Losses

 

Elephant costume jewelry
Elephant costume jewelry

Have you ever had a loss?  Losses come in many shapes and sizes, also

Grandmother's wedding ring
Grandma’s wedding ring

emotional and unemotional.  Take for example the loss of a piece of costume jewelry, it is not something that has any great intrinsic value and probably little emotional value. But if it were your grandmothers wedding ring and it were lost or stolen then the value increases greatly both intrinsically and emotionally.  Everything has its own worth, large or small.

 

2008-08-24 12.20.07
Scamp

Almost three years ago, Scamp my miniature Schnauzer, died after a

IMG_E0392
Chloe

severe stroke, and last year we lost Chloe, another schnauzer, to cancer.  We had Scamp for almost 13 years and Chloe for only one.  We were devastated over the loss of both dogs even though we only had Chloe a year, she had become part of the family and burrowed herself deep into our hearts.

'57 Chevy
’57 Chevrolet

Cars are sometimes as big a loss just like the loss of a pet.  According to one insurance company ad on TV we are so close to our cars that we name them and if we have an accident and it is totaled, we are depressed beyond measure, then when the insurance company pays for a car that is newer you break out into your happy dance.  Really, you must kidding.  I have had cars I really liked but never to the point that it was a love affair.

Some people are that way about their houses or the possessions in them.  When we sold our house 11.5 years ago there were some nostalgic feels I had when we left, it is only normal, it is not like losing a pet or a loved one.  Within just a few months we were settled into our new home and had pretty much forgotten about the old house.  but if that loss is the result of a fire or a violent storm would that change how I woud feel? More than likely I would be devastated, the loss of everything that Kathy and I have worked for over these many years and the memories they represent.

But these losses are trivial compared to the loss of someone you love. The physical death of someone is devastating at the monent and the feeling of hurt will last a short time and turn into a mild ache coupled with the memories that will last a lifetime.  What about the loss of a loved one, not by death or divorce, but by an illness.  It is a toughter loss than can be imagined.

2012-07-21 12.32.05
Enjoying a trip to Crater Lake.

My wife, Kathy, has Parkinson’s disease, it is hard to feel the loss when she is right here.  Her walking has slowed, balance is an issue we can overcome with a walker.  Sometines cognitive issues have come up and has caused friction between us, it is not like losing someone to dementia or Alzheimer Disease.  We get irritated with each other, but that is because we are around each other a lot more now that we have entered in that part of life call retirement.  Because of the changes that my wife has gone througth I now do more things around the house, such as grocery shopping, doing laundry, making beds, doing the dishes after meals.  And then there are the doctor’s appointments and since she no longer drives I take her to all of her appointments.  Someone told me not long ago, they having recently lost their loved one, that it was like losing your loved one twice, once to the disease and again when the loved one passes on their rewards.

I had hoped that the two of us would be able to do some traveling and visit places that

New Year Celebration Anywhere
Illumination by fireworks

we had never seen or do again things that we had done in the past, but that is not going to happen.  If I want to see or do something, I have to plan it for the times that I take for respite care.  This does not mean that my wife and I can not go places and take some time to enjoy ourselves, it is just not very often. For example, this July we are going to the Oregon Gardens in Silverton to see the 4th of July celebration. Can you imagine seeing the Gardens lit by the exploding rockets?  It should be spectactular.

Ainsworth UCCLosses like these are what you make of them.  They can be devastating and overwhelming or with a lot of love and support it can be rewarding.  Support comes in many varities, your church (if you have one) can be a great resource, disease related support groups, your city/county may have programs to help with care while you are taking respite time, organizations that you belong to (Masons, Elks, Eagles) might also be able to help.  While on respite ensure that your loved one has plenty of stimulation, lonelyness can turn into depression which can lead into much tougher issues.  Some places, like here in Oregon, have organizations that support particualar diseases or illnesses, ours is Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon

Masonic Square and Compass
The Masons
BPOE_logo
Elks Lodge

And for goodness sake take care of yourself, be involved with activities that will help you relieve the pressures that build up.  If necessary get yourself a therapist, this a great way of blowing off steam without judgment.  Many therapist have tools to help you cope with loved ones suffering from diseases or illnesses that may or may not linger on for years.

 

What are they thinking?

The other day something remarkable happened, it was how it was done and by the person who did it.

A plane going from New York to Texas lost an engine, well not really lost; the damn thing blew up, exploded, went where it was not suppose too.  A large part of the engine was found 60 miles north of Philadelphia, the rest of it came down with the plane.  The plane, an older model Boeing 737, was cruising at 30,000 plus feet when the engine blew apart, it broke a window and opened a gash in the fuselage.

A woman seated next to the window or very near was sucked part way out of the plane, another passenger immediately grabbed her and with the help of a couple of others were able to pull her back into the plane.  According to the reports several other passengers had minor injuries.

ARABIAN GULF (July 31, 2016) – An F/A-18F Super Hornet  prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado/Released)

During all this the pilot, a US Navy veteran, had her hands full, you read right I said her, Tammie Jo Shults.  She was the first woman to qualify to fly the F/A18 in the US Navy and qualify as a Top Gun pilot, but being a woman she could not be a Top Gun flyer, but she could be a trainer, because women were not allowed to fly in combat.  She trained our finest Navy aviators.  During  her own training she landed planes on the decks of aircraft carriers pitching and rolling on the sea.  She learned to fly, as they say, by seat of her pants.  The F/A18s were not fly by wire as most planes are today, these lessons came in handy when her Boeing 737 lost its engine.

Older Boeing 737s are not computer controlled as they are today.  So when the engine blew she had to use the yoke to fly her aircraft.  The first thing she had to do was get that plane down from 30,000 feet to 10,000 just to equalize the pressure between the inside and outside of the plane, that took about 10 minutes.  During the next 10 minutes she brought the plane in for a landing with only one engine and she could not use either the flaps in full extension or the reverse thrust on the good engine.  So she was coming in, as they say, hot.  Without the flaps and reverse thrust she landed her plane praying the whole while that the tires would not blow or the brakes overheated and failed.  After landing she went into the cabin and calmly talked with the passengers.  Now that is one remarkable lady.

Now the most remarkable part of this story is how the media told the story, they had it down just like I have above but more graphic.  But it was how they gushed all over her and said how cool and calm she was.  How she must have had nerves of steel.  The only thing they left out was that she, being a woman, she did not get all emotional and hysterical about the whole thing.  She was cool and knew what to do.  Her hormones did not get in the way as the media thought they would.  “No”, she was trained to do this job, hours and hours behind the stick of a military plane, and many more hours training Navy aviators without letting her  hormones get in the way.  This lady is a real professional.

I just hope and pray that our vision of women starts to change, as to allow women the full measure and equality that men have had for generations.  One thing about the military, women and men receive the same pay for the same work, same grade, and time in service.  We talk about equal opportunity in employment but most of it is just talk.  Until we get serious about it, nothing will change.  As long as employers forbid employees to discuss wages and salaries the problem will continue to exist.  The employer is the greatest stumbling block to progress, let us bring this discussion out of the back rooms and into the light.  Women deserve to be treated better than that.

 

Special Women in my Life

Recently a friend, Bill, posted on his blog the story of the women in his life, which included his mother, sisters, wife and daughter, and let’s not forget the men along with them. He described his live from early childhood to retirement. Retirement for many of us is still as busy or busier than before we retired. At the end of his blog he asked for comments, here are my comments.

I too grew up in a world where women were expected to stay at home while the man went out to make a living. I was born in January 1949, the first of four children, all born in the Pacific Northwest, as far as I can remember my father worked at three different areas of labor (that’s not to say he worked for only three employers). My first recollection of where he worked was at an ice and cold storage facility, I have vague memories of going with him on a Saturday and running around the ice plant. Next he worked for the railroad, I don’t remember him working there very long, less than a couple of years, since it was shift work there were weeks we did not see him for days at a time. After the railroad he started a series of jobs that spanned the next thirty plus years, he became a salesman. He sold home freezer plans, then furniture and appliances, home delivery of dairy products and back to furniture and appliances. I have met people who knew my dad when he was working and they told me that he could sell ice cubes to native Alaskans in the middle of winter.

Eva Harmon 1986 (2)

All this time my mother stayed at home and did what she was expected to do. Mom did the laundry, cleaned the house, cooked meals and listened to the soap operas on the radio, and later on TV, while ironing. Mom was bored. She didn’t drive for it was not expected of her to drive. If she needed to go somewhere there was the bus or a male friend of the family who would take us if Dad wasn’t available or wait for the weekend or dad’s day off.

It was in my freshman year of high school that mom decided that it was time for her to learn to drive. She had tried several times before with my dad and my uncle, but it always ended up a disaster, of course it was always with a stick shift. Now she asked me to teach her, there was a large parking lot very close to where we lived and it was always empty on the weekend. That is where we would go for her to practice her driving. Later, dad took her out on the roads and highway for her to practice. She passed her drivers exam the first time surprising my dad. It was not long after she took me to get my license.

Now that mom had her driver’s license she no longer wanted to stay home during the day, now she wanted to go shopping without dad, she wanted a Car. Well, dad bought her a used car and on the way home he stopped along the way to have a couple, three, four, you get the picture, drinks. Finally back in the car he proceeds to hit a utility pole and crumpled the right front fender. Mom was so mad she could have spit nails. We got a fender from the salvage yard and mom drove that car with the odd colored fender for several years, she never let my dad get behind the wheel of her car again.

A couple of years later, mom got the itch to work. She went out and got herself a job and quickly rose up to become the lead on the production line. The summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school I went to work at the same place. At work mom was my boss and at home I was her son. During this time mom became pregnant with my sister, I was seventeen and entering my senior year when she was born. Things sure changed at home after the birth, as soon as mom was able and willing to go back to work, she did. It was expected that my brothers and I would do our chores and step up and take care of the baby.

Mom worked at menial jobs, not they weren’t important (at least to her), the rest of her life until she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. We lost her in April 1989 at the age of 59. There are things that happen in my life today that reminds me of mom. They are not big things, just small things that cause me to pause and smile.

Kathy 3-18-2010

I married my wife, Kathleen, about four years after high school. We had dated our senior year and after, even when I went into the military we stayed in contact and dated when I came home on leave. After my tour in Viet Nam and now stationed in Germany we got married. I knew when we married that Kathy had a mental illness and a lot of it stemmed from her family life. We made it through the first three years with Kathy in and out of the hospital. We were being reassigned from Oakland, California to Boston, Massachusetts when we found that Kathy was pregnant, after our daughter was born Kathy came off all the meds she was taking. She stayed off the meds for many years taking care of us.

There were times she wanted to go out and work. I encouraged her to go out and find something she would like to do. Kathy was resourceful, she found a job at a day care center as a cook and later as a teacher’s helper working with children with mental and physical disabilities. She did this off and on for several years while going to school and getting her AA degree in Social Work. She did all this until I retired from the Army and we moved back to Oregon. Again she tried to find work, but without luck.

I went through the Carpenters Apprentice program, becoming a journeyman carpenter where I made good money and it came to a point where we felt that Kathy did not need to work outside the home. Shortly thereafter Kathy was back in the hospital and where she was correctly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

Has this life of the military, hospital admissions, becoming a carpenter, 9/11, unemployment, working for a health insurance company and retirement, along with a diagnosis for Kathy of Parkinson’s disease been a strain or a hardship on us or our marriage? Well the short answer is yes and no.

After all these years, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Our faith has been one our greatest strengths. Yes we are retired and we have one or two illnesses but we stay busy, doing some things together and others apart. She would go crazy with me hanging around every day. She took care of me all those years, now it is my turn to support and take care of her.

We know so many women who work outside the home. Some work in offices, some work in sales, others with advanced degrees work as teachers or in the software industry or are professionals, a couple are in the trades and even one who is an airline pilot. Looking at all these women you will find some that are married, some who are in relationships, some single and others who choose a different lifestyle. Some have children and others do not. What do all of these women have in common? They are happy, well-adjusted and productive assets to our community, our city, state, country and our world.

When was the last time?

I posted this article in July 2015, with the the situation today I decided to republish this post.

When was the last time you were pulled over by the police? At times it can be very scary, but not as scary as it is to someone of color. The last time I was stopped, I remember that I was taking my daughter to an appointment with her orthodontist . I do not remember the circumstances of the stop other than the officer was friendly, he took my license, registration and insurance card, ran it through his checks. Afterward he calmly and politely told me to be careful and let me go. This was late 1988 in Beaverton, I had just retired from the Army, was working as a carpenter and I was 40 years old. Oh yes, I am white.

Let us change things just a little bit. It is still 1988 and I am 40 years old, just retired from the Army, working as a laborer and I am black. How would that police officer react to me then? I do not know, but I do know one thing, that if I had said just one word out-of-place I could have found myself at the police station and Lord only knows what they would have done with my daughter. My wife was at home and we had only one car.

That is only one example of white privilege. I know that I can drive down the street a few miles an hour faster than the limit, and get away with it. I have changed lanes without signaling properly. I can walk down the street of my neighborhood at 10:30 or 11 o’clock at night without being challenged. How many of our brothers and sisters of color can say that? They do not need to be black, they can be Hispanic, Asian, or even Native American.

When I went into the Army in 1968, there was racial discrimination going on. As I learned later it was not like it had been just a few years earlier. The Army was coming out of its own era of race riots and discrimination and they realized that something needed to be done. It was not until 1972 that I attended my first race relations class. Growing up in Portland where I had attended a school that was 90% black for a couple of years I thought I was ahead of the game. In that first class I started to learn what was meant by white privilege.

I watched my peers get promoted before me which only made me work harder to gain that promotion to remain with my peers. When I reached the higher levels of rank I found that I had a lot of friends within that rank structure. We did not just associate only with members of our own race but mixed comfortably together.

Retiring and returning to civilian life was a big jolt. Going into construction was an even bigger jolt. I was use to the sheltered life of the military. The racial separation that I now encountered was a strange world that I had entered. Construction has its own discriminatory structure and it is not just race, if you do not have connections you will find the going tough. The phrase FBI does not refer to that federal agency but to Friends, Brothers and In-laws, and when they say brothers they definitely do not mean the women within their own family. They want it to remain a man’s world. My wife’s step-father was a retired carpenter and even with that I had to find my own way in the industry.

Americans have a way of pushing things they do not want to think about under the surface and out of sight. These past 6 ½ years has bought the subject of race back out in the open again. Calling our President names, mocking him with pictures and trying to hamstring him and thwart all his endeavors to lead this country and try to deny him his place in history. When I was growing up I was taught to respect the office and the man (or woman) who holds that office no matter what your opinion of them was.

I hear people from the south talk about the confederate flag and the heritage it symbolizes in their lives. Really? That piece of cloth that symbolizes racism, slavery and bigotry, but more importantly treason. Is that the heritage that you want to hold on too? Is that the heritage you want to pass down to your children? Most of those I hear speak about this so-called heritage would not have had the money to buy one slave but cling to that worn out idea of what the southern way of life was. They are so afraid that someone will take away their perceived privileges.

The flag of treason is finally down and may its symbol be placed in the same place in the annuals of history as that of all other oppressive parts of our world’s history.

When? When did it happen?

For close to eight (8) years the Republicans have been telling us how bad the Affordable Care Act (ACA or also known as Obamacare) is and how it is exploding and going under.  Really!  Well tell that to the millions of Americans that did not have healthcare before the ACA and do now.  Tell that to those who because of Pre-existing conditions were denied coverage, even for having acne as a teenager, or to the women who gave birth and were then denied coverage because of pregnancies.  How about those who were not denied but because of the amount the insurance companies charged effectively denied them coverage.

Insurance companies really do not want to provide anyone coverage unless they are young and healthy and have never been sick or injured in their life, other than minor ailments.  That effectively eliminates a lot of folks.  There are a few ways to get around this – 1) is to be covered under an employer’s healthcare plan, 2) join the military (they have great coverage), 3) (this goes with #2) go to war, get injured and be covered by the VA (great benefit and care, but not everybody qualifies and this is probably the least desirable way to become eligible).  Now what are Health Insurance Companies, really?  They do not see patients, nor do they prescribe medications, do surgery or any other form of medical procedure.  They are bankers, they move money around, they collect your premium, pay themselves an incredibly high salary, then they nickle and dime the doctors and hospitals to accept lower payments for a procedure.  Even worse are those (especially doctors) who are not in NETWORK, boy do they get the shaft.

Now the Republicans in the Senate (and later in the House) plan to vote on a Repeal and Replace bill before the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2017).  So what does this new bill do?  It will allow insurance companies complete control over who will or will not be covered.  Over the next several years it will eliminate Federal Medicaid, coverage that millions of our citizens (especially children) need and turn it over to the state who will decide what to use the funds for.  It will change how states will receive Medicaid funds by changing them into block grants.  It also changes the formulation that affects distribution of funds to the states.  Under the ACA states were encouraged to expand Medicaid, the federal government would pay 100% the first three years and 90% thereafter.  Some so called blue states including California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington, to name a few, will be penalized for following the rules and expanding their Medicaid programs.  So called red states such as Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and others will benefit because they decided not to expand Medicaid.  Because California and New York are such large states and they had the audacity to expand Medicaid and they will not be allowed to go to a single payer health care system.

This bill, which has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), will eliminate millions of our citizens from being able to afford, let alone qualify, for health insurance.  What does this really mean?  It means that people are going to DIE.  Die because they could not afford to see a doctor or if they do see a doctor it will be at an emergency room where we, who are insured, will eventually pay the costs.

Now to answer the question “When did it happen?”  I believe that we really started this downhill slide to this point of our country’s history in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan told us “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”  I have always found this statement to be absolutely absurd.  Why you might ask, because under our form of government WE are the government.  We ask people, that we think that we can trust, to represent us, therefore a representative type of government.  The more you ridicule and distrust those who are elected only means that you ridicule and distrust yourself.  If they pass laws that are contrary to what you want, it only means that you were not paying attention and keeping your elected officials in check.

How do we stop this madness?  How do we regain control over our government?  It is by taking charge and stop being so cynical.  Step up and declare yourself to be a candidate for an office.  It does not matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican as long as you do the job with honesty and integrity.  Run for office be it for dog catcher, for a position on the school board, or any number of offices that can use a fresh face and new ideas that help rather than hurt our fellow citizens.  After a couple of years at this level try running for the city or county council, from here and at high levels of office, you have an impact on state and federal legislation and regulatory decisions.  If you are young enough, and age is not necessarily an obstacle,  step up to state offices, positions in the State legislature, House and Senate (most are part-time positions and in some states your regular job, by law, must be held for you), are just as powerful and rewarding as on the Federal level.

On the Federal level positions in the US House of Representatives and the Senate are not as plentiful, but this is prestige and strut time.  This is where you make a name for yourself, by being a leader or a follower.  It is what some people want, they like the cheers, the music, the glad-handing, and the speeches.  This is where the big boys and girls live, work and play, many will not have the stomach for such high power living and others seek even more.

Okay, are you in – as a voter or as a candidate?  But most importantly be an active, charged up citizen that is ready to take on the idea that – if you are from the government and you are ready help – it is not used in a negative way.  We are Americans, we stand up and take charge and do what is right.  Let us stop sitting on our hands and continue to gripe about how the government is no good and they do not listen to the people.  You and your fellow citizens can and must join together to change this country to again be caring and compassionate.

Will He or Won’t He

The most important question every Senior needs to ask

Well here we are stuck in limbo not knowing if Mr. Trump will protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as he promised.  All through the campaign he said that these programs would not be changed but should be made stronger. 

Then came the transition and he nominated Tom Price, a Congressman from Georgia and a Physician to be the secretary of Health and Human Services, he also nominated Mick Mulvaney, a Congressman from South Carolina to head the Office of Management and Budget.  Mr. Price and Mr. Mulvaney are outspoken critics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  They do not think that the government should have anything to do with these programs and calls them “Entitlements” which we all know is shorthand for “Welfare”. 

I don’t know about you but after working over 50 years I think that I am entitled to the “Earned Benefits” that I paid into for all those years.  Ok, I know the story, I paid for those who were already retired and the next generation would pay for mine, but wait they say there are not enough in that generation to keep Social Security afloat.  That was true until the early 1980’s when President Reagan and the Speaker of the House Tip O’Neal came up with the idea that the Baby Boomers would pay double the payroll tax.  That way they not only paid for those who had already retired, but would also pay for their own retirement, and then the tax would revert to its previous level.  That way the working generation would take care of those who had gone before as the law was originally intended.  Now the story is Social Security and Medicare is going broke, They have been saying that ever since I can remember in the 1950’s.  How can a program that people are still paying into go broke?  I remember an old quote my father use to say that “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure”.  When it comes to a politician I don’t trust them doing the figuring.

As if Mr. Price and Mr. Mulvaney were not bad enough, the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wants to privatize Social Security have you seen the fluctuations in the stock market since 2008?  Mr. Ryan, Mr. Price and Mr. Mulvaney want to change Medicare to a voucher system.  This is where the government gives you a voucher for a set amount of money and you go out and purchase your own insurance and if the voucher does not cover the amount of the insurance then tough luck.  I do not know many seniors that have extra money lying around to cover the extra cost of health insurance.

Ok, so Mr. Ryan, Mr. Price and Mr. Mulvaney want to privatize Social Security, change Medicare to a voucher system and make Medicaid into a block grant.  What in the devil is a block grant you ask?  Well a block grant is a set amount of money the federal government gives to the states and the states decide how much of that money is used for health care for the poor, or if it is to be used for other projects.

I just turned 68 and have been retired for four years.  I am enjoying retirement with my wife, even with the major surprise that occurred with her health.  A year and half ago my wife was diagnoses with Parkinson’s disease.  For her it has been a major change in her life, she no longer drives, nor does she go for the long walks she used to do, her energy level depletes rapidly, and one of the side effects of the Parkinson’s is that she falls asleep very easily.  Parkinson’s is a very strange disease, no two people have the same symptoms or severity.  It has also changed my life, I am now responsible for taking care of her, walking the dog, and chauffeuring my wife to and from appointments.  My biking has come to a sudden halt and my golf game has also suffered a major hit. 

Now back to the question at hand “Will He or Won’t He”?  I am quite concerned with what will happen to Social Security and Medicare.  My military retirement supplements my Social Security.  Kathy and I could not live on what we get from Social Security alone.  The military retiree medical program is my supplement to Medicare. 

If Social Security is privatized will my benefits be reduced or increased, will the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) still be applied?  What about Medicare?  Will the military retiree supplement still be available (retirees were promised medical care for life) relocation to be closer to a military base is not an option, on top of that will the military facilities be able to handle the increase of retirees?  Besides it will be telling military retirees where they must live when they retire, my wife and I have returned to where our families lived when we retired.  Will the insurance that we buy with the voucher accept the retiree supplement?  How about pre-existing conditions, Parkinson’s definitely is a pre-existing condition and like most conditions such as these are very expensive to treat, will the insurance cover that?

Too many questions and not enough answers.  The main reason that answers are slow in coming or even non-existent, in my humble opinion, because those who want to change all of this don’t know the answers themselves.  Playing it by ear is not good enough.

 

 

Whoa, Hold on, Wait a minute!!!!

New Year Celebration Anywhere
New Year Celebration, this is like celebrations held all over the world.

What do you mean this is the last day of the year? The year has only started, correct? It only seems like we just started 2015 and now we are on the verge of starting 2016. How quickly time passes and many of us are so busy that we barely notice the changes as they occur.

Looking back over the last year many significant events occurred. We, like most, started January off sleeping in late, not because we were out partying though we did stay up later than usual. After that quiet beginning everything was off to the races.

I had good intentions about getting onto my bike and start riding and getting back into shape. It did not go as I had planned, do they ever? I let myself be my own worst enemy, I did not want to get up, I had too many errands to run, I needed to help Kathy with whatever (she usually did not need my help). We did notice that when she walked Scamp, she was taking longer and the distance was getting shorter.

In March two significant events occurred, the first event was that we made arrangements to start visits with my 12-year-old grandniece, Diamond. She is in Foster Care and likes the visits she has with family. The second event involved Kathy taking a series of tests. The results were somewhat surprising but not overly so. In October 2014, after a couple of near accidents, we decided that Kathy should not drive for a while until she was more aware of her surroundings. The test indicated that we had been wise to in our decision. Shortly thereafter Kathy decided that because she was walking so slowly, because of the pain, and Scamp was not getting the walk he needed and was use too I would take over walking him.

Because of these and many other changes I decided that I should give up being the Building Manager for my lodge. I enjoyed the interaction with the many groups who share the building and the work to maintain the building, but spending more and more time taking Kathy to appointments, I was not devoting the time I thought needed to be spent at the lodge.

In late June Kathy had a visit with a Neurologist. He ordered a mass of tests and procedures and in August told her she had Secondary Parkinson’s Disease. This threw both of us for a loop, even now 6 months later we still have times when it does not seem real.

Towards the end of August was a difficult time for both of us. I had gotten up early and walked Scamp, met with a friend to play a round Scamp with haircut 2002-11-02_0034of golf, drove out to Forest Grove where I picked up Diamond, we took her shopping for school clothes and out to dinner, back out to Forest Grove and then returned home. I took Scamp for our usual walk before going to bed.  During our walk Scamp was playing, running and having a good time. Near the end of our walk Scamp jumped over a curb, gave a yelp and fell over. I picked him up and was holding him when he decided he wanted down. When I put him down he fell and had a Grand Mal seizure. After the seizure he had a hard time standing and walking. Kathy and I took him to the Emergency Vet Clinic and after evaluation we decided to let Scamp go. I did not want to prolong his suffering.
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October began with Kathy and me spending a few days at the Oregon Gardens near Silverton, Oregon to celebrate our anniversary. It was good to get Kathy away from home and even though she had started using a walker most of the time, I had borrowed a wheelchair which we used while in the gardens. Adjacent to the Gardens is the Gordon House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which was moved to its present location to save it from being demolished. It is an interesting place to visit, but it is not a place that I would like to live in.

A few weeks later Kathy was referred to the Parkinson’s Clinic for evaluation. Since it only meets once a month we had to wait until December for an appointment. Here she was evaluated by another Neurologist, a Social Worker, a Physical Therapist and a Speech Therapist. The diagnosis was changed from Secondary to Primary Parkinson’s.

Over the past year our lives have changed in ways we could have never imagined. Becoming a care giver has changed my life in so many ways. Sometimes I think that Kathy feels that she may be a burden on me. In all the years we have been together and all the events we have shared, nothing could be further from the truth. We have taken care of each other all these years and many times I have felt that she has taken care of me more than I have her. Caring for her is a privilege for me to give back all that she has done for me.

New Year Celebration in Munich, Germany
New Year Celebration in Munich, Germany

Happy New Year – 2016