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“Here she comes,” Dad said beneath his breath. “She always enters the room like she’s the inspector.”

“Who is the President?” The RN asked him in her little girl voice. “I’m going to take your blood pressure. Do you know where you are?”

He took a breath before he answered, “Yes. I’m in the hos-pi-tal.” He was covering up his irritation pretty well. “You know Bettina, it makes me feel  inadequate when you keep asking me the same questions time and again.”

I jumped to his defense. “Maybe if you tried just talking to a patient—you could ask them about their children or grandchildren or work or something—anything to help them feel more like a person than a patient. You know what I mean?” I was trying to be nice about it.

“It’s our base-line reading. We are instructed to ask these questions. We ask them for a reason.”

“Well, I guess I understand that,” he said.

And I guess I did too. Maybe it helps them from getting too involved emotionally. It must be hard to find that balance—of caring but keeping your feelings out of it. That’s why I’m not a nurse.

“Your pressure is one hundred sixty-two over seventy….that’s a little high. Can you tell me what day it is?”


“Do you know the date?”

“It’s hard to keep the days straight when you’re here, Bettina. They all start blending together. The 14th?

“No, it’s the 13th.” She chirped.

“Well, that’s confusing. I see that the board there says it’s the 11th.”

She glanced over her shoulder to the board on the wall at the foot of Dad’s bed. She asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

“No, you did what you came to do.”

Bettina scooted over and changed the date, then left the room.

Dad had been telling me the story of his first sail with Mom. They had made it to the dock in Port Washington after some rough weather.

“Tell me that part again about the sleeping bag.”

“Everything was wet but our sleeping bag was dry so we spent the night on the boat. That was always special.”

I can imagine, after the level of potential danger Mom and Dad had just sailed through, that the calm of the water and warmth inside their bag may have seemed blissful to them. But, everything was wet, the air muggy and sticky, probably some mosquitoes or a solo fly happy to have found a new landing spot. They were content just being together. That was true love.

“The next morning we had to lay everything out to dry in the sun in Port Washington and eventually took off for Sheboygan. We had a good sail that day and arrived at the Sheboygan harbor around dinner time. We walked up town, got something to eat and went to a movie.

We left Sheboygan the following day and went on to Manitowoc which has a fine harbor and nice ship store. We weren’t there long when a boat tied up next to us on the opposite side of the slip. The guy was a sailor from Chicago who was headed the same direction as us. Dolores was cooking supper on the alcohol stove—I remember fried pork chops and potatoes with a salad. Our boat did have a nice large ice box and Dolores always made wonderful meals. She asked the sailor if he would like to join us for supper. Needless to say, he was very pleased. So he joined us for a gimlet—our evening ritual—as Dolores finished preparing the meal.

The next day we went a little up the lake shore to Two Rivers. The dockage in Two Rivers is in the River. We tied up next to a McDonald’s. In each of the towns we were in, Dolores would pick up whatever groceries we needed and replenish the ice while I tended to the boat. She got our supplies in Two Rivers but that night she got a break—we had dinner at McDonald’s.

In the morning we sailed on to Algoma and tied up again in a river. We had another good supper and got to bed early.

The following morning we took off for the Sturgeon Bay Canal and through the Ship’s Canal into Green Bay. When we were in the canal, a large tug was headed directly for us. He gave me a blast on his horn and I couldn’t recall the Rules of the Road (which means rules of the water), as to what that meant. So I turned around and went on up ahead of him to get out of his way.

That night, I got the Rules of the Road out. As I recall, I figured out what he was telling me— I should have acknowledged him with a blast and then passed port to port.

We went from the canal up to Egg Harbor and found a nice tie. I’ll never forget the next morning we looked out our cabin and coming towards us, across the lake, was a significant number of sailboats. Each one was flying their colorful spinnaker, and all of them were highlighted by the morning sun. It was a beautiful sight.

We left Egg Harbor, sailed up to Ephraim and anchored in the Bay at Horseshoe Island. That too was a beautiful night.

On our seventh day, we arrived at Elison Bay when the weather began to get foggy. We laid over a day, waiting for the weather to change. Dolores got acquainted with the couple on the adjoining slip. When the following day was still foggy, I decided I didn’t want to waste any more time sitting around. So I plotted my course on the map with the headings and time and we planned to motor to Washington Island. Dolores told the neighbors she had met that we were going to leave.

“In this weather?!”

“I guess so,” she responded.

“Well, give us a call on your radio phone when you’re up there so we know that you arrived safely.”

“Radio phone, what’s that?” She asked.

“Don’t’ you have a radio?”

“No. Bill said the only instrumentation we have is a compass and for what we’re proposing to do, that’s all we need.”

So, now with some degree of trepidation on Dolores’ part, we took off in the fog.

This little story sums up the overview of our marriage. If I felt compelled to do something, or that the Lord had guided me, she was with me 100%—from travelling in Europe with three little kids and a tent, to sailing from Elison Bay to Washington Island in a dense fog.”

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