Last night I was watching CNN news when a familiar face and name was on the screen. In shock, I recognized my beloved lung specialist and he had died on November 30th 2020 of Covid-19. According to the various news reports, he had worked 80 hour weeks since the Pandemic started trying to help his hospitalized patients. As a respiratory expert he was always on the front line for Covid-19. He was 52 with two young adult children. He was a brilliant mind who had immigrated to the USA from El Salvador enhancing the lives of all his patients. This is the article from CNN.
He was utterly charming and warm, able to empathize and sympathize with compassion. I first met him 8 years ago when I was the victim of a traumatic car crash. Initially they took me to ER to check my spine as it was a rear end impact. To everyone’s surprise the scans revealed an egg sized tumor or cyst in my chest cavity – nothing to do with the accident. They referred me, one by one, to neurologists, a cardiac surgeon and finally to Dr. Carlos. I was mentally traumatized by my first car accident in the USA with all the insurance shenanigans, the ludicrous medical bills and then the unexpected tumor/cyst. The cardiac surgeon said that they normally surgically removed cysts of that size but they would have to deflate a lung to do so and would not recommend it.
By the time I got to Dr. Carlos, I was a mess, mentally and physically. He thoroughly reassured me that it was a congenital cyst, not cancerous, and best just to keep an eye on it. Over the years, I visited him and he always made me feel like a Princess. Last year, I went for a routine scan and check. To everyone’s surprise the cyst had shrunk down to the size of a raisin. Hurrah! It was a lovely celebratory doctor’s appointment and I thanked him profusely. I had another routine scan arranged for February 2020. It was before quarantine but I cancelled it because I can physically feel when the cyst gets larger. The staff members at his office were delightful as always and reassured me that I could make an appointment at any time. But now I can’t.
Few of us know people who have died from Covid-19 or its complications but now I do. He was very special to me and to all his other adoring patients. I can still hear his voice – he sounded exactly like the Puss in Boots from the film Shrek. I have been very careful this year because I am surrounded by immunosuppressed neighbors and friends. On a personal note, I was unsure if my lung history made me at higher risk. Would my cyst expand if attacked by the corona virus? I know we hate this strange time but we have the vaccines now and it will be a relatively short time until life becomes safer. Please, please wear a mask. Assume that everyone could be exposed to the virus. Think about it as a wartime scenario. Unemployment, poverty and social chaos are with us but we will be stronger. Just be safe and unselfish for a few months more.
Dr. Carlos Araujo-Preza, you epitomized what makes America a good place. I will never forget you. Thank you for the gift of compassion.
I received an email from one of the genealogical sites that I subscribe to, revealing that my paternal grandfather, Raymond Dellinger has been drafted for WWI. This is his draft paper.
I am not 100% sure but I don’t think that he was actually sent to war. Lucky for him as so many veterans of WWI died of battle wounds and disease. I was intrigued that he was a bank clerk in Nebraska. His older sister had married a doctor from Nebraska but the family had previously lived in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. My grandfather was born on the Chickasaw nation in OK.
I never had the opportunity to meet this Grandpa and he died when I was a child. He was so handsome with gray eyes that I would have loved to have seen him in person. Now I know where the recessive gene for my blue gray eyes comes from. My father had brown eyes and my mum had blue.
Kerry with dark, dark blue gray eyes
As I am looking at the WWI drafts I see that 20 more relatives had been drafted into the war. I do not know how many actually fought but my great uncle Earl (grandpa’s brother) was a Marine and fought in the Battle of Managua, 1927. Then an incorrectly spelled name caught my attention, a distant cousin named Tony Ortiga (Ortega). His draft fell into a strange category of Indians, Insane and Prisoners. Well, in my family it could be all three….but what awful world categorizes those groups together? It was Folsom Prison in Tony’s case. I wonder what he did? Be careful when you open the genealogical closet because you never know what skeleton will fall out.
As I was reading this sad draft, I could hear Johnny Cash playing at Folsom prison.
‘When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry’
Somehow that is the perfect segue from my last post on trains to this one on Memorial Day.
My gorgeous four poster bed in Merida…note the mosquito net
Doesn’t it look gorgeous? The tiles are original from the 17th century mansion. The French owners have recently created this boutique hotel and coordinated everything with the tiles. The back wall is the palest dove gray as is the new futon beside the bed. The lamps were made of local limestone and I am taking the photograph from the stairs (yes two levels) in my suite leading to the brand new bathroom. It was exquisitely designed with local stone in the huge shower.
So far, so good, eh? The bed was rather hard but the bedding was lovely. The mosquito net was not for decoration and the fumigator turned up on the second day (it smells of roses, Senorita…). I look like I have had measles. Eventually I caught one of the little f***ers and my blood oozed out of it. The exquisite shower had only cold water. On one fortuitous occasion I had a tepid shower – yay! I was offered three other rooms which barely had a trickle of still cold water and realized I had the best room. My French fellow guests had a trickle of cold water for their whole stay. Dirty froggies…🐸. I know that is terribly un PC but it’s one of my resolutions.
The menu was translated by French people into English and they need not have bothered. There is a local Maya language spoken and I have no idea what the menu said. I ate dessert and breakfast with unidentifiable fruit. I rarely spoke English to anyone. Everyone at the hotel spoke French including the staff. My driver’s English was as good as my Spanish and yet we talked for hours each day. Google Translate helped with certain words until we were out of cell phone range.
THIS WAS THE BEST VACATION EVER!!! I don’t know why but I loved every second of it, even my Eco toilet which means no paper down the drain (there was a little lidded bucket for the poo smeared paper). It felt like glamping or glhostelling. The day before I left I had received bad news about four friends with health and other problems. I was so upset that I momentarily considered not going. The saddest news was the death of our fellow blogger Pan otherwise known as Linda, beautifully memorialized by John Ray and Osyth. If you click on John and Osyth’s names you will see their posts about Linda. My head still has an image of her dog guarding her dead body for two days.
My mental health must be stronger than I imagined and I decided that life really was too short. I compartmentalized all my bad news, got on the plane and prayed at every church that I saw in Merida. I got lost twice in the pitch black but kept finding churches so perhaps Huehuecoyotl had an auspicious plan. The beauty of nature and the kind, warm people of the Yucatan soothed my soul and provided much needed balm. I have many stories to tell but I have a busy week helping friends and doing paid work so it may be a week or so before I share more.
I climbed a pyramid!
This is a shot from Mayapan, a huge Maya city that has NO tourists! My various DNA tests did not show that I am part mountain goat…all those years hill-climbing with my school friends, Katharine and AnneMarie have left me with a core strength. There was a small group of local school teenagers who struggled to keep up with me…
Most importantly, may Linda rest in peace. She was a loyal, funny and delightful blogger friend that I will miss.
I did not intend to post today but my sadness made me want to memorialize yesterday’s sad events in Nice. I have many French friends and fellow bloggers and their hearts must be broken today. Such a happy occasion to be violated in this way. I had a belated honeymoon in the south of France and remember Nice with great fondness and nostalgia. May they rest in peace.
Je ne suis pas l’intention de poster aujourd’hui, mais ma tristesse m’a donné envie de commémorer tristes événements d’hier à Nice . J’ai beaucoup d’ amis français et collègues blogueurs et leur cœur doit être brisé aujourd’hui. Une telle occasion heureuse d’ être violé de cette manière . J’ai eu une lune de miel tardive dans le sud de la France et rappelle Nice avec beaucoup de tendresse et de nostalgie. Puissent-ils reposer en paix.
It has been a sad week for the Houston area and now for the world with the early death of Prince, which ironically was his real name.
We were all taken by surprise by the sudden flash flooding in Houston that killed only 8 people, remarkably, but many thousands have had their lives ripped apart by houses that flooded. We seem to have only just recovered from the 10 year drought, which devastated land with forest fires, when the weather Gods has wreaked their wrath and havoc. The truth is that we just live in a time of unstable weather that will continue to affect us globally for an indefinite period. The higher the population, the more inclined we are to build on land that has flooded from time immemorial and in places where forest fires are a natural part of the ecosystem.
Houston flooding 2016 courtesy of Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle
On the first day of flooding I had to go to the doctor’s office which is about a 15 minute drive away but past the overflowing containment pond for our neighborhood and then a massive reservoir for our city. It was truly a magnificent site with gallons of water flooding the forest across the road. On the way back I was concerned when I saw about 4 cars parked on the side of the road (which is narrow). I was concerned that there had been an accident and then realized these thoughtless people were taking photographs and making the road more difficult to negotiate. Every year in downtown Houston we get a drowning death in an underpass which has suddenly flooded but it looks like they are going to finally put automatic barriers at the worst sections. The city is at sea level, riddled with bayous (a fjord of sort) and endless rivers and creeks.
As usual, Houstonians responded to the challenge with their bass boats, canoes and rafts and were able to start rescuing people who were not in desperate need – the first responders were doing that. After the chaos of Katrina and the refugees from Louisiana, each evacuation facility had police to make it safe for everyone. I am so grateful that our house did not flood but it was scary watching the water rising in the ‘dry’ creek which borders our property.
I am a huge music fan but I don’t usually talk about it much on my blog but I was so shocked by Prince’s death that I wanted to write a short eulogy. Purple Rain has to be one of my favorite songs of all time but it was Prince’s persona that affected me the most. At first, I wondered if he was gay because he was happy to wear heels, make-up and unusual clothing. Nonetheless I was very attracted to him and sensed he was straight which since was confirmed. Another line in the song Kiss is “You don’t have to be beautiful to turn me on” and it really resonated with me. It was during a time of sexual discovery for me and he encouraged me to look beyond what normal was. See my post about sexual fluidity. There was a period when he changed his name to a symbol and I guess this marked a period of self-discovery. It seemed a bit odd to me and I think he struggled with his sexual identity and spiritual beliefs. He gave huge anonymous donations to a variety of charities and causes and lived a private life despite the craziness of the music world. RIP.
I wanted to say something at Nessie, my mother in law’s funeral. Above is a beautiful sepia picture of her when she was about 4, I think. I had been visiting frequently for the last decade, from Texas to Scotland, watching her illness deteriorate and lurch from one crisis to another. Not only did I love her but I wanted everyone to know our relationship. To some it may have seemed as though we abandoned my husband’s parents to live in the USA. The Minister was concerned that I may not be able to finish my homage and had a printed copy ready to take over. I was nervous but only at the last paragraph did my voice begin to shake with emotion and anxiety. This is it.
Nessie was my mother in law for almost 34 years and I loved her. I first met her when I was 21 and she knew in that second I was going to marry her son Drew. I think she was looking for somebody sensible and assertive… She fully embraced my mum and me into their family and they became good friends going on racy vacations together. Her smile could light up a room and still did in her last days. We bonded over our love for her precious boy, Drew or Andy as I know him. She always told him that he was particularly special because as an adopted child, she and Dad chose him. I tried so hard to be a good daughter in law and always felt I failed a little until Nessie’s battle with Alzheimer’s began. Then the roles started to change I became the loving care giver that I had always wanted to be, albeit through regular long distance visits. Every taxi driver in East Kilbride knows me and as soon as get off the plane, a driver that I don’t recognize will say “how’s your mum?”
She was the backbone in the Duncan family, supporting her husband, son and new daughter. She was unfailingly generous to the myriad family members, especially those with problems. She was non-judgmental and open in her views of the world and people. She could be stubborn and assertive, too. It would have been so boring if she was perfect. Her primary school students adored her as did all her friends. I loved when she dished some gossip about the Rotarian club – she was so naughty at times. Bob was Rotarian President for a session and she made an excellent President’s wife throwing herself into social activities. She loved her mum and dad, her younger brother Andy and his family.
Not everyone knows that she was a gifted artist and had always wanted to go to art school. She used those skills in many ways from teaching to dressmaking and making fantastic Halloween costumes for Drew when he was young. When I was younger she loved to braid my long hair and made me clothes which I didn’t always appreciate. In her last few years I loved her the most – the staff at Abbey Lodge adored her and looked after her so well. Her death has left a huge hole in our hearts. May she rest in peace.
I am so sad that terrorists have struck again in Paris, Beirut and probably all over Syria and Iraq. There was a glimmer of hope that the Peshmerga had taken back Sinjar or what remains of it and then horror erupted again. RIP for all the innocent victims in this era of terror.