We've been together for over seven years. Sue - she prefers Sue over Marilyn - and I were part of Sage, the learning-in-retirement school at the University of Arizona, and I was in her creative writing class. I had never done any writing before, but my children convinced me to write my memories. I needed a great deal of assistance, and Sue was there for me.
My wife had passed away, and I was single again. I could now spend time with my buddies - lunch at the Marriot between classes. I rented an apartment at an independent living complex called Villa Serenas. After classes I would lounge around the pool and have dinner with friends. Bill Cochran was my best friend, and we, among other things, hiked Sabino Canyon every Sunday morning with Betty Rogers and other Sage people. Betty and I had a relationship. It was a great life, footloose and fancy free - no one depending on me, and no one telling me what to do.
I told Sue that I was interested in selling my map collection online, and she offered to set up a Web site. It was necessary to spend a great deal of time together. You guessed it; I was no longer footloose and fancy free. Once again, someone depended on me and would tell me what to do. Sue confided to me years later that she had decided I was for her.
Fast forward to August '07 and Sue's paralyzing stroke. I was sitting beside her bed at the Stroke Center at Presbyterian Hospital The doctor could not wake her up. I feared the worst and immediately phoned her son, Nick, who lives in Riverside, California. "Nick, your mother has had a stroke and is unconscious."
There was a long pause. The voice at the other end sobbed, "I'll be there as soon as I can."
True to his word, Nick was there the next day. He spent ten days here. His time was spent at his mother’s bedside and altering the apartment to make it wheelchair friendly. He moved Sue's computer to the bedroom and set up a new computer in the living room that he could control from California, so that he could correct computer problems from there. He also set up a tv camera so that he could see his mother from California. He phones her at least once every day.
We visited him in California last month and slept in a room reserved for Senator Sue Dye. (Sue was twice elected to the Arizona Senate). Nick has erected, as an extension to his house, a large room. The room lies empty and is for the exclusive use of his mother as a place to live. No nursing home for Sue.
When Sue came home from the hospital, her grandson, Joseph, was already installed in our spare room. Joseph is an artist who graduated from Northwestern in June. He has promised to live with us and take care of his grandmother. He shops, feeds us, and does all those things that a twenty-eight-year-old can do that two octogenarians cannot. He monitors medication and supervises exercise. He wheels Sue’s chair through the streets and on and off buses, to doctor appointments, theatres and restaurants, all with a loving smile. It really is unbelievable.
Sue has the three men she loves securing her present happiness, her future happiness, and a place to go when the end beckons.
What does Sue know that we don't?
Copyright © 2008 by Sy Amkraut