I should be working now, instead of sitting at my desk on the boat writing, but frankly, I am a bit tired and a little sad. Don’t worry, I will get over my sadness. I just have to be grateful for all I have, how lucky I am, and, that I am even alive.
I think of you often, Mom. I am, for the most part, doing well. You would be livid over our new president, but I doubt we would be arguing politics, as we often did. All I can say is, that he is not a gentleman. I didn’t vote for him, but I was in the hospital in a coma, so I cannot take the high ground. It reminds me of the comment I made when you were in the hospital when Jimmy Carter ran against Ronald Reagan, and I told you that God struck you down so you couldn’t vote. I never said I was sorry, even though you kicked me out of your hospital room.
February 6, I had a reserved slot to pass through the Panama Canal, spend a few days in the Las Perlas Islands off the coast of Panama to wait for a weather window, then make the long, twenty five-day sail across the Pacific to the Marquises, then on to French Polynesia, the Solomon’s and Australia and, countless other islands in the South Pacific. I had hoped to sail north to Japan, then to Alaska, and down through Puget Sound and stop in San Francisco. It takes a long time to prepare, and Ariadne, my boat, was ready. My Aussie sailing partners, Karen and Dave Pratt on S/V Amokura messaged me today, telling me how they will miss me. I will miss them as well. The Pacific this time of year is long swells, beautiful sea, and the wind behind the mast day after day. My boat is ready for this long adventure. My body is not, and never will be again. I told Mark, whom as you recall, has been my friend since I was 12, that I was disappointed and a bit sad that I would miss this adventure. Mark said, “You have had far more than your fair share of adventure in this life.” I have.
I came to Tampa on October 12 to buy a few things for Ariadne, planning to go on to Ohio to teach a seminar with David. I was driving north on I-275 in Tampa in heavy traffic on my way to the airport, plenty of time to spare. I felt dizzy, then immediately passed out. Don’t worry, Mom. I didn’t hit anyone or anything. The car veered into a ditch, hitting no other cars, and doing no damage. There were two good Samaritans who came to my help and called the police and an ambulance. I said, “Yes” when the policeman asked if I could walk up the embankment, I stood, threw up, and collapsed. The cop carried my then 190-pound body up the hill and placed me on a stretcher. I was taken to St Josephs, a mile or so away, examined, and found to have a defective heart valve. Two days later, I had open heart surgery to replace it with a valve from a cow. After surgery, my sailing plan was still intact. I would be back on my boat in no time at all.
Two days into recovery, my world changed forever.
I came to in a room full of machines. Barbara was sitting next to me and Sam, in the doorway, tubes in my mouth nose, legs, chest…and every other place you can think of.
“Hey, Dad, you want to know who won the World Series and the election?”
I rolled over and passed out again, thinking he had a poor sense of humor. The elections were not for two more weeks, I thought, not knowing I had had a massive heart attack from a drug reaction, been in a coma for three weeks on life support machines, lost 26 pounds and flirted constantly with death. Nor did I know that the doctors in Tampa had no idea what was wrong with me, and helicoptered me to Florida Hospital in Orlando where the heart team there saved my life.
I thought a lot about this today. I remember when you came to me in a vision while I was in a coma, and said I would get a new heart on February 4. It has come and gone, Mom. Did you mean February 14? I hope so. I recall how you looked when you appeared to me. You were about 50 or so, younger than I am.
Lucille has done more for me than I can say, Mom. We have become close. She was present for all the important things that happened in the hospital and made decisions for me when I could not. Christine has called me nearly every day. She is a wonderful grandmother. You taught her well. Diane and Mary Ellen have kept in constant touch. Diane and Chris talked all the time when I was in a coma, my life in the balance, and cried, thinking I would die. I love it that they cried for me. I am glad I survived, so that I could find sort of a perverse pleasure in how many people were crying, and praying for me.
Ariadne is for sale, which breaks my heart. I loved living on a boat and the sea. I loved being in Panama, a place where I stayed longer than I wanted to, because I fell in love with a beautiful woman whose parents were from China. She was fun, laughed a lot, and could fish better than I could. I wanted her to sail with me, but she got miserably sea sick. I didn’t do the right thing by her. I have not done well in love. In the years that have long past, I told myself and those who would listen that my family was certainly first. That was delusional. My work and my ambition was first.
Now, I am tethered to a medicine bag, waiting for a new heart. Do you think you could have a chat with God? I don’t want someone to die to save my life, but would you please help those who make these decisions to see that there is a heart for me? On February 14, if that’s not too much to ask?
I miss you, Mom. I was close to being the first to come to see you in heaven, but I suspect I would have had to spend some time in purgatory with Dad before God let me into heaven.