My wife Pam died this morning at 1:30am after a long illness. She had been diagnosed with diffuse scleroderma in 2006, and over the past 5 years, it slowly robbed her of her ability to breathe and digest food, among other insults to her body.
Scleroderma is most cruel disease imaginable, imposing pain the Spanish Inquisition would find abhorrent, yet she bore it all with her smile and her caring for others instead of herself. Bit by bit, it stole her hands and replaced them with useless claws so she could not enjoy her sewing and crafty stuff. Towards the end, she could barely hold a drinking cup, or bathe herself, or put on her own socks. Scleroderma filled her lungs with fibrotic scar tissue, and made her dependent on supplemental oxygen, even though she never smoked a cigarette in her life. Even with oxygen, she couldn’t walk more than a short distance without becoming short of breath. Scleroderma reduced her to eating nothing but Ensure nutritional shakes and maybe a little yogurt or tapioca pudding, even though she was an excellent cook, and loved to make dinner for me or her friends and family.
We met online, on the old Kiss.com dating site. She was living in Massachusetts, and I was in Alaska. This improbable pairing flourished as we corresponded, then talked, and finally, in her bold way, she suggested she wanted to come to Alaska to meet me. I was smitten, and we met in the airport in Kenai, Alaska in February 2002. She worked her wiles on me in the most stealthy ways, like cooking a big batch of Cape Verdean kale soup, and leaving numerous Tupperware containers full of it in my freezer, so whenever I got hungry, I would pull one out and think of her.
She was so outgoing, and loved the same things I did, except camping (“That’s why God made Marriott Hotels!”) She always left people shaking their heads with her antics, but then they always said, “That’s Pam!”. One time, she used her mascara and eyebrow pencil to make us both up like silent film stars; she with her Gloria Swanson eyebrows, and I with my pencil-thin moustache carefully drawn in. Then we went down to the Moose Lodge for dinner, just to see if anyone would notice. That’s Pam.
For the next two years we continued our courtship. She visited Alaska three times, I went to Massachusetts once to meet her big Portuguese/Cape Verdean family. I made some sarcastic joke at dinner once, and her sister’s head snapped around and said, “That sounded just like Pam!” We were perfect for each other, and In November of 2003, I packed up my stuff and my dog, and moved to Massachusetts, and we were married the next week. We had two years of living life our way, travelling to California to meet my family, and going to Venice Beach to look at the freaks. Driving with our dog to a pet-friendly bed and breakfast in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, or taking the bus to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. I probably spent too much time online yacking here, but she always asked about all you Dopers, whom she called the Crazy People. "What did the Crazy People think about American Idol last night? " or, “I bet the Crazy People are going off about Sarah Palin today!” She was a good judge of character.
I am not the easiest guy to live with, let alone love, but for some reason she loved me, and I was privileged to be her husband for seven years. She made me a better person, and I hope I was able to ease the pain she did nothing to deserve.