...a Door Opens
October 19-26: We Take a Caribbean Cruise
Return to the Index for 1991


1991
A Door Closes...

 

 

An Introductory Note 

Grant and I returned to Dallas from our cruise on October 27, 1991, and I have not written any narrative for my pictures between then and now- October, 1993. If you are a visitor to my photo album who wishes just to look at the various pictures and my explanations of them, you can return to the index for 1991 and continue through the album. But if you want a more complete background for the other pictures in my album, you may wish to continue with this page and the next one.

So much has happened in these last two years that it seems almost futile to try to capture it all in a clumsy narrative like this. Certainly, what I wrote many years ago, at the very beginning of this narrative, in January of 1975, is even more true now. This photo album is certainly not the best place to record events for which there are no pictures, although I have made some effort over the years to do so.

I have made this effort because people have come into the album, and have left it, and without some explanation of who they are or who they were, the picture narratives are much less understandable. For example, pictures that include my father stop in 1974, and if I don't say somewhere that he died that year, then his subsequent absence from the photographic record can't be properly understood. How do you explain a whole new work environment if there is no "going away" picture from the first job? And how do I explain "coming out" as there are certainly no pictures of that event?

It is easy to record the fact that you visited so and so and had your picture taken in thus and such a place; but how do you record the beginning of a relationship like my relationship with Grant? No one took a picture of that first night when I almost backed into him with my car. No, he only began to appear in pictures taken much after the fact.

So, this picture diary is clearly lacking; it can only record those things of which or about which pictures were taken. Yes, I have tried at times to extend the narrative, but that really does not work well; the events and emotions that I have tried to cover, such as my coming out, are better covered in a more private work. But without covering them here, how can one really take in all that the pictures are recording?

This is my dilemma. There are many events, happy and sad, that I have wanted to record here, but without pictures of them there has been no good place to do so. This pictorial history, which I said in 1975 would be more than just a description of the pictures, but less than a complete diary, would be meaningless were I to choose not to record what has been the most significant event in my life since I met Grant. And I cannot simply let his absence from any other pictures since the cruise say indirectly what must be said right out. Grant Wagner, my "longtime companion," died on December 8, 1991.

What follows next is my account of the time between our cruise and my partner's death. If you don't care to read my remembrances from that time, please feel free to go directly to the next album page by using the link at the top of this one. If you do keep reading, please know that what follows is not a complete account of that time, and certainly does not attempt to express all that both Grant and I felt through those days, so you must just take it as it is.

 

 

November, 1991 

We returned from the cruise Sunday, October 27th. Both of us were extremely tired; actually I think Grant was pretty well exhausted. We spent the next week at home just resting and dealing with our return home after such a long absence. Grant had immediate appointments with Dr. Young, and he also had appointments at the cancer center. The news was not good on either side. Grant's Kaposi's sarcoma, the skin cancer to which AIDS patients are susceptible, had responded somewhat to the chemotherapy and radiation, but it had not been stopped. Grant's oncologist said that there was little more that could, or should be done to try to stop it, except to take radiation for any lesions that began to be a particular problem.

Dr. Young, in his examination of Grant early in November, had the same disheartening news. There was little more that he could do to arrest the CMV that was causing Grant so much of a problem in keeping food down. Further, some of Grant's blood chemistry was way out of line, and nothing seemed to be helping get it under control. Particularly worrisome was the indicator of liver function, which had been declining steadily since the late Summer. We were not encouraged.

But Grant, bless him, took it all in stride. He was braver that anyone I have ever heard of in facing what seemed to be a significant downturn. We spent most of November just going along from day to day. I had a couple of trips that I had to make, but most of the time was spent trying to make Grant as comfortable as I could. He spent most of his time upstairs in bed, watching the cooking shows on PBS, or lying with me in the evenings reading. We had few people over, and of course didn't go out very much at all.

I had been after the EDS people since the Summer to try to find a job for me that I could do mainly at home; they knew of Grant and his situation. Just before Thanksgiving, Kathy Dailey told me that there would be an opportunity, beginning in January, to work on a project for EDS that I could do mainly at home. It would require only intermittent trips to St. Louis to meet with project team members. This was welcome news, and Grant and I looked forward to that time when I could be at home all the time.

Thanksgiving was a difficult holiday. I cooked a turkey as usual; somehow it seemed as if not to do so would be to admit that too much had changed. The simple tradition seemed to make things appear more normal. We had Greg over for dinner, but that was all the entertaining we felt like doing. Just after Thanksgiving, Grant developed jaundice, and he had a number of sessions with Dr. Young to try to get it under control.

 

 

Monday, December 2, 1991 

My last trip of the year was to teach a class in St. Louis on December 3-6, but on Monday Grant appeared to be much worse, and early in the morning we both went down to CIGNA to see Dr. Young. After a thorough examination, which was trying for all of us, Dr. Young was honest. Grant's liver was failing; that was why he was jaundiced. And Dr. Young held out no hope that anything short of a liver transplant, which would never have been considered anyway, would help. Finally we encountered something that couldn't be treated, and we were devastated.

Words can't describe how badly we felt, so I won't attempt to do so. But the next question we both asked was the natural one- how long did we have? Dr. Young told us that his best guess was measured in one or two months- perhaps more, but perhaps less. With that, we had practical questions. Could I leave Grant alone for my last trip of the year, or should I call St. Louis and cancel (something I'd never had to do before)? I was ready to do that, and I wanted to, but Grant and Dr. Young said it wasn't necessary.

But neither should Grant be left alone, and so if I was going to be gone for four days then a nurse should come to the house and stay with him. Dr. Young had the whole thing arranged in a matter of hours. I really did not want to go, but in all my career I have never had to cancel an assignment at so late an hour, and Grant said he didn't want me to start then. So we returned home and waited for the nurse to arrive. When she did, I was still resolved not to go if either Grant or I had the slightest hesitation about her, but we didn't. She had done this exact work before, with AIDS patients, and knew what to do and when to do it. So, Grant said I should go. I packed hurriedly, took a taxi to the airport, and caught the last flight to St. Louis.

 

 

December 3-6, 1991 

I talked to Grant that night when I arrived at the hotel, and I talked to him three or four times a day all during that week. He seemed to be in good spirits, but towards the end of the week I began to notice that his thoughts were getting disorganized, and things he said were beginning not to make sense. This worried me, because it was one of the signs that Dr. Young said to watch out for.

By Friday morning, I couldn't deal with being away any longer. I explained the situation to Kathy, who suggested some ways to streamline the last day of the class so I could catch an early afternoon flight back to Dallas. If you happen to be reading this, Kathy, thank you for your understanding and help.

When I arrived at home, the nurse met me at the door. Before I went upstairs, she said, there were a few things I should know. And then she was honest with me. She had dealt with liver failure before, and from her experience, I should be "prepared." She didn't have to say for what. That was plain. She was kind in saying so, but she was straightforward.

When I saw Grant that Friday afternoon, my heart fell. In the space of four days he had aged another twenty years. He was in pain, requiring a morphine drip, and he couldn't get out of bed without help. I can't and won't describe his situation further. Dr. Young had been in constant contact, and had left instructions for me to contact him. When I did he apologized that his original estimate had been so far off, but had to tell me that Grant's current condition meant that there was not much time left.

Since I was home to help him, we told the nurse that she could go, and we spent the evening alone. We talked a bit, not about anything in particular, and I fixed Grant some dinner. We shared that lying in bed watching television. Grant told me again that he had taken care of all the arrangements for how he wanted his services to be, and we got out the folder that he had prepared. Neither of us slept much Friday night; Grant slept fitfully, and I had to help him a couple of times during that night.

 

 

December 7-8, 1991 

My last 48 hours with my partner of six years have blurred in my memory. Saturday we spent together, at home. I read to Grant from one of my favorite novels, but he was drifting in and out of sleep. It was a pretty day outside, so the bedroom was sunny, and that helped both of us. I fixed one of the dinners that Grant liked, but he couldn't eat much of it at all. I skipped jogging but just exercised downstairs, so if Grant had any problem I would be there. We watched our favorite programs and just lie there in bed with each other. By this time, Grant wasn't talking very much at all, so we were quiet.

Sunday was difficult. I had to call the nurse back and he arrived before lunch. Grant wasn't eating, and all we could do was to keep him as comfortable as we could. The afternoon was quiet, and a new nurse arrived about six. She helped me keep Grant and the bed tidy. About eight that evening we were in the process of changing the linens, and had just gotten Grant back in place, when he just stopped. At first I thought he was just asleep, but he was gone. It was quiet and very peaceful, and it was at home.

I wish I knew what Grant was thinking in those last times; I have often asked myself that question, but I guess I will never know. I tried to tell him how I felt all that weekend, and I tried to say good-bye without actually saying it, but I don't know how much he heard or understood. Saying any more here would be out of place; I have perhaps said too much already.

 

 

Finalizing a Life 

I called Dr. Young and he called the authorities who arrived shortly thereafter for the formalities of the end of a life. I called Bob Merrill, the first name on Grant's list, and he was at the house within minutes. He helped me in the next hours to deal with all the people who had to come and go. I called our closest friends, and Grant's family but I called them slowly. It was impossible to say what had to be said without breaking down. Larry also came over immediately, and he and Bob were of immeasurable help to me.

Grant was taken to Sparkman-Hillcrest about eleven, and everyone else but Bob and Larry were gone soon after. I was offered the option of staying with any number of people that night, but I just felt that I had to remain at home, and I did.

Grant's Dallas services were held on Wednesday, December 11th, and I think Grant would have been pleased. He had already arranged everything except the eulogies, and I think had he been able to hear them, he would have approved. Larry helped me prepare a selection of music of the type that Grant would have chosen himself. All our friends, and all Grant's friends from Gabbert's came. Larry, Bette and Bob were the rocks on which I relied. Especially Bob. He had been through the loss of his own partner, and so he knew what had to be done and when; without him and the instructions that Grant left, I should surely have made a mess of things. Our friends gathered at home afterward for a celebration of Grant's life, the catering for which Grant had already arranged.

On Thursday, I left for Chicago to join Grant and his family at the wake held there for him. I met many of his friends that I had only heard about. Some of my old friends from Chicago, such as Steve Goldberg and Jerry Vitale also came, and again I think Grant would have approved of the way the services were conducted. Grant's remains were brought to his Father and me on Saturday, and on that day we began carrying out his last wishes- that they be scattered on the three bodies of water that he had enjoyed so much. Lake Michigan was the first, and we left part of Grant at Grant Harbor- aptly named, I think. I took my leave of his family on Sunday, and returned to Dallas.

The next day I flew to Ft. Lauderdale for the second part of his wishes. Walking into the condo was an emotional experience, as it was to be for some time, but Ty and Scott, who met me at the airport, helped a great deal. We went out on the Intracoastal Waterway that afternoon, and left a second part of Grant where he had spent so many pleasant hours with Ty and Scott and me, and on our cruise.

I remained in Florida for the better part of a week, and then returned home to bring Grant's business affairs to a close. I also took the final part of his remains out to Lake Ray Hubbard, the third place he had requested they be scattered. (We had long since sold the S-2, but I took the ashes to Chandler's Landing nevertheless.) I spent Christmas at home in North Carolina, and returned to Dallas for New Year's, which I spent with all my close friends at Lowery's house in Grand Prairie. In all of these travels, and at all of these times, Grant was the topic of conversation, as we all remembered the good times we had together- in Chicago, in North Carolina, in Florida and, of course, in Dallas.

 

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.



...a Door Opens
October 19-26: We Take a Caribbean Cruise
Return to the Index for 1991