The three most brilliant men I ever knew were all taken down by dementia. You were one, Yoji Kondo was the second. We lost you and Yoji within the space of a year. Today, we lost the third. Unlike Yoji, I don’t believe you ever met Jim Heller. Jim was Howard County’s seventh fire chief, and the one who hired me, in 1997, to fill a position blandly titled “Records Management System Administrator.”
Only Jim didn’t do bland or unimaginative. Like you, he was always looking for better ways to do things. Like you, he knew that ever-improving technology could be employed to do jobs better, faster and simpler. Like you, he could look at a challenge that everyone else was afraid of, role up his sleeves and say, “Let’s start by doing this…”
We have chickens. For the first time since 1971, we have chickens. Christian proposed the idea for my birthday, and the others conspired to keep it from me. On Saturday, the day before my actual birthday, they sprung it on me. Renee had gone out to “run errands” for the day, and I had stayed home to rest, primarily. My head and neck had been hurting for three days—tension, no doubt. I was going to try to do a little work, taking apart the deck, and our shrubs were still in need of some additional trimming. I lamented that the boys rarely came over any more, and I felt stuck with a lot of work by myself.
Please note that this was written seven months ago. It’s all still true. I have made no decisions. I am still in the same job, and still thinking that it might be interesting enough to keep me in place for a while. There are no deep, dark secrets here; just me thinking out loud. To my co-workers–my work family–be aware that I will not retire without having another job. As of today, I haven’t so much as gone on an interview. Deep breaths.
July 31, 2018
Dear Daddy –
The green bathroom is ready for the plumbers. Did I say that already? I may have. I’ve started the pink bathroom now. Did I say that already? I may have. It’s very hard to hold anything in your head when your life is controlled by lists.
Last night, I posted the letter from January which talked about the meeting with the Maryland lawyer. Today I’m setting up a meeting with him to draft the new deed for the house on Simpson Road, and working with the North Carolina lawyer on adding a right of way to one of the deeds down there. The five North Carolina deeds have been condensed down to four deeds—two for Charles, who is getting non-connecting lots, one for Susan, which combines two deeds, and one that they’ll share. But the road to the Chocolate house crosses Susan’s land. Now that they’re owned by two different people, even though they are family members, we need to record a right of way.
I need to meet with a financial planner. Paying my own mortgage and two car payments, paying tuition, and assuming a loan against your house is going to be a challenge. I need advice on that. (And I half suspect that the “advice” may be: seek psychiatric help.)
This one is a little late this week. Busy week, with Fire Station visits, meetings and a Kansas concert at the Lyric! This post is also not six months back-dated, as a lot is going on right now, and I want to keep people in the loop.
Mother came home from the hospital today, after 20 days. Well, to be accurate, she was in the hospital for the better part of five days. She actually came home from Encore, an assisted living and skilled nursing facility, this morning. She had been there for two weeks’ physical and occupational therapy, teaching her how to walk and get up and down from a chair without falling.
We’ll see if it worked. I already caught her edging around the table without her walker once today.
We had another death in the family this week. Different family. My Fire Department family. I didn’t know Nate well, and can’t summon a memory even of a conversation we’ve had. Monday morning, very early, he responded with Engine 101 to a fire just around the corner from your house. It’s a huge house, twice the size of yours. I’ve heard estimates from 8,000 to 12,000 square feet.
After he and his officer had entered the house, the floor gave way beneath Nate’s feet and he plunged into a crawlspace below. His comrades literally went through fire to save him. Emergency Medical was on the scene and ready.
This is another letter I’ll publish immediately, because a lot has happened while I’ve been quiet these past two weeks. Part of it has kept me from publishing a blog entry. Part of it is news you would need to know about if you were here… or news that wouldn’t be news, because it wouldn’t have happened, if you were here.
Mother’s been sick for over a week, and actually spent this past weekend in the hospital, her first hospital stay, she points out, since she beat skin cancer in 1974.
I missed posting last week, and have not readied one of my collection of “Colonel’s Plan” posts for this week, because it’s Farpoint season. Farpoint, for the uninformed, is a science fiction convention that my family founded. It’s been held annually in Hunt Valley, MD for 26 years now. So I’m very busy. So I’ll be back in touch next week. In the meantime, here’s what I’m up to:
I didn’t write to you last week, and I just realized I’ve skipped sharing these letters on my website for two weeks. It’s been a busy and crazy time.
Mother, Susan and Charles are in North Carolina right now. Mother wanted to see your tombstone, which took quite a few months after your funeral to be placed. Apparently the man who supplied marble to the local tombstone maker was killed in an accident. (Is there a word for a person who makes tombstones? Like farrier or cobbler?) And then the usual slow pace of life in Yancey County probably also kept the gears from turning too fast. Might be for the best. Gears that turn too fast heat up and can be damaged. I think something like that has been happening to my gears lately.
The green bathroom is almost ready for the plumber to come. It’s been quite the task to get there. It’s the biggest of the bathrooms. It adjoins the master bedroom on the first floor. It’s actually subdivided into three small rooms, with a 5′ by 6′ entryway for the sink and countertop, a similarly sized space for the bathtub and toilet, and then a 10′ by 4′ dressing room with an additional sink and space for a dressing table and lighted mirror.
It would have had the most tile. There were seven boxes of standard square tile, seven boxes of the arabesque tile, and then all the trim pieces. I don’t honestly know where you planned for it all to go. I think, based on the fact that you did not finish the walls around the main sink, that you had planned to tile both the bathtub surround and two of the three sink walls. I did not elect to do all that. As I’ve mentioned, I never knew what your plan was for the floor, but I bought porcelain woodgrain for it.
The astute reader will note that this post bears yesterday’s date, not one six months in the past. It’s been a rough week. Hell, it’s been a rough year and a piece. It was time to sit down and say some things that, well, maybe I should have said a while ago. .
January 9, 2019
This time in my life causes me to raise my voice in protest and declare, “I am a positive person. Indeed, I’m the most positive person you’re ever likely to meet.” Why “In protest?” Because, for as long as I can remember, people have told me I was a negative person.