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The Gap: 1991 to 2004

by Dave Howard, Steve's Dad

If you started with Steve's Autobiography and then read the Mania page you find the story ends with the discovery of his brain tumor. This article fills in the story from 1991 to 2004 very quickly.

When Steve had his nervous breakdown in 1990 and was diagnosed as bipolar they really should have done a CAT scan on him to see if there was something going on in his brain. If they had only done this they would have seen that he had a tumor growing in the tissue lining the inside of his skull. In his case it was a benign meningioma.

The tumor grew larger and protruded into his left frontal lobe. This is the area of the brain responsible for the executive function. Here is a brief description of the functions affected from a Wikipedia article on this topic.

"The executive function of the frontal lobes involve the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions (or better and best), override and suppress socially unacceptable responses, and determine similarities and differences between things or events.

"The frontal lobes also play an important part in retaining longer term memories which are not task-based. These are often memories associated with emotions derived from input from the brain's limbic system. The frontal lobe modifies those emotions to generally fit socially acceptable norms."

This is why Steve started making crazy decisions. He sold all his investments and spent the money. He dropped out of college because he refused to take the required classes. He moved to Utah and stayed with my mother and LaVon Vernon in Provo, Utah. My mother called me and told me there was something seriously wrong with Steve. I did not take her seriously. She was correct.

Steve really loved his step-grandfather, LaVon Vernon

When he finally had a brain seizure while working in my office in San Jose that he was taken to a hospital where they decided to do a CAT scan. I was there when the results came in and the doctor turned pale and his jaw dropped. They checked him in. They did an MRI and then scheduled the surgery. They removed the tumor in September 1991.

It took Steve several years to recover sufficient cognitive skills to be able to continue his education. He was plagued with ongoing brain seizures and struggled to find the right neurologist who could proscribe the treatments that would help him control the seizures.

What he still did not know that even if he had not had the brain tumor he also had Attention Deficit Disorder. Nevertheless, he returned to USC and continued his education. It was quite a challenge. His brilliant mind had been wounded. It was hard work. He also decided to give the Mormon Church another try. He became active and they made him and Elder.

In 1993 he graduated and was given two diplomas. One for a degree in History and the other for a degree in Political Science. He came back home and decided he wanted to be a middle school teacher. He went to San Jose State where he obtained the teaching credential. He attempted to go to the Mormon Church. He found a singles ward in Palo Alto. However, because he was not a returned missionary he had no hope with the young women. He decided to drop out. He did and never returned.

Eventually he moved out of our home and settled into an apartment on North First Street in San Jose where he took up residence with his cat Rufina. She was such a character cat. None of our other cats liked her. He always had such a gentle touch with all animals. He could love the unloved and they would love him back.

I spent a lot of time with Steve and did a lot of things with him. I took him on trips. We went to hockey games together. He would work as a substitute teacher. Then he would get a full time job but they would not renew his contract.

In 1995 when I found out I had ADD I had him see the same doctor and he was diagnosed as well. The medication really helped him but his seizures would still continue from time to time. He had allergies as well the bothered him.-- He really did not complain. He did not want to join a support group because he did not want to be around people who felt like victims.

At one point he attended Weight Watchers and really got in great shape. He loved LaVon Vernon and loved going to Utah to visit. He loved Jonathan and Jonathan returned that love. But Jonathan had moved to Los Angeles and was making life on his own.

While living at home in Los Altos Hills, Steve decided to clean his room. He was standing on his desk to reach something and fell and broke his foot. This was when he was teaching school in Gilroy.

Teaching was not always wonderful for Steve. While he had a brilliant mind the functional issues from the ADD and the tumor wounds made it difficult to be sufficiently organized. He had a job with a company named At Road. It was a startup company and he got stock options. The company failed and Steve lost his job.

He really wanted to live some place on his own and be more responsible for his own life. He set off for Las Vegas. Jonathan helped him move and find a place to rent there. They packed him up and took his stuff along with Ruffia. He was thrilled to try and make it on his own. I was providing the financial support and had been but he was sure he would get a job and become completely independent.

He really worked hard at getting a job. But there were just too many challenges. I made a deal with him. I would take care of his financial support and he could follow his bliss. He could take classes, make movies, join clubs, do whatever he really wanted with his life. I bought him a nice computer and a nice video camera and other gizmos as he required.

Steve flourished for a while. He took classes in cinema and the arts. He made friends. He was invited to join a semi-professional Improvisational group where he could use his quick wit and sense of humor. He worked with other would-be film makers.

He continued to be an avid Sharks Hockey fan and would come home for important games. He would communicate with me constantly about them. He read books with his mother and corresponded with her regularly. He had a whole group of friends with whom he would share various interests. He made friends with a blind fellow and Steve would take him all over the place. He knew directions better than Steve. -- He made friends with fellows who asked him to play golf with them.

I would fly to Las Vegas and visit with him. I would pick him up and take him on trips to Utah, Chicago to visit Jonathan, or to Texas to meet his long lost Aunt. After I took Jonathan on a trip to Europe in 2002 he wanted to go to Europe as well. He died with the brand new passport he had obtained for our trip.

We should have suspected something was wrong with Steve. He had no energy. He slept for hours. He was puffing up almost like he was having a thyroid problem again. He had to stop playing golf. He was reading to blind people but that wore him out as well. The coup de gras was when they asked him not to participate as a member of his improv group. He just couldn't keep up.

I remember calling and asking him a question about Greek Mythology. He gave me the wrong answer. Something was going wrong. He was dying of congestive heart failure and we had no idea.

This is the last picture I ever took of Steve in March 2004 after we returned from our trip to Texas. You can see how heavy he was and how tired he looked.

The day his mother was coming to visit him for the first time in Las Vegas he was so excited. However, the vet called to tell him that Rufina had a kidney condition that could be fatal. He was rushing to give her a fresh bowl of water before going to the airport to pick up Susan. That is when his heart just stopped beating, forever. The water was still running when Susan arrived.

After the funeral and after we closed his apartment we brought Rufina home to live with us. She continued to make it hard on the other kitties around her. And this cat who was supposed to die in 30 more days lived another 3-1/2 years to age 22. -- We felt that she really missed Steve.


This website is the work of Steve's parents:

Susan and Dave Howard. We are responsible for the content.

You can contact us at dshoward(at sign)usa.net