Goodbye, my love.

December 2nd, 2020

I’ve not posted anything to this website for over a year. This is because I’ve been taking care of my girlfriend. She was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia (Posterior Cortical Atrophy, or PCA) in August of 2017. Looking back, I can recognize that she had symptoms of it starting two or three years earlier. I did not realize that they were symptoms of anything until we received the diagnosis. A reasonable shorthand description of PCA is, “Alzheimer’s dementia that affects vision as well as memory and cognition.” Her eyesight wasn’t affected; her brain just became incapable of interpreting the data from her eyes. I’m convinced that it also has effects on motor skills such as balance.

In December of 2017, she developed back and leg pain. Nothing that we tried helped, and things kept getting worse to the point she could barely walk. She had no relief until she had back surgery after suffering for a year. The surgeon found a bone spur from a vertebra, which had not shown up on X-rays or MRI scans, pressing on her sciatic nerve. The operation was, to Marion, a miracle cure. She was walking two to three miles a day by the time I took her back for her 30-day post-op evaluation. The surgeon was definitely impressed.

I’ve been living with her for almost two years, because she needed someone with her through the night during her recovery from surgery. In August of 2019, her dementia had progressed to the point that she required 24/7 attention. I have been providing that, which is one of the main reasons I mostly abandoned this site.

Marion and I were together for a long time; the coming New Years Eve would have marked the 25th anniversary of our becoming a couple. Our personalities meshed well together. Over 25 years, I can only remember one significant argument that we had. She was always more active than I was; she gave up hiking in the mountains because my knees wouldn’t handle it, but she got me started in cross-country skiing, which wasn’t so hard on them, and she got me into snorkeling. We rode bicycles and did a lot of walking. For a short woman (she was 5’2″, I’m 6’1″), she walked quickly. I had trouble keeping up with her, and below 11,000 feet, she could walk me into the dirt. My lungs were apparently more efficient than hers once the air was thin enough.

She loved to travel. She went places by herself until we were established as a couple, then we traveled together. We traveled in the US, Canada, England and Scotland, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Europe, Egypt and Jordan, Australia, and New Zealand. We saw the pyramids, Karnak, Abu Simbel, Petra, Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque, listened to a live performance of Mozart in Vienna, took a helicopter up to a glacier in New Zealand, and so many other wonderful things.

One thing Marion didn’t have to get me into, but she did keep trying to get me to do more of, was ballroom dancing. I’d had an introduction to ballroom dancing my first year at the Naval Academy (part of that whole “officer and a gentleman” thing). I actually met Marion when we were both in the same samba class. I asked her out for coffee, and things grew from there. We took classes together in just about any ballroom dance you can name – waltz, Viennese waltz, foxtrot, tango (both American and Argentine styles), rhumba, cha-cha, quickstep, samba, nightclub two-step, country two-step, paso doble, merengue, and East and West Coast Swing. Possibly some others that I don’t recall. West Coast Swing was one of Marion’s favorite dances, but it was one I resisted learning for several years. Marion hated to leave the dance floor, so I wanted one dance that I could use an excuse to get some rest. Eventually, though, I gave in.

The year that she had the back pain was unfortunate. By the time she’d had the surgery and recovered from it, her dementia had progressed to the point where she had trouble with her balance, and she’d forgotten many of the steps she had known. We ended up with waltz, foxtrot, nightclub two-step, and American tango as what we could do. Then came COVID and the lockdowns, and we couldn’t even do those anymore.

We still walked, though. Last summer, I’d hold her hand and we’d walk a 1.5 mile loop on the paths near our houses, up to three times daily. She couldn’t see much, so I’d describe the weather, any wildlife I saw, and any people nearby as we walked.

As time progressed, her steps became shorter, and the amount we’d walk lessened. Last Friday, we took two walks for 1.5 miles total. By that time, I was no longer holding her hand and walking beside her; I had been walking backwards, holding both of her hands, and pulling to keep her moving for a couple of months.

When we weren’t walking, Marion was listening to classical music or audiobooks. Sometimes, I’d play my ukulele and sing for her. She sang along on the songs she knew, until she couldn’t anymore because she had forgotten the lyrics, or just couldn’t get them out.

Last Friday, around 6 pm, Marion got part of her dinner caught in her throat. I was unable to dislodge it with the Heimlich maneuver, nor could the EMTs when they arrived. We have a fire station just a couple of blocks away, so they were there almost immediately. Her heart stopped in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, but they were able to stabilize her in the ER. According to their protocol, Marion would be kept sedated for about 36 hours, possibly more, before they would wake her and evaluate her. Unfortunately, her blood pressure dropped a few hours after she was admitted. I was called to her side sometime between midnight and 1 am Saturday. They told me her blood pressure was 50 over something, and they didn’t expect her to last. When I arrived 20 minutes or so later, her blood pressure was no longer registering at all. I sat with her, holding her hand, reminiscing about our life together, and attempting to sing her favorite folk songs to her. Around 2:30 am, her pulse rate started dropping. It had been steady at 97 since I arrived. It slowly decreased to about 60, then her heart stopped again around 2:45.

She did not respond to CPR that time.

Her funeral service was this afternoon. I’m going to miss her so very much.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything

September 3rd, 2019

And not completely by my choice, really. Last week was bookended by my annual eye exam on Monday, and my 66th birthday on Saturday.

I’ve been quite fortunate with my eyes, for the most part. When I had my qualification physical for the Naval Academy during my last year in high school, my vision was very good. I was 20/15 in one eye and 20/10 in the other. The tech who checked my eyes told my father that I could “damn near see through walls.” I was able to avoid the need for glasses until I was 43, when I started needing reading glasses. I’ve been needing them more these past few months, and Monday, I was told that while I’m still 20/20 in both eyes, I now need bifocals to correct my astigmatism.

My eye exam also brought other bad news: I’ve been taking care of someone with dementia, and it is no longer safe to leave them alone for more than a few minutes. Time to look for a care facility, it seems.


December 21st, 2018

Ten years ago today, Marion and I arrived in the Galapagos for our first overseas trip together. We had spent a couple of days in Quito ahead of our flight to San Cristobal Island, and we had a good time there.

The Galapagos were incredible. We were on a tour with GAP Adventures (now G Adventures), and spent ten days traveling to five of the islands and seeing the sights. After the tour ended, we spent another few days traveling through Ecuador. A very nice trip. I still have a Panama hat that I bought, along with a couple of shirts, one from the Galapagos Marine Reserve, and the other with Lonesome George embroidered on it.

I’d love to go back, but I doubt that I ever will. I’d probably say more about the trip, but my ISP has changed the interface used to write posts, and I didn’t realize it until started to write this article. I don’t know how to do anything without inserting the HTML manually, and I don’t know where to find things yet.


November 27th, 2018

Time for some music-related stuff. Thanksgiving was last week, and Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” is almost obligatory in some circles. Here’s something I ran across, but was unable to spend time on prior to the holiday. Perhaps for next year …

Here’s a nice rendition of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” I listened to it because the name of the group attracted my attention.

Finally, here are two videos that are sequential selections from the same presentation on the Circle of Fifths. I knew parts of this before, but these are very clear and informative.

It’s Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2018

Since it was only my girlfriend and myself today (my daughter and her friends had other plans), I did not cook a Thanksgiving dinner. I did make a couple of desserts: a bourbon chocolate pecan pie and some chocolate rum balls. Instead, we went out. It was fine, and I don’t have the room in my fridge for leftovers from cooking a big meal, anyway.

One thing I meant to do, but never got around to, was to learn this so that I could play it today. Maybe next year.

Veteran’s Day

November 12th, 2018

I’m just coming in under the wire for noting Veteran’s Day, since it was actually yesterday, but is officially observed today. It’s the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War 1. I noted once before that something like 80% of the generation that fought in Europe was killed. Here’s a visual representation (click on the picture for a larger image):

To anyone else who served, thank you for your service.


September 25th, 2018

Been just over a month since I’ve posted anything. I’m not wanting to comment on the Kavanaugh hearings or anything else political, because I’m just disgusted by the behavior of the Democrats and the rest of the Left. So, I’ll post some music that I ran across recently and enjoyed.

I’m wishing this YouTube channel had more posts

August 20th, 2018

I ran across Speech Jammer Storytime a few days ago, and it’s not only fun, it brings back memories. When I was attending the Naval Academy, one of my extracurricular activities was being part of the Brigade Activities Committee, the group that ran skits at pep rallies and pregames.

One particular pep rally skit I remember had me narrating something, with my words amplified and emitted via the loudspeakers mounted on the wings of Bancroft Hall that were on the far side of T-Court from me. There was a noticeable delay between the time I spoke and the time I heard my amplified speech. Because of that, I can really sympathize with this guy:

It’s Memorial Day

May 28th, 2018

There are other bloggers who have moving posts, and I’ve done some in the past. Today, I’ll just link to this story in the Daily Mail, and note that patriotism, despite the efforts of some, is not dead.

I wasn’t expecting that

May 22nd, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, my sewing machine (an ELNA from the 1970s – very nice, durable machine) broke – the lower bobbin stopped turning, which meant that stitches were no longer being made. I found out where to take it for repairs (surprisingly close to my home) and they sent it off to the repair center. Repairs and refurbishing were going to cost a little under $200.

I have it back now, with no money out of pocket. The part that broke was a plastic gear, and that gear is no longer available. I haven’t decided what to do – I seldom have a real need to sew anything, but I do have some things that need sewing now, and a machine would be a lot easier than hand-stitching.

I don’t even know if the broken gear was returned with the machine. I think what I’ll do is try to find or make a replacement – there may be something available that’s close enough, or perhaps I can swing some time on a 3D printer, but in either case I’ll need to know what the dimensions, teeth, etc. are for the gear.

And if I can’t find or make a replacement gear, I’ll at least have a motor with a speed control foot pedal available.