by Diane Enfield, Ron Enfield

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At an elevation of ten thousand feet on the Mount Whitney Trail in the High Sierras, I met a blonde with sky-blue eyes who looked straight at me with disarming innocence.
She hiked up the trail on a wild idea that she needed to do something different with her life, because it was not going well. Her companion for the trip wanted to go further up toward the summit, but she was wet and cold, and so she turned back to the shelter of the Mirror Lake campground. Alone, with a damp sleeping bag and a stove she couldn't use, she saw my fire and walked a few steps to approach me, unhesitating and guileless.
"Do you mind if I heat my cocoa on your fire?" she asked.
I was hooked instantly. We spent that night together in the shelter of my tent, and for the next fifty years we were never apart for more than a few days.
Years later, her daring spirit had largely departed, leaving her diminished soul in my care, and I cared for her to the very end. Every day I would resolve to treat her with compassion, tenderness, and love, and tried my best to live up to that. But she would often find a way to push my patience past the limit; sometimes I would shout at her; sometimes I would storm out of the room, or retreat into silence. And once in awhile, she would talk with me as if nothing had changed since we met, and for some moments we would feel normal.
At night, when I lifted her gently into bed, I would remember how I felt toward her, and she toward me, before dementia stole her mind. I would try to communicate my feelings to her as I laid her down to sleep. Then I would have some time to myself, to reflect and think about the future.
The future finally came.
The attraction between us, two singularly unorthodox people, meeting in a most unlikely place, overrode any caution a prudent person might have felt. I cashed in a life insurance policy and gave her the money she needed to hire a lawyer and annul her marriage. She was afraid to do that, afraid that he might kill himself as a result, and that held her back before.
Her little girl Jennifer Jay Palmer, bright and outgoing at that age, strawberry blonde hair in a Dutch boy haircut, won me over quickly. It was never just Diane, but always both of them, that I fell in love with. Jennifer's astrological sign was Cancer and her grandmother, who believed in astrology, warned Diane to beware of cancer because Jennifer's astrological sign made her vulnerable. I thought that was nonsense.
Diane made friends wherever she lived, people who responded to her direct way of talking about everything. She made a few enemies, too, for the same reason. But I don't think anyone was ever indifferent. She gave birth to two beautiful daughters, who grew up believing her when she told them that they could follow their dreams and do whatever they dreamed of doing.
As her dementia progressed, our life together grew smaller and smaller. Long trips across country became short trips to the grocery store, day after day. Daily life followed a repetitive pattern with little variation: the same food, the same activities, the same rooms in the house every day. Diane no longer recognized her own house. Sometimes she did not recognize me. She depended on me for every need, but insisted she wanted to go home so she could be on her own, in her own house.
Some days, she could not walk from the bed to her chair in the living room, so I helped her into a wheelchair. Her bodily functions deteriorated. Her care became more difficult. Infections occurred with greater frequency. In January 2018, her doctor recommended home hospice care. We contacted the hospice organization on a Tuesday. They evaluated her on a Thursday and accepted her that same afternoon. Lauren and I had prepared the living room so a hospital bed could be placed there. By 5:30 PM, the bed was in place with Diane resting in it. By then, she was drifting in and out of consciousness. Soon she stopped eating. A few days later, she stopped drinking. On the eighth day in hospice care, Diane stopped breathing, and her heart was still.
Diane's life has ended. A simple truth. But Diane's story is not over. Her story continues in the memories and the love of those who knew her. It goes on in those whom she nurtured and mentored, and friends who learned from Diane's example. Her story lives, even in people who never met her, but who received gifts of love, compassion, and knowledge from her daughters, as they tried to live their lives the way she taught them. Diane's story lives in everyone who was touched by the love and attention she gave throughout her life to everyone around her.

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940162456087
Publisher: Blue Norther Press
Publication date: 05/15/2021
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 1,088,513
File size: 638 KB

About the Author

Ron Enfield grew up in Southern California in the 1950s, earning a scholarship to attend the University of California, graduating from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in 1966. After graduation, Ron started as a computer programmer at the world’s first software house and moved on to related positions in the tech industry. A newly-minted but shy college grad, he took up things he loved growing up, hiking and back-packing in the High Sierras. One weekend drive through Yosemite, he decided to climb Mount Whitney. The idea challenged him. That’s how he ended up camping at Mirror Lake, where he met Diane.
Before retiring to care full time for Diane, Ron earned a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and spent more than thirty years in technical publication at Bell Labs, MITRE, Oracle, and others. He has published articles about software engineering and technical writing . This is his first book for commercial publication.

Diane Christopher spent her childhood years in Minneapolis, Minnesota until her mother contracted tuberculosis and was compelled to spend years in a sanitorium for TB patients. Her family fell apart due to her mother’s illness, and Diane drifted into the juvenile justice system, spending two years in the Minne-sota Home School for Girls after a finding of parental neglect. Following her release, Diane’s chaotic life led her into a series of disastrous choices until, at 24, she realized she had to become responsible for the sake of her new baby daughter. After marrying Ron Enfield, she finished high school and earned a college degree, and in midlife began a years-long project to reflect and write on her life, and understand what had happened to her. Her life story is presented here in her words as she wrote them.

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