Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Solo For The Drummer

I don't have choice. I'm not exactly a "people person" so there was no way I was gonna take a chance with having a child. I don't like the responsibility of taking care of myself everyday...having a dog is pretty much my tolerance level, so having someone who actually needs me for 18 years or so...uh, no. But I digress.

This week, all over the country, recent high school graduates are packing up and going off to college. The Drum Mamma's son is one of them. How the hell the eighteen years since I first held him in my arms could have passed so quickly, is one of life's cruel jokes. Days drag on forever, years fly by.

This past year was pretty damn exciting for the Drummer Boy. His band rose to some lofty heights, playing alongside some well-known artists and receiving both honors and critical acclaim. Shows, recording, networking...learning the business through lots of hard work.

Everything changes today. While the band is still together, they are all smart enough to realize making it in a band is less than a sure thing. It's time to learn everything possible about the business end. Just be sure to make a little music everyday...because the music is the one constant in bringing peace and contentment to your life.

So today, as the Drum Mamma tries not to cry, and Big G smiles with pride as he gives one last look in the rear-view mirror...a new chapter begins. But you're a rocker Mike and it's your story, so tear out the pages and write your own.

Big drum finish...rock on.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dumb, Dumber and World Class Dumb

People are idiots.

We all know this to be true, but in case you needed specifics...let's look at a few examples.

This first story would be truly laughable were it not so tragic. A man trying to create a Bigfoot sighting was killed as he stepped out onto a Montana highway dressed in a camouflage night. On a night. People, listen up not try this at home. On a scale of 1 to 10 on WTF were you thinking chart, this blows up the machine.

Up next. Apparently in Utah wearing camouflage is not enough. Idiot #2 has been spotted climbing the mountains in a goat suit...yes a goat suit. It seems he is trying to get chummy with the wild goats in an attempt to be in a better position to hunt them once the goat hunting season begins. People, listen up now...I'm thinking the goats can tell a real goat from an idiot in a painter's uniform with fleece attached. And I ask Idiot #2, what happens if during hunting season you don't fool the goats, but you do fool another hunter? Next.

Idiot #3, Billings, Montana. Have you noticed a trend occurring in the Northwest? Story: One runaway cow and one idiot. The cow who most likely sensed her time was running out, broke free from the auction yards and basically did a Bonnie & Clyde (without Clyde) all over Montana's largest city...for an hour and a half. Well, after seeing a cop chase this cow down the street, a construction worker who said he had been around livestock his entire life, decided to intervene. Now I don't know about you, but if I see a 1200 pound animal charging at me, my first instinct is not going to be to try to wrangle it. Listen up people...the cow is gonna win that fight. After old Bessie tossed him into the air, the construction worker ended up with a broken leg and bruised ribs. Alas, poor Bessie ended up with a bullet in her heart. But before she died, she managed to knock a man off his bicycle.

It gives a whole new meaning to cow tipping.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Road Trip Revisited: Newport

Back from a non-stop weekend on the road. One thing I know for sure...I ain't as young as I used to be.

Now don't get me wrong, this old girl hasn't lost a step. It's just that when the music stops...well it takes a little longer to get off the dance floor. ugh, Monday.

So we left home early Saturday, around 7:30 AM, loaded with supplies and anticipation. An over-nighter to a city we had visited many times before: Newport, Rhode Island. Beautiful town...very high end.

One of the first things to catch my eye as we entered Connecticut on I-95N, was a caravan of Utility Trucks. At least 25 in all, driving south...assuming they were on their way to Florida to help out in the aftermath of the approaching hurricane Isaac. I would also assume they have changed their direction to New Orleans at this point.

As always, the minute we can, we jump off the highway and take the scenic route. Our definition of scenic is probably different than most. I've driven a lot of logging roads in Maine, dirt roads in New Hampshire, and stumbled across many beautiful scenes you would never find in any guide book. Even before GPS, I never worried about getting lost. It's the freakin' USA...somewhere along the line, there's gonna be a sign to lead you back to where you need to go.

We arrived in Newport around 10:30, walked around the wharf area a bit, and realized it was too damn crowded for us. Now, although we had been to Newport at least 5 or 6 times before, normally we travel with a dog. And, we never travel with a dog in the summer, always in mid-late fall, after the tourist season is over. This crowd thing was a whole new experience. And, not being the most people person you would ever meet,  it was a bit much.

One very interesting thing. Down on Thames Street, tourist central, they don't just have trash cans. They have solar powered trash compactors. I shit you not. Loved this one with the Reggae Sunsplash ad on it.

It was mid-day and time for a snack and a cocktail. Found a place on the wharf with fresh seafood and cold drinks. Perfect. A little down time, before we check out the Naval Base, where we would be going that night. Then check-in at the hotel, catch up on emails, tweets and blogs...yes I am that addicted, freshen up and head back out. I was on a mission for some chowder. The place we wanted to go to was a bit hard to find and once we did, realized it would be too long to get a table. Instead, we would end up grabbing a burger at the Naval Base. Chowder would have to wait.

Off to the Naval Base for some music and fireworks. Right on the water, surrounded by beautiful boats, a beautiful coastline and sailors. hmmm. When did they get so damn young? But I digress.

The weather was perfect. The show featured some friends of the Music blog, rock band Survivor. As usual, the band was great. As I've written in the music blog, I had also seen them early on in the tour. The time together since then has left the band tighter in sound and looser onstage. Playing for the troops, while staring at the American flag flying on the hill, has to make your heart beat just a little faster.

As soon as the show ended, the fireworks began. The fireworks barge was anchored so the Newport Bridge was in the background. And, it was quite a show...longer and more elaborate than I was expecting. A fine night in Newport, to be sure.

The morning was a little bittersweet. Right outside of Newport, is the Davisville Seabees Museum. My dad was a Seabee. Fate is a strange thing. Less than two weeks after his death, here I am on the grounds where Seabee training took place..scattering some of his ashes. Prior to it being a military site, it was a winery. My father would have been happy on both accounts, to be there for eternity.

After a few more off the beaten path adventures, it was time for the long drive on I-95S. Traffic, traffic and more traffic. At last, only more bridge to cross...the George Washington Bridge, yeah back home. Jersey, baby.

All in all, a great weekend, definitely a stress-reliever. Now back to everyday life and workin' for the weekend.

I miss the salt air already.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

When A Word Is Not Just A Word

Full day ahead. Much is planned...more is anticipated.

It would have been nice to get a little more sleep, but not to be...woke up at four. It might have been possible to fall back to sleep if I had not heard something on TV which annoyed the shit out of me. Once those remaining brain cells start buzzing... might as well take a shower and sit down to write

Flipping through the channels, I came across an encore (the new phrase we use now for a rerun) presentation of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News. Sitting in for O'Reilly was Monica Crowley. She was interviewing Geraldo Rivera about the Lance Armstrong doping story.

I did not see most of the segment, but the thing that set me off was Crowley saying this scandal was a tragedy...twice. Now, I'm assuming she took some Journalism classes, English classes and has access to If true, Armstrong's misconduct is a disgrace, reprehensible and stupid. It is not a tragedy.

To place an athlete's alleged transgression into the same class as the shooting in Aurora, or the Japanese Tsunami is improper, unsuitable and minimizes events which are truly tragedies.

Whether or not Armstrong is guilty is meaningless in this discussion. For what he went through battling cancer, I sincerely hope he had more brains than to shoot his body up with more potentially life altering chemicals. My problem is with the misuse of the English language. That should elicit a few laughs from those who know me and are aware of my constant affront on correct grammar. However, I'm not on television and I'm not representing a network.

More and more, television news programs are becoming reality shows. Talking heads now replace journalists. Fair and unbiased reporting has been replaced with anchors who make no effort to cover their political inclinations. Nouns and adjectives are thrown into discussions just to make an impact, without regard as to whether they are accurately used.

William R. Murrow would never recognize what now passes for journalism.
So very sad.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dreams and Determination

In "The River," Bruce Springsteen wrote
 "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true, or is it something worse?" 

Today, I'm looking at both sides of a dream. The promise of what might be, and the realization that the dream is not to be.

This afternoon, I will talk with a musician whose band is on the edge of making their dream come true. Their first CD was released on Monday; now the real work begins. While it's always about the music, creativity is only one piece of the puzzle in this day and age. Gone are the days when record companies offer big contracts and promote your product in every way possible. Now, it is up to the band to do it all. The work is endless: interviews, touring, appearances and the most recent networking. Having a dream is one thing...having the determination to see it through is another. Breathe deeply, remember what is important, and take that leap of faith.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, we look at a dream unfulfilled. For a good portion of my life, Diana Nyad has pushed the envelope in endurance swimming. While at first I thought she was, well a little nuts, I later came to appreciate and admire her mission. In 1975, she swam around the island of Manhattan in under 8 hours. Now, I've lived close to New York City my entire life...there would have been nothing on the face of the earth to get me into those waters in 1975, before they cleaned up the rivers surrounding it.

Her greatest completed endurance swim began on her 30th birthday when she covered the distance of 102 miles from North Bimini Island, Bahamas to Juno Beach, Florida in 27 1/2 hours. Just think about that for a minute. Is there anything in your life you can do for 27 1/2 hours straight...even sleep? No. And yet she completed this amazing feat while battling currents, weather and jellyfish.

Her lasting dream was to swim from Cuba to Florida, but it was not to be. At the age of 62, her fourth attempt will most likely be her last. After swimming for sixty (yes, 60) hours she was pulled from the water, when the battle with the jellyfish and mother nature became too serious of an issue.

Failure? I think not. To have the dream and not make the attempt would be failure. Giving your all and coming up a bit short is an incentive to take what you have learned, and use it to create a new dream.

As Diana moves forward toward a new goal, Lucas and Chuck have many steps before they achieve theirs. Reach with both arms outstretched, but enjoy the small steps. Chances are, they will be the ones worth remembering.

Think them, See them. Close your eyes and jump.


Monday, August 20, 2012

A "Legitimate" Candidate

And here we go again.
Today's subject: "Legitimate Rape"

Actually we have two discussions today. First the idiocy of the man who said it and the aftermath of the idiot saying it.

It seems that in a TV interview on Sunday, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) was discussing his anti-abortion stance and said "From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."

Ok, can we get a clarification on a "legitimate rape," as opposed to illegitimate rape? Are you freaking kidding me. And what's the deal on women's bodies shutting down for pregnancy during rape. I love the line "But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something." Something??? That something would be a child. It's news to me that those sperm swimming upstream all of a sudden hit a roadblock if you are being raped. Tell that to all the women who every time they look into the eyes of their child conceived by rape, sees the traumatic event of their conception. 

Look, it doesn't matter which side of a woman's right to choose you stand, this guy is running for the Senate. And he's an idiot. Now I realize most of them are, but some hide it until after they are elected. It's bad enough he represents some district in the House, but to elect him as Senator...just say no.

Discussion #2: The Congressman misspoke. Ya think?
In the interest of fairness, I have included his entire statement. After he say's he's pretty much blah, blah, blah. Scroll down if you're not interested.

"As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault. In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year. Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.
"I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.

"But I also believe that this election is about a wide range of very important issues, starting with the economy and the type of country we will be leaving our children and grandchildren. We've had 42 straight months of unacceptably high unemployment, trillion-dollar deficits, and Democratic leaders in Washington who are focused on growing government, instead of jobs. That is my primary focus in this campaign and while there are those who want to distract from that, knowing they cannot defend the Democrats' failed economic record of the last four years, that will continue to be my focus in the months ahead."

So when did we all start taking the politically correct stance on our morality code.  I misspoke. I mis-remembered. I was misquoted. I was misinformed. Well, how about having some balls and standing up and saying "I fucked up." Take some responsibility for your actions and when you make a mistake, don't hide behind veiled implications and cloudy advice.

Maybe then we will be able to choose a candidate who stands for something a little more tangible than the direction of the wind.

You know...someone who's legitimate
Oh screw it, they're all idiots.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

We Return You Now To Your Life

For the first time in months, there is a calmness in me.

The family drama is over; the words have all been spoken, the tears...well they still fall too frequently. But this morning I awoke with no immediate responsibilities; a free few hours to sort out the direction of the day.

To say I am behind is quite the understatement. Besides the two blogs, at his moment I have five projects in various states of readiness...or rather un-readiness. Today and tomorrow begins a game of catch-up. Let's just see how well I do. If I get three projects and the blogs done, I will be drinking champagne.

I'm hoping this calmness I feel is a sign my stress level is going down. For far too long I have been living like a volcano ready to erupt at any moment...and too often I did. It was no longer a case of being unable to suffer fools, I have been unable to tolerate most everyone. I have had one focus and most everything and everyone else was of little importance. I make no apologies for it. I did what I needed to do.

So now it is time to reclaim life.

It rained last night and washed away the heat and humidity. It's a breezy morning with the sun shining through the trees. A perfect day for a walk around the lake. Or writing and research.

Or a walk around the lake. Let me revise my expectations blog and two projects...and a walk around the lake.

One blog done...definitely a walk around the lake.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Dad's Journey: The Road Home

Dad left on his final road trip yesterday morning.

We were not there with him, I'm sure he planned it that way.

On Sunday, the 'kids' were there to see his beautiful blue eyes open for the last time. It was only for a minute, but as his gaze scanned the four of us, there seemed to be some recognition. Monday mid-day, Mom whispered to him it was time to let go. My sister-in-law saw him a bit later and told him to be at peace. I arrived later in the evening and sat holding his hand and remembering. It's always about the memories.

When you are a kid growing up, all you ever think about are things: toys, clothes, these days... computers, electronics...stuff. But at the end of a life, all you think of are moments in time. In my heart I knew this would be my final visit, the last one-on-one time we would ever have. I thought about family vacations, the hours we spent doing jig-saw puzzles, the talk of sports, how he would cut out articles he thought we would enjoy from the newspapers...the little things. And I thought about the last really good day I had with him. It was an evening before his transfer to the nursing home from the hospital. His mind was back to his new normal, after a week of treatment for dehydration. We sat together as the sun went down and he spoke easily, something he was not able to do when he got sick, and something which became more and more difficult as time went on. It was a special moment and I knew it.

Monday night, when it was time to leave, I kissed him as I always did and told him I loved him. It had been four days since he said those words back to me. I went to leave, then turned and went back to give him one more kiss. As I touched his forehead I said "You rest now"

And now he is.
Love you Pops...always.

Thanks to all of you who have ridden shotgun on this journey with my Dad. Thanks for the support, the hugs across the miles, and the kindness from people who have never met me or my father. It has meant more than words can say.

For a musical tribute to my dad click on this link: "Minutes to Memories: Celebrating My Dad's Life"
For links of the entire journey, click on this post. "My Dad's Journey: From the Beginning"

Life is forever changed, but we move forward. We cry now and we will for a while. But laughter truly is the best medicine and our family has always been centered on laughter...and love. Dad taught us that.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Random Thoughts From A Scattered Mind: Still Thinking

A few quick notes about things which fascinated me over the past few days.

Saw a coconut on the ground today. Now granted if I lived in Florida, that might not be something to write about. I do however, live in New Jersey and coconuts on the ground, well let's just say this is a first for me. Now the reason I saw this coconut was because the dog was smelling the honeysuckle again (see yesterday's post).  As she was meandering around checking out the lovely fragrance, there it was. I really have no other thoughts on the coconut, other than why the hell it was there.

The man who hasn't bathed in 38 years. Yes I said 38 years. Some farmer in India, shortly after he was married, was told by a priest to stop bathing and cutting his hair if he hoped to have a son. Well, 38 years later he has six foot long dreadlocks, a long beard, seven daughters and no son. Astounding to me is the fact he still has a wife. Talk about for better or for worse. And you would think that after, I don't know, maybe five daughters he would try to change his luck by cleaning up his act. Just saying.  Full story here.

The Olympics Closing Ceremonies. Now I didn't watch the full event or else it would have merited an entire blog. What I did see was enough to make me ask the question WTF more than once. Now I'm sure if you were in the stands, the show must have been something. There were a few moments which were cool. The tribute to John Lennon was pretty neat, but when the Pet Shop Boys were parading around in those black outfits with the pointed hats, and one of them pounding on a kiddie keyboard, I just started to laugh. Apparently, laughing is not the emotion the producer was hoping for. After a total misuse of Annie Lennox, has-been models strutting to Bowie's "Fashion," well I had enough. Luckily, I turned it off before NBC decided to take an hour long break to promote a new fall season show. I would have thrown something at the TV. WTF were they thinking...not much as far as I could tell.

Helen Gurley Brown died today. Granted most women these days are barely, if at all familiar with her name. But back in the 60's and 70's, she was quite a trailblazer. In 1962 she wrote a novel called "Sex & the Single Girl." Now I was too young to have read it back then, but it caused quite a stir. The notion that women and single women at that might have an enjoyable sex life was radical, to say the least. Where I became aware of her was as a teenager reading Cosmopolitan, the magazine she edited. Very much based on the same principles as her novel, it was a monthly eye-opener for the high school crowd. While she was sometimes criticized for portraying women as too dependent on their sexuality, she opened women's minds and attitudes about making your own choices.

Romney picks Ryan. So I happened to catch the announcement. The way he talked about his running mate, you would have thought the man was Mother Theresa. God, I hate politicians. And now both sides have been drawn. Seems to me like the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

And so it begins...again. Or did it just never end?


Saturday, August 11, 2012

It's Not All Roses, But Stop And Smell Them Anyway

My dog has it figured out.

She stops and smells the flowers.

The first day we brought her home from the shelter, she walked around the wraparound deck and checked out the flowering plants. While she loves to chase the flies and the bees which hang around the fragrant buds, she definitely enjoys their fragrance.

On our afternoon dog walk route, there is some wild honeysuckle growing near the railroad tracks. A few days ago, she started sniffing the flowers that are now beginning to bloom. While as a dog, a great portion of her life is centered around things that smell...and some that don't smell too good I might add, she goes out of her way to inhale a little fragrance from each and every plant.

A lesson we should all remember.

It got me thinking about some of the small joys of life. Here are a few, while most times I don't even notice, are definitely meant to be least for a minute or two.

Clean Sheets: Slipping into a freshly laundered bed is heaven. Not only are you finally relaxing at the end of the day, but they feel crisp and clean. If they have been air-dried (remember that) in the sun, even better. If I was rich, I would pay someone to have my sheets changed every other day. If they were changed everyday, it wouldn't be as special, so I would sleep one day on used sheets, and fully appreciate the fresh ones the next day.

A New Tube of Toothpaste: Not a big thing, but after the last few days of squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of the old tube, to be the first one in the household to start a new tube...quite enjoyable.

The First Ice Cream of the Summer: One Sunday as we headed home from the lake, I made a quick right into the driveway of an ice cream stand. Now I'm a chocolate fiend, but when a homemade ice cream place has black raspberry...well it's a tough choice. As my first official cone (sugar cone that is) of the season, I went with the black raspberry. Imagine my delight when I realized it was a black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream. My joy was boundless.

The First Apple Pie of Autumn: The colors on the trees are breathtaking, the air is clean with no humidity and you stop at a farm stand to buy apples. After getting everyone in the household involved in the peeling and coring process, and a few cocktails to further raise the mood, the pie goes in the oven. In about 30 minutes, the first aromas begin finding their way through the house. Wait for it to cool, add vanilla ice cream and delight in one of nature's most delicious combinations.

A Cracking Fire: Imagine the joy of the cavemen. Not only had they found warmth and the ability to cook, but to watch the flames dance and hear the crackle of the wood burn. No matter how often we light a fire, it never gets old.

A Dog to Come Home To: No matter what kind of day you've had, how much stress you are under or if you've walked home from being in an overstuffed subway car in 95 degree thing you can count in is a wagging tail and someone to kiss your face.

Then she gets to go for a walk and smell the flowers... again.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

To Pin Or Not To Pin

So have you heard of Pinterest? Most women have, men...not so much. If you haven't, this is it in a nutshell. It is another internet vacuum which sucks you in and just like twitter, refuses to let you see the light of day...ever again.

But, it has some really cool pictures. And recipes, and ideas. The aim is to create theme boards and either upload pictures (pins), search the internet for pictures or search Pinterest itself for pictures. You then can like someone else's pin (sort of like coveting your neighbors whatever) or you can take that pin and pin it onto your own theme board. And just like every other social networking follow either people or their specific boards.

Basically, it's like creating photo albums of everything you wish you owned, places you could go, things to eat, crafts to make, lessons to learn...basically anything which makes you happy.  And just like some of those insanely delicious looking desserts...Pinterest is highly addictive.  Got a lull in your day, just go check out some new pins. It is fun, I'll grant you that. And some of the photography is absolutely breathtaking.

Now, from what I've seen in the month or so I have been "pinning," some people have way too much freakin' time on their hands. Some of the crafts for example, are so tedious...I would sooner pull out my fingernails than get involved with these projects. And the recipes...very big on variations of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and desserts using one of God's most perfect foods...Oreo's.

Now I quite enjoy this little adventure. It's like being back in grammar school and making collages. I was really good at that. Not really having any artistic ability, I did have an eye, so putting together a mosaic was something that was doable.

So now I find at the end of the day when I should do at least one more constructive thing, I sit with my laptop scanning through hundreds and hundreds of photographs for no other purpose than to build my own little fantasy land.

And you know what...that's fine by me.

OMG look at those shoes...repin.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Dad's Journey: From The Beginning

As my Dad's journey nears the end, I thought it would be a good idea to put all the links to the posts I've written about him, in one place. A few people have mentioned they didn't know if they had read them all and the links on the side of the page can be a pain to work through.

So here in chronological order is My Dad's Journey:

On Yahoo Voices:

"Watching the Light Fade: The Heartbreak of the Inevitable"

On Kat's Theory of Life:

"It Was Dad's Birthday, But I Got The Present"
"Waking The Dead Or Just Napping Like One"
"Life: As The Days Grow Shorter"
"Enjoying The Evening Light With My Dad"
"My Dad's Journey: A New Home"
"My Dad's Journey: A Long Week Later"
"It's A Small World After All"
"Dad's Journey: Another Day, Another Issue"
"My Dad's Journey: Six Weeks In"
"Happy Father's Day: I Hope"
"My Dad's Journey: A Room With A Different View"
"My Dad's Journey: Three Months Later"
"My Dad's Journey: Making Arrangements"

Looking back, I didn't realize how many posts I've done about my Dad. No wonder everyone is telling me how depressed they are. Sorry. Writing about this has helped me immeasurably. It also lessens the need for me to talk about it with everyone. Writing is hard, talking is worse.

Most likely there will only be one more post to finish up this series. I'm guessing it won't be too much longer. For now, I thank you all for the love and support, for the many comments and for standing beside me while I walk this path none of us wants to take.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

For Men: A Cautionary Tale

When you live with someone for a very long time, sometimes the comfort level gets well...a little too comfortable. Easiest example of this is bodily functions. While I have no desire to do a play-by-play on this, we all know over time things that would never be considerable acceptable on a first, second or third date, become commonplace and for the most part...ignored. All of our bodies function the same way, women though seem to have more control over them...that's all I'm saying about that.

Along with the physical nature of the passage of time, there is also the ordinary conversation. Granted, there is not a man still breathing who answered the question "Do I look fat in this?" with a "Yes." Somewhere in the evolutionary process, they have learned to steer clear of that landmine.

Which brings me to three little words which were uttered yesterday by 'the other.'  I don't even remember how the conversation began as I was sitting at the computer writing yesterday's Music blog. Normally my attention to his speaking when I am writing is minimal... at best. An occasional nod or "uh huh' is usually sufficient to get through a quick conversation. If it starts to become a little cumbersome, the crazy lady appears and her voice and attitude quickly has him heading in another direction. And yes, he will read this post...another interesting conversation to be sure. But I digress.

As I sat here yesterday, he said to me "You have really nice hair"...and here it comes..."for your age." dum de dum dum. As my head spun around a full 360 degrees, I said "You really didn't say those three words did you." Then came the confused expression on his face and the protest that it was a compliment.  No, a compliment would have ended with the first half of the sentence.  What the second half did was make it a would think after more than two decades of living in the same house...he would know better. And this is coming from a man who will hit an age milestone this year that is still unfathomable to both of us.

Anyway, as I started to scribble a few notes about what was being said, he asked if this was going to end up a blog. I gave him the look. Not only does he need to be scolded and shamed in a public forum, but it is my duty to advise my male readers there is a price to pay for getting a little too comfortable..and not doing a word-by-word analysis before you issue a 'compliment.'

In a related story, afterwards he took me clothes shopping.. a nice trade-off for a little back-handed flattery.

"Do I look fat in this?"


Friday, August 3, 2012

My Dad's Journey: Making Arrangements

As I do every weekday morning, I walk the dog and pick up the newspaper on my way. The owner of the store and his brother who fills in for him, have the three papers ready for me. I open the door, put my money on the counter, grab them and walk out. Getting the morning papers was something for years my dad would do. We are a newspaper reading family. He would read them and when finished, pass them to me. Dad would normally read four. I would skim three, but lately there hasn't been time or enthusiasm for me to read them at all.

This morning the owner's brother was there, and asked how my dad was, as he hadn't seen him in a while. I kept it together as I told him of his illness, but as I turned the corner for home, the tears came rolling down my face. Of all the days to ask me about my had to be today.

For days, I have known what I would be doing this morning. Something no one ever wants to do, but something that most of us will do in our lifetime.  Plan the funeral of one of your parents.

The simple fact is my father, while still failing. Rather than wait until he passes and make decisions clouded with the cloak of grief, my mother and I met today with the funeral director who has buried all my relatives ever since I can remember.

Although we thought we knew what we wanted...what he wanted, there were still so many decisions to be made. And, although we have the groundwork complete, some things are still undecided. My mother's strength amazes  me. At 82 and a cancer survivor herself, her composure, grace and never ending devotion to my father is an inspiration. It is however, taking a toll.

Later, after a much needed stress free few hours with my partner-in-crime the drum mamma, it was back to the hospital for the dinner visit. Mentally, tonight's visit was much better than the one I had yesterday, but physically he is breaking down...quickly.

The stronger pain meds seem to have calmed his anxiety a bit. They have also taken him to a place a little farther away mentally. And that is fine. While he can still speak and occasionally get complete sentences across, the truth is it has been painful to watch him struggle between what his mind is trying to say and what his body allows him to speak. While still coherent, he is now becoming more peaceful, as if he is aware the coming transition is something he can no longer fight.

The time has passed for recalling old memories with him or for telling him the things you had put off saying. Although I may no longer get a smile anymore when he sees me, when I kiss him goodnight and tell him I love him, I still hear the four words which get me through another day..."I love you too."

Love you Pops.