By Harold Stearley at

A couple of days ago my coffee pot died.  It happens.  Machines reach the end of their productive years just like us living, breathing beings.  Usually sooner though.  Entropy.  That eternal state of decay.

Of course, when a machine bites the dust one of the things we think of is, “Did I get my money’s worth?” How many years did I get out of that coffee maker?  Well, that sparked some memories.  Not all that pleasant.  And they began with the why.

Why did I get that coffee maker?

It was one of those small items.  A five-cup brewer.  I had bought it to set up what I guess you could call a mini-kitchenette in the basement of our home.   A series of events led up to this purchase, and that of a second toaster and second microwave.  You see, I was cooking breakfast in our basement during the work week.  Why?  Good question.  A series of events . . .

My wife and I had been together for 21 years when she had an accident.  She fell down our basement stairs.  Fourteen steps, carpeted, but nonetheless she suffered a closed head injury that evolved into post-concussive syndrome.  This injury, apparently coupled with others from car accidents prior to our meeting could have bloomed into chronic traumatic encephalopathy.  But whatever label you put on it, the results were devastating.

She had memory problems, dizziness, episodes of extreme vertigo, and problems with her balance.  The fall effectively disabled her.  She could no longer manage a hospital critical care unit and she went from mastering a complex technical environment to sitting in chair and watching TV.

All day, every day.

Before the fall she had a drinking problem.  After the fall, and with her increasing depression, it progressed to full-blown alcoholism.

A pint or more of vodka a day, straight, blended with a brain that was already dizzy and a body that was already unstable led to many falls.  And many falls led to many broken bones.  Many terrified trips to the emergency room.

Yes, the mechanics of these falls kind of eluded me.  And I only actually witnessed one.  Most all of them happened when I was at work and I’d come home and find her lying in a pool of blood or twisted into shapes that weren’t so natural for the human form.  Another trip to the hospital.

It was incredibly sad.  Hard to watch someone you love self-destruct.

And every day I lived in fear of what I was going to find when I came home.

One of her many falls resulted in several broken ribs.  Those injuries are extremely painful and she found the only way she could sleep was upright in a reclining chair in our living room.  After large doses of alcohol and narcotics.

The living room was next to our kitchen and dining area.  So, if I made breakfast in the morning, in our kitchen, it would wake her, and she did need rest.  And waking her was dangerous anyway.  No telling just who I’d be facing.  Thus, the kitchenette in the basement.

I would sleep in our basement bedroom.  Get up and make my breakfast there before emerging from this underworld.  Then climb up that evil flight of stairs each day, suit up, and head off for work.


Naturally, this situation continued to decay.  My wife refused all attempts at getting her professional help.  She fell further and further into the dark recesses of alcoholism.

Hallucinations, delusions, sleep walking, sleep screaming, sleep pounding on the doors, floors, and walls.  Conversations with people who weren’t there.  And falling, more falling.  Finally losing all control over her bodily functions.  I took full care of her during this, sort of, return to infancy.

Five years ticked by.

I had no support system.  Nothing to console me in those many dark hours.  And no way to console her.  It wasn’t sustainable.  We split up.

So here it was, Valentine’s Day, our anniversary, and that dam coffee pot died.  The toaster had died before it, and I had given that microwave away.  The physical symbols of those dreadful times now all cleared from this different habitat.

This home, this room, this life, all lighter now.

Perhaps it’s a good thing to bind a bad memory to an object, and then discard that useless object.  It was a useless memory after all . . .


Photo: A view from the property I used to call home.  I cleared the woods myself where we built the dam to create that lake.  Enjoyed an occasional cup of coffee on that bench.  Of course, I played with the image and electrified those fall colors.  The reflections in the water are amazing.  So many facets to the world, to life.  But memories fade . . .

Disclaimer/Apology:  Sorry friends, not all stories have happy endings, but there’s always learning and always growth.  Sometimes it’s good to let a little of the darkness out, but I’ll try not to do that too often 🙂

61 thoughts on “Coffee”

    1. Thank you Paul! I’m never quite sure about putting these type of personal reflections out there, but your support along with others here in our blogging community, makes me feel very inspired and very appreciative. No more isolation and despair, just gratitude

      Liked by 3 people

  1. You were there for her. Though things moved in another direction, she had someone next to her who cared, to hold her hand. That’s more than a lot of people get. You can only do your best. It must have been extremely difficult. I had a friend who had a head injury from falling off a ladder. He had lasting cognitive issues, also leading to the eventual separation and divorce of his spouse. He died young. These injuries can become complex situations. People’s thinking changes. My best to you.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. This is heartbreaking! But I’m glad things are better now, for both of you. Even though memories can hurt as well. Good, I think, to let them out and let go, together with the physical items. I admire the strength you have and had. 🙏

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Sad but real. Alcohol took my brother away too. When my coffee pot died I switched to a French press and grinding my own beans. I love the morning ritual of coffee making now. Hope you find that perfect coffe production system that improves the quality of you mornings.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Embrace the moments as they come. They have brought you to today. 😊 I think so often those moments appear and we keep going on and don’t take time to acknowledge them. Perhaps this one can now be placed upon the shelf and looked upon as a “Wow..that really happened. I survived it and am a changed person because of it.” Thanks for sharing this part of your story.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I am so sorry you had to live through such suffering, this is so beautifully written and so raw. You never have to apologize for writing your truths. I am glad you have found peace, and I hope one day your wife finds it too. God bless.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I am so sorry that you had to go through this. Reading your words touched me deeply. I really appreciate that you did share with us. I wish only the best for you and your wife. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  7. ❤ I'm sorry you went through this awful time, but also glad to read in the comments that she's doing better. So much more work needs to be done in the field of concussions and TBI.

    Liked by 1 person

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