Thursday, April 26, 2007

Marriage # 2 - Vicki and David give it a try.

My earlier post entitled "Marriage # 1 -The Texan and the New Yorker " generated a myriad of requests (3 people, as I recall) for similar stories on Marriages 2 and 3.

The song "Breaking up is hard to do" pretty well describes the time between the end of marriage #1 and the beginning of Marriage #2.

During this time, The Fairfax Unitarian Church was a godsend (no pun intended). I had many friends there and my work on the Board of Trustees kept me busy and provided a great support group. It was in this setting that I met Vicki.

As with earlier posts, I issue this disclaimer: Although I'll try to keep the chronology straight and the facts accurate, let the reader beware. Or as Kurt Vonnegut would say, "So it goes".

My first memory of Vicki was at a church Pot Luck dinner. We arrived with other people, but quickly decided we were more interested in each other. Everyone was very civilized about it, and by the time dinner was over, we had realigned ourselves and the rest is history. I'd like to report that the other couple also got married, and they did. But not to each other.

A lot of early memories are too sketchy to record, but I recall vividly the night I met Vicki's children. When I arrived at her apartment, she went into their bedroom to retrieve them. I can still see, in my mind's eye, Vicki surrounded by her four beautiful children. They looked like a giant amorphous creature - five heads, ten arms (eight of them holding their mother very tightly) and ten feet taking tiny steps toward me. As this mass of humanity untangled, I was introduced to John, Laura, Carey and Melisa (they will henceforth be referred to as the kids), none of whom looked like any of the others. In later years, it was fun to show their picture to people have them guess which ones were twins. You can play the game,too! Click here to see the kids "all growed up". Could you pick out the twins? See answer at end of post.

Many people have asked, then and since, how I could have taken on such a large responsibility. I honestly never thought about it in those terms. I've had regrets in my life, but this wasn't one of them. At the same time, I must acknowledge the support of their father David, step-mother Kitty, and all the grandparents. Every one involved always made me feel welcome (Nan, do you still make those wonderful coconut cakes? hint, hint!)

Life was pretty hectic at times. There were sporting events to attend, participate in, and coach. Vicki got her Masters degree (mostly at night) while holding down a job and parenting. I logged about a million miles of chauffeuring, and became coach of a girl softball team for seven years. My co-coach Bill and I took full advantage of the rule which allowed coaches to pick all their own children first when team rosters were drafted. Several years our kids made up half of our roster, and they were all good players. The other coaches hated us.

Swimming was also a major activity in our lives. We were all involved in one way or another, even a landlubber like me (I tried avoid the water). Vicki and I were timers, ribbon dispensers, record keepers, and other roles too numerous to mention.

Another important aspect of our lives in those days was the activities of the Fairfax Unitarian Church. We especially enjoyed the concept of "extended family". Each family was composed of around 30 - 40 men, women and children, ranging from babies to grandparents. We had lots of social activities, including a week at the beach each summer. Each extended family rented their own beach house(s), divided up the cooking, housekeeping and laundry work. As I recall, these trips were pretty peaceful (except for a couple murders resulting from dish washing disputes).

As the kids grew older, Vicki and I seemed to grow apart. We tried the usual things: counseling, separations, reconciliations, etc. I'm not sure either of us could explain, with any degree of certainty, why our marriage failed. On the other hand, Vicki is a smart person, and perhaps she has figured it out during a few spare moments in the last 20 or so years. So, Vicki, on the off chance you are reading this and wish to say a few words to our vast listening audience, feel free to use the comments feature at the bottom of this post.

Note: It's very important that I acknowledge the support for my son Claude exhibited by Vicki and the kids. This was always true no matter what the state of our marriage. I'd like to think I provided similar help for John, Laura, Carey and Melisa. I love you all.

Note2: A later post will fill some of the gaps in this one. Space limitations often prohibit the full exposure a topic deserves (this one could use a lot more), but I'm 75 and have PD, remember?

Answer to the photo quiz, above: top row - John and Carey; bottom row - Laura and Melisa. The twins are .... Carey and Melisa!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Night to Remember (ugh!)

Nancy and I decided to see the musical, 'Meet John Doe", at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D. C. to celebrate the mid-point of Nancy's Spring Break. The tickets were purchased on a beautiful spring day during Cherry Blossom Festival time. Unfortunately, as the day to see the musical approached, so did a frigid mass of cold air from Canada.

Undaunted by this news, and lacking even a modicum of common sense, I chose fashion over warmth in my attire for the evening. It was as if, by the power of will alone, I could force the weather to be nice because I so much wanted it to be. As usual, there was a price to pay for such stupidity. Another curious notion I hold is that I can look at a map and instantly commit it to memory. The fallacy of this notion was exposed when I parked the car and started walking toward the theater in a direction off by precisely 180 degrees.

Well, let's summarize the situation. We are cold. We are lost. We are racing the clock. One of us has Parkinson's Disease and shouldn't be outside freezing in the middle of the night. Nancy, correctly sensing that I would die before asking for directions, got them from a stranger and we resumed our quest. We arrived at exactly 8 O'Clock Unfortunately, the play had started at 7:30.

This news was delivered by a woman in the box office in a tone usually reserved for addressing those of extremely low intelligence. I wanted very much to smack her. Instead, I grabbed our tickets and entered the theater. We rushed up the circular staircase to the balcony area (Puff, puff!). Oh, look! The show had indeed started and looked like fun.

Unfortunately, it was very dark and there was no usher to show us to our seats. I studied the ticket stubs by the light of a small lamp at the back of the theater and decided to go for broke. I started very slowly down the pitch dark aisle toward the front of the balcony. This is exactly the kind of dangerous situation that we of the Parkinson persuasion are told to avoid like the plague. Miraculously, arms appeared from the darkness to lend support (who says there's no God?). We finally reached our seats, noting that they would have been great except for the post which stood between us and the stage. But by leaning away from each other, we were each able to see one half of the stage.

For some reason, I was finding it difficult to get in the mood. Not only was I exhausted, it was time for my medications. Using the Braille system, I managed to find the appropriate pills in my pill box and swallowed them. During the intermission, I realized I would be unable to make it through the entire play without a trip to the men's room. My heart sank as I remembered it was on the first floor. As I looked down that quaint little circular staircase, it appeared to be about the same height as the Grand Canyon. I looked at Nancy and said, desperately, "Please let me go home".

We found our car and started home. I began to have visions of climbing into my nice warm bed and sleeping forever (or until time for my next pill, whichever came first). Unfortunately, some local traffic official had decided it would be a great time to close the portion of roadway which I normally use to cross the Potomac river into Virginia. The detour provided was confusing to me and most of the other drivers trying to get to Virginia. We all ended up following each other in circles until we finally got back on track. When we finally got home, I thought to myself, "the guy who first said, "Home, Sweet Home" really knew what he was talking about. Indeed, I have vowed never to leave home again (except maybe to see the part of the play we missed).