Wandering Post about Life and Death (huh?)

The thing about everything is you have to know when to stop and yesterday I kept painting when I shouldn’t have. It’s OK. I will avail myself of a palette knife later on — maybe. Maybe not. It’s more about the experience at this point than the product. Usually I have no problem seeing the moment to pack up, but I was having so much fun.

I guess it’s that adage, “Don’t stay too long at the fair.” Looking up the phrase this morning, I learned it is a song, but wait! I already knew that… Out of the deep dark recesses of my universe Patti Page crawled out to sing this incredibly depressing little ditty. I could see the album cover sitting on the kitchen counter. I could hear adult voices discussing Patti Page and her physical deterioration. “Wonderful voice. Really too bad.”

Was THIS the album? Looks familiar. Yep these songs were on it, but where’s the song about staying too long at the fair?

I remembered asking mom? Dad? What it meant to “stay too long at the fair,” and they explained it somehow and my mom, at some point said, “It’s always good to leave a party when you’re having a good time.”

That made NO sense to me. How could you stay too long at the fair? Fairs are GREAT. The only fair I’d ever been to was the Mountain Empire Fair in Billings, and I didn’t get to eat cotton candy (“NO!”), but I did ride the ferris wheel and I got to see a LOT of animals, and it was AWESOME. And why would any one leave a fun party?

But it’s definitely possible to stay too long at the fair and my mom’s advice is right on.

I recently finished watching Grace and Frankie. There was a moment when I despaired of the direction of this show, but I paid $10 for the privilege of watching it on Netflix. Then, suddenly, in the midst of the absurdity and outright stupidity, BAM. Wow. The moral of the story — that we need each other — isn’t new, but it is still true. The silly meanderings that drive the storyline of Grace and Frankie to the conclusion are funny at times, but the conclusion hit me hard. In our lives, we don’t really have the option of NOT staying too long at the fair. We leave the fair whenever the universe has programmed us to leave the fair. Some of us leave the fair before it’s even opened for the day; others leave the fair/party when they’re having fun; others are lucky enough to leave the fair when they’re well and truly tired of the fair or have lost the capacity to enjoy it. Who knows? Most of us don’t.

So what about the fair? and the party? I don’t know. I do know that there’s a corner of my painting that is NOT what it needs to be. Or maybe it is. Time will tell.


Vases and Pitchers…

Typical morning here in Heaven with Bear chewing her morning rawhide and Teddy waiting for his coffee(cup). The eliminating of unwanted fardles continues apace, and yesterday I went at the top shelf in the kitchen cupboards to discover that in that terra incognita was a LOT of dust. I could hear the entire maternal side of my family saying, “You could plant potatoes.”

The cupboard is near the back door so who’s surprised? I packed up most of it for the thrift store, but I listed my mom’s Roseville vase on eBay along with a terrifying number of OTHER mother’s (and grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s) Roseville vases. The good news is that someone has bid on it, and I will be able to pack it up and ship it out in a week or so. Why oh why didn’t I save all that bubble wrap?

Last time I went to the thrift store with stuff I was turned away because they didn’t take donations on Monday. Their sign had blown down the road so how was I to know that? It was kind of amusing because I was parked right by the intake door. I had two bags. I am SURE the woman who warned me off was wondering why I didn’t put up a fight of some kind, you know, say something logical like, “Well, it’s just two bags and I’m here now.” But I didn’t. I honestly didn’t care enough besides, she should have said it, but no one did so they’re in the garage soon to be joined by a box of stuff. The shelf is empty and free to gather all the dust it wants.

Among the stuff I’ve found in this long adventure are a few photos of my family (featured photo). Back in the Little League days, my brother, who was adamantly NOT a sports guy, wanted to be a pitcher. His big sister, who was adamantly a sports person, wanted to play centerfield. That worked out pretty well since I played centerfield with a well-padded first-baseman’s glove so I could play catcher while my little brother worked on his pitching. “Against the fence, kids,” said my dad, “So you don’t break any goddamned windows and you don’t have to chase the goddamned ball.”

My dad was given to florid language. Meaning, gratuitous cursing 🙂

We spent many summer days in the backyard training. Unfortunately, my brother never got to play pitcher on his little league team. He played right field most of the time, the field where nothing much ever happens. He was so not into the game that, often, he didn’t even come in to bat when his team was up. Once in a while his coach would yell at him, “Kennedy! You’re up!” meaning it was my brother’s turn to bat. Sometimes my brother would come in and sometimes not.

I wonder what he was thinking about out there.

Irish Grandfather

When I was a baby, my paternal grandfather looked at me and said, “She’s been here before. A changeling child.” That’s what you get with an Irish grandfather, I guess. I never knew the man. He died when I was five. But my memories of him are all a little odd. At one point, after my family had flown from Denver to Billings on a DC 3 (my dad and I air-sick the whole way) my grandfather took my little brother (aged 3?) and me (age 5?) to Hart Albins (department store) to buy clothes. Story tells it that I led my grandparents RIGHT to the white, frothy dress I wanted, and I’d never been there before. The changeling thing came out again. “How did she know where it was?”

My life is full of strange things like that, including living here and not somewhere else. Of writing the story of my family before I even knew they were my family. Twillight Zone stuff all over the place, inexplicable except by my Irish grandfather whom I never knew. Still, I walk around with his sticking-out ears, his droopy left eye and the small divot in the chin.

A changeling is not a good thing. They’re not fully human — being fairy folk — and are always dangerous to humans. The often appear when a fairy steals a human child and replaces it with a fairy — a changeling. OH well…


The Stolen Child

W. B. Yeats – 1865-1939

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

Family Ties

Long ago I had a family in Switzerland. It’s difficult to explain and kind of a personal story, but among the treasures I’ve carried with me from that time are two plates. My Swiss family wasn’t exactly Swiss; they were Italian. They’d gone to Switzerland at the end of WW II when things in Italy were pretty dire. One of them was from Puglia, the other from Trieste. Pietro and Laura weren’t exactly “mom and dad” — “mom” could have been my mom, but “dad” only a much older brother. I’m still close friends with their son.

I didn’t speak Italian or any form of German, but my Spanish was decent, and my “mom” had taken care of a Spanish woman in Zürich when she first arrived in Switzerland so she and I spoke Spanish together. My listening comprehension in Italian was surprisingly good, I guess from watching Fellini movies over and over for years. My “dad” and I developed a unique language that drove their son crazy. He is multi-lingual as are most Swiss, but Pietro and I did fine with our language and spent hours wandering in the forest with Daisy the dog — talking! He loved cooking and taught me to make focaccia like that his mother sent him north with when he left Puglia at the end of the war. There were no opportunities in war-torn Italy and Pietro’s large family was very poor.

The story of the focaccia he traveled with is at least as good as the focaccia (which is amazing). His sister was already in Zürich and he was going north to join her and, hopefully, find a life. He said he only had a small bag of clothing and a giant focaccia that was supposed to feed him all the way to Zürich. Half was for him, half was for his sister in Zürich.

My experience with Italian trains is certainly different from Pietro’s back in the late 1940s, but one thing that remains is that they are prone to going on strike. When Pietro got to Milan, there was a train strike and he was stuck at the “Monument to Eclecticism and Fascism” — Milan’s main train station — for several days. All he had to eat was the focaccia so, when he finally got to Zürich there as none left for his sister.

My Swiss family was the “reward” for choices I made that were pretty crazy at the time, a leap of very blind faith. That leap took me exactly where I needed to go.

I wear my Swiss dad’s gold chain around my neck and wherever, I live, I hang two decorative plates they gave me for Christmas. The Christmas before my Swiss “dad” died of lymphoma (soon after New Year, 2000 😦 ) I was able to talk to him on the phone for a little while and speak Italian. Laura returned to Trieste after Pietro died, and I visited her there in 2004 when I went to Italy to study Italian. We spoke on the phone often, and, in the process of cleaning out all those old journals, I found her letters and noticed the linguistic evolution from Spanish to Italian. Family is where you find it and I miss them.

OH Well…

Today’s word is acceptance. That’s been a big part of my thoughts for a the past — what — 20 years? Last night I learned that my little family up the alley is moving to Montana. We’ve been a out of contact for the last couple of months for various reasons — theirs and mine.

I’m sad about it. I love that little family a lot and I think we’ve added a lot of joy to each others lives over the past three years. For sure they’ve been a treasure in my life. They “get” me, and I think I “get” them. But, I can’t make it possible for them stay, so we’ll be saying goodbye in a little bit. I have things for them to take with them that I have to organize.

That’s the whole thing. That phrase, “It is what it is” is annoying, but it’s still true. And, as much as I HATE that Kansas song, “Dust in the Wind,” it’s true that nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.

Selective Memory

“…you must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about your education but some good, sacred memory preserved from childhood is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days.”

Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


I don’t know if anyone ever described Dostoyevsky’s work as “scintillating,” but I loved his books. Thinking of them, though, I have to laugh. When I was writing The Brothers Path, and I was (briefly) in an online writers workshop, one of my “classmates” asked what I was trying to do, be Dostoyevsky? Like there was something wrong with that as an aspiration? My novel, The Brothers Path, has no central protagonist, and that may or may not be a failing, but since the story IS about six brothers all living in the same historical moment in the 16th century, contending with the sudden smorgasbord of alternative Christian faiths, and it’s a book about a family not about a person.

A long time ago I did a dramatic reading of a play for a graduate seminar in James Joyce. The professor had invited my friend, O’Donnell, to read his play and he needed a “Maeve.” It was fun, and I met the chairman of the English department, Sherry Little. She was amazing. We got to be friends and the three of us would sometimes meet in Irish pubs and read to each other. As a result of this, when an opening for a lecturer appeared in the Creative Writing Department at San Diego State, she nominated me. The jury of the Creative Writing Department categorically said, “NO. She doesn’t have a masters in creative writing.”

“No,” said Sherry, “but she can WRITE! And she’s been teaching writing for years!”

“Not creative writing,” they said, and that was that. I was disappointed, but the three of us went out for Guiness, discussion, poetry and stories. I figured I’d gotten the better end of the deal.

The quotation from The Brothers Karamazov has stuck with me since my Dostoyevsky days back in the mid 1980s. I believe it is true. I suspect that those memories emerge when things are dark and in some small, quiet way move us forward out of whatever trench we’re in at the moment. I also suspect that we horde those memories and keep them where we can see them. I say this because all the abuse my mom heaped upon me has never been in front of my mind; in fact, my aunts had to talk to me straight to get me to look at those events as they really happened. I’m grateful for those talks and the truth revealed, but at the same time, except for a deeper personal understanding of myself and “mistakes” I made as a result of deep-seated fear, my life has gone on in its comparatively optimistic look-at-the-brightside kind of way. In fact, I didn’t look at what she did as “abuse.” It was just the way she was.

The holiday season brings up memories for most people, I think, and I hope for everyone it brings up good memories from childhood, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. I’m grateful that, for me, it is. Sure, some of my good memories involve Lutefisk, but… Anyway, the thing about memories is we can make new good memories.



Featured photo: My family on Christmas Eve, 1961. We opened our presents Christmas Eve as was traditional in my mom’s family and over much of German speaking Europe. Christmas Day was for more serious, less materialistic, endeavors such as dinner and playing with presents though there were stockings with an orange in the toe, some walnuts, small toys… I still have the stocking on which my grandma embroidered my initials.

No Lead in My Studio (So far…)

Yesterday I went to the museum in Del Norte to collect some money and restock my notecard offerings. It was a good weekend for me financially, and I was able to buy surfaces to paint on. Not the BIG canvas, but some pretty good sized panels and a linen canvas. With all drugs, you can be happy with “cheap Mexi” until someone gives you something better. Last summer I painted on oil-primed linen and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same woman.

It’s a small painting — 8″ x 10″. It turned out that this oil-primed linen is a wonderful, wonderful surface. For the last little while I’ve been trying to figure out how I could organize this technology myself, stretching and priming my own canvas, and it turns out I don’t want to. A lot of the stuff that becomes paint and related substances is poisonous. Some of it is very poisonous. I had to draw a line. Sometime down the road? I don’t know but for now…

The woman who runs the museum is also my friend and as you might know if you read this blog regularly, she lost her husband this past summer. They were married for 58 years. I’ve been listening/talking to her about it all this time and, recently I’ve heard something different in her voice which is she is beginning to see what she CAN do now; she’s looking into the future.

I spent some time Thanksgiving chatting with a friend in Switzerland who lost her dog not long ago. Through a lovely concatenation of events, she has a puppy, but the emptiness of the loss is still eating her up. I can imagine — but don’t know — people saying “She was just a dog,” and the kinds of things people say when losing an animal is out of their experience. Obviously, I don’t feel that way, but I have lost 25 dogs so I have a lot of experience losing and recovering.

As I was talking with my friend at the museum I tried to support her recent decisions to paint her house and travel to Europe (yay!) with the salient point that we live here and forward. I remember the moment I realized that. It wasn’t all that long after my mom died. I was opening the garage door and suddenly had an epiphany that my eyes were in front of my face for a reason. The same with my Swiss friend. Nothing replaces what we’ve lost, but it seems to me that even in calm and ordinary times, we’re a slightly different person every day than we were the day before. A big loss hastens the transformation.

I think that’s part of the sorrow, strangely enough. We don’t just lose the person/dog we loved, we lose the part of ourself who was (in a way) an attenuation of that person/dog. I recognized quickly when I had to put my last Siberian Husky, Lily, to sleep that it marked the end of trail-running Martha even though I hadn’t been able to run for a while. The possibility of that person existing was completely gone with Lily’s passing. I didn’t just lose my beloved — and very old! — dog; I lost a big part of myself, or the way I saw myself.

These recent weeks — selling paintings and confronting the inner Wicked Witch of the West — I have realized I’ve held onto my mom without even knowing it. Part of my trauma with selling a painting to strangers was letting go of yet one more finger of that woman whom I loved in spite of everything.

Maybe I’m Not the Only One???

The other day I sold a painting to a stranger, a nice young couple who were in love with all my work and spent a long time looking at all of it. It was the opening of a holiday art show at the local museum in Del Norte, Colorado. 

I have never sold a painting to a stranger before, not in those circumstances, face-to-face. I found it weird, embarrassing, uncomfortable. I don’t think I showed that. On an abstract level I was able to be THE ARTIST, but I turned the conversation away from my work to them. It was a way out. 

By the time I got home from the event I felt very strange. It took a while to understand WHAT I was feeling. 

I was feeling ashamed. 

It’s a “thing” to blame our parents for our neuroses so I don’t feel so good moving into that territory right now, but here I go. 

I have always been an artist, specifically a painter. I have loved painting since I was a LITTLE kid. Among my dad’s souvenirs was a pencil drawing I did when I was 6 or so presumably of myself as a grownup. I’m standing in a big room. I’m wearing a long dress (like all little girls want). Behind me is a window and from the window you can see a mountain range. All around the woman (me) are sleeping dogs. In front of me is an easel with a landscape on it.

And here I am. THAT lady. The three things I love most in my life are dogs, mountains and painting. I always wanted to be an artist, have dogs and live in the mountains. 

I don’t know how we come into this world, if we come in with a pre-programmed job description (like the Dalai Lama) or if it’s completely random. I SENSE there’s more to it than being completely random and in my case it certainly has been. I have always known who I am but not how to get there. Who tells us that the self is a destination, in the sense of destiny? I fought hard several times for my own survival; as a kid against diseases, as a woman against abusive men. Until my therapist (long story) explained to me (after listening to me for hours) HOW I’d been raised, I didn’t fully understand that my home was an environment in which I’d been used as a scapegoat to enable my mom’s alcoholism and that I would — naturally — feel more comfortable in environments where I’m not appreciated and even treated badly. 

Most of all, my mother hated that I am an artist. She hated it vocally and publicly and all her life. When she died, I found some of my work rolled up and stashed in the guest room closet. I also found a couple of small drawings in a scrapbook of clippings about me and my life. The woman had (obviously) no clear perspective about her feelings for me. I can’t say the same about my feelings for her.

I don’t have any feelings for her. I have somehow integrated both the good and the bad from that woman and live it every day. The good is good. If she’d lived in MORE of the good about herself she might not have been bitter, angry, hateful and drunk. The bad? It’s landmines and I stepped on one Saturday when those people bought my painting and rhapsodized over my work. I realized that though I’ve sold several paintings, they had all been bought by people who know me and like me. On some level my mom’s voice has said, “Well, they like you, so they bought your painting. I don’t know why they like you, but they do. If they knew you like I do, they wouldn’t have bought your painting.”

She actually DID say things like that. Publicly. Until she died.

SO my job is to get her to shut up by recognizing that I know a lot about painting. I’ve looked at paintings all over the world and done a lot of other things to “self-teach” myself. I’ve written a prize winning novel about a medieval painter. I like my paintings — not just doing them, but looking at them. I’m interested in how to do them and what I learn from them. I have painted since I was a child. It’s not a new thing. And, most of all…

Post Script: Contending with Fardles

I really appreciate all the kind comments to my glum post this morning. After I wrote it I got the idea that maybe I should tackle a doable project that’s been weighing on me emotionally and physically (to some extent) so I headed out to the garage.

I imagine we all have sadness and disappointment in our families. I have a niece I love very much but who has disappeared from my life completely. I worry about her, but I can’t find her. I know where her mother is, but her mother is mentally extremely fragile and her mother’s husband is a combination of carer and and and? I don’t know, but I can’t reach her through him. I guess they don’t really want to hear from me which is OK. BUT. My mom put together two beautiful photo albums — one for each side of my family; her family and my dad’s. They were for my niece.

This past week, a blogging pal wrote about finding a lot of random old photos in a Goodwill store. She wanted to know the stories. That made me think of a photo album my neighbor found long ago in a dump in a nearby city, an album from WW I with scenes of an army guy (the owner?) in Italy and various other places. The photos in that old album were wonderful, but I felt a little weird, a little like a voyeur. Anyway, I have had those photo albums on my mind for a while. Those and all the letters between my parents when they were young and in love, just starting their lives. With them I thought of my Aunt Jo who burned all the love letters between her and my uncle to protect their privacy. So, today I went through (and emptied!) 2 bins of family memorabilia and got rid of half of my Christmas decorations. I don’t put up a tree so????

I contacted my cousin’s daughter and asked her if she’d like the album from our mutual family. She was so happy to have it. I seriously feel like a huge burden has been lifted from my spirit. I’ve wrapped it up in brown paper and it’s on its way tomorrow. My cousin’s daughter also wanted a little nativity I bought in Mexico for my mom.

As I worked, my spirit felt progressively lighter. I have no problem tossing the contents of the other album after I take some photos to put on my Ancestry tree.

When I finished these labors I thought, “OK. Everything left is just my life,” and that’s, I think, how it should be and I’m a LOT less glum.

Another thing I found is a small silk mass-produced tapestry of a scene, I think in Hangzhou. In itself it might not be anything special, but its story is. When I was teaching international students in San Diego in the late 1980s I made friends with a Japanese student who had been a cook in a Chinese restaurant in a resort in Hokkaido. He rented a room from the Good X and me for a while which was great because he cooked. 😀 Anyway, his father and his father’s friend came to visit.

I was nervous. These men were both WW II Veterans from the OTHER side. Aki had warned me that his father was very old fashioned, very conservative and hated Aki being in the US with the “enemy.” I knew a lot more about the Chinese Anti-Japanese war than did most Americans and I wasn’t sure about having a Japanese soldier in my house. It was a little weird.

We picked them up at the airport. Aki’s dad was rigid but Japanese friendly/polite. His friend? Wow. Friendly, open, curious, outspoken. The first thing Aki’s dad did was walk through my (large) garden which was designed in a semi-Asian style (homesick). He came in the house and said, “I had no idea Americans garden!!!” The friend saw some of the Chinese hangings I had at the time (lines of calligraphy from friends in China). He said, in pretty good English. “You know China?”

I said I’d been there a year. Then he told me he’d been a guard at a POW camp. He was 18. He didn’t understand why the Chinese were enemies of Japan. Some of the guards were Chinese. The friend said a lot of things, including that Japan’s culture came from China (not totally true, but…) I can’t remember everything, but they made me think about the war — history in general — differently. I began to understand something about the intense worship many Japanese had of the Emperor and that while sides are enemies in general in particular? Maybe not. We all know that, I guess, but hearing it from this man was very special. “I had a Chinese friend at the camp. I like Chinese.” He had even been back to visit.

Their visit ended with the usual journey to “Glando Canyono” and “Ras Vegas.” Months later I got a package and thank you from Aki’s father’s friend. I opened it to find the small tapestry the Chinese man had given him. It’s a real treasure and I thought it was long gone.

Oh and yet another draft of the Pearl Buck Project… THAT’S hopeless.

Here’s a photo of the edge of the tapestry telling where it was made.

“Last Year Never Happened”

I finally got an eye exam and ordered new glasses. My local doctor quit accepting my insurance and since my insurance cuts the cost of glasses in half, I had to find a new place to go. Some of you might remember my misadventure to a new doctor here in town whose office was replete with far right conspiracy literature. In spite of that man’s truly tragic story, I had to walk out.

As the tech took my information today and filled out the forms on the computer, she asked about a bout of uveitis I had back in the 90s.

“Any cause? RA? TB? Anything?”

“No. My doctor decided it was just random, like maybe I got the flu in my eye. My dad had it, too. At the same age.”

“What about your dad? Did he suffer from RA?”

“No special cause. He had MS. The doctor just told us that MS patients get sick easily.” My mind went back to the nights my dad slept in the living room in a recliner because he had to sleep on his back, and one of us — mom, grandma, me — had to put drops into his eyes every hour.

“I have MS,” she said in a soft voice. “I don’t let anyone around me who’s sick.” She laughed.

“You have MS?” asked her. She appeared to be in her late 30s.

“Yeah.”

Suddenly we were talking about my dad and other vision problems he might have had. I asked, “How are you doing?”

“Pretty OK,” and she told me about meds that are helping her a lot. I would never have guessed. She had words for things, for symptoms and treatments that didn’t exist when my dad was alive (he died in 1972).

My entire heart went out to her and inside I didn’t feel like joking around (which we had been doing). I felt like hugging her, but I knew I had to keep it up. I told her that my dad let himself be a guinea pig for new treatments. I said, “He always said, ‘It’s not for me, Martha Ann. It’s for the future’.”

Then she asked, “Is your dad still alive?”

“No. I lost him a long time ago.” I’ve never referred to my dad’s death that way. I don’t like euphemisms. No one “passes” in my lexicon; they die. But today, I lost him because, in that moment, he wasn’t “dead.” he was in that room with that brave, humorous, open, lovely young woman, our dark humor and exchange of knowledge. I could almost kind of believe that my dad heard her and saw us and knows that things really DID get better.

We talked about the newer research linking Mononucleosis in adolescence to MS, to the theory that Scandinavians are more prone to the illness than others. Plenty of African Americans show up with MS, but skin color does not reveal ancestry. Research into the causes continues and it was a strange relief to talk to someone about it. I’ve remained interested. There’s no reason in the world that I wouldn’t show up with it in my future. I think about it every time I fall for absolutely no (obvious) reason. She was open with me about her fears, another brain lesion which they can now find with the brain MRI. In my dad’s lifetime MS was never accurately diagnosed until an autopsy was performed.

She finished her tasks and went to get the doctor. He was awesome. He asked when I had my last eye exam and I said 2019. “Oh well,” he said, “Last year never happened?”

Not strictly true, but it really does feel like we are picking up where we left off as much as possible. Godwilling, 2021 has found us further ahead than 2019 left us and that in spite of the losses and fears, we have learned a little something. Sometimes when you don’t feel like it, you learn — as I did, today — that we have learned a little something.