I’m delighted to announce that my short story “You Don’t Need Fingers to Live” was accepted for publication in the 2019 Redwood Writers Anthology. The title of the book will be Endurance: Stories of Struggle and Perseverance. It was my sincere pleasure to write the story of Paul Langlois who was a helicopter pilot in the Coast Guard, a Distinguished Flying Cross Award recipient and then Reach helicopter pilot in Sonoma County. He was also a master cyclist. He had to quit flying when he contracted a rare disease, Amyloidosis, that most people don’t survive for longer than six months. He had to have a heart transplant, and years of chemo and other treatments to keep the disease from killing him. He got a bacterial infection that spread to sepsis and both hands and feet had to be amputated. Nonetheless, true to his unflagging positive spirit, he now has prostheses, goes to physical therapy, is driving a car with special controls and is building his own bicycle to be able to ride again. It is a story of enduring physical and spiritual strength and a passion to live. I met him and his wife through a friend and am proud to have written his story.
Time to catch up with you on my activities!
In November, Dusty was invited to speak and be interviewed by Gloria Steinem at the February 2019 MAKERS CONFERENCE in Dana Point, California. Dusty, Jean and I were looking forward to the trip and to seeing Gloria again.
Unfortunately, on Christmas day, Dusty had a mild stroke and needed immediate speech and physical therapy as she had some reading, memory and walking problems. I was able to get home health care for her and her nurse, physical therapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists from the St. Joseph Home Health Care organization in Sonoma were like angels working miracles. Jean, the therapists and I worked together the entire month of January to improve Dusty’s memory and stamina so she would feel confident enough to be interviewed at the Makers Conference. I wrote many iterations of potential interview questions that we tested on her daily. By February, her doctors said as long as she remained at sea level, she could go to the conference. So, Jean drove Dusty in their RV and I followed them in my car along the coast to Southern California. The weather was uncooperative—gale-like winds and torrential rains plagued us while we were en route. While we stayed in Pismo Beach, Dusty caught a cold.
Although she wasn’t feeling great, Dusty nonetheless made it to Dana Point, had a successful dress rehearsal for the interview and looked forward to the next day. But overnight, she developed breathing problems. She could not get out of bed and in the morning I asked Makers to send the paramedics. It’s a good thing I did as she was diagnosed with pneumonia that was heading toward congestive heart failure. In the meantime, Gloria Steinem, instead of interviewing Dusty, gave a tribute to her while Dusty was on the way to the hospital. I made it to the conference room and saw the last of Gloria’s speech. I met with her and our Makers contacts backstage afterward. I was able to discuss my book with Gloria and she and her administrative assistant said they’d help me. Then, a few days later, on our way home, Jean and I became seriously ill, too, and were sick for well over a month with a vicious pulmonary bacterial virus. We have all finally recovered but it sure took a long time!
Click here to see Makers and Gloria’s tribute videos to Dusty and her sisterhood of stewardesses on my “Books In Progress” page.