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Friday, October 06, 2006

Foto Friday: Grand Ole Opry House

I realized last week that my last three or four (or five or six) photos have all been of Hawaii. I didn't mean to do that, it just worked out that way. Since each was from a different island, I toyed with the idea of completing the set, posting a different island each week until I was finished with them. But, I thought, to hell with it. Let's go somewhere different.

So today's photo is for gentle Emily, who just can't get enough of the establishing shots in Lost.

Sydney, Oct. 1999
Sydney, Oct. 1999

That was taken from a ferry on the way to Taronga Zoo, which is on the north side of Sydney Harbo[u]r. Betty, a friend of mine from California, was coming through town with a friend, and the three of us went to the zoo together.

The remainder of this post is a little depressing. Just ignore it and look at the pretty picture if you like.

Betty was a fascinating lady. She must have been 75 or so when I met her, and she was still working. In her youth she'd been a computer, back in the days when that word applied to people, and in the '60s had been on many exciting projects for NASA.

She and her husband had become wealthy over the years, and during her last few years she traveled to Egypt and China and, for her last big trip, Australia. She also went once a year to Vegas with some girlfriends. She was a millionaire, but she told me that she allowed herself twenty (or it may have been fifty) dollars to gamble away, and when that was gone she was done.

When she came through Sydney she was having a little trouble with her arm. She had strained it, she thought, and it was taking an awful long time in healing. Then again, she was getting on in years.

After she got back to California she found out that she had ALS. I got to go back to the US for a visit in 2001, and was able to see her on my last day. She couldn't speak much by then. She had a little keyboard to type on, but she was mostly beyond that, too. So I had to do most of the talking, and bored her with accounts of what I'd been doing in Australia.

When I left her, I found I had nothing to say, no words of parting. When you leave someone you don't see very often, you say things like, "see you soon," or "hope I can get back in town before too long". When you leave a sick person, you say, "get well soon". None of these was appropriate. She wasn't going to get well, and I wouldn't be seeing her again.

She died about a week after I got back to Sydney.

This post turned out to be kind of a downer, though I didn't mean for it to be.

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