October 21, 2008

Mark Received Word today that his good friend Kenny Walker died. In the 1980s and early 90's Mark and Kenny shared housing at least twice. They shared a house in central Austin close to the Draft House. Mark was a respiratory therapist at a nearby hospital and Kenny was a bank examiner. They threw parties that were legend in Austin. At one time they were room-mates in Dallas living in an apartment close to where the Dallas Cowboys practiced. Kenny was in love at that time with a Hispanic girl whose family made and sold ice cream. Kenny loved ice cream, playing the banjo, listening to bands, and telling a good story on himself and his brother. Kenny made us laugh. He was soft spoken and kind.

Kenny moved to Mississippi to help take care of his mother. Last year Mark went to Mississippi to visit Kenny and rocked with him on the porch of his home. Not too long ago we learned that Kenny had an illness which he was fighting, adult onset acute leukemia . Today Mark learned in a letter from Kenny's brother that Kenny took a turn for the worse, went into ICU, and his heart gave out. Mark was supposed to die more than three years ago from his cancer. He wonders why he is still alive and several young friends are dead. His only conclusion: "God obviously has work for me and I wonder what it is."

Kenny Walker is loved and missed. We will write more about him and put a picture on the blog when we get ourselves pulled together.

Mark had an MRI last Wed. and saw the Doctor on Friday.
We stayed overnight in Houston Tuesday for the Wednesday MRI and made a flying one day trip down in the car on Friday. We know little more than before the test. The doctors are watching a spot on Mark's left kidney. He was doing poorly last week, not eating, not drinking, dehydrated, lost 12 pounds, sleeping nearly around the clock, mood depressed, complaining of excess saliva a symptom he had when first diagnosed and this worried him. By Saturday night he perked up and was making lists of things he wanted from the grocery store. Mark went to our neighborhood block party (BBQ and a band) at the end of the block for a little while Sat. night. This was called a recession buster party and it set a new standard for neighborhood parties. Mark didn't stay too long, conserving his energy for a film shoot this morning (Sunday) which lasted about two and a half hours in which he had several scenes including a couple of running scenes and one scene in which he discovers a dead girl.

Mark's step dad James and I played hosts/docents to 650 American Bar Association members and guests who came to the Bob Bullock museum Thursday night for dinner (prime rib), music performances, dancing and the three floors of exhibits. 12 buses brought the attendees. There were museum staff and catering staff but I believe we were the only two docents. Amazingly, the museum can accommodate 650 guests quite well. James and I did get to eat prime rib and dance a little.
We went to the museum again today to help with activities for the children in connection with a new exhibit called Cowboy Presidents. We also got to hear Ben Sargent, our local Pulitzer prize winning editorial cartoonist, speak. We felt OK leaving Mark. He was feeling better but not well enough to go with us. My hat is off to Mark for all the common sense he has gained and how he paces himself to have strength to battle cancer and do a few interesting things.

October 08, 2008

Mark in our swimming pool with all water removed.- This week the pool is being resurfaced
Mark helps host our neighborhood watch party- Each year in Austin Texas neighborhoods are encouraged to have neighborhood parties so neighbors can get together and get to know each other and find ways to make neighborhoods safer. This year our neighbors were invited to meet in our yard and eat hot dogs and visit. We ended up visiting on the driveway as well as the yard. People brought food and drink to share so we had pizza, appetizers, slaw, chips, salsa, health drinks, etc. Twenty five people showed up along with children and two special dogs. Mark is upper left in the garage in the top picture talking to neighbor Troy who works for Dell Computers. Mark is on the left in the middle picture where he is visiting with Pete (center) who is a pilot flying ultra-lites and larger planes and Dagmir (right) who along with his wife Rose own a travel agency specializing in cruises. To find out about their travel deals go to www.Sterling Vacations.com or call toll free 1-866-345-7755,
Click on any picture on this blog to enlarge it and get greater detail.

Events and activities take Mark's mind off his cancer and worry that his esophageal cancer is back or his liver cancer is growing or his chest wall tumor is coming back. He has been depressed at times recently. He always rallys himself and fights off his depression by taking on an adventure or a chore. Yesterday Mark cleaned, organized, and cooked for the neighborhood party. Today Mark cleaned James' truck and did a great job. Tonight Mark is being filmed for the movie Ten little Santas.
Mark will get an MRI this coming week at the VA in Houston. If the MRI report is good, Mark will head for Thailand next month.
Sister Stephanie sent an e-mail this morning and said: "I'm on the SeaFrance ferry crossing from Calais to Dover right now and they have wireless... so thought I'd check in.". She heads to Turkey for eye surgery on Saturday; her second and hopefully last eye surgery.
Below: Yuki from Japan married to Troy who is in top picture talking to Mark. Their little girl is in the middle picture playing with a neighbor doggie. click on the picture to get more detail.

October 01, 2008

Above: Hinrich (right) and cousin Werner Gerdes (left) go over some village records that include our ancestors in Ostfriesland
Below: Elke (right) and Betty (Mark's Mom)

Hinrich and Elke
Sometimes the blog is about friends who need prayers (not always about Mark)

Today Elke wrote to say that Hinrich is fighting for his life. He has bone cancer and is undergoing treatment. I hope all of you who read this blog will say prayers for Hinrich and Elke.
You can read a little about our day with them May 11, 2005 in Emden, Germany and some little Ostfriesland villages by going to the archives May 12, 2005. Ostfriesland is an area in the north of Germany very near the North Sea. Much of the land was reclaimed from the sea. Elke's husband Hinrich is a boat builder in Emden and he is a great genealogist. He helped me immensely with finding some ancestors in Ostfriesland and living cousins there. When Mark was his sickest and we were in Amsterdam, Hinrich and Elke talked Mark and I into riding the train to Groningen and they picked us up there, drove us to Emden, let Mark rest, fed us lunch, spent the day with us at our cousins' house and drove us back to Groningen to catch the train. Even though I was not sure at the time whether Mark would live through the day everyday that we were in Europe and wasn't sure if I would get him back to Bangkok alive, he went and had a memorable time....thanks to Hinrich and Elke.

You can read a little about our day with Elke, Hinrich, and our cousins (Werner Gerdes and his family) May 11, 2005 by going to the archives dated May 12, 2005 (see archives in right hand column).

Note: Mark was diagnosed in Feb. 2005 and given three months or less to live...He was loosing weight rapidly and extremely ill when we started the trip to Europe but he returned looking much better. He looked so bad in pictures taken in Germany that I can't post one of him as he would kill me or at least be mad at me.

At one time early on Mark had bone cancer as well as esophageal cancer with metastasis to the liver. I often fail to mention his bone cancer as it responded early on to treatment. Let's hope and pray that Hinrich's bone cancer responds to treatment and disappears.