This website is now published on my mobileme account. Any opinions expressed, however, are totally my responsibility.
The original website was published through the courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Jim Andris, Sept. 17, 2003.
Much to my amazement, I discover that I have apparently not written a 2003 Christmas letter, no doubt due to the fact that I was dealing with a health crisis just after my retirement. So . . . in the next few days (first part of January 05) I will be completing this final record.
This was the year I finally retired after a full summer of teaching in August. I am reminded by my calendar for that year that I worked very hard to get a lot of my masters students graduated before I left.
August 31 was my last day, and boom, on September first I ended up in the hospital. Turns out I have pulmonary hypertension, and may have had it in a mild form all my life due to childhood asthma and earlier transgressions of smoking for ten years and closing down smoky bars with various music gigs. Or maybe it was the years of predinozone to treat the gout. Whatever the cause, the decreased lung capacity is a chronic condition and I must be treated for the rest of my life. Let's just say that I have slowed down quite a bit, but have not yet "hung it up." What the hey, I still scrub the kitchen floor and climb stairs (slowly).
Colleen Hawkins hosted a lovely retirement party of dear friends for me.
As I improved in fall, Stephen and I found our way to Shuggah's Coffeehouse for a noontime game of Yahtzee! This also gives us the opportunity to stroll through our beautiful neighborhood. Also, visits to the Sacred Ground in Edwardsville kept me in touch with Rosanda and other SIUE friends, as did our monthly Ragtime Rendezvous meetings.
We remodeled the half-bath downstairs, doing a credible job.
In October, Mom had her 90th Birthday Party and it was great. Many of her and my old friends were there, including Will and Caroline Lutz, Myra and Walter Kendall, Dee and Kay McFarland, and Dee's mom, Dorothy McFarland (who sadly passed last year), my 3rd grade teacher, Lucille Miller Alifero and her husband, Tony Alifero, caring and loyal neighbors, and family.
While I was in Ohio, Vicki, Tom and I drove up near Lancaster, Ohio to visit mom's 89 year old first cousin, Arthur Moellendick and his son and family on their farm. I also found time to visit a Gallion, Ohio cemetery and finally unravel the family mystery of what became of my great grandmother Eva Fickeisen Noe's older sister, Carrie Fickeisen.
Later in October, Stephen's sister Janice came for a two week stay, and we spirited her around town and country.
In December, my department hosted the retirement lunch for me, put off because of the earlier illness.
We decided to hang up our usual Christmas activities and went away for a 7 day Caribbean cruise just days before Christmas. We were traveling with Stephen's daughter, Stephanie and her soon to be legally married (Massachusetts) partner, Dawn.