Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Faithful Surgeon


After receiving my third skin graft on the right side of my head, I went to get all of the bandages removed. This time I wasn't in the fancy private hospital with the Scary Room where they do all of these things, I was at a Social Security Hospital where everyone is just crammed into the hallways, looking like the walking wounded after some terrible man-made event, waiting noisily for their turn. At the SS, the doctors are expected to see one patient every seven minutes, chop chop, they are not allowed the privacy or the time to be gentle and helpful as they are in the private hospital. I am a big baby at the hospital. By some strange coincidence the doctor I had had at the fancy private hospital was my surgeon at this SS hospital for this repair on my scalp. He was doing an internship on burn patients. I was very lucky because not only had he operated on me 23 times before, we had developed sort of a rather jolly relationship. As he went to remove the bandages I started to wail and as he grabbed a likely looking bit of tape and began to pull slowly I screamed all the louder with each and every pull. So he looked at my daughter Amber, shrugged in an expressive and soulful way, said “what the hell” and just went wrench! After a moment's shocked silence I screamed so loud that doctors and staff from all of the adjoining surgeries poured into the room to see what was the problem. My Doctor, Javier, just looked cool and said laconically “don't worry she is always like this” and they departed with strange looks and troubled thoughts about this new young doctor. He asked me if I had never had my legs waxed and I told him no, so he said I had now. After he finished the curing of my wounds he said to Amber and myself to be sure to say in a loud voice as we were leaving the office: “ Well! Isn't he the best doctor you have ever had, and so gentle?”.
We had lot of giggles together over the years. He was the surgeon that often used to hold my hand when I went to sleep on the operating table, remember 23 operations there, mostly with him in attendance and then four more times with him again at the state hospital before he had to return to his fancy practice at the other place. After one surgery I remember he came in and said “so that is how much you love me, as soon as you are asleep you let go of my hand” At the beginning of the next operation when they were just about to put me to sleep he held my hand as usual but this time I brought out a tube of Super Glue and said that this time I wouldn't let go. The whole thing was very funny, gallows’s humor perhaps, obviously I couldn't use the glue – he needed his hands for operating but we all had a good laugh.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Some Biographical Material

Somebody is writing a book about my disease - Wegener's Granulomatosis - my attempts to keep alive with horseback riding and therapy, and my life in general. The book is to be called 'Riding for my Life'. Here's an introductory piece sent to the biographer:
 
My name is Barbara Louise Napier my maiden name was Beaumont. I was born in San Jose California in 1953. I was 60 a couple of weeks ago but I feel 30 most of the time. I am 5'9", 126lbs with very thick light brown hair. Good thing I have so much hair because when I lost the side of my head, I had enough to cover the bare spot. I moved almost every year because my father was a scientist for IBM. My main home was the Bay Area from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. I spent elementary school in England and a year in Spain in 1963. I married at 21 to my high school jerk. I don't know how women let themselves believe that they aren't worth anything and how these men can get that idea into their heads. I had a University education and that bothered him. His dream was to be a drug dealer when he grew up. I worked and supported the family. I have already written about him elsewhere so I won't go into any more detail. He was never home and always out with other women that is why it was a surprise when I found out that I was pregnant. I had a little girl Jessica Erin and the two of us lived happily at home alone. Three years later I was pregnant again, another little girl, Amber Nicole. I had not seen my husband in a week or so when I had her and the house was full of druggies and young women so I hid with my girls in the back room of the house. I told him they had to leave. They didn't, so when my youngest daughter was three weeks old I moved in with my parents and that is where I stayed until I moved here. I was a psychology major specializing in Learning Disabilities, and had then gone to work in a school with aphasic preschoolers. I was doing that for seven years. I started to train dogs for the deaf and before I finished I moved to this little village in Spain. I didn't speak the language and I had two tiny children and a Great Dane. My parents owned a farm here so I had a roof over my head and the rest was up to me but it was worth it to get away from that horrible man, not that I saw him much. We had the best life you could imagine. Everything was very primitive. You will read about that on my blogs.
I met an English Blue Blooded man, his parents came here at the same time as mine and there were not many young people. We got together, married in Gibraltar, had a boy, Daniel William in 1985, and have had a fantastic relationship ever since. The girls took his name, they were never officially adopted because the father wouldn't allow it but even their passports are in the name of Napier, all of their school stuff also. Everything they own is in the name of Napier. My husband's name is Lenox Napier, the girls call him Daddy. They met their biological father when they were about nine. Hated him and have never spoken of him again. Lenox is their daddy for sure and they love him to pieces. I bought the farm adjoining my parents so the children could just run from one place to the other with no traffic or anything. We lived in that house until Lenox' father died and since his house was so much bigger and had a pool we thought it wise to move there. It was a move of less than a kilometre. I was forced to let my brothers live in my house with no rent eventually I had to give it to the older one to keep peace in the family but if it was ever sold he would take out his money and me mine and then we would share the profit. That didn't happen. He recently sold the house for a fortune and I didn't get a penny. When my mother was mentally ill the two brothers got her to change the will and keep me and my sister (the only family who stayed in America) out. They now own everything and won't even pay back the loans that we gave them to get through the bad times. My older brother is dying so everything will go to my little brother who is a shaven headed tattooed biker who wants to kill us as if it was us that stole the entire inheritance from them!
Enough for now. Lots of this is in my other stuff so I don't want to repeat too much. We are no longer rich we are poor and had our business taken from us by our accountant and the sales managers some time ago. They owe us a fortune and now they want to take us to court for calling them names on the internet. I guess I am starting to get mad. I better stop. We will talk later. Let me know what kind of thing you want.

Much Later. Barbara died a year ago this Thursday June 4th 2015.

She died after a long illness, bravely borne. I've posted something on Spanish Shilling. As far as her siblings go, there's a little more to add here. The oldest was her sister, Susanne, who has never been in contact with me - not once - in my 31 years of relationship with Barbara. I expect she is not worth knowing. The older brother Jim was a psychopath. He was in Mojácar in the seventies and was actually deported for ten years for drunkenness, drugs and house-breaking. His misbehaviour caused the parents to split, with Barbara, a young woman of 19, looking after the younger brother Mike for a year and a half in California. Jim never worked in his life and usually lived off women he seduced (or off his mother's pension, if times were bad). He took over Barbara's stables on the family compound and turned them into his own property. He sold Barbara's cortijo for a fortune (we had been forced to sell it to him at 'cost' to keep the family peace). He died early 2014. The younger adopted brother, who - with the help of a local abogada - ended up as the owner of the entire family estate (an estate with several houses on it located above the village which looks over the Mojácar cemetery) hasn't spoken to me in years and couldn't even bother to make it to Barbara's funeral.
What revolting people!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Billy Goat

How stinks that goat on yonder hill,

When all it eats is chlorophyll?

That’s an old poem that my mother had never heard before we moved to England, when I was a child. Our first house in England was a beautiful cottage in Barrington, Cambridge. The house was beside a river with a large garden and for some reason three thatched train carriages in the yard. It was probably the coldest house we ever lived in and the family joke was that the fat on the bacon congealed before it made it to the breakfast table. Having come from a 2,000 acre farm in Maryland, USA, with lots of animals, my mother tried to make us feel at home in our new environment by acquiring a few pets. The first was a miniature apricot poodle to try and replace my lamb that I had to leave behind and the second was a male goat. She brought a male goat home thinking it would be great to keep down the undergrowth alongside the river and for us to play with. Someone saw a sucker when they saw her coming. As adorable as it was as a baby it grew into a very smelly, willful animal that just stood most of the time on a small pillar, with all four feet, that happened to be right outside the front door. Every time you would open the door this increasingly large and stinky goat with horns would knock you down in the rush to get into the house. It became such a menace that my mother tried to find a home for it with all of the local farmers. Everyone of course knowing that you don’t want a male goat, except my mother, who, give her her due, was a fast learner. One day the Vicar passed by, collecting items for the church fete to be held in the common gardens in the town. While drinking his obligatory glass of warm sherry, the vicar was surprised to see that my mother had donated the goat to the cause. After much discussion about her generosity, the Vicar left with the billy goat in hand. I am sure that its ghost still perches on the narrow stump outside the door at the parsonage to this very day.

You see no one wants a male goat, a sad fact but true.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Saratoga High Reunion

I won’t be attending the 40th reunion this year of Saratoga High School’s Class of ’71 (I graduated a year earlier and was never on the ‘guest list’ until now), but by sheer fluke the reunion is coming to me. After searching for Rob Christian for almost 35 years, and finally finding him through one of my blogs, he and his wife Michel are coming to spend time here in Mojácar (Spain), during July. To make it even better Steve Smith and his wife Anne are coming too. We will have a great time and even have a go at interpretive dancing, so that we feel that we are taking part in the actual reunion. Maybe we can even all get together on Skype and join in. My best buddies from my childhood all seem to come from Saratoga and most of them have been here to visit, like, Patty Peck, Lisa Sanders, Sharon Blosk, Mark Vincent, Terrie Armstrong and Kathleen Coakley. Thanks to the internet I have been able to stay in touch with or make new contact with people like Mark Buckley, Larry Ford, Mary Johnson, Mary Pestarino, Jim Adams, Debbie Acker and many more. Saratoga really was the greatest place to grow up and my friends from there are the best. HAVE A GREAT REUNION SARATOGA HIGH!!!! Mojácar toasts in your honor.

Say 'Hi' to the kids at Fruitvale Junior High...!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

What is a Parent?

A parent is the person who raises you, nurtures, teaches and loves you through, good times and bad times; a person that is always there to help. A parent teaches you right from wrong and moral values. Biology has nothing to do with it. It makes me really mad when the courts say that the biological parent has legal right over a child or children, when they may not have seen or even contacted them in years. Or worse; they come in and out of the children’s lives and make false promises. What makes these people, who have abandoned their children, think that when they are feeling alone and getting older that the children, they never knew, should step in and let them be part of a family? If separated parents come to an arrangement and both parties take responsibility for the children then it is a different matter. When the children have been abandoned; without child support, birthday, Christmas or even valentines cards, have never had any attempt made to stay in contact by phone, mail or visits, I think it is cruel and pathetic that they decide to get in contact when they know the children are grown and doing well. The worse parents of all are the ones who every few years move into the child’s life, promising to continue the relationship; only to disappear for years at a time, only to return when it suits them. Don’t they realize that most of these children have a new parent in their lives who is stable and who loves them unconditionally; if they don’t then the estranged parent should never have become estranged. They should have stood up to their responsibilities and not play tug-of-war with the children’s delicate emotions. When one parent disappears sometimes the remaining parent tries to make excuses for the missing parent. This is not a good idea. You should never tell children bad things about their missing parent when they are young but you also shouldn’t build them into a hero figure. If a parent has abandoned their children for their whole life and these children have a happy, healthy and loving family than I think they should stay out of the children’s happy life because in most cases it just brings grief and problems. They usually end up screwing up again anyway and disappear once again, leaving the children emotionally scarred.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Pictures from an Album

We found an old album which must have found its way over to Spain in 1980 during my escape to a better future.
Jessica after spending a day with Terrie Armstrong. See the haircut!
Sarah's Birthday. Sarah and Jessica in Ben Lomond
Jessica and Samantha Ross in 1979 in Ben Lomond, California.
This one is Mary Johnson Smith with me and Jessica, must be in 1977 in River Ranch Circle in Saratoga, California.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

When Bobby Died

I have only spoken about Bobby a few times on my blog; she was one of my best friends from childhood along with Patty. We all grew up together and our parents were also close. On one occasion when I was staying at Bobby’s house because my parents were away we decided to go and see a concert. She was going with her boyfriend Steve, and I was going with mine, who turned out to be the biggest jerk in the world. Anyway, before we went I went to his house for dinner while Bobby and Steve went to wash his car for the evening out. We were sixteen. I received a call from Patty telling me that Bobby had been killed in a car crash and that her brother Mark had been one of the firemen who went to the accident that is how we knew before anyone had been notified. Bobby and Steve had been driving over the summit road when the car’s brakes failed and they went over the edge. Steve didn’t have his seat belt on and so was thrown out of the car but Bobby stayed in to the bottom. Steve tried so hard to stop the car that his foot actually went through the floor of the car, which was the only damage he received. I decided that I must get back to Bobby’s house to tell her parents. When I got to the house a few minutes later, lots of people were there, all crying. It turned out that one of the neighbors was a policeman and had been listening to the police radio while playing cards with a friend, so he rushed over to tell her parents. Since I was staying at her house it was the only place I had to go. When I walked in and saw all of the people I started to laugh, uncontrollably, I knew Bobby was going to come walking through the door any minute and say what was going on. It was a shock too much for me to handle. We were going to college together and her aunt had just died leaving her a house right next to the college so we had been having garage sales and getting the house ready to move into. It was going to be our first grown-up experience. I couldn’t accept the fact that she had died but the next day people came into our room and started clearing out all of her stuff and a lot of mine with it. I kept asking them why they were doing that and they said the memories would be too much for the parents and so someone had to clear out her room. I went to the funeral but I never believed that she was dead. I tried to continue my classes but drove to college and then turned around to go home. It just wasn’t the same because we shared most of our classes and I couldn’t go by myself. It took me almost two years to come to grips with her passing. I think that the first year I was just in a state of shock and lived in a dream world and the second year was coming to grips with reality, one I couldn’t accept. We had done everything together and now she was gone forever and at such a young age. I finally pulled myself together and started to live again and went away to another university where I shared a room with our great friend Lisa. Lisa and I were roommates for two years until I changed universities and went to Sonoma, where my long time best friend and neighbor was. His name was Rob and had lived across the street from me in one of our many houses. Rob lived at Lundblads Lodge for a while and then got into some strange religion with a girl called Cathy after a rather bad drug experience where his dog HashiMoto died. He finally escaped the hold Cathy had on him and became a Baptist minister. I have tried very hard to make contact with him by writing to his parents but with no luck, I think he tried to break all ties with his past life. For many years after Bobby’s death I had dreams about her. I knew she was dead in all of them but she would come and visit with me and we would talk about everything and go places together at the end of every dream she had to be somewhere to leave and we always had a hard time finding the place. I think it was because I didn’t want to wake up and find that she was gone. I miss Bobby very much.