Tuesday, September 14, 2021

An eventful week (part 2)

Early on Thursday we threw some clothes into a suitcase, threw the suitcase into our car along with our 12-lb. chihuahua-Terrier mix Abby and her pink crate -- okay, we didn't really throw the dog or the crate into the car -- and made the four-hour trip over to Alabama to spend a few days with our daughter and son-in-law.

You will remember that we couldn't be there on Wednesday when she had lumpectomy surgery for breast cancer because on the same day I was receiving intra-vitreous injections in both eyes for macular degeneration.

Late in the day on Thursday, we received the news we had all been waiting for and did not have to wait two weeks after the surgery to receive. Our daughter's surgeon called to tell her that she had had a "pathologic complete response" (pCR), which means there are no redidual cancer cells in her body. She is cancer-free. There were some very happy people around here Thursday afternoon. Our daughter had chosen to receive chemotherapy first, then surgery (this approach is called adjuvant surgery) and it proved to be successful. This method of treatment works best most often for women who are HR positive (HR+) and HER2 negative (HER-), but our daughter was the complete opposite going into this; she was HR negative (HR-) and HER2 positive (HER2+).

I have learned that HR stands for hormonal receptors (for hormones like estrogen and progesterone) and HER2 stands for human epithelial growth factor 2 receptor. Scientists have determined that HER2 is located on chromosone 17 in humans. Science has certainly come a long way since my mother's mastectomy in 1949.

On Friday we received the sad news from our second son that the family had decided to put down their black Lab, Sharpie. One of the sweetest dogs we have ever known, Sharpie was nearly 17 years old; he joined the family when he was a 3-month-old puppy. In his old age, he had become both blind and deaf, and for the past few months had grown weaker to the point he had difficulty standing, let alone trying to walk. It was time, probably past time, and we will all miss him greatly. I will remember him in his happier and stronger days when he was running in the yard.

On Saturday afternoon, we learned that an old friend, Walter Turner, had succumbed to Covid-19 while on a ventilator at Floyd (County) Medical Center in Rome, GA. He had been diagnosed as having pneumonia, Covid-19, and colitis. He was in renal failure as well. Walter and his wife Margaret, who celebrated their 47th anniversary in August, have a daughter, Claire, and a son, Christopher. Margaret is also in the hospital with pneumonia and Covid-19. For several years Margaret was choir director at our church and Walter sang in the tenor section. Margaret also taught piano at a university about two hours away in Tennessee. At the time of Walter's passing he was pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Rome and Associate Chair of the Religious Studies Department at Beulah Heights University in Atlanta. During the years that Margaret directed our choir, I was its accompanist, and many of us often stopped on the way home after choir rehearsals on Wednesday nights to eat at a Waffle House or an International House of Pancakes. We would talk and laugh, and one memorable night we stood in the parking lot of the Waffle House while Walter, Margaret, and I sang "Love, Mercy, and Grace" (#153 in the old Cokesbury Hymnal) from memory. The others in the group, who had not grown up using the Cokesbury Hymnal, stood around with their jaws dropped open in disbelief. This is all by way of saying that we are going to miss Walter very much and are fervently hoping that Margaret will recover soon.

With Paul's death a couple of weeks ago and Walter's on Saturday, five people I knew personally have died of Covid-19.

Other things happened this week that I had intended to write about in this post also, but somehow they suddenly seem unimportant.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

An eventful week (part 1)

It has been an eventful week, and I'm not referring to Afghanistan. I'm talking closer to home.

On Monday our son-in-law spent the night at our house because he was going to be teaching a class in Milton, Georgia, on Tuesday. He brought a beautiful bouquet of roses and mums to Mrs. RWP, as well as the makings for the dinner he wanted to cook for us. It included venison, sweet potatoes, rice pilaf, and cherry cheesecake. Needless to say, he is one in a million.

Yesterday (Tuesday) our daughter received her eighth chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. There will be 18 treatments in all, and since they occur three weeks apart, they will last until next April. Since her husband was here in Georgia teaching a class, an old college roommate of hers drove her to Birmingham for the chemo session. Our son-in-law returned to Alabama Tuesday evening after teaching his class.

Today (Wednesday) our daughter is undergoing surgery as I am writing this sentence. She chose a "lumpectomy" rather than

Oops.

It is now several hours later. I was interrupted by a knock at the door. It was our oldest grandson, the one who is getting married in 39 days, who had arrived to drive Mrs. RWP and me to another of the week's events, an appointment with the retina specialist to get intra-vitreous injections in both of my eyes. I began getting these injections four years ago. The procedure remains the same, but the contents of the syringe have changed several times. First the doctor tried Avastin, then changed to Lucentis, then changed it again to Eyelea, and finally (I hope it is finally) changed it again to my current medication, Beovu, which seems to have produced the best results in stabilizing my macular degeneration. Blindness is usually the result if macular degerstion cannot be stabilized. So off we went to the doctor's office. We stopped at Zaxby's afterwards for lunch, and now we are back at home again.

The reason Mrs. RWP and I were not able to be with our daughter and son-in-law today was my eye treatment. We will be making the four-hour drive over to their part of Alabama tomorrow morning (Thursday, another eventful day).

So as I was saying before our grandson knocked on the door, our daughter chose to have a "lumpectomy" rather than either a single or double mastectomy because it was the least-invasive of the three procedures and had the shortest recovery time. The surgeon left the decision entirely up to her, telling her that her decision would not affect her prognosis, which was excellent, at all. When she decided on the lumpectomy he told her he was glad she chose that option because he was not generally a fan of amputation of body parts. It would have been nice if he had shared that with her beforehand but he did not want to sway her in any way. I wonder what he would have said if she had chosen one of the other options.

Our son-in-law sent us this text in mid-morning: "Angela is out of surgery and heading towards recovery. They got all the tissue they needed and the lymph nodes that they removed (3) were negative. They will have a final pathology report in a couple of weeks, but are not expecting any cancer based on the test today."

At 12:30 he texted, "We are on the way home!"

The next step is that radiation starts in about four weeks.

When they turned into their driveway, they found this from the school system that employs Angela as a primary school principal:


Monday, September 6, 2021

My two-thousandth post

In three weeks, this blog will be 14 years old, and according to Blogger this is my 2,000th post. As my creative juices flow somewhat sporadically, in some years I have blogged more than in others (see sidebar for details), but if my math is correct 2000 posts in that period of time is equivalent to publishing one post every 2.5 days since September 28, 2007.

This brings up the question, "How is this even possible given my advanced age and rapidly deteriorating (according to some) mental faculties?" I'm no young whipper-snapper like, oh, say, 67-year-old Yorkshire Pudding, an indefatigable who has been posting practically daily since time immemorial, since Hector was a pup, since it staggers the mind even to contemplate when.

Other questions that have bothered me for a long time include:

Who is Sylvia?

Why do we say "back and forth" instead of the more logical "forth and back"?

Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? (Comedian George Carlin first articulated this one, i think, unless it was comedian Stephen Wright.)

Why is Australia called "Down Under" but Greenland and Iceland and Lappland are not called "Up Over"?

Why, at the time of their adoption in 2013, weren't the amendments to the law of male primogeniture made retroactive so that the Princess Royal could be moved ahead of the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex in Britain's royal line of succession to the throne?

Who is Hector?

Why does Boris Johnson's hair resemble Donald Trump's instead of, say, Charo's or Ann-Margret's?

Over the next 14 years, I will attempt to answer questions such as these. Not these, necessarily, but questions such as these. And any help you can provide toward solving these mysteries will be greatly appreciated.

Above all, keep reading. One can't call oneself a writer unless one has something very important.

Readers.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

First things first

I was casually scrolling on my iPhone this morning through the "Life & Style" section of the headines of the Marietta (Georgia) Daily Journal when three of them stopped me in my tracks jolted me from my Sunday morning reverie:

West Cobb Senior Center to have Cell Phone Tricks & Tips on Oct. 5

West Cobb Senior Center to have Scarf Tying Workshop on Oct. 12

West Cobb Senior Center to have Women's Self Defense on Oct. 22

It struck me as both amusing and sad that the first thing someone figured the older citizens of the western portion of Cobb County need is cell phone tricks and tips, followed by a workshop on scarf tying. Then and only then, after the more important topics have been covered, a course teaching women how to defend themselves.

I know it was probably only an accident of scheduling and availability, but it struck me as very odd and very telling in the annals of this 21st century of ours.

I now return you to your Labor Day Picnic planning or your Sabbath keeping, unless you are either Jewish or Seventh-Day Adventist, in which case the latter ended yesterday at sundown.

If your activities today include neither Labor Day Picnic planning nor Sabbath keeping, you are left to your own devices.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Quirky is good

Mrs. RWP and I haven't been to the movies in years, nor have we ever watched some of the apparently very popular stuff presented on the boob tube like Game Of Thrones and House Of Cards and The Walking Dead, not a single episode of any of them. Call us crazy, but neither of us is interested in reading, watching, or spending one red cent on stuff like The Hunger Games or The Handmaid's Tale.

I suppose that we are quirky, although quirky is in the eye of the beholder.

I like quirky things, though.

Here are some movies that I like:

Purple Rose Of Cairo
Big Fish
Field Of Dreams
Harold And Maude
Raising Arizona

and here are some television series that I like (or, to be more accurate, that I liked):

Thirtysomething
My So-Called Life
Six Feet Under
Twin Peaks
Northern Exposure
Quantum Leap
Star Trek, The Next Generation

I am definitely quirky, but it's all right.

I like quirky. Fantasy quirky, not violent or dystopian quirky.

There is a Latin phrase that applies here: De gustibus non est disputandum (In matters of taste, there can be no disputes).

Moving right along....

Around the end of April we made some new old friends, Paul and Mary Louise Storey. Paul is 94 and Mary Louise is 92, and they have been married for 72 years. One of their daughters is 70 and another died in her early sixties. Mary Louise is fine both mentally and physically but Paul was beginning to show some signs of Alzheimers. He loved to tell us about his many years with the Lockheed Corporation and his several trips to the Ukraine. A quiet, sweet, unassuming couple, they began attending our church last winter and started coming to the small "People Group" we belong to (the church now has 12 such groups) that meets in someone's home every other Sunday afternoon from 4:30 to 6:30 for a potluck dinner. Mary Louise always brought a congealed whipped creamy orange-flavored salad or dessert (it could be either) that everyone raved about. The people groups were suspended for the summer but started up again for the fall last weekend. Our new friends Paul and Mary Louise were not there because both of them tested positive for Covid-19 in late August and were quarantining themselves. Paul's condition became serious enough that Mary Louise called an ambulance on the Saturday night before our first small-group get-together of the season and Paul was admitted into the hospital. Mary Louise was not allowed to enter because of the hospital's pandemic rules. Paul, without Mary Louise there to oversee things, kept pulling out his IV lines and oxygen tubes. Mary Louise was desperate to get him out of there or at least be able to be with him. On Wednesday Paul's condition improved somewhat and he seemed to be rallying, but on Thursday two things happened. Mary Louise fell at home and broke her ankle and Paul's condition worsened to the point that the doctor recommended moving him into hospice. On Friday, Mary Louise was able to spend the entire day with Paul at the hospice with the help of their grandaughter.

This morning we have received word that Paul died during the night. Although we didn't know him long, I will miss him.

One thing I know. Paul and Mary Louise Storey are not quirky. They are the salt of the earth.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Thoughts from out of nowhere

"Far away the noise of strife upon my ear is falling" is the first line of an old hymn called "Dwelling In Beulah Land".

"Master, the tempest is raging, the billows are tossing high" is the first line of an old hymn called "Peace! Be Still".

If you find those two facts interesting, you probably need to get out more.

Both of those hymns were playing on my mental radio early this morning, put there by (excuse the expression) that great disc jockey in the sky.

On this day in the year 1946 in the town of Seekonk, Massachusetts, my mother married the man I thought for many years was my father, but he was actually my stepfather. It is odd to think of him in that way. The word does not roll trippingly off the tongue. Not from mine, anyway. He has always been my dad, for better or worse, even though he wasn't.

Somehow it seems oddly fitting in a weird sort of way that thinking of my parents' wedding anniversary was juxtaposed in my brain today with thoughts of the noise of strife and the raging tempest. There were many such moments in our house. There was very little peace or stillness over the years. We were definitely not dwelling in Beulah Land.

This post is short. I'm sorry that it isn't also sweet.

<b>An eventful week (part 2)</b>

Early on Thursday we threw some clothes into a suitcase, threw the suitcase into our car along with our 12-lb. chihuahua-Terrier mix Abby an...