Sunday, September 25, 2011

25 September 2011

Hi there!

Yesterday morning, Peggy and I went to Dorn's for breakfast, and the food was delicious, and the service was topnotch. The waitresses at Dorn's are efficient, friendly, and GORGEOUS, in their black pants and white shirts. I always want to compliment their teeth.

The very last time Tank went to a restaurant, it was Dorn's.

After breakfast, we went to the embarcadero (just one store) so Peggy could buy a few last-minute items, mostly gifts, including a beautiful bracelet for ME! Such a sweetheart! We drove to Terry's house, but she still wasn't there, so we took some pictures in the front yard. Then, we drove to downtown Morro Bay and walked up and down a few streets, checking out some of the shops that I'd only seen from a moving car. We went to a vintage/antique/consignment shop, and I found something to buy! It was regularly $9, on sale for $5, and it's a small end table (I think), or maybe a plant stand. Stained wood, with two little shelves for books or a layabout. Some delamination on top, but I can ignore it or repair it. I'm so glad I found it!

Right away, Peggy found something VERY cute also. It's a bright-red felt hat in a Queen-Mum style that I'm CERTAIN she can sex-up adequately. It, too, was quite a bargain. We looked around a lot, but didn't find anything else (as I recall). You know that butterfly-themed tray-and-coaster set that Nola received as a wedding gift? We found one just like it!

Peggy bought some very cool stuff at another bead store, and then we went to a few more vintage/antique stores, but didn't buy anything. We drove to the avocado orchard, where we bought Haas avocados, because that's the only type they had, which surprised us. to buy California avocados in California.

At 1:04 p.m., we hit the road. (In case I haven't mentioned it, Peggy was wearing a belted black-and-white polka-dot shirt dress and black ballet flats. She looked like a young Lucille Ball.) We talked and drove, stopping for gas in Boron, but I think that was the only stop. Oh! Before we left town, we had one last Morro Bay meal at Bayside restaurant. We shared fish and chips, and each had diet Cokes and side salads. Tasty. They recognized us from the day before.

The day started off overcast, but by lunch time it was almost clear. We enjoyed the view of the bay and the marsh from Bayside.

Peggy and I shared the driving, and she pulled into Las Vegas at 8 p.m. (after we picked up dinner at In-N-Out, which is very near the motel). That I-15 Motel 6 is kind of scary, and we didn't leave much in the car overnight (I took Tank's mattress-cover shirt in with me) (we risked leaving the unripened avocados in the car). Peggy is a good sleeper, and I am not, so I lay there most of the night, wishing we had more than six TV channels from which to choose.

Peggy was up at 5:00, grooming, and I got up at 5:55, and we left at 6:00. Once again, we were very efficient, and stopped once for a McDonald's drive-up window in Mesquite and once for gas in Nephi, and the trip took a mere six hours (one saves time by not stopping at Cove Fort for a tour). We reached that point in our trip when we'd run out of conversational topics and were feeling mildly annoyed with each other, so we didn't talk nonstop, or about anything important. It's that inevitable rundown to the trip's end, and the resumption of normal life. I like normal life, and so does Peggy, and I think we were both eager to resume. In Sandy, Peggy drove off in her Jeep, I embraced hearth and home for ten minutes, and Dan and I went to La Puente for lunch.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

24 September 2011, a few minutes later

Oh! I forgot to mention that last night, after dinner, Peggy and I went for a walk on the beach. It was near sunset, and the beach was empty, and I think the tide was high. We parked near Tank's house, and walked past the benches, and down the steps, and then we walked south. It was wonderful. We talked and laughed. I walked in sandals, and Peggy walked in bare feet. It felt so good to be there. We talked about our other trips to Morro Bay, together and separately. This is our 5th time together, I think. She has four other visits, and I have six other visits, as I recall. Once, days before Tank died, we were here at the same time, although we hadn't traveled together. That together-time lasted a mere 18 hours or so, but I don't think either of us will ever forget it.

It was very overcast last night, so we couldn't see the sunset, but it was still a pleasure. When I was ready to turn around, I encouraged Peggy to go farther, but she returned to the car with me. We sat on the benches for a while, watching the ocean.

24 September 2011

Hi there! We were in the motel lobby anyway, so I paid the three bucks, so I can continue to communicate compulsively. I just showered, and Peggy is walking on the beach. She looked darling when she left here, in black bike shorts, a grey hoodie, tennis shoes, and an iPod. Or maybe it was her phone. Talk about communicating compulsively...

The day is overcast, and beautiful, and we can hear bird sounds from in here.

Last night, we drove to Terry's, but she wasn't home. We went in, and not much had changed. It was immaculate...not even a water-glass on the sink. I bet she's out of town. I mention that without fear for her safety, or the safety of her possessions, because her house is surrounded by neighbors who are clearly keeping on eye on things. While we were there, the Vietnam vet who lives next door made a point of being in the front yard, and looking our way, and waving, and maybe jotting down my license-plate number.

It was fun being in the house, especially alone (I mean...with Peggy). Terry has had Tank's study repainted white, and it looks good. It was brown paneling, and now it's white paneling, and it looks cheerful and clean and much larger. Tank's desk is gone, replaced by another desk, which is big and attractive and looks slightly used. Sturdy wooden thing. She also repositioned the desk so it is now against the utility-room wall, which looks good. It has HER stuff on it, but it certainly didn't feel unfriendly or anything (not to me, anyway). That little card-playing table is still there under the window. I thought she'd add more blinds or curtains to the house, for privacy, but she has not. She replaced the two TV-watching chairs with matching nubby brown easy-chairs...slightly smaller chairs than would have been desirable with Tank living there. But attractive. Also, you know how he had the huge TV on a huge desk? She replaced that desk with a table. Also, you know that bookcase that was right there at the entrance to Tank's study? It's now where his desk used to be...between her desk and his chair. I'm including this info for Sally, 'cause no one else is likely to care. :) It looks good. Easier to maneuver in there. They would have been good changes to make while he was ill. The art on the walls is the same, in that room. It's more sparse, and more like Terry, but not radically changed.

Peggy just came home, and said that she left some of Tank's ashes at the beach! Cool! What a good girl. :)

Oh...while we were at the house, I grabbed the off-white shirt that Nola made for Tank (out of CW mattress covers, I think) that Terry found after Tank died. Terry told me about it, and said that it was hanging in his closet, waiting for us to pick it up. :) Thoughtful of her. :) It was the only thing hanging there. It's good to have it.

There are minor changes in the rest of the house, too. That picture of Tank's (flowers on the metal chair) is now at Sally's house, and Terry replaced it with a picture of an Asian man stooping down something. It's white and light blue and fairly large, and it looks good in that position. If you know the house well, you notice it right away, and you aren't surprised that Terry chose THAT picture. The rest of the furniture is the same. There are lots of snapshots of Tank in the bedrooms, and his bedroom seems unchanged, including some medical stuff in the closet. I was taken aback, really, by how unchanged it all was. The snapshots on her little desk in the living room (Chuck R., the Lay grandkids) are identical. The kitchen seems less cluttered, but not different really, except for a cute wooden layabout on top of the fridge that I really liked. I opened a cupboard, and it seemed like she'd done some neatening. That sounds intrusive, but it didn't feel so at the time. I don't know her plans for the future, but NOTHING indicates that this is the house of someone who is planning to move soon.

Then Peggy and I drove to Dockside for dinner. There was a lot of harbor action as the boats came in, and we were sitting by the window, and it was a lot of fun. There was an 8- or 9-year-old boy helping his dad after a day of fishing, and they both seemed to be having a good time, and they reminded me of dads and sons I've known over the years. Peggy and I shared a platter of grilled seafood, which was delicious, and served with au gratin potatoes. It's a pleasure sharing meals with her, 'cause we don't get overfull. We shared a cup of shrimp bisque and a side salad, also. Tasty! As I recall, Peggy took a photo of the bisque. :)

We don't linger and talk over meals, since we're going to continue to be together AFTER the meal. Dan and I are like that, too.

We came home, and hung out in the room. The neighbors were both noisy AND intimate. Gross. We didn't watch TV, but just talked and laughed until Peggy fell asleep. Earlier, I walked barefoot and PJ'd to the candy machines and got Paydays for both of us, and cookies for first-breakfast.

I forgot to mention that Kelly called the other night, on Nola's birthday. That was a pleasure.

Also, I noticed just now that these posts indicate that Tank wrote them. I hope that isn't confusing to anyone.

We WERE going to hit the Farmers' Market this afternoon in MB, but it would put us on the road for several hours after dark, and I'm uncomfortable with that, so Peggy agreed to skip the market, and head out at about 1. This morning, we're going to Dorn's for breakfast (to share eggs Benedict with crab cakes), then a little shopping downtown, then the avocado stand where I plan to buy large quantities of unripened avocados, and then home. We'll stay in Vegas tonight, and be home midday tomorrow. I miss my family and my clowder. Or glaring. :)

Much love... Polly.

Friday, September 23, 2011

23 September 2011, later

Hi from Motel 6! We slept in again and then went to Carlock's Bakery again. So good! We walked in, and Peggy said, "It smells like Tank in here." :) It did! Like old-ish man, and coffee, and...something fried. And there WERE a lot of elderly men in there, true to the demographic in this area. I don't know where all of the elderly women are. Peggy had a cookie and a cinnamon roll, and I had a meat-and-cheese filled croissant. Again, we stayed at Carlock's to eat, instead of eating in the car. It was so reminiscent of Tank. I wonder how many times he went there. 100? 200?

We drove north to Ragged Point, which is SUCH a gorgeous drive. The day was beautiful, too: a little cloudy and about 65 degrees. We stopped to view the elephant seals, which is always a blast. There were about a hundred of them visible, and no babies. I suppose it's not the time of year for babies. They made a lot of seal noises, and did wacky seal things. Most were sleeping, but I noticed one seal using a front paw/fin thingy to cover another (sleeping) seal with sand. I wonder why. The sleeping seal didn't seem to mind. Some of the seals on the beach were either playing or fighting or mating. It was exciting, and such a treat to get close to something so natural. In the water, others were diving and playing and barking.

I was fairly comfy in my sturdy sandals (men's size 8.5), and Peggy seemed just as comfy in her strappy black espadrilles with a 4-inch wedge heel. There were about 40 people seal-watching, and only ONE of them (Pegbo) was wearing anything other than flats. A few people (most people) cast a glance her way. I don't think she noticed.

("I think I make really good shopping choices when I'm with you," Peggy just said, from the bed. "It's true!" she reiterated, when I laughed.)

The seal-watching reminded me so much of Tank. He would have LOVED that we stopped, even though we've both been there several times. The sounds and smells, the group of cheerful tourists, the giant and oblivious seals, the two daughters, so much alike and so all would have pleased Tank.

We drove north for another half hour until we arrived at Ragged Point. Since we wanted jewelry, we immediately walked toward Brother John's kiosk, but it was closed, which surprised us both. We went to the mini-mart next door and inquired about when Brother John would be back, and we were given the surprising and unsettling news that Brother John had died on August 19. I was shocked. I thought he was my age (he was 71). He seemed so healthy and fit a year and a half ago. I was very sad.

We walked to the gift shop, and asked if they had any of Brother John's jewelry. The nice middle-aged hippie girl that worked there told me that they did not. She said that he died of cancer, and had been quite sick and unproductive for about a year. She said that he knew he was sick, and didn't seek medical care, and when he finally did, they treated him with chemo, and he died that night (after his first and only chemo treatment), peacefully in his sleep. We talked briefly of death, and she mentioned the Mayan calendar, and Peggy bought a beautiful scarf (or a beautiful table runner...I couldn't tell), and we left the gift shop. I was still sad.

Peggy and I shared a BBQ sandwich and the best onion rings I've ever had. Like a good Utah girl, I mixed mayo and ketchup, because other states refuse to climb on the fry-sauce wagon. It was a delicious meal, there on the patio. We chatted about the handful of times we'd been there with Tank, and how happy he'd always been, and how cheerful, and how generous. If I'd said to him, "Wow...those fries look good," he would have plunked a handful of his fries onto my plate, without a word said. For someone who loved food, he didn't become emotionally attached to food, and would hand it over without considering how doing so might affect his share.

After we ate, we walked toward the ocean, where, as I recall, "The Sandpiper" was filmed. I haven't seen it. I should watch it, and pretend that Elizabeth is Nola, and Richard is Tank. That would be fun. We walked to the farthest viewing area, and hung out there for a while. Gorgeous beyond words.

We climbed back into the car--happy--and drove south. I mean, as happy as we could be, given that Tank is gone and that Brother John is gone. We held them in our hearts. Well, I just assume that Peggy was holding them in her heart, also.

It was only about noon (it's as if time moves more slowly here), so we drove back to Morro Bay and hit Coalesce bookstore, another of Tank's hang-outs. We didn't buy anything, but it was fun to be there, and we checked out the plant-filled backyard, which houses a wedding chapel, and is a little slice of Central Coast heaven, and Peggy expressed chagrin that she hadn't chosen this as a marriage location. It's all private and lush, with water features and succulents and a good vibe. We walked a few stores down the block, and Peggy shopped for jewelry-makings while I people-watched on a bench outside. Between the bead store and the bookstore is a coffee shop, and I think it's quite likely that Tank went there for a cup after picking up his Parker books at Coalesce. It was easy for me to imagine that, and his gait, and his booming-but-polite voice, and his pleasure.

We were driving back to the motel, but I missed the exit, and we took a scenic drive and ended up at Morro Bay State Park, which is shady and pungent with eucalyptus trees. We pulled into the parking lot and took a walk around the grounds. Neither of us had ever been there before, which surprised us, 'cause it seems like the kind of place Terry would recommend. Very cool! There was a gnarled old tree that looked like Tank, if Tank were a tree, so Peggy climbed into the intricate root structure, so it seemed like Tank-the-tree was hugging Peggy, and I took some pictures. She posted them online, and Kent immediately responded with a funny comment about Peggy's "hiking" shoes. We went to the gift shop, where a cute woman who looked like Jane Lynch chatted us up and rang up our purchases. I bought a small gift for Elvis, and it was the first item I've purchased other than food. Peggy bought more gifts for her grandchildren.

Near the State Park is Bayside restaurant, and we went there for dessert (my idea). Peggy spotted a tasty-looking appetizer, so we shared a delicious skewered tuna steak with teriyaki sauce, in addition to sharing a slice of coconut cream pie. We hadn't PLANNED a meal, but it WAS a meal, but we have no intention of skipping dinner, fyi.

On the way to the motel, we stopped at Bottle Liquor, 'cause Tank loved Bottle Liquor. It's a friendly place, and it's easy to understand what Tank loved about it. I bought wine for Dan, and a scratcher. The scratcher is still in the car, but I'll let you know if I win big.

We finally made it back to the motel, and called Terry to let her know we were in town. Strange, though...the phone rang once, and then stopped. It happened a few times, from both my cell phone and Peggy's. I don't know what that means. The car is there, but hasn't been moved in the several times we've spotted it from Highway 1. The house was completely dark one night when we drove by. Maybe she's out of town. We're about to leave here, and just knock at her door, and see if she's home. If not, we'll find the hidden key, if it's still there, and take a look around. You check on her. :) And to grab anything that we think we deserve.

"Wow...I just got to a new level on Angry Birds," Peggy just said, with awe in her voice, from where she's sprawled on the bed in her f***-me shoes. Now, she just added: "I'm thinking about going to get some beef jerky. In the car." :) Then she yawned, and didn't get up. Fyi, the Angry Birds are now fighting (or whatever they do) at night. Now, Peggy's at the motel door, trying to get it open, to go fetch the jerky. She struggled with the door briefly, but finally managed to get through, and here she is, back. "Look!" she said, holding a bag of Brach's Pick-a-Mix from Spensers. "I forgot all about this!" she said. Then, seconds later, again, "I forgot all about this!" :)

So, I'm going to sneak up behind Peggy and wrest the bag of candy from her grimy hands, and then we'll go to Terry's. I'll be in touch later. We have wi-fi for another few hours, but god knows I can't afford another $3 for the next 24 hours. Our love to all...

23 September 2011

Hi there! I hope everyone had fun yesterday on Nola's birthday. And Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Peggy and I are in Morro Bay for a few days. We drove straight through on Wednesday, which was 13.75 hours of fun. Stopped briefly in Scipio, Cedar City, Primm, and Boron, and arrived in the Motel 6 as the sun was setting. After we checked in, we drove to the Whale's Tail, but it is closed, permanently, and the property is for sale. Tragic. So we went to the Hungry Fisherman for fish and chips. It was delicious and relaxing.

We chatted nonstop on the long drive. We experienced a minor problem with the AC in the Fit, which was bothersome. It was 95+ across the desert, and the AC fan seemed inadequate (it seems fine now). For several hours, we were damp, and I complained frequently. We rolled the windows down as we approached the coast, and it was glorious.

After we left Barstow, I handed Peggy a map and asked how far we were from Bakersfield, and she (master cartographer) examined the map closely and said, "About two inches." :) And giggled.

After dinner, we drove past Terry's house, and her car was out front, but the house was completely dark. The exterior looks adorable, as it always has.

Yesterday, we slept in, and then drove down to the Embarcadero. We checked out several stores, and then had lunch at Dockside Too, which is a favorite. There were a LOT of animals to watch, including some HUGE seals that swam by about 20 feet from us. They looked to be about 7 feet long from nose to tail, maybe 300 or 400 pounds. There were 2 or 3 of them, and they seemed to be playing together. There were also giant pelicans swooping across the water's surface. The live music was provided by Liam, who wasn't as good as the musician in February, when we were here last. It was mostly light jazz, but toward the end he played (and sang) the Beatles' "I Will," which I adore. "Love you forever and forever, love you with all my heart. Love you whenever we're together, love you when we're apart." :) That was fitting.

We shared Tank's favorite (chicken taquitos), and I had two tacos (shrimp and salmon), and Peggy had one taco (shrimp). So tasty! So relaxing! Dogs and middle-aged men everywhere.

We did more Embarcadero shopping, and Peggy bought lovely scarves and jewelry. We bought some vegan jerky for Kaycee. :)

We drove to Spencer's, but the Farmers' Market was just setting up, so we drove to Los Osos and Carlocks. Peggy had two cookies, and I had a haystack. Wow. I bet Tank loved date-filled haystacks. We sat down with diet Cokes and our treats, and took our time. Carlocks was uncrowded at that hour. We imagined all the times Tank had been there. We felt grateful that we had such a long list of places that Tank loved, that we could visit.

We drove back across the marshy Los Osos (so beautiful) and went to Spensers for tomatilla salsa, wine, and beef jerky. We hit the Farmers' Market (in the parking lot), which has grown since I was there last (nearly a year ago). We bought strawberries, blackberries, and coconut bread (my good). Oh, and fresh-squeezed OJ. And apple sauce. We received free samples of cherry tomatoes and apple-pecan bread. Everyone was friendly. The selection of produce was nothing I have ever seen before. It was so easy to imagine Tank shopping here, and taking it all home for dinner. It seemed like there were dozens of types of lettuce, and dozens of types of squash.

Peggy and I seem to move very efficiently from activity to activity, so it was still early afternoon, and I agreed to go shopping in San Luis Obispo for one hour (the bidding started at 1.5 hours). It's such a gorgeous place to shop, and she bought a merlot felt hat with a floppy brim (like Ali McGraw in Love Story), some A&F cologne, gifts for the grandkids, outrageous note cards, and jewelry fixings. I shopped with her sometimes, and sat on a park bench sometimes, and enjoyed every minute. It's a clean, friendly town with lots of cute college girls who travel in packs, and cute middle-aged men who travel alone. I observed both.

We stopped briefly at the motel, and then went to Cayucos and the Sea Shanty. We shared a burger and onion rings, and each had a side salad. So good!

Back at the motel, Peggy fell asleep instantly, while I watched Big Bang and then tossed and turned until about 3 a.m. Sleeping is HARD.

Today, we're heading for Carlocks again ('cause Tank would want us to), and then to Ragged Point (near Big Sur) for $20 sandwiches. We're also going to purchase jewelry from ex-monk Brother John. You help us remember the trip. After that, we'll touch base with Terry, and invite her to dinner.

Well, Peggy is actually all ready to start the day, and here I sit with wet hair, so I'll log off. You take care! Love, Polly.

Friday, July 8, 2011

8 July 2011

The night before last, I had a dream about Tank. He was very ill, and living in a lovely, rambling, white clapboard hotel surrounded by a porch, situated on a grassy hillside. It appeared to be a 1920s sanitarium where one might recover from tuberculosis. Tank wanted to get out of there, so several family members picked him up in an over-sized pickup truck that belonged to Kelly. I was there, of course, along with my siblings, and Sadie, and Kaycee with 1-year-old Charlie on her lap. Tank made eight, and we all fit comfortably in the extended cab of the white truck.

Sally was driving, because she told Kelly that being a passenger hurt her back, but driving did not. Kelly was sitting in the backseat, his arms folded across his cheat, clearly unhappy with the arrangement.

Just as we were about to leave (we were headed for Purple Turtle to get tacos), I suggested that it would be handy to have a couple pairs of paper skivvies with us. So Sadie (all knees and elbows...looking about 13 years old) hopped out of the truck and ran back to the sanitarium, quickly returning with two diapers, identical to the ones I recently used on young KJ. No one saw a problem with that, so Sadie climbed back into the truck, and we headed out, Sally carefully maneuvering the large vehicle down the grassy hillside.

There was a bit of a party atmosphere in the truck. We all seemed to know that this would be Tank's last ride...that he wouldn't survive long. (He was walking, though, and wearing a polo shirt and slacks; the shirt wasn't tucked in, and he was barefoot.) Charlie was wearing an orange T-shirt, and happily perched on Kaycee's lap, gnawing on a chunk of bread. We kept grinning at each other, knowing that this final outing was bringing Tank a lot of pleasure, and knowing that he--not others--was choosing where he would die.

The dream ended there, and blissfully. I felt confident that we'd make it to Purple Turtle...that the end would come after lunch.

I miss a lot of things about Tank. Just the other day, Dan mentioned how much he missed Tank's loud, enthusiastic, predictive phone messages: "(Laughter.) Dan! Polly! (More laughter.) Just called to say hello! You're probably out having lunch! Or walking the dogs! Having a wonderful time, I'm sure! I'll call again later! (More laughter.)" And we usually were out having lunch or walking the dogs (but sometimes we were snaking a toilet, or I was sobbing quietly, baffled by a particularly complex Excel spreadsheet). I also miss his frequent and sincere (but not needy) invitations to visit, the warm and solicitous way he asked about "our Clayton," and the way I could please him by discussing the latest Parker recalling a perceptive line or a meaningful exchange between two of our favorite characters.

I miss the validation I received from Tank. He validated generously and spontaneously, and--since I'm cursed with an external locus of identity (and no, the irony isn't lost on me)--I appreciated every validation, every reassurance, every recognition of every accomplishment, no matter how insignificant. I signed up for swimming lessons? Wonderful! I got an A-minus on my Biology final? Wonderful! I did seven push-ups, took E to the aquarium, stopped at a Kool-Aid stand in a bad neighborhood, made Enchilada Pie for dinner? Wonderful! With siblings and other peers, there's usually some sense of competition, no matter how minor or subtle or vehemently denied. Not so with parents. They're always rooting for you.

My favorite thing about blogging is that paragraph-to-paragraph transitions are optional.

Decades ago, Dan's sister-in-law delivered full-term stillborn twin boys. Family and friends were gripped by the tragedy, but eventually other topics of conversation were broached. Maybe out of emotional discomfort, maybe out of a misplaced sense of kindness, people stopped talking to her about what had happened...about the boys. She wasn't ready to move on, though, and she told me that she wanted to hang a sign around her neck: "Please ask me about my dead sons." To this day, I appreciate her gritty honesty. Sometimes, I think about that, and Tank. "Talk to me about Tank!" I want to insist. "Tell me that you miss him. Tell me how much he meant to you. Tell me that you can remember...when he was alive."

Tank never said that he was a Leonard Cohen fan. I'm certain, though, that any lack of fanaticism is related to a lack of exposure. If he'd heard the live version of "The Gypsy's Wife," with its eerie violin solo, with its heartbroken refrain ("where...where is my gypsy wife tonight?"), he would have declared himself a fan. Perhaps I've mentioned it before, but--at the end of Tank's life--I often thought of my favorite lines from that song, and hummed them occasionally when I was alone with him.

It's too early for the rainbow,
too early for the dove.
These are your final days,
this is the darkness, this is the flood.

I think he would have forgiven the biblical origins. I sometimes wonder how aware he was at the end. Scary as hell, I'm sure, but fascinating, too, to have a sense of what's going on. Tank had a curious nature. I can imagine his last thought being, "This is new...this is interesting..."

Please forgive me for complaining in my last blog entry, regarding the Laugh Lots sign. Right behind me, on my study wall, hangs a three-feet by three-feet sign that reads, "Pay Attention" in Tank's handwriting. It actually says:


The L's only look like L's if one has seen Tank's L's. Dan read the sign as "Pay Attentio alpha-alpha-to-the-Nth." :) Which is probably only funny to me.

Ya'll take care.

Monday, June 27, 2011

27 June 2011

It's been five months.

Here's a list of Tank's stuff. Of course, he shared furniture and appliances and dishes and pans, so they were left behind. And I'm convinced that if--a year ago--he'd moved to another house in Morro Bay, he would have ditched half of this stuff. If he'd moved farther--to Port Townsend, to Sandy--he would have ditched 90 percent of it.

86 books

Detective fiction: 17
Other fiction: 5 (including a gorgeous hardcover Joseph Conrad)
Word origins, quotes, writing, speaking: 12
Anti-religion: 6
LA waterfront: 11
Movies and showbiz: 7
Philosophy, history, science: 23
Controlling diabetes: 4
Jokes: 1 ("Beyond the Far Side")

There were two duplicates: "The Best of Sydney J. Harris" and Eric Hoffer's "Working and Thinking on the Waterfront."

62 items of clothing

T-shirts: 4
Woven-cotton shirts: 6 short sleeved, 1 long sleeved
Polo shirts: 4
Cotton-knit lounge pants: 5
Sweat pants: 4
Jeans: 1
Khaki shorts: 2
Khaki slacks: 4
Socks: 4 pair
Shoes: 4 pair (3 white tennis shoes, 1 gray tennis shoes)
Skivvies: 7 pair
Gloves: 2 pair
Belts: 2
Hats: 4 (2 baseball caps, 1 canvas bucket hat, 1 narrow-brimmed straw hat)
Bathing suits: 2
Scarf: 1 (bright red wool, fringed...probably packed inadvertently)
Fleece jacket: 1
Windbreakers: 3
Sweater: 1

Wall hangings

Poster (Lakers, a couple decades ago)
Poster (aerial view, Port of Los Angeles)
Posters (3, Tank's writing)
Wooden sign ("Live well, laugh often, love much")
Pencil drawing (small, matted, 1910)
Pencil drawing (framed, San Pedro)
Modern art (by Tank, on glass)
Modern art (by Tank, bark glued on styrofoam)
Sign ("Pay Attention, LL" by Tank, 3 feet by 3 feet)
Sign (Tow Away Zone on one side, an invitation to a party at Tank's on the other side)
Sign (Spencer's Market "proudly sponsors" Tank's radio show)
Painting (large, framed, yellow lawn chair and a bucket of red flowers)
Painting (framed, sailboat)
Blank canvas (1 foot by 2 feet)
Over-sized birthday card (from the Alexanders, 1 foot by 2 feet)


Lots of cassettes, VCR tapes (movies, Tank), CDs (music, Tank on the radio), DVDs (movies, Tank)

Miscellaneous items

"Laugh Lots!" written on a piece of fencepost with black Sharpie
Paper (large stack, assorted sizes and weights)
Life magazines (about a dozen)
Duffel bags (4: 3 canvas, 1 leather)
Blankets (2, both small)
Towel (large, brown, embroidered with the word TANK and several small military tanks)
Frisbee (yellow)
Crockpot (olive green, without a lid)
Eyeglasses (2, readers, brown plastic)
Baseball glove (well worn)
Rope (coiled, clothesline type)
Checkers game (plastic)
Chess game (plastic)
Picnic basket (wicker, small)
Utensil crock (blue)
Puzzle (in original package, "What Movie is That?")
Boom box (with a Gipsy Kings CD)
Large box of empty coffee cans with lids
Attache case (black with red-and-black-checked interior)
Paper cup filled with nuts and bolts
Tape (packaging, Priority Mail)
Tape (masking)
Tape (2, Scotch)
Tools (4, assorted)
Bird feathers (3, assorted)
Flashlight (in working order)
Ruler (NFL theme, plastic, 12 inch)
Wine corks in a gallon Ziplock bag
Metal bracelet ("Live well, laugh often, love much" on one side, "Live the life you have imagined" on the other side)
Tiles (about 4 inches by 4 inches; "Dance like there's nobody watching" on one, "Sing like there's nobody listening" on the other)
Bottle opener
Eggs (4, stone)
Eggs (2, plastic)
Dominoes game (very old, in box)
Box of white chalk
Box of crayons (only 6 left)
Shoelaces (45 inches, new in package)
Antenna ball ("76")
Electric razor
Bottle of Tums
Hospital bootie (1)
Ink-filled stamp with home address
Drawing pad (18 inches by 24 inches, spiral bound)

There were several items that had been gifts from one of Tank's kids, so those items were returned to the gift-giver. (One was a wall hanging that defined the word Dad, making reference to the guy who pushes you extra high on a swing, allowing you to see things that you might not have seen otherwise. Another was a pencil sketch--beautifully done by Anna C., who worked from a photo--of a young Tank working under the hood of a sports car.) There was also an American flag, which was sent directly to Peggy from the navy, and she kept it as her first-choice item. There was also a large sepia photo (with a rigid backing) of early San Pedro, which Tank told Peggy she could have.

To my mind, the most desirable possession of Tank's was the chunk of fencepost with "Laugh Lots!" written on it. I didn't get it, and it was no one's fault but my own. I was distracted...maybe by grief, maybe by the over-sized cookies Sally brought to the divvying-up event. Kelly got it, and it's displayed prominently in his house. "I love it," Susan gushed, when Sally and I visited recently. I thought about grabbing it, and running to the Fit, and driving until I crossed into Canada. But I took a deep breath and thought about the cool things I did score: a long-sleeved plaid cotton shirt that I can wear like a cocktail dress, a container of Tums that I keep in the glove box, the suitable-for-framing piece of tree bark, the three feathers to which Dan attached pens and keeps on his desk, and one of the Sydney Harris books, in which Tank wrote "Please return to: TANK." He included his address and offered a polite "thank you." The book smells of his seawater, like sunshine.

Peggy made me a beautiful bracelet for my birthday. It has a don't-blame-don't-complain theme. When I wear it, I spend slightly less time blaming and complaining.

I was chatting with a friend recently, and I said--of a mutual friend--"He's never been allowed to be himself." Once we're adults, though, "being oneself" doesn't require the permission or encouragement of others (although many of us get confused and think it does). Tank--especially the last dozen years or so--was very determined to be himself, and he derived great pleasure from doing so. He didn't always manage it, of course, and a case could probably be made that "being himself" wasn't always in his best long-term interest. Few achieve and maintain the level of clarity that allows one to express the self of today without harming (to some degree) the self of tomorrow.

But even so... I always got the impression that Tank was trying to get the most from a moment by making it uniquely his turning off the voice that told him what others expected, what tradition dictated, what was standard operational procedure, what was prudent. Tank understood that much of what we take to be mandatory is actually optional.

I know that my effusive praise of Tank sets him up for criticism. He would be the first to assert that his mistakes would fill the back of an F-150 to overflowing. And that--if lucky--one acquires wisdom with age, but one still makes mistakes at an alarming rate.

In addition to Tank's bulkier stuff, there was a huge box of story ideas, notes-to-self, and correspondence, which I divided among the four of us, shamelessly keeping the best for myself (sometimes, I made copies). Eventually, I'll blog about each and every scrap of paper. Like me, Tank was comfortable throwing away correspondence once it was read, so I was surprised when I found a Thoreau quote that I sent him, cut from a magazine and inserted in a letter. It reads: "There is no remedy for love but to love more."

I had a credit at, so I recently ordered five Simon and Garfunkel CDs, because I only had albums. I've been listening to them in the car, and today--it was inevitable--I suddenly heard the unmistakable first notes of "The Boxer," one of Tank's favorite songs. Besides its musical perfection, it's clear to me why Tank loved this song. After 9/11, when normal TV programming resumed, Paul Simon was the musical guest on "Saturday Night Live," and he sang "The Boxer." It's an ode to resilience. "In the clearing stands a boxer..." The song takes a while to end, with just enough lie-la-lie's to suit me. But this time, as I listened to the song end, I imagined Tank turning and walking away from me, with that football-injury gait, his arm up to wave a final time. As he waves, his face is already turned away from me, in a posture that would seem dismissive if it weren't so familiar and affectionate. Try thinking about that while you listen to "The Boxer." "I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains."

Friday, May 27, 2011

27 May 2011

Hi there! A few days ago, Sally and I sprinkled some of Tank's ashes on Nola's grave. About one-half cup, fyi. I sprinkled them at the headstone/grass boundary. So, if you visit, say howdy to Tank, too.

Yesterday, it was four months.

When my siblings and I visited Tank in November, when he had the brain biopsy, he was not always lucid (but he was always adorable). He sometimes became confused about time frames. Once, I was alone with him, and he said the following. (I wrote it down immediately, so I wouldn't forget. I'm copying it from my journal now.)

"I was with Nola the other day, and we were down by the docks. The dock was wooden, which is unusual nowadays. We were in a car. Your mom looked beautiful, in a dress, and a hat, but only one glove. Suddenly, I couldn't find her, and I looked around for her, but she was gone. Where could she have gone, I wondered. I opened the trunk of the car, and there she was. She got out, still with just the one glove on, and--suddenly--she jumped into the water! Right off the edge of the pier! But she can't swim! She never learned to swim! So I jumped in after her, and I tried to save her, but I couldn't. I just couldn't get to her, to save her. I couldn't reach her. Finally, I climbed out of the water, and I drove home without her. I wandered around the apartment--remember that little apartment where we lived in San Pedro?--but she wasn't there. I couldn't find her. She was gone."

On a happier note... A couple of months ago, my great-nephew E spent the night, and I suggested he fetch a stack of books from my study for bedtime reading. Among others, he brought the Dr. Seuss classic "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" Tank sent it when my son was born, almost 27 years ago. Inside, Tank wrote, "...To have a Mom like Polly. Her Dad." There's also a small drawing of a tank, of course. I said to E, "Did you choose this book because you knew it would make me happy?" "No!" he said, with a sweet smile. "I just chose it at random!" I smiled, too, 'cause I'd never heard him use that figure of speech before. I read it, and the others, and he wasn't sleeping yet, so I suggested he fetch more. "Why don't you read this one again," he said, picking up the Dr. Seuss book. "Okay," I said. He cuddled up next to me and said, "This time I chose it because I knew it would make you happy." Without question, some people are muchly much-much more unlucky than me.

When Tank visited my family in Dallas in about 2000, he was feeling pretty good. He and his wife had been living separately, but were meeting up in Dallas and traveling back to California together. He'd lost some weight, and had a lot of energy, and you know how it is: When you love yourself, loving others (madly, passionately, comprehensively, incandescently) is the easiest thing in the world. We were hanging out at home, and Tank suggested that he cook a meal for us. My husband poured wine for himself and for Tank, and that little gesture seemed to set the stage for the meal prep. The rest of us perched on bar stools while Tank whipped up something delightful with eggs, feta cheese, and barely cooked spinach. His gestures were broad, his laugh filled the large room, and he seemed completely relaxed and confident in that kitchen, pausing occasionally for a sip of red wine, and to hold us in his affectionate and openhearted gaze.

I've been talking with my sisters about the differences between Tank's death and Nola's death. For me, Nola's death felt like standing in the ocean, water to my waist, facing the shoreline, and being knocked over by a huge and unexpected wave. Suddenly, I'm in deep water, completely disoriented, my lungs filling. Then, darkness. When I regain consciousness, I'm lying in wet sand, and seaweed is tangled in my hair. I stumble to my feet, and eventually resume my young-adult life.

Tank's death also felt like standing in the ocean with water to my waist, but with my back to the shoreline. I see the huge wave as it approaches. Again and again, it seems to advance and retreat. Then, suddenly, it hits, knocking the wind out of me. I topple, tasting the briny water. Eventually, the sea calms, but I remain there in the surf, unable or unwilling to leave. I can look away from the ocean and see the white sand, the ice plant, the paved road...but I sit cross-legged in the warm water, awaiting his return.

With apologies to Joan, I'm glad that Robert Parker died before Tank did. I couldn't stand a conversation with one of my siblings that included the words, "Tank would have loved this book. He would have sent copies to all of us. A decade from now, he'd still be snatching up copies at used bookstores." It reminds me of the last line in "Catcher in the Rye" about "missing everybody." We told Tank things, and he told us things, and the agony of "missing" is fueled by every conversation we had, every laugh we shared, every letter we exchanged. "Tank would love this," I often think, and sometimes say aloud. (I also know that Sally would love a necklace made of peace signs and butterflies and daisies all strung together in a cheerful fashion, and that Kelly has the latest Jason Isbell CD and would share a lyric or two if I called him right now, and that Peggy is shopping for shoes as I type--maybe something a little Kardashian'd, but not too Kardashian'd.) Love and pain are as solidly linked as rice and beans, as jeans and T-shirts, as Laugh and Lots.

A couple of months ago, we divided Tank's stuff. I was fascinated by what he kept and what he didn't keep. I'll post a list later. Take care! Polly.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


It probably goes without saying that this blog entry will have more to do with me than with Tank.

I'm at home, typing in my small study that is now crammed with Tank's stuff. There are boxes and bags on every surface. I'll go pick up a few things at random, and describe them. You know...for fun.

The first item is 1 of about 20 empty coffee cans with lids (SLO Roasted Coffee, decaf, "pungent flavored," 12 ounces). Before he died, Tank suggested I take them home so the little boys could stack them and then knock them over with a ball or beanbag. The cans are all exactly the same, and fit neatly in a cardboard box. The second item is a hard-cover book called "Origin of Sea Terms." I'll pick a term: "Isogonic lines" are lines (on a chart) of equal magnetic variation. I'll find one that's a bit more...conversational. "Shanghai" means enforced "volunteering" to raise a crew. As in, "I wonder how many times I can Shanghai Dan into taking me to La Puente for lunch because I need consoling." The third item is a fistful of neatly rolled rope (like clothesline) that I found in the trunk of his car. I wonder what emergency he anticipated, and what role the rope would play. Also, as I type, I'm wearing another of his hats. It's a well-worn off-white bucket hat with navy-blue trim and the the embroidered words "Morro Bay." I look like a chubby Gilligan.

Peggy and I returned home last night from a three-day trip to Morro Bay. We left Salt Lake early Sunday morning and drove straight through. Time passed quickly and pleasantly. We laughed lots, and then we laughed some more. This is the Honda Fit's fifth trip in less than three months, and it continues to perform flawlessly (and get 35 mph). We talked nonstop, except once when I played "The Wonder of You" sung by Elvis Presley, because it reminds me of Tank. I'll share the lyrics:

When no one else can understand me
When everything I do is wrong
You give me hope and consolation
You give me strength to carry on...

And you're always there to lend a hand
In everything I do
That's the wonder...
The wonder of you.

And when you smile the world is brighter
You touch my hand and I'm a king
Your kiss to me is worth a fortune
Your love for me is everything...

I'll guess I'll never know the reason why
You love me like you do
That's the wonder...
The wonder of you.

After checking into Motel 6, we went to the Whale's Tail for dinner (fish and chips). After a long day on the road, Peggy still looked cute. We crashed at the motel and got an early start the next day.

I didn't ask Peggy if she chose her outfit that morning with the intention of honoring Nola; I just assume she did. She wore tight and slightly faded blue jeans, a fitted gray-and-white-checked cotton shirt over a gray camisole, and tennis shoes. She wore more silver jewelry than one might deem appropriate for that level of casualness, but she made it work. While I showered, Peggy walked on the beach. At the Hungry Fisherman, we shared eggs Benedict. In San Luis Obispo, Peggy shopped while I watched. Peggy drove north to Cayucos, and we walked out on the pier, which I'd never done before. It was a gorgeous day. It was fun, but it would have been so much better if we'd been able to tell Tank about it, and feel his glow of approval. Eventually, I'll need to get past that feeling.

We went to lunch in Morro Bay, at Dockside Too. I had a fish taco, Peggy had a steak taco, and we shared chicken taquitos (a favorite of Tank's). We found a small table right on the water, and relaxed with our tasty meal. There was a friendly yellow lab wandering from table to table. There was a man playing a guitar and singing: the Beatles, Peter Frampton, Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" ("I turned to look but it was gone..."). Peggy said, "This guy must be exactly your age." I tipped him, and we left.

I called Terry and told her we'd be by later. She had appointments during the day, so it was okay to wait and meet up for dinner. Peggy and I drove to an avocado orchard (and a little store) about five minutes up Highway 41. Sally had told us about it. So cool! I want to go again! A middle-aged woman shared so much information about avocados! Did you know that some types of avocados spend two years on the tree? We bought several varieties, along with other locally produced items (jars of pickled asparagus and spicy tarter sauce, bags of beef jerky and merlot-flavored candy), and the woman gave us each a ripe avocado for the road. Free!

We stopped at Spencer's Market, and then drove to Terry's house. She wasn't there yet, so Peggy and I had some time alone with Tank' It was strange. We wandered about some, and sat and talked some. It feels less like Tank, and not just because most of his stuff is gone. We've always liked the place, and we certainly like Terry's decorating style. It's still beautiful and tasteful, lacks Tank's energy and passion, the sound of his voice, the space taken up by his body. For me, it was eerie, but not necessarily sad (kind of sad, but not overwhelmingly so). It did not seem to me that Tank was...lingering here. I remember visiting Nola's apartment in San Pedro two months after she died. The air felt thick with her presence. There was this...viscosity. I felt like I needed to sit down because of an increased gravitational pull in the room. wasn't like that with Tank. The air seemed lighter; the room seemed less occupied.

Tank never struck me as a believer in the mystical (which is probably one of the reasons I'm not a believer in the mystical). However, a month or so before he died, when he was talking about death, he said that he didn't think that this was it. He said he imagined that the day he was born he was plopped down on earth, and that the day he died he would be plucked back up. Using his fingers, he made motions as if moving a chess piece. He didn't speculate as to what or who was doing the plopping and the plucking, and where he (Tank) was before and would be after. He didn't seem to be pondering, and he didn't seem to be invested in the theory, but--rather--just thinking aloud. He certainly didn't believe in God, and this brief conversation in no way led me to think that he was edging toward a belief in God. Instead, I was reminded of that line from "Lord of the Rings:" "Death is just another path." I suppose that's possible.

Anyway...we loaded the rest of Tank's stuff into the car. Terry got home, and we hugged, and chatted briefly. She gave us a box of ashes (half of Tank's ashes) and the flag from the navy. She told us that last week she and daughter Katherine scattered the other half of Tank's ashes along the coastline, at several locations. That seemed to bring her peace, and resolution. We went to dinner at Dockside (as opposed to Dockside Too, which offers patio dining, and is behind Dockside). Terry and I had shrimp bisque, Peggy had a side salad, and Peggy and I shared shrimp and chips.

Neither Peggy nor I slept well that night. Before dawn, we hit the road. It felt okay to be leaving so quickly. The day was clear and warm, and we made good time: Atascadaro (breakfast), Paso Robles, Lost Hills, Wasco, Bakersfield, Tehachapi, Boron, Barstow, Baker, Primm (lunch), Las Vegas, Mesquite, St. George, Cedar City, Beaver, Fillmore, Scipio (treats), Nephi, road construction, and Draper. Mike met us at my house, with a bag of corn chips so that Dan and I could have guacamole for dinner with the Morro Bay avocados (thanks, Mike). Mike and Peggy grabbed a few treasures from the car, and headed on out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2/1/2011, Later

Article here:


Many thanks to Peggy for writing the charming obituary. I hope she doesn't mind that I added that last line. Peggy is also submitting Tank's navy discharge papers, to get the flag. It's wonderful to be home, and to continue to hear from folks who loved Tank. The obituary is in the Salt Lake Tribune today, and should be in the Provo Herald tomorrow. I submitted it to the Daily Breeze in San Pedro, too.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Hi there. Maybe you thought I was done blogging. :)

Sally and I are still here, and we had a fun day. First, we went to ASAP print shop and ordered copies of photos of Tank. Terry had this great color photo of Tank sitting in front of a restaurant, all casual, all cute. Maybe two years ago. God, he's beautiful. He looks SO relaxed and mellow and present. I tumble into those feelings when I look at the photo. So, I had 120 copies made on photo paper. It's about 8 x 9 inches. I can't tell the copies from the original. I'll distribute them to Nola and Tank's kids, grandkids, siblings, nieces, and nephews, plus a few others I can think of. If you know someone else who might want one, let me know.

People in Morro Bay know Tank. When I picked the order up at ASAP, an elderly woman who worked there brought me the box of photos. English wasn't her cradle language, and she seemed nervous when she said to me, "Is your...husband...okay?" It should have occurred to me that the people there would know Tank, since he has a LOT of copies made. I said gently, "Tank's my dad, and he passed away the day before yesterday." She gasped, and turned away, sobbing. She walked away from me, to hide her feelings. It was poignant, and there was no one to comfort her, because the other employees were teenage boys, and I couldn't get to her because she was behind the counter. She gathered herself, and returned to the counter to talk to me about him. She wanted a lot of information, and clearly adored him. She asked how old he was, and I said 78, and she said "So young!" :) Dear, huh.

The middle-aged man next to me saw what was going on, and showed some curiosity and concern. What a friendly town! I opened the box and showed him the photo, and he said, "I know him! I've seen him around!" I have a feeling that if we stayed for another few days, that same scenario would play out over and over again.

In fact, when Terry and I were on the way home from the hospital on Thursday, right after Tank passed away, Terry wanted to stop at the liquor store to get boxes to pack up Tank's stuff. I walked into Bottle Liquor, and said to the young man behind the counter, "Do you know Tank Nelson?" "I sure do!" he said. He said his name was Nick, and he asked how Tank was doing. I told him that Tank had just passed away, and he looked startled, and maybe dizzy, and he grabbed the counter. "No!" he said. "No!" I was a little surprised; it seemed so deeply felt. "God, I loved Tank," he said. "You sweetheart," I said in a consoling tone, and a customer put his arm around my shoulder and told me he was sorry for my loss. "Tank was a good guy," the customer said. When I asked for boxes, Nick told me to take all the boxes I wanted.

Today after ASAP, Sally and I headed for Guadalupe, about an hour from Morro Bay. We had a terrific lunch at Larry's (I think it's actually called Guadalupe Restaurant), and after we asked our waiter if he knew Tank. He furrowed his brow, and we said something like, "A big guy, from Morro Bay, comes in here with his wife." He knew exactly who we meant, and recited their order. :) We told him of Tank's passing, and he talked about how friendly Tank was, and how much his mom and dad (the owners) liked Tank. We went next door to the Masatani Market, where Tank always buys Hershey bars after lunch. Mr. Masatani wasn't in, but his son was, and knew Tank, and referred to him as The Writer. The son took us back to Larry's, where his elderly mother was chatting with Mrs. Larry. The two women joined me and Sally and the Masatani son on the sidewalk in front of the building, and we chatted for about ten minutes. It was such a treat! They knew so many things about Tank, and asked questions, and offered condolences. Once, Tank wrote a column about the restaurant and the grocery store, which share a building on the main drag in Guadalupe. All of them were warm and affectionate and clearly moved by Tank's passing. Sally and I drove away, beaming.

We didn't exactly get lost on the way back to Morro Bay, but we did a lot of Unscheduled Site-Seeing. A couple hour's worth. We arrived just before the print shop closed, and we missed out on the farmers' market and True Grit, and that was okay.

The day before, we'd been at Terry's place, and she approached me and Sally with a serious look and said, "I'm afraid there will be no inheritance from your father." :) We tried not to giggle. I tried to arrange my face in a way that would suggest both devastation and resignation. "Say it ain't so..." Minutes later, she reported that there'd been something like 36 missed calls that day, and as many the previous day. People who heard the news stood out front looking dismayed and confused. Jim from Spencer's came to the door, and I gave him the cribbage board, and he hugged me longer and tighter than I would have predicted. He said he would spread the word, since there wouldn't be an obituary in the local paper. Surfaces in the house are covered with notes and letters and flowers and pies and fresh fruit. People keep calling. I've been thinking about how there are things that we inherit other than money.

Two of Terry's daughters flew in from Georgia today, and they're staying with her. We visited them briefly tonight. They were very sweet. Terry seems to be holding up very well, and the presence of her daughters seems to have calmed her. Sally and I boxed up everything of Tank's. Everything, really. We're bringing most of it home, but will need to return with a truck for a desk, a small table, and lots of paintings, wall hangings, and posters. One such masterpiece is a white piece of poster board on which Jack drew in black and red Sharpie. It's priceless, and Tank hung it in a place of honor. Nearby is a small photo of Elvis, Jack, and Carter taken at Kaycee's wedding. Cutie-pie's. The stuff we're bringing home is enchanting to me and Sally: a Laker poster from decades ago, a little gadget that prints Tank's name and address, three pairs of glasses, a flower arrangement made of shells that Elvis might like, a jotted-down Emerson quote about how every time you do one thing, you miss out on doing another thing. Treasures like that.

Did I mention that Terry arranged to have half of Tank's ashes scattered in Morro Bay, and the other half sent home with us to Utah? The box will be ready on Tuesday or Wednesday, and whoever picks up the desk and stuff will also get the ashes. It'd be fun to scatter some in San Pedro, too. Sally said that at the crematorium, they said that the longshoreman's union pays for the cremation. Nice, huh. Also, because Tank was in the Navy, we'll score a flag.

Last Sunday, when Kelly and I were with Tank at Bayside, while he was still feeling okay, Tank said, "They're making a new Bourne movie." :) "I love Bourne movies," I said. Kelly agreed. Tank said, "I like the music." We talked Bourne for a while. "I read that Matt Damon isn't in it," I said, and Tank and I shrugged, 'cause that wasn't going to stop us from seeing it, despite our love for Matt. A couple of years ago when I was visiting, I mentioned that I'd seen the third movie only once, and I left for a while (I might have been with Peggy), and when I returned, Tank had rented the movie from Blockbuster, and the three of us watched it. "They don't do random."

Also that Sunday, we talked about how fun it would be for Tank to visit Utah when he got to feeling better. Not ALL better...just somewhat better. I suggested that he stay for a good long time, like a month, and visit everyone, and not feel rushed. "You can live at my house," I said, grinning. "In the basement?" he asked, sounding oddly hopeful and excited (given the state of the basement). Sure, I said. Anywhere, I said.

It sure has been a pleasure hearing from so many people about their feelings for Tank, and their memories. Thank you.

While Sally and Terry were at the crematorium, I walked to the beach. Well, not all the way to the beach, but to some benches that overlook the beach, a couple of blocks from the house. I wore Tank's straw hat, which is half jaunty, half dapper. We're bringing the hat home, and we'll take turns wearing it (why don't I go first). I was sitting on a bench, watching the ocean, and an elderly couple sat down on a bench a few yards away. They seemed relaxed and unhurried, with a dog. They wore the full-coverage cotton layers that I'm used to seeing in Morro Bay on elderly folks. They wore hats. They seemed happy with each other...easy with each other. I thought, How lucky they are. To be alive, and to have each other, and that cute dog. To be in such a beautiful place, and to not be in a hurry to get somewhere else.

A funny thing happened today. My regular blog is at love-shall-not, but I hadn't been there for a while, and I went to loveshallnot instead. It's not a very active blog, and the only posting is the following Carl Sandburg poem, which made me cry. It's called "At a Window."

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

One more thing. At the Living Planet aquarium in Sandy, there's a wheel that you can spin to see the many things that can happen to a salmon. Elvis and I love that wheel. He climbs up to spin it, and I read (or now he reads) the fate of the salmon, based on where the wheel stops. We eagerly wait for the winning stop, which is Live to Reproduce. When we score that, I grab Elvis under the arms and spin him around in a circle (away from the wheel and then back to the wheel), and we squeal: "Live to reproduce!" It's fun, as you can imagine. But I was thinking about that with Tank the other day. There was a time when living to reproduce was the ONLY thing that mattered. I mean, even now, it's a fairly big deal. While in the hospital, I kept thinking of Tank's spawn. :) I know that living to reproduce isn't the challenge it once was, but, still...

I was thinking of Kelly today, and the last time he was at the hospital, before leaving for Utah. As I recall, he gave Tank's foot a little snuggle and said, "See you later, Big Guy." I can't SWEAR he said that, but it seems to me that he said that. I hope he doesn't mind that I mentioned it. It made me grin adoringly.

I hope this finds everyone well. Much love to Norma, as she recovers. Sally and I are probably going to head home tomorrow.

Friday, January 28, 2011

1/28/2011, Later

Both Dr. Kissell and Dr. Bagarry came by. Both looked concerned. Dr. Bagarry said that we had some options. They could treat Tank with antibiotics (assuming an infection), and attempt to get more information by doing an MRI and a lumbar puncture. Dr. Bagarry said, though, that at this point he was certain that Tank would not walk again. He said that he could treat the infection, and other things that popped up, but that it was a bad sign that the seizures had "pushed through" the seizure medication, and that they would probably continue to be a problem. He said that at the very best we could expect Tank to live for another few weeks, lying in bed, and perhaps talking some, and perhaps recognizing people, but probably not. The other option was giving Tank extra anti-seizure medication which would serve to keep him in a very relaxed and seizure-free state. Morphine would be given if he seemed to be in pain (but it probably wouldn't be necessary). Doing this, he would probably live for another day or two, and pass peacefully. He would seem to be sleeping, and--at the end--would experience "agonal breathing" (sp?), which is a sudden and more-labored breathing, that starts and stops fairly quickly.

Kelly wasn't there, and Terry was opting for the "comfort care." I didn't see the harm in antibiotics, an MRI, and a lumbar puncture (Dr. Bagarry said that they were all routine, and could be easily accomplished). Dr. Bagarry left briefly, and Terry and I spoke with Dr. Kissell. Terry asked him what he would do if it were his wife, and he took a deep breath and said, "I'd let her pass." I appreciated his frankness, and maybe I was overly influenced by his words, but I changed my mind, and voted for "comfort care." When Dr. Bagarry returned, he quickly accepted our decision. He told us that he had been Tank's doctor for a long time, and had been with him during the lymphoma/stomach/stent ordeal of several months ago. He said that most patients would not have survived that, and that he hadn't expected Tank to survive, but that Tank had been very strong, and very motivated. I asked him if the time since then felt to him like an unexpected gift, like something extra, and he said yes.

All the medical professionals left for a while, and Terry and I were tearful. I'm fairly sure Kelly wasn't there. Up until that moment, it seemed like maybe Tank would get better. Not all the way better, but somewhat better. Suddenly, it seemed like his home-visit with Mike and Peggy was in the distant past.

I called Kelly and told him to return to the hospital, and I called Sally and Peggy and gave them the news. All three readily agreed with the decision made by me and Terry. I didn't encourage Peggy and Sally to join us, but rather to remember Tank the way he was the last time they'd seen him. Of course, it was up to them.

I'm sitting here at the Motel 6 with Sally right now. We went to The Whale's Tail for dinner, and had fish and chips. It's right next to the Morro Bay Theater where True Grit is playing. About a month ago, Tank said he really wanted to see True Grit when it came out (he was at Bayside). Sally said that it had already come out, and he said that maybe he'd be able to catch it while it was still in theaters, or see it later on video. I think Sally and I are going to the matinee tomorrow, after the Farmers' Market, after lunch in Guadalupe. We're honoring Tank. :) Really.

Today, I grabbed something from Tank's home office and brought it to the motel with us. It's a cute sign that we've got propped up next to me. It's a little piece of old wood...maybe a chunk of fence post, about 15 inches by 4 inches, and 3/4 inch thick. It's sawed at one end, and jagged at the other end. He probably found it on a walk. He's written "Laugh lots!" on it, with a Sharpie.

Peggy is good at making me laugh, and one of the times we were talking that day, she accused me of wanting to be alone with Tank when he died, like I was alone with Grandma Fern. She called me a Death Hog. :) I told her I wanted a prettier name, like Death Princess...a name that sounded a little less fat. She said no: Death Hog.

The nurses started the Atavan (sp?) drip that would keep Tank from having seizures and would keep him nice and relaxed and comfy. The doctor described it as over-riding the fight-or-flight response, so the body didn't produce epinephrine (which would keep it in an agitated state). I didn't know how quickly things would proceed, so I asked Terry for a moment alone with Tank, to talk.

Soon, they moved us to another room, so that we would have more privacy. It was a room with two beds, but the other bed was empty. Kelly, Terry, and I sat with him.

Kelly fetched drinks and snacks, as required. I didn't want to leave, so if I needed something, Kelly would get it for me. Terry paid him the supreme compliment (perhaps unintentionally) when she said to me, "He's doing EXACTLY what Tank would do in this situation."

(Right now, Sally--in PJs--is getting drinks for us from the motel vending machine. Nice.)

Tank was resting comfortably. In fact, Tank spent the next three days resting comfortably. He seemed to be asleep, but could not be awakened. He was wearing a hospital gown, and his large bald head was warm and friendly. His right hand was the hand I wanted to hold, because the left hand had lost some feeling after the seizures. Well, it had lost some strength; I only assumed it had lost some feeling. I was usually able to score the chair by the right hand, and just sit there holding it.

I think that was the night Kelly found a BBQ joint nearby and brought us huge sandwiches and huge portions of fries. He always brought me diet Dr. Pepper on ice. He fetched endless frappuccinos for Terry. He told us stories about people he met outside the hospital.

That night, we watched NCIS. I don't remember actually watching it, but I was aware that it was on, and glad. Tank recently told me that when he got out of Bayside he wanted to buy a new car: a Dodge Charger. That surprised me, since Tank's always been a Ford F-150 guy. When I told Kelly about the Dodge Charger, he laughed merrily, and said that Jethro Gibbs from NCIS drives a Dodge Charger. :)

After NCIS, we watched The Big Bang Theory, not because Tank liked it, but because it was amusing. Tank liked TV in general, so it seemed okay to leave it on.

I think Kelly drove home that night. Terry slept in a chair, and I slept for a few hours on the other bed. It was comfortable. I could hear Tank breathing. The nursing staff was wonderful. The new shift nurse always introduced herself (they were always women, usually middle aged) and every three or four hours she and a CNA would take Tank's vital signs, adjust his medication, clean him up, and change his gown and bedding. When they left, he always smelled like baby powder. He was always fresh and sweet-smelling and shiny clean.

I woke refreshed, and moved to Tank's side again. I think all of us were surprised that Tank survived the night. One nurse offered that she thought he would "go" at about 1 or 2 a.m., but he sailed on past. That morning, I think we had a visit from a social worker and a hospice volunteer, but Terry dismissed them both, even though Kelly pointed out that the social worker looked like Chuck Conners. Stephanie visited occasionally, offering hugs to all.

The days get mixed up in my mind, but one day Stephanie brought her little dog to visit. I had to walk to the courtyard to see Lucy the dog, and I left Tank alone to do so. Lucy recently suffered her own tragedy, and is healing, and is probably ready to "laugh lots" in her own little shi zhu (sp?) way.

I spent the day holding Tank's hand (and touching his face and head when no one was looking). It just seemed okay to touch him as much as I wanted to. I noticed that my hands look like his hands, but 25 years younger. The more I held his hands, the less I disliked my large, spotted, ruddy, wrinkled hands. How could I love his hands, but dislike my own? I decided to love mine.

Doctors came and went, always loving and encouraging, always sincere and serious, with plenty of eye contact and shoulder patting. Everyone agreed that things were proceeding as expected and that Tank was particularly strong. They were watching for signs such as a weaker pulse and a loss of color in the extremities, but those things hadn't happened yet. Tank's pulse was still irregular, and it was very interesting to me to monitor his pulse. :) I usually monitor Dan's pulse when I hold his hand. I've never hand my fingers on an irregular pulse. Tank's was strong, so it was easy to detect the irregularity. It was also fast (about 124, if they'd all been there), but it seemed to miss one occasionally, like maybe 1 out of every 6. I couldn't get enough of it.

Kelly brought huge amounts of food from the same good BBQ place. He brought biscuits from McDonalds every day. He brought diet Dr. Pepper from the cafeteria. Wednesday night, Kelly prepared to drive to Terry and Tank's to sleep but, before he left, he took a fistful of pooled coins and one-dollar bills and went to the cafeteria vending machines. He brought back a dozen items: chips, granola bars, candy bars, drinks.

That evening, they moved us to a new room. It was a private room with a shower, and more room for chairs. They brought in a cot. There was a big window, and lots of good light the following morning. The view was beautiful, with eucalyptus and magnolia trees.

Terry and I decided to spend the night again. She suggested that I go home, and I suggested she go home. She chose to sleep in a comfy chair, so I took the cot. I slept for about four hours, half awake and listening to Tank breathe. It was more gurgly than it had been earlier. You know that sound of coffee perking? A humid, bubbly noise? It sounded like that. Inhale, exhale, gurgle, repeat. He continued to be turned frequently, with lots of pillows tucked on one side, then the other. I used a pink swab to moisten his mouth occasionally, and applied lip balm. I kept the room neat.

Kelly had plans to drive back to Utah the next morning (Thursday). Terry hadn't left the hospital Tuesday or Wednesday, so she drove home to shower. I was alone with Tank, and it was quiet and peaceful. I'd been calling Sally and Peggy a couple times a day. Also, Sally was now on her way from Utah, and would arrive by early evening. I pulled a chair close, and held his hand. I noticed a slightly funky smell, and thought it was Tank, but then realized it was me. I was savoring my filthiness, though, and was unwilling to go home, or even to use the shower in the bathroom.

I think it was the previous day, Tank was occasionally making a slightly louder breathing noise. It seemed a little distressful, and the nurse showed us how to press a yellow button that would give him a little burst of Atavan to calm him. We'd done that a couple of times. The same nurse observed the little cries of distress, and said something that probably violated hospital protocol. She said that she didn't know what our spiritual beliefs were, but that some people thought that those sudden disruptions in an otherwise-peaceful sleep indicate that a patient is kind of standing on the brink between this world and the next, and that he's reaching out to someone he loves on the other side. :)

Terry was in touch with the crematorium during this time, making arrangements.

While Terry was home, I noticed the same erratic eye movement that had preceded the earlier focal seizures. Then, his whole body seized, to a degree somewhere between the grand mal seizure and the focal seizure. I pressed the yellow button to give the extra Atavan (turns out I pressed it nine times, although it gave only one dose...apparently my actions were recorded for the nurse to see). The nurse came in, and I think she gave him some morphine. They sometimes gave him a little morphine before they turned him, just in case it caused him pain.

Oh! Right after Terry left to go home to shower, Kelly arrived with breakfast for me, and to say good-bye. We chatted for a while. It was really a treat spending time with him, and it broke my heart to see him go. While here, he repaired the threshold at Tank and Terry's house, making it safer and more attractive. He'd spent a lot of time locating the correct grab bar for their bathroom, but then it became clear that it wasn't necessary to install it, so he put it in Terry's backseat, with the receipt. While trying to find Home Depot, he stumbled upon Carlock's Bakery, which seemed to me like a sign, and I encouraged him to buy treats for us. They were delicious. He hasn't spent time in San Luis Obispo County, but he got to know it quickly, and was able to find anything, even Rite Aid late at night, when Terry needed a prescription filled.

Terry got back right after the morphine injection, and we got her up to speed. We each settled in on each side of Tank, and I held his hand. I tried to stay present, and not get distracted, and to memorize each second of this time. His pulse was weaker, and still irregular. When Terry was out of the room, I peaked under the sheet to see his thighs, and noticed a new sallowness. Maybe I mentioned this earlier, but Dr. Lewis said that we should expect a slow "winding down." Terry and I continued to sit with him, and I kept holding his hand, appreciating its warmth.

It was very quiet in the room. I noticed Tank's breathing change slightly. Before, his lips were parted about 1/2 inch as he breathed, but now his lips were closed. The sound changed slightly, with a bit less gurgle. "I think this is the winding down," I said. "What?" said Terry. "I think this is the winding down." And sure enough...

It was very quiet in the room, and I had a chance to hug him and kiss him and touch his face and hands some more. So did Terry. Death came swiftly, and everything seemed to shut down in unison. He was there, and then he wasn't. I thought--not for the first time--of that final scene in "Gladiator" when Maximus dies, and he walks through the fields, and his fingertips graze the tips of the tall grass, as he moves toward his beautiful wife and child.

Soon, I called Sally, who was en route. In what seemed like a happy coincidence, she and Kelly were together in Bakersfield having lunch. Then, I called Peggy.

It was a pleasure being with Tank at the end. It was a pleasure being with Tank always.


Hi all. Thanks to so many for sending notes of love and encouragement. Thanks to Dan for blogging in my absence.

I want to include some information here about the last few days. Not a eulogy, or a love letter, or a list of traits I want to emulate...but just some stuff that happened. The chronology will be messy.

I think I wrote about Sunday, when Kelly watched football with Tank all day long. I'm sure they had conversations that I wasn't privy to. It seemed like a relaxing day, with football and food and occasional chat. I was in and out. It was clear that Kelly and Tank were enjoying each other. That night, the nurse reported that they had extra "trays" for dinner, and offered them to me and to Kelly. He declined, but I liked the idea of having a meal with Tank (even though it was mac-and-cheese and chicken nuggets). The nurse pulled up a wheeled tray for me, put the tray of food on it, and did things like open my milk, sprinkle my food with packets of salt and pepper, and remove the lid from my cranberry juice. I felt so well taken care of. It was fun, sitting there with Tank and Kelly, eating my toddler meal.

I told Tank that I'd love to make macaroni and cheese for him, using his recipe, if he'd tell me how. That kind of request often served to bring Tank to total alertness. He was completely lucid and enthusiastic as he gave me the detailed instructions, beginning with "use a paper towel to wipe the inside of the casserole dish with one quarter of a stick of butter." :) I listened carefully, with every intention of making it the next day for lunch.

I can tell I'm skirting around the issue of his death.

So, today, Sally, Terry, and I went for a ride. She wanted to take us to "his favorite spot," where we'd both been before. It's up Highway 1, right after the elephant seals but before Ragged Point. It was gorgeous, of course. I sat in the back seat, and Sally sat next to Terry. It was painful being there without Tank, and--even though the view is breathtaking--I yearned to be with Tank. I fantasized about crappy places--like a crowded Taco Bell in Fresno--and how much fun they'd be with Tank.

We had lunch someplace cool, of course: a favorite of Tank's called Sebastian's. It's an old post office in San Simeon, converted to a restaurant. We ate sandwiches on the patio. We could hear the ocean, and smell the eucalyptus.

So, last Monday, Tank had the seizures. Doctors seemed optimistic that he hadn't lost ground permanently. On Tuesday, I got to the hospital about 8 a.m., and David the speech therapist showed up to test Tank's ability to swallow. He started with ice chips, then water, then thickened cranberry juice, then vanilla pudding. Tank did okay, although he seemed VERY tired and not very interested. He showed a little interest in the pudding, and was able to mumble "yeah" when David asked a question, but I was actually hoping for more "Tank" by then, since the doctors anticipated an improvement within 6 or 8 hours after the seizure medication began. In the end, David decided that it would be too dangerous for Tank to take liquids or solids, because of a persistent cough and generalized weakness. David put some signs up above Tank's bed, and left. Tank slept.

Doctors came in that day. Dr. Lewis said that Tank was taking longer than expected to rally, but he didn't seem too concerned. Two physical therapists worked with him, but it was more back rub than therapy. He could only sit up with a lot of help. An occupational therapist came in, but she realized quickly that Tank wasn't up to the task, and she left. It started to seem that something was amiss.

I spent most of the day in a chair by Tank's bedside. I held his hand occasionally. Kelly fetched food for us. I think Stephanie dropped by.

Tank was very warm. Terry and I noticed it, and when the nurse took his temperature, it was 102. He was sleepier than ever, and difficult to rouse. I think I was alone with him when he had what the nurse called a focal seizure (I'm just guessing at the spelling). I noticed some unusual eye movement (generally, his eyes were closed). The movement was fast and repetitive, as if he were looking straight ahead and then to the side and then back again. Then, his feet began to tremble. It only lasted ten seconds or so, and I called the nurse. As I recall, it happened again a short time later. They increased his dose of seizure medication. I assume they gave him something for the fever.

A girl came by and took blood to check for an infection and a fungal infection. She said it would take a couple of days to get the results. It was mentioned that he might have an infection in sutured wound on his head, in his throat (the thrush), or maybe in his lungs (he might have aspirated something during a seizure). I'm not certain about some of this. It doesn't seem like enough time would have passed since the seizure to get an infection in his lungs, but...I don't know.

I'm going to publish this, and then write some more.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tank passes away

Tank passed away peacefully this afternoon, with Polly by his side.
He was a father to four wonderful people... Sally, Polly, Kelly & Peggy.
Also a husband, U. S. Navy Veteran, California Longshoreman, "idea man", inventor, author, columnist, and all-around good guy.
He has 7 grandkids and 5 great-grandkids and still counting.
Tank loved talking, walking on the beach, watching movies, reading books & newspapers, writing.. but above all, laughing..
You could never talk to him without hearing that distinctive joyful laugh of his.
He often sent letters that simply said "Laugh Lots".. followed by an adorable sketch of a tank.
Tank was unfailingly generous and an immensely entertaining & joyful fellow.
I have NEVER heard him complain.. NEVER heard him utter a single word of profanity.
We should all strive to have that said about us.
He embraced the sweetness and joy of life.
Not only should you take a walk, but you should also stop to smell the flowers.. that's Tank.
I wish I could have walked on the beach with him one more time while listening to an idea he had for a movie or a book.
That I will miss.

Polly will write more here when she gets a spare minute or two.

Love to all,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Polly called this afternoon and reported no change in Tank's condition.

He is resting comfortably, breathing evenly, and occasionally looks around, but is not alert or talking.

It sounds like a very trying circumstance for Polly and Kelly.

They are calmly waiting for the inevitable.

Sally is on the road now to join them there.. I think she'll get there tomorrow.

I'll post more when I know more.



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1/25/2011, Later

Hi. Polly just called and asked me to briefly update you.

Tank's condition took a serious turn for the worse late this morning and afternoon.

He is now resting comfortably and receiving "comfort care."

He is feeling no pain and Polly, Kelly and Terry are with him at the hospital.

They are watching NCIS, one of Tank's favorite shows.

I wish I had better news to report, but we can tell you more tomorrow.

Keep him in your thoughts.

Love, Dan


Hi! Summary: Tank in Sierra Vista Hospital in San Luis Obispo because he had seizures yesterday. Spent the day resting. Excellent care, good prognosis.

Monday morning, Bayside called Terry at 6:30 to say that Tank had some weakness on the left side. She and I left immediately, and Kelly followed shortly in Tank's car. When we got there, Tank seemed less aware of his surroundings than usual. His left hand lay helplessly on the covers. Terry told a nurse to call an ambulance, and soon two Morro Bay firefighters/EMTs arrived from Morro Bay. They spoke to him, took his vital signs, and tested the strength of hands and feet. So competent, so kind, so attractive (a man and a woman). A minute later, two more EMTs from San Luis Obispo, and Tank was loaded into the ambulance. His attempts to grip, and to raise his left hand completely above his head, showed significant signs of impairment. His mouth was very dry, and it was difficult to tell if he was answering questions correctly. We were on our way to French Hospital in San Luis Obispo, which specializes in heart care (Terry's instruction).

Before we could pull out of the parking lot (Terry and Kelly in one car, me behind), the main EMT bent to Terry's window with additional information. Tank had suffered a seizure in the ambulance, and we were rerouting to the closer Sierra Vista Hospital, also in San Luis (Kelly called to tell me, I think). They used lights but not sirens, and it was a strange feeling to be driving along the highway, pull over for an ambulance, and know WHO was in the ambulance.

Back at Bayside, the overnight-nurse-in-charge told Terry that Tank had shown marked weakness on his left side as early at 5 a.m., when he was checked on. It later became evident that he'd probably had his first seizure before that, but it's unclear WHEN.

The ER staff was great, and immediately did some sort of brain scan and determined that there was no vessel breakage in the brain (I think the kind that might indicate a stroke) (forgive my lack of medical knowledge). That was good news, according to Dr. Georgio (there were four doctors over the course of the day, and I'll spell all their names incorrectly). He asked a lot of questions about Tank's history, and took some blood. At some point during the ER visit, when Tank was with us in the room, he had another seizure (in his chart, they called the seizures grand mal). We all watched, and were assured by the medical staff that it would only last about 30 seconds, and that he wasn't suffering, and he wouldn't remember it. Still...hard to watch, the poor guy.

An hour or so later, he was moved to a room upstairs, and situated for the day. We were told that Tank's oncologist Dr. Lewis would drop by with information, and we were waiting for that, not knowing when he would arrive. Helpful nurses and CNAs were there frequently. An elderly man occupied the second bed. Terry, Kelly, and I all had comfy chairs, and we sat and talked. Tank seemed to be in a very deep sleep, breathing normally. Occasionally, nurses would turn him. It was chilly in the room, and we kept him covered with a blanket. We'd say hi occasionally, and he'd kind of grunt, but he was mostly out of it, and that's what the doctors said to expect. They said that the brain kind of shuts down after a seizure, to heal itself, or kind of reset, and the anti-seizure and anti-swelling medications would also contribute to sleepiness. They gave him some morphine for pain, and gave him moderate amounts of saline in an IV to keep him hydrated. (Over-hydration might lead to more brain swelling, I think they said, so it wasn't a LOT of saline.) No nutrition in an IV, but they assured us he wasn't lying there feeling hungry. :) He seemed comfortable, actually. Terry would lean over him occasionally, and they'd talk. :) After a fashion. It was very dear.

Kelly was very useful. :) Shocker there, huh. :) He fetched things for me, 'cause I didn't want to leave.

Oh! Terry's buddy Stephanie (a saint, really, who volunteers at the hospital, and this was her day) dropped by the ER, and then Tank's room. She offered very helpful information, and brought a huge tray of delicious food from the cafeteria, which the three of us ate (Kelly ate less, given his...higher standard). :) It was good food, and not just good hospital food. Terry and I enjoyed. Sweet of Stephanie, so we didn't have to leave. Then Kelly left to go to Taco Bell, :) and to get diet Dr. Pepper for all of us.

Much later (still no doctor), Kelly went to a good BBQ place in San Luis, and brought back a delicious dinner, which the three of us ate in the hospital room. It was nearly 7, and we were giving up on Dr. Lewis showing up.

Kelly went to my car and got a bunch of stuff for me, including Gibbs, which got better reception at the hospital than my own cell phone.

Tank's vital signs continued to be good. Excellent blood pressure, always. Oh! He was on oxygen the entire time, through a narrow tube into his nostrils. Didn't seem to bother him. Nothing seemed to bother him. Although the bed might have been a few inches longer.

At some point during the day, Dr. Kissell (the neurosurgeon) dropped by. (Forgive the sloppy chronology.) He did the original brain biopsies of about two months ago, and he recently removed the metal plates from the site. (Actually, I found out that it wasn't a metal plate exactly, but a very small piece of titanium netting that they intended to leave in place forever. But the scar wasn't healing well, and the titanium mesh was showing, so the doctor removed it while improving/tightening the scar.) Dr. Kissell did that. He was their at 4 or 5 p.m., I think, and visited briefly. Said the scar looked good, and that the seizures were probably a result of the original tumors and/or the radiation. Terry had a lot of questions, but Dr. Kissell referred her to the expertise of Dr. Lewis, the oncologist, who was going to show up later. Dr. Kissell was very kind. When he asked Tank his name and his birth date, he knew them, which kind of surprised me, because he'd been in such a deep sleep.

A helpful CNA cleaned Tank's mouth and lips carefully with a wet swab, and applied some ointment. Tank has a sore on his chin, and that was treated also.

At 7:30 or 8 (as I recall), Terry and Kelly went home. I decided to stay for a bit longer, and got comfy with my coat and water and note pad and pen that Kelly had brought me from the car. He offered to get treats. :) What a guy. I'm so glad there were three of us there. There's a lot of information to track, and I'm sure I'm forgetting lots. Some readers might think this is too much detail, but--I'm sure--other readers crave TONS of detail. :) I'm sure.

The minute Terry and Kelly left, Dr. Bagarry showed up (pronounced buh-GARY). I think he's the general practitioner that oversees everything. Wonderful man. I'm quite certain he just dropped by the hospital to see another patient, and saw Tank's name on a white board, and came by. He was very helpful. I called Kelly and Terry, and they were tempted to turn around, but chose not to (Terry was spent, after a dozen hours in a chair in a hospital room). Dr. Bagarry carefully tested Tank's left-side strength, including his reflexes. Tank seemed more awake than earlier, perhaps as the drugs wore off, and the brain settled down. The doctor asked Tank to identify himself (Bagarry) and me, and Tank looked at both of us, and said our names! :) I was delighted. :) Dr. Bagarry asked lots of questions, and listened carefully to Tank's heart. Said the heartbeat was irregular, so he went to the nurse's station to get more info from the chart. After doing so, he decided to have Tank moved to the "telemetry unit," where he could be on a heart monitor through the night. However, he said that the heartbeat was a not-unexpected result of one of the medications.

Also, he said that severe weakness and lethargy are normal (and not permanent) results of seizures of this type, and that those symptoms might fade in about 24 hours. In fact, when Dr. Bagarry tested him, Tank was already showing much improvement in his left hand and foot, and I watched as he gripped with his left hand, and pushed against Dr. Bagarry with his left foot.

He left, and before we had a chance to move to the other room (on another floor), Dr. Lewis showed up at about 9:30. He said that it was normal to be like this after seizures, and seizure medications. He expects Tank to return to his "regular state of awareness" within a couple of days, and then perhaps return to Bayside. the end of the day, things seemed quite different than they did earlier in the day, when there was talk of "comfort care" and "less-aggressive treatment."

We'll see.

I tried staying in touch with Peggy and Sally, but it wasn't always possible because of the cell coverage. However, it's handy that cell phones are allowed in the hospital.

Dr. Lewis said he'd return in the morning. So, I think it's about 8 a.m. now, and I'm heading over there (I'm at Burger King, alone), and Kelly and Terry are meeting me there, I think. I saw them both early this morning, before I left home.

I guess there's a bit more info. Nurses took him downstairs (you know, on his hospital bed) to the new room (after hooking him up to an EKG). Everyone was warm and affectionate and very efficient. I felt that Tank was in good hands all day long. The new nurse in the telemetry unit, Pam, remembered Tank and Terry from the recent removal of the titanium mesh. She was very helpful and chatty, and I stayed in that room until about midnight, on a very comfy chair, talking to her while she took care of Tank. She's about my age, with a husband with brain cancer, and we talked about lots of things, as she fussed over Tank. It was dark and quiet, without much going on, and Tank's new roomie snored comfortably while we talked. Usually, I try to wake Tank to talk to him, :) but this didn't seem like a good time for that, so I was content to just watch him sleep.

Pam gave him Dilantin to keep the seizures at bay. He'd had it earlier, but this was lots of it in an IV. All day, they'd been checking his blood sugar level, and giving him insulin if necessary, but late at night it was only 150 or so, and she chose not to give him insulin. His vital signs remained excellent. He's in Room 102, fyi. He's had a pesky cough for days, and it continued in the hospital, and medical personnel noticed it, but no one seemed too concerned. People offered different explanations for it. Seems awful to me (and like pneumonia), but no one was saying that. Oh! At one point, he asked me for a Kleenex, and I gave him that, and he wiped his nose. That was about as active as I saw him all day, and it was encouraging.

Well, that's about it. I drove home at midnight, after calling Kelly to tell him I was on my way. :) Safety first. It's a straight shot home, and takes about 15 minutes. No cars on the road. Kelly and Terry left outdoor and indoor lights on for me. :) Kelly said hi, but Terry was asleep in her GIRD chair. I fell asleep immediately in her bed, which she's a dear to let me use. I'll get more information to you later today, if possible. Thanks to everyone for their interest. :) Tank's a sweetheart, and a trooper, and we'll do our best to adapt to the changing situation.

Love to all... :) Not reading before publishing... :)