January 1, 1997
My year-end letter this year begins with a few words regarding my mother, Jo Stockdale, who died December 27, 1996, after succumbing to the devastating effects of scleroderma. She was registered with the Living Bank and donated her body to the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Since we didn’t have a service, I felt it would be appropriate to say a few things here.
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary says only this about scleroderma: a usually slowly progressive disease marked by the deposition of fibrous connective tissue in the skin and often in internal organs. According to the Scleroderma Research Foundation:
- Scleroderma literally means “hard skin.”
- It is a chronic, degenerative disorder that leads to the overproduction of collagen in the body’s connective tissue.
- Scleroderma is most serious when it affects internal organs, causing severe damage and serious complications to the body’s digestive, respiratory, circulatory and immune systems.
- An estimated 500,000 Americans have scleroderma.
- Approximately 80% of its victims are women, most in the prime of their lives.
- More people are affected by scleroderma than muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis or cystic fibrosis.
- Unfortunately, there is of yet no known cause or cure.
- Scientists believe there are both genetic predisposition and environmental elements that lead to its development, and are working hard to isolate these factors.
- Scleroderma is not contagious, nor directly hereditary.
Mother was first diagnosed with Raynaud’s phenomenon, which affected blood circulation to her limbs, in the late ‘50s. About 10-15 years, she began to experience some of the early internal organ symptoms which were then diagnosed as scleroderma. To us, there were few, if any, visible symptoms of her disease. On one hand, this was a blessing. On the other, however, it proved to be an insidious effect because no one could ‘see’, much less ‘feel’, her suffering or pain. The disease’s effects seemed to acclerate over the past three months. Daddy put her in the hospital on December 20th, and after two days she seemed to be gathering some strength. But then by the 26th her liver and kidneys had essentially shut down. There was nothing the doctors could do other than help her to be comfortable, which she appeared to be on her final day.
She was one of those people who probably touched many more lives than she would have ever realized. She certainly had close friends among band director’s wives through the years, as well as good friends she maintained from our years in Pampa, Lubbock, Olton, Bridgeport and Azle. But she also had the opportunity to come into contact with many others through her work at the bank and the high school in Olton, Mitchell Energy and the Desk and Derrick organization in Bridgeport, and her volunteer readings for children at the Azle library.
She loved to write to express herself, which especially showed in several creative ‘projects’ she did while she worked at the bank in Olton. One of these ‘projects’ was a letter to my commanding officer at the Air Force Academy upon the occasion of my failing mid-term grade in physics. The wit, humor and creativity exhibited in that letter warranted its publication in the Academy’s monthly magazine. She was much entertained and inspired by Erma Bombeck, and grieved her death. She also loved Oprah Winfrey (whom she met while attending a taping in Chicago) and Tom Snyder. (I must admit this causes me some concern, but I trust that this particular gene skips a generation. Or two.)
I’ll always remember one conversation we had, which I related to Stacy two nights ago. During the summer after my 7th grade year in Lubbock, she was concerned that I hadn’t played baseball, and didn’t indicate any interest in participating in anything. We were driving down the Brownfield Highway. She said firmly, and with some disappointment, “You’ve got too much God-given talent to not do something with it.” For some reason that’s always stuck with me, and I thank her for it as I recall it more times than I’d like to admit.
I’ve heard the theory that you can judge the success of parents by their children. I hope that Freddy, Lizann and I can do justice in reflecting her, and Daddy’s, love and parenting. In lieu of flowers, Mother requested that donations be made to the Scleroderma Research Foundation, 2320 Bath Street, Suite 307, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, 1-800-441-CURE.
For me, 1996 really began about four hours early. Through our mutual friend Connie, I met Sherry at a New Year’s Eve party. Afterwards, I asked Connie about maybe setting us up. She declined and said, “Nah, it wouldn’t work out — you aren’t each other’s type.” I didn’t pursue it. Then in June, Connie called and asked me to help Sherry with her new computer because Sherry was driving her friends crazy with questions and problems. So I helped her once in June, once in July, then asked her out in August. Thus began a progressively serious relationship which culminated with a marriage proposal (and acceptance!) on November 8th, and a ring on December 23rd. I’ll move over there after we’re married on March 8th.
Stacy is now 13 and continuing to thrive as an 8th grader. She stays busy with volleyball, basketball and band. Oh, and her grades are okay, too. She’s discovered America Online this year. We didn’t take a summer vacation. Instead, we decided we’d wait and go skiing this winter. We’ve made plans to go to Crested Butte, Colorado, in the middle of February. And coincidentally, one of her good friends has also made plans to go to the same place at the same time. So that should be a great trip.
I was very honored last February to be elected to the Board of Trustees for the Institute of General Semantics. This wll give me the opportunity to more actively participate with Institute initiatives, while maintaining the momentum of my own studies and practices in the discipline. I completed their Advanced Training Seminar last February near Austin, then served as Administrator for the week-long Seminar-Workshop in July at St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York. And I made two other trips to the New York area for gs in September and December. The December trip to New York was notable for three reasons. I went to attend the 45th annual Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture at the Harvard Club. The lecture was given by Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and the author of Flow and, most recently, Creativity . It turned out that Sherry and her daughter scheduled a trip to NYC on the same weekend with four of Sherry’s friends from college and their daughters, so I got to spend Saturday and Sunday playing tourist with them. And, fortunately, I was once again privileged to bum a couch from one of my best friends from high school, Jim, on W. 22nd.
Last March I finally decided to see an orthopedic specialist concerning my right knee. I had been having some trouble with it for several months. Sure enough, there was some loose cartilage floating around in there, probably from all those years of shanked punts and missed extra points. A few minutes of arthroscopic surgery fixed me right up. The ski trip should be a good test of the knee, among other things.
Let’s see, what else happened last year? Oh, in February I played host to my first, and I hope last, “You Damn Right I Got the Blues Pity Party”. My impression was that everyone who attended seemed appropriately depressed, and for the most part pretty darn pitiful. I know I was so distraught that two weeks later I signed up for a dating service.
(Don’t even think about asking — fortunately, the statute of limitations for stupid decisions no involving a felony is only six months, so I don’t have to answer for that anymore.)
Work at TI was different this year, since I was invovled in an effort to look into new business areas for TI to pursue. You may have heard that TI is probably going to divest its defense group, so my days with them may be numbered. I enjoyed several concerts (Buddy Guy, Jimmy Buffett, Hootie and the Blowfish, the Rippington’s, Bobby Caldwell, and Everything But The Girl) and musicals (Carousel, West Side Story, Damn Yankees, Miss Saigon, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.) Oh, and I moved, so you might note the new return address.
Best regards and wishes for 1997,
“We see the world as ‘we’ are, not as ‘it’ is; because it is the “I” behind the ‘eye’ that does the seeing.” (Anais Nin)
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust)
“You can’t step into the same river twice.”(Heraclitus)