What’s wrong? . . .

Once upon a time I could hold my breath for up to 6 minutes underwater. I panicked several professional life guards by diving off of the high dive at our local swimming pool and sitting on the bottom of the pool until they freaked out and dove in to “rescue” me. I thought it was quite a fun game, at the time.

I could get dismissed from school at 1530 hrs (the normal time) and start jogging, going from Lebo, to Emporia, (both in Kansas, USA) and get there before my mom got off from work at 1700 hrs. It was a 22 mile run, and I was still in high school.

When my physical conditioning coach convinced the school board to buy a “Universal Gym” I set records for leg presses and bench presses. I was the only person in my school who could leg press more than 4x his own weight.

And when my home team competed in baseball, I was one of three persons on the team who could consistently knock that baseball out of the park for a home run.

So, why is it that 45 years later I can’t even take out our trash without getting winded? I’m in serious pain all day, every day. The pain even compromises my ability to sleep.

My brother-in-law accuses me of being lazy. He thinks I should be sucking down pain meds and continuing to go to work. Never mind the fact that I’d already been doing that for 10 years before he joined the US Army and became my (philosophical) brother in uniform. It didn’t even matter that years later his younger sister would choose me to be her husband.

In some ways, I was better off with my first wife’s family. The only person in that family who didn’t like me was her father. But, that relationship didn’t survive, and eventually I met my second wife. The one who’s older brother thinks I’m lazy.

Here’s the weird part – he admits that he thinks his own mother (my mother-in-law) is either crazy or has dementia. Even so, he accepts her counsel on whether or not I’m a good partner for his sister. Never mind the fact that I was already an Army veteran before he enlisted., or that his mother was married twice, and both marriages together didn’t survive for 25 years. Never mind the fact that he himself has never managed a marriage that lasted more than 15 years. Still – his sister and I have been a couple for nearly 24 years, and in 1.5 years will celebrate our silver wedding anniversary.

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Many Apologies . . .

I must apologize for missing both last Saturday’s Post, but also not posting anything about New Year. The Wednesday before January 1st, my wife started having respiratory distress, and as the days passed, it became more pronounced.

When I got out of bed on January 1st, she was in severer distress, and I told her to go to the local ER. It was 6pm. She went, and at about 9pm (all local time) she informed me over the phone that she’d been positively diagnosed with Covid-19. We don’t know how she was exposed to it, but she was released from the hospital, and was given an array of prescriptions.

Since my focus has been on taking care of my wife, I missed both the Saturday Post this past weekend, but also didn’t post anything for New Year’s Day. That’s fine, since I didn’t have anything about resolutions or otherwise profound thoughts to share.

Because of her diagnosis, my wife and I are in isolation for the next 2 weeks. I expect a full recovery for her, and so far I am not having any trouble that I can attribute to that infection.

Happy Birthday . . .

Every year on this day, I hope to remember to do something special for my wonderful wife. Today is her birthday, and because it’s sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when she was growing up she never actually got a personal birthday recognition. Her birthday was always part of the Christmas event, and every present she got was part of both.

Ever since we connected, I’ve tried to make her birthday a special, individual occasion. This year when I asked her what she wanted to do, she had no answer except to spend the day in leisure and relax. So, to mark her birthday, I’m writing this blog.

To my wife, I have this to say:

Sweetheart, in the nearly 24 years that we’ve known each other, I have known nobody like you. You have my back better than any of the Army personnel I ever served with. Love does not need to be earned, but even if it did you’d have earned it 1,000 times over. You are my soul mate, now and for the rest of my life. Happy birthday my partner in everything.

Thanksgiving . . .

Today, in the USA, is the day we designate as Thanksgiving. It is a day to give thanks for all of the blessings that we have in our lives.

At the top of my list is, of course, my wife and the home we share. I can’t imagine who I would be without her in my life. After 23 years together, everything good about my life boils down to what she adds to it.

There are others that I’m also thankful for – most of all those who are part of my life because they choose to be. I’ve often heard it said that there are two kinds of family, those you are born to and those who choose to stand with you. The next three ladies I’m going to specifically mention have chosen to stand with me, even though they have often had reasons to step away. Because they are all special, I’m just going to list them in the order I met them.

Which means, the very first is Christie. She was the first childhood memory I have outside of my biological family. My parents bought the house next door to her family in 1967, and she was not only my neighbor but a classmate. When others picked on me or belittled my small stature, she was always kind and encouraging. Even after 55 years, she still stays in touch with me, and I know I’m not always the easiest person to talk to. So, thank you. If there is ever anything you need me for, you can count on me to do everything in my power to be there for you.

The next person is the first ex-Scientologist I made friends with after my wife and I chose to leave that organization. Despite the fact that she came from a very successful family and was a respected artist in her own right, she has always related to me like an equal. Eibhlin, even though we’ve never met face-to-face, you are as much a sister to me as any of my biological siblings. Thank you.

Finally, but by no means least, is Anita. The first time we met, your grace and poise impressed me. Nothing ever seemed to fluster you. For 3 weeks you shared your home with me while your husband Les helped me confirm something about myself we were all fairly certain was true. While I’m no where near the artist that Eibhlin is, you were grateful for a pencil sketch I did of the view I could see through your windows. Since then, you’ve always been a rock that I could share nearly any concern with. You are the older sister I never had, and I’m always going to be thankful that you’re part of my life.

So, for the 60th Thanksgiving of my life, what I’m most grateful for is family – mostly those who didn’t have to be my family but have made the choice to stand with me anyway. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Suitable weather this weekend . . .

For the last 15 years, my wife and I have shared our home with two cats. The first one we got actually seemed to be choosing us. He was jet black, and at 6 weeks old he walked right up to my left leg, looked up at me, and let out a meow that I swear sounded like “get me the hell out of here NOW.” Of course, we had to wait another 2 weeks for him to be old enough to adopt, but he remembered us, and came running as soon as we arrived to pick him up.

Within a month, we realized that he was lonely for the company of another cat, but we didn’t understand the dynamics of feline prides (family units) well enough to prevent a mistake we made. The second cat we adopted was 1-2 weeks older than the first one, from a different mother and litter, and was also a girl. They were usually civil to each other, but Morgaine (the girl) never fully accepted Merlin as her brother.

Without any actual dates for when either cat was born, we just kept track of their ages by remembering that we picked up Merlin (the male) on Halloween.

Several weeks ago, Morgaine started having behavior trouble – making messes on the living room carpet instead of a litter box that hadn’t moved in 12 years. She also wasn’t grooming herself, and was spending large amounts of time hiding from everyone. We became worried enough that we decided she needed to see a veterinarian. Her appointment was yesterday morning.

You know how in Hollywood shows, whenever there is a funeral scene it’s usually raining? It’s been raining here off-and-on since Friday.

The news from the veterinarian was upsetting. Morgaine had developed diabetes, kidney disease, and had open wounds on her glands around the base of her tail. It would be expensive to treat these issues, and because of the kidney disease would only buy her another year, or two. After a lot of soul searching, we decided the kindest thing we could do for her was to let her go. It was about as far from easy as you can get. One of our fur babies has passed away.

Car Accident Update . . .

I’ve posted before about my wife getting hit by an impatient motorist while she was attempting to make a left turn from a highway. The accident demolished a car we’d had for several years, and was in very good condition. Up to that point, we had no plans to replace it. After the accident, we were forced to do just that.

I’m happy to say that my wife continues to recover, and is back to work, and is doing well. We’ve also found and purchased a replacement car. It is a 2015 Black Chevy Malibu, and had a very good Carfax report. When my wife took it to the shop that we go to for mechanic work, for a pre-purchase inspection, the shop reported a few general maintenance issues we should address, but nothing that needed urgent attention. So, we bought it.

Saturday Posts . . .

One of the worst moments of my life . . .

Yesterday my wife took the day off to take our vacuum cleaner to a repair shop to find out why it wasn’t working correctly. Because she had to travel to a larger nearby city, while she was there she visited a health food store to get some things that we normally buy whenever we’re over there. While she was doing all of that, I was here at home trying to get some sleep.

At about 1530 (3:30pm) I heard the phone ring. When I answered it, a woman asked if she was talking to me. I assured her she was, and her reply sent chills down my spine. “Mr. Pope, I’m a nurse at the hospital ER, and we have your wife here – she’s been in an auto accident.”

Before I get any farther – I want to be clear that although she has many bruises and is in considerable pain, my wife suffered no major injuries and was released shortly after that phone conversation. However, it seems that our car was damaged enough that expectations are not high that it can be repaired at a cost comparable to it’s value, and all of the groceries she bought were ruined by getting left in the car. We have no idea if the vacuum cleaner survived.

Because it was Friday afternoon, we couldn’t get to any car rental agency before they closed – and because it is a holiday weekend we probably can’t get to one before Tuesday morning. We also can’t contact our insurance agency to file a claim until Tuesday morning, which leaves us mostly house bound for the balance of that time.

Even though we had to scramble to adjust our expectations for this weekend, we’ll be alright. Mostly I’m just glad to still have her here, to listen to my awful jokes.

Happy Anniversary to my beloved wife . . .

Today my wife and I celebrate 22 years of marriage. Yes, we’ve had our trials, and hardships, but together we’ve seen each other as partners and friends. We’ve endured through my wife having an emergency appendectomy, endometriosis, Lupron treatments, and numerous nutritional allergies. We’ve also endured through my hospitalization for a stress-induced heart attack, migraines, arthritis, and eventual weight gain that seems non-reversible.

However, I feel that I can’t fully celebrate today without fully disclosing how we got here. You see, my mother knew my wife before I did. When I asked mom about her, mom’s answer was, “Stay away from her. I’ve put too much work into getting her to join the church for you to ruin it.”

My mother and my wife both worked for the same small town community college when I became a piece of the puzzle. I wasn’t even looking for a new girlfriend – my last girlfriend had become my fiance’ just before dumping me for another man after I caught her cheating on me. I was open to making new friends, but had huge guards up against starting new relationships. So, imagine my surprise when she kissed me as I left her home after avoiding one of my mom’s Super Bowl parties.

There is more that I should share about the relationship between my mother and myself. It literally goes all the way back to my first girlfriend. Every relationship that I’ve had with a girl where my mom became acquainted with her ended with my mother deliberately destroying the relationship by any excuse she could manufacture. One girl was from the wrong side of the tracks (never mind that in our own home town my family was also from the wrong side of the tracks). Another girl was the daughter of my mother’s high school rival, and my mother had never learned to bury the hatchet – unless she was literally burying it in someones back. Over the years, I began to suspect that my mom either didn’t consider me worthy of them, or she didn’t want to ever see me happy.

And now we come to the point where I recently tried to repair my broken relationship with mom. In only the second phone conversation I had with her, mom asked me if my wife and I were still together. Please remember – my mother spent about 30 years as the wife of a minister of a Christian church, after getting the divorce from my dad that she so desperately wanted. Most Christians would applaud a long, stable, happy relationship. But, in only our second phone conversation, my mom asked me if my wife and I were still together. When I told her we were, her reply was, “Oh, that’s too bad.” I knew right away that this spelled the doom of our reconciliation, but I gave it another two months just to be sure.

When I told my wife about that conversation, my wife’s reply was, “That BITCH!” My wife knows everything about the history between me and my mother, particularly since she met me.

As much as I love my wife, and wouldn’t trade our relationship for anything, I feel that I owe all of my former girlfriends an apology. None of them deserved to be treated the way that my mother treated them. Each and every one of them still holds a special place in my heart.

Saturday Posts . . .

Also, I have some updates.

First, the experiment of my reconnecting with my family has failed. My parents do not want to deal with anything that has happened in the past. My father repeatedly told me that “you just have to let go of it” while my mother was quite different. She denies everything, including events that I was personally there to witness or took part in. For my own personal integrity I was forced to return to the total disconnect I had previously been enforcing.

Second, I have recently been watching a show called “Dr. G: Medical Examiner” which has me a bit riled up. The first problem I have with the show is that it seems that some states have laws which require an autopsy on nearly every death that happens within their jurisdiction – something Dr. G seems to revel in because she loves to “solve puzzles”. My problem with this is – what gives her the right to solve a puzzle about me if I do not care to have it solved? Another problem is that she seems to view ALL medical problems as preventable, and is particularly judgemental about any and all suicides. Has she never heard of “death with dignity”? If someone already knows that they are dying, do they not have a right to choose to end their own suffering early? Dr. G does not seem to believe this is an option. Since she currently works out of the Orlando, Florida, USA, medical examiner’s office, that is one jurisdiction I will not be visiting anytime soon.

Finally, I have recently gotten approval through the VA’s community care program to begin receiving chiropractic care at a local wellness center. I’m really impressed with the size and scope of the facility, but I’m not so impressed with the results I’m getting. To me, the first red flag was their focus on longevity – like they just can’t believe anyone wouldn’t want to live to be 115 years old. Sorry, but that was never a major consideration of mine. I’ll take every day I can get – but only if it comes with a good quality of life. So far, I’m not really seeing any improvement, and after getting acupuncture yesterday morning I had a very stiff neck and headache that lasted well into the evening.

Saturday Posts . . .

We’ve had a lot happening here over the last couple of weeks. I learned that my dad’s home, which he’s owned for over 30 years, is about to be condemned because raccoons have invaded the attic and are destroying the house from the top down. My youngest full-blooded brother is going through a divorce, and is coming up here to see what we as a family can do to help dad.

But, there was one thing I found to be both refreshing and encouraging. About 21 years ago I bought a brass Zippo lighter, which I’ve used almost constantly ever since. Zippo advertises that they offer a lifetime warranty. A couple of weeks ago my lighter got stuck – the striker wheel that scrapes the flint wouldn’t move. So, I looked up the information for the repair center for Zippo, and after filling out a form and paying a $5.00 USD fee for “processing” – I sent in the lighter for repair. Yesterday they called me back to say they’d received the lighter, and I should have it back within a month.

Here is something I bought for my wife shortly after we became a couple, and it has hung on our bedroom wall ever since. In case you have trouble reading it, the text says, “I Love You More Today than Yesterday, and only half as much as Tomorrow.”