We returned from DFW with the flu, and I was sick much of the remainder of January. Meanwhile, Daddy Barry began utilizing the Christmas present he had requested, a gym “boot camp” at Hardcore Fitness. We also got to spend time with Melissa at the Cheesecake Factory.
But in February we lost our dear dog Opa. Here’s what I wrote friends and family:
Opa, our sweet Yorkie, passed peacefully at home with us Tuesday. She was a faithful companion and friend for 14 ½ years.
She loved living on 3rd Avenue, where she arrived as a puppy in 2005. Neighborhood rescue greyhounds would look after her. She would simply go stand under one -– especially Danny -- if an unknown dog came around. It was a time of celebration. She especially loved when we would celebrate her birthday with a special dog-friendly cake from Paw Pleasers Bakery.
[First birthday 2006]
As the years passed, she helped Wes through the long, rough time after his divorce from longtime partner Tom in 2008. Ten years later, she was a vital component of Barry’s recuperation after a serious motorcycle accident laid him up for 12 weeks.
Similarly, we looked after Opa fondly and fiercely. We took her with us when we traveled to Texas, and friends cared for her during longer vacations to Europe and Universal Studios:Orlando. We spared little expense when she began losing her sight due to cataracts, hypertension, and later an aggressive eye infection. We physically carried her for constitutionals for a year or two when, with blindness and arthritis, she no longer wanted to walk.
[December 2019, Wes on left,
Bobby on right with Opa]
About a month ago, Opa distanced herself from our presence by no longer sleeping on the bed. Two weeks ago she lost most spark for life -- with the exception of times with our partner Bobby, and seeing her dog friend, Bo -- including playtime. As her vet confirmed, the time was near. We asked a traveling vet to come and make her transition as easy and comfortable as possible at home while we held her. Then our journey through intense grief began. Please hold us in your hearts and thoughts.
Life kept us busy before and after. We helped our friend RK condition leathers. Miz Lilly of GWNN invited Officer Wes to speak in July. Daddy Barry went to Palm Springs to visit friend Skip. Local leatherboy Doriam started organizing an event called SCALE2020 for October. We went to the Leather Fetish Ball. I presented Things That Pinch, assisted by slave frank, for FMSD. Then in late February the computer crashed. We had a good backup, but it was still out of commission for a week.
In March we attended the San Diego Leather Community Awards. We also hosted a game day In honor of the twin's birthday 1/16 on my birthday! We met with my physician about my belly and he said HIV meds could be a cause, and recommended I try Egrifta. I got to witness Sir Francis be suspended in rope by SirKnottyDan. Elegant. The next day Sir Francis presented rope for Club-X’ “XMen” (guy’s programming).
March 21 dog’s niece Ciara was marrying. We all had airline tickets, hotel and car reservations. By the Saturday before, there were warnings about don’t fly due to Coronavirus / Covid-19 unless you absolutely had to; and especially don’t if you are 60+ or have underlying health conditions. With Daddy Barry being 70 and Officer Wes being a longtime AIDS survivor, we made the decision we needed to stay home. We called Ciara and she understood. (By the next Wednesday, as the pandemic was growing nationally, she postponed her wedding.)
That Monday, March 16, though, we consciously began staying at home except as necessary. One thing: I broke the little toe on my left foot March 15, which required an x-ray and orthopedic appointment in the days afterward.
By Thursday, March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsome issued a stay-at-home order for the state’s population, except for essential personnel. I did some footwork and we were able to continue having the leather meeting, in a virtual format via Zoom, that Friday. Next Daddy Barry and dog dropped by storage to retrieve art supplies for the lockdown. I worked on taxes.
There were several highlights in the next month.
The first Saturday we got a random txt from our neighbor Whitney. She was going to pick up some groceries for her parents. Did we need anything? “How sweet! Yes, please: We are out of eggs.” Later there were eggs on our doorstep, with beautiful flowers on top.
dog’s work thankfully converted to work-from-home. he also got a promotion and raise, for which we celebrated with a Julian Pie Company peach apple crumb pie!
We dyed Easter eggs using both regular food dye and – new to us – “neon” food dye. Here’s our favorite, courtesy of dog:
Daddy Barry began doing P90X workout routines at home. Officer Wes sat on the sidelines the first month due to his broken toe, but eased into it slooowly after that.
We played family game night (Qwirkle) in-person with Chuck & frank, who were following the same sheltering-in-place protocol. We also played iBingo remotely, when Chuck had to go in to work and we were back on the 14-day self-quarantine process; and Houseparty during a second 14 day quarantine period. We watched “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Other interactions also shifted to FaceTime/Zoom-style meetings with my psychiatrist, our primary care physician, our therapist, sponsees, friends and family. We changed prescriptions to delivery.
Meanwhile, a lot of energy went toward placing and managing grocery and other store orders and their related deliveries – including sanitizing items when they arrived.
Our spirits also benefitted from reading. Our local library participates in cloudLibrary, which made checking out e-books a safe, non-contact process. We are especially reading the “Bosch” books by Michael Connelly. Officer Wes also worked diligently on the annual music piece.
Tom was my partner in the 17 years from 1991-2008. He died in late August after 12 years apart. It feels so… unreal. He had been there at some level for 29 years -- half of my life.
Tom started out as my leatherboy in 1991.
After about half a year of that power exchange relationship, we decided to transition to lovers/partners. But Tom respected my Dominant nature and fidelity enough to trust me with taking on a different leatherboy in the coming years (for posterity he wrote How does Tom feel about Wes taking on a leatherboy?), then later a leatherslave, then two leatherslaves, and then a Leather Daddy. It was a rich and wonderful time and I am forever grateful.
Tom enjoyed being a warm homemaker. We welcomed our friends and family, both chosen and biological, over regularly.
Tom Norton, Ike Pabon, Deputy, Don Dureau, Tom
Officer Wes & Tom
Tom and Deputy
Deputy brings Chris to meet the family.
Deputy, Chris, Kevin the Manpup, Tom (me taking photo)
Photo shoot by Corwin
Tom’s art opening at David’s Coffeehouse
slave jay, Tom, dog
slave jay, Daddy Barry, Officer Wes, dog
in front of Tom’s amazing art
2008 at our wedding
Tom, Daddy Barry, Officer Wes
We split up in 2008 after nearly 17 years together, after Tom broke an explicit trust agreement. Active drug addiction took him from me. For the crushing depression that came afterward, I highly recommend both Al-Anon, for those who have an alcoholic in their lives (There is also Nar-Anon, for those who have an addict in their lives. I would have gone to it, but the local schedule didn’t fit.) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Saved my life.
I always held out hope that Tom would recover but it never seemed to happen. Just when I’d wonder how things were going for him, I’d get some sad news. Some examples: In 2008 our condo was on the market for a number of months, and sold just before things truly froze up. I was thrilled. In the meantime, however, our Realtor – a friend – kept reporting that he would get butt-dialed by Tom when Tom was very, very high and out of it. Another time someone reported that Tom was in the UCSD emergency room very high – naked except for a pair of underwear. He was persona non grata from that emergency room for a while. Yet another time Tom had asked to have Opa for the weekend. dog, then living back in Florida but visiting town, went to go visit Tom and Opa. Tom was nowhere to be found, and Opa was stuck in a hot house. dog let himself in through the window to rescue her. Sad sad sad.
Tom and I continued to have a deep and abiding love for each other. My hope was that Tom would recover and we would become active friends again. But the drugs created a distance. I think it was because he didn’t want me to see his crystal meth drug use and consequences, not realizing I already knew. But Tom could not hide that he looked like a walking Auschwitz survivor. His appearance got so shocking that, long before the pandemic, he started grocery shopping around midnight, when there were few shoppers. As his gauntness worsened, he simply ordered his groceries delivered. Tom did come over as recently as January to say goodbye to Opa, whom we had adopted together in 2005.
Tom willed his incredible art to me. Picking it up from his home felt very final. But I hope it brings a sense of sweet remembrance of the good times in the years to come.
About the same time, we decided to adopt a young Biewer Terrier that bobby sweetly named Lily.
Daddy Barry & Lily (21 weeks old)
She is a loving girl. And a paw-full for the three of us.
Chuck & frank rented a cabin in Idyllwild for a month, and Daddy Barry had dog and I go safely visit in mid-October while he looked after Lily.
Idyllwild: Officer, dog, Chuck, frank
The other big news from October was Daddy Barry – who has been vexed by pain from multiple bad back disks, with herniations, ruptures and other physical deteriorations – got approved for a 1-week trial of a spine stimulator implant. The week went really well, knocking his pain from a 10 to a 6 or sometimes a 5. Now we are just waiting on “elective” surgeries to be back on at area hospitals so he can have a permanent version installed.
In November we started seeing a person named Kyle to try and help Lily be able to enjoy walks outdoors. For whatever reason, Lily can be inside just fine. But take her outside our place and she is intensely afraid.
Thanksgiving was spent enjoying the socially distant company of Chuck and frank and two of their relatives. We also got to participate in their annual Christmas tree decorating the Saturday after Thanksgiving – just the 5 of us.
Our own Christmas tree was a special event. Daddy Barry had wanted a pink tree for at least a few years. This year we got one. And boy is it vivid – more a magenta. We ordered coordinating metallic paper for gift wrap.
“Pink” Christmas tree
We don’t get many pictures with all three of us, as one of us is usually taking the picture. This was made with a Christmas gift!
dog, Officer, Daddy Barry, Lily
Here’s the last Christmas shot, Lily opening what turned out to be a furry blanket binkie on Christmas Eve.
dog helps Lily open a gift
Lastly, in late December our dear friend John McConnell / Roadkill died. We are very saddened by his passing.
As always, may this find you happy & well.
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