The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: transitions (Page 2 of 4)

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.

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

Giving Voice: JANE'S STORY

note: still visiting with Dad and Up a Creek, but wanted to send this on in the interim.

It’s just not going away, people. Joblessness & Homelessness is still an on-going reality.
Jane is a blogger-buddy of mine. She is an Everyday (American) Canadian*.
Like you. Like me.
This lady speaks candidly and with more courage than I ever could during our own between homes journey. Her journey-details differ from our own, but the pattern is rote: no job – no home. The experiences and feelings felt are similar if not the same in some instances.
I stand with you, Jane. Continue reading

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

Mother's Day mp3 Greeting

Have you ever tried to sing along to a Led Zeppelin song?
Not the easiest thing in the world to do.
But that didn’t deter my kiddos from sending me an mp3 of their Mother’s Day wishes and gift in a verse composed by my Michelle and sung together with my Joe to the tune of Zep’s “Going to California”.
Let me put this in context for you: Joe is in Colorado, Michelle (and hubby David) are in Michigan; they did a speaker phone call to sing this into a little thumb drive recorder attached to Michelle’s computer that she uses for research interviews.
So, it’s the non-musician in the family who orchestrated this fun Mother’s Day greeting…(transcript follows) Continue reading

Groggy Bye-Bye to 2015

I’ve been wanting to write an appropriate post for the end of 2015. Nothing has come to me. Partly due to the fact of being in the throes of a big cold/flu episode. Partly due to the fact of just not being able to face the blank page. I keep trying to get something written to post before this self-important/imposed deadline, but most of what is started is blithery and blathery…yet the urge is insistent: tie up loose ends!

Where to start? Continue reading

A Walk in the Swamp with Joe

Over these past three years of Thanksgivings, a tradition of sorts has evolved.  It seems our son Joe’s holiday of choice is Thanksgiving. Each Thanksgiving since landing here in South Carolina after our between homes journey, he has flown in to join us at the family feasting table. This fourth year was no different. He spent 10 days with us, kind of a combination re-group after his 2.5 month vacay in the DR and holiday time with the fam. This year we three took our walk in the Swamp the Saturday after Thanksgiving as usual only at a new-to-us spot: Woods Hole. To date, that is hands down our fav Swamp-place. But this post is about last year’s Swamp walk…

The Saturday after Thanksgiving 2014, I took a walk in the swamp with my son.

My Jo-Jo at the Lynches River Swamp, SC (2014)

My Jo-Jo at the Lynches River Swamp, SC (2014)


Turns out, he has become more of a walker since his youthful accident a few years back which requires him to keep his ankle supple and stretched.  Because my hubby was in the throes of knee problems, we took our walk without him.  It made for a long-overdue Mother-Son time together.  Yes, we communicate via texting, phoning and e-mailing, but there’s nothing like actually spending physical time with those you are in relationship with.  There may not be much spoken, but just the living, breathing and, in this case, walking presence of another produces a deep communication that can only be transmitted in such a manner.
Me finding a prime stump at the Lynches River Swamp (2014)

Me finding a prime stump at the Lynches River Swamp (2014)


Getting into each other’s head and space, without pretense is very freeing.  It also helps me to sort through stuff.
That November, I was blessed to be able to focus on my Musical Non-fiction project, via my Nano Rebellion. It progressed nicely and I was pleased with my output as well as organization of said output.  It also served to re-connect me with myself.  A self that has by circumstances of ‘place’ not been easily allowed to come out and play.
South Carolina Swamp Cypress Trees

South Carolina Swamp Cypress Trees


The Monday following our Swamp walk I took Joe with me to be a part of my regular Wounded Warrior Horse Therapy volunteer time. I was excited to show him off to the gang as most of those there have family nearby 24/7 – warriors, therapists and volunteers alike. He got along with most everyone as he always seems to do wherever he goes, especially with Jason.  Funny, that, since they remind me of each other. Joe’s interest in the horses wasn’t all that much, but he did like seeing his Ma doing her horse thing anyway.
What happened there was something I didn’t expect. Doing what he always does, talk music with me comparing notes on gigging and crazy audiences; drawing others into our conversation cuz you know, everyone loves music. Between talking up his own bands and the Denver music scene, somehow it came out about my being a working musician, my dad being a pro-jazzman and that that was how he was brought up – surrounded by rehearsing musicians, learning to help set up gear for Ma’s gigs/concerts… No one there knew of my status as a musician prior to moving to South Carolina. I was just one of the horse handlers.  Mostly due to the fact it wasn’t something relevant to horse handling chores or in bonding with the warriors.  And also due in part to my own healing process related to the last months of our between homes experience…But that day, that ordinary Monday during horse handling chores and bonding with the warriors around the picnic table after therapy sessions, my son bridged the real me with the current me.
Lion King Quote

Remember Who You Are – Lion King

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