December 12, 2000

Dear friends and family,

Greetings and blessings of the Nativity season, for the year of Our Lord, 2000.

If you're receiving one of these annual missives from me for the first time, it's a tradition that began during my years in the ministry (1967-83), when our family's support was raised by way of monthly letters to a list of friends and family. Each December was the time to recap the highlights of the whole previous year, and I've continued it as a way of taking stock of my own life and keeping at least marginally up to date with those whom I've valued most of my life, as well as new friends.

Perhaps at my age it's necessary to count losses as well as gains every year, and this year's were again very difficult. My eldest brother, Tom, 73, died suddenly and unexpectedly on October 14, stricken by cardiac arrest while attending a wedding in Pennsylvania. We had taken three major tours together in the three previous years—California sites in the spring of '98, two weeks to Ireland via a fly-drive vacation there in the fall, and a two-week railtour of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales just a year before his passing, in October '99. He was looking forward to more California travel next spring, and had asked if I thought I could get time off to accompanying him again. Thus motivated, I decided to change jobs. I'd been contracting for more than two years, most of 1999 at Xilinx, a logic manufacturer in San Jose. But one downside of contracting is that there are no paid holidays or vacation days, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to afford a week off, unpaid, next spring.



So, I started investigating some of the constant stream of job inquiries I get via email, and had committed to take a new job that began October 16, two days after Tom's death. I had also committed to work at Xilinx the next weekend, so was not able to travel to Georgia for the funeral. I've put an online memorial to Tom at the Vintondale Home page site:

Other bad news for '99 (though none other comparable to the loss of our family patriarch in such an untimely fashion): Just a year ago—but not reported in last year's letter because it wasn't yet diagnosed when I wrote it—I was the victim of a minor stroke. I was not able, because of delays by my HMO, Aetna (regret I ever met ya), to see a doctor for 13 days after the incident. I was aware of the episode in my brain the minute it happened but, having lost a sister-in-law to brain cancer only weeks before, that was what I feared most. I was put on a blood anticoagulent and a stringent diet. Then, in January, I was diagnosed with diabetes and informed that blood glucose, not cholesterol, was the probable culprit in the stroke. The only physical effects of the stroke were impaired communications skills, both oral and written, and loss of a certain type of memory. Though I was aware of my personal history and didn't seem to lose any "intelligence," I couldn't recite anything memorized, even as simple as the Lord's Prayer or other Orthodox prayers I use daily, or the words of Christmas carols. I had difficulty speaking, substituting wrong terms from the correct ones (a year when I mean a week, for example). These problems were also so noticeable in my writing that I feared for a while I might have to claim disability and stop working in my field. It took a while to realize that my diet, as diabetic, should be almost totally bereft of carbohydrates and henceforth concentrate on proteins. Once that regimen was instituted, I lost weight rapidly, being now about 12 pounds from my ultimate weight goal. I who got meals at Subway every week and loved ordering pizza, have not had any sandwich or piece of pizza for over a year now.

Son Mike, who continues to live at my place (his engagement mentioned in last year's letter having been cancelled) and we also lost our faithful but incorrigible dog Buddy this year and still miss him. Mike is continuing his pipefitting apprenticeship.

Kevin is now employed as a network engineer with UUNet. Chris and the children have returned to San Jose, where she has resumed working as a waitress.

My travel this year was limited to an under-two-week trip to Pennsylvania for a high school class reunion and the sesquicentennial celebration of my home township. This is all profusely documented on the Nanty Glo Home Page (, which continues to be my primary avocation (and where this letter is, primarily, published, the overland mail version now a minor portion of its existence).

I do love receiving updates and greetings from all friends and relatives at this blessed season, and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

If you could have done it on your own,
what would have been the need for
the coming of the Lord? - St. Macarius

411 Lewis Rd. #342, San Jose, CA 95111 | 408-629-2331 | |

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