Christmas 1998

Holiday Greetings

More than any other year, we count our blessings this season and look forward to a new year of health and celebration.

I’m doing well following nine months of chemotherapy and six weeks of daily radiation that ended just before Thanksgiving—more reason to give thanks. Along the way, I learned to appreciate what follically challenged folks have to put up with. Losing my hair was bad, but when the last two eyelashes fell out, I had a little trouble keeping my sense of humor. I shivered through the winter and spring and nearly roasted the rest of the family as I constantly turned up the thermostat. I searched for things I could eat that tasted okay and weren’t so dry I couldn’t choke them down. Raw fruits and vegetables worked all right for that—how healthy can you get? But the absolute worst was the discovery that chocolate tasted bad. That was definitely a low point.

I got through the school day pretty well, sporting a trendy wig that my colleagues referred to as the “anchorwoman look.” Getting my hair back has been a daily delight, and the eyelashes and eyebrows also returned. I’m convinced people don’t really appreciate hair enough. I’m currently scheduled to see the doctors for follow-up visits, but so far everything seems to be okay.

Larry’s job has had some positive moments following an unexpected layoff in March when Litton Aero Products canceled the project he was working on. Computer classes at UCLA filled some of his time for a few months, until Litton asked if he’d go to Germany to test software at their subsidiary, LITEF. From late June through September he lived in the lap of luxury in the five-star Colombi Hotel in Freiburg, eating in wonderful restaurants, traveling on the weekends, and allegedly working during the week. He did produce some photos of those outstanding multilingual software engineers he claimed to have been working with, so it’s hard to know what to believe.

We communicated via email and phone and in the evenings he put together a weekly travelog/newspaper, the Freiburger Zeitung, to chronicle his weekend peregrinations through the Black Forest as well as parts of France and Switzerland. After his return, Litton found some piecework to keep him busy into the spring. While in Freiburg, he had a chance to see his German son, Volker, again, and to accompany his sister Sue on a tour of the Rhine Valley during her first ever trip to Europe. On his return, he complained that the waistbands of all his trousers had shrunk, but he gets no sympathy from me.

Cathy took advantage of Larry's absence to announce her engagement to Mark, probably knowing that daddy couldn’t put him through his paces until it was a fait accompli. They will marry June 12 at the Piru Mansion, an elegantly restored film location, featured in a couple of recent episodes of Melrose Place.

Cathy was promoted to training officer and has been certified a Drug Recognition Expert. She now finds herself in the classroom several times a year providing training to officers in how to recognize the effects of various substances a suspect might have taken. She’s part of a team working an antigun patrol on New Year’s Eve in an attempt to catch the imbeciles who fire guns into the air in a misguided attempt to celebrate the new year.

Jenny will soon be making her last flight home for the holidays. Her graduation from Northwestern Law School will occur in mid-May; then she’ll pack up the cats and the can opener, say good-bye to Chicago, and head west. The Jones Day law firm in Los Angeles where she worked as a summer associate made her a good offer and she didn’t hesitate to accept. We’ll be very glad to have her back in southern California permanently—it’s been ten years! Her summer will be spent studying for the bar exam, but we’ll get in some quality time on the weekends.

We watched one of Brian’s soccer games this fall on a relaxing weekend trip to San Diego. Besides cheering for his winning team, we also went to the Scripps Institute’s Birch Aquarium overlooking the ocean—they have terrific small aquaria with several varieties of seahorses and some unusual sea stars. Brian still works at Intuit and has had responsibility for the revised user interface on TurboTax. (But don’t call him if yours has a bug!) He’s still working on his big goal: seeing a baseball game in every major league stadium in the U.S. He added Baltimore’s Camden Yards to his list during a company-paid trip to a Washington, D.C. conference this summer.

In September, I packed David and all his gear off to UC Santa Barbara, with help from Cathy and Mark. He enjoys college life and has joined both a fraternity and a scuba diving club. They went to Monterey this weekend to practice in full scuba gear, but he’s home now, relaxing and awaiting the resumption of classes in January. He says he’s also attending classes and appears to know something about what’s being discussed in lectures, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He learned a lot in his summer job creating a new website for a friend’s computer company and the income certainly has helped at school.

Our “empty nest” takes some getting used to, but we both agree it is kind of nice to be together without kids. Some things, like cooking, are much simpler; I fear my local grocer may go out of business because of David’s departure. And the phone doesn’t ring all evening long, and when it does ring, it’s usually for us. Amazing! Sometimes we agree maybe it’s a little too quiet, but the next few weeks should disabuse us of that notion, as the kids and their friends arrive and the house fills up.

It was difficult for me to keep in touch this past year, but the support, prayers, and good wishes of family and friends truly got me—and us—through some bad days. We’re all glad that’s behind us and we continue to look for the positive things in each day’s dawning, resolved to celebrate and make the most of it. Have a wonderful Christmas.