Bob Stephens Bob Stephens

Bob Stephens

Mailing Address:

     4711 E Sumac Drive
     Spokane, WA 99223

Phone: 509 448-7047

Bob Stephens
Updated: July 6, 2015
Spouse: Sharon L Stepens


     Nathan R Stephens (23 years old)

I’m still alive and kicking, albeit with more joint pain and less energy than previously.  Considering the fate of several friends and numerous class mates who have failed to survive this long, I feel grateful to still be here.  I’m looking forward to seeing and talking with many classmates in July.

In the last five years, Sharon and I saw our son Nathan complete two years of college at WSU, then transfer to the business department at the University of Idaho, where he graduated with a double major in Information Systems and Operations Management.  We were grateful that he demonstrated the will power to achieve that goal.  (We had achieved for him what my parents did for me, in that we managed to finance his college education without his having to borrow any money.  The difference was that, even allowing for inflation, his education cost many times more than mine had cost my parents.)  When we went to Moscow to see him graduate, we explored both the old and new arboretums.  I was surprised and pleased to see how many memorials they contained to people from our parents’ generation who I remembered and respected.

It’s definitely true that one can’t go home again.  While people who live in Moscow are likely proud of how it has grown, to someone like me who wishes to see the town of his childhood, its changes seem more like desecrations.

The year before Nathan’s graduation we stayed in Moscow while I attended the 40th class reunion of my law school class.  Unfortunately, many of the classmates I had most looked forward to seeing did not attend, but it was good to see the dozen or so who showed up, to tour the remodeled law school (which was originally finished after my class graduated), and to meet the acting University President, who had left the law school deanship to assume the higher duties of his temporary office before retiring.  (Alas, while the Administration Building Annex where I attended Law School still stands, it has been so radically remodeled, since the departure of the Law School for its own building, that hardly a trace of the interior we would have liked to have seen could be found.)

Sharon and I recently celebrated our silver wedding anniversary, a milestone of which we are both proud and happy.  (I would have to make it to 93 for us to reach a golden one, a prospect which I think is very unlikely, given my prospects for longevity.)

In 2013, after reaching age 66, I decided to shut down my law practice.  I quickly discovered that my “retirement” was greatly dissimilar to my fantasies of what it would be like.  Between my law office building, my rentals, and managing the limited liability company holding title to my Mom’s condominium, I continued to face numerous responsibilities, seemingly losing ground on what they demanded at the expense of the leisure time I had envisioned.

Last November I made a routine check on my Mom’s Condo, only to discover that a combination valve and hose which attached an upstairs toilet to the bathroom wall had sprung a leak, causing flooding of much of the upper floor, most of the main floor, and, presumably, the crawl space below that floor.  By the time the leak was discovered, mold was growing upon the walls and ceilings; and parts of the main floor ceilings had fallen from the effects of the flooding.  Investigation disclosed that the entire unit, save the garage, would need to be stripped down to the studding and sub floors; the crawl space would need to be stripped, dried out, and treated; the remaining skeleton would need to be dried out, treated for mold, and an air quality inspection would be required to verify that the air inside the building had no higher levels of mold and spores than found outside; and then the entire interior of the unit would need to be rebuilt.

All of a sudden what little spare time I had experienced to that point was consumed by demands of dealing with the flood and overseeing the processes required to get from that disaster to a rebuilt unit ready to be listed for sale.  (Until then I had been taking walks several times a week and losing weight.  Since then there has been little time for exercise and I have ballooned back to about where I started after retiring.)  The condo restoration activities have continued to the present, although the end of that phase appears to be in sight.

Since last November, a significant part of the salvageable portion of the contents which had remained in the condo and its garage were transported to my already over-cluttered former law offices, setting me backward on achieving my goal getting it into shape to rent or sell.  (Despite its being paid off, the property taxes, utility bills, city assessments, and insurance continue to be a substantial financial burden.)

On February 14, 2014, while outside filling bird feeders, one of my legs stopped supporting me.  I found myself staggering in circles struggling to keep from falling on my face.  Eventually, I managed to grab a table to forestall my falling, but I was leaning at about 45 degrees and discovered that the leg that I needed to use to push myself to a standing position would not heed my commands to push.  Soon I lost my grip on the table and fell, luckily landing on my chest on an empty old five gallon plastic paint bucket.  Being sun damaged, it collapsed, but in the process it broke my fall, which otherwise would have been onto freezing concrete.

I had not taken a phone with me, and I feared that I might freeze to death in sight of the slider door leading to our family room in light of my sudden incapacity.  Fortunately, the jar of hitting the bucket must have knocked something loose in my brain, because I discovered that I had no trouble getting to my feet and making it into the house.  I called Sharon to ask that she come home and take me to the hospital, since I was worried that I might be having a stroke or TIA.  She was unwilling to delay that long and called an ambulance.  Paramedics arrived from the fire department, finding no signs of stroke but urged me to take the ambulance to the hospital as a precaution.

I spent most of the rest of that day in the emergency room, eventually being sent for a brain MRI.  I expected to be told that nothing had been found but was surprised to hear that I had several dead spots in my brain and early atherosclerotic artery disease there.  My fall was diagnosed as a “transient ischemic attack” (TIA).  [A TIA is like a temporary stroke.  One has stroke-like symptoms, but no residual damage is left, as in the case of a stroke.]  Follow-up consultations revealed that the MRI findings were evidence of three prior strokes, of which I had been unaware.  It was also discovered that I had a hole between the upper chambers of my heart, which I have had since birth, but of which I was unaware.  I was put on several medications as well as a heart monitor, which I was required to wear for a month to see if I were suffering from Atrial fibrillation (AFib).  (Fortunately, I was not.)

The bottom line was this:  I was lucky that I suffered the TIA when I did, since five minutes before I had been on a stepladder high up in a tree.  Had it happened then, I likely would have fallen and been seriously injured.  Second, I had another reason besides aging for my flakiness.  Third, I was reminded of my mortality.  Finally, the chances of my suffering significant stroke are substantially greater than I perceived them to be prior to the TIA.

Since Sharon is nearly a decade younger than I, she has not retired, leaving me to play housewife.  Our recreating together is limited to weekends and her holidays.  We enjoy birding together, an activity I combine with photography.  I have fantasized about becoming a professional wildlife still photographer as a way of generating income to take trips to far off places to photograph wildlife, but whether that will ever happen seems questionable.  I continue to be active in the Spokane Valley Camera Club, in which I regularly compete in the color print category.

Nathan and I go fishing occasionally, and I reap the benefits of having a son who is computer literate to help me when I get into trouble with my digital photography or need help installing software.  Although our interests are dissimilar, our personalities are very much alike.  We greatly enjoy conversing with each other, sometimes to his mother’s annoyance.  He is a smart and sweet young man, but seems to lack confidence in his abilities to communicate with the opposite sex.  (I have not given up on his producing grandchildren for us in light of my not having married until I was thirty-three and my not having produced a child until I was forty-four and a half.  However, if he is as retarded in those regards as I was, I will have to live to be eighty-nine before Sharon and I have a grandchild.)

I have two books that I hope to write, each of which is only at the outline stage.  One will provide a detailed description of the skills and equipment I have found to be important to photographing wildlife.  The other is an autobiography.  (My mom finished hers a few years before her death, and I treasure the recollections she recorded for us in that book.)  My goal is to do the same for descendants of my generation.

I also hope to get together more with friends my age to enjoy each other’s company while we still have a chance to do so.  It would seem like, once I overcome the burdens of Mom’s LLC and my real estate, I ought to be able to find more time to spend on such activities.

Hopefully, if some of you can’t make it to the reunion you will call, write or stop by.  I love to visit with friends but find that I don’t get to do as much of that as I would like to.

Written June 17, 2015

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