May 2020


My Man Steve

I nearly cried today.

It usually takes a pretty simple and painful event to make me cry or nearly cry-typically using a hammer to drive my finger into a wall does it.

Today was more complicated, and it all started yesterday morning at 8:30 when Betty called the office.

Betty is the administrative assistant to the kleinschloss‘s Homeowner. By any measure Betty is a remarkable woman-she manages to balance the Homeowner’s incredibly hectic and Byzantine schedule in all its multiple facets: travel, conflicting travel, complicated airline ticketing rules, complicated reimbursement rules, meetings with university officials, reporters, visiting scholars, as well as normal demands from undergraduate and graduate students who want to talk to the Homeowner.

The fact that Betty wasn’t at the office at 8:30 was somewhat surprising, but not that alarming, so when she called me to say that she had bad news, the first thing that popped into my head was that she was involved in a car accident.

Instead she told me that Steve, her husband, was in the hospital having suffered a heart attack early that morning, and that they wouldn’t be leaving for Ireland on Friday (today).

I was immediately numb-a feeling that I last recall having the day Matthew Shepard was attacked.

Steve, like Betty, is an incredible person. Not only does Steve hold down an incredibly demanding job with Indiana University, Steve is one of the most involved community members I’ve ever met. As a Shriner, not only does Steve ride one of its famous Mini-Cycles (complete with “Flintstone Hat”), he served as a chapter President and Bingo-Caller. I’ve seen Steve at work for Indiana University, and I’ve seen him in every single parade I’ve ever seen in Bloomington-whether Fourth of July or Homecoming. His dedication to his profession and to the Shrine Club is impressive.

Not only that, Steve and Betty are dedicated parents and grandparents-Betty is constantly talking about how Steve and she are attending baseball games, going to church, or otherwise spending time with their family.

So today, Dorothy (a co-worker) and I took our time to go over to Bloomington Hospital-a place that in the six years that I’ve lived in Bloomington, I have not visited once. For those of you who know me, this is probably not a great surprise-I hate blood, I hate needles, and I hate the thought of them. I even freak out when Betty puts her contacts in-and that’s not even remotely medical and it is not my eyeball.

We went to see Betty and Steve in order to deliver a small token of how concerned everybody at the office, both here and abroad, is about the two of them and to see how they were doing.

For me, it’s incredibly difficult to describe how I felt when I saw Steve. He looked good considering-there is no doubt about that. But I was at a loss for explaining how I felt and how to express my concerns, my worries.

I’m just not that good with words.

Fortunately Dorothy was there to talk to Steve and Betty, for had I undertaken this mission by myself, I surely would have either chickened out or cried or both. Probably both. I don’t recall really having said too much-maybe I was as talkative as I normally am, but I feel like I was abnormally quiet.

Even now, this is incredibly hard to write – I have a feeling inside me that I want to express, but don’t know how. Expressing emotions don’t necessarily come easily for me-I’m usually only able to express joy, anger, and cynicism easily – three traits that probably have endeared me to only a select few. Sadness and concern are more difficult to express – and I often fear that they can be misinterpreted as my normal cynicism, but it’s not.

I am sad.

I am concerned.

I want Steve back to 100%

I want Betty and Steve to visit Ireland.

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