Hello, Esteemed Readers. I apologize for the infrequency of my posts here of late. Those who are aware of my situation are reading my third blog, The Concentrated Mind. And those who are not will get to see my usual end of year greeting because how could I end the year without a greeting?
This has been an unusual year. Suffice it to say that it has had the most wonderful of blessings and the most difficult of challenges all rolled into one - like the Forrest Gump chocolate that you never would choose to bite into. As I write this, my Elder Daughter sits in front of me holding our six week old grand-daughter, a little package of love that arrived in November and showed up at our veriest doorstep on Thanksgiving Day just as we were about to chow down. Being unable to drive her own-self, she was accompanied by Elder Daughter and Elder Daughter's partner (hereafter known as E-Man). So there's something very new in our lives: Dee and I are actual grandparents, a status we had always hoped to achieve and were gifted with before the year's close.
Another major change: after almost twenty years at Chez Elisson (Marietta) we are now living nine miles up the road in Chez Elisson (Woodstock). After several years of pestering on Dee's part I finally yielded to the inevitable. Early in 2018 we managed to pull off the amazing feat of both selling our old house and replacing it with a much more size-appropriate town home, with the closings being conducted on the same morning. How about that for tap dancing, huh? It was a brilliant maneuver for which I am forever grateful to Dee and her persistence. We now have successfully removed most of our old crap, replacing it with a whole assortment of new crap - but more about that later.
One of the biggest surprises was that my sweet younger brother, The Other Elisson (hereafter to be referred to in these pages as Uncle Dang) has pulled off the remarkable feat of marrying someone who not only seems to be his absolute soul mate but who also may be familiar to those who read these pages - the irrepressive, effervescent Erica Sherman! This perhaps is one of the amazing and unpredictable events of 2018, despite the fact that Uncle Dang has had a whole stadium of people cheering him on to this happy and inevitable conclusion. Think of it! By the time you read this, the happy event will be safely in the past with a broken glass to commemorate the occasion. (If I were the wedding planner, we might have used a plastic Death Star, but let that go.)
But now we have the elephant in the room to discuss. In March of this year I began noticing some ominous physical symptoms, which led to a diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). At least Lou Gehrig managed to squeeze a baseball career out of life before being hit with this shit, but not this boy. As I sit here dictating the contents of this post to you it is almost exactly six months after having received my diagnosis and my case has been moving like a freight train. I wear a breathing machine almost every minute. I am almost completely immobile, my limbs being virtually useless. I cannot stand up, much less walk. I spend all of my days either in a power wheel chair or in my bed. My speech is reduced to a whisper. At this point in my journey, I've been under 24-hour care several of the past weeks, and while it's impossible to know the exact time table in cases like this, it means it's a good bet that I won't be at the fucking Kentucky Derby next year - nor at my 45th college reunion, which is something I actually had hoped to attend. I need assistance for every task I do, including writing and composing this post.
Having ALS is a very unpleasant situation, but it does carry with it a few silver linings. One of the most important is that it has given me a renewed appreciation for my family and friends - and anyone who gives care to others. Without them, I could not survive - nor would there be a reason to.
It's with tears in my still alert eyes and a break in my weakened throat that I acknowledge the relentless, gentle, and constant presence of my first and foremost caretaker - my Mistress of Sarcasm - without whom I wouldn't be able to do anything. This is where it gets difficult to dictate these posts - because she is the one who has to write them. She dropped everything to come down here and spend every day of her life with her deteriorating old man. Of course, the Mistress of Sarcasm is not doing this all by herself: she has been helped by Elder Daughter and Dee, the latter of whom this whole bloggy exercise would have largely been a miserable and pointless adventure. I am in this way perversely blessed, but it is indeed a blessing. The things - the physical detritus - mean nothing to me now, but family, as they surround me with their glowing love, they mean everything. And you, my esteemed readers, who have given me the gift of self-aggrandizement and useless time-wastage for all of these years, you do too. May this next year bring you all the blessings of success and health that you care to have, all without limit to any good thing. Hopefully, I will be around to enjoy some of them with you, but if I am not, know that it was a hell of a trip.