Das Leben sur Alois Franz MÃ¼eller
Life of Louis F. Miller
My well-loved husband Alois, who died from Alzheimer’s, had an adventurous life. He was born in Jennersdorf, Austria, with a brother, Ken, and a sister, Mary. He came to Toronto with his mother Anne to join his father Emil who was a baker at the Royal York Hotel. He graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto and worked for Avrow Phillips in Toronto (airplane part manufacturer). He met me at 26 years old and we married at Saint Basil’s Catholic Church on the campus of the University of Toronto.
Sandra was born on June 6th, 1955. Eric was born 17 months later on November 18th, 1956. We bought a house on Glaive Drive (great fun!). Engineering jobs were getting scarce. Lou got a job with Carnation in Aylmer where we rented an old farm. Lou made beer and wine on the farm (there was a big cellar, great for beer and wine storage).
Carnation transferred us to Mount Vernon, Missouri where we remained for six months. The job was not a good match. Lou drove to California and obtained work with Robert Shaw. We were happy to relocate. In finding suitable work as an industrial engineer with GM we purchased homes and the kids grew up.
We joined 15-2 Coast Guard Auxiliary which led to buying a noisy powerboat, “Pepper.” Then a 22-foot Catalina, “Gaviota.” Our 32-foot “Jolly Miller” gave us hours of pleasure, trips to Mexico and Catalina. Then came our super sailboat, a 41-foot Lord Nelson Cutter, “Silver Cloud.” Lou initiated the idea of us taking off when retired. Meanwhile we made many camping trips with various motor homes and trailers. We joined our neighbors in Westminster with the whole family on motorbikes. Mexico, up and down the West coast including trips to Canada where my mom and dad lived. Camping and motorbikes came first, before the sailing. This was interspersed with 4 to 6 weeks in Europe, Greece, China, Turkey, France, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Sweden.
“Silver Cloud” finally came into play when we sailed out of the harbor in Dana Point, ostensibly for French Polynesia only. Marquesas, a 23-day sail, was our 1st port of call. Visited Tuamotas, Tahiti, Raiatea, Huahine, Bora Bora, Moorea, Maupiti, Maupelia, from 1985 – 88 approximately. Leaving French Polynesia for Cook Islands, Rarotonga got us in trouble with hurricane. I thought we’d had it. Thence Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu (where there was a coup as we arrived), New Caledonia. Next was New Zealand and the Australian east coast (where Kale came to visit us). On this trip we made wonderful “buddy boat” friends. Across Indian Ocean, the roughest body of water (a 45-day crossing), to South Africa where we rented a car and visited Kruger animal park where one sits in a car and the animals roam free. Visited all of southern coast of south Africa, including the Drakensberg and wine country.
Our best sail was across the Atlantic, Cape Town to St. Helena, Napoleon’s final resting place. Ascencion, an American communication outpost, island like the moon. Brazil. Anchored in Natale, took trip across Brazil to Manaus, which is the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Amazon, where a dark river and a muddy river flow side by side. Rio de Janiero. Iguazu Falls (which crosses from Brazil to Argentina and is bigger that Niagara Falls). Suriname (Dutch Guiana), Paramaribo is the capital. French Guiana, shades of Papillon, saw the prison. All yachties ate like queens and kings, 3-dollar steak dinners. Trinidad and Tobago, home of the steel drums (not Jamaica). We then made our way through the Caribbean islands. Grenada, Saint Lucia, Guadalupe, British Virgin Islands, Virgin Gorda. Puerto Rico to inland waterway. Brandi visited us in the Bahamas. First Port Canaveral through inland waterway to the Florida Keys. Stayed two years with friends on No Name Key. “Silver Cloud” resting on canal close by. Finally arranged to continue around the world and upped the anchor. Shipped “Silver Cloud” home overland. We had sailed enough.
Our next exploits were yearly trips to France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Lou’s homeland Jennersdorf. We fell in love with the Dolomites in northern Italy (which used to be part of southern Austria).
Lou developed Alzheimer’s 14 years ago, slow in progression. He retained his engineering brain. We’d play games (cards, Rummikube). He remained sweet and gentle. I took him everywhere until it became too difficult in the 13th/14th year. We could communicate although Alzheimer’s caused speech impairment. June 2015, another bout of fainting. Back to hospital. Then rehab. Then returned to very good board and care at 88 years old. All was not going well recovery-wise. July 4th saw Louie with great breathing difficulty. Never a sign of complaint. My last hug was fortuitous. He chose to release himself. What a blessed relief for him.