"Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, uh, your opinion, man."

One for July

10:13 Monday, 26 July 2021

Had high hopes for making some improvements around here, but didn't turn out that way. More about that some other time.

For the moment, the lights are still on and somebody's home.

For the last few years, Mitzi and I have headed up to the Finger Lakes for some part of the summer. We didn't do that this year because Mitzi is back working and used her vacation time to see her new granddaughter in San Diego. So I took a couple of weeks and went up to see some family and friends in New York and Massachusetts.

Two years ago, we stayed at a wonderful place on a winery on Cayuga lake. It was so much nicer than even the pictures. The first evening there, I was standing out on the deck watching the sunset with a nice local beer in my hand, and I thought about the time I'd spent in the Finger Lakes when I was in high school. I went to Watkins Glen to see the races a couple of times. Of the three friends I went with, two have since died. So I called my surviving friend, who still lives in our old hometown. He was happy to hear from me and said he'd come out to see us in a day or so.

He did, and we had a great visit. Last year, he came out again and brought another high school friend along with his wife. They all spent the night and we had a great time seeing some of the sites and visiting a winery.

This year, I stayed at his place and our friend joined us. We got together with another buddy and the three of us went to visit the graves of our two classmates who've passed.

I visited my dad's grave as well. And the trip to Massachusetts was to celebrate the life of another old friend, my oldest shipmate, who died last February. The event was in Boston, but my shipmate's place was on the way from Albany, so I stopped in to see his wife and visit his grave. We went together to Boston and enjoyed some great company as we shared stories and pictures and memories of a remarkable man and wonderful friend.

So, four graves at four cemeteries in two states.

My high school friend who I stayed with has a wife, who I've known almost as long as I've known him, who has early onset Alzheimers. She's far advanced in the disease, but he cares for her at home, with help. He's fortunate that he has the health and the means to do so, and we're all grateful for that. His in-laws are beginning to experience their own problems, but there's little he can do to help, so his brother-in-law who lives in Ohio has to travel a great deal and do the best he can. Mitzi's oldest sister died of early onset Alzheimer's so she's familiar with the progression of the disease. She knows what he'll be facing soon. And now I do too.

I'd originally planned to stay at my sister's in Albany as kind of a home base to visit Mom and go around New England and see some other friends. But Mom has Parkinson's and I hadn't seen her in almost a year, other than FaceTime. Although she never contracted COVID, I think the precautionary isolation and quarantine efforts have contributed to significant deconditioning. Although she still lives on her own and meets her daily needs, she seems more frail than I'd remembered.

So I ended up spending most of my time at Mom's, sleeping on the couch, unsure of how much time I have left with her.

I went through some boxes of old paperwork with her, shredding old bank statements, mortgages, other correspondence. We went through photographs, I scanned a lot of them and brought more home with me. I have more work to do, scanning the pictures I brought with me back to Florida.

As "vacations" go, it was different. I did have fun. I got to see all of my sisters and two of my brothers. I enjoyed many beers with my high school buddies, and the same with some old shipmates and classmates in Boston.

Not long after I got home, Mitzi received word that one of her closest friends, a sorority sister from the University of Georgia, was near death. She'd suffered a cerebral hemorrhage thirteen years ago and nearly died. She survived, but with severe deficits. Her husband has cared for her at home all this time, though she'd spent the past few months in a hospital, transitioning to hospice care a week or so ago. She passed away over the weekend.

So all of this has made me more reflective than usual. I'm not too concerned about my own mortality. For the moment, apart from obesity and having only one kidney, I'm in good health. I am very interested in how I can manage my own end-of-life decisions, and I've done some work in that regard. But I'm more interested in what to do with the time I have left. I'm deeply worried about what is happening to my children's and their children's futures. And I'm not the least bit worried about the national debt.

I have plenty of diversions that can enjoyably occupy my time and attention. But I can't indulge them in good conscience seeing what's unfolding around me. I am engaged. I'm on a few committees. I speak out as I'm able. I give money to candidates I think can make a difference. But I don't know if it's enough. I suppose I'll figure that out as time goes on. What "more" might look like isn't clear yet.

How much of that will take place here isn't clear yet either, but some will, I'm sure. This, for instance.

Anyway, we do what we can, while we can, and hope for the best I suppose.

As I'm reminded with increasing frequency it seems, nobody gets out of here alive.