Monday, February 28, 2005

It’s Still Ticking (Epilogue)

The Morning After
Tuesday morning seemed different. The stressful uncertainty of the previous twenty-four hours, which hung over me like a cloud, was replaced by a crisp, stark reality, having burned a hole in my mind’s eye, through which I could now see much more clearly.

As the loud ringing of the telephone wake-up call smashed the early-morning silence, I awoke in the darkness with a start. For a brief moment I didn’t know where I was, but quickly remembered. As much as I wanted it all to be a bad dream, that grim reality of the previous day washed over me as I sat up to see my little brother still sound asleep just a few feet away.

I was completely awake; my thoughts were already off and running; racing. What was going on inside his head? Was he dreaming? Did he still remember his dreams? I paused for about a minute, pondering how Alex’s life had now forever changed, as had mine. But to what end? What role would I play over the next several years, or however much time my brother had before his pursuer finally catches up and overtakes him? It was not a great way to start my day, and unfortunately it would only get worse.

I went into the bathroom and started the small two-cup coffeemaker that was provided by the hotel, and then hit the shower. I soon heard sounds of Alex stirring.
“Mornin’ bro-mine,” the familiar voice called out through the steam.
“I think the coffee’s done,” I replied. “Are you starting to get packed?”
“Yep," Alex answered. Is Jack still coming?”

“Yes he is,” I replied, “He’s picking us up at 8:45. We’re gonna go out for breakfast, then he’ll drop us off at the airport.”

I honestly can’t say how long it had been since Alex had seen our eldest brother. Being considerably closer to him geographically, I’ve seen Jack a lot more often than I’ve seen Alex over the past 10-12 years. I could be mistaken, but I believe they hadn’t seen each other since our last most recent gathering as a whole family, in Indiana back in the Summer of 1993, when we all came together to celebrate my Dad’s 70th birthday.

When I finished in the bathroom, Alex took his turn and I packed quickly in order to help him gather all his things together. I knew that the likelihood was great that unassisted, he’d have some troubles. But all things considered, he did a pretty good job by himself. I did need to help him sort a few things to get everything back into his suitcase. But before too long we were ready to check out.

Minutes later while we waited in front of the hotel for Jack, I talked to Alex about his misadventure from the night before.
“Does any of this look familiar?” I asked him. “Do you remember which way you went last night when you went for your ‘walk?’”
“Nope," he replied with resignation. “None of this looks familiar.”
“Oh well,” I said, “Don’t worry about it. All’s well that ends well in this case.”

Alex smiled and nodded.

A few minutes later up drove Jack in his red minivan. He pulled over, parked and got out, to be met by Alex’s waiting embrace. Jack seemed unfazed by Alex’s condition, but then again this wasn’t his first rodeo with someone noticeably affected by the family curse. He had a ringside seat to see the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, not only with our mother, but even more so with David, our brother who was two years his junior. It was Jack who first convinced David’s wife Cindy to take him to IU Medical Center to be checked out by the staff who had been following our family since the mid-1960s. David was only 36 years old at the time Jack noticed changes in him; he was well aware of what the signs were. That’s why even against my insistence that "everything was okay" last July, 2004 — that it was the sleep apnea that was the culprit in Alex’s sudden demise — Jack knew better. He hadn’t even seen him, but all it took was talking to Alex over the phone, and he knew.

Jack has never been what I would consider a charismatic sort — unless he’s angry — and fortunately, that’s not a state I’ve seen him in very often in the 38 years we’ve shared family ties. His personality is friendly, but serious. His is certainly the life among our Mother’s five children that was the most greatly disrupted by her illness. At age 19 when she was diagnosed, Jack took nearly ten years to get his life back on track. He resisted marriage because he was convinced that it would be he whom fate would decide to follow in the line of our familial tragedy. Although it took him ten years longer than any of the rest of us, he overcame the trauma in the same way we all did, and married the same year as Myself and Alex, in 1979. Now with a loyal and loving wife and three grown daughters, how ironic it must be for him to know that he will most likely out-live Alex, his baby brother by thirteen and a half years.

Because of his guarded emotional persona, I’ve never been able to “read” Jack. But it wasn’t hard to see the sadness in his eyes that morning.

We stopped at a Bob Evans restaurant that was at about the halfway point between the hotel and Indianapolis International Airport. We all had pancakes. The conversation wasn’t terribly deep; it was poignant in some spots yet lively in others. We talked about favorite uncles and cousins. We talked about the medication that Alex would now be availed of and the hopes that it would somehow help him to live a more normal existence for a greater length of time. It must have been surreal for Alex to address the topic, but he did so in a sober and relatively matter-of-fact manner, yet didn’t appear to be depressed. He was more upbeat than either Jack or me.

He was everything I would hope that I would be if the tables were turned. It was all good.

Three amigos in Indy. Left to right: AJ, Jack and Alex

We arrived at the airport, Jack dropped us off at ticketing while he went to park the car and rejoin us up until it was boarding time. The lines were nearly non-existent so we had about ten minutes to wait for Jack to show up. Our flight wouldn’t be boarding for about another hour.

We were there, standing near a colonnade in the terminal, when I looked up to see a familiar face about 25 feet way, walking in our direction.
“Hey, that’s Ed Werder of ESPN,” I said instinctively. I wonder if he’s on our flight?”
“I think you’re right!” Alex exclaimed, looking over his shoulder to catch a glimpse of the tall, lanky NFL reporter for ABS Sports and ESPN. Werder was in town because he’s the primary "locker room correspondent" for Monday Night Football. He routinely reports on the respective team’s injuries or notes of interest in the MNF pre-game show and then afterwards will do a synopsis report of the game for ESPN’s SportCenter. We had seen Werder on TV the night before reporting from the RCA Dome, where the Colts and Vikings had done battle on ABC’s Monday Night Football. You have to be somewhat of an ESPN nerd to know much about the guy, but since I definitely am, I also knew that Werder lives in Dallas, and is a local TV Sports reporter who covers the Dallas Cowboys.

Something else you need to know about me, is that while I may not be the most unabashed person in social interaction, but when it comes to chance meetings with celebrities, I have no shame — I’m gonna say something, every time. I’ve had the opportunity to rub elbows with celebs on numerous occasions via my career in the music biz, and living here in Nashville, I see ‘em on the street fairly commonly. I don’t freak out, mind you, and I never raise my voice. But I can also tell you, I’ve never been ignored or met with anything but an appreciative smile.

“Great game last night, Ed. Nice job,” I said as Werder approached us. His eyes lit up with genuine enthusiasm.
“Oh thanks! Did you guys come down for the game?” he said, stopping then reaching out to shake my hand.
“No, we were here on personal business, I replied, but we watched it on TV. What a barn-burner, huh?”

We introduced ourselves, and he wished us good luck and continued on his way. It wasn’t something that I’ll likely want to brag to the grandkids about, but it was kinda cool.

Ed Werder of ESPN and ABC’s Monday Night Football was kind enough to grant me a photo opportunity

A few minutes later Jack appeared and we proceeded to the area near our gate’s security area. There was a Starbuck’s just adjacent to it, so we went in for a cup. The things that needed to be said were pretty much said at that point, so for the next 30 minutes the three of us sat silently reading parts of a newspaper a previous customer had left behind.

When the time came for us to make our way down through security, there were no tearful good-byes — that’s just not Jack’s style. We exchanged man-hugs all around and that was that.

Last Leg
The trip home was fairly uneventful, aside from the fact that again Alex left his suitcase, some twenty yards behind us in the security line and raised a commotion when he suddenly bolted back to retrieve it. But after my discreet explanation of his condition, they allowed us to move on.

We landed in Dallas and took a cab to drop Alex back at his house, which is only a short fifteen-minute ride from the airport. Alex was so relieved to get back to familiar environs. His dog Abby was beside herself with excitement as she greeted us at the door; Alex appeared to be every bit as much himself.

The cabbie was waiting to take me back to the airport, so once I was sure he and his things were safely inside, I hugged my little brother. It was time to go.
“AJ, I love you so much,” he said as tears began to well up in his eyes. “Thanks for doing this for me.
“I looked him in the eyes and reiterated what I had said to him at the outset of our short, strange journey together. “I believe with all my heart, that these last three days, as much as anything I have ever done in my life, were what I was placed on this earth to do. There is no way I could, or would want to do anything else.”
I hugged his neck hard and kissed him, then walked back outside to the waiting taxi.

Reality..what a (lousy) concept
Back at DFW Airport I had a two-hour layover before my flight home. It was about the most miserable two hours I can remember in awhile.

Reality quickly began to set in. I tried to write. Couldn’t do that. So I made a few phone calls. The first one of course was to Michelle, then to Michael, and finally to work, to make sure they hadn’t decided to fire me while I was gone. I then left a message for Alex’s wife Saraph, thanking her for allowing me to undertake this painful yet necessary endeavor with her husband. I offered to do whatever I she needed me to in order to help. I tried really hard not to break down while leaving that message, but I just couldn’t help getting choked up, knowing what she must be going through in anticipation of bearing the burden of continuing to raise her three children, essentially alone.

I grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby food court and then sat down again in my flight gate’s waiting area to write. Just then I noticed a few feet to my left a man who looked really familiar, but I couldn’t remember from where. Now once something like that happens to me, I’m ruined. There was no way I was going to be able to concentrate on anything else until either he got up and left or I went to talk to him and found out where I knew him from.

I sat there, alternating between stolen glances at this guy, and staring at the blank page of notepaper in my lap. He had been engaged in a conversation with another waiting passenger for close to ten minutes, in which time I had gotten about a sentence and a half written. I knew it was no use, and about the time I had decided to just get up and talk to him, he suddenly got up and left. I figured I’d lost my chance, but a few minutes later he returned, and now he sat unoccupied. So I decided to take the plunge. I scooted over to a seat adjacent to his and said, “I’ve been sitting over here for the last fifteen minutes wondering where I know you from. You don’t by any chance work in the music biz in Nashville, do you?”

I had surmised that he was possibly someone I had crossed paths with over the years in the industry. However I was more willing to bet that he was someone whom my current company had been working with as the music director for our annual sales meeting that my department (marketing) is in charge of planning and coordinating. What I found out however, was that the man’s name was Anthony and I did indeed know him. About ten years ago he and his wife attended the same church as Michelle and me. We had all been involved in one of a series of small groups of four or five couples who alternated each week hosting the others for dinner. Our group lasted about six months, so we had seen them pretty often for that period, but hadn’t really bonded as good friends. For whatever reason it had been at least eight years since I had seen Anthony. Running into him in Dallas seemed downright surreal.

We talked for a few minutes about where we were at in our respective lives. Anthony admitted to having had a bit of career uncertainty in the years since we’d last met. He was a banker then, but in recent years had spent time in the health insurance industry, before working his way into his current career as an executive asset manger for a healthcare-related real estate trust company. He was also on his way back home to Nashville after a business meeting in Dallas.

What was significant about our conversation was the serendipity of Anthony’s former career and my own circumstance. In explaining to him about Alex and my reason for being in Dallas, the subject of my own disposition regarding Alzheimer’s disease soon came up. Anthony asked me straight up if I had long term disability insurance in the event, how ever unlikely it might appear at this point, that my own test results turn up positive for carrying the genetic mutation for familial AD.

I told him that I had planned to get a policy in place as soon as possible. He discussed with me the importance of getting it done before learning any information about my test results. He said that the movement underway in the health insurance industry was to exclude coverage of any possible pre-existing familial AD conditions was gaining more and more momentum as research reveals more about its nature. It was sobering to say the least. I’m obviously hopeful that it’s a moot point, and that given the history of onset with those in my family unfortunate enough to have it, that I’m indeed in the clear at age 48. But my reality is that until I get the test results, I really can’t know whether or not I too carry the gene.

The flight home was a blur. I navigated numerous waves of emotion as the past day’s events washed over me. On so many levels this was an experience unlike any other. Clearly I moved into a new phase of relationship with Alex and his family (on that note, I’ll talk a lot more at a later time in another story). But more importantly, I feel as though I’ve moved into a new phase in relationship with myself. The future of those I love is no longer some nebulous indeterminate period of time. Life seems so much more precious now, because the end of one life that I love very much is actually in sight. It is now no safe bet that Alex will out-live our Father.

If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you know that this story has taken on a life of its own. It has all but become my blog. And while it can't have what one would consider a happy ending, it does spotlight a love that no disease will ever be able to choke out. This event has made an already close-knit family even more so, in an expression of closeness that I am extremely proud to continue to be a part of. And that’s something very happy — and precious — indeed.

I will bring this chapter to a close, but this story is far from over. There is obviously still a lot to be written. There are many unknowns yet to be discovered, but one truth has become powerfully affirmed to me once again. The family time bomb might still be alive, but so is the heartbeat of my family.

It’s still ticking too.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

It’s Still Ticking (Part XIV)

Lose me once…shame on me. Lose me twice…shame on you know who!
Well you know, they say that lightening never strikes twice in the same place. I guess that doesn’t apply to stupid lightening. Apparently my stupidity was a veritable lightening rod during that three-day trip with my brother Alex to Indianapolis — because I didn’t just lose him once — I lost him twice. That’s right, as if I hadn’t been scared shitless enough the first time at the airport in Dallas, I had to tempt fate a second time by leaving my brother unsupervised.

There is really no excuse for it, but I’ve always been pretty good at rationalizing just about any harebrained thought that rolls around between my ears. This is no different.

To set the scene once again, as you recall, we had just spent a grueling eight-hours of Alzheimer’s testing at IU Medical Center. We had just gotten back to our hotel room. I was tired; Alex was exahausted. We were also hungry, and it was Monday, so Monday Night Football would be on shortly. So I thought, what better way to de-compress than with that winning combo of Football and McDonald’s. I had been hankerin’ a Big Mac something fierce for awhile, and it would be a quick and easy fix for dinner (or so I thought).

I asked Alex what he wanted and I grabbed my coat and headed for the door. Again I had the momentary conversation with myself:
—“Aren’t you taking a bit of a chance leaving him here alone?”
— “Nah, he said he’d stay put, didn’t you hear him?”
— “Sure I did, but you know what Saraph told you about not leaving him alone…”
— “Look, he promised. Do you want me to tell him that I don’t trust him? Are you calling him a liar?”
— “No, I’m just saying maybe this isn’t such a good idea. Maybe you’ve already forgotten about what happened in Dallas at the airport?”
— “No, but that was different. His AD is out in the open now. He knows that I know. And he’s not THAT far gone that he doesn’t know what NOT to do. Geeze. Give the man some credit for petesakes. Besides, you don’t have a car. Think of how much longer this will take if you have to bring him along.
—“Alright, alright. I guess it’ll be okay.”

We had talked about the room key earlier. As is normal, we were issued two. It was the now standard card-reading type in which you slide it in and out of a slot on the door to open it electronically. He had difficulty in doing it correctly and asked me to show him how, which I had done the previous night when we arrived in Indianapolis. In retrospect I guess I didn’t do that great of a job of teaching.

As I left, Alex was already relaxed, sitting back on his bed watching TV. I felt assured I was making the right decision not asking him to come traipse through downtown Indy in search of a McDonald’s which at that point I still only hoped that I would find. But hey, this was a big city, and Mickey D’s are everywhere, right? Surely there would be one close by.

I soon found myself outside the entrance to the hotel. A brisk November wind reminded me that I might regret this whole harebrained idea if it ended up taking more than fifteen minutes or so. Which way should I go? I thought back to the cab ride from the airport the night before, trying to take in and get the lay of the land as we traveled through the late night urban stillness of vacant buildings and empty streets that was this portion of downtown Indianapolis. This was clearly an 8 to 5 area. There was little life on the streets and surrounding environs, even at the early hour of 6:30 PM. Far more people work in this area than actually live there. Consequently, there were no fast food establishments dotting the landscape. Nothing but a sparse flow of passing cars and well-lit but mostly empty office buildings.

Probably the only true concentration of life in the area was relatively close by, but well beyond my desire or intention to walk. The RCA Dome, where the Indianapolis Colts were getting set to host the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football was a mere six blocks or so from our location. We had seen dozens of fans displaying their various Vikings paraphernalia in our hotel lobby earlier as we came back from our day of testing. I had passed them again on my way out of the hotel. They appeared to be waiting en masse for their bus or whatever other transportation, to take them to the game. Dr. Farlow had mentioned earlier that afternoon that there were still good seats to be had for the game if we were so inclined. “Why, you buyin’?” I asked. “Um…no.” he responded with a smile.

Nevertheless, there was a certain electricity in the air that only a MNF game in a big city can generate. It was palpable. I was looking forward to watching the game in my hotel room with my little brother, knowing that we were only a mile and a half from where it was actually going on live.

Well it didn’t take long for me to realize that there would be no McDonald’s materializing out of thin air and suddenly appearing before me just down the street. But then I remembered that my brother Jack has worked in Indy all of his adult life and, being the original junkfood junkie, if anyone on God’s green Earth knows where a McDonald’s is in this town, it’s him.

So I called his number on my cell phone and explained my situation. As luck would have it, he and his wife Marnie were driving through town on their way to an evening function even as we spoke. He confirmed my suspicion that there were indeed no fast food locations near to where I was, but he was near one now, and would be happy to pick up my order and deliver it to me. Now I ask you, how’s THAT for brotherly love? I was ecstatic. Jack asked me about the day’s experiences and as I began to recount the details he stopped me short and asked me to give the details to Marnie, so that he wouldn’t have to interrupt me when he got to McDonald’s.

Apparently they were still a ways from downtown because I stood outside the hotel talking to Marnie about everything concerning Alex’s situation and Dr. Farlow’s affirmative Alzheimer’s diagnosis, to the possible implications for his children. We talked for a good twenty-five minutes. At about half-way into the conversation I could hear them going through the McDonald’s drive-thru line and placing our order. And in what seemed like only a few minutes later Marnie was telling me she’d spotted me in front of the hotel.

Through open mini-van windows we exchanged hugs. Jack handed me a tray of piping hot Mickey Dee’s. The faces of my eldest brother and his wife, along with that familiar aroma of those golden fries were warm comforts in that somewhat hostile foreign environment. As we had earlier decided in a phone conversation Sunday nght, we confirmed that tomorrow morning Jack would pick us up from the hotel. The three of us would go out for breakfast before he drove us back to the airport and our trip back home.

I handed Jack a ten spot and he tried to convince me he couldn’t take it. I insisted, but he insisted back. I relented but announced, “Okay then, but breakfast tomorrow is on me. No ifs ands or buts.” He reluctantly agreed and after a final thank you and goodbye to Marnie, they drove off.

Buoyed by the experience of spending a little time with Jack and Marnie, I passed the purple-and-yellow-clad Vikings partisans in the hotel lobby with a smile on my face and headed towards the elevator. A few inquired as to how much they owed me for “their” food and I just kept smiling — and walking. Unfortunately that smile would have a decidedly short life span.

Nightmare on West Michigan Street
As I slid the key card into the door slot, a thought flashed through my mind. “What if he’s not there?” As quickly as the thought was given birth, it was crushed beneath the heel of logic with “Shut UP you idiot! Of course he’s gonna be there.”

I turned the knob and announced that I had returned. The room was laid out in such a way that Alex’s was the near bed and was obscured on the right by the bathroom as you entered from the hall. I heard no reply and quickened the three or four strides it took to clear the wall and see around the corner into the main part of our room. His bed was empty. I quickly set the tray down on the dresser in the corner and sprinted for the bathroom. No surprise — he wasn’t there either.

I was now in full panic mode. “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NOT AGAIN!”

As I double-checked my pocket to make sure I still had the room key, I rushed back into the hallway, first quickly checking one end of our floor to the other, before heading for the elevator. My stomach was bouncing around like a handball inside my abdomen. I was cursing the day I was born. Not again! Why didn’t I take him with me? Why couldn’t he just stay put? Why was I gone for 45 freaking minutes? All these thoughts and more whipped around in my head "like a motorcycle in a motor-drome," as the L.A. Lakers’ immortal play-by-play announcer, Chick Hearn would so often say in describing a shot that spun around on the rim then went out.

As it had in Dallas, my life flashed before my eyes once again. Things such as our mutual childhood love of the aforementioned Lakers’ announcer and his many amusing signature sayings. I thought of all the time we spent together as kids and adults, building families of our own. Also as in Dallas, I obsessed on whether this would be the final, devastating thought I would relive about Alex for the rest of my life, but this time it was even more ominous. The potential for disaster at DFW was lessened by the fact that there were other people around — lots of them. There was security. There was an airport public-address system that could have called out to him if necessary. Now, here in downtown Indy if Alex wasn’t in the hotel, he was in real danger. In talking to Marnie earlier, I learned that one reason there were so few people out and about was that this was not a safe place to be after dark, that people are routinely mugged in this area. My anxiety, as one might guess, was nearly off the scale.

When my elevator hit the lobby, I sprinted to the front desk to notify them that my brother was missing. I told them why we were here and that while he may not look it because he is so young, that Alex indeed has Alzheimer’s disease. I related this and his description to the head of hotel security. They asked if I had checked the food court area adjacent to the lobby. I replied no, but that’s where I would start and I headed down the breezeway, which lead toward it.

Directly off the breezeway was first the restaurant where Francesca had taken us for lunch earlier that day, but which was now closed. Next to that was a bar in which I could see a handful of patrons, but not much else going on. I stuck my head inside the door to make sure Alex hadn’t gone in for a quick beer. No dice.

Another twenty feet down I reached the hotel food court. It was a relatively large area, approximately 60'x30' in dimension. There was no one seated at the dozen or so tables that dotted the area and all of the fast food establishments had already closed for the day. Nevertheless I made a quick check of the area, all the way to the exit door on the far side. As I completed my survey I began again down the breezeway toward the hotel lobby. I looked up when I heard my name.
“AJ! We found him sir,” The voice of the security chief reverberated between the confines of glass and mahogany which bordered the long passage. “He was outside and just came back in,” the man called ahead, his left hand gently resting on Alex’s shoulder as he and one of his deputies led my brother toward me.

Alex was all smiles as we met and embraced for a long second or two.

“I was just out taking a walk. I’m fine,” Alex announced emphatically. “Really AJ. I just wanted to go out for a smoke.”

I looked up to give the security men a smile and wave of thanks as they turned and headed back toward the lobby. “Thanks you guys. I really appreciate it,” I called out. The security chief smiled and replied, “No problem at all sir — I’m glad we were able to find him.”

I stood there, nearly speechless for several seconds hugging Alex’s neck. Then I felt his shoulders slump as he began to pull away from me, walking in the opposite direction of the security men so as to keep them from hearing. “I was so scared, AJ. I was so very scared,” he said with a slight tremble in his voice. “I got lost. I was outside and I was lost. I had no idea where the hell I was. And I really don’t know how I found my way back here.”

“Why did you leave the room?” I asked him. “You told me you’d stay in the room.”
“Well,” he said, “I really wanted a smoke. I hadn’t had one all day…and I had the key, but when I left the room, I tried it out but couldn’t make it work. So I went outside, and then the next thing I knew, I was lost. So I just started walking.”
“Well where did you go?” I asked.
“I have no idea,” he replied. “I just walked.”

I hugged him again.

“I’m just glad you’re okay buddy,” I whispered. “But please, let’s not do this again, okay?”
Alex smiled and replied, “Oh no. I’m not letting you out of my sight from now on!”

“Hey our McDonald’s is up in the room gettin’ cold.” I said. “Let’s go eat!”

You deserve a break today…finally
The rest of the evening was thankfully uneventful. We enjoyed our respective dinners: his, a Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese, and mine, the Classic Big Mac, which thankfully for my body, I don’t take the opportunity to enjoy too often.

We kicked back on our beds and enjoyed eating, drinking, and screaming obscenities at the Monday Night Football game, which turned out to be one of the best of the year, an all-out offensive war. The home team Colts defeated the visiting Vikings with a field goal in the game’s waning seconds. It was a lot of fun to hoot and holler with Alex over a game again just like old times. But it clearly wasn’t old times. What was then was years ago, and will never be again.

We made phone calls home, and also to Dad out in California, as I had promised him I would. It was so hard to not break down as I gave our Pop the bad news about Alex. But it was no surprise to him and he took it well. There was obviously a lot that I was hesitant to say to Dad in Alex’s presence, but I told him we would talk more, later.

After SportsCenter, we were both more than exhausted. As I flipped out the lights and settled my cheek into the thick cool pillow, I tried to survey in my mind all that had happened that day, but couldn’t. My head was still spinning. That proverbial motorcycle was still furiously tracking ‘round and ‘round the motordrome. I tried to reach out to slow it down, but couldn’t. I began to step back further and further from it. I heard the engine begin to sputter. It was running out of gas. As it’s rumble faded off into the distance, the sound continued to fade until it was simply no longer there.

As I drifted out of consciousness. My mind was still struggling to make sense of it all, but my body was demanding a reprieve. My body won.

Next: The morning after

Two weeks too many

I'm almost back. In fact I'm officially protesting my two-week (or should I say "too weak?") absence from Blogland by staging a sit-in here in front of my computer until such a time as I get another post or two cranked out.

I've been sick, both emotionally and physically over the past couple weeks, and it has taken a little time for me to make my way back to the point where I felt strong enough to continue on with this cyber-journey. I'm not sure how much I'll talk about it, if ever, so please don't bother to ask so that I won't have to ignore your comments. This post is not going to be up for long either. I'll be pulling it later today when I post the final two parts of my current marathon It's Still Ticking series. I only post it now, to at least quietly admit to the world that I am angry at myself for allowing myself to be such a fucking cripple. I don't particularly want to shout it from the rooftops, but if any of you standing here near the street corner are within earshot, then so be it.

I also want to say thank you to all of you who have commented and e-mailed me with your concerns for my well being. They were all effective in helping me to get over the huge hump that I am now but a few more strides from clearing.

Talk to you again later today. This time I mean it.


I had originally planned on only leaving this post up temporarily, but a comment from Kim made me decide otherwise. I had originally said that I would pull it when I posted the next part in the It's Still Ticking series. Truth be told, in essence I guess my idea was to admit something that I really didn't want to admit, then rationalize that I wasn't being disingenuous for deleting it because “at least I put it out there for awhile.”

Kim's comment made me feel ashamed for being so concerned about leaving that bit of vulnerability out there as a part of my Blog record. In her comment she said that she was surprised to see me admit to having those kinds of feelings, but that in doing so, it made her feel better about herself for also having them.

Well folks, I'm here to tell you that if I ever come off sounding like I'm Superman, please nail my ass to the wall with Kryptonite spikes, because nothing could be further from the truth. I am anything but perfect and emotionally bulletproof. I told Kim that I'm no different than anyone else. I hurt just like everyone does. But what I've learned is that I have a choice, and it is my decision that I refuse to allow myself to remain a cripple. I hold myself responsible for getting off the pity wagon and walking on my own two legs again.

Why am I saying all this? It's what I should have said in the original iteration of this post.

I've had a rough two weeks. I've been unwilling to push through it and write as I wanted to — as I needed to. Some of my problems were obviously due to my being laid up sick for most of last week, but some of it was based on life issues that I don't normally encounter, things that rarely if EVER happen to me; Things that completely caught me off guard. They immobilized me for a time, and that made me angry with myself.
But if by admitting that, I can make any of my friends feel better about their own bumps in the road, I will gladly be embarrassed for their sake. We all have a decision to make when we find ourselves hurting in regard to our personal state of mind. Happiness is a decision. It's mind over matter — if you don't mind, than it doesn’t matter. In my opinion, it’s as simple as that.

Thanks again for reminding me of that, Kim.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

This time my arms aren't tired at all.

To all my friends...
Thanks for all of your wonderfully supportive comments while I was away in Dallas. I actually had the opportunity to follow them via a publicly accessible computer at the hotel where my Dad and I were staying. Speaking of my Pop, I’m delighted to say we just had the best time ever. This was the first time we'd ever traveled together, just he and I (and believe me, there are a few posts in that story right there! *LOL*).

I’ll be trying to wrap up the current series this weekend (at long last), so thanks again for all your patience. I haven't quite yet decided how I’ll be handling the “sequel” posts, based upon the happenings of this just-concluded trip. I had originally planned to put some distance between them and the current series, but there are so many good storylines to write about, I may have to lay a few of them down sooner than later.

However I do believe I will proceed with my plans to move off the topic of AD, at least temporarily, following the conclusion of the Ticking series, which I will be finishing up here within the next few days. As I’ve mentioned previously, I just need a break from the heaviness of the subject, and I really do have a whole list of other things that I’d like to write about that have been accumulating since I first began this marathon back in December.

Thanks to you all for the continued support and encouragement. You are all like extended family to me and I can't tell you how much it means to know that you're out there.

Blog at you soon... :)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Another Auld Lang Syne

Goin’ down to that Texas town…
Well folks I’m gonna be taking a few days off from Blogland. My Dad is here with me in Nashville and Tuesday morning we’ll be jetting down to Dallas to spend three days with my brother Alex. This will be Dad’s first face time with his youngest son in over two years; approximately one year before Alex began to slip into onset of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease.

My Dad has desperately wanted to see Alex since last summer, when we first suspected he had inherited the family curse. But only since his ultimate affirmative diagnosis to that end came down this past November have the cloudy circumstances surrounding him become clear.

My Dad is 81, and in excellent health, however he acknowledges that with him living in Southern California and Alex living in Dallas, each time he sees my brother could very well be his last. So this, as will all of the remaining opportunities for me to be with either my Dad or little brother, be a poignant time for me.

I wish that I had been able to finish the series of stories based upon my last meeting with Alex last November, this week as both intended and attempted, but it just didn’t work out under the time constraints with which I was faced. I plan to finish it next weekend after I return from this trip, and will do my best to make it so.

So until next Saturday, I wish all my Blogland neighbors a great week.

Create well, my friends...