Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bill's Valentine

Valentine’s Day, 2013

Posted by Bill

It is by no means a normal Valentine’s Day. Like most husbands, I try to find creative ideas to celebrate, but this year is tough. No jewelry, she doesn’t want it. No flowers, there have been too many. No candy, she doesn’t eat sugar.

Our lives since the discovery of Maggie’s brain cancer on December 21 have been chaotic, to say the least. But now with more positive medical news—watching her walking again with more mobility and indomitable spirit, things are looking good.  Good enough that I can relax a little. Her spirit was shown by the first blog on this subject which was written at the lowest or almost lowest point in this trial. Written in the middle of the night when she could have simply despaired.

Our experience with reputable hospitals was mostly bad in spite of the best efforts of seriously overworked staffs. At the first hospital where we spent several days  while they tried to figure out the next step, I heard one nurse tell another that he wished he could be cloned so that he could catch up with the demands put on him. We spent several days before and after Christmas there and that meant many things were closed, unavailable, understaffed etc. We then spent day and a half at another hospital where a neurosurgeon was available, but it was also understaffed and seriously overcrowded.Then on to brain surgery for the biopsy and three days in in the intensive care unit which became overcrowded but was well-staffed.

My point mentioning all of the above is that I had to be with her all of the time, because she was not getting adequate attention from hospital staff. Not that I would have left anyway. The result was that by the time we got home after nine days in hospitals I was fine physically, but my mind was suffering from too much lost sleep. My memory was about gone and my attention span was very short. However, it was all about Maggie and I was glad  that I was spending as much time as I could with her while it was still possible. It seemed like a privilege. All I cared about was her survival and recovery. I would do whatever needed to be done and spend whatever needed to be spent without hesitation. Anyone involved that didn’t have the same attitude was irrelevant along with any problems they might have.

I found the possibility of going on without her totally unacceptable. The only way I could handle it was to say to myself, “Fine. if she goes, I’ll be right behind her.” That possibility presented a bleak and pointless life of sadness. To do another painting that I couldn’t show to her would be like a stab in the heart.

I have to admit that I have never felt so totally unqualified and incompetent as I did being a caregiver and nursemaid. I also had never in my life gone through a period when there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Whether recovering from an operation, getting through special forces training, or a nasty divorce, there was always the assurance that it would end and things would get better. It didn’t seem that way during the first month of our trial.

So what to do for Valentine’s? Celebrate the wonderful progress she’s made, talk about all the places we’ve been and things we’ve done, and how wonderful our lives have been together, and how much more there is to come.

The painting, Fond Memories, 11x14, $550, is one of many happy memories from a trip to Scotland. When we go to teach a workshop, we go early to get over jet lag and paint enough to reaquaint ourselves with the local scenery, which very unlike New Mexico. For one thing, it rains. This painting is across Loch Ewe from Gairloch on the northwestern coast of Scotland. We stayed in a quaint hotel—they are all quaint in Scotland—and the next morning, woke to gale force winds pounding the enormous glass windows looking out from the breakfast room. It was spectacular. After a bit, two clearly local fishermen came in for breakfast. They didn’t seem to be used to the place, and we wondered if they had been forced in by the weather. They looked at the menu, rejected the porridge, the full Scottish breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, haggis, grilled tomatoes, toasts, marmalade) and ordered kippers. We had never tried those, though we both usually like to try something new frequently when in a foreign country. It turned out to be a good thing. They were enormous spiny fish, smoked, pungently awful. We finished breakfast quickly and went out to more pleasant memories!


  1. did the best Valentine Maggie could have asked for. Your love, dedication and determination is helping her to fight back, and reading blogs from both of you keeps your friends right by your side, as secondary backup. You can feel the love,not just from each other, but from your friends and family
    And it was wonderful for you to select Scotland as one of your Happy glad you saw the beauty in the crap weather!!! I do too...I call it dramatic, and certainly never boring!! We look forward to you both returning to Scotland! xx

  2. Bill, how sweet. There will always be time for flowers :>) One day soon when Maggie is fully recovered and the current flowers and problems are a distant memory, you can surprise her.

  3. Bill, you have been in my thoughts as much as Maggie since I heard the news. I was a physical therapist assistant, so I am intimately aware of staffing problems in health care facilities and can empathize; it is the reason I quit to be one-on-one, 24/7 caregiver for my elderly mother-in-law for 8 years. Those years were the years I reconnected with my artistic side and that was a huge gift to me. Shortly after she passed away, I attended my first pastel workshop with Maggie in Kansas City and joined the 2 of you in Scotland in 2009 - such a wonderful experience that I am so grateful for! I too, have "Fond Memories" of Scotland - your painting is beautiful. Although we don't know each other well, you two have been a big influence in my life and I am picturing both of you every day surrounded by healing light.

  4. I am sorry to let others know of Maggie Price's Death earlier this morning. Maggie was an outstanding artist and will be missed by many. Keep kind thoughts for her husband, children and grandchildren.

  5. I am so sad to hear of the loss of Maggie. May her family find peace in her memory.