Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

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Gwyneth M905
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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby Gwyneth M905 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:45 pm

David Loftus wrote:I'm kinda surprised you've had problems down there, Gwyneth. There are a fair number of women running around in burkas up here -- especially students at the university a couple blocks away -- and there's really no hassle that I've seen.


Oh! :( David, I'm from the MidWest in the Bible Belt. My folks live in Iowa. Still, one should never be too judgmental. After all, Iowa did legalize gay marriage.
I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi Knight, the same as my Father.
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diane bartels
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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby diane bartels » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:30 am

Hi,Gwynnie. I just wanted to say hi, and ask how are you and your family? I have been thinking and praying for your uncle. But I am also thinking of you. Take care of yourself; it is so depressing to have a relative with a terminal illness. Do good things for yourself.

Gwyneth M905
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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby Gwyneth M905 » Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:34 pm

diane bartels wrote:Hi,Gwynnie. I just wanted to say hi, and ask how are you and your family? I have been thinking and praying for your uncle. But I am also thinking of you. Take care of yourself; it is so depressing to have a relative with a terminal illness. Do good things for yourself.


Hi, Diane,
Thanks so much for your note. Yeah, things have been shaky. I'm checking in with my psychopharmacologist daily and being extra careful about taking my multiple meds on time, having good sleep hygiene habits, etc. I'm sleeping about 18-20 hours a day though. People piss me off for no reason. I really don't want to socialize, answer phone calls, e-mail etc. People don't understand that they can't make it better. It's a brain chemical thing, dammit! (I want to tell them.) If I had diabetes you wouldn't tell me that a hug and a movie would help. I can't get people to bug off when I need them to. Crikey! I'm lucky to have one of the best psychopharmacologists in America as a doctor. But I'm basically a pharmacy with legs. My med bill last month was over $1600. So I'm broke. But hey, I have a roof over my head, rice in the pot, tuna fish in the can, fresh tap water and I'm writing letters to my great-uncle. It just won't be possible for me to see him. To quote from the "Sweet Honey in the Rock" song, "death, you's a mean ole' thing".
I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi Knight, the same as my Father.
STAR WARS (1977)

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David Loftus
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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby David Loftus » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:50 pm

Take care, Gwyn.

Having been med-free save for occasional aspirin and post-surgical painkillers, I can't imagine a life like yours. I'm probably the sanest person I know, but that doesn't mean my life's a bed of roses, either. Just a different set of thorns.

Remember you have a lot of friends here.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

Gwyneth M905
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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby Gwyneth M905 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:23 pm

Thank you, David. I tend to forget that I have friends when I'm in the dumps. :( Everything becomes so terrifying to me, everything such a huge obstacle to overcome, every interaction with another person a potentially hazardous brush with hostility and hatred, that I'd just rather stay on my sofa. Daylight and midnight are the same to me. I just sleep. Everything is horrible.
I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi Knight, the same as my Father.
STAR WARS (1977)

diane bartels
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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby diane bartels » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:02 pm

Hey Gwyn, just saying hi, hoping urok.

Gwyneth M905
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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby Gwyneth M905 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:46 am

My great-uncle Don died yesterday at 9:05 p.m. Iowa time. I got the call in the morning that he had lost consciousness and continence; Mom had gone out to Hospice to be with him. My Uncle was manning the phone at their home in Iowa. I called the Hospice nurses and asked if they could hold the phone up to his ear.

I told him how much I loved him, that he was surrounded by love and going to a gentle place with Jesus. (My uncle is a very observant Baptist Christian, and had said that he wasn't afraid of dying, he had been a believing Christian and "when the Lord wants to take me He will")

As a bilingual German-English speaker, Uncle Don was a translator and a foot soldier in WWII. He survived D-Day landing on Normandy Beach. He translated for displaced people from the concentration camps. He negotiated a surrender of a village with General Eisenhower and helped film the atrocities of the camps. He had war trophies from Berchtesgaden (all of which he sent to the Eisenhower Museum last month to avoid falling into the hands of modern neo-Nazi nuts.)

This is a man who worked his whole life as a factory worker in an ammunition plant, battery plant, and a brief stint as a security guard. He never owned a car, but kept his driver's license current. He taught me how to drive and showed nerves of steel in doing so. He rode a bike to work every day, whether during -50 degree wind chill Iowa winters with ice and snow on the roads or 90 degree summers with 70 percent dewpoint.

He is directly responsible for my getting my college degree. When I had to go under the knife and into treatment for a second round of liver tumors in 1989, Bryn Mawr's financial aid department promised (verbally) that they would hold my scholarships for me. They lied, or at least went back on their word. I had one semester left to go.

I remember Uncle Don coming to my bedside in the hospital and patting my head. "It's a crime that this bright girl shouldn't finish college." he said. Then, he withdrew his entire life savings, $17,000 to pay for my last semester. He told me to pay him back as best I could, when I could.

I sent him $50 a month from then on in, and we wrote back and forth. Four years later, he inherited a windfall from my Great-Uncle Karl and was able to retire very comfortably. He immediately wrote off my debt to him. "I have enough to live on and I'm set for life," he said.

He was very artistic and used to create art objects from found things that other people discarded. He made sculptures of wood, refinished and refurbished old furniture to look new and interesting. He made mobiles from bike tires, restored and hung a large discarded chandelier in his living room. (The fact that it looked out of place made it so interesting.) He painted his bathroom with footprints coming in the door, then going up the walls and dancing (a la Murray Dance School diagrams) among the Mondrian-like colors he had used to paint the ceiling.

He was a devotee of yoga and would spend 20 minutes every day in a head stand in the corner of his living room. He was a very calm and kind man. He never married and had no kids.

He is donating his body to the University of Iowa and is leaving the family with the choice of having a memorial service, or not. "I won't be there." he said laughing. Last week he wrote his own obituary. He stayed compos mentis all the way until Saturday -- Sunday he died.

He died of cancer, which came from his one vanity -- he liked to lie outside, drink iced tea and get a tan every summer. Apparently the cancer was eating away his face.

I can't and couldn't afford to go home to Iowa to see him. We spoke on the phone and I wrote him a letter about a funny incident here in San Francisco.

One small life, well lived, is gone. I will tender my memories of him with care.
I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi Knight, the same as my Father.
STAR WARS (1977)

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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby Moderator » Mon Jul 05, 2010 5:42 pm

Brilliant post, Gwyn -- and keeping his memory in your heart is testament to his impact on your world.

That's all any of us can ask: that we have a profound effect on another person while we're living. Your uncle did precisely that.

Thank you for sharing the story.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

Douglas Harrison
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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby Douglas Harrison » Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:17 pm

I was quite moved by your remembrance of your great-uncle, Gwyneth. It gave me something. Thank you.

Wishing you solace,
D.

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Chuck Messer
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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby Chuck Messer » Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:21 pm

Gwyn, I'm having a hard time coming up with words for your posting about your great uncle. I know how it feels to lose one of your favorite people -- and to cancer, that thief.

It's kind of close to home. I just wanted you to know that I know how you feel.

Chuck
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David Loftus
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Re: Acquiring the Acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Ellison by A Fan

Postby David Loftus » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:57 pm

Really a lovely, lovely tribute to your great-uncle, Gwyn. I wish I had known him. Your piece kind of made me feel I did.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus


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