View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In-laws and outlaws, updated

I should have done this 2 months ago but with all the health issues Jeri and I have been dealing with, the move back to the mainland, doctors appointments and proceedures, I spaced out and didn't get it done.  

Milly Kirby turned 100 back in Sept. 27.  I have only met two other people who were 100 years old.  One was a friend of my dad and the other was a man I met in Ecuador.  I wrote the following tribute to Milly back in feb. 2011 when she was 94, wanting to say what was on my heart while she was still with us, never imanging that she would live another 6+years.  It is still a rare occasion for one to live to be 100, just .00173% of the population, yet our family has been privilaged to watch a love one go through that process.  At the rate I am going she will out live me.  Like the old time x watch adds. she keeps taking a licking and keeps on ticking!

Marriage is not just the joining the lives of two people into one, it is the beginning of a melting pot that starts the process of blending the families of the bride and groom, especially the parents.  Throughout history our books, movies, plays and stand-up comics have had a field day spinning tales of mother-in-laws that were depicted as the Wicked Witch of the West.  Some have played off of Rodney Dangerfield and said "Take my mother-in-law   -  Please!"  I have heard stories from friends who related how their mother-in-law was either domineering, controlling, interfering, in their face and space continually or some combination of all of the above.   Some mother-in-laws have caused so much friction as to completely destroy marriages.  Adam and Eve did not have to contend with that, nor did Jeri and I.  We were blessed with almost perfect mother-in-laws.  But today, I want to share about just one, my mother-in-law, Mildred Bess (Burlingame) Kirby. 

She was born 9-27-1916 in Chicago, Illinois.  She was the youngest of five children -  three sisters and a brother.  Her dad owned a bus line and when they decided to move to California in 1920 he sold all but one bus using it as their mode of transportation.  The five kids ranged in age from 13 to 3 and it took them 6 weeks to make the journey.  Every night they would pitch a large canvas tent to cook and sleep in. 

When they arrived in San Pedro that tent became their home on a rented vacant lot.  There were many people living in tents at that time, so it wasn't unusual.  About a year or so later, Millie is not sure exactly, her dad bought a lot up the hill from there and set the tent up permanently on a wooden platform.  Sometime later her grandparents moved to California and they all built two small houses on that lot where Milly has many happy memories. 

Monday, November 7, 2016


Back in August I wrote about the plan.  For the most part that has been followed but there have been a few alterations.  After the third infusion there was clear evidence that the tumor was growing and I had spent 4 days in the hospital fighting a sinus infection.  The radiologist consulted with the surgeon and oncologist and they all agreed to start the radiation treatment ASAP.  Two weeks ago the treated me twice and the next week 3 times.

Before my first treatment I met with the radiology nurse as she needed to explain all the hazards of radiation treatment and all possible side effects.  Like that information isn’t already burned into my brain.  During the conversation she happens to mention the dosage of radiation that I would receive each time, which went right over my head because she was using numbers and measurements that were foreign to me.  So I asked her how that compared to my treatments 6 years ago.  She gets on her computer, brings up my health records and says that this will be double what I received before.  By the next day after the fifth treatment I had radiation burns, the roof of my mouth was raw, my tongue had sores on it, my taste buds were mostly gone and I was exhausted.  For the last week  eating has been painful and nothing taste right.  It appears the sores are healing but I have no idea when the taste buds will heal.  If I remember right from six years ago it will take a while. 

But the good news is the bleeding has stopped!  It took a week and now all I get is a clear fluid from the sinus.  The tumor has shrunk which the radiologist had hoped for.  He is hoping that the tumor is weakened and now the Keytruda Immunotherapy will have a better chance of reducing it even more.  I have my fourth infusion today, the 7th of November.

We have been back on the mainland for five or six weeks and almost every day has been filled with doctor appoints for one or both of us .  What free time left has been filled with unpacking boxes, shopping for various furniture pieces, checking out Good Will (Jeri has found some amazing bargains) and watching college football on the TV.  Sorry, there are certain priorities. 

Speaking of Jeri, she is having eye surgery this afternoon for a partial detached retina.  This will be going on at the same time as my infusion.  Her medication schedule has evolved to every two hours starting at 4 a.m. until 10 p.m. with a dose around 1 a.m.  Needless to say this is wearing on both of us.  It has cut down the times during the day when her body turns off and she can hardly move,  but it has not solved the problem.  The worst part is we are both growing older.  Randall and Lani and the five grand-kids have been a blessing.  Either Randall or Lani has been to almost every doctor appointment with us, hauled us to places when I wasn’t able to drive, taken us shopping for furniture and stuff, the grand-kids have packed stuff up to our room, and I have no idea how we would have managed without them.
As for the cars, they arrived two weeks after we did, both in excellent shape.  The Camaro is parked in the basement parking until the roads start getting icy.  Then the Camaro will trade places with the Mercedes outside until spring. 

As for my adjusting to the move, it ain’t happening.  It has been cold and rainy almost every day since we arrived and we are just starting into winter.  I miss our friends in Hawaii, especially our neighbors, but we have had several friends from La Grande drive  almost 300 miles each way to visit with us and that has been special.  Jeri’s sister and brother-in-law and their daughter flew up from Southern California and visited for a couple of days.  So there have been pluses and minuses.  The area we live in is west of Portland and very nice, but it isn’t Hawaii.  We still haven’t decided on a church so that is a work in progress.   I have had to learn how to wear shoes and socks again, long pants and jeans instead of shorts, my tan is starting to fade, and I have to wear a tee-shirt, flannel shirt and jacket to go outside.  And I am still cold. 

In spite of all this, I still know that I am where God wants me, I am closer to my family and friends from La Grande which is a blessing, I am on this side of the grass and that means God still has work for me.  I just wish I  had a clue what that was.