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Merry Christmas 2017 and a Happy 2018 from Ted & Cathy Morris!
Considering we are in our golden years, things have been pretty eventful since my last letter. We had visits from and to cousins, family and friends, took a nice long road trip, and are generally at ease. The sad news of 2017 is that my father passed away on Easter morning from the complications of a stroke. As you can imagine, it was a difficult time for us all. He was the best husband, father and man I have ever known.
Cathy and I have avoided the hospital this year, although Cathy had out-patient surgery on her left hand to cure ďtrigger fingersĒ and allow her to grasp things again. Sheíll get the right hand done in 2018. She is busy right now making new Christmas wreaths using her good hand! She did make a trip back to North Carolina to say goodbye to her sister in-law, Francis, who was in hospice care. Cathy also got to visit with her brother Gary, who lives in NC now. As for me, Iím still helping out with a living history group, mainly by towing the float in the Veterans Day Parade. I also play guitar at the weekly ďjam sessionsĒ at the local Senior Center (when did I get old enough for that?). Other than that, Iím pretty lazy and just enjoy the weather, and the pool in the summer.
We made some local day-trips this year. Things like going up to Cloudcroft to see the aspen change (we hit it on the right weekend this year!) and taking Mom up to the village of Hatch to have green chile cheeseburgers at world-renowned Sparkyís (well, known pretty well around here). We also made a nice, long road trip to St. Louis to visit with our cousin Rita, who was in hospice. We got to stay with my cousins Jim and Anne, and really enjoyed the tours we got around the area, including down to Great Grandpaís old family farm near Fredericktown. What a change since the last time we saw it in 1978 - instead of cornfields, itís now a forest!
We went way out of the way on road part of the trip. From here to Corona NM to see the actual site of the Roswell UFO crash. Then to Fort Sumner, NM, to see Billy the Kidís Grave, then to Amarillo TX to go to the Big Texan Steak Ranch (the one where you get the meal free if you eat a 5-pound steak - we didnít even try!). Then a long trip across the prairie to the Adobe Walls Battlefield ruins, where two of the most interesting but little-known Indian fights on the plains took place in 1864 and 1874. We stopped in Dodge City KS, which isnít worth seeing, and then up to Cawker City KS, where my Momís Dad was born in 1898 (we didnít see any sight of him!). On the way to St. Louis we stopped at the Budweiser Clydesdale breeding farm (which we really liked). On the way home we stopped in Coffeyville KS and Guthrie OK to see the Doolin/Dalton gang graves, other things you should google too! Down to Konawa OK to visit with our oldest son, Eric, and then to Odessa TX where we saw a life-size recreation of Stonehenge, proudly built by Texas engineers in 6 weeks (vs. 2,000 years in England). We made a detour to Archer TX to see whatís left of Larry McMurtryís used book store (to be honest Coas Books here in ĎCruses is better!). Then down to our favorite part of Texas, the Davis Mountains, then home.
We had some interesting visitors this year too. My Momís Brotherís children, Jim Ticknor and Jamie Van Pelt (and her husband, Jim) came out for a visit with Mom. We havenít seen each other for about 50 years, so it was a great reunion! My Dadís Brotherís youngest daughter, Carol Morris and her husband Sterling came out twice to visit in their RV. Dadís commander in Vietnam and Momís best friend Will and Roxey Polley drove through twice too - we just hope weíre that nimble at their age!
The rest of the family continues to do pretty well too. We had Eric, our oldest son, over from his home in Oklahoma twice, and really enjoy his visits. Heís 42 now, and we never figured weíd have kids that old!
Our youngest son Greg and his wife Rebekah are both Air Force Master Sergeants and still based at Hickam in Hawaii. Greg won the General Horace M. Wade Innovation Award - best in the Air Force! Rebekah got home safely from her 9 months in Afghanistan, where she was awarded a Defense Meritorious Service Medal. Our granddaughter, Kirstin, is 12 now, and continues to be very serious about volley ball, practicing or playing every day. This past year her team went to a big tournament in Anaheim, and came out 5th out of 60 teams! Meanwhile, Greg and Rebekah are still physically fit - running marathons even! Greg also came ďhomeĒ last spring for a few days after Dad passed away, and then went back to Hawaii and reenlisted. His high-school buddy, Glover Gossett, who is a decorated Army Captain, also stationed in Hawaii, swore both Greg and Rebekah in for 4 more years each, taking them into retirement range. It is a very small world!
Chris & his family are leaving Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan for Stuttgart, Germany in late December, where Chris will manage the U.S. Armyís hotels there. He has been at Headquarters for both the Army and Navy for 15 years and says he wants to get back to the real world! Janna completed her college work last month, and is now a certified teacher. She says sheís hoping to get a job at one of the on-base elementary schools in Germany. Geoff is a Sophomore in high school, and had a singing role in this yearís school play. Singing? I never knew! Connor is chugging along in 8th grade and continues to do well - looks like he'll be the scholar in the family - his standardized tests place him in the 94th percentile of his peers, at the College Freshman level! They have really enjoyed living in Japan, but are really looking forward to northern Europe (they were based in Naples, Italy, for 3 years before returning to Japan).
Mom still lives at the assisted care complex, and though she is wheel-chair bound is doing quite well, and will probably outlive us all. She also has some short-term dementia, but hasnít forgotten anyone yet! And talk about a small world - her friend from when we were stationed in Morocco in 1962, Cynthia Apostalon, moved down from Albuquerque and lives in the room next door to mom! Both Kerry and I keep an eye on Mom, visiting every day, sometimes for a short time, sometimes longer. Sometimes I take her dog Charlie over to visit, or take my guitar and play for her for a couple hours, or until my fingers bleed, whichever comes first! Haha!
As for the menagerie, all other animals
and birds are fine. This
past summer a feral cat had a litter in the
desert somewhere near the house, and I was going
to catch and relocate her because she sometimes
eats the dove that live around here, but decided
not to after I saw her eating a pack rat, which
I used to love, but donít anymore!
We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a very merry Christmas!
Now, here's 2017's Crop de Photos:
This is me:
This is Cathy at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo. We didn't buy the steaks but we enjoyed their adult beverages!
Up and down the Rio Grande Valley, there are statues of "Painted Horses" in government buildings and other edificios. In the Pecos River Valley, there are "Painted Burros" in peoples' yards!
In Fort Sumner, New Mexico, they are pretty sure that this is Billy's real grave. Pretty sure.
X marks the spot where the Indian Billy Dixon shot was sitting on his horse in the Second Battle of Adobe Walls in 1874. Billy shot from where I'm taking the picture - about 1,000 yards - using a 50 cal. Sharps Buffalo Rifle.
Cathy and a Budweiser mare. They are absolutely stunningly beautiful animals.
Visiting with Rita in St. Louis. We love you Rita.
While we were in Missouri, I got to visit with my old compatriot from our tour on Diego Garcia in the '80s, Hal LaPorte. I'm very sorry to report that he too passed away a couple months ago.
My cousin Jim Morris showing off the "family farm" down near Fredericktown, MO. My Great Grandfather built this house himself in the 1920s, but it's been abandoned since 1960 or so. It used to be surrounded by corn fields, now by a forest. I've finally lived long enough to see "natural succession" occur!
Waiting for Larry McMurtry to open up his used bookstore in Archer, Texas. He never showed.
Our oldest son, Eric. He's 42.
Eric and Cathy during his visit in November 2017!
Our Granddaughter, Kirstin, in the big tournament in Anaheim last summer.
Rebekah and Kirstin on the beach!
Rebekah receiving her DMSM in Afghanistan from the Army 2-Star on her left. Notice - she's armed!
Rebekah back home safe and sound after 9 months in Kabul with Greg and Kirstin:
Rebekah working out. I am amazed at how seriously she (and Greg) treat physical fitness (says the 300 pound slug).
Kirstin is happy!
Here's Master Sergeant Gregory Morris getting sworn in for another 4 years by his high school buddy, Captain Glover Gossett, US Army. Glover also reenlisted Rebekah. The flag pole is the same one that remained standing during the Japanese attack on Hickam AFB on December 7, 1941.
Greg (center) was able to visit Chris and his family in Japan during one of Greg's TDYs. From left to right: Janna, Geoffrey, Greg, Chris, and Connor.
Geoff and Connor ready for dinner at one of the finer dining establishments in Tokyo! Sharp dressers too!
Geoff and Connor on one of their searches for the true meaning of Japanese cinema!
Geoff, Janna, Connor, and Chris discover the Statue of Liberty in Tokyo Bay!
I think this is where they serve dog soup:
Janna knows what to eat in Japan...
Connor, Janna, Geoff and Chris at the New Sanno Hotel in downtown Tokyo last Christmas.
This is me driving Russel's truck in the Veterans Day Parade. I like to drive, since all my uniforms have shrunk since I retired!
Here's Mom doing her favorite thing in the world - napping and petting her dog Charlie! Charlie lives with us, but he loves to visit his mommy!
Here's Mom (seated) with Will and Roxey Polley, and their daughter Brenda. Will was Dad's commanding officer in Vietnam, and Mom and Roxey have been best friends since they all served together at Indian Head Naval Station in the early 70s.
Here's our youngest son, Greg, visiting with Mom last spring.
My Mom, seated, with her dear friend Cynthia Apostalon (on the right). Cynthia's daughter Wendy is next to her, and on the left is Cladasha, the "Cruise Director" at the assisted care center where Mom and Cynthia live.
Here's Mom saying goodbye to her neice and my cousin Jamie Van Pelt. Jamie, and Jim seen in the picture below, were Mom's Brother's children. Sadly, he passed away in 1968 and we haven't been able to visit cousins before!
Like all our guests, we make sure they get their picture taken here in Mesilla! Jim, Jamie, and her husband Jim.
Here's me with my cousin Carol Morris, and my sister, Kerry.
Cathy's hand before they chopped it all up! Just joking. The Doctor did a great job of relieving her pain.
Here's a little tribute to Dad. Just starting out, and happy 'till the end.
This is his Guardian Angel in our front yard. God bless you, Dad.
Uh Duh Bee, Uh Duh Bee, Uh Duh Bee ... Thatís All Folks!
You can see a bunch of pictures I've taken over the years on flickr:
Don't forget to check out my website at http://www.zianet.com/tedmorris