A Tribute to Bob Torbeck

Today is Bob Torbeck’s birthday – my deceased father-in-law. As Cheryl remarked that today is Dad’s birthday I thought about posting “Happy Birthday, Bob!” on Facebook to see how many of the family might respond with thoughts and remembrances. When I woke up Facebook I found this from Ken my brother-in-law at the top of my “news feed”. It is a good remembrance.

Robert O. Torbeck

Memory Lane is open and BUSY this weekend. Christmas is often a reflective time for me. The images from my childhood have filled my heart all weekend.

Today is my Dad’s 98th birthday. It’s the 43rd time that we’ve celebrated/ acknowledged it without him. Dad and Christmas memories are synonymous in many ways (for me). As a young(est) child our Santa came on Christmas Eve. I am quite certain that I was totally geeked out waiting for Dad to close up the gas station, come home, eat dinner, have a cigarette, more coffee, another cigarette, tease about what’s for dessert……finally slipping behind the heavy drapery that entombed our living room (seemed like for months), to THANK Santa for being so generous to us Torbeck’s. Once Santa noisily took off from our roof the wrapping paper was flying. And I remember Dad seated in the corner grinning ear to ear with tears in his eyes? Were they joyful tears bc we kids were SO happy? Tears of pride bc he worked crazy hours to beable to create such joy for our family of 8? Or was Dad sad that he couldn’t do more? Some combination? As a dad I have memories of crying for each of those reasons over the years.

Another Dad and Christmas memory is the Open House / Lunch at the gas station on Christmas Eve (afternoon). A huge spread of deli meats, cheeses and all the fixings from Ron and Angela Stafford ‘s grocery store. Pkgs of cookies and candies from Dad and Daniel Torbeck ‘s customers. All washed down with Seagram’s 7, Canadian Club and or Hudepol beer. Friends, neighbors and customers typically all in one! As I mentioned Dad and Christmas memories are often the same thing.

A trip to Oldenburg for lunch yesterday opened this flash flood of images and memories. As we drove through the town I wanted Jill Semple Torbeck to drive, in reverse to achieve the FULL rear facing, 3rd row seat, smooshed against the window experience of a trip to visit Cheryl Paul J Weisgerber at school 😎. (Pre I 74).
Anyways HAPPY BIRTHDAY Dad! Merry Christmas Dad, Mom and Janice Torbeck Farmer ! Thanks for the memories! I miss you all. Hopefully you and Mom are getting caught up on your Jitterbuging.

From Nancy:

Wow! Beautifully said!! Thanks for sharing your memories…. I only remember a few of the ones that you mentioned 🙄
I am always GRATEFUL to hear my family’s memories (my sibling’s and my children’s) bc I have so few 🙄
Love YOU and LOVE that you are so tender hearted, like our Dad was 😘❤️💚 I THINK that we had to sing too before the blanket came down 🤔☺️

From Dan:

Yes WOW is correct !!! Thanks for sharing those memories and reminding all of your siblings what a great life we experienced when that was all we knew. We did not realize how hard Dad worked until we were responsible for our own Families. I miss him every day that I go to work continuing the traditions that he taught me so many years ago. Thanks for sharing your Heart and Soul with all of us. Well Said Youngist Sibling. Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night !!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

From Debbie:

Oh My Goodness! Thank you for sharing your heart felt childhood memories. You expressed them perfectly! I’m feeling all of the same thoughts and emotions! So grateful for all of our families many blessings! ❤️💝

From me:

Happy Birthday to you, Bob. Thanks for letting me drive the wagon. Thanks for not staying mad about no bumper guards on the VW. Thanks for the opportunity to clean the men’s room. Thanks for letting me earn a few bucks on the weekend. But most importantly thanks for bringing Cheryl into the world.
Many times through life I have often wondered what was the purpose of it all and more importantly what was my purpose.
The answer to that question recently has been made very clear to me. Thanks to you and Elaine for producing Cheryl as a product of your love. She consumes all of my love and life purpose now as you know, so, thanks Bob.
As Ken said, I hope you are able to jitterbug into eternity and Happy Birthday to you!

From Cheryl:

Every time members of our family gets together, we have lots of fun. We don’t need board games or card games.  We remember lots of events, and those memories breed  more memories. Most of the time, the memories are triggered by a long-lost photo that we find when getting out the Christmas decorations. For instance, there is a memory I have that I have told many times over the years– it’s a good memory.  I was probably 4 years old and Jan was probably 2 years old, and she had curly blond hair.  I had straight brown hair.  Mom wanted me to have curly hair.  It was Christmas eve.  Jan and I were supposed to take a nap. Mom used some metal curlers to curl my hair for the occasion. Then she put Jan and me to bed  in Mom and Dad’s bed. At the time, their bedroom was separated from the living room by a set of  sliding pocket doors. So Jan and I were told to go to sleep. Jan went to sleep almost right away, while I tossed and turned…wide awake!  In the pocket doors there were a couple of key holes that were just high enough in the doors for me to look through.  So, of course I peeked in, and there, across from the door, was a  doll-size table and chairs, with a baby doll sitting on each chair! I just stood there staring at my new toys. Then suddenly Mom opened the door   right in front of me.  Then Mom gently scolded me, and told me to get back in bed. She said that Santa was in the kitchen, and he wouldn’t be happy if he saw that I was awake. I went right back to bed
and kept quiet until it was time for supper. This is one of my fondest Christmas memories.

All of our memories are precious. We preserve people we love by remembering them. Sometimes the memories are so powerful they cloud reality. When I look at Cheryl I see a younger version of her.

Thanks Ken for your remembrance of your dad. Thanks for reminding me of those trips to Oldenburg. I am at peace today with everything.

Oh Come, Divine Messiah!

Janice Elaine Farmer (nee Torbeck)

Today a mass was said at the Nativity of Our Lord Church in Cincinnati with Janice Farmer as one of its intentions. Cheryl had mentioned to someone at Nativity while she was relating her schedule of support group meetings that her sister had passed away in Florida of the virus outbreak there in August. A few days later we received a mass intention card from Nativity. “On Tuesday, December 15, 2020 a mass would be said with Janice Farmer as one of its intentions.” It is hard to explain how much this meant to my wife.

The covid pandemic has stopped and severely limited many gatherings and travel. We were unable to attend her sister’s funeral mass in Florida. We watched it on “live-stream”. Church services are disappointingly uninteresting on live-stream. It is better to be there and participate and cry a little and grieve with your family. It is better to gather and tell stories. A funeral mass is a ritual grieving. A luncheon gathering afterward is a celebration of life. All of this collectively allows people to express their feelings in a socially acceptable fashion. — Everyone cries at funerals, as many cry at weddings.

Cheryl chose to make this a celebration of Janice’s life. She brought this image shown above of her sister so that Janice could be present with us. This was a school mass. The church was filled with socially distant kids from the seventh grade. They were remarkably quite in church but created a presence in this special (to Cheryl) mass for her sister.

I, for my part, intended to take Cheryl to a late breakfast and allow her to talk and tell stories about Jan. Alas the small restaurant I wanted to take her to was closed. Their hours were severely limited due to illness in the staff. The virus finds us even if we do not want to find it. But all was not lost. We talked a bit about Janice while driving home.

Julie Krug played the piano and sang O come, divine Messiah! as a recessional. It is one of my favorite hymns. It seemed apropos of the sadness of today and hope for tomorrow.

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph
And sadness flee away

Dear Savior, haste
Come, come to earth
Dispel the night and show your face
And bid us hail the dawn of grace

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph
And sadness flee away

O Christ, whom nations sigh for
Whom priest and prophet long foretold
Come break the captive fetters
Redeem the long-lost fold

Dear Savior, haste
Come, come to earth
Dispel the night and show your face
And bid us hail the dawn of grace

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph
And sadness flee away

– If you want to hear it

Cheryl is resting now. Later she will have her exercise and fitness class at Parkinson’s Community Fitness. This evening we will have pizza with our neighbor and I am sure Cheryl will tell stories and talk about Jan.

Janice also had Parkinson’s disease. She was one that Cheryl could commiserate with about the nuances of dealing with chronic disability. She is missed in this household.

I Got Really Angry Tonight

Luke’s Sunset

Angry with her confused state late in the day,

Angry with her actions during it,

Angry with my reaction to her actions,

Angry with the disease and what it has taken from her,

Angry that I let my emotions show,

Angry that I directed some of my anger at her.

Angry that I trod on her heart.

Just angry with my inability to fix things.

Parkinson’s disease sucks and it makes me angry. And scared.

Scared for what the future holds.

Nostalgic for our past experience.

Disappointed in my inability to be present.

Totally and honestly present and

Mindful of the beauty of this day.

Unconcerned with the morrow or the past.

Accepting of new relationships and hopeful for new connections.

Searching for clues to doing better.

Hoping for some glimmer of light of

a new dawn.

Death and Dying and Left Behind…

My sister died in 2008.  I have written about her before.  She was our baby sister.  I will always think of her as my baby sister.

She died of complications to pneumonia.  It is hard to breathe with pneumonia.  Not breathing well contributes to low blood oxygenation.  Effectively one drowns from pneumonia.  Laura had myelodysplastic syndrome.  It did not kill her.  I was her blood stem cell donor.

During Laura’s treatment it was discovered that she was allergic to virtually all the antibiotics they gave her as a prophylaxis. The treatment for pneumonia is antibiotics.  The solution for MDS is kill off the bone marrow and as a result the patient’s immune system.  The antibiotics given during this process put her in a coma for six weeks.  The doctors supposed that she had veno occlusive disease, a liver problem with a low survival rate. She did not have that.

At the beginning of her treatment before I donated my luekoblasts to her, a nurse and social worker and I discussed the possibility that my blood cells which came with my immune response could actually attack her and kill her.  The discussion centered around, how did I feel about THAT.  I was certainly not excited about the fact that I could kill her.  Presented as my call.  A moral dilemma- Laura will die if I do nothing; Laura may die (sooner) if I do something.  Looking back from the distance of thirteen years my reaction is the same – tears come to my eyes. [I had to stop.]

I remember thinking that I should ask Laura if it was okay if I killed her. I did not. This procedure is presented as do this then that then this and … you are healed. I suppose that they discussed with Laura the survival rate. She did not survive. I will always be somewhat skeptical of doctors and cancer cures. The fact that she died specifically of pneumonia is a distinction of no import. I was there when she took her last breath. I will never forget the silence.

My brother died this year in May. He was my big brother. I have written about him too. He was six years older than I less nine days.

He followed his dream job to Florida many years ago and from that job he went to others always in Florida. His last job was a coder/programmer for a subcontractor to Microsoft. He was a smart guy or at least that is my perception from little brotherhood. Every time I turn on my computer I think of Bill.

Families are complicated. One wants to believe that there is a close personal connection between siblings in the family but that does not always occur in life. Gaps in age, education, life choices, geography and beliefs tug at simple family ties. Our family is no different. We held no animosities but we did not live in each other’s lives.

Our parents Virginia and Robert died about eight years apart. Dad passed away in 2007 about a month before Laura. Mom passed away in 2016. Every time I throw away a box from Amazon or Boxed Up, I think of Mom. I hear her voice, “Paul, don’t throw away that box! That’s a good box.” Mom kept a lot of crap in boxes.

I think of Dad in various situations. He was what we would call today a hacker. When I was a kid our basement was full of old electronics. When he retired he became enamored with computer equipment. He spent a lot of time futzing with computers and programming them. Visual Basic and he were friends. He was always working on something called his Bingo Program. He occasionally journaled too but although I inherited all his computer stuff I have not found any of his writings. I think of him when I write random comments in this blog/journal of mine.

Now it is only Joyce and me. We talked yesterday for about an hour. We did not talk about anything special. I called her merely to hear her voice. It has been thirteen years since our original family group started dying off. For some reason it is important that I hear her voice more often.

She mentioned in our conversation that she is not very excited about turning 70 this year. (Wow has it been that long?) She sent me the picture below many years ago in a birthday card. Laura is in the middle. In her note she wrote – I’m so glad you are my brother. I am so glad you are my sister, Joyce.

Remembrance of occasions and enjoyment of those fade with time. I have often pondered why I remember some things and have absolutely no memory of others. What we were excited about on this occasion is lost in my memory. Joyce found the picture and sent it to me. Obviously it is Christmas time. I am swallowed up in abject joy and laughter. No memory at all about it. I am grateful for the picture of us.

Life and death? — Dad was not afraid of dying. He said as much to the doctor when he was given the news that an X-ray photograph of his abdominal area revealed a mass on his colon. I do not fear dying. I worry that Cheryl will be provided for after I am gone. I wonder if Laura would have lived longer if she and I had not exchanged blood cells. I wonder if she would be alive today if her doctors had simply been smarter about what was going on in her body. Maybe she would not have spent six weeks in a coma. … could have, would have, should have.

Laura told me about a month before her death that my stem cells had taken up residence in her bones. Our life experiment was working. I speculated – how do they know? Her response was – I think because they can look in there and see little X’s and Y’s. Yes, I imagine they could detect those somehow.

In the background of the conversation between Joyce and me was a thought like, I should have asked him (her) that when Dad was still alive, when Mom was still alive, when Laura was still alive, when Bill was still alive. As I talked to Joyce I thought about how short our time on Earth is. Seventy years seems like a long time but it is not. I thought about how fragile our existence here is. At this time in our life a virus threatens lives. Ask those questions. There may be little time to get an answer.



Other morose thoughts — In his late years, Dad would not hesitate to tell you that he was older than his father. Dad’s father died when he was 82. In Dad’s mind he felt that he would live to be 82. As he got closer to that age, he resigned himself to the fact that his life was almost over. He was not worried about dying. His only concern was, would it hurt? I think that was his only fear.

Pain is the only thing that makes me uncomfortable about death I believe that I do not feel pain as others do. I understand Dad’s point of view about pain. I wonder if it hurts to drown. I wonder if it hurts to die of pneumonia. Does a sudden massive heart attack hurt?

Death causes a gap in the family. I have become very aware of that gap in our family. Joyce and I are closer. I believe we are. It is just us now.

Uncle Wally Died Today

In the midst of a pandemic, life and death which is a part of life, go on around us. Wally was 90 years old. He stayed at Wellsprings at Evergreen, a retirement community in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I didn’t know Wallace Comer very well in life. On the few occasions when I had met him, he was cheerful about life and his family around him. His niece married my son and it is through connected family that I met him.

On Monday, October 12th, my son sent a text message to me. “Melissa’s Uncle Wally passed away over the weekend. He pretty much decided he was done a couple weeks back and dropped off pretty quick.” … In another text message; “… He seemed like a guy who just wanted to quietly check out.” So our family is sad today. It is easy to let go when you are very old. My own father did just that at very nearly the same age as Wally. If you knew Wally in life, remember him. He is still alive to you.

Wallace Comer

Cincinnati – Wallace James “Wally” Comer age 90. Born May 21, 1930. Passed away in the early morning hours October 11, 2020 at Evergreen Wellsprings senior Facility. Survived by son, Josh Comer, Pittsburgh PA. Sister Mary Listerman, Erie PA. and many nieces, nephews, and good friends. Predeceased by sister Patricia Schneider and brother James Comer. Wally graduated from Elder HS in 1948. He served in Korea as First Lieutenant US Air Force 1952-1954. Graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a B.S. Degree. Extensive career sales/marketing and counseling. Worked for Proctor and Gamble, Quaker Oats, Foote Cone & Belding, and Hamilton County Rehabilitation Services. In retirement he enjoyed golfing, watching the Reds and visiting friends. Visitation will be Wednesday, October 14th from 10:00 AM until time of Funeral Service at 11:00 AM both at Mihovk-Rosenacker Funeral Home, 10211 Plainfield Rd. Facemasks and social distancing are required. www.mrfh.com

Wally, I did not know you well but rest in peace my friend.

How do you know when it’s love?

I have a bad memory for names. Authors that I like to read, songwriters I like to listen to rock bands I loved in my younger years, I have a hard time knowing who wrote what or who sings what.

Recently when Eddie Van Haylen died, I told Alexa to play a mix of his music. It played “What is love?” first. I had not heard this song in awhile. I was very touched by the words of this song. I do not know why, but it means more to me now.

Van Haylen

Everybody’s lookin’ for somethin’
Somethin’ to fill in the holes
We think a lot but don’t talk much about it
‘Til things get out of control
Oh, how do I know when it’s love
I can’t tell you but it lasts forever
How does it feel when it’s love
It’s just something you feel together
When it’s love
You look at every face in a crowd
Some shine and some keep you guessin’
Waiting for someone to come into focus
Teach you your final love lesson
How do I know when it’s love
I can’t tell you but it lasts forever
How does it feel when it’s love
It’s just something you feel together Oh oh oh oh
Oh when it’s love
Oh oh oh oh
You can feel it yeah
Oh oh oh oh
Nothing’s missing, yeah Oh oh oh oh
Yeah, you can feel it
Oh oh oh oh
Oh when it’s love
Oh oh oh oh Nothing’s missing
How do I know when it’s love
I can’t tell you but it lasts forever
Uh, how does it feel when it’s love
It’s just something you feel together
Hey, how do I know when it’s love
I can’t tell you but it lasts forever
When it’s love
Uh, When it’s love
Hey it lasts forever
(Na, na, na, na, na) when it’s love
(Na, na, na, na, na)
(Na, na, na, na, na)
(Na, na, na, na, na) give it up We’re gonna feel this thing together (na, na, na, na, na)
When it’s love, oh (na, na, na, na, na)
When it’s love, baby (na, na, na, na, na)
(Na, na, na, na, na)
You can feel it, yeah
(Na, na, na, na, na)
(Na, na, na, na, na)We’ll make it last forever
(Na, na, na, na, na)
(Na, na, na, na, na)

Oh, it’s love Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Alex Van Halen / Edward Van Halen / Sammy Hagar / Michael Anthony

When It’s Love lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

When you tell Alexa “Play Van Haylen” — you get a lot of rock songs with a love theme. Somehow that means more to me these days as I spend more time addressing Cheryl’s needs.

Parkinson’s disease sucks. (I have not written that for awhile.)

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.

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.

Very different day to day and from day to night

This is written over a period of several days. A series of notes about odd behaviors that seem to occur late afternoon into the evening.

Exhibiting oddly meaningless compulsive behaviors, she arranges and rearranges various papers. Talks about another topic while waving around an email printout of a hair appointment.

Talking to the kids in the room shining a red light in her eyes. “Just leave me alone until I get this done.” — woke me from the depths of my novel to find out to whom she was talking.

Stacking and restacking paper.

That was last night. This evening she exhibited similar strange behavior.

Reading and re-reading various things she has printed from email.

Anna to the rescue. I sent a text message to my daughter and asked her to call her mother. Sometimes that bumps Cheryl out of her circular confusion. And then she magically came out of it.

We played Scrabble. This is a game that Cheryl dearly loves. Even with the Parkinson’s she is still good at it. I also turned on every light to make it brighter in our condo. She was in the midst of beating me when our daughter called. Reprieve!

In the morning we had a small conversation about when we were going home. We were home. I pointed that out and asked how she slept. She replied – not very well. This place does look like our condo though. Are any of the kids here? Me: No. Only us here today. Cheryl: That’s good. I’m tired I think I will lay down for a while. She went back to bed and slept for a couple hours.

I am starting to think that her meds may be screwing with her sleep patterns. Her devotion to her office and email in the evening she defends by saying – it is the only time I can get anything done.

I guess I am trying to work out how to explain these behaviors so that the doctor can make sense of it. He and the nurse practitioner do listen to me. I am grateful for that.

Every day is a winding road. – Sheryl Crowe … truer words were never sung.

A Sense of Loss and Weary from the Journey

Whooopadiddee!

I will forever treasure this picture. Last year in Cincinnati, Janice (seated) came to help Cheryl with a fund raiser for Parkinson’s disease called The Sunflower REV it up for Parkinson’s. In this particular picture — once in a while I get a good one — they both have their smiles on. The single most disappointing thing about Parkies is often-times they loose their smile. They look stiff and glum.

Janice passed away early this morning. She had contracted Covid-19 from somewhere and the combination of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Myethenia Gravis, maybe a little COPD did not allow her to recover from the infection. We will miss her greatly.

She and her husband chased jobs to Florida many years ago. Next year they would have celebrated 50 years of marriage together. When the covid pandemic turned off our plans for a Golden wedding anniversary celebration this summer, they were quickly modified into a joint celebration next year, when, hopefully it would be safer. Alas, it is not to be.

Covid-19 is a peculiar virus. It is a predator that seems to be culling the society of the weakest and most vulnerable.

It is all part of His plan, but, today I am disappointed in Him and any plan that He has. Mere humans cannot understand God’s plan for us all. I cannot find solace and comfort. Not yet. It is too soon. First my Brother and now Cheryl’s sister. It is too soon. The loss is too strong. Perhaps later.

Visit in October of 2019

In the fall last year Cheryl and I visited my brother who was recovering from illness and one day we drove across the state to have lunch with Jan and Bill, their son Justin and Cheryl’s cousin Mary Kay and her husband Jay. This picture is from some Friday’s somewhere in Florida.

The trip was taxing to Cheryl. We drove. It was my choice to do travel that way. It allowed us more flexibility. I felt that I could abandon our plans at any time based on Cheryl’s mood, physical well-being or whatever came up. We stopped often and spent no more that six hours on the road each day.

McDonald’s respite

In a previous life I used McDonald’s as rest stops. Even if I was not traveling on an Interstate highway, their restrooms are generally pretty clean and the staff is generally friendly. Their corporate policing of properties, even franchise properties, is their reputation. They lose business if it is not up-to-snuff.

Today, after the news of Janice’s passing, I was elated that we had taken the opportunity to go and visit. We had not done so previously. I am saddened by the fact that we had not done so previously. It would have been easier pre-Parkinson’s. Life, employment and other unimportant things got in the way, so, we did not visit until last October.

I am gladdened by the memories. An animated lunch conversation and a visit to see Justin’s blow up decorations for Halloween were the highlights of that day.

Booowooohaha – scary all hallo’s eve – not so scary with the sun out.

Our house is sad today. Janice is with her mom and dad. There is a gap in the family that cannot be filled yet. It will take time and love to fill that gap.

When my brother passed away a couple months ago, I felt this same gap. I have been calling my sister more. There is only the two of us left from our original family.

Since Cheryl’s mother passed away two years ago her family started random gatherings of the siblings for birthday celebrations. The baby is now sixty years old. Cheryl has taken upon her mother’s activity of sending a card to children, grand children, cousins, nieces and nephews for birthdays and anniversaries or simply to say congratulations. She is a valuable resource as to what to celebrate. This is a good thing that they have started before any of them has passed away due to illness. Now the first one has died. Even though covid makes it dangerous for some to gather, perhaps it is time wear our masks and celebrate Jan’s life.

I am glad that I knew her. She was a wonderful loving mother to Eric, Kevin and Justin. A loving wife and caregiver to Bill her husband. A generous and loving sister to Cheryl, Nancy, Debbie, Dan and Ken. She was a loving and generous grandmother to Brandon and Olivia.

Our house is sad today.