Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Getting ready to make a move

David’s t-shirt was boldly lettered Wall University. David, my son; Toni, my daughter-in-law; and Jacob, my grandson flew in from Seattle to celebrate some March birthdays. Jacob turned a tall twenty, while his cousin Matt Veldman turned a tall twenty-two. Doris, my mom, was born 112 years ago. March is the month for my ninety-first, and for the birthdays of Ernie Bennett, Rachel Murphy, Kate Graham and other nifty people.

The t-shirt that began as a family joke had new vibes this time, because Trump University has become a sort of national joke. David and family stayed at Chicago’s Trump Tower two or three times. I was never there, but I did sleep in Trump’s lavish Palm Beach home before he did. His resort began as the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Her husband, stockbroker E. F. Hutton, invited me there when I was a young reporter in the 1940s. I still feel my embarrassment when I learned that the butler had unpacked my unsuitable suitcases. Hutton apologized that only a few of the servants had arrived from his New York estate. He was making do with what he called a skeleton staff of 16 instead of the normal 40.

Hutton never ran for president but he did try to buy the U.S. Post Office system. He thought he could make a profit on all those 3-cent stamps. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a noted stamp collector, would not play.

The mail carrier brought me another t-shirt this week. It marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Chaminade University in Honolulu. I was chairman of the Board of Regents of what was Chaminade College of Honolulu for three years in the early 1960s. I was editor of the daily newspaper on the Big Island when my Chaminade work began. One of the corporate bosses, who thought Catholics were a menace, warned me to attend Chaminade meetings on Oahu at my own expense. Catholics were free to pray, he acknowledged, but Nobody was listening.

What a different world that was. Some feared that if John F. Kennedy were elected president, the pope would be his boss. Some now fear that Donald Trump will be elected and be his own boss.

Before long I’ll be posting a new address. Marie and Mark are taking another step in downsizing. When five kids and their friends were living here, the house and the pool and the gallon jugs of milk didn’t seem so big. We’re going to relocate in another part of Orland Park, to a house that’s just the right size. When I left my condo a couple of years ago I gave away more than a thousand books, and it was no more difficult that having part of my brain amputated. Now I’m relocating a few remaining titles. I wrote The Spirit of Cardinal Bernardin, and it was published in three editions. I contributed a chapter to a book by Candida Lund, chancellor of Dominican University, who awarded me an honorary doctorate long ago, and I was editor in chief of the American Catholic Who’s Who for a while. 

The other day I received a royalty check in the amount of $2.95. The company had sold one copy of my little book about my early experience with OPCA, olivopontocerebellar atrophy, which the medical field found so hard to spell that they changed the name of the disease to multiple system atrophy. It is still incurable, but now it is pronounceable. The Big Wave, my tsunami paperback, sold 40,000 copies and then disappeared.

Most of the books I read these days are on my Kindle. My latest Kindle is called a Fire, and I’m confident Amazon knows why. The Fire is one of the miracles of our times, a sort of sub-miracle inspired by the computer.

Without Fire and Dell and H-P and the like, life would be a cold, not cool, experience for those of us with multiple system atrophy. MSA doesn’t yield readily to a patient’s relationship with computers. It is the mother of typos, and derails a train of thought, word by fading word, before the writer can get to the end of a sentence. Dizziness is a totally inadequate word to describe the swirling brainspin of MSA.

When the next chapter of this benevolent blog appears will depend on when we move, and how much movement MSA will allow at the keyboard. My favorite but elderly desktop computer has crashed. The Dell laptop in front of me now is dandy, but when the desktop died it took my PageMaker with it. Adobe’s last major release of PageMaker was in 2001, when I bought mine from Best Buy. It was a happy choice for 15 years.




Unknown said...

Thank you so very much for sharing your life with your friends and distant relatives who will never be able to see you in real life due to distance or health constraints. I love your letters and hope you can continue with them long into the future.
Betty McCapes Livingston

Elizabeth Olmstead McBride said...

I am another cousin who is enjoying reading your blog. I am the great granddaughter of Wallace Gifford Olmstead and his wife Mahala Strong. I'm a lifelong Catholic thanks to my grandfather DeForest Wesley Olmstead marrying the lovely Irish lass Mary Alice McBride.