<   Seventies Journal: 2003   >


January 19, 2004

The first agenda here is my annual summary of the previous year, 2003, before I go on with details of the start of the new year.

1) The first half of the year for Bob went fairly well, continuing his weekly therapy sessions at Columbia, while I had my small snack and read while waiting for him. When that was discontinued in March I searched hard and found another forum for him, a group of men from St. Eugene led by Dan Potter. At home, dressed in pajamas, he usually stayed in bed, getting up for meals and some orchestrated “entertainments” in the living room or on television. His dementia was becoming more evident, though he didn't talk much.

2) The first few months were rainy and cold, so for indoor activity I began cleaning the basement. I went through my files, cleaned up shelves tossed out things right and left. I put the last touches on my handiwork just before Christmas. Now it's a happier place to do the laundry and other things.

3) In March Paul broke his ankle as he slipped on the icy steps of his house. At first I was devastated, worrying about how he would be able to take care of himself. But he did well with the help of some of his neighbors, and was back to work in two weeks, with an almost complete recovery over the months.

4) At the end of March I had a colonoscopy, urged on by Janice and Dr. Roe. The worst part of it was the nauseating preparation, but it was worth it when the diagnosis was all clear.

5) My car accident on a Sunday in March was a shocker, the first I've had for many years. I couldn't believe it when I looked at that crumpled fender, but got busy and it soon looked like new. That's more than one could say for my shattered ego, but it was a good lesson, and now I really watch the road much more carefully when I drive.

6) Jerry came for his anticipated visit on June 3-5, and we had such a warm loving time. When he left early in the nearly dark morning I said good-bye, but that’s the last time I would see him. He shot himself in his beloved back yard a few weekends later, and shattered all of his family. Janice and I cried and cried, trying to figure out why he did it but I guess we'll never know. It was the most broken up I’ve ever been by someone’s death. I still feel the sorrow over it.

7) All through the year three women have been my very special friends, to talk to, to comfort me, to have fun with. Barbara pops in, calls, and shares her cooking masterpieces. She brings great cheer with her every time. Jeanne — how many warm luncheons and dinners we've had at her home; she makes an occasion of them every time. I always get much comfort from her loving care for me and for Bob. Kathy shares her children and their fun with me, and brings me countless samples with her catering skills. Other friends and neighbors help too, but these are my best.

8) Johnnie's visits continued to be a weekly occurrence, until he began First Grade and his time was limited — as was mine with Bob by this time. Callen was included many times in later months, and frequently the whole family joined in the fun. How wonderful it is to be with little kids and their happy family; I almost feel like they're my own.

9) When I went to Philadelphia on July 28 for three days I did have my own family, and what a wonderful visit that was. Dear Peter is always my top attraction, and we had several long talks by their swimming pool and in his car. Mykaila cook up stupendous meals; even her leftovers are the best. And the children, each of them, were such loving fun. I won't ever forget Brinkley’s tight clasp on my hand.

10) Throughout the spring and summer my flower gardens were a major joy, and my work with them went on with my usual vigor. I thought the perennials were the best yet, with their slightly casual look which included Barbara’s contributions too. I rarely missed an hour or so out there, and hardly a peep from my legs.

11) Finally, the last half of the year after Bob broke his hip was probably the worst six months of our lives. He never did get to walking again, and progressed from there to full time bed rest. The hospital stays were awful for both of us, and when we final1y got into a hospice program we were grateful for more autonomy and peace. He health has declined a great deal, with growing dementia, problems with eating, bowel and urine difficulties, and his agitation when people try to help him. Still, I go into his room and know how helpless and ultimately frantic he is, and my heart breaks as I look into his blue eyes. I think, like others, that he has little joy in his life, only more trials in store. How long will it last, and what more must he, and we, endure?