This is a tough one. I have a whole list of songs to choose from and they all remind me of my wife, Meredith. Before her brain surgeries Meredith was an amazing singer. (Well, she is still an amazing singer, but for different reasons.) She was singing alto when we first met, but as she developed her skills she moved into a soprano range. Watching her, or should I say listening to her, mature in her singing skills was nothing short of awe inspiring. Despite having an obvious bias, I think that she could have “made it” as a singer on a much bigger stage than Rutland, Vermont. What kept her back? She didn’t want to “make it” in that way. Sure, she had desire to be good and constantly homing her skill, even through two pregnancies and while rearing two vibrant children, but she knew that the world of professional singing is an unforgiving, demanding, and often cruel place. She didn’t want that. She wanted her family to be happy and at peace and trying to make it in the professional singing world was just not in her temperament.

Anyway, that’s a long intro to days song, which I think I will do as a list of songs that make me think of my beautiful wife, Meredith.

The first song I heard her sing: Annie’s Song, by John Denver (also played at our wedding as solo piano)

Our first opera aria: Nessun Dorma from Turandot, by Puccini (arranged for big band and used as our first dance at our wedding)

Songs that she sang at a recital in 2003:
Laurie’s Song from The Tender Land by Aaron Copland (she sang this one at my request)
Summertime from Porgy and Bess by Gershwin
O mio babbino, caro from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini
Habanera from Carmen by Bizet

With all of those songs, it will be impossible for me not to think of my wife and the amazing singer she was and the amazing person she is.

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…because I do not have a mullet.

Opera, not Oprah.

As hard as I try, I can’t get “into” opera (or Oprah either, for that matter – of course, I’m not interested in knowing anything about Oprah). I recognize the historical significance of opera and there certainly are very memorable moments and music from opera, but I can’t be excited about it.

One of Meredith’s and my first dates was to go see Turandot by Puccini at the Met in New York. It was a grand experience (even though we sat in the nose bleed seats) and we both cherished that experience that we shared. The one musical moment hat stands out above others in that particular opera. Nessun Dorma means no one sleeps.

(If I wasn’t using my phone, I would post a video or a link so you could hear it.)

It’s a very powerful melody sung by the lead tenor of the opera. I don’t remember who sang the performance that we heard, but to hear Luciano Pavoratti sing it is transformative.

To commemorate that early experience in our lives together I “commissioned” Dan Graves to arrange it for the first dance at our wedding. He graciously donated it to us as a gift and it was performed excellently by the Vermont Jazz Ensemble.

That will be a hard moment to forget in our lives.

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Good morning.

Yes, it is only seven minutes after 5 on Friday morning.  Do you ever have one of those days when you wake up at 3 or 4 and for some reason you just can’t fall back to sleep?  Well, today is one of those days for me.  The worst part is that right around 8am, when I need be at work, is when I’ll feel ready to go back to sleep.  Oh well.

Things are well in the Whitman house.  Speaking of wells…

I mentioned the hole in our basement in the previous update. Yes, there is a hole. My dad came up on Tuesday night last week and jack-hammered a hole around the pipes that have been causing the sewage backup problems. So there is a 2 foot deep, 6-8 square foot hole between the drier and the hot water heater.

It was entirely possible that the next update I would give you would be coming from the Hampton Inn in Rutland Town because a vast sinkhole appeared and swallowed up our house (and the three immediate surrounding it), but that is not the case and I write to you from the comfort of my 65° dining room (at 5 in the morning).

So the good news is that the drain people have come and solved the backup problem (at least that is what they claim). [Aside: the drain people are like the pod people, only scarier and dirtier.] Other than the big hole in my basement floor, the inability to use the washer and drier, and three or four days of laundry piled up we’re doing just swell. (In college, it was a badge of honor to go at least seven days without doing your laundry. In fact, the longer the better. That meant that you not only had endurance, but you also had ingenuity in how to make one pair of underwear last multiple days.)

Meredith continues to make small steps forward. Her memory problems are becoming a little more obviously focused in the area of short term memory loss. It is not uncommon for her to ask me the same question a dozen times in the span of an hour before she either remembers the answer or loses interest in the answer. Most other memories are coming back, or are rebuild-able. She and her aide (Shannon) take daily trips to the mall in order for Meredith to propel herself in her wheelchair. It’s good exercise for her and bad for my wallet.

Additionally, Meredith will be moving out of the hospital style bed that she has been in since she moved home and she’ll be moving back to our matrimonial bed. The insurance coverage was expiring because the medical necessity for the bed was diminishing. I succumbed to consumerism and purchased a king-sized bed for the occasion because I want to make sure there is room for both of us to sleep well through the night. When we’ve experimented with sleeping in our current bed, Meredith slept fine. Me…not so much. So, Merry Christmas to us.

The kids are fine. There seem to be an increasing number of times that they play very well together. In fact, it’s very cute. Malcolm runs around dictating the storyline and Maura runs around right behind him shouting, “Okay!” Of course, the times when they don’t play well together are akin to the fiercest battles of modern warfare. Maura has begun to realize that she can strike back. This could get interesting.

I am finishing up my last day of teaching for the year 2008, today. No excitement there.

We still don’t have a Christmas tree. I’m getting close to throwing lights on the fichus tree and calling it a day. Either way, we’re looking forward to Christmas. In the event that I don’t get caught up with a new journal entry, look for the star and have a Merry Christmas.

Marc

Good morning.

I believe I forgot to include something in my update last week. Something rather significant but positive.

On Tuesday, September 23, Meredith, Sue and I traveled over to Dartmouth to have her peg tube removed from her stomach. None of us were really certain how that procedure would go because there were a couple of different versions of it circulating around. None of the versions were really scary, but the fact that there was more than one made us a little nervous.

Meredith, because of her short term memory problems, kept asking us all the way to Dartmouth what they were going to be doing. We did our best to keep her from getting nervous and explained patiently each time that it was the peg tube they were addressing and not the shunt.

When we got there, Meredith and Sue went to use the ladies room while I checked her in. Shortly after they entered the powder room, the nurse came out and asked for her. I told her that she was in the water closet and she said not to worry, just come on in to the examining room when she was finished.

While waiting for the ladies to return from the loo, I saw some one from Rutland come out (to protect the innocent, I’ll chane her name). Xena, the Warrior Princess, and I chatted for a minute before I told her that Meredith and Sue were back in the bathroom. So, Xena went back in and chatted with them for a while before they all exited.

After that, we promptly went to the examining room. We sat down, waited for the nurse practitioner and continued speculating about what was going to happen.

The NP came in. We sat Meredith up on the examining table. She gave Meredith some local anesthesia and POP! out comes the tube.

Yup. That was it. Meredith spent more time in the restroom than she did in the examining room. I was going to ask if we could keep the tube (Malcolm had expressed a sadness about it being taken out…why, I’m not sure but I think that he may have thought mommy would deflate if it came out) but I thought better of the idea.

Seriously, there was no pop, but the tube came out relatively easily. The NP said that her skin was in good condition and well cared for. As of this writing, Meredith no longer requires the use of a bandage on the peg tube site and it seems to be healing quite nicely.

After a stop at McDonald’s (Meredith’s new favorite restaurant) and a quick trip to the puppy-less pet store we headed for home.

Take care and God bless.

Marc

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