After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

A Family Ritual While Watching Masterpiece Theatre


That’s what Alice and I would shout out in unison every time we watched Downton Abbey, All Creatures Great and Small, Call the Midwife, or any other Masterpiece show on PBS, as the show would open with a credits screen showing who had donated money to the program.

Darlene Marcos Shiley was always the very first in the list. We figured she had to have more money than God to have gotten that top slot, and I’m afraid there was more than a little bit of class envy as we would derisively catcall her as her name appeared in the opening credits before every episode with trumpets blaring.

After which one of us would guiltily admit, “We are terrible people.”

“Yes we are,” the other would agree, as we both settled in with a happy sigh to watch our beloved shows.

Darlene, the widow of a man who made his fortune inventing medical devices such as heart valves, has given 10 million to PBS so we heartless Philistines could enjoy those shows. Yes, I still feel guilty, and justly so, but even now I can’t watch a Masterpiece show without my ritual interjection of “Darlene!!!