<  Seventies Journal: 2001   >


January 8, 2002

Before the year grows any older I'll summarize 2001 as best I can, though by far the major preoccupation of the year was Bob's health. But other topics are intermingled as well.

— Beginning in January we began an effort to get help for Bob's health problems, the major one being the strident gasping breathing he had. We began by seeing Dr. Rasansky down at Mount Sinai, a labyrinth of buildings and hallways. While we were glad to learn that Bob's problem was not psychosomatic, as Dr. Roe often inferred, the diagnosis did not lead to any alleviation of the various symptoms. Bob went on to see more doctors, including Dr. Gerleman and Dr. Thompson, the heart specialist. Finally, after months more of trying one thing then another, there was a diagnosis of heart and valve problems, which led to Bob's open-heart surgery on October I.

— Bob’s heart by-pass surgery on October 1, including extensive repair of the aorta, was the major incident of the year. As we had anticipated the recovery was the worst part of it all, and the first two or three weeks at home were an ordeal, to say the least. He has come along gradually, both physically and cognitively, though he is still in bed most of the day every day. It is good to have him to talk to again, and even though he resists all efforts to get him to do something on his own, at least he isn't suffering except by being bored.

— Paul made two visits here, one in September for my birthday, and the other at Christmas, as he traditionally does. He is the light of my life, my constant e-mail correspondent. His work on his house and yard continues unabated, and I love to be able to join in as he sends his before- and after-pictures. As I told him at Christmas time, he'd should take care of himself, because I don't know what I’d do without him.

— Our contacts with Peter continue to be a delight, even though he is very busy with his family and his work. His Bushisms provided many a laugh, and his phone calls from his cell phone as he drove home were always a joy. Most of all he was here for Bob's surgery, and I will forever remember all the love and support he and Mykaila gave me during that stressful time. Brinkley was a total delight, and Jon is certainly growing up. Peter's help in lining up a financial advisor was most helpful, in his efficient way, and I am very pleased with the initial contact with Arnow & Associates.

— While we were preoccupied all year with Bob's health, there were health problems with our siblings and their families across the country as well. Judy is suffering from emphysema and has hospice care in her home now, Betty Jean is on radiation therapy for six weeks for skin cancer, Harley is apparently drinking himself to death, and Janice has been having problems the last months of the year with an as-yet unknown cause related to her extreme fatigue. Clyde, Jerry, and I are still well enough to be caregivers. But the 70's seem to be a threatening age for several of us.

— My friendships continue with Barbara, Jeanne, and Nancy, and I have had many happy hours with them. Barbara pops in with Midnight, brings me left-over flowers from her job, and calls often; she always adds laughter to my day. Jeanne and I have been so close this year, and she has given me so much support with Bob, more than anyone else. She understands him, and loves him and me. I've been a frequent guest at her well-managed social events, and she often makes a social event of a visit here, with her balloons and treats. Nancy and I see each other less often, but our interests are mutual, so we usually have interesting times talking and going places, including inspecting her garden.

— Johnnie continues to be my good “fwiend” on Thursday afternoons, and we have built many a landscape, drawn many pictures, solved puzzles, and just generally had fun. It is fascinating to watch him learn, and he adds a youthful dimension to my life.

— Through the early months of the year I had a battle with the IRS, first with our 1999 tax return, then later with having to amend our 2000 return. So this year it will be H & R Block, which will lead to much less hassle, and probably get us a larger tax return. My contact with the financial managers Arnow & Associates was a good start in the fall; now I'll continue to check with them as we go along, to keep things going with professional management in our financial dealings.

— Several routines in our lives gave us grounding through the year. For awhile Bob and I were having lunch out often, in a variety of places. Often we ate at the Shorewood Inn, but our luncheons stopped when Bob began having swallowing problems after his surgery. He has resumed his twice-weekly Therapy Circle sessions at Columbia, while I value that time for reading-sometimes sitting in the hospital patio, and almost always having coffee and a roll at the Coffee Shop. St. Monica's is still my church of choice at the 7:30 Mass on Sunday mornings, a satisfying routine even as I try to understand my behaviors, and plan for the coming week.

— The national news of the last three months has been absorbed in a patriotic fervor not unlike the country after the declarations of war in World Wars I and II. After the Terrorist attacks of September 11 on the Trade Center buildings George W. Bush declared a “war” against terrorists and particularly Osama bin Laden. The resulting political and jingoistic patriotism of the administration and the country as a whole has been a pain to watch and listen to, with many reservations by family and friends, as well as others across the country and the world. The situation seems mired in a morass of complications, to be further explored in 2002.