Littwin: Writers write, but this one couldn’t write about the most important person in his life

We were married on June 13, 1970, in Susie’s parents’ living room. We were 21 and too young to know any better, but one look at Susie’s smile is all the evidence you need to understand why the marriage lasted a lifetime.
We were married on June 13, 1970, in Susie’s parents’ living room. We were 21 and too young to know any better, but one look at Susie’s smile is all the evidence you need to understand why the marriage lasted a lifetime.

This story begins — and sometimes, I fear, ends — when my wife, Susie, died two weeks short of our 49th anniversary, and I sink into a deep depression even though she had been battling early-onset Alzheimer’s for too many years, and I knew, in a way I know few things, that the best way for her battle to end was with endless sleep.

I also knew that when the time came, I would tell the love story of Mike and Susie because the truest thing about being a writer is that, whatever the circumstances, writers write.

I didn’t think writing would cheer me up. I didn’t think it was a route to closure. I did think it would be a memorial to Susie, but Kieran Nicholson had done an excellent obit in the Post and my great friend Tina Griego did a lovely obit in The Indy and I figured the memorials were taken care of. But when writing is not only what you do for a living but what you must do to live, writing this story would be a marker, a letter to myself about what life and death and mostly love mean, an attempt to capture grief in words, to explain what Susie meant to me and I to her and to share those thoughts with readers because I don’t know any other way.

I don’t usually get personal in my columns, and I rarely write about my family because, not least, of the crazies out there who have physically threatened me over the years for the audacity of voicing a political opinion. But this was different. I couldn’t write about the world if I didn’t write, this once certainly, about my world. And the hard thing here is that I lost her twice — once to the disease and again when she died.

Susie died in her sleep at home in her hospital bed. It was June 1 about 2 a.m. when her caregiver woke me up.  I was grateful — more than thankful — that I didn’t have to make any of those terrible end-of-life decisions. I thought, in a way, I would be freed up. But I found I couldn’t write about her — I was totally blocked — and my depression deepened at least in part because I couldn’t write about her. Writers use their pain, the best of them, to create art. I wrote about inartful Donald Trump instead.

But, Susie. My daughter and I decided not to do a big funeral. We did a series of small memorials in towns across the country — the cities I had dragged Susie to, forcing her to leave all her friends behind one more time, to satisfy my career ambitions. She had never been to Denver before we moved there, and she thought it was like Buffalo, snow all the time. I told her that the weather was actually one of Denver’s real selling points, but I couldn’t make the sale. 

Still, I was in a deep war with the top editors at the Baltimore Sun. I felt I couldn’t stay, and so I picked 10 cities where I could see us living. Denver was one. When we got there, I rented a house across from Cranmer Park in the Hilltop neighborhood, which was far more expensive than I could afford, but I wanted to make it up to Susie. That was 1997, the year of one of our October blizzards, the one where the Broncos needed snowmobiles to get to the airport. I — a sports columnist for my first two years at the Rocky, planning all the while to return to writing a news column — was in Fort Lauderdale for the World Series, sipping a South Florida drink poolside while Susie was literally snowed in back home for days. She stayed with me anyway. And she came to love Denver.

At the memorials, we celebrated her life with close friends, Susie’s and mine, who were often the same. I told the same stories that I’d been telling throughout our life together, and it was Tina who noted that no one enjoyed those stories more than the person who lived them with me. I loved these gatherings. 

I told — and this is true — how 99 percent of our fights came in a car when we had gotten lost. We had disagreements, of course, but we learned in time where the vulnerable spots were and we learned not to go there. The problem was that I’m always getting lost, even with a GPS, while Susie had a great fear of being lost. And to make it worse we traveled all the time — I traveled the world for work and Susie and my daughter would often travel with me on frequent-flyer miles and certainly on vacation — and Susie loved all of it, the new places, the new people, the dramas, the food, the everything. Except for the fights.

Once we were on the West Side Highway in New York, and Susie, holding the map, was tasked with keeping track of the exits so I’d know when to get over to the right lane. She lost track, and she couldn’t find the highway again. I told her it was next to the river. She said she couldn’t find the river. Finally, in exasperation, I grabbed the map from her hands — while driving — and pointed to the Hudson, “Look, the bleeping blue thing.” She started crying and I felt terrible. But the makeups? The makeups were marriage-saving. And they lasted as long as we didn’t venture anywhere near the car together.

Why am I writing now? Because I think I finally can. And because it’s the holiday season when family is paramount, and though my daughter and my two grandkids were there for Thanksgiving dinner this year along with a couple of friends, it was my first Thanksgiving without Susie since 1967.

Our first apartment in Newport News, Va., where I worked for the Times Herald. Susie may have looked like a hippie, but that was all fashion. — my first newspaper job.
Our first apartment in Newport News, Va., where I worked for the Times Herald — my first newspaper job. Susie may have looked like a hippie, but that was all fashion.

So, this is how I always begin when I talk about us — and we were an us for 50 years. We were the most unlikely successfully married couple ever. She was not only beautiful and always dressed just so, she had flair and she had a face that refused to age, even a little, until the end. She had relentlessly good manners and a deep, well-earned sense of empathy. She cried at movies or our daughter’s piano recital. She flossed twice daily. She cleaned the hotel room and made the bed before we left. She knew every neighbor and every relative’s birthday and kept a record of every place we had visited and every restaurant we ate in. She was everyone’s personal Michelin Guide. I could talk about the smile she so freely gave away, but I confess I care most about the ones that were for me. I never met anyone who didn’t like her, except those who loved her. She was not just any teacher. She was a first-grade and kindergarten teacher who came home with dirty-hand hugs still visible on her skirt.

Meanwhile, I looked then much as I look now, a vagrant lurker, except possibly even more unkempt. And so, when people saw us walking together, I’d say, they thought that I must be out on work release and that Susie was my social worker. Susie stayed with me anyway. And somehow, it’s still not altogether clear how, we fit perfectly.

When I met her, she was dating David, one of my best friends during high school. They broke up a couple of months before I would tumble off the back of a moving car and fracture my skull. This is critical to the story. I was 16. Four of us were at McDonald’s on a warm spring night trying to decide which movie to see. Suddenly we all broke for the car. The guy who used to date Susie got there first (the keys were still in the ignition) and squealed out of the parking lot. One friend jumped on the hood, I jumped on the trunk and the other friend jumped through an open window. You could say this was incredibly stupid or you could just say it was four teenage boys.

Anyway, after maybe 15 seconds, I fell off. David immediately backed up the car, nearly running me over. And because we were teenagers, we were now deciding whether to go to the movies or the ER, and that’s when I looked at my hands and saw they were covered with blood — blood pouring from my head where it had met the road. We rushed to the hospital, trying to get our stories straight because we knew the cops would be there asking questions. Meanwhile, one friend went to my house to tell my mother, “Mike’s a little cut up,” as if I had been in a knife fight.

I was in the hospital for a week in April, during which I celebrated my 17th birthday. About a dozen friends sneaked into my hospital room for a party and Susie brought me fudge. I’m one of the strange animals who doesn’t like fudge — too sweet — but I did like the idea of this beautiful 17-year-old, suddenly single, bringing me anything. And a week after I got out of the hospital I told her how much I loved the fudge and then I asked her out. She said yes. It was a start.

That summer we went dancing every weekend — I’m a terrible but enthusiastic dancer; she took ballet and laughed at my enthusiasm — and to the movies most weekends and to Shoney’s drive-in, where the kids hung out, for a late dinner. Think of American Graffiti and you’ll understand. And on July 4th, 1966, we saw The Rolling Stones from the second row, and I was pretty sure I finally had this teen thing down pretty well.

Meanwhile, my father, whom I worshipped, was dying of MS — galloping MS they called it then. Susie’s mother had died when she was 14. There’s never a good time to lose a mother, but 14 has to be among the worst. We each had these huge voids, and we both needed something or someone to fill them. So we fell into each other’s arms, and only rarely did we let go.

Then we went to college — different colleges; mine was all male and hers was all female — and said we would date but not be exclusive. And we did date, but we got more and more exclusive over the years. I would hitchhike the 50 miles on back roads nearly every weekend to her school and invariably would get picked up by a drunk driver when returning after midnight. I was sure it was worth the risk. And she would come down for football games on a caravan of buses loaded with eager young women as eager young men waited for them. I was working for the school’s just-opened alternative newspaper and making revolution. She was going to school and making As.

As soon as we got past graduation, we were married. We were 21. It was 1970 — in other words, still the ’60s — and the idea of getting married that young was as socially acceptable as saying you had to work so you couldn’t get to Woodstock. Getting married at 21 is the greatest crap shoot possible. But we were from the c’est-la-vie-say-the-old-folks school of rock — we saw Chuck Berry together in ‘67 — and we didn’t know what else to do.

So we did it, but we had to have the wedding first. And since I was Jewish and Susie was Presbyterian, we had to figure out a way to do this while causing as little turmoil as possible. We held the wedding at Susie’s house. Susie worked with a friend who used to be a minister, which was what we told her family, except leaving out the used-to-be part. And I told my grandparents that he was a justice of the peace. I wrote the ceremony — which was about two minutes long, with just a hint of dialectical materialism as subtext — and it was all going well until somebody told. And then all hell broke loose. For years, her NASA-engineer father and I had an Archie Bunker and Meathead relationship until we finally, for Susie’s sake, worked it out. And everything about the wedding seemed to make matters worse.

The next day, when we took off for our honeymoon in my prized yellow MG, we had driven about a half hour out of town when Susie asked me to pull over. When I did, she jumped out of the car and threw up on the side of the road. The wedding would be the worst day of our marriage — at least until the day Susie was diagnosed with dementia.

I’m not sure which school this was or what exactly Susie was celebrating. But I do know this is exactly what everyone’s first-grade teacher ought to look like.
I’m not sure which school this was or what exactly Susie was celebrating. But I do know this is exactly what everyone’s first-grade teacher ought to look like.

I had a job at the local newspaper. Susie became a juvenile probation officer for about a year until she quit. She couldn’t take looking after “wayward” teenage girls who had been abused by their fathers or step-fathers or some other male figure. She was afraid to be alone with these men, and I would accompany her on home visits, which broke every rule and several laws. She found a better way to help kids when she went back to school to get her teacher’s license. And then a baby came. And Susie settled on doing home-schooling for the public schools. And when the no-longer-baby turned 4, Susie was looking for a pre-K class. When she found one she liked, Susie drilled the principal on the school’s academic principles so impressively that the principal asked if she had any teaching experience. Susie said no, but she had a license. And so she was offered a job without ever having asked for one. That’s how good she was.

Less than a year later, I got offered a job at the Los Angeles Times, and so we moved, taking Susie away from the place she had lived her entire life. She got a job at a fancy-schmancy private school in Pasadena, one where Kevin Costner sent his kids. One where my daughter went for a playdate at a friend’s house and came home to ask why we didn’t have a children’s wing. I explained that our house — like most houses — was completely wing free. Susie got that job by showing up when a French teacher was out for the day and Susie was asked if she could teach the class. One of Susie’s great regrets in life was that she was a terrible French student. She got offered a job that day anyway. That’s how good she was.

My first year at the Times, I was a sportswriter, and I covered the Dodgers, meaning I was on the road half the time and even when I was in town, I was covering games six nights out of seven. I was never home. Susie’s friends, whom she met at the neighborhood pool before she found her job, would tell her, “Look, we know. You don’t really have a husband and to save face, you just picked a name out of the paper.” Susie loved much of LA, but hated the traffic, hated driving on the freeways, hated the chance of an earthquake and the highways giving way, hated being 3,000 miles from home. I heard all that, and it took me only seven years to move back to the East Coast, where she would teach at schools where most of the children came from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Meanwhile, we grew up together. We liked different movies, but we’d watch each other’s favorites. We didn’t always read the same books, but we always read, often together. Mine, we would kid, were the ones with death in the title. We loved eating out. We didn’t always love the same places, but we always found the best compromises.

We had one child, the law professor I often mention, and for whom Susie was the best possible mother, who asked Susie one day — she was 4 or 5 and I’ll paraphrase here — “What do we need Daddy for? I don’t see what he contributes to this family project.” And we laughed when Susie told me. And we laughed so many other times, too. We lived the life we wanted to live. So much laughter, so much adventure, so much seeing and learning new things, so much Susie and I chasing presidential politicians in Iowa and New Hampshire, so much Susie and her book clubs, so much Susie at the piano, so much Susie volunteering for a decade after retirement in the Discovery Zone at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and at the Denver Public Library’s read-aloud programs, so much Susie and our daughter and our friends, so many friends, some of them vacationing with us in a Maine sea-captain’s house, some for a week in Ireland, others for a week in Portugal, Christmas dinner in Paris, gelato in Italy, at the Christmas Market in Hamburg while I chased the ghost of 9/11 terrorist Mohammed Atta, in Prague and Leipzig before the wall fell, in maybe two dozen countries. We knew how fortunate we were. Susie gave back in every way possible because that’s who she was.

We were in Cairo two months after 9/11. I was there to write about the Muslim world. Susie was probably the only American tourist in all of Egypt.
We were in Cairo two months after 9/11. I was there to write about the Muslim world. Susie was probably the only American tourist in all of Egypt.

God, we lived a life. And then there was the end. I still can’t stand the end. Caregivers 24/7. Loss of cognition. Loss of memory. Loss of being able to get out of bed. Loss of everything. On the days she recognized me, I had brief moments of joy. On the days she didn’t, I just carried on. I can’t stand reading those stories on Alzheimer’s that suggest some silver lining to a disease that, as far as I can tell, steals you from yourself and then from everyone else. And for so many families, it would mean losing all your savings, maybe giving up your job, taking away everything. I was lucky enough to be able to afford the care. I was in a rage much of the time about the millions who could not and who get no help from the government unless they end up penniless on Medicaid. For those who wonder about Medicare, it doesn’t pay a cent for home care or memory-care institutions. Trust me on this. I had to learn the hard way.

Our last trip to Europe was to London (a West-End-play-watching vacation with our daughter) and then to Provence for a week and then to Nice for two nights. All on frequent-flyer miles. Both nights, we walked the glorious Promenade Des Anglais, a walkway along the sea. A couple of years later, on Bastille Day in 2016, a truck driver drove down that promenade, mowing down 86 people, including 10 children, and wounding more than 200. He drove that killing truck for a mile just at the place Susie and I would walk. I was angry and heartbroken, of course, about the terrorist act, but I was more heartbroken than usual. When we were taking those walks — Susie in a wheelchair — I knew that Susie and I would never be back there together, that trips were too exhausting for her, that soon enough she would be mostly past enjoyment. And so as that driver was killing hopes and dreams of all those innocents, he had attached himself to one of my last unforgettable moments with the person who, unforgettably, made every moment we were together better.

When I start to write, I start to think that way. Which is why I couldn’t write. The anger accompanied with loss shows through. The people expert in these things tell me to concentrate on the good, to take out the photos — Susie had lovingly put together years’ worth of albums reflecting our entire lives — and smile and laugh the way I would if Susie were there looking at them with me. So I work at remembering the good. I work at remembering that the joy of our life together was a 50-year gift given to few people. I work at remembering that life goes on and that love never really dies.

And whenever the work of living gets too hard, and I get too low, I remind myself that together Susie and I brought into this world a wonderful daughter who brought into our family two grandsons — one 4 1/2 (the half is critical at that age as all parents know) and one 16 months, who will always know of their Grandma, at least as long as they have me and our daughter to tell her stories. She got to know the older, Lalo, a little. She fed him. She held him. And later, when she could no longer talk, he would rub Grandma’s back like I would rub his when he wasn’t feeling well.

And though he understands that Grandma is dead, he thinks it’s like the dinosaurs he loves — that she’s somehow extinct — and I know how this would amuse Susie and how she would comfort Lalo. She would know just the story to tell him, just the words to use, to let him know he shouldn’t be afraid and shouldn’t be too sad, because she would love him always and forever. The idea of him in her lap, asking her life-and-death questions as ever-inquisitive 4 1/2-year-olds do, Susie making sense of it all, makes me smile, if through a tear or two. Which is why I’m glad I could finally write this.

110 COMMENTS

  1. Beautiful. I’m crying. My mother walking bravely with this monster illness. Thanks for sharing your love story! Sorry for your great loss.

  2. Mike,
    This is so beautiful and so fitting for such an extraordinary person. Your sense of loss comes through as profound.
    I just can’t imagine how hard this is for you. I am so sorry. I wish I had known her.
    Joan Fitz-Gerald

  3. Thank you, Mike. Thank you for writing about the most important person in your life, and your, and your wife’s love story–for a few moments you were able to push away from me the ravages of this horrid disease. I’m glad you’re back at it.

  4. I love your writing style. You are so brave to be able to express what is in your heart. I wish you could have had a million years with her. Through your writing, Susie seems like she was an angel. We are fortunate that by reading what you so beautifully wrote, she can live on through your words. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Thank you,
    Cindy

  5. Mike, I am so sorry for your loss, but happy for you, that you had such great love in your life; Thanks for sharing your beautiful story, even though it made me cry; I’ve also lost love ones to that disease, and it is a long,sad goodbye. The two of you lead a charmed life, and may those memories sustain you.

  6. She’s clearly proof that even a funny looking guy like Mike can out kick his coverage with a little luck. If you call cracking your skull lucky.

    • Is this proof that chicks dig semi-tough, periodically funny newspaper columnists? You’re right, though. I definitely out-kicked my coverage.

  7. Such love, humor and an honest acknowledgement of how hard loss is. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing to inspire us with what is still beautiful and how amazing Susie was. You more than honor her memory by being so real. It is appreciated more than you could know.

  8. What a beautiful tribute to Susie and I loved every chapter of your life that you so beautifully shared – your personal Michelin Guide… How rare and wonderful that you found each other at such a young age and had so many years together, blessed with a daughter and grands. You and Susie are a gift to us. I feel very deeply for your loss, Mike. Shalom

  9. I am very glad that you reached the point where you were able to write about her, and about “the both of you” as my mother would say. Every detail is precious. A total stranger to you read this in New York City today and thanked me for sharing your memories with him. Well, you’ve managed to do something that great writers do, transform your individual experience into something eternal, transcendent and universal. You wrote a great love story. You wrote a portrait and a self-portrait with some funny details as well as the anguish of her disease and the anguish of this farewell. Now she’ll be forever young. Thank you for sharing your true love.

  10. Mike -Greetings from Baltimore. What a wonderful love story. I am so glad you could live it-the great times and the painful ones-and even more glad you could find the voice to write it and let us glimpse inside such a wonderful marriage.

    Stan Charles

  11. My heart goes out to you, Mike, for the loss of your beloved Susie. I hope writing about your life together helps you keep the memories of your special time and love alive. I understand the pain of the two losses you describe as my beautiful, smart, vibrant mother suffered from the also cruel disease of Parkinson’s, accompanied by dementia. It was hard to reconcile, the memories of who she was, in all the stages. Even towards the end, those glimmers of recognition and her smile assured me she knew she was loved. I’m sure your Susie knew she was also deeply loved, and that is something to be grateful for. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • The diseases are cruel. And when you’re in the midst of the battle, you look for any ray of light. Thanks for sharing your story.

  12. Mike, I have so many wonderful memories of Susie. Most of them make me laugh out loud. Thank you for writing and sharing your life together.
    Karril

  13. You sketch out a wonderful relationship, with moments to help you explain how it began, grew, continued and — damn it — ended. Thank you for battling through the writer’s block, for telling us more about your experience of “us.” May you find your way on a trip to the future, the trip without a map and now, without your travel companion.

  14. What an awesome tribute, love story, your story connected with me & my husband’s love story & it is so hopeful to see that couples that may have differences are the best together. Your wife sounds like a person I would sit and have coffee with & share, I am so sorry Alzheimer’s took her. Enjoy her memory with those beautiful grandchildren

  15. Reading about your beautiful Susie and the love you shared was amazing. May you be comforted by the outpouring of support from your friends and the readers with whom you shared your personal story. I wish I had known Susie … she would have been a joyful woman to hang out with. May she Rest In Peace.

    • Nancy, so good to hear from you, and thanks for the kind words. You would have liked her. Everyone did. Hope you’re well. Mike

  16. What a lovely remembrance. Mike, you and I, besides being roughly the same age and married at 21, also have in common that we both married way out of our league. You’ve reminded me how lucky I am to continue to have Brenda by my side. I would have liked to have known Susie.

  17. Such a beautiful tribute to a wonderful person. I lost my mom to early-onset Alzheimer’s, and shared with you the anger, frustration, sadness and loss. But what a life your Susie created for everyone in her orbit. Blessings and peace to you all.

  18. So beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story of your life with Susie. That kind of love is a precious thing. I wish you peace.

  19. Mike, I’ve only met you once at Keefe’s dinner in Jan 2015. I had no idea you were going through this at that time. I got married at in 71 at 21 so it truly resonates. About all I can say is this is truly tragic. sincere condolences
    c bird

  20. OH Mike You made my day. As hard as the end was, you will always have Susie as part of your life and your family. I am passing this on to my only daughter who has grandchildren the same age and whose “Nanny” (me) also grew up in the counter culture of the 60’s

  21. Words fail in attempting to address this loving, personal reflection on your life with Susie. Thank you so much for your sharing, Mike.

  22. Leave it to you, to have your whole life changed by falling on your head.
    You were so very blessed, though my heart aches for you.

    • Steve, Best line of the day. It’s a pretty good boy-meets-girl story. And thanks, too, for the kind words. Hope you’re doing well.

  23. Like many who have added to this list of condolences, I lost my brilliant father to slow moving Alzheimer’s which he had for more than 10 years. He died, unlike Suzie, at 95 and a half , and despite all the misery his illness caused I wish he were still here, offering his late stage Alzheimer’s poetry, like ” I am hibernating in mid air.” The end came when he forgot how to eat. But Mike I’m a writer, too, and also wrote about my father and I hate to tell you this, but writing or no writing, grief is the gift that keeps on giving. Eventually you hope not to wake up saying, ” I want my father,” or in your case ” my wife.” So all I can offer is submerge your grief with work and keep on trouncing the villains of our time for Suzie, and the rest of us.

    • Vicki, I have no notion that the grief will ever end. And there will always be a full roster of villains, though we seem to be particularly full right now. I know I’ve got work to do.

  24. I have always enjoyed your writing, but never more than this beautiful, heartfelt piece. You have honored Susie in the most perfect way. Thank you for sharing your life, your love, your loss. You will never know how many people you have helped. Thank you.

  25. Thank you for sharing Mike. I’m crying as I read this. My father died of Alzheimer’s just last year and my mom was his caregiver all the way through. Every day was gift – but so hard.

  26. Reading this tribute to your beautiful wife has brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for the courage to write about her and your marriage and family. It must have been gut wrenching , but you have never backed off from writing what needed to be said since I have been following your columns. I think I know a little about your anger at this horrible disease as my father died from Alzheimer’s in 2007. Iinterestingly, I came across his funeral announcement this morning before reading your tribute. My father was an exceptionally intelligent, kind man who read three newspapers a day to inform his opinions, and who taught me to read from them as he moved his finger along the words as he read them out loud. Which is the short story of how I came to be one of your many fans. My thoughts are with you as you grieve.

  27. Thank you for sharing. Your words flow effortlessly and really capture your relationship. I only pray I can express the same feeling when I reach this point. Continue writing and sharing!!

  28. Been there and probably still am after losing my husband in January after we battled his colon cancer for five and a half years. Writing about it in my own column was something that had to be done and going into the holidays is difficult, indeed. Reading about your life together is heartwarming, though and I wish you well.

  29. I lost my father 8 years ago to brain turmoil. It was so fast that I had just one month from the date he got bad and the date when his body became lifeless. I didn’t have enough time to say everything I had to, and now, when I’m already a father to 3 y.o. girl, I start to understand him better. I find many similarities and I would like to share them with him so much…

    Thank you for sharing your story. At least one person in the world, which is me, will try to enjoy life with my spouse even more. Thank you. Hug.

  30. I have admired many of your columns over the years, and this just reconfirms again why. The depth of love and respect that shines through your unfathomable loss forges an unforgettable tribute. My deepest condolences and utmost respect to you.

  31. Of course your courage as a writer would compel you to write about this most difficult and personal of subjects. Thanks for sharing your grief — as you have shared so many insights — with your readers. I’m comforted that someone as brave as you had the compensating love of a great partner to balance against the psychic toll of writing honestly about important things. I’m sorry for your loss.

  32. I’m with the millions who would love to have known her in person. But for just a few sentences, I did….because you were able to bring her to all of us in writing. And though I bet she might have some corrections for you (yeah, I’ve also been married a long time….) I don’t think she would be surprised at all that you were able to tell a love story. Wishing you peace.

    • I like the corrections line. She read everything i wrote, and, yes, there were a few corrections. Thanks for your kind words.

  33. I’m very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your Susie with all of us. It’s been just a little over a year that I have been visiting and donating to the Co Independent just to read your articles which I always enjoy. This article really took me by surprised as I did not see the other articles in June. Thank you for writing again. Susie will live on in you and now all of us.

  34. Mike, I never agreed with much of your writing until now. Your beautifully written tribute to your wife was heartwarming to say the least. Well done, sir. I am just sorry we haven’t found a treatment for this terrible disease yet and that Susie was taken from you way too soon.

    • Jerry, You are right. We need to find a cure, and we also need to help the millions who are struggling with care. And thanks for reading, even if we rarely agree. Mike

  35. I can only imagine how hard this was both to live and write about. In your tribute, you have done Susie well. She will live on in your memories, and now in a few of us that have read this love story.

    • It was so hard to live with. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t gone trough it understands this cruel the disease is and how, maybe the worst thing, it robs one of hope. We know there is no happy ending. It’s hard to suffer to long knowing everything will inevitably get worse no matter what you do. But this piece has done me some good, and I hear from so many that it did them some good, too. That is good for a wounded writer’s soul.

  36. Wow, Beginning to end I ran through your story, my heart reliving the joys and aches and sorrow of our similar journey. We married in ‘75 @ age 20, Together we raised seven children and at 57, my husband was diagnosed with FTD, only a few months after my younger sister was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Both stayed in our home and in the end we had care givers. My husband died four years later on a beautiful August evening at sunset. My sister lasted six years. The sorrow of losing your best companions as they recede ever deeper into their shell of a body is horribly painful. Thankfully, there is joy beyond that deep sorrow. I pray you find it once again. Blessings to you, and thank you for sharing your story.

    • Jo, I both admire what you’ve gone, but more, much more, grieve for what you’ve gong through. I hope the joy remains and the pain begins ti fade. Thanks so ugh for telling your story.

  37. Mike, I just read your beautiful writing about your beloved wife, Susie. Your words illicit so many different feelings, which must be only a fraction of what you felt as you wrote this. Thank you for bearing your soul, sharing your profound love, and expressing your emotions so openly with all of us. Truly great writing binds us all in the human experience, reminding us that Susie’s impact will live on in all of us, thanks to your courage and rare talents.

    • P.S. I am deeply sorry for your loss, Mike. Life can be so cruel sometimes, and we may never understand why, which makes the pain even harder to bear. I do hope that you find a sense of peace, and that your lifetime of memories with Susie can help soothe your broken heart in time.

  38. What a love story! You are indeed so, so fortunate for the bulk of your life with her. I’m so sorry it had to end so tragically.
    Diana

    • I’m told that I’ll never get over the tragic ending, but that the secret is to find a way to live without the grief overwhelming your life. I’m trying.

  39. Thank you, Mike.
    Yesterday marks two years since my wife left, and I am still crying thinking of that, and of your beautiful story, and your time with such a special person. Keep those moments os smilihg: her memory is the best thing you will ever have.
    Take care, keep writing, never forget.

  40. I work for the Rockies in the guest relations department. A few seasons ago, you and Susie attended a game. I believe you were sitting on the first base side. After the game I assisted Susie with a wheelchair to take her out of the stadium. I still remember her smile and attitude-appreciative, friendly, the enjoyment of the game. As a fan of yours for many years, I was thrilled that you and I could spend some moments discussing books as we walked to Gate A. I am very sorry for you loss and my thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • I remember that night and our conversation and how careful you were with Susie. She did have the best and most welcoming smile. Thanks for reminding me of that night and for your kind words.

  41. I have no words that can adequately describe how well written this piece is. Like others have stated, I sincerely hope you achieve the peace you most certainly deserve.

    Be well

  42. Mike, I worked for DPL when Susie volunteered for the Read Aloud program. I made site visits to observe Susie’s storytimes. Every time I went I knew I was going to see a masterful teacher at work as she unpacked her props and books. The children eagerly greeted her and rushed to clean up so as not to miss out on the start. They sat enthralled as Susie led them through her paces of alternating song or finger play with a book along with a puppet to open and close. She sure embodied the mission to instill a love of reading and books! Susie was kind, caring and loving toward the children. She brought a sense of calmness to the class along with her sense of fun and she was sensitive to the needs of each child who approached her individually. They loved her back tenfold. That’s just who Susie was and that’s how I will remember one of the library’s outstanding volunteers!

    • Mollie, Susie loved the Read Aloud program so much. I used to kid her about how hard she worked at a volunteer job, but it wasn’t a job for her, it was a calling. Kids loved her, and she loved them back. And she had that gift, the one that great teachers have, to set boundaries without anyone feeling reined in, to bring such joy that the children could only respond with joy. Thanks so much for your kind words and for your help in letting readers know just what Susie brought to the classroom. And the thing about her was, she brought it with her everywhere. Mike

  43. I remember that night and our conversation and how careful you were with Susie. She did have the best and most welcoming smile. Thanks for reminding me of that night and for your kind words.

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