If we had focused only on the sky today we would have felt as if we’d never left Western Washington. I drove under a steady downpour for most of the day. The grey-brown sky almost blended into the flat golden-brown land at the horizon. Mid-afternoon the clouds lifted and the sun occasionally broke through allowing us glimpses of hills in the background. Then the rain returned.
We had planned on visiting the Craters of the Moon National Monument but the weather made us reconsider. We left Gooding in the late morning and returned to I-84 only veering off the main route for a brief stop at the Minidoka National Historical Site which commemorates the over 9,000 Japanese Americans interned there during World War II. It was very moving and I may write more about that tomorrow or some other time.
I started out the day not realizing how tired I was. After a yummy breakfast spent listening to the innkeeper share local history I returned to our room. My plan was to go back after planning out our day to hear more about the complex individuals who founded the town. I think my mistake was sitting in a comfy chair while I looked over the map. The next thing I knew 45 minutes had passed by. Michael, however, came away with a lot of information and some nice photos.
One of the most surprising changes bvFTD has brought about in Michael is a new sense of gregariousness. Michael has always been good with people but he has never been inclined to go out of his way to interact with others just for the sake of interacting with them. That has changed and he has become very sociable. In the past while traveling, he was happy to putter along only reaching out to others when there was a reason or he needed something. Now he enjoys being with others and connecting with them. It is strange and fun to watch all at the same time because it is so different than before.
I mentioned a few days ago how I occasionally “lose” him if he is not in front of me when walking around and this is a large part of why that happens. He will stop and talk with anyone about anything. Sometimes that works well, such as with Dean Gooding, the innkeeper at the Gooding Historic Hotel B&B, but other times he may strike up a conversation with someone who is sending out “leave me alone” vibes that he no longer picks up. This is a common part of FTD though it affects each person differently and sometimes those interactions with others can be inappropriate because the part of the brain that regulates social behavior has become damaged. So far this hasn’t been a problem with Michael.
FTD, at least in the early stages, is deceptive. Some might ask if there is anything wrong with Michael enjoying socializing more. In and of itself – no, there isn’t anything wrong with that and it hasn’t become a problem, it’s just a change; one I enjoy seeing. The important issue is the reason for that and other changes and the answer is progressive irreparable damage to certain parts of his brain that will eventually spread to other parts of the brain. If I were to describe most of the other changes, they too would seem subtle and not necessarily a problem. And each one, by itself, at any given moment might not be a problem, but together they sabotage Michael’s ability to operate at the level he used at work and in life. I read somewhere that it’s as if a person’s supervisor – that part that sorts through all the input in our brain and helps us decide how best to respond – has gone offline. This impacts social interactions but also our ability to multitask and to think through a multistep issue. Someone seeing him for an hour or day at a time might not even pick up on the changes but I do and Michael has also noticed the effects of the changes. (I should mention that many people with FTD are unaware of any changes because they have lost that ability to be self-aware in that way.)
I am sharing about FTD because it’s a large part of our lives now and there’s so little awareness of FTD on the public level. I’m also sharing because it impacts our road trip in big and little ways. Today, I did all the driving because while Michael very much enjoyed his time conversing with Dean, it wore him out and he slept off and on throughout our drive. That’s okay. We knew things like this would happen. It’s all a matter of choices and today he chose to use his energy interacting with others. That’s a fine choice.
I want to finish by saying thank you to Dean and Judee Gooding for the wonderful time we had at their B&B and for the friendship and other gifts they gave us.
On to Day Five!
About half way across the southern half of the state of Idaho is the town of Gooding, ID, population 3500 or so. It has one main street (called, appropriately, Main Street), and on this street, at the north end of town, sits The Historic Gooding Hotel, which is owned by Dean and Judee Gooding (yes, that’s how she spells her name), who operate it as a bed and breakfast. If the establishment looks a bit rustic from the outside, let me assure you that it is just as rustic on the inside. It is, after all, 120 years old.
The wood part of the hotel (right side in photograph) was built in 1887, probably by Frank Gooding, Dean’s grandfather. Frank was a local sheep rancher who went on to become governor of Idaho and then a Senator. The town was named for him, although at the time it was called called Topana, and was little more than a water stop for the railroad. The hotel passed out of Gooding hands and over the years changed ownership numerous times. The brick part of the building (left side in photograph) was added sometime before 1920. Dean and Judee bought it in 1997 and have been there ever since.
We found them to be delightful people, and interesting. Dean is a walking encyclopedia of information about the history of the hotel and the town. He loves to tell stories; I think it is how he keeps the information organized in his head. Ask him a question and you get a (sometimes lengthy) story. Fortunately, he is a good story-teller.
As near as we could tell by comparing genealogical notes, there is no connection between the Idaho Goodings and the Washington Goodings on this side of the Atlantic. There is likely a common ancestor in England around the 1600s.
There was one other interesting but sad adventure for us. Not far from Gooding, ID is the Minidoka Relocation Center. This is one of ten internment camps where Japanese-Americas were held for several years during World War 2. The government rounded up 110,000 of them, 60% of whom were born in the USA, shipped them to Idaho, and held them there until the end of the war. They had no legal recourse. Their Constitutional rights as American citizens were simply brushed aside. They lost their homes and most of their belongings and most of them never regained them. Nor were they compensated in any way for their losses.
In 1980, under growing pressure, President Jimmy Carter appointed a commission to study whether the internments had been justifiable. Their report found little evidence of Japanese disloyalty at the time and concluded that the internments had been the product of racism, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership. They recommended that the government pay reparations to the survivors. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, which officially apologized for the interments and authorized a payment of $20,000 to each individual camp survivor.
Trueda and I visited the Minidoka National Historic Site. I came away feeling both sad and angry. This sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen in America. But it did. And as much as I would like to believe it would never happen again, I am hearing similar rhetoric in the current Presidential cycle. Do the values enshrined in our Constitution mean so little to us that we as a nation can so easily jettison them when we become fearful of the world around us? Are we as a people on the verge of repeating history, and committing atrocities that our children and grandchildren will be ashamed of us for?