Looking back, the thing I remember most about everyone, the thing that reveals their true characters, is their willingness to help.  I have come to believe that when a person helps another, or is even just willing to help another, he is demonstrating the finest quality.  And from November 2003 to December 2004, Rosemary and I saw an abundance of it.

*   *   *

Clea, Rosemary’s daughter, visited for hours almost every day.  She would always bring the Times crossword puzzle with her and the fact that she did it in ink always amazed me.  She would kiss Rosemary and tell her she loved her as soon as she arrived and again just before she left.  As Rosemary slept, she would sit with her, touching, and communicate in that silent language that only mothers and daughters understand.

Rosemary’s sister Pammy would regularly make the long drive to sit and visit and help with the housework.  When Wayne came along with her, he and I would go off on our own and talk about football and music and dogs and poetry while she would comfort Rosemary in that unique way of hers.  It was Pammy who helped Rosemary with her final decision.  I don’t know that anyone else could have done it with such care and love and understanding. 

Sister Debba kept us well stocked with every paper product imaginable.  This may seem a small thing but I can’t tell you how much it was appreciated and needed.  Debba always brought a one-of-a-kind smile and sense of humor with her and when Greg, her husband, came along the visit was even more enjoyable. 

Monica, the lovely sister back east, kept us stocked with lotion and whenever she made one of her frequent calls, she and Rosemary would talk quietly in that secret language that only sisters understand.  Afterward, Rosemary would have the most peaceful sleep with that sweet Mona Lisa smile of hers.  Monica and her husband Steve made the trip across country twice.  Imagine how much that meant to us.

Andrew, Rosemary’s brother, actually flew all the way from Portugal, picking up Patty, another of Rosemary’s sisters, along the way.  He’s a great guy and it was great having him around.  He really helped me by giving ... well, I’ll just leave it at that: he helped and only he and I know what it was.

*   *   *

Lacee and Jasmine did something remarkable.  Rosemary was in the hospital awaiting her first operation during the holidays in 2003.  I made the 114 mile round trip every day and stayed at the hospital usually from 10am to 10pm.  Understandably, I didn’t take any time to decorate the house or even buy a Christmas tree.  Every night when I came home the lack of anything Christmas-like was, well it was sad.  Then on the evening of the 22nd, as I drove down our street, I was greeted with a fully lit up house, a beautiful and beautifully trimmed Christmas tree and enough wrapped presents for an army.  My girls had done all that just to surprise me.  It was one of the most beautiful, heart-warming things I’d ever seen and I’ll never forget it.

When Rosemary was home those last three months, Lacee lived with us and ever extended that unique and stalwart demeanor of hers, something we truly came to depend on.  Jasmine, ever the wise and counseling one, and her fiancé Ricky visited often along with Dawney, their chihuahua.  Their cheerfulness was inexhaustible and we were thrilled for every minute of their visits.

It was after Rosemary passed that Lacee, Jasmine, and Ricky really came through.  (And Dawney, of course.)  Spiritually and emotionally they took care of me such that I never felt bereft of family or love and the life they added to my days assuaged my own loss like nothing else could have.

Claus, my brother, travelled down from up north as soon as he heard Rosemary was in the hospital.  He was the one who taught me how to get around successfully in a hospital and get my questions answered; that it’s okay to be bold and forthright and insistent.  (That’s not to say you have to be a jerk or even brusque – you don’t.)  When he finally had to leave, I told him how much I appreciated the fact that he immediately came down for three days when he really didn’t have to and that it must have been a hassle for him. He then said something simple and profound, “It’s no problem, Dwight, life’s pretty easy when you just do what’s right.”

Jette, my sister, was my reliable phone companion.  At the time, she was still engaged in a years long bureaucracy battle of her own having to do with a terrible accident her daughter Jenna had been in.  She, more than anyone else, understood the paper and red-tape I had to go through – she has this marvelous Viking attitude about the whole thing! – and she showed me how to get through it all.  The week that Jette and Kirsten, my niece, visited was incredibly special and it was one of the few times I could really relax.  (And, boy, was that a gift!)

*   *   *

Sue Ellen was amazing.  She seems to have this preternatural ability to find out anything about anything.  I’d mention some slight problem Rosemary was having and the next morning, on my doorstep, would be something like six articles on the malady, samples of about three remedies and a five-page handwritten note.  How did she do all that?  And then she’d call later in the day and ask if there was anything she could do to help.  As I said, she was amazing.

John was a real stalwart for us.  His wife had had cancer for over a year, so here was someone who had already gone through it all.  The book he wrote about it (The Song That Never Ended) is pretty much a must read for anyone in a life and death struggle with cancer.  He was the one who told us about Cansema, which both Rosemary and I believed was the primary curative agent.

Radio visited at least a couple of times a week.  She’s a real sweetheart (and a helluva a guitar player!) and was the one who most helped Rosemary with her physical therapy.  I remember so well the two of them rolling and bouncing balls, laughing all the while.  She, along with Clea, once filled over 30 trash bags while clearing my yard of winter leaves.

Cindy was inexhaustible.  She’d come over and within minutes she would be giving Rosemary a massage.  I’d take the opportunity to go grocery shopping and when I came back an hour or so later, she’d still be massaging.  And she was barely half done!

For a long time, the only food I knew Rosemary could keep down was miso soup and Steph supplied the lion’s share of it.  Just out of the blue he’d walk up with a smile and that quick gait of his carrying what seemed like a half gallon of it.  Day after day.  In the hospital and out.  Wonderful.

*   *   *

The hospice care we had at home (Vitas) was fabulous.  If we needed something, however slight, they would actually have it messengered within an hour or two.  Cheryl and all the nurses, and Eduardo, the aide, were just so friendly and caring and knowledgeable.  Simply, they were always there for us.

The care we had in the hospital, both Harbor UCLA and County USC, couldn’t have been better.  I came to believe that, as a group, nurses truly represent all the things we all admire: hard work, trustworthiness, competence, cheerfulness, persistence, sincerity, honesty, and on and on and on.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you first learned what a doctor was and you had this idealized concept about doctors?  Ethical, wise, warm-hearted, always cheerful, highly skilled, handsome?  Well, that ideal is personified in Dr. David Hart at County USC, one of Rosemary’s neurosurgeons.  He gave us straight advice, without mincing words and without being full of doom and gloom.  He’s the kind of person that makes you proud to be living on the same planet as him.  Wow.

I used to group all doctors into one category – you know, a doctor is a doctor – but after all those months in the hospital, I have come to make a distinction between physicians and surgeons.  It was the surgeons who saved Rosemary, the surgeons we could depend on, the surgeons who gave us good advice and hope, the surgeons who communicated with dignity and intelligence and respect.  We ended up meeting about a dozen neurosurgeons and each of them is an amazing being.  Their courage, their warm senses of humor, their placidity, their value to society cannot be overestimated.  They each routinely save three to six lives a week.  That’s hands-on work, mind you.  Can you imagine?  In just seven months, Rosemary’s life was saved five times – you cannot place a price tag on that.

*   *   *

We received an almost uncountable number of cards, emails, voice mails and flowers.  If you didn’t get a response I sincerely apologize.  But please know that we read or listened to every single one, that each of them meant so much, that each of them moved us deeply, that each was appreciated in its purity, that each of your names was etched forever into our hearts.

back to Opening PageOpening_Page.html
back to main Rosemary PageOf_Rosemary.html

Opening Page            Compositions           Resume            A Short Memoir

Links      Main Rosemary Page       The Kids      Quotes      Rain’s Day      Contact Me