Sunday, March 23, 2008

Time for an update!

Hi siblings and so on!

I recently posted something on my Facebook profile, that had come to me: "The saddest thing about living is to lose the ones you love, and to awaken to the attrition of kindred souls."

This is something that has been wearing at me for years, little by little. And now with our cousin, David Winton Clarke, dying; then a 1976 classmate (Jim Comes) dying just before his fiftieth birthday, this past week. Then, in the background (for me, at least) Dan Fogelberg (who wrote some wonderful music that accompanied me in my teens and twenties) and Arthur C. Clarke, whose short stories and books were my favorites in earlier years, died recently.
Then, just in the last two days, we've learned that Warda Vincent Mauro (a little older than Dad, former Alfredian, church member from a distance, etc.) died. On top of all that, we've learned that our cousin, Carol Burdick (CB) has pancreatic cancer, and likely won't live long, perhaps only a few months.
All that has affected me, but at least I am happy to say "Happy Birthday" to Cathy, and to tell you that Jeanette's car has a nearly-new engine in it and will get its body repaired this week. Now if we can get it paid off and get some good years of driving out of it . . .

Anyway, CB looked frail when I went to her book-signing a week or so ago, and someone told me only a few days later that they heard she had terminal cancer. Today, Donna Rogers told us that CB had told her so, herself. She evidently was quite matter-of-fact about it, as I would expect. So, if you want to say anything to her or ask her anything, I suggest you do so, pronto. If you need her address, I'm sure that if you address correspondence to CB, Pondhouse Inhabitant, Camp Harley Sutton Road, Alfred Station, NY 14803, it will get there.
I still have, saved on the answering machine, the message she left when she learned that Dad had died. Unless my memory has failed me, she said: "Doug, I just learned about your father, and I just wanted to tell you I'm so sorry. [voice cracks] He was a wonderful man. And he would NOT approve of my crying now . . ." I have never felt terribly close to CB but we have always been cordial and I really enjoyed taking her "A Place In The Universe" class (on environmental literature). She wrote in my copy of her book "Haps and Mishaps" something to the effect that I've been a loyal cousin and she likes that, and likes me.
One thing I was quite fond of, back when I was in my late teens and early twenties, was to watch CB and Dad play tennis on the courts near South Hall. They would meet early in the morning and just go at it, not angry and competitive and not just whacking the ball around, either. They both played well, moved well, and had genuine fun doing it for the exercise and the time to talk, I think. They seemed to be very evenly matched, but I couldn't keep up with Dad: he seemed to stay mostly in the middle of the court and return everything I sent his direction.

Back to the present, Sherm and I have been talking about when he might "retire" to Alfred, what part of "33" he would inhabit, and what we might do with the rest of the house (like sell used books, and/or rent rooms). Maybe this year, maybe three or four years from now?

I'm working on my outline and PowerPoint presentation for the April 24th Bergren Forum, which will be part of the Alfred Bicentennial series of events. Jeanette worked extra hours the last few weeks, earning "extra" money on a project, and starts tutoring a pregnant student for two hours after school, every day, this week. Ian starts his mentorship with Betsy Brooks soon, learning how to catch (in mist nets) songbirds, measure and weigh and band them. I'll be taking him up to the Lake Ontario shore to a banding station so he can help Betsy set up nets, and he should get a chance to at least observe raptor banding in April, during the peak migration period. I'm thrilled that Betsy was eager to do this with him, and LOVE that I get to learn stuff and go along, too!! He's been saying for years that he wants to work with animals and invent stuff, so I thought this would be a great start, even if he ends up working with alligators later on, because he'll develop real skills, developed at an early age, and build on the obvious ability he has with animals.
We're waiting for winter to let go of us, so we can start working on the house more readily, not have to be so concerned with weather and road conditions, and so Jeanette's joints won't hurt so much. The CPAP seems to be helping her get better rest, but her mask is not optimized yet, so she's not getting the full benefit. Antibiotics pretty well took care of my infected gum, but I'm flossing and brushing and water-picking and rinsing and using a syringe with salt water, to keep from losing a tooth to bone degeneration. Jeanette has lost some more weight and Dr. Coch is working with her to get her A1Cs down to better levels (related to diabetes), and she may need knee surgery before long. I'm trying to exercise more regularly, so I've been skiing a few times and Ian and Nicky and I took a two-hour walk today, and may have found bear tracks!

Anyway, we hope you're all well, and that you'll be in touch soon!!!!!