Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Last week I found myself in Utah with my son, his wife and my four year old grandson.  We went skiing with all of the glitterati at the Sundance Film Festival (I saw no on I recognized).  It was my grandson’s maiden ski voyage and it was a hoot watching him learn to snow plow and watching his parents cope with a four year old and all of his ski stuff.

I wish Marty could have been there.  She would have loved it.  Skiing was the only athletic pursuit she enjoyed.   I think mostly she loved it because there was very little perspiration and she could stop and smoke and watch the dare devils sail by.

Marty taught me how to ski 38 years ago this month, on our honeymoon to Breckenridge Colorado.  I can still ski as a result of those lessons and I’m still pretty good, I’m just not good for very long.  But, as I told my daughter-in-law, “If I could lose 40 pounds I would be magnificent”, I don’t see magnificent in my near skiing future.

A trip like this requires planning and preparation to leave Marty with our caregivers under the watchful eye of my parents and daughter Erin.  I am a lucky guy to have parents who are able and willing to come care for their daughter-in – law.  Marty and I are proud to have a daughter who will give up her time to do the same.  It’s not a small contribution to my sanity.

I end up taking these breaks a couple of times a year and I think they are beneficial to me and to Marty.  I get out and about and Marty gets out from under my micro managing.  

To make it happen I arrange for my wonderful family to come and keep Marty company.  She has not been without a family member with her for more than 24 hours in eight years.  She likes that and hates it at the same time.  

I also make sure all of my other wives (caregivers) are cool with me being gone for a few days, get Marty’s medicines lined out, cook a couple of meal, leave some cash, leave instructions and talk my narcissistic self into believing Marty can be okay without me.  

The trip went well and Marty thrived in my absence.  We skied enough to be exhausted, the four year old learned how to turn and sort of control his speed and no one broke, sprained or strained anything important.

Marty did great without me, of course.  One of her favorite thing is for friends and family to come and just talk to her, just talk.  You don’t ask questions, you don’t probe for her thoughts, you just talk.  You tell her about you, your life, your gossip, whatever, it doesn’t matter, you just talk and Marty listens, occasionally adding her own comments, but mostly she listens and enjoys the different voice, the different sound, the different smells, the different everything.  Being chronically ill is a boring drag and anything that is different, except the hospital, is a good thing.

In the end, Marty got some time away from Marty’s Husband, which is okay for a lot of different reasons.  She got some quality time with daughter Erin, granddaughter Lily Jewel and she got to listen to my mother tell her stories and that may be the best thing that happened when I left because when  Bettye Lou comes Betty Lou comes loaded with lots and lots of stories.…..and Marty loves that.  

Me, I got to stand at the top of the world and look down.  I got to stand there on a cold day under crystal clear blue skies and watch my son and his wife glide through perfect white snow down a run called Blue Bell.  I got to ski down Success and experience graceful as I thought about Marty and how she had been my teacher 38 years ago.  I got to ski down the bunny slope with my 4 year old grandson and watch his face light up the first time he figured out how to make a good turn.  I got to remember watching my own son, his father, do the same.  

We are connected to our past, our past informs our present..  Epiphanic moments.