Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Vegas rainbow

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Here’s a very nice rainbow I photographed during an afternoon walk to the mailbox a few days ago. Very pretty, I think. Great Art courtesy of the exclusive iPhone-cam, taken in my neighborhood on July 30, and part of my famous Las Vegas series.

It’s been a very eventful few weeks. Foremost in my mind is that we passed the 18 month mark since Shannon’s death on the 2nd of August. That meant it was time to scatter Shannon’s ashes. I had a very difficult time deciding it was okay to do that, but I decided to move forward as planned after consulting with our children.

Accordingly, the kids, their spouses, the granddaughter, and I went up to Angels Camp to stay for a few days. We went further into the Sierra Nevada to Clarks Fork for the scattering. The exact location we had planned to use was very full of people, so we chose a place where the river runs through the campground we visited many times and had our little ceremony there. It was really a nice event in a beautiful location with my beautiful little family. We loved being there together and Shannon’s wishes have been fulfilled.

I wrote down a few thoughts I shared with them because I was afraid I would find it too difficult to speak off the cuff. Here’s what I shared:

I’ve been thinking for the last while about Mom’s legacy, as we prepared to be together for this event. There is much that she left me and each of us, and I just want to offer some thoughts.

For 35 years, she gave me literally everything she had. She used up her life serving me. She made beautiful homes for me and took care of them constantly. She fed me, she bought all my clothes, she helped earn money during the years I couldn’t do that by myself. She gave me our children. She loved and cared for our family ceaselessly. She taught the kids, especially Andy and Mark during all their years together in school. Before she became the teacher, though, she spent countless hours in classrooms, making sure our children got the best education we could possibly provide them. She was immensely proud of each of your accomplishments.

When I was grouchy, she soothed me. When I was sad, she comforted me. When I succeeded, she celebrated with me. When I failed, she grieved with me. And when I was happy, she stood by my side and simply enjoyed life with me. Most of all, no matter what, she loved and loved and loved me.

She taught me how to cook, how to clean, how to take care of my things, how to care for children, how to serve others, and how to love. She didn’t preach much; rather, she just did kind things and we all learned to be like her. I think this is her legacy to each of us.

She never stopped caring for me. During her tremendously difficult last year, she kept doing what she always did as much as possible. And when she couldn’t do things for herself, she taught me the deepest lessons of my life on how to love and serve. That year is precious to me because I have never felt such pure love before or since. All my energy and time was focused on nothing but her comfort and possible recovery from her disease. By allowing me to do that, she helped me learn what it really means to love someone. I will always be grateful for what I learned as we spent that year together and I think I have become a much better man because of it. I think this is her legacy to me.

I miss her terribly. I promised her I would move forward happily and I’m doing my best to accomplish that. It isn’t always easy. I know we have all spent plenty of time crying during the past 18 months. It’s been hard for me to lose my wife, the love of my life, and my best and really only friend. It’s hard for each of you to have to say goodbye to your mother so young. It’s hard to live without her advice, her support, her praise, and her love. I think she gave each of us enough to last the rest of our lives, but it’s still hard and it feels so unfair. But it is our duty to keep that promise to her – to live our lives happily and to be good people. To love and serve each other and the people around us. To savor life and live it to the fullest. To be happy.

I love each of you. Thank you for strengthening me when I needed you. Thank you for the wonderful people you are. I not only love you, I like you. You’re great people and I’m incredibly proud of each of you. I couldn’t ask for a better life, in spite of the heartbreaks. I love you.

Now let’s let Mom’s ashes go and keep her spirit alive inside of us.

I’m really glad we were all together.

Joanne and I have planned a few additional trips over the next few months. Her timeshare put some travel on sale, so she grabbed a few weekends. We’re going back to Angels Camp in October (Joanne didn’t go with the kids and me the first time), the Bay Area in February, and Anaheim in June, on top of the trips we currently have planned. I’m really enjoying traveling with Joanne. I love her.

I took my first glider trip behind a tow plane the other day. Actually, we had three tows last Friday. It’s both very exciting and very difficult. I’m sure ill get good at it, but it’s quite the challenge for me at this point. I fly again tomorrow.

My instructor has invited me to get a commercial license and do some flying of paying passengers. Sounds like fun, so I’m in! It won’t be extremely soon, but it will probably come before I know it.

Joanne’s first golf lesson is this Saturday at 7:00 AM! Why the early hour? Two reasons: (1) it’s when the instructor is available and (2) it’s the only time that won’t be unpleasantly hot. I’m excited for her to start and for us to golf together. While she’s learning, I’ll go to the range and hit a bucket of balls.

Tons more happening, but it will have to wait.

And I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this shocking food violence news: French-fry-related gun pointing incident!

See you tomorrow.

Shannon Morrow, 1957-2014

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014


My beautiful wife passed away today, February 2, 2014. Above is one of the last pictures I took of her prior to her diagnosis with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She was such a wonderful person, so full of love, and we were so in love with each other. What a wonderful life she has given me.

I just want to republish the note I wrote to my family today:

Dear family,

By now I believe everyone has heard, but I need to let you all know that Shannon passed away peacefully at 9:37 AM on Sunday, February 2, 2014, in our room at the City of Hope Village.

I woke up at about 7:00 or so after a long night of being as vigilant as I could and discovered that she was still breathing, although it had become more labored than before. Each breath was very shallow and they were spaced about 3-5 seconds apart. I snuggled with her again for a while and then got up, sat next to the bed, and spoke to her about our family and our life together. I picked up the book she’s been reading and read her a chapter. Then I put it back down and just talked to her and stroked her skin for quite a while.

Company was coming, so I got up and cleaned the apartment a little bit, ate some cereal for breakfast, and then sat back down close to her to wait for her brother and sisters and their spouses. Robin, Carol, Candy, Melanie, and Ken arrived at about 9:30, as I recall (not all of today’s events are exactly clear to me, so I hope you’ll forgive any inaccuracies), and I stepped outside to call the hospice people to see if they could give me further guidance on her care in this new situation of unconsciousness. Very shortly afterward somebody came out to get me and tell me the end appeared to be coming. I came inside and she breathed her last. Our children started arriving very quickly and we watched her gradually grow cold. In time, people came to take a report and other people came to take her away.

She’s gone. The love of my life, the mother of my children, the lovely woman who shared everything with me is gone. I’m beginning to feel the permanence and the separation already. The family has rallied around to keep my mind occupied and that has been very comforting, but it’s quiet and late now and I feel very alone. All the kids are coming to Nevada this week and my mom is coming next week and the company will be helpful, I expect. But I also know this next little while will be excruciating. But I’ll survive it somehow and so will the kids and other family members who love Shannon.

I got her computer out this afternoon and logged into her Facebook account to let her many friends know what was going on. I’d like to share what I wrote here:

— Start of Facebook quote —

This is Shannon’s husband Michael.

I’m devastated to announce Shannon’s death this morning from acute myeloid leukemia. She passed away at 9:37 PST this morning, February 2, 2014, surrounded by her siblings, our children, and me.

Shannon spent the last year fighting this difficult disease. She was diagnosed on February 21, 2013. We spent the majority of the year at the City of Hope in Duarte, California, where she received a stem cell transplant in May. Unfortunately, her leukemia returned in early August, and she spent the remainder of 2013 receiving regular chemotherapy treatments to keep her in remission while we waited for a second stem cell transplant. She was hospitalized again on December 26 with pneumonia. After a few weeks of treatment near our home in Nevada, she was once again transferred to the City of Hope, where we learned this past Wednesday that the leukemia had spread from her blood and bone marrow to basically fill her body. At that point, our fight was over. She was put into hospice care on Friday and she passed away peacefully in her sleep today.

Shannon was a gifted person in many ways. She loved and was loved by all. She befriended those who had no friends. She served those who needed help, no matter who they were and no matter what they needed. She dedicated her life to caring for others and she has accumulated a large group of lifetime friends everywhere we’ve lived. The people who love me do so because they first loved Shannon.

We celebrated 35 years of marriage this past December 28. Shannon was the finest wife and mother and the sweetest companion I could have ever wished for. Her dedication to service started in her own home. She spent her life making our children and me happy in every possible way. I have lived a life of great contentment because of her.

Our past year has been one of happiness and joy for me as we have been privileged to spend all our time together. She took my hand and walked down the difficult path of the cancer patient without complaint, without showing the true level of her pain, and with complete devotion to me. Some of the sweetest moments of my life have been spent here on the hospital grounds during her attempted recovery as we walked hand in hand through the gardens, talked about everything under the sun, and just enjoyed being together and in love. She continued to love and serve me to the end and her calmness these past few days about her imminent death has given me the strength to accept what had to be.

Per Shannon’s request, there will be no funeral services. We were blessed to be able to spend time with our family over the past few days to say our goodbyes and express mutual love. Extended family and friends are spread out all over, making it difficult to gather in one place to pay respects. I request that, instead of attending a funeral for Shannon, her friends honor her memory by befriending someone who needs a friend, serving someone in need, and expressing your love for your family in word and deed.

Many thanks to the numerous people who have reached out to us during this difficult trial. We love each of you and hope you join our family in finding peace and happiness in the memory of this wonderful woman, Shannon Morrow.

— End of Facebook quote —

I’m spending one more night in the Village. Tomorrow morning, we pack up and head home without Shannon. I hope the children are okay. They’ll always be our children, but they’re not children anymore; they’re adults who are standing right beside me as we grieve the loss of their mother. Each one has spent a significant amount of time comforting me and holding me. How I love each one of them. I haven’t lost everything. Together, Shannon and I brought these four wonderful people into the world, did our best to teach and train them and make them feel loved and cared for, and then let them go to amaze us with their talents, creativity, and capacity for good. Each one is a wonderful person and all will carry a part of Shannon with them. They’re a living tribute to her goodness and love.

This will be my last daily update. Please remember Shannon in your hearts. She is worth remembering. Personally, I’ll never move on, but I will move forward and keep my commitment to her to live happily. I invite each of us to make and keep that same commitment. I love each one of you and treasure the support and love you’ve given us both during this past year.

I love you, Shannon Morrow. Please be mine forever.



Thank you, Shannon, for everything you have been to me. I’ll miss you terribly. I already do. But I promise to be happy and to love you forever.

Tonight’s letter

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Things continue to go downhill for Shannon. Here’s tonight’s letter to the family:

Dear family,

Today was a trying day. It started out wonderfully – Shannon and I got to spend the night together for the first time since Christmas. It was wonderful to cuddle up and hold each other and just be together. We were able to sleep quite late – we both woke up at about 9:00. That may be the latest Shannon has ever slept!

The day started out with a bit of difficulty, though. Shannon was having trouble speaking and she was very lethargic. I got her out of bed, cleaned up a bit, and dressed. She even wanted to wear her shoes and the pretty scarf the nurses gave her when we left the hospital, and she looked wonderful. However, she struggled to get even two or three words out at a time and she frequently lost her train of thought.

They instructed us to go to the clinic every day to have blood taken and platelets transfused if she needed them, so after I showered and ate breakfast, we got her loaded up on her new wheelchair and headed over. She seemed to be doing just fine and we had a good experience at the clinic, although she was still very tired. While we were at the clinic, Mark went and picked up Andy at the airport. Andy joined me at the clinic just as we were ready to head back to the Village, and we decided to take the long way home with a detour through the rose garden. That’s a place Shannon and I frequently visited together when we were here last year, and it’s beautiful and peaceful. We found all the rose plants trimmed back for winter and the garden empty, but we were still glad we went there and we enjoyed the walk.

When we got back to the Village, I helped her get from her wheelchair to one of the recliners. She sat there quietly and rested while we waited a few hours for Paul, Melissa, and Heather to arrive. Shortly before 4:00, Julie, a nurse from the hospice company, came to check on Shannon and help explain the hospice service we’re getting. She checked Shannon’s vitals, which were good, although her blood pressure had dropped a bit. She went through the booklet/chart they leave with their patients, and she went to check on Shannon again.

Shannon had fallen asleep, and we weren’t able to wake her up. After Julie and I tried for a few minutes, Shannon briefly regained consciousness, but she was unable to speak. Julie explained that this might be because Shannon was simply exhausted from the morning’s outing, but I think we all knew better. The nurse stayed with us a while and then left, promising to call tomorrow and come over if we need her.

Through the rest of the day, Shannon only regained consciousness when Paul and Melissa came, long enough to hear that they love her and to tell them she loves them. Then she was back asleep.

We had a wonderful evening with all the kids and their partners. We chatted, laughed, talked about everything, talked about Shannon, and mourned and cried some. Katie and I held Shannon’s hands for quite a while, as did others before us. At about 11:00, I asked each of the kids and Melissa if they wanted to have a private moment to say farewell to their Mom. It was a beautiful experience for all of us. Then we all hugged and kissed each other and we jointly carried Shannon from her chair to the bed. Everybody but Katie left and she and I helped Shannon change clothes. Shannon had brief periods of semi-consciousness during all the jostling we put her through, but she never really woke up. Then Katie said goodbye and Shannon and I were alone, just as we started out together.

It’s now about 3;00 AM and I’m up long enough to finish writing this. Shannon continues to sleep peacefully. I stayed awake as long as I could and hugged her and felt her wonderful, warm presence and talked to her about our amazingly happy life and told her over and over again that I love her. At maybe 1:30, sleep overtook me for a while. I’ve been awake about every half hour since and she continues to sleep peacefully. I think her breathing has slowed down and it has become more labored, but she’s still alive as I write this. There’s just no sign of consciousness. This is the way Shannon wanted to leave this world, and it’s been peaceful and sweet and awe-inspiring.

I have no idea if she’ll make it through the night. I told her over and over again while we’ve been lying together tonight that our children and I are prepared for her to leave us and that we want her to go knowing of our love for her that will never end. I don’t know whether she heard me or not, but I do know she knows we love her and always will.

I’m pretty much all cried out. I know the tears will be back after she’s gone and that’s okay. I now know for certain that I will survive her death. I would give anything to have circumstances be otherwise, but that’s not possible and I will survive.

Robin, Carol, Candy, and Melanie are all scheduled to visit us on Sunday. I don’t know what the circumstances of those visits will be. I don’t know whether Shannon will ever regain consciousness. I don’t know how long she can live in her present state. I can’t give her any medications. I can’t get her to the clinic. I could summon help, but they will heed her Do Not Resuscitate order. So I think the only thing to do is to continue to hold her and tell her I love her and wait for the end.

I can’t believe the end has come so quickly. I know a quick end is what she wants, so it’s now what I want too. However much time we have left, it’s not enough for me. But it is enough for her, so it’s enough. How I wish she could still talk to me and hold my hand and kiss me and tell me just one more time that she loves me. She’s told me thousands of times, but I would give anything for just one more.

My wish to make video recordings of Shannon with each of the kids wasn’t fulfilled. I did get to take a few pictures of Shannon and me together this morning and I captured a few seconds of video of her telling me she loves me while we were in the clinic. That will remain precious to me for the rest of my life.

It’s nearly 3:30, so I’ll end, get this note sent, and cuddle up next to my wife once more. I love each one of you and can’t begin to thank you enough for the support you’ve been to us both and for the outpouring of love we’ve felt as we’ve lived through our ordeal and that we continue to feel today.



Into hospice

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Shannon and I moved back to the Village today, but this time for hospice care. Here’s today’s letter to my family:

Dear family,

I’m sorry, but this will have to be another quick note. We’re in the village now, Shannon’s IV machines have been turned off, and we’re moving forward with courage and resolve. At least she has the courage and resolve. I’m full of trepidation, but I’m moving forward with her nonetheless.

We had a fantastic day with Katie, Mia, and Mark. We also had a wonderful visit from Candy, which was truly appreciated and touching.

I had to make some difficult but essential phone calls today. I’ve started the arrangements for the disposition of Shannon’s body. There are some papers to sign and fax and then things will be arranged. We’re working on other plans for the near future as well. Shannon is a bit reluctant to want us to hold a funeral. She’s kind of hoping to say her goodbyes to family and other loved ones over the next week or two and then just be allowed to move forward without too much fanfare. We have the tremendous blessing of having this time to be together with family and share love with Shannon while she’s still with us, so I’m inclined to agree with her that it might be nicer to expend our mutual efforts on being together now and including Shannon. I’m frankly worried that family members will feel hurt or offended if we choose not to hold a service. I’d be very grateful to receive honest opinions.

Shannon’s health is maintaining. We were really worried that moving into hospice care would mean that we would be denied some of the things we consider necessary to keep her free from undue suffering, such as frequent blood transfusions. We were told blood transfusions weren’t a service regularly provided in hospice care, but they checked with their home office and have agreed to do that for us. So we’re at peace with the decision we’ve made to terminate most care and focus on keeping her comfortable and happy.

I don’t think I have anything else meaningful to add to yesterday’s note. The need for Shannon to be freed from her malfunctioning body is evident to everyone who comes to visit us, and I’m convinced that it is helping each of us to gain peace and acceptance of our own. Of course that peace is accompanied by numerous tears and a wrenching sadness. But it will get better. As I think I mentioned yesterday, in the meantime, we’re together, our children have started arriving and adding light to our lives, and we feel surrounded by love.

In many ways, I’ve come to see this hospital and its grounds as a sacred place. We spent most of 2013 here, experiencing joy and sorrow in never-ending waves, and always doing it together. There was time to rest and reflect and just to be together. Everywhere I look, everywhere I go here at the City of Hope, I see things we saw together, things we did together, places we walked hand-in-hand, and challenges we faced together. I can’t feel sad about being here because my memories of the place are so sweet.

I’ve become worried that I’ll forget the sound of Shannon’s voice. I don’t think I have any audio or video recordings, so I’m going to make some tomorrow. I’m going to get each of the kids and myself together with her and just take videos of ourselves talking and enjoying being together. I wish I’d done it in happier times, but this will have to do. I just can’t bear the thought of forgetting.

And we need to snuggle now and sleep. Many thanks to everyone for everything, as always. We love each one of you and feel your support.



P.S. We appreciated the kind note from Karen and Will (among many others we’ve received), and will get them added to this mailing list tomorrow. Sorry I wasn’t able to get to it today. Busy day as we made the transition to hospice care.

Another day

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

No picture or humor again today. I need to wake up in a couple of hours and I want to capture my daily letter to the family. So here it is:

Dear family,

It’s exceptionally late and I have an early morning tomorrow, so I’ll try to make this note brief. But it’s been an eventful day and I want to at least share some highlights.

Katie, Mia, and Mark arrived late this evening. It’s wonderful to see them and they’re all doing well. We stayed up talking until just a few minutes ago – 3:30, to be exact. A lot of our conversation centered around Shannon’s status and our feelings about her, of course. We shed a lot of tears, but we also shared a lot of wonderful memories. I’m so grateful they’re here, and I’m looking forward to Andy, Paul, and Melissa getting here too, along with our siblings who are able to come. We’re grateful to have this opportunity to say goodbye, to right any wrongs, to ask for and give forgiveness, and to send Shannon forward to the end of her life on the wings of our undying love. Katie talked about a friend whose father-in-law recently passed away, and the friend’s husband is so sad that all things weren’t perfectly right between his father and himself. He wishes he had the chance that we have. So in spite of the heartbreak we all feel and the difficulty of doing this, we’ve realized how fortunate we truly are and we’re taking full advantage of it.

Incidentally, I would be grateful if those who are coming would send me a quick note telling me when we’re expecting you. I’m pretty sure Candy is coming on Friday and Chris is traveling on Tuesday and visiting us Wednesday and Thursday. I know Robin/Carol and Melanie are planning to come, but I didn’t really figure out when that’s happening. Sorry about that.

Perhaps the biggest news today is that we expect to move into hospice care tomorrow (Friday). We have an appointment with the hospice company we’ll probably use and we have a reservation at the Village, which has some rooms reserved for that purpose. I’m told the chief difference between those rooms and the one we stayed in before is that they have facility oxygen available. We’ll find out soon whether there are any other differences. The room in the village will be a much better place to gather and enjoy each other’s company. I’ll let everybody know where we are when we know.

I wasn’t really prepared to end Shannon’s hospital care and move into the hospice phase so soon, as this means the termination of various life-preserving treatments. The place we’re planning to use offers “palliative care,” though, which was explained to us as a transition phase from full hospital treatment to the typical hospice emphasis on providing nothing but comfort care. It’s very important to us that Shannon retain all her faculties for our upcoming visits with family, so we’ll make sure the palliative care will include what she needs to make that possible.

Our doctor told us this morning that he thinks he could preserve Shannon’s life longer than the 2-3 weeks I believed he had told us yesterday. Shannon immediately and emphatically asked him not to do that, which came at first as a bit of a surprise to me. As the day went on, though, I think I finally came to understand. She is so tired, so worn out, so used up. She has given literally everything she has. Now that her amazing efforts have no hope of bringing us to a cure or even a significant period of remission, she just can’t continue. As I watched her try to move her swollen, painful, dying body throughout the day, I think I finally came to accept that the end for her must come soon. I’ve been so worried about myself and so desirous to keep her with me as long as possible that I hadn’t been able to see that “possible” and “bearable” aren’t really the same thing. I know she wants to be with me too, but she needs to be freed from this unbearable situation.

Our day together was sweet. We spent a large part of it sitting together in her bed reading. Andy sent her a great book for Christmas and she’s about 50 pages from the end. It’s become difficult for her to read, so she asked me if I would mind reading the rest of it to her. We only got through maybe 10 pages or so – there are lots of people coming in and out of her room all the time – but it was such a joy to just sit close together and read the book. We also spent a (too) short time just cuddling. It felt so good. I don’t know how I’ll live without her near me. I just don’t. For now, though, I want to be in the moment and treasure her presence. I’ll figure out how to go on without her when I have to.

Okay, I have to be awake in three hours, so I absolutely must end. There are a million more things I want to say, but they’ll have to wait for another day. Many thanks to all who have written, called, prayed, cried, and in many other ways shown your love for us. Several of you have asked how you can help us. There’s only one thing I have to ask: reach out to your families and other important people and tell them how much you love them. Put your arms around them and hold them tight. Forgive offenses and ask for forgiveness. Don’t waste time – do it right away. Those people are the only thing that matters in life.

We love each one of you. More tomorrow.



Another day of love has come and gone. I can’t wait until Friday when Shannon and I can be together 24/7.

See you tomorrow.