Journal Entries From a Time of Silence
In loving memory of all that you were and all that we accomplished together. Today marks three years of your passing. Time does not make it easier, it only makes every memory hold more precious. A day will never pass where my love will fade or I will fail to think of you and all of the wonderful things that made you who you were.
February 6, 2017
During the time of David’s illness he did the majority of the posting to his Caring Bridge Page, a personal communication portal that helped us keep friends and family informed during his health crisis up to the time of his death. This journal, a penned narrative of the struggles and challenges he faced with Pancreatic Cancer, helped him to maintain some sense of order and control over the chaos his malignancy engendered in our lives. For those of you who didn’t know David, he was the consummate “Engineer,” he kept detailed lists about everything we needed to purchase as well as anything that needed to be done as maintenance for the house. We laughed often about his adherence to the principles associated with late 19th – early 20th century industrial design and his incessant need to ensure that an object related to its intended function or initial purpose. He was detail oriented by nature, all things had a purpose and an order so he never failed to take the
opportunity to labeled things, check items off his list, or ensure that all mechanical items were functioning at peak performance.
When it came to his Caring Bridge blog posts, I simply let him take the lead. It helped him to manage the lack of control his cancer had on his body, so by choice and just his sheer nature, David took the lead. His posts consisted of blood panel updates, the chemo decisions we made, his tumor growth statistics, as well as news about unexpected surgery outcomes. I in turn piggy backed his no-nonsense 'just the facts jack' posts with insights into the emotional rollercoaster ride we were learning to navigate throughout his illness. I, as David would often say after
reading what I posted, provided the “heartache and disappointment” that accompanied each and every challenge we faced.
At home and at work, David never felt more in control of a situation than when he could write an item down on his list and see it through to the moment he could check it off. I used to tease him about it all the time. In a sweet way of course, but I teased him non-the-less. He would proudly tell me he wrote something on his list, and I would walk by and say, “CHECK!” He had lists at work and he had lists at home. There were lists in his truck, and duplicates of those lists in the day planner he carried around with him when he was working. For months after his death I found
lists he made all over the house. Some were tucked away in his home office desk, some were in his jewelry box on his dresser. They were all over the house and yes - each item on every list was crossed off supporting his achievement, proof of a job well done.
Lists helped to keep David’s life in order, especially after he was diagnosed with cancer. Lists for him, were a source of safety, and a source of motivation that fostered a sense of pride in his accomplishments. He told me one evening weeks before he died not to tease him because my name could be found at the top of his lists on occasion. I smiled and laughed as I kissed him on the cheek, I hadn't forgotten. The first time I had ever gone to his apartment, there was a list on the kitchen table and at the top of that list there was an entry that said, “Apples for Shelly." In parenthesis next to the entry he had written, "Because she loves apple’s”.
Meet Girl - Check
Marry Girl - Check, Check
Make Sure Girl Stays On My List to Take Care Of - Check, Check, Check
Encourage Her to Live By a List - Check, Check, Check, and Check!!!!
You get the picture????
His primary goal in life was to keep things simple and manageable. Life for him as a child was chaotic and sometimes unmanageable, so as he grew older, he worked hard to create a life that was neat and orderly; a life that was solid, reliable and unshakable.
Since his death, I have received numerous emails from friends he gamed with all over the world attesting to the fact that his confident, minimalist, list-making nature was not only something I experienced here at home, but it was the foundation of the character he created in the game LOTRO. He was particularly fond of playing LOTRO (Lord of the Rings) with four individuals he considered to be among his closest gaming friends. “Downwind” whose character was a hunter, shared with me in an email that “David, known to them as Kronn, had no time for fripperies, so if the items he was acquiring or purchasing were not going to enhance his
character’s abilities in some way and benefit the group, then he just wasn’t interested in acquiring it.” She said that Kronn, was a champion sword and board man. His character was dependable, reliable, strong and steady at all times! A character that the other players relied upon to talk them through battles, and see them through to safety.
Apparently David researched his characters attributes thoroughly before creating him. He patented Kronn so that the character would be solid and helpful in group situations. Down once told me that David loved to play with close friends but “did NOT enjoy pugs (pick up groups made up of strangers)” She said that he considered most PUGS “Ass Hats” a term he often used with me to describe someone who was out for themselves and only interested in personal gain.
Brew’s character was called BrewsterBiggins, he was a Guardian that David ran with for several years through the game. Brew wrote to me a couple years after David died sharing the devastation he felt when David told him he was dying of Stage 4, Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer and that he wouldn’t live long.
I remember how shocked I was, I was angry at the disease! He didn’t know it, but I spent two days looking for information and treatment centers that worked with cancer. We talked about it some, but I could tell in his voice that it wasn't good and it was a matter of time. At that point the game slowed down for me because he wasn';t on as much. It was taking him down fast so he didn't have the time to talk as much. That day arrived and you gave us the news, Shelly. It still hurt even though I knew it was going to happen. I took a couple months off of playing to do
other things in the real world and “Down” drifted away and quit playing, but I came back and Red still plays with me. Believe it or not we still have all of Kronn’s toons in our kinship as a reminder of him! I miss the guy terrible as I know you do too.
Red was another Aussie named Redmohawk who mostly played a hunter or healer. All three said that David’s character made ENDLESS lists of things that needed to get done, and that when acquiring tools for raids, David only purchased items that would help him perform his best in the game. All three categorically told me that they knew him as a minimalist, someone that believed excess and extravagance only brought chaos and distraction to the game. If the item wasn’t
going to enhance his character’s abilities in some way, then he just wasn’t interested! Down said that he would shake his head over her obsession with cosmetic armor…”He just couldn’t understand my desire to have it!” She went on to tell me in one of our later conversations that. each character in the game purchased a house and that there were three sizes of housing available. David bought the smallest house possible which was in line with his minimalist nature. David’s, or rather Kronn’s house was closest to the entry of the homestead for ease of accessibility. The only decoration in his house was a storage chest because IT HAD A FUNCTION! “Ha, ha…Function over Form that was Kronn.”
Engineers are all about ""! He would frequently remind me that “FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION” not the other way around. For him, everything had a function, so when it came to my love of decorating with attractive throw pillows, it just didn’t compute in his mind. Throw pillows had no function in his world, “They only got in the way of the functionality of the couch,” he would say. Oh, he never told me I couldn’t decorate with throw pillows, but in all our twelve years together he never missed an opportunity to mumble something under his breath about having to move the pillows when he wanted to sit on the couch. For me, the pillows made things homey and welcoming, for him they were just one more thing in his way when he wanted
to perform a function like sitting down.
I love pillows as most women do! I like to accent each room with pretty pillows that make the house look warm and inviting. For David, the pillows were just obstacles that prevented our visitors from sitting down. He would always chuckle and say to our guests - “You need to excuse her “form”, she doesn’t embrace the idea of function.” I would tell him I'm the mortician and a certified grief counselor, in my world “function collides with form”, it doesn’t follow it!
We would often joke about how different we both were. He was Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones, I was Engelbert Humperdinck and Bobby Goldsboro. He was Dial Soap, smelling fresh and feeling clean, I was all about Dove Beauty Bars and feeling soft and gentle both in body and in mind. He was the consummate engineer dripping with quadrangle equations and mathematical calculations, and I was the ballerina pirouetting in her pink tutu off stage just in time to curtsy into the mortuary sciences where I would make a living caring for those who were in need of emotional respite and a safe place to fall. I was all about feelings and listening to the beauty in the midst of pain, and he was the supreme engineer who was all about saving the earth from all the wasteful, frivolity that consumes people he knew as “Ass Hats”.
Throughout his life David relied on concrete reality and certainties. He was all about getting from point A to point B. He was linear in his thoughts and in his thought processes so he didn’t have time for frivolity or nonsense. His job as a professional engineer depended on his ability to think clearly and to trouble shoot. For him, feelings had no place in his line of work, emotions and foolishness was a workplace hazard, in the Blue Collar Worker world of the Iron and Steel Industry of Cleveland, Ohio men and women died if they practiced anything other than certainty
when working with enormous vats of red-hot pig iron, steel and monstrous coke ovens. We came from different worlds and had two different ways of doing things but in the end, we wanted the same things out of life. We wanted to be loved and adored, and we wanted to be respected and appreciated for what each of us brought to our relationship.
One of the first things David did when he was diagnosed was make a list of the things he needed to do to make life easier for me when he was gone. As I have already established, he was all about his lists! Never would you find David without finding "HIS LIST". For months after his death I found lists and notes all over the house reminding me to change the bate traps in the garage and on the back porch. There were lists in the desk drawer reminding me to replace the batteries in the smoke detectors in the spring when I changed the clocks forward. I found lists in the office that reminded me what precinct to vote in when it was time to vote, and there was a four page document written on graph paper that outlined the specific questions to ask the investment broker when I needed to appoint a new beneficiary.
You get the picture, lists helped him keep things organized, and throughout his illness he never wavered from his true self when it came to his lists. As sick as he was he would ask me to bring him his list off the kitchen counter when he was too weak to walk. Many times near the end of his life he would fall asleep with a pencil in one hand and his list in the other.
As he grew weaker, his list grew shorter. This terrified me and created tremendous anxiety in me. I can still remember the fear that washed over me when I realized there would be no more lists. I know it’s crazy, but for me, the end of the lists meant the end of our life together. It was a sure sign that life as we knew it was coming to a very sad end. It was a sign that our twelve year love story that was filled with hope and certainty, love and stability, protection, laughter and functionality would close the book and punctuate THE END on its final pages.
He was the sweetest man alive! He was strong and courageous, he was a protector of all things, both human and animal. He was my strongest supporter and my most cherished funeral groupie. He was kind, and he was fierce in his love for me. In his care I felt safe and secure. In his arms, I was protected and loved. He adored me, and he adored my children and our grandchildren; I know without a doubt that he loved all of us beyond words.
As I look at the stack of lists I keep in a memory box in my closet, I always close by going back to the one that had “Shelly” written at the top of the page. It’s an unwavering reminder that I was indeed his biggest priority, I was always at the top of his list!