Special Notice: 2415
I am sending this email to bring interested people up-to-date on my uncle, Radm Edward (Whitey) Feightner. Physically, he is in great shape for a 96 year-old. You can see from the pictures he walks straight, can still climb stairs and doesn’t like to sit down when he can stand. He is still very strong, he can hold his own quite well. Mentally is a different matter. Anyone who has been around him for more than a few minutes in the last five years can tell. I was unaware of how bad the dementia was getting even back in 2007 when he asked me to get more personally involved in their affairs. I have always talked to him and Aunt Vi regularly over the phone, but as I got more involved I realized there was a problem. I talked to some of his friends, and they had noticed in some speeches that he gave, that a problem was developing even before that time. We put many miles on our car driving to DC to take care of them, but it became impossible to oversee their needs from such a distance. I became a Navy pilot because of his influence. My son, Jack, is a 1st Lt USMC, currently in flight training, because of his encouragement. My older son, Devin, was a Marine also, much because of Uncle Ed’s encouragement. All of my children loved going to see Uncle Ed and Aunt Vi, and listening to the stories which he was so good at telling. As you know, we all age differently, but suffice it to say, Uncle Ed and Aunt Vi both needed assistance long before we knew. Bringing them to Ohio was the best way to oversee the care they both needed. Aunt Vi died this past March and Uncle Ed has been hospitalized once since coming to Ohio but has improved health now.
As for today, his short-term memory is almost non-existent. His long-term memory is moderately failing. I say this because I know all the stories, and I know when the stories get mixed up or facts get changed. He was at a party at our house about a month ago, and some other retired Navy types were there. He got to talking about when he was skipper on the Chikaskia AO 54. He loved that command, the favorite of his career. He told a story about how they wanted to clean the fwd tanks out before arriving in port to save time but because the fwd part of the ship was so light the wind flipped them around 180 degrees. I had never heard that story, but it sounds plausible to me. He told that story over and over about 15 times. In a row. Then he talked about the time a jap inadvertently landed on his carrier during the war. We asked him what happened then? He said oh, we refueled him and sent him on his way. Really? When he talks about how he came back to the ship all shot up the number of hits he sustained will change 3 or 4 times as he tells it. I know it was a lot.
He does have a computer but he never opens it because he can’t remember how to work it. I set it up so that he can be into his email with 2 simple strokes. I went over and over it with him, but he just could not remember. He just doesn’t want to deal with it anymore. It was difficult for him to remember how to call me, even though I set his phone up to call me on speed dial. He lost his charger for the cell phone some time ago but still carried the phone with him. I know that people are wanting to call him, so I have purchased another charging cord and emptied out his voice mail box. I ask that people call on his cell phone, not the main line for Brookdale. His number is (202) 590-8067. If you call him and talk about things that happened 30 or more years ago, you will probably have a pretty good conversation. There is confusion in more recent history. Every time I see him he asks about Jack, “where is he? “what’s he flying?” And each time its all new to him . But he does ask, and about the other family members too, but Jack’s the pilot. He likes that. But please do call him. If you don’t get him try again later. He would really enjoy hearing from anyone, he likes talking about the “good old days.” My older son, Devin, called him from Rome the other day, and he just lit up and talked to him like he was there last week. They talked about the things he and Aunt Vi saw there years ago as if it was yesterday. We all were amazed at how well he did, so please do call. I have asked if a certain individual called and he will say “nope,” haven’t heard from anyone. But I know people have called him because they had told me. But don’t let that discourage you from calling. He enjoys it for the moment.
What do I do for him? I see him several times a week. I take him to church with us every Sunday, then out to lunch afterwards. He loves watching the children perform. We personally keep his clothes clean and changed. If we would let him, he would never change, he would always wear the same thing. We take him for drives around the countryside, he lived in the big city for so long he has forgotten what America really looks like. He loves it here and has no desire to go back to DC. There are a few people he enjoys talking to at the retirement center…it is a retirement center, not a nursing home. Nursing homes do not serve wine at happy hour☺ He really enjoys the food. He is in a beautiful place, with excellent care worthy of an Radm. He really likes coming out to our house, we have a beautiful view from here that he really enjoys. As I indicated earlier I really disdain giving this information out. I am trying my best to protect his integrity, I want people to remember him as he was, not as he is. My wish is that inaccurate rumors are not started about him. President Reagan had Alzheimer’s but he had his privacy. Today we remember him as a great President, not as an Alzheimer’s patient. My uncle does not have Alzheimer’s, just dementia; he’s forgetful. I want my uncle remembered as the great man that he was. Personally, I think he would have made a great CNO!
If you wish to know how he is doing feel free to call me or contact me by email. If you are repeatedly unable to reach him, let me know and I will go in and place a call to you for him to talk to you. Again, please do not call Brookdale.
(740) 504-4733 Jim
(202) 590-8067 Whitey (It works now!)
James E McBride