Wasn’t it only just yesterday …


Thank you all for coming to the celebration Saturday. I wish I could have spent the whole day with each of you and listened to you talk about my bride. I was thinking of having people say a few words but that would have been, I immediately realized, too limiting. It seemed everyone talked, and what you all did was wonderful.

So many of you wanted copies of the video that was playing, I though it best and quickest if you could see it here. There is very little sound, only at the end. So you must make up the words and music. Thank you for coming. And if you couldn’t make it, please just keep Nora in your thoughts. It is memories that keep us living forever. Just click on the image above. You can also download a larger version by clicking here.

Please continue to send me your stories and thoughts and any images of the celebration you may have.



Almost there. Nov. 2, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

nora4Our celebration of Nora’s life is just about ready. Thanks to everyone for making it happen. These have been long days for all of us. Family will be coming in tomorrow (Nov. 1. Happy birthday, brother Marty.) to help with last minute stuff. To remind everyone, this is not fancy, it is an oyster roast. Yes, jeans or shorts are most appropriate.

Think of it this way, you will be sitting or standing in Nora’s back yard, looking out at the pluff mud of Boyd Creek (low tide Saturday afternoon). You will be seeing what Nora saw, what she fell in love with, the sounds and smells and light playing on the Spartina grass. There was never a time when she looked out from our yard or deck or porch when she wasn’t dressed “comfortably.” Follow her lead. I did and profited from it.

You can bring your own oyster knife. For some of us shucking is an art form. While there will be plenty of wine, soft drinks, tea and water, feel free to bring your own beverage. Food, too. There should be plenty, but sometimes offering food to others helps us through these times.

Enough. I welcome you, my family welcomes you, to The Ridge.


Directions to the Celebration

Dear Family and Friends,

Looks like we will have favorable weather for our Celebration of Nora’s Life. I understand there are still rooms (Baymont Inn and Suites, Yemassee, SC (10 minutes away), 1-866-235-8098) blocked under Hampton Rutledge.

I know some of you would like to say a few words about Nora while everyone is gathered. Just left me know. Also, a few asked about “dress.” This is an oyster roast. This is really rural Ridgeland. This is Nora’s celebration. If you would like to get oyster juice stains on your good clothes, I have no objection. However, I’ll be wearing jeans or shorts (weather dependent).

A slight warning. Our yard is filled with nuts (I did not say “will be,” I mean it really is right now). Ultra-soft-soled shoes are not advised.

What else? I want to thank you all again for your kind thoughts and prayers for my family. I would also like you to take a moment to remember the father of my friend and partner, Steve Anderson, who lost his father last Sunday. Peace be with you, Steve.

So here’s how to get to “The Ridge.” Please, if you have ANY questions, call or text me (843-816-0904). Directions and maps follow.


Directions to “The Ridge.”

From I-95  North and South. Take exit 28 (462) to Hilton Head Island. 4.6 (or so) miles later, turn left on Knowles Island Road (billboard for Palm Key on left). Palm Key is on left. Turn first right after Palm Key (that’s Boyd Creek Drive – we’re missing our sign). Follow Boyd Creek Drive to the folks who will guide you to our “designated parking area.” You will be whisked, via golf cart, to 608 Boyd Creek Drive.

From Hilton Head Island. 278 to 170 (Beaufort). Just past Oldfield, sign to Ridgeland, 462. Turn left to Ridgeland. Follow 462 past Ridgeland turn off (Cooler’s Exxon) to Knowles Island Road. Turn right (Palm Key billboard). Turn first right after Palm Key (that’s Boyd Creek Drive – we’re missing our sign). Follow Boyd Creek Drive to the folks who will guide you to our “designated parking area.” You will be whisked, via golf cart, to 608 Boyd Creek Drive.

Savannah. Unless you know your back roads, follow direction for I-95 North and South.

Hilton Head Airport/Savannah International  Airport. Give me a call. (843-816-0904)

Any special dietary requirements, please email me.


Map 1


Map 2







Celebration update, 10-14-2013

Image13Dear family and friends,

The kids took up the celebration gauntlet with a passion. Dustin, Sarah, Aaron and Jeremy stayed the week with me. Nephew Hampton Rutledge was (and remains) a huge help. You can see their achievements below.

I think everyone my bride touched has a “Nora story” or “Nora moment,” maybe even a Nora photo. To make the day even more enjoyable, send your stories and/or photos to celebratenora@gmail.com. Just attach or include it in the body of the email. Or you can send hard copy to: 608 Boyd Creek Drive, Ridgeland, SC 29936. I’ll display them.

A block of hotel rooms is now officially set aside for the weekend, under the name Rutledge, at Baymont Inn and Suites, Yemassee, SC (10 minutes away), 1-866-235-8098.

I stand corrected (in so many ways): It will be Lowcountry Boil, not Frogmore Stew. Speaking of food, if anyone has any dietary restrictions, please let me know.

Here’s what the kids did.

clearing sarah wide table




















Please join our celebration.


An invitation.

Dear family and friends,

As some of you know, today would have been Nora’s and my 29th wedding anniversary. Impossible. Wasn’t it just yesterday? Some of you were there. Our dear friends, Walter and Karen Palmer offered their beautiful hand-made home and studio on Sawmill Creek Road is what is now “Greater Bluffton.” Back then there were about three houses on Sawmill Creek, all hidden by palmetto and pine and water and live oak and crepe myrtle and brambles and Spanish moss.


Yup, that’s us. Nora had turned 33 in September. I was stumbling toward 40. That handsome couple in the back that’s Anne and Hamp, Nora’s parents. The couple to the right, that’s Kari and Marty, my sister-in-law and brother. They live in Tombstone, Arizona and make an annual trip east once a year and time their arrival to be here a bit before this day. I needed them then and I needed them now. Sort of works out.

That shorter person with her back to us is Cindy. She was Nora’s administrative assistant when Nora was in the hotel business. She was also a Notary and she married us.

The little kid on the left. That’s Dustin, Nora’s oldest son. He came down from Charlotte with his Michelle to sit with his mama this past weekend and help Nora begin her new journey. So did his beautiful sister Rebecca, Nora’s oldest. And son Aaron as been with me, and daughter Sarah and her Jeremy. And Nora’s sister Jaine.

I guess you guessed the couple in the middle. Well, her mama is gone and now Nora is gone and I’m left holding that damn ring.

But some things remain the same. I needed a haircut then. And I need one now.

We had no funeral ceremony. Nora and I talked about our last days long before the cancer. Nora’s ashes will end up at a special place in the waters off Hilton Head Island. But my beloved deserves to be celebrated, so we are going to have a Celebration of Nora’s Life on November 2, 2013 here on The Ridge (608 Boyd Creek Drive, Ridgeland, SC 29936). Come about 3 in the afternoon. It will be low tide, but that’s O.K.  Nora loved our view 24/7.

It’s going to be an oyster roast. We’re also having Frogmore Stew, just like we did 29 short years ago. I will need to know if you’re thinking of coming so we’ll have enough oysters and boil (stew) and other stuff. You just email me directly at celebratenora@gmail.com in the next week. If you need accommodations, nephew Hampton is a deal worked out with a nearby motel. Let me know if you need it. We have plenty of parking. And for you Luddites who do not have GPS (you are a “Luddite” if you don’t know what GPS is), I’ll email you or send you a hard copy map.

Got it? Nov. 2, 3 pm. 608 Boyd Creek Drive, Ridgeland, SC 29936. The only problem with this sort of thing is that the guest of honor is always AWOL.

Your support and kindness and generosity are helping my family pull through this. What great friends. What great people. I know your lives were greatly enhanced by knowing my bride.

My love to you all. I’ll need you.


Update 9/30/2013

Camera 360

Delosse Point, 9/30/2012

It has been four days. I am learning. Wanda Williams came down from the Isle of Palms to talk to Nora about the recent 1968 T.C. Roberson class reunion (yes, Wanda knows college basketball). Nora listened but was not able to respond at the time. Later today she acknowledged Wanda’s visit and how much it mean to her. Thank you, Wanda.

First visitor today was Debie Malool, a nurse with LC Hospice, a friend and mother of one of Aaron’s very best friends (and our “third son,” Guy). What a pleasure.

monitorI have a monitor set up so I can keep an eye and ear on Nora wherever I am in the house or outside, walking the dogs.  I guess that takes me to the upper reaches of geekdom. So be it.

Son Aaron is here for the week to help out. Pat, our hospice CNA, will come in every day to bathe Nora, get her comfortable, change sheets, all the stuff that needs to be done. I help a little – where brawn, do not laugh, is needed, not brains.

Maybe the greatest event that happens frequently each day is when I ask Nora if she would like more water and she almost chuckles, her response to my bullying. It’s a great smile.

Nora is at a plateau. The drugs have obviously decreased the swelling against the brain, which means less pain. She graduated to two pain patches on her arm (a promotion from Sergeant to Master Sergeant?) and allows me to clumsily give her her pills.

We wait and see. Neighbors Wayne, Melanie, Walter and Karen continue to be a massive help. Thank you all for the cards, flowers, emails, texts, contributions. Nora knows about all of it. I am sure she is doing a metaphysical cheer.

This was really the “first day” of “normal” for the future for me. Since Friday it’s just been one learning experience after another. (All those who know how to empty a Foley bag, raise your hand. It’s actually pretty simple, thank goodness.) After Aaron leaves I’ll be having a home health aide come in 3 times a week so I can get some work done. This is all new to me.

A thank you to my business partners (and friends) for your understanding.

Thank you for your love. All of you. Spread it around.



I wish
both your legs
were broken that you were bound to
a wheelchair that
you could barely speak
that you would be
well in 6 months
I wish I wish

Update 9 26 2013

young nora

Dear family and friends,

Nora was discharged today from the hospital. Beautiful Regina helped me pack all of Nora’s stuff.

She is home.

The ambulance (tough to fit her into a Rav4) pulled up at 11:30 a.m. Great friend Karen Palmer had already walked the dogs and helped the EMS folks and me get Nora comfortable in her new hospital bed I arranged in our Wii Room.

“Wii Room?” A few years ago, the kids got us a Wii (video game console). They also got us the Tiger Woods Masters CD. With the use of the controller (which acts like a golf club), Nora and I would play dozens of fantastic courses. (When chemo began 9 holes was enough.) The Wii Room became our play room. It is now Nora’s bedroom with a wonderful view of Boyd Creek.

Within hours of getting Nora situated a nurse from Hospice Care of the Low Country (non-profit) was there to help show me how/when to administer the drugs she needs to keep the pain at bay. They came as advertised: sensational. No need to go into detail but Nora is now comfortable. I’ll be adding daily day care beyond Hospice.

The plan is, if Nora gains enough strength, our oncologist, Dr. Yannucci, wants to give her more chemo in her spine. In the past 12 hours Nora has become more coherent and talkative than I have seen in weeks(?). Still doppy, but more Nora than not. If she improves, we go on palliative (home health) care program. If not, hospice care is in place.

Having Nora here makes me the happiest person in the world and maybe the most frightened. I’m in charge. And, at night, a solo act.

Nora will get the best care possible. With determination, she will get on with chemo. But no one knows. No one knows.

Nora got a precious shell delivered by friend Wayne Reeder tonight, a bit of Boyd Creek magic.

Know we live in a (neighborhood) world of kindness.





Update September 23, 2013

We’re working on getting Nora home.

My bride is one of the most amazing people I know. She’s back on the 4th floor at St. Joseph’s. Meaning she is in the regular cancer ward. Her seizure could have been caused by the chemo, high blood pressure, or any number of things. When your body is compromised, it reacts in all sorts of ways.

I drive to Savannah from The Ridge every morning to be with her. The drive is a pleasure, not a hardship. I drive to see my lover. That same lover complains (with a smile) when I try to push a bottle of Ensure on her. That same lover curses me (with apologies, she is  Southern woman, born and raised) when I try to position her so she can eat breakfast, which doesn’t happen. Nora is not a breakfast person.

Dr. Yannucci (Nora’s oncologist)is trying to get a drug regimen set up so Nora can come home. We’ll be setting up either a palliative care (more procedures) or hospice care plan for her.

When awake, she teases the doctors, nurses and me. As I left today, I said, “See you tomorrow.” Her rather loud response was, “Not if I see you first.”


Update 9/14/2013

Something of a setback, but we hope only temporary.

I arrived on this past Friday morning on the 4th floor of St. Joseph’s Candler Hospital in Savannah expecting to find Nora. Empty room. She’d been transferred to the PCU – Progressive Care Unit. Earlier that morning, her blood pressure medicine was added to the med mix and her body reacted: she had a seizure. They were able to control it without electronic stimulus but it was thought best if she went to PCU for closer observation. PCU seems to have more stuff there for emergencies.

I spent all day yesterday and night with Nora. Aaron came this morning (seems like a week ago), and Sarah spelled Aaron.

I talked with Dr. Yannucci’s PA, Nora’s radiologist, and all scans (head, total bone and spine) only show the cancer in the spinal fluid. We’re taking this a day at a time. That’s the plan. Nora is in PCU now. She told me to go home and get some rest. The best news about that is she actually TOLD ME. Her greatest frustrations: she can’t see and can’t move herself much.

Creekside, Aaron deVere

Creekside, Aaron deVere

Kids really help her. Still in great pain, she becomes more lucid, active when they are there. Sarah and Aaron make her smile. (Here are all my worldly possessions … smile again.)

Excuse my hospital/medical jargon but her vitals are good. Blood pressure a bit high. Still trying to get this pain thing balanced so Nora can come home. And be comfortable. And get away from of the machines and the pulling and prodding (all done with gentleness and, I have seen, in some cases, with love).

If Nora can take it, chemo in the back scheduled for Tuesday. We’ll see.

Again, than you for your kind thoughts and prayers.