come here in the past. I had an Italian Hoagie and fries. Good dinner and animated conversation about the good things today and the one dilemma made for a pleasant end to the day.

Many would be angry about the chair fiasco. Look here to discover ways to expunge your anger. Anger would be misplaced. Mistakes happen. There is no malicious content to a mistake. It is merely temporary incompetence. This part will continue but not today.

The rest of the day was swell. Carpe diem! (Be selective about which parts you seize.)


Cheryl wrote the following email to a friend to explain the history and background of whoopadiddee:

Last year was the first time that I and members of my extended family decided to participate in the fund raising for the Sunflower REV IT UP festivities.  I had been attending the yearly symposiums for at least 10 years.  I thoroughly enjoy the symposiums… I sincerely hope that you bring those back when the COVID-19 virus goes away.  I always learn something new regarding Parkinson’s Disease… and I always meet many kind and generous people. Anyway, last year, my sister, Janice, was suffering more than usual in her battle with PD.  So her youngest son decided to bring her to Cincinnati so that she could take advantage of all the activities and, perhaps learn some things that would help her.  Janice and her family lived near Tampa, FL, so this was not an easy trip for her.  But Jan stayed with our other sister, Nancy, and we all took turns helping with transportation, food, etc.  When it was time for the symposium, some of the younger people in our family (we have a real large family and extended family — and all but a few of us live in the Greater Cincinnati area).
Well, suddenly many of the younger family members… especially teenagers and young adults… disappeared for a short time.  Now I’m going to pause here for a minute to give you some additional data.  A few weeks before the symposium, I received a couple of phone calls from my daughter, Anna.  Anna is a high school teacher and she is very talented.  Another part of this story is the fact that my beloved Mother died in April 2018.  So behind the scenes, Anna was asking all kinds of questions and being very secretive.  For instance, Anna wanted to verify that her Grandma’s favorite was bright red (it was).  Anna asked a lot of questions — she has always been that way.  Finally, I could stand it no longer and I asked Anna what she was up to.My Mom always liked to take pictures, especially of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  We all knew this.  We celebrated  Mom’s birthday every year, and we rented a hall in the St. Bernard Municipal Building for this celebration.  Our Dad died of lung cancer when he was only 54 years old, but many of our cousins, aunts and uncles from Dad’s side of the family as well as from Mom’s side of the family came to Mom’s party every year.   So we had a big celebration for Mom’s birthday every year.  We usually had over 100 guests at that party.  And when she was still feeling pretty well, she would go around the hall taking photos of her family.  At the time of her death, Mom had 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, and several great-great-grandchildren.  Of course, there have been several more babies born in the last few years — I’ve lost count!
Now, back to the t-shirts. Anna took the information that I gave her and went to a t-shirt shop and had those t-shirts made.  Torbeck was Dad’s last name — so that explains the name on the back of the shirt.  Now for the Whoopadiddee!  As any good photographer knows, you need to get everybody to smile for the photo.  So when my Mom was ready to take a photo, she would yell (or she would get someone with a loud voice to yell) “ONE… TWO… THREE… and we would all yell Whoopadiddee! And it worked every time, because it’s hard to say Whoopadiddee! and keep a straight face.
So there you have it!!  I think it’s a great story and, best of all, it’s true.  I loved my Mother and I miss her every day.
As a side note, last year, when we were distributing those t-shirts, a channel-5 reporter, Richard Chiles, was walking around Yeatman’s Cove with his photographer, looking for a story.  As he came upon our group, he asked us about the t-shirts, and we explained.  He thought it was a nice story, and it became part of his report that day.So you just never know what might happen when you begin to tell family stories… 
There you are, Allison.  You might have a use for our story some day.  It’s all true.

Captain of Team SMILE

In her own words, this is Cheryl’s story of the whoopadiddee. I often tease her about writing an epistle instead of an email but that is her style.

Whoopadiddee for Parkinson’s and team SMILE!


We play more scrabble these days.

Back in the pre-Parkinson’s days, Cheryl was a computer database wizard (witch?) or at least the guru for several companies that her consulting company serviced as clients.  She spent a lot of time on her computer.  Even in retirement she kept it up with church and other groups providing email news and other communications.

We play more scrabble these days as I try to pry her out of her office and away from her computer which has become more frustrating and confusing to her.  Her other go-to game is bridge but that is hard to do with merely two players and her cognitive function failing.  So, we have been playing scrabble more often.  I offer it as an enticement to get her away from her computer.  Many times it works.  I hate scrabble.

She was (is) a good scrabble player.  A good scrabble player does not worry so much about the words as the score.  A good scrabble player is always hunting around for a word that goes into the corner for the TRIPLE WORD SCORE.  A good scrabble player is always plopping a word on the double word score preferably one with a Z or Q in it. 

I am a lousy scrabble player.  I am always looking for the longest word I can make.  The more pedantic the better it is.  If a player asks – what does that mean? – or challenges its meaning, I am vindicated.  Cheryl often beats me, maybe always beats me.  I love her.  I hate scrabble.

Her computer is becoming more confusing and the frustration has kept her from sleeping. Over time I have contacted some of the organisations that she was doing things for and suggested that they relieve some of the burden on her. It takes her more time and she worried about missing her own perceived deadline. It kept her from sleeping as she got anxious (a good scrabble word) about what she may have forgotten to do. The people she works with have relieved her commitment without grief. They understand her disease and how it screws with her head and her need to stay involved.

So I try to get her to play Scrabble more often. Last evening my lousy play was winning. I was ahead by 40 points at one point. I felt a bit guilty because she was struggling mentally and getting tired. But my lead kept shrinking. Was this a ploy? (one of my words) At the end she was ahead by two points but had many points left on the shelf. Aha! I had some too but fewer. I did the math.

She still beat me by 1 point. I hate scrabble but love her. She still has the killer gamesmanship in her.

Maybe we will try something that I can win at but on second thought that is not the point for me. I hate scrabble. I am not competitive.

Is there an online bridge group for parkies? Google search coming.

Funny Thing happened on the way to Church

Saturday as we were pulling into the parking lot of church for the 4:30 service, Cheryl looked at me and said – you can just leave me off and I’ll get a ride home. Not knowing where that had come from I asked – why would I not stay with you?

She responded with – since you are angry you don’t have to stay. Me – I’m not angry. Why do you think that? Her – you were mad about the water.

She is right! I am angry about the water bottle I forgot. I try to take a bottle of water with us when we go somewhere. Occasionally she needs it. Most times not but I want the option. This time I had failed and angry with myself.

I had commented that we forgot water. I may have said simply – there’s no water. We drove church in silence as I was thinking about if there was enough time to stop somewhere and buy a bottle of water. I was mad at myself, not her. It showed in my voice. She thought I was angry with but didn’t say that until we got to church.

She thought I was angry with her. It was much of my conversation with her eating afterwards. We used to go to dinner somewhere after church before the covid thing. Covid-19 stopped that but on Saturday we were starting again.

It’s a small delusion. She interpreted my silence as being angry with her. I will try to watch for it next time and hopefully not beat myself up for missing it.

Caregiver Stress 101

50 Years Ago

It has been fifty years since we wed on a HOT August morning.  It has been fifty-four years since we first met on a blind date on a blue moon in August.  Two skinny kids deeply in love with each other got married in 1970.  Nothing but the future in front of us.  Standing on the shoulders of our moms and dads.

Spring Grove Cemetery

We had a lot of faith in each other that day.  Looking forward we could only see brightness, happiness and companionship.  Neither of us could see fifty years into the future.  We vowed our love to each other anyway.  Here we are.

We were married in the summer of 1970.  I was between the University of Cincinnati, newly graduated with an Associate Degree in Electronic Engineering Technology, and moving on to Miami University for a Bachelor of Science.  We had rented an apartment in Oxford, Ohio.  Scraped together a few sticks of furniture from various sources.  Cheryl had gotten a transfer in her job with Metropolitan Life Insurance to the Fairfield office about 20 miles from Oxford, so, we would have an income to support us.

Tricky Dick was president.  My commitment to the Selective Service draft was completed. I was enrolled in all the classes I wanted to begin at Miami. Cheryl owned a year old VW beetle that we could have because of her job. (MU had car restrictions at the time.) Life was good.

Three kids

At the end of 1972 our first child was born. — a sidebar:  We knew Cheryl was possibly pregnant in time for me to sign up for a second woodcraft class at MU. The Industrial Arts program had a great wood shop. For my project I built a cradle for the new little person. In this class Doc Foss showed a book he had that contained pictures of projects completed by previous students. On the pickup day when I came to get the cradle, he was photographing it for his book. (I got an A. Professor Foss was a grandfather.) Our first child is a science teacher and has four children now. Tempus fugit.

About two years later, our second child was born. — another sidebar: This one was in a hurry. It is common now for the father to be present for the delivery. Not so in the 70’s. I guess we were in the vanguard and Cheryl had all of our children without any anesthesia. Natural. With the first one all went well but took a long time. (A little whining here from dad who did not do much except wait and coach.) So, in preparation for the next big overnight test of endurance, I bought a new thermos, which I still had until 2012 when I dropped it walking into work one morning, filled it with coffee and took it with me to the hospital. Never had a need for the coffee. This kid came zipping out at about 2:30AM. On the way home from the hospital – just me, Cheryl stayed – I decided to try some coffee. Stopping suddenly for a traffic light I spilled a bunch of it down the front of me. HOT. Dam HOT! — Robin Williams, Good Morning, Vietnam. This child is now a mechanical engineer and has married the girl he took to the high school prom as I did. He has two children of his own.

We were fertile! About two years down the road our third child was born. I skipped the whole coffee thing remembering the debacle of our second child. Expecting another zippy birth, I left it at home. Our third child did not want to leave home. Hanging onto mom and not cooperating with the zippy thing, the third one took (I think) the longest to come out and say hello. This one now works for Children’s Hospital as a computer guru. He has two children of his own.

Cheryl had several jobs, me too

When I first started my working career, like my father, I believed that I could work for my employer Cincinnati Milacron for the rest of my work life. That turned out to not be the case. I left CM to work for Valco Cincinnati, left there to work for Cincinnati Industrial Machinery, got a M. Ed. from Xavier University in preparation for teaching high school science. Failing that career move, I taught as an adjunct at Sinclair College and the same at Southwestern College. I became a GED instructor at SWC and taught a basic math class. After a year and the Obama administration insisting that for profit colleges do a better job at helping students to find jobs, I could see my job disappearing and jumped ship to Armor Metal Inc. in the service group. My intention was to ride that horse into retirement and I did.

Cheryl during our early marriage spent much of her time raising the kids and continuing her course work in mathematics and computer science at University of Cincinnati in evening college. She graduated with a degree in Computer Science. Once the children were in school she worked for a time at the same school and ran the first computer lab. Later she worked as a computer consultant with M.B. Potter and Associates. She left there to work for Donahue securities and when they collapsed under the weight of a federal investigation, she worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission. F.D. Fund Choice bought the funds that she had been working with and she worked for them for a time. She left there to work the remnants of the General Protestant Orphans Home in Anderson township. She was RIF-ed from there and worked as a contractor again for a bit for Armor producing the manual documentation for some of the machinery they produced for the can industry. Her Parkinson’s was beginning to be more annoying after this so she retired.

Early in our marriage, Cheryl attending evening college gave me the opportunity to be alone with the kiddos for two or three times a week in the evening. This is the best thing that can happen to a young father. I think it makes one closer to the children. At the very least it makes Dad appreciate Mom’s daily activity.

Travel with kids

When the kids were very small we typically vacationed at one of the Kentucky State parks. We visited many over the years. Kentucky does a great job with their parks and they are very family oriented.

When our children grew and matured we took other longer trips. Some friends of ours sold everything in Cincinnati and bought a small motel about two blocks from the beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Over many summers we visited them and rented a couple rooms for a week or so and visited Charleston.

The rock, stick and bush tour consisted of Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Jackson, Wyoming a lot of Nebraska and a 500 mile side trip to the confluence of America and then home. Two weeks and a lot of driving. In subsequent years there was an old house tour to Washington DC and Monticello that ended in Myrtle each for old times sake. Good family trips involve a lot of argument, fast food and eye-popping credit card bills but are worth it. And make great memories.

Travel without kids

We traveled without kids also to Minnesota, to Alaska, to California, to Florida, to Oregon, to Washington, to Maine, to Massachusetts, to Virginia, to North Carolina, to New York and Vermont. We traveled without kids to some of the same places where we had taken the kids to see them again quietly. The Parkinson’s has slowed travel.

Wonderful memories and great times and great food are a wonderful life.

It all started with a blind date.