Falling Pianos

March 19, 2000

I once sent a birthday card to a young relative who'd just turned 26, and on the card I wrote,"I remember when I was 26. I was young, strong, smart, handsome...I had my whole life ahead of me and the future looked bright. Then a piano fell from the sky and killed me".

Cathy, who'd been working on a website since we met, wanted to build me one. I didn't know what I'd do with a website, and why would anyone be interested in anything I had to say anyway? But I did have a lot of material. My old friend Robert urged me to build one too. He said,"The problem with most websites is lack of original material. You have tons of it". He told me I should take my narratives I'd been writing for over a year and build a website. So if you like originality then this is your piano...be very careful where you walk and always keep an eye on the sky.

So I told Cathy okay, she took the website Denise had started in 1999, deleted the information (sorry Denise!), and started from scratch. It was originally called 'The Way I See It' because, as I told Cathy,"This is strictly my point of view. I don't have time to put everyone's opinion on here, and if someone disagrees they can build their own website". It evolved into "A Celebration of Life" because I was celebrating the life I was given and the people who touched it. I told Cathy,"Many people never recognize the beauty and joy in their lives and so I'm recognizing mine". I know---sounds like a load of crap. I was young.

I was very involved in the process, sometimes asking her to change the smallest details...shades of color, one or two spacings, one word. I was extremely picky. I eventually started learning small bits of code so I could do small changes myself and not bug the heck out of Cathy. There was an initiative at my work to learn HTML. I was in the class for four sessions and thought I could use my personal website to learn.

Work was wearing on me. The 13-hour night shifts were burning me out, and when Cathy and I were together my sleep was eratic. But we loved being together, and she was very patient. I was supervising an Airman who always caused trouble (I'll call her NK). She defied me on a regular basis (I led a team of five Airman) and wouldn't cooperate with me when she was in trouble. I'd come home exhausted, try to chat with Cathy, and had nothing left to give. I told her many times, "I'm now making this personal--I want to kill NK". Sometimes when the office was cold and NK had her coat on, I'd quietly put food in her hood when she wasn't looking.

I loved visiting Cathy in the countryside, being out of this crowded traffic pile they call Hampton Roads (funny how the word 'roads' is in the name--should tell you something), living the quiet life, playing with her dog Spike.
I loved Spike. He was a Jack Russel Terrier who growled constantly. I'd visit and he'd throw a fit growling, barking, snarling, and I'd just pick him up and take him out of the room or sometimes I'd hold his mouth shut and laugh at him. He acted viscious but was harmless, and adorable. All bark, no bite.

On March 19 we visited Montpelier, Virginia, home of former President James Madison. Like Thomas Jefferson, Madison had already been dead for some time.

Michael...I wish you hadn't told me that piano story...I'm freaking out>>> Michael...what did you do to Spike?  He feels cold and clammy>>>
Side by side>>>
Neatly stacked>>>