The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: elder care (Page 1 of 2)

ToDoTuesdayFive

It’s been three weeks since my last ToDoTuesday post. Here’s the latest.

(A Reminder of) My goals for the week of September 24th through October 1th:

  • Add sequin detail to PF eye done, sign/sew quilt label done
  • Work on post about music score edit process in progress
  • Get ready for out-of-town trip! done and back!

My PFWHK handmade label amidst a flock of PF's.

My PFWHK handmade label amidst a flock of PF’s.


All things must come to an end. In this case it is all things Pink Flamingo. The PFWHK is done and done! I am very tempted to hang her up facing the wall to show off the backing fabric and my snazzy label. But she has her eye on me…no can do. HA!
PF sequin eye detail

PF sequin eye detail


Our out-of-town trip was action packed. Not so much sight seeing as visiting family and investigating areas for us to relocate. More on that in a later post. Meanwhile, here are some family photos.
The Guys: my cousin Kayden (Gail's son), my hubby Terry, Uncle Dennis (my Dad's younger brother)

The Guys: my cousin Kayden (Gail’s son), my hubby Terry, Uncle Dennis (my Dad’s younger brother)


The Gals: Aunt Adua, me, my cousin Gail

The Gals: Aunt Adua, me, my cousin Gail


As for that music score edit process post? It’s definitely in the works  DONE. To catch a glimpse of the beginning of the process involved, take a look at this post I wrote in 2015. Yikes, has it really been that long ago I started entering my hand scored compositions onto NOTION?
While not mentioned on the goals listed above, the number of actual score edits becoming “Final Finals” now total 6 pieces. Including the Mo Giolla Mear piece featured in the 2015 blog post. This is a big leap in the completion of that portion of my Swimming with Swans:the music project and is worth noting.

~~~

My creativity trinity* is as follows: fiber artMUSICwriting. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this – hence the linky-party connection.

’Home
* a term I recently invented

longest night, Reflections during

Winter Solstice: a day with the least amount of sunshine potential; the shortest day and longest night; a time of reversals.

To me, the Winter Solstice feels more like the ending of the past year with the dawning of the true ‘new year.’  An organic New Year’s Eve, so to speak. What better time to reflect on the past year, letting go and easing into the ‘new year’ as each day from this point in time gains length.
With these reflections comes the announcement that this will be my final posting for 2018 with an undetermined first post date for the upcoming year. That’s just my convoluted way of saying I’m taking a blogging break!
😉
That said, let us continue.
In reviewing my Morning Pages* over this past year I realized it has been a full and satisfying 12 months. No family or close friends died or declared any horrific medical diagnosis, the selling of my folks’ house went smoothly and the settling of their estate is almost completed, we visited and celebrated with family members and friends throughout the year and throughout the country, and the scary emergencies we did encounter were accompanied by His ‘peace that passes all understanding’ as we walked through those life-paths.
It seems we landed in a junction of respite from several years of elder care, personal pain, disappointments, grief and such.
Fielding the good with the bad, several themes** emerged as well – often revealing forward movement on goals, desires, hopes and dreams; working through the ups & downs of life; grappling with deeper issues in living a purposeful life.
Why then this lingering sense of sadness?
Is it the darkness? The longer nights and shorter days? Grey black skies, claustrophobic fog?
Not really.
I relish this Winter Solstice evening – prolonged darkness, giving permission to hunker down, and delve into soul searching, validating this yearning to be still and listen to what the Lord through His creation and past events is speaking to me.
Then what is contributing to this heaviness, this disheartening sense of impotence in making a difference in life’s inequities?
Ah yes, of course. Events over this past year, worldwide and oh-too-to-close-to-home local happenings.

  • Parkland school shootings, Las Vegas, Nevada concert shootings, synagogue slaughter, humble town of Florence, SC massacre and on & on infinitum…
  • Manchester arena bombing anniversary representing terrorism in a free country with strict gun control.
  • Never ending hordes of everyday people fleeing their beloved homeland for a safe place to stay alive…Syrians, Central Americans, Africans…
  • Governments killing their own citizens in the name of advancing their own personal agenda.
  • Free world border ‘wars’ using displaced, desperate persons, families & children as fodder for unwinnable negotiations.
  • Increased homelessness in the midst of hardworking middle class professionals – and all the ramifications of undeserved shame while struggling to continue to survive in an ever increasing hostile American society.
  • Constant bombardment of Trumpian Temper Tantrums affecting everyday Americans (sorry, I don’t normally specify political opinions…please give me latitude during this Winter’s Solstice)

And yet, this is all not new…the poor have always been with us, the rich and powerful have always manipulated laws to benefit themselves, increasing their wealth and opportunities, to the detriment of everyday people, and, what of the ever presence of war – always with us.
1968 was a bad year – Vietnam War, numerous assassinations, student protests…Decades earlier, WWII, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, the Holocaust
The world’s suffering is so personal.
It hurts.
And yet, I am reminded:

“God wastes nothing – not even our darkness”


*from which I am taking an indeterminate break also, after 28+ years of faithful jottings!
**my music, hubby’s new business, finding home, strengthening relationships…

Shout Out: "Just a Rose" by Colin Chappell

Orange Rose from Ma & Dad's Garden 2016

Orange Rose from Ma & Dad’s Garden 2016


When I first heard this poem, my mind immediately flashed on a photo I took during my Summer of Dad – that of a lone rose thriving in the midst of Ma & Dad’s overgrown and neglected garden.

“…for my blooms have served a purpose…”

 
From Just Thinking a collection of “little writings which may produce some little thoughts” here is Colin Chappell reading his poem, Just a Rose.

Note: All proceeds from book sales will be directed to Colin’s daughter who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007. She is still fighting, but the treatment programs have taken their toll and she is unable to hold down a paying job for a variety of reasons. She is therefore dependent on benefits from her disability provider…She uses her time to volunteer for non-profit organizations, and has been involved in giving some dignity to the women who are living on the streets in Vancouver’s downtown East-side…She has also written a number of poems, two of which are included in the book!

Sharing a Double Grief

The day after my cousins and Aunt Dolores returned to Chicago from Dad’s funeral* in Colorado, my Aunt Betty fell, broke her arm and entered into hospice care within the week.
Unlike Dad, she and his other sibs were/are lifelong Cubs fans. And I confess I caught the cub-bug from them back in the day!  Freshly back from Colorado** hubby and I settled into a regular routine of watching 2016’s historic World Series. It helped ease re-entry into our life away from loved ones, life’s new normal and tending to everyday living in our little rental here in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, my cousins and Aunt Dolores had the television on for all the games, too. They spent time with Aunt Betty during her last ‘dream-sleep’ days listening and talking with her about all the exciting baseball action.
On November 1st, Dad’s sister joined the increasing Family party up in heaven.
When news spread over the Bruno Grapevine about her passing, I took comfort in thinking she had the best seat in the Universe to see those Cubbies take the World Series in all its victorious glory***.
The very next day, Terry and I took to the road again to attend the wake/funeral mass on Chicago’s south side.
Going back to old family locations, rejoining the cousins and the last two remaining of Dad’s sibs proved to be an unexpected blessing in the midst of my own raw grief.
I received an extra gift from my aunt – a chance to honor her – standing for Dad – and a chance to continue in the healing and comfort with Family – Coming back to my roots and laying Dad to rest there, too.
Surrounded by Family still in mourning over the death of Dad; beginning the trail of sorrow again with the passing of Aunt Betty – shared sorrow, shared support.
Joining joyful memories with the present shifting of Family ‘residency’ – sharing in the double grief – makes me think Aunt Betty waited to sit at that Family Table till Dad would be there, too.

Betty Jane (Bruno) Evans
2/7/1928 – 11/1/2016

Miss all of you…

Last trip to Chicago with Ma (2004) - missing only 4 oldsters. l - r: Adua, Dennis, Dad, Elmer, Betty, Frank, Rose, Ma, Dolores with Lizzy

Last trip to Chicago with Ma (2004) – missing only 4 Bruno oldsters. l – r: Adua, Dennis, Dad, Elmer, Betty, Frank, Rose, Ma, Dolores with Lizzy


 
*Dad died 9/22, we held the funeral mass, internment and celebration of life feast on 10/14 to enable more out-of-town family to attend
**Terry drove out of Hurricane Matthew on 10/8 in order to be with me pre-post funeral, and most of all to bring me back home with him; we left 10/21
***Cool tidbit: another cousin got to see the celebration parade up front since he has a law office on Michigan Ave

Summer of Dad

Technically, summer as a season is defined as being from June 1st through August 31st.  Or in holiday terms, Memorial Day kicks off the start of summer while Labor Day marks the end of those carefree days.

I decided to define this summer as beginning April 22nd when Dad went into hospice care, and ending September 17th when my regularly scheduled visits will most probably cease (the key term here being: regularly scheduled).

On all fronts, this Summer of Dad has been cathartic, healing and fun.

On all fronts, this Summer of Dad is nearing its end.

note: the day before I was slated to return to SC from my third ‘scheduled’ visit with Dad in CO, he suffered a mini-stroke causing a paradigm shift in his state of decline. This piece was written several weeks ago and was to be pubbed sooner, but internet issues prevented that from occurring.  I think it still speaks a gentle message so I am passing it on while I have a snippet of secure internet access.

UKE to the rescue

This coming Saturday morning, I leave for my third and quite possibly, last, scheduled trip to Colorado to visit with Dad (note-operative word here is scheduled). With it comes the usual deliberation on what to pack; most of which is rote routine. But those few variable items that require more thought on just how to pack along for the trip are often troublesome.
As a musician, it’s always about the music.
Yes, I have my NOTION software available to me on my laptop if the muse tickles my fancy, or I feel the need to work on compositional works-in-progress.  Heck, I’m so old-school I consider it a badge of honor to whip out my staff paper notebook and jot down ideas using archaic graphite dots.
But that’s not what I’m meaning. And I’m not talking about iPod, streaming or even radio station music, either.
I’m talking about how does one pack that part of your essential being that doesn’t fit into a suitcase, in the overhead bin on an airplane, or be safely transported as general baggage without risk or costing a fortune?  This common question faces all instrumentalists, yet there is no one-size-fits-all answer to it.
Coping with life – the good, the bad and the ugly (to borrow a phrase from a fav Spaghetti Western) – has always been reflected in my music. Prayers, supplications, questions, acceptance; hurts, healings and happy dances; all the dialogue, working through, pouring out – done with my instrument.

Rental 'beater guitar' placed across scrap quilt I made for Ma & Dad ~ 1983

Rental ‘beater guitar’ placed across scrap quilt I made for Ma & Dad ~ 1983


Borrowing or renting a classical guitar is not as easy as say, a violin. I won’t go into the technical details of why, but suffice it to say that the “beater guitar”* I scouted out to rent during my first extended visit, while hard to procure, did deliver as a sort-of security blanket instrument during that five week time span.
My second visit lasted two weeks, a doable length of time to go without direct instrumental contact so that counted as an easy fix.
But…those were solutions for then. What about now?
This time around, I’m slated for a three week stay. As much as those visits are a precious blessing, they are also very intense; filled with tender moments alongside heart wrenching end-of-life realities.
This time around, hubby booked my flight on another airline, one which allows 1 bag and 1 personal item for free as carry-ons.
This time around, I’ll stuff the computer bag with my wallet, snacks and paperback mystery novel as usual, and tote my UKE as the other carry on.
After all, George Harrison composed ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ on his UKE when his primary instrument was unavailable for use.
*”beater guitar” is a term used by cgers and acoustic guitarists alike that refers to an instrument that can be taken anywhere without fear of ruining it…case in point: around the campfire during wilderness treks.

***

One of my fav renditions of this piece follows and indeed, inspired several of my students at the time to ask me to teach them the UKE…thus forcing me to pursue a certain level of mastery over this little gem of an instrument –

 

ShoutOut: Hospice is a Godsend

note: click here for hospice information

I’m gearing up for another trip out to visit Dad.  I’m officially on a ‘four weeks here and two weeks there’ schedule that is subject to change as Dad’s situation escalates; these next two weeks I’ll be ‘there’.
Dad’s steadily declining, but in a good way…not a panic stricken, fearful way because he is in the compassionate and knowledgeable hands of hospice and the Ashley Manor caregivers – all of whom I believe to be extensions of the Lord’s own hands here on earth.  During my recent five week visit, I interacted with the staff, healthcare professionals and other residents while visiting, sitting with, and eating with Dad.  They all have hearts of gold and strength coming from somewhere beyond the realm of human ability…I stand in awe and in deep appreciation of all they do on behalf of my dad and their 5-6 other elder-housemate residents.
Hospice is a Godsend.

My Son – The Sharp Dressed Man

please, enjoy the music while you read the following, I promise it is related to the main thrust of this blog post…and since there are several guitar solos, well, you don’t really need to watch the lyrics up on the screen


Okay, so I’ve been starting and stopping in the writing of several blog posts.
I need to feed the blog, yes, but I gotta say my focus has been a bit wonky since returning from my five weeks visiting Dad.  I started to write about that in a post entitled “Spider Webs, Jacob’s Ladder and Losing the Strand” but could only get so far when I’d lose the strand…(to be finished and posted at a later date).
Then on to a relatively easy Shoutout about the great Maestro Ricardo (and my friend) receiving a prestigious award at the annual GFA Convention in Denver, held just one week after I left. I wanted to attend, but those plans got trumped (don’t know if I like that term anymore…) with the Dad-card. No regrets at all, but it does leave the “Shoutout: In Honor of the Maestro Ricardo” in the queue to be sent sometime whenever I can do a final edit on it…again, the focus thing is the limiting factor here. It may never get finished and sent out since it’s more (out)dated news.
I discovered early on that I didn’t have the energy required to return to my current Swimming with Swans projects. This of course lead to frustration because I needed something to do in the realm of creating while navigating this new pattern of four weeks here and two weeks there; along with the emotional stuff that goes along with end-of-life and long distance elder care.
So I picked up the needle…that phrase is loaded, eh? I first mentioned this phrase in my post “The Rusty Quilter” that describes my history and re-introduction to quilting and fiber art.

Whole-cloth quilt top basted and ready for straight stitch machine-quilting

Whole-cloth quilt top basted and ready for straight stitch machine-quilting


That said, I began in earnest my new ‘now’ project totally unrelated to anything other than as a pleasurable creative outlet: the whole-cloth quilted throw; which will be discussed in greater depth in yet another WIP blog post, as yet unnamed.
During today’s immersion in some straight line machine quilting, I listened to an Amazon Prime Classic Rock Song List.
When ZZ Tops’ tune, The Sharped Dressed Man came on full blast in my earphones and into my brain, I remembered my Jo-Jo and his new obsession with dressing snappy for work.
Joe Lilly is the Sharp Dressed Man

Joe Lilly is the Sharp Dressed Man


Here’s Joe in his Tuesday morning duds, posing in the dining room of my folks’ house, with the telltale cleaning supplies and messiness in the background. One of the fantastic things I got to do while visiting Dad was to make dinner for our kids. Some of Ma’s cooking stuff is still in the kitchen and so I was able to throw together some makeshift family favorites.
Since Joe still lives in the Denver area, he purposely carved out time to stop by after work and/or pick me up for doing fun stuff together during ‘down times’.
One such outing was going to his gig at the Oriental Theatre. Actually, my sorella-amica Lisa and I went to see our sons* at this wonderful venue. Like most musicians, he’s in several bands/ensembles. This one, Heavy Medicine**, added a horn section recently, of which Joe is their main sax-guy.
The Sharp Dressed Man with his Heavy Medicine Bandmates playing the Oriental Theatre, Denver, CO 6/2016

The Sharp Dressed Man with his Heavy Medicine Bandmates playing the Oriental Theatre, Denver, CO 6/2016


Me and my son - the sharp dressed man

Me and my son – the sharp dressed man


Lots more of this mother-son stuff is in the future with each trip back to visit Dad.
Oh and on the marquee behind us is the name Leon Russell, significant in that another blog post in the queue needing to be finished is called, “The Buena Vista Social Club, Leon Russell and Dad”.
Just sayin’.
 
‘Tis a blessing to be loved…
 
 
*Lisa’s son, Ted, is fourth from the left
**The track ‘Dangerous’ includes horns
acknowledgement note: last two photos taken by Lisa K.

Collaged Times with Dad

I thought perhaps a little photo collage of my time spent with Dad would be kind of refreshing for anyone interested.  Usually I send off a few select photos to those on my ‘little list’, this time I’m sharing them with all of you – on my ‘little list’ and in the blog-o-sphere!

Me, Dad and Terry Colorado 2016

Me, Dad and Terry

So, to continue…

Joe & hubby goofing off after dinner

Joe & hubby goofing off after dinner

Terry got to visit with Dad two times before he had to leave. The night before Terry left, Joe came over and we had a great mini-family dinner.

 

Dad at 93 practising his clarinet 2016

Dad at 93 practicing his clarinet (2016)


 
One day I walked in on Dad tooting the ole liquorice stick…
 
 
 
 
Dick with his first side by side milkshake

Dick with his first side by side milkshake (mine is on the left for art’s sake)


After one of many ‘care conferences’ for Dad, I treated baby bro to his first ever Steak and Shake side-by-side milkshake…and as a dutiful sister, promptly got him addicted!
 
 
Dad listening to Joe play.

Dad listening to Joe play.


 

Later, when Joe and I visited Dad, he didn’t feel like playing. He offered both his sax and clarinet for Joe to play instead. While I held up the sheet music, Joe sight-read an assortment of Dad’s arrangements of Jazz-standards.

Joe, Dad and me

Joe, Dad and me


 
 
 
Joe with his granpa Jazzman

Hamming it up for the photo-op


Wondering why Dad is always wearing his cap and jacket? It’s just all part of the mix of getting older I guess since it was close to 90F outside!
 
Al Bruno at 93

Here’s lookin’ at ya!


 
One day, Dad did decide to shed all that baggage!
 
 
 
Michelle Solorio, Al Bruno, Laura Lilly

Michelle, Dad and me


 
Towards the end of my extended stay, Michelle came into town for a friend’s wedding.
We got to see Dad one last time before I left.
And, I got to cook for my two kiddos…
Brother & Sister Together 4ever

Brother & Sister Together 4ever

Up a Creek without Secure Internet Access

I know, I know, it’s been a little over two weeks since my last posting.  And I admit my silence was intentional for the first three days of that space of time. Since I usually manage a once-a-week blog post frequency, I figured I had a four day window left in which to post. No problem.
Besides, I had more pressing things to attend to like prepping for an extended visit with my dad. Continue reading

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