Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

November 8, 2022

 This is a post I never, ever expected to have to write.


From Moissac we spent a couple of days on the Tarn bankside in the trees. We returned to Moissac, travelled further up the canal to Pommevic and visited another of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”, Auvillar, a 6 k bike ride away from the canal. From there we turned around for one more day on the river and then returned to Castelsarrasin on Sept. 2. Oldtimer would spend the winter there.

Cathy Jo had been feeling a little fatigued and had not much of an appetite since about the middle of August but we began the pre-winter chores. She would work about a half day and then rest. We tried to get a doctor’s appointment for a checkup but as we were unable to book an appointment before our departure she decided to “tough it out” until our return to the US.

By the 20th, though, she couldn’t get out of bed. Valerie, one of the Port Capitaines, called an ambulance and Cathy Jo was taken to the local hospital. By Saturday she had been transferred to the big hospital in Toulouse where she was diagnosed with leukemia.

After 5 weeks of treatment, the doctors in Toulouse judged her stable enough to fly and our travel insurance company arranged repatriation flights, complete with an accompanying doctor and nurse, ambulance rides at each end and wheel chairs through the airports. She arrived at our local hospital late Tuesday night, October 25 and was checked in for evaluation and decisions on further treatment.

Complications began almost immediately as late Thursday night she developed an infection. It was just a typical e coli bacterial infection but since her immune system was so weak, she was immediately transferred to the ICU. 

Despite all the doctors and nurses could do, she continued to decline and she died early Wednesday morning, Nov. 2.


I guess the blog ends here, pending decisions about what to do with Oldtimer. I’ve lost my traveling companion of the last 44 years. We had a great life and when her illness began and we realized the prognosis was not good she did tell me she had no regrets, for which I am grateful.


Hug those closest to you and remind them you love them.



Our first trip to France, 2005



Working on Odysseus, 2007



Veurne, 2008



Veurne again, 2017



Portland, Oregon, 2020



Ampuis, 2022












14 comments:

  1. Such shocking and sad news, Don. My deepest sympathy and understanding. It was a privilege to have known Cathy Jo. Keep strong xxxxx

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    1. Thank you, Yvonne. I know you went through something similar years ago. It's a small comfort that it all happened so fast.

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  2. So so shocked and sorry to read this Don. We will email you. Love And sympathy from Sara and Pete

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  3. Doreen and Ray / LizzieNovember 9, 2022 at 7:27 AM

    Such sad news and such a shock.Cathy Jo was a beautiful person.
    We accompanied you both to a Whitebait of the Loire festival that had no whitebait left in Beaulieu and found you were great boating companions, full of information, experience ,fun and always ready for the next adventure. Cannot find the words to tell you how we feel for you and your wider family. With deepest sympathy

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    1. Ahhh, yes, I remember. No fish to eat at the fishing contest! We had to settle for a pity bottle of rosé and some frites.
      Thank you for the kind words. It was all so quick that I'm still having a little trouble taking it all in. Luckily, the memories will always be there.

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  4. I am so shocked and saddened...glad that we got together at the reunion in Lugano... please accept my condolences to a beautiful kind women... I was blessed to be a roommate our senior year... love linda...will miss those blogs

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    1. Hi, Linda,
      We've been telling stories about that wild week ever since. We did have a blast. Thank you for the memory.

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  5. Don, I am shaken rigid. I am so so sorry to read this tragic news and could barely believe it. We didn't meet you very often, but we have such happy memories of the time we spent with you both and Cathy Jo was a darling. My deepest and most sorrowful condolences, Don. I so wish there was something more than words I could offer. Sending love and hugs from Koos and myself. If you can, do please keep in touch.

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    1. Words help, Val. And thank you for the hugs. I can feel them from here.
      I follow your blog and really enjoy your observations. It will continue to be one of my main connections with Europe in the future.

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  6. A very sad start to the day and I and Lisette feel deeply about your loss. We can only imagine how devastated you must be to loose a lifelong companion and the lifestyle you enjoyed together so much. We were so looking forward to catching up with you and Cathy-Jo when we reached the Midi and were benefiting from descriptions of your cruising and looking forward to more. Cathy-Jo and you, Don, will always be remembered on Catharina Elisabeth - particularly every time one of her crew picks up heat gun to remove varnish.

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    1. Hahaha, heat gun! At least we're remembered for something useful!
      Cathy Jo and I did have a great run in the barging life, actually in life altogether, and those memories will always be with me.

      As I left the boat in something of a rush last month I will be returning to Castelsarrasin in the spring. Future plans for Oldtimer are unknown. I'm not making any decisions right now. Let me know when you plan to travel to Catharina and maybe we can get together.

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  7. Don we are amazed and sad at this turn of events. Please know we are still connected to you and cannot imagine this experience for you. We are far away from our time owning Oldtimer but have so many memories - which we try not to bore everyone with but you would understand. We live in Santa Fe NM another long distance from 2005-2013. If you should want or need a place for some respite please come stay with us. Our love and best wishes Eric and Sudi Berg

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    1. I do understand about trying not to bore people with barge stories. I always warn them that I am something of an evangelist for the lifestyle before I launch into some long tale.
      We have truly enjoyed our time on Oldtimer and we had plans for several mmore years. It met every one of our requirements and I will be very sorry if it becomes necessary to put her on the market.

      Thank you for your kind words and I appreciate your offer but I think for now I'll be sticking closer to the beach!

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  8. So sorry to hear, you both live your life at its fullest. When I did not see CathyJo since your returned it seemed that something serious might be wrong and as we write this on Christmas Eve with no van in the driveway I thought I would send you best wishes.

    Emily and Ron Bernhardt

    All the best, Emily and Ron at 71 N Laurel (next door)

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