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.

Leading Indicators

She did not sleep well because of thinking about anxiety for family and  staying up late – past 11. She was off most of the previous day. More sleep into the morning is impossible.

All indications of the day to come?  She is very tired. At 8:30am, I help her back to bed for a nap.

At 10:15am, oh what a beautiful day! She is awake and only off schedule for meds by 15 minutes.

Interesting conversation when she came out — Isn’t it amazing how much this place looks like ours? She said. Whenever I come out on this floor I’m amazed.  All the same pictures like we have are hanging up. I agree it is amazing. I say it is very much like our old place.

In our old house we had two floors.  She still uses this terminology and I do not correct her. Maybe I inadvertently promoted two floors in her mind? She complains of hunger but is unsure of what will satisfy that hunger. I suggest a couple of the cookies we made a special trip to buy yesterday. She brightens and says yes to that idea.

She is improving while I watch her eat some cookies and OJ.  Working the puzzles in the newspaper is her favorite awakening activity.

She seems okay for the moment.  I will go back to my baking. When I come back from assembling the fruit pocket with yellow crumb topping the conversation turns to Catholic church and thoughts of a female priesthood.

She ponders the future of any of that and compares it to our used-to-be Sunday dinners. A reminiscent memory of times past brings forth tears of regret and sorrow over experiences lost to time. At our old home – a five bedroom house with plenty of space for kids to roam and adults to sit and converse around the table while waiting for digestion to make room for dessert – we often had many for Sunday dinner. Those days are happy ones. They are fond memories.

These days of a smaller place and dealing with Parkinson’s disease do not allow for that in our home. (It is perhaps time for the children to start that tradition but they seem uninclined to do so.) It is understandable. Their families are young and vibrant. Many distractions occur on the weekend. Feeding old folks is not one of them.

The oven beeper rings out its merry song! The baking is done! The baking is done! Come get the baking. It is done. (smiley face) Here is a picture. The only thing left is the icing but they have to cool for that to occur.

Cherry pocket Coffee cake: undefined my drizzle got away from me.

I like to bake. On another part of this blog I published my Cinnamon rolls. I could go through in laborious detail how I make these coffee cakes. They have become Cheryl’s favorite. I make them often.

In the midst of this scribble my sister-in-law in Florida announced she is negative for Covid-19. That’s really good news but her doctor believes she may have clots developing in her lungs. That is ominous.

She walks by to announce she is taking a shower to get cleaned up. We have our listening for thumps segue and she goes to get cleaned up. All was going well again, but, alas it was time for the 1PM meds. In fact she was late taking them.

This has turned into a rambling account of a day in the life. I did not intend it to be but this day, for whatever reason, is hard on Cheryl. I think that even though she knows there is little she can do for her sister from so far away, she is very anxious about her.

These two women slept in the same bed as children. Often in Cheryl’s dreamlike state in the middle of a semi-dreaming world she will see her sister. She has several times asked me in the morning if Jan had gone home or when did Jan leave? Jan is part of her hallucination that occurs often in the early morning brightening gray light. Their connection is strong through PD and yet their symptoms and treatment are so dissimilar.

We are able to take a walk at about 2:30PM. I admire her persistence. It can be hot in Ohio in July. So we take a walk of about a mile around this little park nearby. It is slow going but we get through it by resting in the shade occasionally. The reward is a stop at a nearby creamy whip ice cream store.

We have decided on waffles with fruit topping for dinner. That was going to be breakfast, then lunch. It became dinner. (smiley face) Things take a little longer in the parkie world. Sometimes you get waffles for supper. Other days not. She is laying down again.

No more pertinent updates from the Florida chat line. The text messages have gone quiet for a while. Perhaps we can sup at 6PM.

Time to get started just in case it happens.

Memories

Occasionally things we do trigger memories, sometimes good, sometimes bad, regardless we should cherish those and seize the moment and emotion that those memories evoke. This is one. Many years ago, perhaps thirty-five, the Boosters was a relatively new organization morphed out of the Holy Name Society. A few of us decided to start a small golf group. There were about twelve of us and we owned the very first tee time at Indian Valley Golf Course; 6:30AM or so, down in the bottom of the valley, near the Little Miami river.

We rotated through playing about every third week through the late spring and summer. It was fun. A bunch of young men, feeling our oats, playing a silly game at an ungodly hour, and trash-talking our way around 18 holes in rain or shine.

Typically we were back in the clubhouse by 10:30 ready for breakfast and beer. On this particular occasion, John Shoemaker ordered an egg sandwich on toast from the kitchen as the Snicker’s purchased at the turn was not holding up. After a couple of bites and a round or two of liar’s poker he said, “This is a Good egg sandwich!” I can still hear his enthusiasm.

I wonder about memories like this. This is very vivid in my mind’s eye. John was seated with his back to the windows. He had given up his dollar to the poker game and took another bite of the sandwich before he made his pronouncement.

I thought of him this morning as I made myself an egg sandwich on toast for breakfast. You are right, John, it is good. May you rest in peace. You still live in my memory of good times.