… that I remember when Harry Truman was President. That shouldn’t be too surprising since today is my 70th birthday.
… I remember receiving my own SWATting threat.
I’m wearing a new pair of warm socks, eating a slice Christmas pizza (red and green, made from the leftover lox from breakfast and green olives), sipping a cup of orange coffee, and listening to Messiah on the radio.
The troop ship carrying my father back from Europe docked in New York on 21 December, 1945, and my father had his travel orders to return to Tennessee in hand on the 23rd. He and another captain from Tennessee wired their wives and arranged to meet them at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville on the 24th. And then my father and his buddy found out that all the trains to Nashville were sold out until well after Christmas.
They went out on the street and flagged a cab. They told the cabbie where they wanted to go and why, and he agreed to take them if they’d pay for the gas both way. During the trip, they talked with the driver, who was too old to have served, about what they had seen and done during the war. In my father’s case, that included the liberation of Dachau. When they arrived at the hotel late on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, my father started to pay the cabbie, but he refused payment. He told my father, “I’m Jewish. Thank you for what you’ve done. Have a Merry Christmas!”
The next year, my father received a Christmas card from the cab driver, and they continued to exchange Christmas cards for many years.
Today is the thirty-eighth anniversary of my marriage to Mrs. Hoge and the first anniversary of my becoming a widower. I’ve held off writing about some of my experiences related to Connie’s illness and death for this past year, but now I want to tell the Gentle Readers some of that history.
In October, 2014, Connie was helping some friends plant trees. After that day of hard work, she complained of back pain and thought she had pulled a muscle. In late November, the pain was still bothering her, so I finally got her to see the doctors at the student health clinic at the University of Maryland. (She was working on a Masters in Landscape Architecture.) After a couple of visits, they finally sent her for an x-ray and, after seeing the x-ray, referred her to an orthopedist. The orthopedist sent her for an MRI, and after seeing the MRI, said, “You need to see your oncologist.”
Connie responded, “I don’t have an oncologist.”
The orthopedist asked, “You know you have cancer, don’t you?”
No. She didn’t.
By the week between Christmas and New Years Day, it was determined that her T4 vertebra was almost completely gone and T5 was involved with the cancer too. By the first week of 2015, we knew it was stage four breast cancer that had metastasized, but there was no indication of cancer showing in her mammogram. In February, Connie had surgery to stabilize her back, and she recovered enough to begin a course of radiation and chemotherapy in March. By July, she was in remission, but the prognosis was not good. The particular form of breast cancer she had was usually aggressive, and we were told that it was certainly lurking somewhere in her body.
Connie went back to school and continued work on her Masters. She also reengaged with her other activities such as the Forestry Board.
The picture at the top of this post was taken on 7 November, 2016. Seven days later, Connie took a sudden turn for the worse. She was disoriented, so our son William took her the emergency room. She was admitted to the hospital because her blood calcium level was out of control. During that stay in the hospital, it was determined that there was nothing further that could be done to treat her cancer which had spread to her liver, so we brought her home for hospice care.
During those last eight days, William and I had help tending to Connie’s needs from one of her friends from her college days at Indiana University in the ’70s (she came from Ohio) and Connie’s brother and half-sisters (who came from Chicago and New York). Over two hundred people came to visit. In fact, I had very little time alone with her until our anniversary on Thanksgiving. She was very weak. After about 7 am she could no longer speak, but we sat holding hands through the day. Around dusk, she went to sleep. Just after 6 pm, she stopped breathing and her heart stopped.
Throughout her illness, Connie had excellent medical support from her treatment team at Carroll County Hospital Center and the University of Maryland Hospital. She was screened for various studies, but her cancer was already at stage four when she was diagnosed, so the only appropriate studies were for genetic screening. She also had the support of the medical professionals in our extended families, including two pathologists (one of whom is a breast cancer survivor), an oncologist, and a pain management nurse.
It’s been a year, and I’m still not used to being without Connie. OTOH, the separation is temporary. One of the things we share is a firm belief that
this perishable body must become imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable body will have become imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
I’ll just have to wait.
It’s a busy day in the lab today doing some critical testing on a power supply for a subsystem of the instrument we’re building for the next Landsat mission. That Real World activity will prevent me from completing the new Johnny Atsign episode.
But before I disappear into the lab, I want to take note of a couple of anniversaries. Five years ago yesterday, I received a SWATting threat. One of the statutes of limitation on that crime has now run out.
One a happier note, my first date with Mrs. Hoge was forty years ago today.
While I was reviewing the archives for a post to recycle as part of today’s TKPOTD, I scrolled past this post from two years ago today.
* * * * *