Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why this is so intense...

....I keep wondering why I'm so intensely affected by the death of our friend, especially because we lost some contact with him over the last 10 years or so, and I've come to several conclusions.

First, I met him Fall 1976. That's 31 years ago, which startles me just thinking about it. He and the man I would eventually marry came to borrow a iron from my current sister-in-law. Let me clarify, though. Her brother, my current DH, came to borrow the iron. I do not believe our friend ever owned an iron in his entire, too short, life. He was letting my DH stay with him in his one room efficiency, while my DH was working on this thesis. That's the kind of guy he was.

We were close friends for many years, even when DH and I moved away for 10 years. He was like that with everyone though. If you wanted good service in a restaurant - go with this guy. Servers, both genders, loved him. You left the restaurant knowing more about the server than you did about your sibling.

He was the best man at our wedding. We were relatively "elderly" when we got married. So we didn't have the usual hoopla that accompanies such events. I told our friend that his ONLY job as best man was to get my soon-to-be DH to the chapel on time. (DH is often not where he should be at the time he needs to be.) About 10 minutes before the service was to begin, my sister, who has a wicked sense of humor came down to the "brides" room. I guess I was supposed to be primping, but anyone who knows me knows that a "primper" I am not. Instead I was wishing we had had the presence of mind to stop and pick up a bottle of wine. She said "Guess who's not here?" My first and only thought, which I expressed, was "I'm going to kill him!" (Not stopping to decide which who I was going to kill.)She responded, "Who? soon-to-be DH? Oh no! He's here! "Your" mother isn't here yet!" (Just to clarify it's her mother too, but we sometimes have been known to deny parentage when convenient.) Apparently the person driving my parents to the chapel got lost. But our friend came through with flying colors, and I remain grateful to this day.

There are lots of stories. Most showing what a good guy he was. (A little "off the beam" as my sister-in-law observed.) I often wished that we had remained close, but life sometimes doesn't agree. You have to play the hand you're dealt I guess.

OK, to mitigate the maudlin stuff here is a photo of my first completed chevron sock. I've been promising knitting. There's more, but I need to be home when it's light to get it right! Once I got the sizing right, this was a nice pattern to knit. I love it with the stripes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two postings for the price of one!

But still no knitting photos!

Chapter 1: The first part of August:

..I was sick, really sick, for nearly 10 days. I was keeping myself up at night coughing up a lung. At that point I had had ONE good night's sleep in TEN days. If I couldn't quit soon I was going to be a divorced woman with one lung. This was all thanks to my boss who came back from California with this stuff, then insisted on coming to work because he couldn't fathom that he was REALLLY ill. I was the first person to get it, but not the last.

To add insult to injury: Tuesday (7/31) I had Nancy and Mary Ann (two local Amish ladies, we have a thriving Amish community in the area) in to do a "deep" cleaning. This means that they do the "heavy lifting" but I'm (we're) left with the things like putting books back on shelves, putting everything back the way it was etc. It's still a s&*t load of work. Then the next day I went back to the office and ta da NO VOICE--none, nada. Literally. I had dreadful laryngitis and only two days of kick ass antibiotics. But I needed to do stuff at the office.

I took Thursday AND Friday off because I wasn't that much improved and proving, yet again, timing is everything, we had [previously purchased] tickets waiting at the Endless Mountain Music Festival in Wellsboro, PA, Friday and Saturday nights, Beethoven meets the Blues. So off we went. Me, better, but still not great. I somehow managed to not cough during the performance on Friday night, which would have been awful as it was held in the Tioga County Courtroom. Quite charming actually, even though I had to walk though a metal detector to get in and set it off with my sandals. Saturday it was brutally hot during the day and you know how that feels when you're sick. Bleh!

Sunday I was, at least, feeling human, and because we were in the area of PA with some of the most spectacular hiking, I couldn't resist. But we chose a trail that was not very difficult, so my lungs didn't protest.

I got slightly better, but was still exhausted from trying to cough out that lung. It was annoying, if nothing else. I had to get all my ducks in some kind of row because I was out of the office the next week on "vacation".

Because karma will always kick you in the ass given the opportunity, as I was checking for the link for the music festival I learned that one of the musicians we had seen, and loved, on Friday and Saturday, committed suicide on Monday morning. Even more odd, he was a member of the jazz faculty here, and we didn't know it. It was like getting kicked in the stomach.

I leave you with scenes from Colton Point in the Endless Mountains.....

Chapter II - The last part of August

.....when you least expect it. You simply get gobsmacked.

We left our heroine in the last Chapter simply incredulous that a 31 year old musician was so depressed that the applause and accolades didn't mean anything and he killed himself. It was bizarre to say the least, and it really affected both me and DH more than it had any right to. A week later, and I was still sick, and on vacation, so I go back to the doc for an even more kick ass antibiotic.

The second trip to the doc happened because we hiked the trail, known in our area, as The Indian Steps. It was as if I had asthma. I couldn't catch my breath. The "steps" go straight up the side of a minor (500 ft) mountain. I was so engaged in trying not to pass out from lack of oxygen and tumble down the rocky trail that I didn't bother to take any photos. Once at the top the going was easier and might even have been enjoyable, but we were so late in the day (thanks dear!), that the possibility existed that we wouldn't make it back to an easily negotiable trail while it was light. So we pretty much hot footed it over very rocky terrain for about 3 miles. Did nothing to help my physical state. As it was, we reached a snow mobile trail as the light failed and had to hike the last mile and a half in the pitch dark. That's pretty spooky in deep woods in Central PA, what with our never ending supply of black bears, bob cats, and white tail deer.

Anyway, the remainder of our vacation was fairly uneventful. Here's what we did:

Nothing says summer like sweaty, big football players running around the practice field at St. Vincent's college. (Steeler's training camp)

We came back last week to a whirlwind of work. I was out of town on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday morning I was exhausted as usual after a trip, and was running late. I didn't read the local paper-- really, because I am simply not interested in who won the pig or African Violet competitions at the Grange Fair. As I took the paper upstairs to DH, I flipped through the first section just to see if there was anything pertaining to student arrival, when I passed the obit page. To my horror, there was a photo of the friend who was the best man at our wedding. Due to illness and a divorce and a remarriage, and other life changes, we hadn't seen him very much in the recent past. DH ran into him relatively regularly at counseling events. But I didn't. He had died in the hospital on Wednesday morning, but there was no clue about what was wrong.

On Saturday, it was stifling hot, we put on suits and pantyhose (me, ugh), and went to a memorial service at a local church. It was there we learned that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma in March. A rare form of lymphoma according to his wife. Many people with lymphoma can live rather well, sometimes for years with treatment. So for him to die in four months, this bugger had to be virulent. I had been consoling myself with the notion that he had gone swiftly and unexpectedly via a heart attack, aneurysm, or stroke. Not only was that not the case, he actually suffered at the last. How depressing is that? He was an unusual fellow, and well loved by everyone with whom he came in contact. We are still hurting. Not least because we didn't even know he was ill, let alone dying. He had just celebrated his 59th birthday. We had just sent him a card. Our birthdays (me and DH) were just a week apart this past week. We'd always each get a card from him late--but always.

So I'm back at it. Perhaps tonight, if I can make myself do it. I'll take photos of some of my finished pieces.