Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Monday, December 31, 2018


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.


Kevin Kim said...

Happy New Year, my friend. Hats off to the Mistress of Sarcasm, and to your whole familial circle of care, for providing you the love and succor you need as you take this arduous journey.

This is small comfort to the Mistress, but I know something of what it's like to drop everything and be by a sick parent's side. That doesn't make me special, but it means I understand, at least a little bit. Please pass along a hug to the Mistress from me, even though she and I have never met.

Unknown said...

Family truly is everything. Through the heartbreak of the reality of what you all are going through it brings me such joy to know you are surrounded by so much love ❤️.
I think of you and your family daily and am always sending you love.

Normsnan said...

Love you, dear friend.

Normsnan said...

Love you, dear friend.

Suzette said...

I hardly know what to say to you. I had no idea this was happening to you and now that I've had a bit of time to digest this I realize that I have little comfort to offer you. Old age doesn't come alone, Steve and we of a certain age all have unexpected and unwanted developments to cope with. I'm truly sorry that ALS is the one that came for you. Thank you for your frankness and for sharing with readers like me who may not have been in constant or even recent touch, but still smile fondly when your name comes up.

Also, your brother married Erica Sherman who? The photographer/pool player from Brooklyn? Why, that little minx! I do recall that there's a regular southern meeting of bloggers where Erica and Parkway Rest Stop Jim represented the northeast. That must have been where love first bloomed, probably right next to the tub of Artillery Punch.

I'm glad you gave me this chance to wish you comfort and peace now and to tell you that you are remembered as one of the good ones. - Cripes Suzette (aka Bob the Corgi).

Marsha Howland said...

You and your words are gifts. Thank you so much.

Unknown said...

Steve, you are amazing. You have always been an inspiration, and a role (no pun intended here), to me, though I always came up short. Thanking you for allowing all a glimpse of your life. The love in your family is immense. I truly feel blessed to know you and your family.

baldilocks said...

It's difficult to put into words how blessed I was to meet you and your family a mere four months ago. All of you are in my prayers.

Unknown said...

Steve, you are an amazing guy, not many could do and handle the situation with such humility and grace. The world could use you as an inspiration.

Pammy said...

As someone else said, you and your words ARE a gift. I really detest the fact that you're going through this and I deeply regret not having met you and your lovely Dee when I had the chance.