All posts by Trent

Circling the Block

I walked around the block several times today. To get the most steps, I walk around the outside edge of the block, which necessarily involves crossing the street several more times than just walking along the inside edge of the block. 

I start the Samsung Fitness app on my smart watch and head out the back door into the 70-degree sunshine and head down the driveway on the side of the house to the front sidewalk. For a city under quarantine, there always seems to be someone out everytime I go. Once it was a lady with her big fluffy white collie. Another time it was a couple of chubby 20-something girls out for a workout together, alternating walking and jogging down the street, with their ponytails flopping as they went. Then there were the parents out for a walk with their elementary-age children who were on their scooters and bikes.

I cross the street in front of my house and walk straight toward the neighbor’s front door, and take a sudden right turn at the sidewalk. I worry that she sees me coming towards her house and that I’m freaking her out. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll find a better place to cross the street so she doesn’t think that the scruffy old man from across the street is coming to get her.

From there I walk south toward Harry Truman’s house. Cecil’s big old mutt barks a greeting at me as I go by. Poor Cecil’s front yard looks as forlorn as my back yard. Tufts of wild garlic coming up in patches here and there, but mostly a thin expanse of dead brown grass that reminds me too much of the hair on the top of my head. 

At the corner of Truman Road, the house right across the street from Harry’s is having some remodeling done. The carpenter just leaves his van parked along the curb with the doors open as he shuttles back and forth for tools. I give him a wave every time I go by, but I keep my distance. I don’t want us passing the ‘rona around. 

I make another right turn and step across the broken beer bottle in the middle of the street as I head west down Truman. The quality of the sidewalk decreases markedly. No one has a house facing the street here. It’s just a couple of side yards and a driveway between Delaware and Union. Rollaway dumpster sitting there waiting for the trash man to come. 

I cross the street over the broken curbs at Union and Truman and hang my third right turn. Lots of houses facing the street here, but all the fancy brass plaques embedded in the sidewalk with their historical facts are gone. Hell, the sidewalk itself is mostly gone. It’s not even concrete. Just a patchwork of bricks that is overgrown with weeds in a lot of places. The pedestrians are gone too. I guess they prefer to violate the quarantine on Delaware Street. 

Honestly, I expected a lot more garbage laying around, but there’s only a couple of empty soda bottles and a couple of chunks of broken mirror. 

The houses get nicer again as I get closer to the Waldo Avenue end of the block. Maybe I can thank the Restoration Branch church folks for that since they used to own the school a half-block farther west on Waldo. 

Union jogs ever so slightly west at Waldo, and I’m tempted to cross the intersection diagonally northeast instead of making the ever so slight angle for a regular north crossing. Right turn #4 and I’m heading down Waldo back to Delaware. The houses get real nice here. The real-estate clan, the McClains live in 2 of the houses at the next intersection, and they are fully remodeled and gorgeous pieces of Victorian architecture. Makes me a tad jealous and creates a feeling of inferiority because I haven’t done anything since the new roof and paint job on my joint 2 years ago. 

Right turn #5, and I head three houses down Delaware crossing Farmer at the T-intersection it makes. And then I take right turn #6 and head back up my driveway and back to my back porch, where the dogs greet me like I’ve been gone a lot longer than 9 minutes. 

I hit the “finish workout” button on my watch and go inside. Time to plop my ass back down in front of my laptop and get back to work.

Shove Your Modest Proposal Where The Sun Don’t Shine

I’ve been thinking about Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” today given the current news. Donald Trump and the Lt. Gov. of Texas think that maybe we should let the coronavirus loose in the world to do what it will so that the economy might not fall into a recession. I wonder what would actually happen if they were to have their way. A whole lot of people would die. That’s for sure. But most of them would be the sick and the elderly. I read somewhere on the interwebs the other day that human life expectancy rose quite a bit after the Spanish Flu back in 1918, and that is most likely because it killed off the weak and sick who would have died younger than the average anyway. 

The irony is that the brand of person who thinks this might be a good idea is also the type that doesn’t like talk of evolution. They are big on the whole “survival of the fittest” gag that comes along with capitalism, but aren’t real big on the scientific idea of evolution because it doesn’t fit in with their religious mythology. Would it even actually promote human evolution to let millions die at the hand of a virus we got from bats? (That’s right, President Donnie. You can call it the “Chinese virus” just to be a racist, hateful prick all you want, but it came from bats. So why don’t you call it “the bat virus” instead of the “Chinese virus”?)

Yeah, there would definitely be a “survival of the fittest” aspect to letting the coronavirus run its course without letting the epidemiologists control it. But a lot of the people that would die are people with pre-existing conditions who were either done breeding or were never going to breed anyway. The people that would die would be the ones that crowd churches and Trump rallies when they’ve been told that they should be staying home to slow the disease transmission. They want to save the economy by killing off all their voters.

Like Swift told the poor to sell their children to the rich as food, Trump is telling us to sell out our infirm so we can keep our jobs. What else do we have the military for if not to haul off all the dead bodies from the overcrowded hospitals as hundreds of thousands die in a matter of months? Think of all the money that the government will save on Medicaid, disability payments, Medicare, and social security over the next few years by killing off all these people who are a drag on the system. 

“The cure is worse than the disease.” Spoken by idiots who haven’t even listened to the experts about what to expect. Or if they have listened to the experts, have come away with cold hearts and closed minds. 

I’m sure there must be a line in there somewhere were the cure really is worse than the disease depending on the cure and on the disease, but jumping to that conclusion so quickly reeks. I’m not quite sure how to describe what it reeks of. I’ve lost my sense of smell to my epilepsy so I don’t think about smells much anymore. It reeks of being a corporate stooge. It reeks of someone who cares more about their 401(k) balance than they do about their neighbor who is on chemotherapy. It reeks of a failure to listen to the facts when they differ with your preconceived notions. It reeks of a lack of humanity.

Another Day in the Life

So another day of social distancing has gone by. I left the house twice today. Once for a walk around the block where I didn’t meet a soul, and once for a trip to Quiktrip and McDonald’s for soda and a snack. 

At McDonald’s, I ordered a burger and a Diet Coke through their mobile app and paid online. I went up to the drive thru window and picked it up, managing to stay an arms length away from the lady who gave me my food. 

At Quiktrip, on the other hand, there were probably a dozen people there. I tried to be careful to not touch any of the door handles, and when I used the bathroom, I did the whole 20-seconds of hand-washing, like we’ve been advised. But the other dude in there, just strolled on out behind my back as I was at the sink. He didn’t even glance over at the sinks. I guess he’s one of those people who thinks the advice to wash your hands is some sort of media conspiracy or something. Or maybe he just thought that holding his dick to pee isn’t the sort of thing that’s going to spread the coronavirus. I judged him as a dumbass anyway, because I’m a judgmental prick. 

I grabbed a couple of candy bars and a 12-pack of Diet Coke and headed up to the register. I was a little paranoid about having to touch the debit card reader, but fortunately, I didn’t spend enough that I had to enter my PIN after I swiped my card. I’d have rather gotten a fountain drink while I was there instead of a 12-pack of cans, but apparently, the health department folks consider the fountains a possible infection vector. 

I took my junk food out to the car, ate my McDonald’s hamburger, ate my candy bars while sitting in the car playing FreeCell on my phone. I spend way too much of my time sitting in Quiktrip parking lots these days. I’d probably spend more if the damned heater in my car worked, but I’ve been too lazy to take it up to the dealership to get it fixed. 

Speaking of being lazy, I took four naps today! It’s just so easy to wander upstairs when I’m working from home and set a 30-40 minute timer on my phone. Thus one of the reasons that I had been working from the corner booths at fast food restaurants for the last several months. It was my little life-hack for keeping myself from taking mid-day breaks that I really could live without. 

I’m trying to get my shit together. I’m 53 years old, and I still have a slew of terrible habits that I would love to break, and a bunch of good habits that I’d like to form. I’m doing a hell of a lot better than I was doing in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, but I continue to disappoint myself on a daily basis. 

I have a daily checklist I use to manage myself to a certain extent, and one thing I do before I go to bed every night is to think of a few things that I’m grateful for and a few things that could be improved. And it seems like every damned day, I have to remind myself that I shouldn’t have overeaten and that I should have gone to bed earlier. At 53 years old! Self-control is hard. 

Well, it’s 42 minutes after midnight, and I have a 7:30 conference call with some folks in India in the morning, so I should get my stupid ass off to bed.

COVID-19 and being homebound

I’m freezing up as I try to think about writing in my blog instead of in my journal. What’s up with that? I can type non-stop for half-an-hour if I’m not worried about anyone reading it. But as soon as I think that I’m writing for an audience, I start to freak out a little bit. The self-censor is kicking in and trying to tell me what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate to write about. Well, to hell with that, I’m just going to write as if I were writing in my journal and then go back and edit it later. 

I used to be an actual journalist at one point in my life. I was an editor at the Columbia Missourian and The Maneater. I edited other people’s writing, so I can definitely edit mine. In my current job as a programmer, most of my coding consists of editing other people’s code, and I almost never write anything from scratch. 

So I’ve been trapped at home for days now. Well, not exactly trapped. I still get in the car and go driving around. I just can’t camp out in the corner booth at McDonald’s or Jack In The Box anymore for hours a day like I’ve been doing for the last few months. And it’s making me a little weird, as I’m sure it’s doing to all the other millions of people who are suddenly housebound by social-distancing paradigms and self-quarantine. 

I’ve started sleeping damn near 12 hours a day. Naps have become my good friend. I took one from three this afternoon until six this evening for example. 

I need to find something else to do, so here I am back to blogging again. I’ve been journaling irregularly, but I haven’t blogged in over a month. But what the hell? Why don’t I go ahead and blog some more?

My ex-girlfriend Amy asked me to help set up a WordPress blog for her a few days ago, right after she also suggested that she could come over once in a while and walk my dogs for me. I freaked out immediately. So I didn’t even respond to her suggestions. She wished my Happy St. Patrick’s on the following day, and I wished her the luck of the Irish, but we haven’t talked since. That bothers me a bit. It probably shouldn’t. Although we are still friends, we broke up as a couple back at Thanksgiving, and she’s already got a new boyfriend. I worry that I might have hurt her feelings by not accepting her offer, and not trying to help her start her blog. 

When we were dating, we’d talked a lot about having a pseudonymous blog where we talked about our crazier days that we spent doing things that aren’t widely acceptable in the current culture. We were pretty serious about it, and she was finally ready to start on her part of it, and I blew her off. 

Last time that I saw her in person was a couple of weeks ago when I gave her new boyfriend a ride home from work. I told her that I was trying to get back in the habit of writing again, and she asked me to text her every time that I was going to sit down to write to remind her to go write too. 

So, I reached out to her a few minutes ago as I sat down to write this evening to tell her it was time to write. I guess I’ll find out why she stopped talking to me a few days ago and if it had anything with my failure to respond to her suggestions. 

I don’t communicate well with women. My last several failed relationships are ample evidence of that. I don’t seem to be able to get across what I want out of the relationship, and I don’t seem to understand what they want from me out of the relationship. And when we hit a rough patch, I fail to communicate my issues and become a passive-aggressive jerk instead, which only makes the problem worse. Thus my current decision to be celibate for at least six months and maybe longer if I still don’t feel like I’m capable of a healthy relationship. 

At least my existential crisis has subsided somewhat from my last blog post. It has been replaced by cabin fever. Well, not entirely. I still am trying to figure out the meaning of life and what I ought to be doing with mine in particular, but I’m feeling less obsessive about it. 

Yesterday, I managed to distract myself by rearranging the furniture in my office. We’ll see what distractions tomorrow holds.

Existential Crisis

I gave up a couple of my bad habits last month that previously helped me cope with my existential angst, and I haven’t learned new coping mechanisms quite yet. So, I end up sitting in my car in Quiktrip parking lots staring off into space or playing Free Cell on my phone while my brain struggles to figure out the meaning of life.
I’m not making a whole lot of progress on that front. Mostly, I’m just gaining weight from the candy bars and donuts from inside the convenience stores I frequent.

Thursday is Weight Watchers meeting day for me, my mom, daughter, and sister, which means it’s also weigh-in day. I managed to put on 5.6 pounds in just the last week thanks to my newfound tendency to roam all around town and make pit-stops at convenience stores and fast food joints to stuff my face.
I’ve put a lot of miles on my crappy old 2007 Ford Explorer since the beginning of the year when I gave up smoking and whoring around, and I spend most of that time listening to the “My Mix” selection of music videos from my YouTube account. About 20 or 30 songs reappear quite regularly with an occasional new one sneaking in. I’ve managed to memorize most of the lyrics to Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel”, Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets”, and Eminem’s “Rap God” while I try to figure out what I ought to be doing with my empty, lonely existence. I’ve gotten particularly good at mimicking Chris Stapleton’s voice as he sings “Tennessee Whiskey”, or so I was told by an old drunk lady who sang it with me when it came on the jukebox at a bar called Pappy’s Den a few blocks down Truman Road from home. I’ve turned to booze a couple of times since the first of the year as a coping mechanism as well, which no doubt is a terrible idea that shouldn’t be allowed to set a precedent.
So here I sit on a Thursday night, at my desk in my office at the back of the house, feeling lonely as hell, and wondering what the hell to do about it.
It’s going to take some more thinking, but I’m hoping it will take less moping and driving around eating like a pig.

Super bowl thoughts

So, the Super Bowl was yesterday, and I had an amazing time watching it. Partly because I’ve lived in the Kansas City area since the second grade and I’m now 53. I’ve been hearing about the amazing Chiefs appearing in the first Super Bowl and winning the fourth one. Len Dawson was the sports reporter on the local news for ages. I know rationally that it wasn’t my victory in the Super Bowl, but fuck that, I feel like a winner today anyway.

But it wasn’t just that my Chiefs won. The spectacle of the Super Bowl was absolutely enthralling. For the last several weeks, the majority of people that I’ve run into in public have been wearing Chiefs gear. The excitement has been contagious. And then we get to the actual game and the broadcast that goes with it!

I’ve been feeling really terrible about America for the last few months as our government makes us look bad on a daily basis. The Super Bowl, on the other hand, made me quite proud and optimistic. 

The “take it to the house” kid and the film that went with his delivery of the game ball was a thrill to watch. Action movie adrenaline kicked in as he pinballed down the streets of our cities. Then there was the quiet moment, when he stopped at the Pat Tillman statue to honor his memory. Hell of an opening presentation by the NFL. 

Once the ball was delivered, then there was the separate joy of watching the military color guard bring in the flags, and the joyous sound of America the Beautiful and the Star Spangled Banner.

Even more pride in our history and country as the four 100-year-old WWII veterans were introduced as special guests, and the Tuskegee airman presented the commemorative coin for the coin toss. We got to honor those who serve us in the military and we got to see how far we’ve come in overcoming racism since then. 

Hell, all the commercials were a rebuke of the terrible crap that I’ve been hearing about my country over the last few years. It turns out we’re not a bunch of racist homophobes after all. Ellen Degeneres did a great commercial with her wife for Amazon. And black and brown people were all over the place in the commercials too. We’ve really come a long way since my youth, and it was a delight to see. 

Once the game got started, I could hear the Chiefs war chant in the background quite frequently. I’m not quite sure to make of that. I’m told that Native Americans find it to be cultural appropriation and racist, but as an old white guy, I’m less inclined to see it that way. Hell’s bells, are the Minnesota Vikings going to have to change their name to stop appropriating the culture of ancient Scandinavia? To me, the Tomahawk Chop is a cheer to honor the reputation of the aboriginal American tribes as great warriors. People can take that as an insult if they want, or they can be like those of Scandinavian ancestry who can be proud of their Viking heritage. Frankly, it was a joy to me to hear all those people chanting in unison, kind of like the YouTube video of an Arrowhead crowd singing Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” in unison. 

Then there was the half-time show. Holy crap, that was a whole lot of beautiful women. And the two stars were middle-aged moms who refused to be shamed for their sexuality. They also proudly displayed their Hispanic heritage with many of their lyrics in Spanish, and with J-Lo coming out wearing a double-sided flag with the US on one side and Puerto Rico on the other. Again, this is not something I could have imagined happening back during the last Chiefs Super Bowl appearance. 

Once half-time was over, there was the drama of the ball game. Athletes celebrating their prowess when they performed well. I even loved it when the 49ers all gathered to celebrate one of their big plays posing for the crowd at the edge of the field. I was worried that my Chiefs weren’t going to be able to perform a miracle comeback three games in a row, but I was gladly proven wrong. 

Once we took the lead, the celebrations here in KC started. I let the dogs out the backdoor to do their business, and I could hear the fireworks coming from every direction. I spent the last few minutes of the game standing on the back porch watching the game through the open door and enjoyed the noise. 

When the game was over though, the noise really started. The neighbors two doors down set off several rockets. A couple of people even stopped their car in the middle of my street, got out with Chiefs flags, and ran up and down the street shouting. The shouting was coming from everywhere. 

It was fucking amazing to see the spectacle of hope, joy, and athletic prowess in the game, the half-time show, and the commercials, and it was pretty damn cool to hear all the celebrations here in the neighborhood 10 minutes from Arrowhead. 

Yesterday was awesome, and today has been pretty damn good too. Thank you to the Chiefs and the NFL for providing me with an attitude adjustment.

Just because I said I would

So, I was going to write a long blog post tonight because I said yesterday that I was going to start blogging regularly, but instead, I’m going to just settle for something short. I’ll save my blog post on God and agnosticism etc. for another evening.

Today, I went to breakfast at Corner Cafe with Mom before we headed out to Pottery Palace in Grain Valley for our weekly ceramics painting. Mom finished the house she had been working on and started on the foot-tall owl she bought last time. The two things that I had finished last week had come out of the kiln yesterday, so I was able to pick up my three-eyed monster and little frog. That left me with the difficult decision of what to work on next. We’ve been painting ceramics every weekend for awhile now and I’m starting to wonder what to do with all this stuff I’m making. I finally settled on painting a dinner plate. It’s useful, and I know exactly where to put it when I’m finished with it. Plates and bowls seem to be fairly rational choices for me since I’m trying to purge so many of my belongings.

After we finished, I drove Mom back home, and wandered up to Quiktrip for an afternoon snack. Damn donuts and pepperoni pizza used all my Weight Watcher points for the day. Yet again, my impulsive behavior is causing harm. After that, I drove on home and took a two-hour nap because I didn’t have anything else to do that I could think of.

I dragged my ass back out of bed after 6:00 p.m. with still no idea what to do with the rest of my day. Around 7:00, I decided to go for a drive and wander around the city looking for a place where I could eat quietly and write in my journal. I drove through downtown KC, and into Johnson County, before finally settling on going to Hooters on Metcalf. Why Hooters? Especially after I felt like such a scumbag for going to Twin Peaks the night before? Mostly because I knew I wanted a beer, and sitting on a barstool is a pretty peaceful way to spend a meal. Hooters isn’t as disgusting as Twin Peaks, but the poor waitresses are still wandering around in short shorts with their butt cheeks hanging out.

Eventually, I got on the interstate and drove back home with a stop at QT again, for a 6-pack of KC Bier Dunkel this time. Now, I’m planted on a barstool in my own basement after watching WW2 videos and science videos on YouTube for a bit. Not the best use of my time, but I’m relaxed less depressed than I was several hours ago.

And, look! I even managed to write in my blog for a second day in a row. Tomorrow, I hope to write again, and talk happily about the Chiefs victory in the Super Bowl. Until then, good night.

Blogging again?

Jeez, it’s been awhile since I posted to my blog. I’m paying Yahoo quarterly for it. Maybe I should actually post something. Hell, I even get emails on a regular basis from Yahoo telling me how many people have been visiting my site and how much time they spend reading the crap that I’ve posted. My guess is that most of it is just search engines and that people aren’t actually reading anything I have had to say. But I’m going to start posting again. Maybe I’ll find something to say that is worth reading in the meantime.

I have been writing in my journal on Google Drive all this time, but that’s where I confess all my sins and tell the truth about what I’m actually thinking. I dare not do that on a website where my actual name is linked to the site. Then again, fuck it. Why not?

LOL, there’s damn good reason why not. I’m a hot mess and I shouldn’t be telling everyone all the shit that I’m up to.

So, it’s Friday night. I went out and had a few beers tonight. I’m still feeling their effects at the moment so I’m feeling braver than normal. The first beer was at a “Twin Peaks” franchise out by the mall. What an awful place that is! The waitresses were all quite attractive I must admit, but, Jesus, what kind of employer uses their employees like sex objects that way? They were all in short jean shorts where you could see the bottom of their butt cheeks, and in half-shirts tied off behind their backs to accentuate their bosoms. I was surprised to see so many female customers and that some people actually even brought their children to eat with them there. I only stuck around for a veggie burger with sweet potato fries and a KC Bier Dunkel before I fled for home.

I didn’t actually make it home immediately however. I stopped at Three Trails Brewery on the Indepedence Square a few blocks from home instead. The Dunkel from Twin Peaks had tickled my taste buds in just the right way, that I needed more beer.

Three Trails had a couple of gorgeous bartenders as well, but they didn’t have to dress like sex objects, luckily for them. I ended up having three glasses of their Bess’s Bock as with my butt parked on a the last bar stool at the bar.

While drinking my beers, I went through my old journal entries on my phone from the last two or three years, and reminded myself what a disaster I’ve been emotionally in that time.

Luckily, I’m doing a little bit better these days. I’ve given up two of my worst habits. Today, I’m four weeks clear of one of those bad habits, and 20 days clear of the other one. And, no, I’m not going to admit which particular sins that I’ve been indulging in. But, let it suffice to say, that you don’t want to be in a relationship with me.

There was plenty of really depressing shit in those old journal entries on top of my confessions of sin. Reading about Dad’s last days with Alzheimer’s was traumatic all over again. Then there were the deaths of my ex Tracy’s dad, and of my daughter Jill’s cat Riley. Both of those pretty shitty as well.

I could have gladly sat there at the bar and had several more beers to drown my sorrows. But I went home instead. And here I am now, writing in this stupid blog for the first time in more then two years, after finally updating my versions of PHP and WordPress. For fuck’s sake, I’m a programmer, and I let my own blog get several versions behind on it’s basic software.

So, now, it’s the last day of January of 2020. I’m 53 years old. I’ve dreamed for years of being a writer. I’m lonely and I’ve got nothing better to do, so why don’t I sit my ass down and make a blog post for once?

I guess my next trick will be to keep posting instead of just letting it sit idle for years at a time. Meanwhile, it’s 11:43 at night, and I need to get my ass to bed.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll have an actual topic to post about.

I lost the lottery

The PowerBall lottery jackpot was up over $200 million yesterday, so I bought $10 worth of tickets. That is totally irrational and I realize this, but it’s nice to dream sometimes.

I thought about what I would do if I actually won, and I realized that I would like to take up writing on a more regular basis. And then, of course, I realized that there is nothing stopping me now from writing more regularly.
For chrissakes, I’ve wanted to be a writer since my sophomore year of college, but year after year, I create excuses and I never get around to it.
Well, I only won $7 off my $10 of PowerBall tickets, but I decided to go ahead and start writing anyway. So, here’s what I hope will be the first in a long line of blog posts where I write something that someone else might actually read.
I don’t have a lot of time today to write anything lengthy or particularly worthwhile, but I swore I’d post something so here it is.
Tomorrow, I’ll post again, and then the day after, etc. Maybe one of these posts will be worth reading soon.

Dad’s Eulogy

My dad was a believer. He didn’t like religion, and in particular, he didn’t like being told not to question received wisdom, but he believed in God, and he believed in life after death. I don’t think he would’ve liked having his beliefs labeled, but when he took the Belief-o-matic quiz on beliefnet.com a few years ago, the results declared him a pantheist. That seems pretty accurate since he expressed the basic tenet of pantheism in one of his old journals, when he declared that he believed the God is everything and everywhere and “all that is”, and that we are all part of God. Why am I telling you this? After all, my Belief-o-matic results label me as an atheist. But dad and I loved to talk spirituality, philosophy, and religion. And he wanted people to know what he believed, so I’ve taken it upon myself to share his beliefs with you.

 

I’m not so much of a believer myself. I’d call myself a “hoper”, and I’m hoping like mad that Dad is right about life after death. I spent the other night going through Dad’s journals and I found the following from 2010: “I believe that I am an eternal soul who will never die and will be born into physical life again and again. I am diving into the future, and I see it as something good. I yearn to learn.” Dad did indeed love to learn. He was a prolific reader and a prolific writer (as evidenced by the thousands of pages of his journals that he left behind.)

Unfortunately, Dad lost his ability to learn, to read, and to write as the Alzheimer’s disease robbed him of his faculties over the last few years. He was tested by his neurologist in late 2012 after we first noticed his mind slipping. Then, he had a knee replacement surgery on Monday, February 11, 2013, and when he came out from under the anesthesia, he was a changed man. He was stuck in a state of delirium for months that put him in a nursing home for the first time. We got the results from that first confirming the Alzheimer’s diagnosis on a conference call on March 12, 2013, with the neurologists (Dr. Deutsch) while Dad was still in the hospital.   Once the delirium passed in April 2013, dad got to go back home, but it was clear that the dementia had a strengthened its grip on him. He wasn’t back home long before he had to go back to the nursing home a second time in May 2013 because of a blood clot. He got to come home the second time on July 7, 2013. And he got to stay at home with Mom for another 3 and half years until just before this last Christmas.  

Unfortunately, the disease continued to progress between 2013 and 2016. At one point, Mom had to buy him an ID bracelet after he got lost while out on a walk around their own neighborhood. Dad never liked being told what to do, but we eventually even had to take away his driver’s license which annoyed him to no end. The loss of freedom and independence was quite painful for him.

He was becoming increasingly unhappy with his situation. At one point, he even stopped eating in order to hasten his own death, but started eating again because he didn’t want to break Mom’s heart. Kind to a fault as always.

By last fall, we couldn’t even take him out in public anymore unless we stayed by his side the entire time. He would wander off. Mom would try to take him to the grocery store with her, but she couldn’t even go a couple aisles over to grab a box of cereal because he wouldn’t stay where she’d left him. I used to take him to the Unitarian church with me on Sunday mornings, but I couldn’t take a bathroom break without Dad leaving the chapel and looking for a ride home.

He was getting physically weaker as well. On December 18, 2016, he had a fall and we had to put him back in the nursing home for the third and final time where he ended up stuck in a wheelchair. He could still speak in complete sentences, but he had lost the ability to even have a basic conversation. One sentence didn’t have anything to do with the next. Every time I went to visit him, he was either sleeping or sitting in his wheelchair staring off into space. He couldn’t read, couldn’t write. He didn’t listen to the radio. He didn’t watch TV. He still recognized our faces, but frequently couldn’t remember what relationship we were to him. He was unfailingly happy to see us, and would always tell us that he loved us. But he was mostly already gone, and it was an awful thing to see.

Last week, he came down with pneumonia again. Probably aspiration pneumonia because his swallowing reflexes had degraded and food and water would get into his lungs. The nursing home staff had him rushed to the hospital Monday morning in a very sorry state. By Tuesday afternoon, the hospice folks came into room 256 of the ICU at Centerpoint Medical Center to talk to us about palliative care. In a rare moment of clarity, Dad woke up and shouted, “I want to die. I want to die.” At 2:30 on that Tuesday afternoon, we withdrew the treatment for the pneumonia and let the medical staff make him comfortable with morphine and ativan. Once the bothersome high-flow nasal cannula that was pumping him full of oxygen was removed, Dad fell into a deep sleep. At 9:40 that night Dad stopped breathing. For the next 4 or 5 minutes, we held Dad’s hands and watched the heart monitor as his heart stopped beating in its normal sinus rhythm, degraded into ventricular fibrillation, and finally to a flat line. While this was happening, I was thinking that this is the last of the energy from Dad’s physical being released back into the universe. He’s no longer trapped in this decaying form. He was able to dive into the future once again, and get back to learning.

I wish I knew what form he was going to take next. He liked to say that he would be reincarnated as one of his great-grandchildren, and I hope that’s true. In the meantime, I hope there is a heaven, an afterlife, where he’s waiting to come back and where he’s whole and joyful again.

The day after he died, a message Dad wrote to me six years ago popped up on my social media feed. “You are my favorite son. Thanks for helping me earlier.” Sure, it was just some algorithm in the Timehop app that put that in my news feed, but I’m always going to think of it as a message from Dad on the other side, letting me know that he’s okay and that we did the right thing letting him go.