|Jack & Marty|
Vola and I kept in touch sporadically through our career/family years. Then a few years ago, I began a regular bridge game at my house that included Vola, and we rekindled the tight bond we'd enjoyed over a half-century earlier. I'm so glad we did. Marty also joined our bridge group. Unfortunately, Jack doesn't play bridge.
- he had been born and raised in the Gaza Strip,
- his family home had been occupied by Israeli soldiers for five years,
- one of the soldiers had shot him in the back which resulted in his being treated for months in a Tel Aviv hospital,
- he attended the summer camp in Maine that Seeds for Peace sponsors for kids from areas of conflict,
- as a result, he became determined to come back to the US to finish his senior year in high school,
- he managed to do that and then to work his way through Northeastern University for his bachelors degree, and
- he had just received his Masters degree (in conflict resolution) from Brandeis University and was in DC looking for work that would get him started in pursuing his goal of helping resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Click here for an earlier post about Yousef's story. Here's another one I posted, which juxtaposed the experiences of Marione -- the Hamburg Jew -- and Yousef, the Gaza Strip Arab.
Esther has returned to her native Switzerland, but Marianne and I continue to get together frequently. Lately, I've switched from getting a weekly full body massage to getting one that concentrates on my legs and feet, of particular concern in light of my Parkinson's. But we get together for other reasons, too. For instance, she was my companion on a recent all-day tour bus expedition to the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia. Click here for my report on the trip.
My coming out as a gay man had an excellent "side effect": making it easier for me to develop close friendships with women. That certainly has been the case with Marianne.
My Small Army of Caregiving Friends
For an 87-year-old man who's had Parkinson's for at least ten years, I'm doing pretty well. For that, I can thank the following people who are both good friends and talented caregivers.
From his years of caregiving Barbara's husband, Joey has lots of practical experience on making life easier for people with Parkinson's. I'm also reassured to know that Joey's wife is a nurse at our neighborhood Sibley Hospital, now part of Johns Hopkins.
A highly skilled and experienced group therapist, Leon also has had Parkinson's for nearly 30 years and seems to be in great shape -- physically and mentally. His condition reassures our members, particularly those newly diagnosed.
These meetings have been central to my well-being since November, 2009, although it makes me a bit nervous when I realize I'm now the group's senior member.
People often compliment my blog's writing. That credit goes to the man on the right of this photo. That's my pal Daniel, who's been editing my miserable copy almost since the start of this blog. I'm frequently amazed at the transformation that takes place between what leaves my computer and ends up on the blog.
When I first met David nearly 30 years ago, he was Executive Assistant to Jim Graham, then the executive director of the Whitman Walker Clinic, the GLBT health clinic that was in the forefront of Washington's efforts to combat AIDS. Then he became Executive Assistant to Paul Wojcik, when Paul was on its way to becoming president of BNA (the employee-owned company where I worked for 40 years). Next, David became Executive Assistant to Michael Kaiser, then president of the Kennedy Center.
Now David has the most important job of all: volunteering as my Executive Assistant. Every Sunday, David shows up at my house and spends about three hours solving whatever problems I might be having. We usually shop at our neighborhood farmers market. But most of the time, David's taking care of anything that needs fixing.
David and I have exchanged emails just about every day for at least 20 years. Nobody could be better prepared to deal with my issues and quirks.