I got word today that my wife Amy passed away on September 4, 2018. She was only 52 years old.
Amy was the great love of my life. We met and had a courtship straight out of a Disney movie. The first time I took her to Assateague National Seashore, a baby seal swam out of the ocean right up to her feet.
We were married on October 10, 2010 on the steps of the old Manassas Courthouse – site of the 1911 Peace Festival, where veterans from both sides of the battle of Manassas came together in the spirit of peace and brotherhood.
For years after the wedding we would drive up to the courthouse steps where we exchanged our vows. I would sing old love songs and we would hold each other close and dance.
Then I got sick. One operation became two, became four, became nine. Each procedure taking more and more strain on us, and pumping more and more pain medication into my bloodstream. By 2014 I decided to start treatment for opioid addiction in Crisfield. Amy and I stayed in contact every day, and saw each other whenever we could.
Less than two years ago Amy pushed me away. I talked, I sang, I begged. The messages back were brutally clear that I was to stay away. I knew something bad was happening, but she made her wishes clear. It broke my heart, but I gave her the space she asked for.
Now she is gone.
Through all of the pain I cannot help but feel gratitude for the time we had together. When I first took Amy out on photography walks all she was interested in was dead trees. I took her out into Blackwater, Assateague, Bombay Hook and the world came alive. Skies filled with snow geese. We enjoyed being stalked by playful foxes. So much beauty. When we were together we burned so brightly that the whole world seemed in a different light.
In spite of my recent medical procedures and appointments, work is still getting accomplished on my book-in-progress. Today we have two short chapters. In one we discuss my early obsession with the circus and the other concerns my run-in with Amish Elvis.
When I was seven years old my family had friends from Florida stop by our home in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Jack was a Seminole Indian and a deputy Sheriff. He brought dangerous fireworks that scared our neighbors. He loved to drive around at night, get his headlights in the rear view mirror of the car in front of him, honk his horn and hit the high beams when the poor sap looked up. He would laugh and yell, “Look at ’em swerve!”
Jack was adamant that we all go to see what he said was, “The greatest movie ever made!” You don’t say no to guys like Jack, so we all went to see Smokey and the Bandit with him. Jack had seen the film already, probably more than once. He recited all of Jackie Gleason’s lines along with the soundtrack.
I have never been in a theater so crowded or so full of laughing people. The brainless goofball silliness of the whole thing just worked in a way that few movies have before or since.
Pooka just jumped on my desk while I was writing and trashed everything. Shredded paper, pencils on the floor, chewed erasers, tail in my tea – you get the idea. he just trashed everything and strutted away.
I do love Pooka, but she can be a pain in the ass. Sigh,
After being forced to move most of my writing to pencil and paper I am always on the lookout for tools that make working in this fashion more enjoyable.
Shitajiki writing boards are one of those tools.
The idea is simple. A sheet of plastic you slide under the paper you are writing on to prevent marking or denting the pages underneath. As an added benefit, the writing board keeps me from digging my pencil deep into the paper, allowing me to write with a much lighter touch.
I also treated myself to some new erasers. I have been using a Uni Boxy Eraser and it is so nice I was sure that I would never find anything better. Well, the honking huge Sakura Foam Eraser W 300 is mistake-clearing nirvana.
On the pencil front, for me it’s a split decision between Mitsubishi 9850 pencils and the new Palomino Blackwing pencils. I have bought and been given boxes of both and I burn through them with equal speed.
Before you say, “Dude, they’re only pencils!” let me say that I tried some less expensive pencils. Dear Old Dad looked at the manuscript and asked me if I was using cheap pencils because he could hardly see what I was writing on the page. I wound up needing to re-write that chapter with my Mitsubishi and Blackwing pencils. Lesson learned.
Well, a thunderstorm is rolling over Crisfield, so I am starting to get a bad headache. I’m going to put on some Fats Waller, sharpen my pencils and get some writing done.