"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom" Albert Einstein

"A dame who knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up." Mae West

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Another family member gone

My father-in-law died Sunday evening.  That makes two parental deaths in seventeen days.  He donated his body to science.  I am not sure what science can do with a 99 year old body, but perhaps someone will learn something from it. 

Here's an article (edited for this post) I wrote four years ago for a local paper about him:

Just after 7:30 weekday mornings, a small, elderly, slightly hunched figure crosses the Patton Street bridge, his pace much quicker than most people half his age. Mr. Moore is making the daily trip to his office, walking seven blocks from his home and later back again. He still has a license to drive his car, but he just prefers walking.

Although he finally retired in December, 2006 (after his 95th birthday) from his long career as a civil engineer, he still goes to his office located at his son’s land surveying business, and helps with outside field work, holding poles or finding stakes.

“Dad can out-walk most of our clients who accompany us while doing field work,” said his son. “They’re always amazed when I tell them how old he is.”

The elder Mr. Moore grew up on a farm near Rushville, IL, where he and his sister attended a one-room schoolhouse. They would ride to school together on the family horse, then slap him on the rear, which would send him back home again. He later attended the University of Illinois where he obtained a civil engineering degree, but it was the middle of the depression when he graduated and any job was hard to find.

He headed to Chicago, where he sold hats. He also pulled rickshaws and sold ice cream at the World’s Fair. There was no job beneath him; he felt any work was better than nothing. He eventually obtained an engineering position in Texas, later moved to Decatur, and to here in 1959, where he opened his own engineering business and was city engineer.

Then in 1962, an accident happened that would have changed most people’s lives. While he was supervising a construction project, a cable line broke that had suspended a construction bucket from a crane. The large metal bucket fell onto Mr. Moore’s head. This was before hardhats were required on jobs.

“I remember going to bed that night and wondering if I would still have a Dad the next morning,” his son reflected. He was 12 years old at the time. “They gave Dad a 50/50 chance of surviving the night.”

The doctors removed over 200 bone chips in Mr. Moore's head, which left a huge dent in his forehead that is still very visible. He had numerous injuries requiring blood transfusions. When he tried to get out of bed several days later, they discovered he also had a broken leg. After only a three week hospital stay, Mr. Moore said he had a business to run and that he was leaving. He did so, despite doctors’ orders. That was the last time he spent a night in a hospital.

Besides the noticeable dent in his forehead, he lost his sense of smell, and therefore cannot taste anything. He is able to discern salty, sweet, and sour, but not individual flavors. He also lost 3 inches in height. All were just minor inconveniences of which he rarely speaks and never complains.

Now 45 years after the accident, Mr. Moore remains healthy and active. He mows his own lawn with a push mower. Until two years ago, he would climb the tree in front of his home to clean gutters, until his son finally put a stop to that. He takes no medications, completes a crossword puzzle or cryptogram every day, reads 2-3 history related books per week, enjoys watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, and eats like a farm-hand.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Music Monday

Thinking of my Mom who played Mills Brothers and Ink Spots LP's on the family stereo when I was a child:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Talk Like Shakespeare Day

Instead of participating, I'll just let the old guy do his own talking in this poem which is one of my favorites:

Sonnet #97

How like a winter hath my absence been
From Thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt; what dark days seen,
What old December's bareness everywhere!

And yet this time removed was summer's time:
The teeming autumn big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease;

Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans, and unfather'd fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute;

Or if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer,
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

In case you don't understand the language of poetry -translation per Wikipedia: 

My separation from you has seemed like winter, since you give pleasure to the year. Winter has seemed to be everywhere, even though in reality our separation occurred during summer and fall, when the earth produces plant life like a widow giving birth after the death of her husband. Yet I saw these fruits of nature as hopeless orphans, since it could not be summer unless you were here; since you were away, even the birds did not sing, or rather sang so plaintively that they made the very leaves look pale, thinking of winter.

It just doesn't sound as good as the original, does it?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Business hurdles

Go see Atlas Shrugged.  Until you do, here's a quick little video about government and business:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Storm clouds

Most people get jubilant when April arrives. Even in the gloom of rainy days, they look forward to the budding flowers and warmer temperatures.

For me, I am beginning to dread Aprils. Last year, just before the end of tax season, my office computer died. I was scrambling to get a new one up and running before I lost too many precious work hours. This occurred about three weeks after my parents and my father-in-law were all in the hospital at nearly the same time.  Fortunately, the elderly folk recovered, and I had the new computer working and all files restored within 24 hours. Deadlines were met and clients were happy.

This year, I was whizzing away, feeling very confident that things were very much under control, and I was even thinking it might be a much less stressful end of tax season.  Until April 7th arrived - when I must have angered Thor with my confidence, and he struck me with a jolt.

I arrived at my parents' home at 6:30 am that morning, as I do daily, to fix their breakfast and help my mom with her compression stockings.  I walked into the kitchen and found my mother lying on her back on the floor, eyes glazed and lifeless, and her breathing gurgling and shallow.  I knew she wouldn't make it.  Quickly, unexpectedly, with no pain - just as she wanted.  Brain dead. 32 hours later she was gone, never awakening from  the massive stroke that struck her down.

When they removed the breathing tubes that first morning, I was told it wouldn't be long before she passed, but she didn't follow any of the "normal" routine. They didn't know the women in my family. We're determined and tenacious and obstinate. No one tells us what to do and when, even when oblivious to our surroundings.

After 12 hours of sitting alone with her in the hospital room, she never deteriorated further.  My brother brought my father there for a brief, touching moment, and then we all went home to try to sleep.

I was back before noon the next day while my brother stayed at home with Dad, and only then did things change.  At 2 pm she finally quit fighting.  "Good-bye, Mom. Have a great trip," I said.  Two days later we buried her.

And then last week, my father-in-law went into hospice care...