I’ve had a friend for many years, a man named Michael. We met in 1989 at a computer fair in
where he was manning a booth and I was scouting for SCUBA students. I didn’t get to teach him SCUBA, but we had a more important destiny….that of good, solid friendship that has lasted over two decades. Portland
Namasté, my friends!
Beth, Michael, Gayle and myself 11/25/2011. Ajijic, Mexico
Michael and I were both single at the time we met, but there wasn’t much interest in the two of us becoming involved. In any case, it didn’t happen. I dated whomever, and so did he. In one period late in 1992, I found myself homeless, jobless and pretty much friendless, all but for my best friend Michael. He allowed me to sleep on his sofa for several months while I tried to get my life back on track. All the while he was dating a gal named Karen who resented that I was living in his apartment. I could hardly blame her but, for my part, she needn’t have been concerned.
Around the time I moved to
Seattle in 1992, Michael broke up with Karen, and subsequently met a woman in where he lived named Beth. Beth was a very prominent and successful family law attorney in Beaverton with her own firm. Honestly, I can’t recall the first time I met Beth. It could have been at the birthday party she threw for Michael at the Beaverton . She rented two homes (they weren’t “cabins” in any sense of the word!) side by side on the beach and invited all his friends for a weekend of partying and celebrating. Beth, with the help of one or two of her friends, did all the planning, preparations, cooking, cleaning, etc. associated with a party of 20 or more people for two full days. Most of the guests did nothing to help. I offered, but was told it was her treat and to just relax and enjoy. That’s a big “wow” right there. Beth was one of the most generous women I’d ever met. Oregon Coast
I’ve always moved a lot. When I was younger in one 10 year period I moved 25 times. If it couldn’t fit in my car, I didn’t own it. In nearly twenty years of living in the
area, I’ve moved about 10 times, not counting the two weeks I perched at my daughter’s place after I first moved up here. Two of those moves were assisted by Michael and Beth who drove up here from Seattle to help me. To me that is a more amazing statistic than the number of times I’ve moved. Here she is, a high-powered attorney, and a judge pro tempore, helping ME move! During the second move she assisted, she was actually sick with the flu. Portland
In 2004, I married a nice man named George in a pagan Handfasting ceremony in his sister’s backyard in
. Michael and Beth came up for the festivities, even though Beth had broken her ankle riding on a Segway in Lake Stevens Washington the week before and was hobbling on crutches. She clearly wasn’t in a good mood that day. Beth had served as George’s sister Debbie’s attorney during her divorce so they had a connection. However, Beth totally ignored Debbie – even when spoken to directly. She also snubbed or was sharp to others who spoke to her, so it wasn’t just that she didn’t remember Debbie. Almost everyone who encountered Beth that day left with a bad taste in their mouth about her. You can fill in the blanks with the kinds of descriptive adjectives people used for her. She wasn’t extremely warm to me either, but she pulled it together enough to at least somewhat congratulate George and I on our marriage. I know she wasn’t too happy about my marriage to George. She not only told me to be cautious, she actually bought a prenuptial agreement for me (drawn up by my own attorney) as a wedding present. Remember I said I owned practically nothing? I did own a condo and George had no property. I guess that was reason enough for her to be concerned for my welfare. I can’t really fault her for her concern, even though I thought it was way out of proportion to the level of perceived threat. The marriage only lasted three years, but the prenup was not even brought up in the divorce. George and I had sold the condo and bought a house together. The house that my husband Gayle and I now occupy. Los Angeles
My point about talking about Beth so much is to show how extremely generous and sweet Beth was to me, one of her boyfriend’s best friends. I never took her wonderful bigheartedness for granted and still don’t. To me, she and Michael are the epitome of the word “friend”. Michael figures in here too, of course. He has bailed me out of bad situations and rescued me more times than I can count. Beth and Michael. Michael and Beth. They are one and the same. Together forever. And that brings me to my final chapter on the story of Beth and Michael.
About four or five years ago, Beth and Michael moved to
. I went down to Guadalajara Mexico to see them before they left. Beth had sold her firm and her living room was full of printers and computers from the firm that she was peddling. Her normally clean house was a mess. She was somehow different. Michael told me she had been diagnosed with a disease that there wasn’t even a name for. It involved the gradual disintegration of the frontal lobe of her brain! No one knew why this was happening to her. There was no treatment protocol. There is no cure. Beth was given two years to live. Michael thought that by moving to Beaverton her life would be less stressful and perhaps they could extend her life a few more months or years. Mexico
When Gayle and I went to Ajijic
Mexico last month, Beth and Michael drove down to visit us from their home in . I was shocked to see Beth. Her spontaneous verbal skills are gone. She can only repeat back to you what you say. If you’re asking her if she wants water or is hungry, she can repeat back “water” or “hungry”, but she can’t come up with those words on her own. She makes a continuous noise I’m not sure how to describe…like a hard “uhhhh” with every breath through her sagging mouth. When she’s walking, it’s quite loud and noticeable. She’s unaware of her eliminative functions and has to wear a diaper. Michael takes care of her 24/7. They walk every day to try and keep their weight down, and otherwise Beth spends her time watching the same five movies every single day of her life. She knows the dialogue of them by rote. Actually, if you ask her the name of the movie she’s watching, she can tell you what it is. Otherwise, she’s about 99% non-verbal. Guadalajara
It sounds like all bad news, but Michael plays Santa Claus during the Christmas season for orphanages and schools in
. (That’s why the beard and long hair!) Beth goes with him dressed as Ms. Santa Claus. This is a complete joy for them and for the children whom they encounter. Ms. Santa is a big gal – much larger than almost everybody in Guadalajara . She inspires awed looks wherever they go. Mexico
The Beth who used to verbally joust with rival attorneys in a court of law; who could ride her Honda Gold Wing for thousands of miles along side Michael on his Valkarie; who was either the life of the party or could wither you with a glance; whose unfailing generosity created great loyalties or deep resentments (I didn’t mention her spoiled ungrateful children!) – well, that Beth is no more.
I praise Michael above almost anyone I can think of for his incredible devotion to this woman, his “esposa” without legalities, to whom he has dedicated his entire life. Without his love and caring support, Beth would have been gone years ago. He continues to research this devastating disease that Beth has and tries all different kinds of possible helpful remedies based on little more than anecdotal evidence. His latest finding is that coconut milk has helped her become a bit more verbal. She can at least parrot what is being said, or answer yes or no. This is an improvement. He said that her abilities are on a continuum, sometimes good, sometimes better, sometimes worse. He’s unsure as to the long term benefits the coconut milk will have, but for now it has improved her condition somewhat. The long term prognosis, however, is not encouraging. Beth is over 60 years old. The prospects of her living into her 70’s are quite slim. Still, she continues to cling to life with surprising tenacity.
I love these two people – Michael and Beth. I wish them well in their journey and pray that when the time comes for them to part, the parting will be blessed and that Beth will be easefully released into the incredible beauty and freedom of the Great Spirit.
Namasté, my friends!
Michael and Beth in
11/25/2011 Ajijic, Mexico