Today is my sister Cynthia’s 67th birthday. We had a family reunion in St. Augustine, Florida seven years ago to celebrate her sixtieth. After several careers, Cynthia is a Suzuki violin teacher again and has her own school in Stuart, Florida. She and I have always been very close.
When I was a very young child, one of my happiest memories was taking a taxi alone with Cynthia (whom I called Dondee) to Catherine Sweeney Day School to go to her school fair, and sharing a Flying Saucer ice cream bar. I recounted that pleasant memory in my toast to Cynthia and Dwight the night before their wedding. A few years after the taxi ride, I too went to Catherine Sweeney Day School for kindergarten. That followed our move up town.
(Refer to my postings on October 1st and December 23rd 2008 for a recounting of Cynthia's gift of India Pudding--Dennis' last beloved Blenheim Cavalier.)
Many years later, in 2006, Dennis and I with our good friends Debbie and Joan were in Venice for Carnevale. We spent Sunday February 19, Cynthia's birthday, at the opening ceremonies with the descent of the dove from the campanile in Piazza San Marco. (Tomorrow's post will recount significant events of that trip six years ago.)
After our return on March 1st, Dennis deteriorated rapidly. One night he had a bad fall. But before that happened, I had tickets for the ballet on Friday night. I was going to stay home, but Dennis said that I had a life too and should go. I was gone about three hours.
When I returned Dennis was completely disoriented. I think he had taken one of the morphine tablets prescribed by his doctor. He had fallen in the hall on his way to the bathroom. To steady himself he had grabbed onto books instead of the bookcases. Several books were on the floor. One rare English New Testament had split its binding. I helped Dennis back to bed— after calling Ben our next door neighbor— but couldn’t sleep at all that night.
The next morning my brother Sherry called. After hearing my story, he called Cynthia, who telephoned me. The next thing I knew, Cynthia was on her way from Stuart near West Palm Beach to San Francisco.
She mentioned to Bob-- her current husband, golf and bridge partner and best friend-- that there was a flight around noon. He said: “Are you asking….. or telling me?” She had to re-schedule all 50 of her violin students and planned to spend a week.
Cynthia completely stocked up the refrigerator and freezer. Dennis particularly liked the fruit popsicles. She made soup and several dinners, which she froze for both Dennis and me.
We called Kaiser Hospice and had an interview set up for Monday. Cynthia rearranged the hallway and took up some rugs. We were accepted –and were assigned a nurse, social worker, home health aide and spiritual counselor. We got a narrow wheel chair, which Cynthia practiced navigating in our crowded hallway.
Dennis told her (perhaps in a backhanded reference to her former husband, who had spent a number of weeks with us over several months before he found a place of his own): “You are always welcome.”