Tuesday, May 30, 2006

10 Years Ago: Last Cruise of My Life?

I have a little catching up to do on my "10 Years Ago" series. Lots of things were happening in May of 1996. First of all, as you might recall from the last installment, we were on our way to Alaska, both of us thinking--but not saying out loud--that it would be my last cruise. A nice way to go out. I did, however, set a goal of gaining some weight. I decided to eat/eat/eat until I could hold no more. On the first day, we met a gay couple who had been together for 52 years, who had met as soldiers during WW2. Jim got very misty and said to me, "I want 52 years with you!" It prompted me to write a poem called "52 Years" which ends with a silly punchline.

The first thing I did was, between taking long naps because I was feeling really ill, to find the piano and start playing and singing. It was always my best therapy. One day I was sitting there playing and singing the songs from TLS, eyes closed, having my own private party. Suddenly, I looked up and saw that a little Japanese family had entered the room and sat near the piano listening. The "grandmother" was busy doing something with her hands.

"Finally they got up to go out. I didn't really feel like saying goodbye or breaking the mood of the moment, so I kept on playing and ducked my head keeping my eyes closed. Then I looked up and the younger of the two women was standing right in front of me. She took a beautifully intricate gold foil origami bird out and put it on the piano. She said something Japanese with a very stumbling, "Thank you," and they left.

"I was so touched, I think I cried."
The rest of the cruise was tough. I know I had a good time but I was getting sicker and sicker. I even stopped taking notes. My diarrhea was out of control, but I just kept eating and eating determined to gain something, anything.

But when we got home, I got on the scales and, even after all that food, I had lost another pound. That's when I knew I was seriously in trouble...
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For my birthday, also St. Francis of Assisi Day,

here is "Rescue" the song I sang to Erika Amato 's Buddy the dog. Imagine if we loved humans as much as we love our animals...