Monday, January 16, 2017


Drove to Pittsburgh yesterday, for a memorial to my nephew Eric, who died at 39 of pancreatic cancer, leaving behind a wife of 17 years and a seven year old son. He died November 21st of 2016, but no-one in PA could go for his funeral in South Carolina. So they held this memorial. just one of the many things that made last year my worst, ever.

I lost a favorite uncle, who was buried on the same day Eric died. One of the kindest men I've ever known, and with a wonderful, clear tenor voice that will never again be raised in song. He sang the very finest "Amazing Grace" I have ever heard. I pray that someone, somewhere made a recording. All those who really knew him commented that the service would have been better if we had heard Harvey sing that song there, instead of hearing an instrumental version of it. just one of the many things that made last year my worst, ever.

I've watched my mother, in just one year, age seemingly 20 years, into a tiny, bent-backed, fragile, birdlike creature. Her memory and mentation have aged just as quickly, into querulousness, un-reasoned anger and simple loss of the mind that gave me my own sense of humor, artistic bent and other things I will always treasure. just one of the many things that made last year my worst, ever.

At the end of 2015 I was approached by the most incredible woman in the world. I linked something from her here in early 2016. We hit it off strongly, we felt the same about so many things. We talked for hours and hours. At one time we talked so long my cell phone ran out of charge, so she called me on my landline, and we continued talking.

She loved my writing, and essentially kicked me to continue (I needed the kicking) so I started a novel, which I planned to call "Stumbles" just to hear her voice telling how well (or poorly) it was coming along. She was already setting me up with literary agents, when I destroyed everything.

She also introduced me to Leonard Cohen, whom I had heard of, but never really heard, first with "Dance Me to The End Of Love" then with "Hallelujah."

I am a stubborn man, she is a stubborn woman, so of course we argued. We nearly fell apart a number of times. but for a while, neither of our hearts would allow that separation to stand. For a while.

We'd had a bigger-than-usual argument in March, but made up again.

The last civil words she ever said to me were
"You are mine,
 You are mine,
but you cannot be talking to other women."

It went rapidly downhill from there.

I kept trying, like a fool. By July she accused me of stalking her online, and I lost my two main Twitter accounts due to that. It was not the loss of the accounts, but the realization that my loss of her was permanent and irrevocable, that was the main reason that last year my worst, ever.

But hey. I am over it now. I no longer look in the mirror and call myself a fool more than three or four times per day. It's been days since I've been in tears.

The last part of the Memorial Service for my nephew was an instrumental version of Leonard Cohen's "hallelujah."

So I guess it has really only been one day since I've been in tears.

Perhaps Matt's talk of "Damned Demons" hit closer to my soul than to some others.


  1. Sit down and have a cupa with your friends at the table. We'll fight those demons together.

  2. Thank you for sharing with us DWT. Yes, pull up a chair and we'll have a cupa, or something stronger.

    I'm truly sorry to hear about your family losses and the fragile health of your mom. You would think we would get tougher as we age, but noooo. Loss is cumulative, and if we're not careful it can become very heavy. We're all here for you Dances, 24-7. As for the woman? Pfft! You're a GREAT guy. I wish I could find someone as awesome as you are.

    I would LOVE to read what you're writing! If you want to you can publish here. I don't know any literary agents, but heck, it might become a TCKT mission to find one! Also, have you heard of Patreon? It's a great place to get your work out and make a few bucks (and avoid the publishing gatekeepers). Check it out and see what you think!

  3. What is strange, are the things I actually forgot when I was whining this last night, but immediately thought of on waking this morning.

    Last October (I don't remember the dates) I had another bad week. On Monday I was informed that my regular physical had found two little black spots in my left lung, with the possibility of a cancer starting.

    Friday of that same week I got the results of a needle biopsy, with the certainty of very early stage prostate cancer.

    We are waiting 6 months to recheck the lung.

    And waiting for authorization from a local hospital for implantation of radioactive "seeds" directly into the prostate to kill the cancerous cells.

    It strikes me as very odd that those were not even in my mind, last night.

    And thanks for the thoughts, but I have not written a word since March. All I have are fragments, literally

    1. Good Lord. You've really been through hell and back. I'm really hoping and praying that this year will be much better for you DWT. We're here, friend.

    2. And I finally have a date for the treatment of the prostate. It will be done March 23rd, at the Evangelical Hospital in Lewisburg, PA.

      That's about a 1&1/2 hour drive from here, but no local hospital will okay the procedure, so drive it is.

      They will keep me overnight, I am told, so whoever goes with me will have to find a room for the night. I expect it will be my son, and I will have to find a place for him

    3. That date has now been changed. Instead I will make the 2 hour trip to Lewisburg this coming Monday (3/27) but only for pre-surgery & pre-anesthesia appointments.

      The actual procedure will be done nest month (4/27)at the same location, two hours away, at a time to be determined, then an overnight stay and release the next day

  4. More memories from the comedy of terrors that was 2016. I've always had blood pressure in the medium high range, mid 130's over mid 80's.

    In September, after three high readings in a row, one at my urologist, one at pre-surgery (for the biopsy) and one at my Primary Care office, I bought my own BP cuff.

    On September 14, at 3;52 pm (I was keeping good records, by then) It spiked to 194/105, with a pulse of 79. My doctor put me on Norvasc, which caused some problems, despite the supposed low side-effect reputation.

    He gave me a different prescription, which dropped my BP, but also caused all the symptoms of a full-blown heart attack. To the extent that, when I called his office to report them, I heard his voice, yelling in the background, and then his receptionist yelling at me to get to the ER IMMEDIATELY!

    Well, I demurred, telling them I was sure it was a medication reaction. The receptionist then called back to my workplace, and the next thing I knew two Large co-workers (nick-named "Silverback" and "Sasquatch") were literally dragging me to a car & then to the ER. I am only glad "Tiny" Tim (no, really) was not there. He would have thrown me over his shoulder and I would have died. Of embarrassment.

    It's funny, in retrospect, but not at the time. I was right, it was a medication reaction, but they kept me four hours for testing. By the time they were done, my BP was 142/91.

    Hell, maybe I've scrubbed all this stuff from my memory for a reason?

  5. Well, none of this has killed me, yet. And maybe talking it all out will act as a catharsis.

  6. In the end, it is not what she did to me that hurts, but what I did to her. She reacted badly, but it was only a reaction.

    She has said "When I am happy, I am the happiest woman in the world. When I am sad, I am the saddest woman in the world."

    I broke her heart, and she did not deserve that. I believe I do deserve what she did in response to that, so it is as much, if not more, guilt, than anything else, which keeps me feeling this way.

    1. Dances, I just posted a song for you.
      Maybe this doesn't feel like a classical "my baby left me" situation in that you feel like you had some of it coming.
      FWIW I've been there too. But when it happened the knowledge that I had some of the pain coming didn't really make it hurt less. I still needed to heal to be whole.

  7. I hate knowing that I hurt someone when hurting them was the furthest thing from my mind -- it is just how things worked out.

  8. "My worst year" ever is an understatement Dances. That would be the worst year ever for most of humanity. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers for a happier and healthy 2017.

    For what it's worth, 2016 was the 15th anniversary of surviving my lung cancer diagnosis and surgery.


    1. Fay, thanks for your concern. I am happy for your 15th anniversary, and I offer my prayers for continued good health

    2. Such great news, Fay! I echo what Dances said.

  9. I just re-read your post about the 6 month check up for the spots they found on your lung. Please, do not wait that long for a follow up. The MAIN reason I survived my lung cancer diagnosis was the speed it was dealt with. From the X Ray appearance of a small shadow on the edge of my upper left lobe to the day I went under the knife was exactly two weeks. I would strongly urge you to have a follow up/second opinion sooner rather than later.

  10. Now I will go and listen to "Hallelujah" again.

    It's a catharsis, right?

    I think I am getting dehydrated

  11. Does anyone know how to search for old posts, here? I am looking for my Angel Heart story.

    I thought I had posted it on Bloggie, but it is not there.

    As an aside, Bloggie is in a sad state. It seems almost to have become an IT jobs message board. In any case there is not joy or humor or anything to be found there.

    I feel bad about that

  12. So sorry to hear about this, Dances. I hope and pray that 2017 is a much better year for you. You are a wonderful writer, I hope you keep on with it, sending hugs, my friend.

  13. Dances, did you know that persistence is one of my assets?

    Angel Heart: A Ghost Story

    Yeah, it is sad about bloggie. I went over there a couple times in the last year or so and saw it was deserted. Lots of good friends and memories there.

    1. I probably should not post this, as it is likely to jinx everything, but I need to get it out, so. . .

      One of my bosses sons is a graduate of the NY Film Academy. After 3 years selling building materials he decided to go back to NYC and try to make a career in his chosen field.

      While he was her in north central PA we hit it off (odd minds think alike, etc)

      Part of that was his enjoyment of some of my stories, especially "Angel Heart" and secondarily "Plan On Me"

      In any case, he is now back in NYC and trying to get funding for an Indy production of a short based on "Angel Heart"

      If it occurs (and I have not jinxed it) I will help to write the screenplay, and play the part of Karl Hart in the short (without excess ego, I can do that)

      Wish us all luck.


    2. Since acting is involved, shouldn't that be "break a leg?"

    3. That's really awesome DWT! Wishing you all the luck/skill in the world. We're all cheering for you!

  14. Florrie, I know you have many assets. I am very happy that persistence is one of them. Thank you so much, for this and the kind words, as well

  15. Oh Dances, you've had a horrific year! I don't know how you've come through it with your sanity intact.

    I send you virtual hugs and real prayers that you will have a better year. I'm glad we have this wonderful place where we can all vent and also support each other.

    And Fay is right. Do NOT wait to get those spots checked out! We love you and are rooting for you. <3

    1. Annie, I'm not sure I HAVE come through with sanity intact

    2. That's ok, it's the least of your worries. Sanity is totally overrated, trust me. Been without it for decades, haven't missed it, don't look back. 😎

  16. For a while I was a collector of goofy buttons, my favorite of which read "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most"

    Yeah, the print was tiny

  17. It is not getting better, I am sorry to say. But that is also all I will say, for now.

    I will be sending my son's cellphone number in an email to Florrie, probably, since she is the one whose email I can remember.

    If you do not here from me in a few days, please give him a call

  18. Now I will say what is happening that things are not getting better.

    Last Thursday, my sister was sent from the small local hospital to a much larger one in Altoona, PA.

    Her white cell count was three times normal, her red cell count far below, and her blood volume was down enough they gave her two transfusion, but no internal bleeding was found. The doctor at the local hospital held out little hope for a "good resolution" to her problem. Even though they were unable to diagnose what the problem is.

    She has been getting worse since she has been in the big hospital, despite diagnostic test after test.

    As of today, her BP is so high it has ruptured the capillaries in one eye, and her hematologist just informed her that her kidneys are shutting down.

    They still do not know why. The hematologist also said that she is a medical mystery

    1. Thank you for that, Matt. Your prayers were added to those of Debbie's church, and a group I am involved with in Twitter, who are mostly Jewish, did prayers for also.

      As of about 1 hour ago, the hematologist came back and told her they now have a diagnosis. She has Candida, a form of yeast infection, but centered in her kidneys.

      It is an ugly and nasty infection, but now that they know what it is they can treat it. They are moving to targeted medications rather than the broad-spectrum they were using before.

      Now we wait to see if anything else turns up on other cultures, but her doctor seemed to think this was the underlying cause

    2. Knowledge is a major part of the battle. I'm glad they found some.

    3. I'm glad you have a diagnosis DWT. Your sis should be feeling better soon!

  19. The diagnosis seems to have come too late. Her kidneys have shut down, now. They are taking her for dialysis tomorrow morning.

    Perhaps the kidneys will come back after treatment.

    But WHY did they not start the damned treatment as soon as they had the diagnosis?!?!?

  20. At least my heart seems to have stopped the fibrillations that I sent Florrie the phone number to check on me,for.

    Maybe, deep inside, my heart knows I need to be strong for my mother

    1. We are here to help however we can.

    2. What Matt said. I'll be praying for you and your family DWT. I'm so sorry for your troubles.

  21. Just prayers, please. They have finally taken her for dialysis about 20 minutes ago.

    We are supposed to have one of the biggest winter storm this year, overnight, so no one will be able to go sit with her

  22. Just had a call from my sister. She's spent the day being given two units of blood, another partial dialysis, and now has a large tube in her throat. They still do not have an underlying cause. She is still a medical mystery, and she is now far more frightened.

    So am I

    1. I'm so sorry to hear this DWT. Sending gentle hugs your way, my friend.

    2. I've just been catching up here and saw the terrifying news about your sister DWT. I am so sorry for your troubles. You and your sister are in my prayers.

  23. The hospital she has been in for 13 days now, has given up trying to diagnose her, and is treating symptoms, now. She has had 4 dialysis sessions in 5 days.

    This afternoon they will be doing a kidney biopsy, but only to send it, along with her, to another hospital, even farther from our home.

    Do not know if the transfer will be today or tomorrow. She will let me know.

  24. They transferred Debbie last night. A 3 hour + ambulance ride, without telling her family where. I tried the prior hospital this AM. They sent me to the wrong floor nurses station, then lost the call when they tried to transfer it. I did get through, finally and found the new hospital, got a phone number etc.

    That's good because the trip was very rough on her, and she called my other sister while I was getting her location, badly disoriented and not even knowing what hospital she was in.

    My other sister called the hospital back and asked them to check on her. They are calling other family members now, while we wait for the new hospital to contact us.

  25. The hospital just called me. She is now in critical condition with multiple internal bleeding (that the other hospital could not find!?!?!?!) and being moved to the ICU. The nurse told me her condition could deteriorate at any time. I need to go be with my mother, now

  26. as she lays dying, they finally have a diagnosis. She has cirrhosis of the liver, caused not by drink (she never has) but by infection, and a genetic weakness. The doctor said her liver has failed, and that is what has led to the rapid failure of other organs. We have now told them "no heroic measures" and they do not think she will live out the day

    1. Oh Don, I am so so sorry. I hope your sister is not in any pain. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  27. And my sister has now passed away, about 35 minutes ago.

    Thank you all for your prayers and caring

    1. Oh no, I just saw this after I posted my first comment. Condolences to you and your family. Wish I could give you a big hug x

    2. I'm so very sorry Don. Please know that we are all with you in heart and spirit. You are loved, and we're here for you, today and every day.

      Rest in peace dear Debbie.

    3. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care.

      God's love and our love be with you Dances.

    4. My prayers are going out to you and your family at this terribly sad time, Don. Your mom will need you now more than ever...

  28. Our thoughts are with you in this difficult time.


  29. Been home for a while, walking back and forth through the house, and thinking.

    My sister was a lover of elephants, and has at least a dozen statues, as well as over a hundred stuffed toy elephants.

    I will bury one of them with her

    The saddest is that, yesterday, when my mother and other sister (there were three) went down to see Debbie, I was coughing and hacking up mucous, so did not go.

    "Tell Debbie I'll see her next time" I told them

  30. Trying to write an obituary, something I've never done before, and I suppose hoped never to do.

    Everything I've written so far has been clichéd, stupid, or worse, both.

    Beloved Daughter, Beloved Sister.

    Beloved teacher who touched so many young, and now not so young lives. I would take her shopping, and it seemed that half the kids in the store would come running up, calling "Miss Debbie! Miss Debbie!"

    Teen-aged, and older, young men and women, some with their own young children in arms, all towering over her would greet her with bright smiles, and thanks.

    I heard one of them tell his wife that in a couple of years he wanted their daughter to go to Miss Debbie's preschool, because she was the best teacher, ever.

    That of course, will now never be.

    A friend of mine told me, at a service for another who'd died too young, that his rabbi said to him, "G-d picks the best flowers for Himself."

    He has certainly picked one of the best, this time.

    Kind Heart, Gentle soul of great patience, Debra has gone to be with her own beloved, Ralph, who she has missed every day since his own too-early death. That is really the only consolation.

  31. Oh Don, I'm so terribly sorry to hear this dreadful news! My sincere condolences on your loss.

    May you find comfort in the wonderful legacy that Debbie left behind as a revered, respected and beloved teacher, as well as a beloved wife and sister.

    My heart goes out to you and your family in this very difficult time. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  32. How can things get worse this week?

    Made arrangements for my sister, trading the whole of a life of happiness, and sorrow, and worth for a box in the ground.

    Then, while driving my mother to a meeting with our minister to talk about the services, an inattentive lady drove through a stop sign, and T-boned my car on the passenger side.

    Oh, that's how things can get worse this week.

    My mother is at the hospital, being checked out - my other sister is with her there.

    I am sitting at home without a clue what I will do now

    1. Oh no. I'm grateful that your and your Mom weren't injured. Cars can be repaired. Does your insurance provide for a rental car while yours in the shop?

      I'm truly sorry for your troubles DWT. I wish that I lived closer so that I could be there to help you through this heartbreaking time.

  33. I am sorry for having turned this into a litany of my problems.

    My employer has kindly (he is a good man)lent me a car for two weeks, while this gets settled, because I think the old one will be totaled once the insurance adjusters see it.

    Trouble is, the car is 14 years old with attendant mileage, and even though it ran and drove perfectly (I've put a lot of work into it) the insurance is not going to offer over 1/2 of its worth, certainly not enough to get a vehicle that works nearly so well

    1. I was reluctant to change the mood, but on second thought, perhaps you'd find that welcome. Forgive me if I'm mistaken.

  34. I promise this is my last post about this.

    We held the initial viewing last night. You know, the part where the reality of the corpse in the casket slaps you in the face and screams, "it's REAL!! Get used to it!"

    My mother walked in on my arm and cried "Oh, Debbie!" I caught her as her knees buckled.

    Yeah. It's real.

    There was a very large crowd for the viewing, including many people we did know, but who'd known her, in one way or another.

    Today, the weather betrayed us.

    How could it be warm, bright and sunny when we were burying the heart of the family?

    My other sister almost was hit by a car going through the same stop sign where I was hit, Thursday.

    There were bees out, on February 18, in north central Pennsylvania, seeking flowers not near blooming yet. They liked my blue shirt (the dark grey I'd planned to wear dropped a button as I was putting it on).

    Given the state of 'bee-dom" in the world, I was glad to see a non-domesticated colony out in the air.

    We packed the church. Over-packed, in fact. There was literally standing room only by the time the service began.

    I was in the front pew, in a very bad position, because the pianist did flourishes that confused my timing, so I was always 1/2 beat ahead or behind.

    But she is buried now. Beside her husband of too few years, and I pray she is happy. The rest of us are not.

    1. Feel free to post whenever you feel the need to post.

      We are here for you.

    2. It is a wonderful tribute to your sister that so many attended services in her honor, Dances.

  35. Oh, there is one other small thing. I learned last night that the story that most impressed my friend, now in New York, was not "Angel Heart", but "Abra Cadaver," a much less pleasant tale.

    He is trying to get in with NBC, and seems to have a good chance, according to his wife, so maybe it will be a horror story of mine that gets to the small screen

  36. And it just continues.

    I took my new/old car to my cousin's shop this morning, for new super-bright headlights and a quick check-up. That turned out to be a mess. Not the car, we only spent about 20 minutes on that

    But I had a call from my sister while there, that they were sending my mother in an ambulance to the hospital, because she was too weak and off balance to walk, or even to stand, on her own.

    Since my sister had been up all night caring for my mother, I went to the hospital and sat with her there, as they did test of many sorts.

    But walking and standing turned out to not be the only problem. While we were there, her Blood Pressure started to rise. And rise. It hit, according to their monitor, 263/137?!?!?

    They began to administer IV medications, and the BP slowly went down to 179/75. Still high, but not deadly. She was admitted, of course

    None of the tests they did have shown anything so far, so I suppose we will see what tomorrow brings.

    1. Wow, her blood pressure was scary-high. I'm glad your sis got her to the hospital as quickly as she did.

      Your Mom is in my prayers, and so are you DWT.

  37. Well, I was at work today, but my sister was there to talk to the resident, who said he has no idea WHY her BP spiked, or why she went from able to walk to my car and get herself in at 8:30 Sunday morning, for church, to unable to get herself even out of bed to use the bathroom less than 12 hours later.

    None of the tests, including the CAT scan show any reason.

    Her Primary Care thinks she has been having mini-strokes, and that seems most likely to us, as well. There is not only a physical change, but mental changes as well. She actually refused a robe, after she was incontinent, and staggered from the bathroom to her bedroom without either pants or panties. This is NOT my mother. She would normally want to be dressed even if there was NO chance of anyone seeing her.

    She is much more clear-headed today, but still has not been out of bed.

    Now we are talking about an elder-care facility, the best in the immediate area, with an excellent physical therapy reputation. But really, the way she has deteriorated in the last few months, I do not think this will be a temporary thing.

  38. This is on top of other things still messed up about my sisters passing, and screwed up life insurance, and a county that refuses to have a small-estate settlement and a funeral home suddenly unwilling to wait for the insurance to be cleared up and already sending collection letters only a month after the burial and, and, and. . .

    1. Hang in there, Don. This is a tough time.

      Wanted to let you know that I never got a phone number to check on you. I still have my old flip-top (I know, I know) and I don't have text, but I just read the comment about that and your heart fibrillations.

      I've recently gotten a new laptop and - although email was the bugger to get resolved in Windows 10 - it does seem to be working ok now...

    2. No worries about that, Florrie. My son got a new phone two days after I sent that, and I do not even remember the number yet


  39. Mom is doing much better today. She got into the bedside chair with only one nurse to assist her, and there was no fuzziness in thinking or speech this morning.
    Donald Dunlap

    Both remaining sisters are there with her, so I came home to escape the crowded room.

  40. Mom was released from the hospital yesterday, and went to a nursing care/rehab facility.

    I am so sick I was not involved in the move. My two remaining sisters dealt with it. Hard to figure that a regular head cold could knock me down so badly

    1. I'm so glad your Mom is out of the hospital DWT, and I'm hoping she'll continue to improve in rehab. She's in my prayers.

      Sorry you're sick. I am too. Bleh. I'm going to the doc later this morning before I keel over flat on my face. What I thought was seasonal allergies has settled into my chest, and my ribs are exhausted from coughing up icky spooge. My scheduled four-day break from work has turned into blankets, kleenix, and gallons of gatorade and guaifensin. Ugh.

  41. Here's to your improving health, Lady Red

    1. And to yours, dear Dances!

      I woke up this morning with the highest fever yet. Ugh. The good news is that between my doc, my rheumy, and the pharmacist they've figured out a way to fight the infection without killing me with drugs. So I'm not taking my principle RA med for awhile to give the antibiotics a chance to work (and avert toxicity). It's just a gnarly sinus infection, but it's sure made me feel gawd-awful. The doc says I should be substantially better by Thursday and ready to go back to work.

      Molly and Bella have enjoyed all the cuddle time and have kept me well-slurped, warm, and loved. What a treasure they are! :)

  42. I was so miserable yesterday, runny nose, sneezing, and it had moved into my chest and gave me an ugly, raspy, dry cough.

    Then I started body aches so bad I could not even make myself put the sheets on my bed.

    I finally gave up, drank 2 shots of crème de menthe, and went to sleep, on a foam mattress pad without sheets (ugh) at about 5:30. I woke once in the night (still evening, actually) then slept again until about 2:40 am.

    I now feel better than I've felt in months.

    I can breathe, am barely coughing and my nose is not running.

    I felt well enough to get the sheets on my bed, change the air filter element in my car, and do some grocery shopping this morning.

    Heck, maybe I will start keeping a bottle of crème de menthe in my fridge - purely for medicinal purposes, of course.

    Hope you are doing much better, as well, Lady Red