Ross W. Dembling

Profile Updated: August 9, 2019
I Reside: Bethesda, MD USA
Spouse/Partner: Jamie Feldman
My Children: Daniel, born 1997; running me ragged 1997 - present.
Occupation(s): Attorney
Where I was born:

DC (Columbia Hospital for Women-- I was mortified when first told where I was born. How could my mother do that to me? A hospital for women? Geez

An Opening Statement:

Thanks to Milt Herd for shaming me into adding to profile. (Still procrastinating after all these years. I still owe Mr. Beveridge some Latin homework.) -- Thanks Milt.
Still fighting with my constant friend and mutual burr-under-the-saddle: Greg F.

Elementary School:

Radnor (K&1) Bannockburn (2-5)

Jr. High School:

TWPyle

Marital Status:

Married

My Email address:

dembling@verizon.net

My Parents:

Thankfully my 80+ folks still with us in Florida (but of course).

University/Degree:

Miami University (the real one--in Oxford, Ohio) BA
George Washington University JD

My Biggest Disappointment(s):

Not keeping in touch better with the many great folks from WWHS over the years. Hope to do better in the next 40 years.

My Favorite Teacher(s):

The USN Captain

Family members who attended Whitman:

Brother Doug ('72)

Favorite Quotation/s:

"Of all the gin joints in all the towns all over the world, she walks into mine." -- Casablanca

"Stand up children, your father is passing." -- To Kill A Mockingbird

Ross W.'s Latest Interactions

Aug
09
Aug 09, 2019 at 6:58 PM

Having made significant monetary donations to the junior United States Senator from Maryland, Chris Van Hollen (well, actually, after pleading with a 20-something senatorial summer intern) I was able to convince the honorable Senator to publish a tribute to the Mighty 69'ers in the official Congressional Record, a copy of which is posted below. (This appeared at Vol. 165, No. 131 at page S5309.)

Ross W. Dembling has left an In Memory comment for Barry Segal.
Jun
29
Jun 29, 2019 at 4:33 PM

Reminiscence: Barry Segal

I haven’t had occasion to add to these pages in the past, but have always enjoyed and appreciated the efforts of others for their respective comments and reflections.

I also seem to have not shaken my horrible disease of galloping procrastination.  I know I have a paper due for Mrs. Maas’ eighth-grade English class, but I’m going to delay it for yet another couple of decades and try to get this one right.    

I’m writing this day about my dear friend Barry Segal, who passed away in the wee small hours of the morning December 5, 2017, following a 30-year plus battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Barry and I were, over time, neighbors, co-conspirators, rivals and so much more for almost 61 years.  Spending the very last days of those 61 years at his bedside was both extremely difficult, but perhaps enlightening to me as well.   Through all his long-sufferings with Parkinson’s, Barry never stopped being Barry.  –Smart, funny, stubborn, fearless and brash—just to mention a few of Barry’s iconic traits.

As his ability to speak diminished over time, and became almost non-existent in his last days, he nevertheless maintained his ability to be heard and understood.  His struggles at the end were, I trust, eased considerably by the wonderful care provided by his hospice caregivers.  But without doubt, the best and greatest care and love was administered by his wife Elizabeth Roth, whose enduring strength, love, devotion and sacrifices sustained Barry in ways only such a saintly friend and spouse could.  

His very difficult journey has come to a peaceful end.  And I will miss him.

A Rollins’ Wannabe (Me)

Now, with trembling fingers, I will attempt a Bill Rollins’ reminiscence of my own participation in the life of my dear friend Barry.  

I say my fingers tremble as Bill has, over the years, established a level of excellence with his writings here that can only send shivers of anxiety through anyone attempting to contribute the sort of incredibly detailed, lucent, humorous or poignant material that he has.    And I challenge anyone to deny the pure pleasure of reading any of Brother Rollins’ many posts to these pages. 

 And so, I begin.

Through the mid-1950’s, much of Bethesda had been what was euphemistically referred to as “restricted;”  meaning, restricted to non-blacks and non-Jews.  Sometime around 1954, my family was living in North Arlington, Virginia, and my father heard from one of his very good friends—Phil Klebanoff (father of three WWHS grads: Steve, Susan & Lennie)—that a Jewish builder was developing a neighborhood in West Bethesda, in which Jewish families were welcome.  Some eighty-eight families (not all Jewish, of course) bought homes in that newly built neighborhood called Merrimack Park in late 1955 and early 1956.  My family and Barry’s family were among those new Merrimack Park residents. 

Barry’s family lived at 6303 Phyllis Lane; my house was at 6303 Tone Drive (the developer of the neighborhood—Mr. Blake—named the three streets in our little development after the women in his life:  his wife Tony, and his daughters Marjory and Phyllis).  As a result, Barry’s house was sort of directly across the street from mine (having to traverse through the backyard of  Mark Waksberg’s (WWHS ’67) directly across the street).  

 

My earliest memory of Barry was when the Washington area was hit with a massive snowstorm in about 1957 or 1958.  Barry and I created numerous tunnels and by-ways under the snow drifts and disappeared for hours furthering our construction efforts.  Somewhere along the line, a difference of opinion seemingly arose between us with respect to those endeavors and my recollection is that there was a lot of screaming and recriminating suggestions being hurled back-and-forth between us two snow-construction managers.  After retreat to respective corners, we emerged unscathed once elementary school resumed days later at Radnor Elementary.

Adolescent Angst

Bill Rollins has written about his days at Radnor.  Those of us from Merrimack Park, well-west of the rest of the majority of those matriculating at Radnor, were decidedly interlopers and short-termers.  Our ultimate elementary school, Bannockburn, had not yet been made ready and so Merrimack Parkers’ (at least, at my lowly level) attended kindergarten and first-grade at Radnor, later to be shunted-off to Bannockburn for the remaining years of elementary school. -- Well, almost remaining years of elementary school as just as all of rising 6th graders were about to be the big kids in our respective elementary schools (I think there were six  elementary schools affected) Montgomery County Schools went to the middle school (versus junior high school) model for the first year that Pyle Jr. High and Whitman opened. 

Like the kid in Jean Shepherd’s classic “A Christmas Story”, just as we had reached the top of the mountain, we found ourselves hurtling down a greased-slide to the bottom of the pecking order.  And not just for one year; no, for two long years we were at the bottom of the heap, as Montgomery County then reverted to the jr. high model—so no 6th graders followed behind once we got to 7th grade.   (As my digression on the matter likely suggests, some of us have not fully recovered from that trauma.)  

Indeed, toward the end of eighth grade, rumors floated that Montgomery County was considering a repeat of that stunt and move the rising 9th graders (us) to Whitman to let us all be at the bottom of yet another barrel for two-years once again. )

 Fortunately, that didn’t happen, of course.

Boys and Their Toys

Barry and his family moved from Merrimack to their new home on Honeywell Lane in about 1959.  Their house was hard upon Wilson Lane, with easy biking for a couple of eight-year olds to downtown Bethesda to take in a Saturday movie matinee at the Bethesda Theater or at the Baronet (formerly, the much despised segregated Hiser Theater).  Thirty-five cents for kids under 12; fifty cents for “adults”.  Duck-pin bowling alleys--an alternative to truly awful movies --cost about the same per game.  

I can’t count how many Saturday afternoons that Barry and I stumbled out of one of those darkened two theaters, squinting at the rush of afternoon sunlight to look for our 20-inch bikes.  There were some times, riding our bikes back to Barry’s house that some less than appropriate ideas percolated up to our pre-pubescent brains.

One that I still shake to recall was when we spied a huge pile of leaves that had been raked in late autumn and left along side Wilson Lane.  How funny, we thought it would be, to bury ourselves in those leaves, inches from the traffic, only to leap to our feet when a passing car went by? 

Well, it was funny for a while, until one driver pulled-over around a corner, and came storming back on foot threatening all sorts of mayhem on our sorry souls.

A less dangerous (we thought) prank was when Barry and I stood on opposite sides of Wilson Lane at dusk.  As a car approached, Barry and I both threw our hands forward as though we were grabbing a rope.  Then, just as the car was about to cross the imaginary line between us, we both leaned back, as if tightening the rope held between us.  I humbly, sadly, and ruefully confess that to this day, I have to chuckle at the memory of the hapless braking, honking , cursing (no doubt) driver barreling  through our imaginary rope-line.     

Stand By Me

One frigid Washington’s Birthday holiday in 1963, Barry, Glenn Koteen (WWHS ’70 and then a resident of the third eponymous Blake streets: Marjory Lane) and I decided to go hiking along the C&O Canal.  (I remember it was 1963 because as we hiked we were singing the recently released Alan Sherman ditty  “The Let's All Call Up A.T.&T. and Protest to the President March” that was the season’s big hit record.)  

What is now known as the Clara Barton Parkway was in mid-construction, but being a holiday, no work was being performed.  But the construction equipment, dozers, pavers and the like were sitting idle as attractive nuisances (lawyers would describe) to a trio of tweeners.  Other than crawling all over these behemoths, we couldn’t do much damage to the equipment, or ourselves and we quickly lost interest and continued our hike.  It was then that we came upon a truly attractive site:  an abandoned, boarded-up lock-house.

I should say that I hadn’t thought much about that day or that hike in the years following until I saw the movie “Stand By Me” in 1986, which was adapted from a Stephen King novella, “The Body.”  The story was set in about 1959 and involved an adventure, of sorts, with four boys about 12 years old.  Of course, that movie and story was so far and away beyond what Barry, Glenn and I had encountered when we started exploring that lock-house.  But the scenes, times, and age were so evocative of our own.  I gave old Barry a call right after seeing the film.  He hadn’t yet seen the movie, but after he had, we rattled on about what was then a 23-year old memory.  

The lock-house had been boarded-up, apparently many years before.  Consequently, it didn’t take much effort to pry a few flimsy boards from a first-floor window and gain entry to this probably mid-1800’s structure.

Once in, and while unable to see too much in the darkened house, we nevertheless went up a staircase, wiping spider-webs away and trying not to fall through to the floors below.  And then as we were standing still and getting our bearings, the wind outside picked-up and came rushing noisily through the house.  At our point of entry, the wind whistled up the stairs and caught a door or cabinet causing it to start banging against its hinges.  At that point, all bravado was lost; we three went tumbling out of the lock-house and ran about a quarter of a mile until we all fell in a heap along side the towpath, laughing uncontrollably.  

Some 30 or so years later, when visiting Barry and we were mostly limited to watching old movies and tv shows at his assisted-living residence, I brought a copy of the movie and we watched it together.  It was great fun to watch, and we agreed we were very lucky damn fools that we didn’t fall through the flooring and get ravaged by the copperheads that were certainly nesting in the basement of that old lock-house.

A Children’s Crusade?

In 1964, Barry and I got entrepreneurial as well as political.  It was an election year, of course.  And, again while spending time with Barry in his last years we retrieved old memories that neither one of us likely had kindled for many years.  One came to light when Barry’s wonderful wife Elizabeth, More…was present.  

The Presidential election contest in 1964 was, of course, between Barry Goldwater and the incumbent, Lyndon Johnson.  Bethesda, then and now, was the bluest of blue jurisdictions,  safely and reliably for LBJ in droves.  But one day, Barry being Barry (and maybe feeling  some sort of  kinship with that other Barry)  began arguing with me about who should and would be the victor in the election.  Thirteen year-olds as we were, we quickly devolved from the verbal to the physical in the positing of our respective arguments.  As I recall, Barry’s mother had to break-up the falderal and send us on our way.  

Listening to the two of us laughing and remembering the incident, Elizabeth was seemingly quite appalled—not at the fight, of course—but for Barry Goldwater?  

Green Before Green Was Cool

That same summer, looking to try to make a buck or two, Barry and I learned that there was money to be made selling old newspapers and magazines by the pound to DC junkyards.  So we went at this hidden treasure in a big way.  We spent weeks going door-to-door all over the Bradley Blvd., Wilson Lane neighborhoods, banging on doors asking if the residents had any old newspapers or magazines that they wanted to get rid of.   

Amazingly, back then, there were many folks who did hoard or collect or just put aside this stuff, and we found many  --mostly wives, as it was during the workday—very happy to rid themselves of the decaying prints.  Barry and I would load up the wagon and haul the haul back to his garage and go forth again for more of the fish-wrap.  

And then….And then…the Mother Lode (well, “Mother” might not be the best adjective here):  

Our knock on the woman’s door was answered by a pleasant, probably 50ish neighbor.  After hearing our ask, she lead us down a flight of stairs to a pinewood-paneled basement with adjoining storage areas and told us that we should take everything, and then went back upstairs and left us to start carting the materials away without further involvement. 

Barry and I set to work, as we usually did and then….these two thirteen year old boys found themselves in the midst of about 10-years of Playboy Magazines. 

 Well, la dee dah, la dee dah.   Life is Good.

Once we had a garage full of papers and magazines (and, yes the Playboys as well—heavy lodes of literature that they were) we loaded everything up into Barry’s mother’s station wagon and she drove us  to Southeast D.C..  There, right behind the Capitol Building, amidst the squalor of the horrible slum yards that had existed for over a century in the shadow of the National Capitol, was our destination junkyard. 

Barry and I turned a handsome profit from this enterprise;  but shortly thereafter, the weight of the load having busted his mother’s suspension springs, we were instructed to find another career path.

Maple Leaf Rag

In the summer of 1967, after a bunch of took various summer school classes, largely to get driver’s ed, Barry and I somehow convinced our parents that the two of us should go up to Montreal, Canada for the World’s Fair or Expo ’67.  

As it happened, Barry’s father, a renowned cardiologist (and my father’s physician) had a former employee in his practice who had been a student or had a relationship of some sort with a Catholic girls’ academy outside of Montreal that was renting out rooms for the Expo.  We made reservations and stayed for the week, taking an hour-long bus ride back and forth to the Expo everyday. 

Our return flight from Montreal was an early departure.  We decided to follow adage that “if you don’t go to bed, you won’t wake up tired” in our return-trip planning.  We thus stayed at the Expo until closing at something like 2:00 a.m., then took the bus back to our lodgings only to have to get back on the return bus to the airport a couple hours later. 

No problem; we were young; we were stupid; and we couldn’t miss the flight.  But before we left the Expo grounds for the last time, we visited the Cuban exhibit and bought for our fathers a couple of Cuban cigars. 

Later that morning, we poured into the airport with our luggage and presented to U.S. Customs. At that point, we met the U.S. Government law enforcement official entrusted with enforcing the trade embargo against Communist Cuba.  We were asked if we had purchased any Cuban cigars at the Expo.  Being both honest and entirely ignorant of U.S. trade embargo laws, we proudly answered in the affirmative.  At which point the Customs officer told us we had several options: throw the cigars away, smoke the cigars before boarding, or otherwise get rid of the contraband. 

Well, at (I think) a buck apiece, there was no way we were going to throw the cigars away (nor smoke them).  Into the cigar business we embarked.  We sold our entire inventory within about 15 minutes and made a cool 100% profit at that. 

After that sales triumph, Barry and I looked at each other and gave thought to expanding this business opportunity.  But, alas, we were beat and we closed our cigar shop and flew home.

  

Ski Liberty

Over two Christmas vacations, in our junior and senior years at Whitman, we, together with Danny Fuchs & Greg Friedman, trekked up to frozen Vermont for a week or so of skiing, once at Bromley and once at Stratton Mountain.  

We would take a Greyhound bus from something like 7th and Florida Ave, NW at about 6 pm on Christmas Eve, get to NYC at about midnight,  hang around the disgusting Port Authority Bus Station for several hours and then get a bus to Vermont.  We would then arrive at about 6:00 am Christmas morning in a little town and with no known way to get to our motel at the ski resort. 

 I remember the four of us huddled in a church vestibule, watching the sun sort of rising on Christmas morning, freezing and cussing each other out.  Somehow or other a taxi appeared and we made it to our lodgings.  

We stayed for our week or so, but then tried to extend the stay.  On New Year’s Eve, the motel proprietor/bar owner let us take over.  He handed us the keys and told us not to sell any liquor, but to lock up before going to bed  (he was off to a party down the mountain.) 

We had gotten an agreement to stay a few more days if we cleaned up the hotel rooms, made the beds and such.  Well, with Danny in charge of logistics, we did clean the rooms, but short-sheeted the beds (still counts as making, yes?).  We were not invited back.

As Rollins has previously related, Barry was a fantastic skier;  but not, particularly patient or empathetic for those of us that did not share his native abilities and finesse on the slopes. In my case, he expressed his disdain or teasing-view by sarcastically referring and calling me “Stein,” as in Stein Erickson, then a world renowned Norwegian Olympic gold medalist skier.  

Through the years thereafter, whether writing letters or calling on the phone or addressing me or referring to me, it was always as “Stein” to his dying day. 

I often had to explain to others when they would hear this address: “Stein”?  “Who’s Stein?”

Well that would be me and you see…., well, never mind. I’m Stein. More later in this rambling on “Stein.”

Leave Your Brain at the Bay Bridge

I think Greg F. posted the iconic picture (iconic, I guess for some of us) of a particularly lamentable event at the beach in the summer of 1968.  Fuchs, Segal, Friedman and I had driven down to the beach in Greg’s father’s Olds Dynamic 88 convertible.  When stuck on the approach to the Bay Bridge, we all got out and played touch football on the side of the road waiting for the traffic to open up.

We pitched a tent at the Indian River Inlet camping ground--$1.00 a night per lot.  Such a deal!

Boredom must have enveloped us as we roasted on the sands that day; ennui led to, well, here’s a thought:  Hey Greg:  What say we dig a hole in the beach sand, deep enough for you to crouch-down into it?  Then we build-up a corresponding mound of sand directly horizontal to where your head is, thereby creating an illusion that you have been covered/buried horizontally in the sand.

Then we come along, start screaming or something and start smashing that trash can over there on what would seem to be your out-stretched legs under the sand.  You start screaming yourself in apparent agony and we step back to watch the fireworks.  

“All Aboard!”

So we dig the hole, Greg slithers in, crouching down and we back fill around his crouched body.  Now he is buried up to his neck and unable to move. Step Two: the plan was to build up the sand in front of him to form the illusion of his prone body underneath the sand.

Only, someone—Fuchs, Segal, Dembling?—recommended something different and the ensuing picture illustrates that alteration in plans.  The trashcan was inserted over-top of Greg’s protruding head, and the picture captures Greg’s good-natured grin or recognition that he had been had.  

That Greg displays a quite large blow-up of this picture at his rental property in South Bethany Beach to this day is a testament to his usual good-humor and our mutual good memories of Danny and Barry.

Up Up and Away!

I was not the most socially agile among the “Mighty 69’ers” in those days.  But, and again due to Barry, I might claim the unique distinction of having had for some limited time, two dates to our Senior Prom.

Barry had been dating a Whitman junior (cradle-robber, he) in senior year and they were to be dates for the Prom.  

Problem:  Her parents disapproved of Barry for who knows what reasons;  

Solution:  Get a beard: a fakir; a poseur.  In other words: get an imposter, sufficiently facially harmless and seemingly guileless enough to get past the parents.  

Who might fit that bill:  Stein!

I agreed to act as the prom date (while it has been 50 years, I was sworn to secrecy and  have not been released from my oath. Therefore, I’m not sharing her name preferring to protect the innocent. But for ease of story-telling, I’ll just refer to her as CW.)

CW told me that it would not fly if I simply came by on the evening of the Prom and picked her up at her house.  No, we needed to create a pattern and practice, the illusion of at least a developing relationship for the benefit of her parents’ comfort level.

So, the plan was that I would, over the several weeks before the Prom, give her a call at a pre-set time at her home.  She would be sure not to answer the call, thereby ensuring that one or another parent would.  I would then introduce myself and ask for CW. Over time, we figured, her parents would have heard my name on numerous occasions (and buttressed by whatever else CW might describe to them about our comings and goings).

Anyway, Prom night I drive over to CW’s house with whatever flowers Barry had purchased to pick her up.  Barry was waiting in the wings about three blocks away.

Once at her house one thing that I hadn’t counted on was the obligatory prom pictures, posed all over the front yard.  And the fawning parents.  I’m sure that I was sweating through my golden yellow dinner jacket in no time.  

CW’s father’s parting words to me were: “Drive Carefully!”

Right!  I had to drive about three blocks to where Barry had been, now impatiently waiting for about an hour.  CW got into Barry’s car; the transfer now complete, I had to hustle to my date’s house.  (I had let her know ahead of time of what was going on, but hadn’t counted on the delay attributed to the glad-handing and picture taking at Date No. 1’s house).

And then the next round of fawning parents’ and the picture-taking. But afterwards, all was in tune with the theme “Up Up and Away”. The four of us got together shortly thereafter at the Mayflower Hotel for dinner and laughs.

A final story or two before concluding:

Will You Still Love Me?

After graduation, a bunch of us took again to the beach and pitched a tent at the dependably cheap digs at the Indian River Inlet.  While I can’t remember all who camped out in what was quite a large tent, I remember several quite clearly:  Jim Orsinger brought what was quite a novel bit of technology—a battery operated, portable turntable with built-in speaker.

Problem: He (or someone) had brought only one record album:  “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band.”  That damn record played incessantly, non-stop all the time we were on the Inlet – in the morning in the night—throughout beer-induced hang-overs, without respite, without misery and without variation.  

I honestly could not (and really can not to this day) listen to anything from that album, without experiencing some idiopathic traumatic nausea.  (Years later, I made a one-time exception and overcame my aversion, somewhat, when I made my first trip to visit Barry at his new digs at the assisted living facility in Lakewood CO.)     

You Won!

Some time way back in our history, maybe college, I just don’t remember, we were teasing/taunting each other about who would succumb to matrimony first.  (Cue the band:  “I won’t grow up; I won’t grow up”).  Anyway, such talk led to a bet of what was then, real money: First one to get married owes the other $50.  

No brainer, we individually calculated. Fifty bucks?  No way.

Then one day in 1989, I received an envelope in the mail, addressed, of course, to “Stein.”  Opening it, a check for $50 fell out, together with a notice that Barry and Elizabeth had gotten married.  Scrawled across the bottom of the check were the words: “You win.”

As I had occasion to say to him and Elizabeth:  No buddy:  You won.  

 

When Barry was first experiencing the then unrecognized symptoms of Parkinson’s, he was seeing a local chiropractic clinician. Somewhere along the line, his usual chiropractor was away, so he was treated by the other professional in the office. 

If there was a silver lining to Barry’s life with Parkinson’s it was clearly embodied by that wonderful and caring woman who was with him for over 30-years enduring all that such necessitated.  She did so with a grace, humor, strength and optimism that made Barry’s days so much better and enriching than would be otherwise.

 

It Was All Stein’s Fault

It was August 19, 2015—Barry’s 64th birthday.  I had made arrangements to stay at a motel nearby his facility—a mile or so distant.  I hadn’t rented a car, as I was planning on just spending days visiting with Barry and the walk back and forth in the high mountain air was a great bit of exercise.

Elizabeth had let me know that Barry really enjoyed getting out of the facility to eat at local eateries as a change from the normal meal routine at his residence.  The food wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t up to Barry’s usual taste in the more exotic.

So, after arriving my first day, I sauntered up the hill to his place, armed with a download of, what else?  “When I’m 64” from that detestable Sgt Pepper.  

I got to his room and heard a loud “Stein!”   “Where were you?”  (I had arrived a bit later than I had promised.)

We let the staff know we were headed out for lunch at a nearby restaurant (about a ½ mile away) and started our walk.  

(It was later that I realized that the staff had assumed that I, like everyone else in Denver, would be driving.  Had they known, they would not have allowed (nor would I, if I had known the particulars) Barry to go walking for that distance without his walker, if at all.)

So as we were walking—pretty much on a downhill grade—Barry was going at a pretty good clip.  (I was later told that he would do so without his walker to maintain a sense of balance.)  Anyway, all of a sudden, Barry turns from the sidewalk and darts across the four-lane highway immediately to our right.

I jumped out to the street, and guided Barry back to the sidewalk and gave him some shit and said not to do that again.

About five minutes later, he suddenly turned again toward the street, at which point I touched his shoulder and beckoned him not to go forth. For whatever reason, surprise or the touching of his shoulder or something, Barry whirled around, tripped off the grass median between the sidewalk and the street and fell on his back, hitting his head on the concrete sidewalk.

Needless to say, I freaked.  He was bleeding from the injury to the back of his head. By the time I had pulled off my shirt to use as a pillow or bandage, a car pulled-up along side and three fellows jumped-out.  One called 9-11 and the other two retrieved a blanket a quickly made a barrier from the very hot, piercing sun.

The ambulance arrived in short order, and after assessing the situation and asking various questions put Barry onto a stretcher and into the ambulance.  Just as they were about to close the door to the back, I started to climb in to join him.  

I was asked what I was doing, and I explained that I was going with Barry.  They asked if I was a relative, and I recall responding, “I’m going.” The EMT told me that I would have to ride upfront.  “No problem; let’s go!”

The hospital turned out to be only about two miles away.  Barry was wheeled into the ER and I called Elizabeth.  Their house and her office was about a 20-30 minute drive away.

I was in the ER by the time she arrived at the hospital.  She had been briefed on his condition prior to her arrival, and knew that  after receiving some stitches, the only open issue was whether to keep Barry overnight for “observation.” 

Elizabeth went over to Barry, stretched out on the ER cot and gently and teasingly chided him:  “What did you do this time, Barry?”

Barry’s response?:  “It was all Stein’s fault!”

 

Hearing this, the attending physician, being altered to the possibility that this was not a fault-free accident as had been assumed, asked the obvious:  “Who is Stein?”

Well that would be me and you see…., well, never mind. I’m Stein.

Elizabeth let the medical staff know that there had been similar incidents in the past, and didn’t think it would be necessary to further burden Barry with a hospital stay.   We three went out for a very late lunch afterwards.

Sunset at Red Rocks

As every visit with Barry was ending, I always struggled, usually unsuccessfully, not to betray too much emotion as I worried that this visit would be my last with Barry.

Then Elizabeth called a few days before Thanksgiving 2017 with the news that Barry’s long and arduous journey was coming to a close.  Travelling to Denver a few days later, I knew that this would be my last visit with Barry. 

Sad as it was, that last visit with Barry was, inspirational and endearing in many ways.  Although he was in hospice care, he remained in his own room at the assisted-living facility.  When I first arrived the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, he was sleeping, fitfully throughout my time with him that day.  

The next morning, Thanksgiving Day, Barry was seated in his recliner in front of the television when I arrived.  “Hey Stein!  Where were you?” 

We watched the Macy’s Day Parade and then the Westminster Dog Show together.  And then we were able (happily and surprisingly) to have a FaceTime call with Barry’s parents back in Bethesda.

The next almost two weeks were spent with Barry, sometimes able to see and recognize us, but most sleeping.  Elizabeth and I left the facility late Monday, December 4th; she called me at my hotel at about 3:00 am, we hustled into the facility and to Barry’s room:  he had passed, as he likely wanted, on his own terms at his own time.

I was so struck by the outpouring of emotions from the assisted-living staff who had been with Barry, loved Barry, fought with Barry (he had once found a staff-refrigerator loaded with verboten beers and made off with one or two) and who were quite beside themselves at his passing. Indeed, there were several off-duty staffers, who arrived once they had heard.

Barry was, indeed, sui generis:  One of a kind.  

May the wind be at your back, and the powder above your knees!

 

Stein

-30-

 

Ross W. Dembling has a birthday today.
May
18
May 18, 2019 at 4:33 AM
Ross W. Dembling has a birthday today.
May 18, 2018 at 4:33 AM
Ross W. Dembling has a birthday today.
May 18, 2017 at 4:33 AM
Ross W. Dembling has a birthday today.
May 18, 2016 at 4:33 AM
Ross W. Dembling has a birthday today.
May 18, 2015 at 4:33 AM
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:48 PM