Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all –
2018 is almost at an end, and we’re all still here. Both from a family perspective and a broader view, that outcome wasn’t always guaranteed, but I have it on good authority that you shouldn’t “kick a gift horse in the mouth.” (Yes, I know that’s not the way it goes – it’s a family joke that you’re now read into. You’re welcome.)
The year has brought many changes, as usual. Our son Andrew has always been good at giving me gray hair. I got about 10 shades lighter in January, though, when I received a horrid phone call from him from Hawaii, letting me know he was on his way to find a deep hole to sit in while he waited out a nuclear attack warning. No one should ever have to make or receive such a phone call; to make matters worse, such an event seemed possible at the time. It still seems possible, which should give us all a reason to reflect this holiday season.
Andrew is now no longer a Hawaiian – he is a Michigander (or whatever you call someone living in Detroit – “crazy,” maybe?) with yet another of the coolest jobs in the world. He works for Kuka Robotics, teaching people how to program and operate some of the most impressive technology on the planet. Amy went to visit him during a teaching assignment he had at a college in Greenville, South Carolina. She watched him set up a robotics laboratory and teach a class in programming, and even visited a brewery with him (who IS this woman?). Amy is relatively unimpressed with anything that isn’t either dead or 150 years old, but she can’t hide the fact that even SHE was impressed. And, as an added bonus, Andrew promises to put a good word in with his robot masters when the machines finally take over the world. It’s always nice to have a friend on the inside.
Amy is no longer a schoolgirl, at least for now. She graduated from Texas State University with a Masters degree in Legal Studies, a paralegal certificate with an endorsement in mediation and arbitration, and a strong ability and nearly uncontrollable desire to win arguments. While she hones her talents on me and weighs her options for which portion of the world she’ll conquer first, she is putting the finishing touches on the book she and a colleague have been working on for some time. It started off as a commentary on current events, but enough time has passed that it’s now a book on a specific subset of Texas history during the Civil War. I suppose that if you wait long enough, everything becomes history. I joke with her that she only has two speeds – “asleep” and “damn the torpedoes.” I think her switch is broken in the “on” position. Between her writing and her legal activities, she still works on family genealogy (dusty courthouses and old cemeteries) and catches the occasional catnap.
Rebecca and Christopher (I’ll refer to them as “Rebecctopher” for the next little while) successfully weathered storms, heat, cold, fire, mechanical difficulties, and missing dogs to complete an epic vacation adventure in the Western U.S. this fall. The plan was for Rebecctopher to take leaves of absence from gainful employment for several months, to complete the teardown and reassembly in working order of a road beast Nissan pickup truck, to complete the outfitting of the aforementioned road beast for off-the-grid rough living, to plan a path in space and time that would take them to interesting and meaningful places before either the money, the leave time, or the interpersonal patience ran out, and to do all of this in the company of a sweet-natured but intellectually challenged canine who (bless his heart) is composed of equal parts fart and slobber. The plan came together, and they had a wonderful time. They both learned to cultivate patience, that sometimes you don’t tell the WHOLE truth to your spouse, and that dog slobber is not poisonous. They also taught ME something, for the next time I decide to rebuild a pickup truck from scratch (what? – I do it all the time): if you’re going to go to the effort to build a pickup truck from a large box of parts, don’t neglect to rebuild the carburetor too. They are safe, happy, and back at home with a collection of great pictures, stories, and memories. Next on the list – buying a house. Stand by for news.
Yeah, I’M still here. Since we last spoke, I’ve volunteered for the SA Moves Foundation, the Davis Phinney Foundation, and an unnamed pharmaceutical company, spoken about living in defiance of Parkinson’s in about a dozen cities, ridden my bike for about 2000 miles (including with Andrew and Chris on the 50-mile Texas 4000 Atlas Ride), received multiple bites from a pit bull, and worked with Amy on the process of solving logic puzzles. So far I’ve survived, although some activities are riskier than others. I’m currently producing an audiobook version of my last book (Walking With Parkinson: Finding Faith, Purpose, and Peace), which will be available in January. Although the disease continues to progress, I continue to find ways to misbehave and fight back.
Love to you and yours from me and mine –