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.


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


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.

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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
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.


Traveling Adventures

I have an e-friend who is moving from the Great Pacific Northwest to New England.  He and his wife are chronicling their adventures in a blog that Kathy and I are enjoying because we have had some of those same types of adventures.

A year or so before I retired from the Army, Kathy and I purchased a new vehicle, a 1987 Plymouth Grand Voyager, with seating for 7 people.  Kathy and I have one child, and why would we need such a large vehicle?  Our daughter was in middle school; fairly active in the church youth program and having lots of friends we figured that we would need a bigger vehicle to accommodate all her friends.  Besides we had planned to retire in Arizona and if we wanted to travel around the state we would need a bigger car.

Pima County Courthouse, Tucson, AZOne weekend the youth group was invited to join in a lock-down at a church in Tucson, 70 miles away.  Two fathers volunteered to transport the girls to Tucson and I volunteered to pick them up the next morning since I had a bigger car and could do it in one trip.  I arrived at the church at the appointed hour and the nine girls loaded their sleeping bags and piled into the van.  This was before the mandatory use of seat belts.  We had a rule for our daughter, she could ride in the back without a seat belt, but if in the front seat she had to have the seat belt on.  You try to figure out how nine girls fit themselves into a space for five.

We left Tucson and started for home.  Have you ever been in a vehicle with nine tired and giggling girls for an hour and a half and all of them trying to tell you what happened at the same time?  It was an experience that I swore I would never do again, but is a memory that I cherish to this day.

It came time to retire, but instead of retiring in Arizona as planned, we were moving back to Portland, Oregon where Kathy and I had grown up.  We made the arrangements with the Transportation Office to have our household goods packed and stored until we found a permanent place to live.

Being that we had up to a year to decide were we would permanently settle, we needed to take a certain amount of items with us.  This included clothes, dishes, pots and pans, bedding and other sundry items that Kathy could think of.  If Kathy could have figured out how to take the kitchen sink, she would have had me pack that too.  I packed and repacked the car several times before we left Sierra Vista to accommodate everything, not only was the interior full but also the rooftop carrier was loaded.

It was the 19th of August when we left Sierra Vista.  We got a good start; the car was loaded and we were heading for Fortuna, California as our first stop.  No sooner had we reached Interstate 10 and started west we heard something snap and started bouncing between the road and car.  Stopping, Overloaded MinivanI found a bracket under the car had broken, and so I grabbed a piece of rope and I tied it up until we reached Tucson.  Finding a dealer in Tucson, we learned that this part helped the brakes compensate for loads had broken because we had overloaded the car and they did not have the part to repair it.  They said that if we reduced the load, we should be able to reach Oregon without any problems.

I found the Greyhound depot, bought several boxes, packed much of that which we would not be need for a few weeks and shipped them off to my brother in Portland.  I repacked the car and we headed for California.  Crossing Arizona in the heat of August without air conditioning is foolish; this was the first car we owned that had factory air.  My wife, daughter, cat and dog made it, thanks to the AC.  On top of this, Kathy was suffering from a case of the shingles.  Even though she had medication for it, she was still very uncomfortable.

The dog, a black Cocker Spaniel, switched from one side of the car to the other depending upon which side the sun was on.  The cat stayed in her kennel for most of the trip, only to come out periodically to sit upon my daughter’s lap.  We had gotten her a couple of years before our daughter was born and she (meaning the cat) had adopted her as her own.  Our daughter could do almost anything with that cat.

We arrived in Fortuna about 4:00 pm that day and checked into a motel.  We did not stay there for more than an hour.  The door was warped and did not close completely; the room was dirty, as if it had not been cleaned since the last century.  We checked out and went to a different motel in a different town, Santa Bernardino.  It cost a little more, but it was worth it.

The next morning we left San Bernardino for Oakland.  Heading north on Interstate 15 until we were outside of Barstow and picked up Highway 58, and proceeded toward Bakersfield.  We went through the Mohave Desert which is very flat and desolate; you can see for miles, this is where Edwards Air Force Base is located, where the space shuttle sometimes lands when Cape Canaveral is not available because of weather.  In the mountains we passed through Tehachapi a town that brought back memories of comedy programs of long ago – Tehachapi.  We arrived in Bakersfield about lunch time.  Other than having lunch, I do not remember anything about Bakersfield. After lunch we headed west where we picked up Highway 101 and proceeded to Oakland.  Through the dry, rolling hills of central California we saw wind turbines scattered across the landscape.  We also passed many livestock holding areas, and held our noses because of the stench.  We looked for but did not see any California Condors.  Every place we passed we found the beauty that surrounded us at that moment in time.  We arrived in Oakland late that day.

San Francisco SkylineThe next day my daughter and I spent the day touring San Francisco and I showed her some of the places her mom and I used to go when we lived in the bay area.  The shingles were taking a toll upon Kathy’s strength.  She stayed in the motel taking care of the animals and resting.  That evening Kathy joined us for dinner in San Francisco.

Powell-Hyde cable car with Alcatraz in the distance, San Francisco, CAOur day in San Francisco was filled with sightseeing, riding the cable cars, eating at Fisherman’s Wharf.  The day was full and we had fun.  Dinner was at one of the many Chinese restaurants in Chinatown.  It was dark by the time we headed back to Oakland, and the lights of San Francisco and Oakland were shining, making the skyline amazing.

The next day we were starting the next leg of our journey before we would finally settle in Portland.  The destination was my parent’s home in Prineville, Oregon, but we needed to stop one more time before our daughter saw her Grandma and Grandpa.

Mt Shasta in CaliforniaWe heading east on Interstate 80 to Sacramento, turned north following Interstate 5 to Weed, California.  As we left the Sacramento valley and started up through the mountains we enjoyed the change of landscape as we passed by Mount Shasta.  We were surprised at how low the water level was in Lake Shasta.  At Weed we took a northeast heading going through the high desert and mountains of northern California, this was terrain we were familiar with from Arizona, that afternoon we stopped in Klamath Falls.  After a nice meal and a good nights rest we finally departed Klamath Falls at mid-morning.  As we drove toward Prineville we passed the cut off to Crater Lake.  We discussed making a side trip to the National Park and decided against it to arrive in Prineville in the mid afternoon.  We stayed with mom and dad for a couple of days before Kathy and I left for Portland to look for a place to live and get our daughter registered for school.

Kathy and I stayed with my brother, who had picked up our stuff at the bus station, and his family.  We looked at a lot of apartments before finding one in the Beaverton School District.  After signing the lease and establishing a move in date, Kathy and I returned to Prineville to spend time with my parents before school started.

Portland SkylineUpon our return to the Portland area, we took possession of our apartment; then we had to get some things for furniture.  A folding (card) table and folding chairs which would be used for the dining room, the church we started to attend, helped us find used furniture and beds to hold us over until we finally found a house where we would permanently put down roots.

As my years in the Army came to a close, I started a new life and career in Portland, Oregon.  Life would now be different from how we lived for the past 20 years.  The worry that orders that would direct us to move somewhere else in the world was over.  The future meant that now we must depend on my ability to work and learn my new profession.