2020 – the year when everything ran together like spilled paint
I want to be clear it is not a joke when I tell you that looking back on this year and trying to gauge its scope and its contents is like wrestling an oily pig in a carnival hall-of-mirrors. It was like dropping ten open bottles of paint on a hardwood floor simultaneously.
2020 contained Great Difficulty, Near-Disaster, Lots of Problems, and right smack dab in the middle of it, the Most Successful Year of my professional career to date. Go figure. Like William Goldman said when he created The Three Rules of Hollywood, “Nobody. Knows. Anything. (if they did, they’d all be rich)”. If there was ever a year in which it became clear that rule applies to more than Hollywood – that it applies to everything – 2020 was it.
Right as everything started to circle the bowl with the announcement of the pandemic’s outbreak, on March 3 SWMBO managed to stand up, take a turn, and fall down (she has Parkinson’s). Things didn’t get better over the afternoon, though she got to her feet and made things worse by thinking all was well and walking around. When she fell again in the bathroom that night, in a space too tight for me to help her up, we finally called 9-1-1 and the paramedics got her out of there and into an ambulance. Fortunately we live near a hospital, where they determined she had a potentially-broken hip, and she was transferred on to Kaiser, where she’s insured, and the X-ray determined the hip was fractured and the hip joint was broken. The next day she became a Bionic Woman with a hip replacement. So far, so good. Then she went to a recovery home, about which treatment I cannot say enough bad, with the only good thing being she got out a week before the first Covid-19 infection showed up in the place. The 14 days of Crucial Treatment After The Operation was for naught; we’ve spent the rest of the year trying to crawl out of that hole.
In the meantime, I began work on “The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club: Naval Aviation in the Vietnam War.” I managed to “frat’nize” with Rear Admiral Denny Wisely, Captain Roy Cash, Jr., and Commander Curt Dose, MiG-killers all, who introduced me to their opposite numbers in the VPAF, with whom they are now good friends, one of whom rose to Lt. General and retired as Vice Commander of the Vietnam People’s Air Force. Very interesting people all around, and all in all a project that was a real eye-opener for this Vietnam vet.
SWMBO seemed to be getting out of the hole, with a good physical therapist, and I thought she’d be walking on her own in a month by the end of May. Then over Memorial Day weekend, she reached for something while in her wheelchair and fell out. Only a short drop, nothing seemed amiss, but with the 20/10 vision in arrears that came, The Defining Incident. Progress stopped over the summer, despite continuing therapy.
I finished Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club while also her caregiver, and moved on to “Downtown: The US Air Force in Vietnam,” where I became friends with fellow aviation history author and MiG-killer in Operation Bolo Colonel Ralph Wetterhahn, and Colonel Ivy McCoy, Thud driver and Phantom MiG-killer. That manuscript was completed in early September.
About the same time, SWMBO managed to fall out of the hospital bed set up here. I’ll save you the guess of what part of her anatomy she landed on. After a week of pain and increasing loss of movement, a trip to the ER revealed that the replacement hip was broken, and the leg was separated from the joint. Repair surgery was scheduled…
And then the next week we went to a regular appointment with her Parkinson’s neurologist, who spotted the swollen leg and immediately had us sent down to the ER, where an ultrasound revealed a blood clot in the leg where surgery was needed. So, for the past 80 days, she has been bedridden while we get through 90 days of blood thinner therapy, which ends January 6. Despite the massive Covid-19 outbreak here, they have the ability to operate on her soon thereafter for repair of the hip. This time, she’s coming directly home, where our good physical therapist and I will attempt to not make the mistakes made a year ago.
And in the midst of all that, my book “I Will Run Wild” received the equivalent of an “Oscar” from Kirkus Reviews – a “must read” starred review – and was released to sales so good that at the end of the first month Osprey contacted me to inquire if I had any corrections to make before they went to a Second Printing.
Like I said. “Nobody. Knows. Anything.”
And somehow, those times spent taking a break from caregiving and writing, turned into enough time to create the following models. One of my most productive years.
Yeah, if I did know anything, I would be rich.
In no particular order than how they show up in the computer files…
T-T-T-That’s all, folks!
29 additional images. Click to enlarge.