Tag Archives: Kathy Anne

How am I doing? Umm … OK

PORTLAND — The question is inevitable as I make my way across the western United States and begin thinking about the return trip to my home in North Texas.

“How are you doing?” my friends and family members ask with the look of those who know the pain I am feeling.

My answer is truthful. “Oh … I’m OK.” They know I’m not really OK, but they understand the reason the shrug I give them and the look in my eyes.

But in truth, I actually am doing a bit better than just OK. It’s not a lot better, but it’s a little bit so.

I embarked on this venture to clear my head after my wife passed away suddenly in early February after getting a cancer diagnosis that knocked me for a loop … but which seemed in the moment to have been something Kathy Anne might have expected.

She was stoic and steadfast in her response to the doctor: “Let’s just get it out of there.”

I had to leave the house. So, I did. I am very close to the halfway point. Soon I’ll be turning my pickup around and heading toward the house.

My sense is that I’ll be able to walk into my Princeton home feeling a bit of emotional relief as a result of the time I have taken away.

To be sure, there are likely to be more of these ventures in my near and medium-term future. This one, though, has been fairly successful in that I have been able to accomplish much of what I intended when Toby the Puppy and I hit the road nearly two weeks ago.

I’ll get more of the “How are you doing?” questions along the way. Those who ask it will get the same answer I’ve been giving. I trust they’ll understand.


Blog = journal

LA CENTER, Wash. — I have made a command decision on whether I am going to write a “journal” chronicling my progress out of the darkness after my bride’s tragic passing two months ago.

It is that I am writing it already. I have been doing so on this blog. I am doing so at this very moment.

My heart is still broken. It might be irreparably damaged. However, if the docs who treated Kathy Anne for the cancer that claimed her were unable to “control” the tumor, perhaps I can control the pain that tears at my ticker. I will seek to do that with this blog, although I assure you, I won’t write forever about this tragic event in my life.

For as long as I have something to offer, though, I will do so and High Plains Blogger will serve as a journal of sorts for me.

It’s helping me along the way as Toby the Puppy and I continue our lengthy journey.


Live it to the fullest

PORTLAND, Ore. — One of the lessons I have gleaned from my journey out west in the wake of my bride’s passing from cancer has been something I’ve known all along.

However, it is being driven home to me as a stark reality. It is to live one’s life fully and to never, ever take for granted that you’ve got a lot of time left on this Earth.

Kathy Anne likely didn’t see the diagnosis coming when she received it on Dec. 26. We had hoped to buy her some time, that the treatment she was scheduled to receive could “control” the lesion sufficiently to give her a good quality of life.

It didn’t work out.

She was gone in six weeks. It was a stunning outcome to an event I didn’t believe was probable. Yes, it was possible and I suppose I knew it could end the way it did. I just didn’t expect it.

The journey through the Great American West will continue in due course after I finish visiting friends and family in and near the city of my birth. I believe, though, that I have reached one undeniable conclusion at the midway point of this journey.

It is that I am going to relish the sunrise every single morning I am able to do so. Every day will be an adventure. I might not verbalize it when I awake, but I will certainly realize it as each day unfolds.

That’s not a bad way to go as I keep taking these baby steps toward the light.


A compliment? Yes, by all means!

EUGENE, Ore. — An extraordinary statement of affirmation came my way today from a reader of this blog. I want to share it with you.

Readers of High Plains Blogger know about the trek I have taken out west to get away from my house in North Texas in the wake of my bride’s passing away from cancer in early February. My intention has been to clear my head and to mend my shattered heart.

Frankly, I wasn’t expecting to receive the statement I got today from a gentleman I do not know well; indeed, he and I are only acquainted via social media. He wrote me to say that a friend of his just lost his wife of 45 years to cancer and he will recommend, in due course, that he take the same action I did … which is to get out of the house.

I am going to accept that statement as a compliment for the work I have produced on the road. I didn’t intend for it to be the kind of “therapy” that others might recommend.

However, I am growing ever so slowly away from the intense pain that still flares. It comes unexpectedly. It surprises me, even as I drive my truck while stroking Toby the Puppy as he sits on the passenger seat next to me.

Those fits are becoming a bit more manageable as I wend my way through the Great American West. Thus, my social media friend has recognized it and has indicated a desire to have his good friend follow the course I have blazed on my own journey out of the darkness.

I wish my friend’s friend well as he begins his own recovery.


Rivers are, um … full!

EUGENE, Ore. — I am back in the state where I began my life on this good Earth and noticed something intriguing — but not at all surprising, given what we have heard and read — as I drove here.

The rivers are full, as in brimming full of water. They’re past their normal “full” settings.

The North and South Umpqua rivers? Full. The headwaters of the Willamette River? Full. Every creek was more than a creek as I drove past them.

That is what the “atmospheric river” has brought to the normally wet Pacific Northwest, or as one of my sisters calls it: the Great Northwet.

It’s good to be back, even though it is under circumstances I would trade for a moment, given the tragedy I have suffered in recent weeks. I said when Kathy Anne passed away that I wanted to get out of the North Texas home we shared. I have done so.

The trees are mighty tall. Many of the leafy varieties haven’t yet bloomed, but their day is coming soon.

The rivers look healthy, as do the playas that dot the landscape. The mountain sides have snow, and that, too, will help alleviate the drought conditions that have plagued this region in recent years.

Ah, yes. It’s good to be back, although I don’t call it “home” any longer. Home is where I live these days nine miles from my granddaughter.

Still, I intend to get caught up with family members and friends.

The journey has borne plenty of emotional fruit for me. I am glad and grateful to have taken this plunge.


Journaling? Hmm … gotta ponder it

One of the bits of advice I have received from friends who have endured the loss of a loved one involves something I have resisted doing for as long as I have been writing professionally and publicly.

It deals with writing a journal. I have tried my hand at “journaling” and determined that — to put it simply — it just ain’t my thing.

My bride passed away suddenly of cancer in early February. I have been writing about my feelings concerning that shattering loss regularly through this blog. I hope I am not boring you with this, but it is serving as a balm for the pain that continues to tear at me. Many of you have gone through this already, so you know to what I am referring.

I keep thinking that blogging about it is tantamount to writing a journal. Maybe it is … in my mind and heart.

A dear friend suggested I write a journal and submit the entries in my own handwriting. There’s a “visceral quality” to expressing oneself in that fashion, he said, and it serves as more of a cleansing agent than typing entries onto a Word document.

I am going to ponder that for a little while. I’m on the road at the moment and will be winding my way back to North Texas soon. I have declared my intention for this journey to be to clear my head and start mending my heart.

My noggin is clearing a little each day. My heart still needs plenty of work.

I hope to decide soon whether I want to commence “journaling” as a way to start to mending my shattered heart. I will wait until the end of this journey. If I proceed, I won’t say a word here. I just thought you ought to know about this latest minor emotional tussle I am seeking to overcome.


Therapy is taking hold

Every journey is an adventure of discovery, or at least one can hope the discovery occurs,

So it is with the trek I have taken with Toby the Puppy. We have ventured to California. We’re heading farther west to the Pacific Ocean in just a little while. I declared my intention for this trip to “clear my head and mend my heart.”

My noggin is clearing a little bit each day. The heart? It remains shattered by the loss of my bride, Kathy Anne. However, I am detecting a bit of mending is starting to close — just a tiny bit — some of the wounds that were inflicted on my ticker.

I spoke with one of my closest friends on Earth today; indeed, I intend to see him very soon. He lost his bride to cancer not many years ago, so he knows the nature of my suffering.

He said that “it’s good always to keep looking forward as you move on, but you’ll always glance at the rearview mirror as you keep moving.” Yes. I am doing a good bit of rearward glancing these days.

But I also am finding out that writing about this journey, as I am doing at this moment, does provide some relief from the pain — in the moment. Once I stop typing, well, then it comes back.

But it’s not hurting as much as it did in the immediate aftermath of the worst day of my life.

I only can conclude that the therapeutic nature of his trek is producing the desired effect. I will count that as a success.


How about this discovery?

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — One of the more remarkable discoveries I have made on this journey I decided to take out west has kinda caught me by surprise.

It is that I do not miss keeping up with those political matters that seem to drive many Americans damn near to the nut house.

Ohhh, no. Most of my conscious thoughts these days involve my bride, who I lost to cancer this past month. Indeed, I think of her practically every waking minute of every day. But … I also seek to fill my days on this westward trek with sights I am seeing, those I have seen and those I will see.

Those of you who read this blog know that I have not forsaken all political commentary of late. I like to weigh in when events merit commentary on this venue. So, I do.

However, I do not look for topics on which to bloviate. If they present themselves, fine. I’ll weigh in.

My time instead is spent looking for joyous sights to see and looking forward to seeing more family and friends along the way.

I’ve only logged about 1,500 or so miles on the truck on this trip. I figure this journey could exceed 6,000 miles by the time I roll into my driveway in Collin County. Almost all of those miles and all that time will be spent enjoying the here and now.

Yes, Kathy Anne never is far from my thoughts and my heart. I am beginning to appreciate better the notion that (a) she would want me to enjoy myself and (b) she’s with me every step of the way.

You know what? I am beginning to draw comfort from it.


Journey about to begin

Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. A strange, but I hope invigorating journey is about to commence for Toby the Puppy and me.

It’ll take about a month to complete. I want to get a couple of points out of the way.

First is the obvious aspect of the strangeness of this trek I am about to take. It will be the first such journey without my beloved bride, Kathy Anne. She’s been gone now for a little more than a month. I decided several weeks ago to take this trip just to get out of the house.

So, I will do so likely before the sun comes up in the morning. I will see plenty of friends and family along my journey westward. I am not looking forward to being greeted by those who will look at me, well … differently. Kathy Anne and I spent more than 51 years together and we did practically everything together. 

Virtually all of my friends have known me only as one half of a team. My much better half won’t be there when Toby and I show up. You get my drift, yes?

Now … that’s off my chest. I want to stipulate a more important point, which is the way I intend to chronicle this journey. I will not dwell on the intense sadness I continue to feel. Instead, I intend to convey the marvelous discoveries I will make along the way.

The Grand Canyon awaits; yes, I’ve been there already, but its splendor is beyond description. Same for the sequoia forests of California; I’ve never seen the monstrous trees, so I want to share my awe at nature’s towers. The Pacific Coast highway from San Francisco to the Oregon border (weather permitting) will get plenty of attention, too.

The return trip from the Northwest will include a brief leg along the Loneliest Highway in America and will take my puppy and me through Santa Fe and into West Texas.

This blog serves multiple purposes. It serves as a platform for me to vent on politics and policy It also gives me a voice to express personal feelings and the joy of living the dream. If a grand jury indicts a former POTUS, well, I’ll weigh in on that at the right time. Absent that and some other things I might notice on our trip, I am going to devote a lot of cyber space recording the joys of the sights I see, sounds I hear and the people I meet.

So, with that, let’s enjoy the ride together.


Open road awaits

As you know by now, my retirement journey has taken a dramatic — and so very tragic — turn in recent weeks.

My bride, Kathy Anne, passed away from cancer. I miss her every minute of every day.

But … the journey we took together is about to resume, but with one significant difference — which I do not need to explain.

Still, I am preparing to hit the road with Toby the Puppy, who’s all in on the travel plans. I’ve told him in vivid detail about our plans. He listened. Wagged his tail. Pawed my arm. He’s good to go!

I intend to make this a journey of adventure. I will travel along some fairly familiar rights-of-way, having made this trek before with my bride. But not all of it will be familiar. The return trip home to North Texas will include some remote stretches of highway through the Nevada mountains, into Utah and then north of Santa Fe, N.M.

Kathy Anne and I always loved to take new, unexplored routes on our travels. I will continue that tradition as best I can during the month Toby the Puppy and I are on the road. And … as some of my friends have requested, I intend fully to chronicle my journey on this blog.

As I have mentioned already, my mission is to clear my head and mend my heart. I won’t set my expectation for success too high; indeed, I won’t set any expectation. I will take this journey one day at a time … which will be the setup for how I intend to live the rest of my life.

So, the open road is clear.