Tag Archives: Mom & Dad

family communication

I haven’t written here in almost a week. As usual, there are many reasons, but one big reason this past week is that I’ve spent a lot of my writing impetus writing emails to my siblings. Last year I wanted to get a new car for my mother. I thought my reasons were good, and I talked it over with both her and Dad. We did some car shopping but it got put on the back burner sometime last fall.

Word of this car shopping got out – it was never a secret – and soon questions were being asked, help was being offered etc etc by my siblings. At some point, I decided the best way to keep everyone informed was to send out a blast email after I got back from a visit with Mom and Dad.

I think it’s been quite successful. Lots of discussion has been engendered that otherwise would have taken place over months, if at all. In fact, one comment I made in an email got back to Mom in a way she didn’t expect and now there’s blowback. Not from Mom, but from another sibling, who feels we are going behind the backs of Mom and Dad.

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time explaining this or that or defending myself. Now I’m trying leverage all of that into a blog post!

The six of us are lucky that both of our parents are still living and living by themselves in their own house. The problem, if you want to call it that, is that all good things must come to an end. Dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. No one knows how that will progress except that he will continue to decline. Mom is in good health now and takes care of Dad with few problems but she is nearly the same age as him so the margin for error is razor thin. All of us help as we can but there are more and more issues that crop up that concern all of us as a group.

For me, the solution is easy. I like to write. I write about my time with Mom and Dad and send it out in a blast to my siblings. This gets everyone the same information at the same time and allows (assuming consistent reply alls) a good discussion of the issues.

I don’t know. Nothing is perfect. Not all of my siblings like to write like I do so it’s harder for them to chime in. If we were to try to do group Skype conversations (for example) it would be agony trying to find a time that would be good for everyone.

The best news is that all of us respect and like each other. I’ve heard stories of other families . . .

sick

Sick. I’ve been sick. I’m pretty sure it’s just a head cold, but it has kept me low for almost a whole week now. Sunday I wrote in a post that I had a headache. That’s not uncommon but Monday it came back and it wouldn’t go away throughout a nice Christmas Day at Mom and Dad’s. Sarah had been at Jane’s Sunday night decorating cookies so I went over and did some. Here are our results:

Sarah came and stayed at my place Sunday night. Monday it was the two of us plus Rose in my car going down to Santa Clara. Jane and Joe and Jack came down. Mary was already there since Saturday. Teresa was there until about 2 when she had to go to work. Julian and Lisa came down but they were sick and didn’t stay long.

My headache never went away, despite some rather frenzied applications of medicine: ibuprofen, excedrin. maxalt – nothing worked. The next day I was torched. I stayed in bed pretty much all day and night. The headaches were under control but I was extremely tired. I did check my temperature but there was no fever. Wednesday I was going to go back down to Santa Clara and stay overnight but I knew I couldn’t do that nor did I want to expose Mom and Dad. Jane called me and said she would drive me down just for a couple of hours. It was Dad’s birthday. Jane got him to agree to walk over to the new visitor center at ‘Apple Park’. That was nice. the weather was perfect.Cool but sunny.

Yesterday I felt better and got out to do some grocery shopping. In the afternoon, I went to take a nap but actually felt pretty good so I got up. I still went to bed about 7 as I had every other night starting Tuesday. By now the fatigue wasn’t so bad but the constant stuffiness in my head along with the coughing and runny nose. I take Afrin at night so I can breathe but try really hard not to take any decongestant during the daylight hours. Sometimes I think the Afrin works a little too well, creating a direct path for the cold air to blast through my sinuses to the back of my throat, where there is a tender spot from the post nasal drip.

Well, today I went to work and did ok. Luckily just an 8 hour day and no one was in the building but Tim W and me. Tim put up with my sniffles. I didn’t get too close. Now it’s almost 8 and I’m heading to bed.

One last thing. Mary got this picture of Dad on Christmas Day as he was taking all the torn up wrapping paper out to recycling. He’s still got his sense of humor!

musings

I see that it’s been a week since I went out of my norm and posted on a political theme. The hope I felt only a week ago has been dashed by the passage of the Republicans’ ‘tax reform’ bill. As a side not, I put ‘hope’ in my tag window for this post and saw that it’s the first time I’ve tagged that word. That’s pretty sad that I haven’t written about hope in 18 months of this blog.

I’ve written about goals, which are kind of like hope, I think. One implies the other, although I’m not sure which would come first.

I’m going down to stay with Mom and Dad today. Just one night then home again tomorrow night. Work on Saturday then back down to Santa Clara on Monday, Christmas Day. I believe we’ll have 13 for dinner. That’ll be nice. Tim shared with his siblings the birthday card Mom and Dad sent him last week. Dad wrote on it, which is not common any more, but it was somewhat disjointed. He referred to his having ‘half a brain’. I told Tim that that was the worst of what is happening to him: he knows. It won’t get better so, to me, that means treasuring what we can when we can. Thus, I visit as often as possible.

At work, I’ve been trying to develop relationships with people outside my norm. I try to take time to have real honest talk with some of the Davies Hall ushers, with some of the Symphony staff. Everyone is at work, so we all recognize that is our priority but there are private moments. Working primarily in the front of the house, I hardly have any contact with the musicians any more. The last three or four shows I’ve done, Sarah was playing but I didn’t have time to get back stage at the right moment to talk to her. It’s been extremely hard for me to get out and do things not work or family related.

new post

I see it’s been 8 days since my last flurry of posts following the death of my friend Robin. I haven’t been super busy, but I had the grind of showing up for work every day at Davies. On only one did I have to stay past 5 pm. I tried for two nights to go without sleeping pills and the results were not very good. The first night I did ok but the second night I woke up at 3 in the morning and was not able to go back to sleep. That put a bad spin on the rest of the day, as you might imagine. I started feeling like a cornered animal, desperate to escape but not knowing how to do it.

Today Sarah’s quartet is playing a very ambitious program over in the East Bay. One of the pieces, Steve Reich’s Different Trains, requires the use of amplification of the instruments along with the playback of a pre-recorded track of train sounds and speaking. I was able to arrange for the use of some of the Symphonyu’s sound equipment so in a couple of hours I’ll be going back to the hall to gather all that together and take to the concert.

The weather was hot earlier in the week but today the fog is in over Linda Mar. Windows that were thrown wide open just a couple of days ago are shut again.

I finished my jigsaw puzzle this morning. It was only 750 pieces and not too difficult. It took just under two weeks and that included not even touching it at all for several days. With no band music to prepare, I am hardly playing music at all. I might have picked up the guitar for a total of ten minutes in the last ten days.

Last Saturday was a nice day. My nephew Danny hosted a get together with just about all the Northern California Woods. The best part was seeing, and playing with, all the young kids – great nieces and nephews to me. In all, there were 5 under the age of 6 years. Here they all are with Mom and Dad.

showing pictures

Mary Beth and I had our first picture showing yesterday. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped but it was still good for Mom & Dad and Rose to see all of our pictures and hear our stories.

I forgot to bring my packet of souvenirs including my journal even though it was sitting right by my front door. Mary and Jim flew down but took a relaxed approach in the morning so they didn’t arrive at Palo Alto until about noon. Mom had the lunch spread ready to go when we got there so we all dug in and had some good visiting. No one was in a hurry.

I think it was around 2 that we all got up and got serious about showing our pictures. I had loaded mine onto my laptop because it had an HDMI output that I knew I could plug into Mom and Dad’s big TV. Mary had hers on her iPad and also on Google Drive.

The first problem was that the computer wouldn’t talk to the TV. I was using an HDMI cable that I had that I was sure I had used before. I fiddled around with all kinds of settings but nothing worked. Mary wondered if the USB  on the TV would take a connection to her iPad. No, that was no good. The input selector didn’t even have USB. What’s the USB for???

Then I saw another HDMI cable under the TV. That worked! Yay!

Then I had the issue of figuring out what program to use to show the images. The laptop was running Windows 10 but it’s setup to be my work machine so I hadn’t used it to show pictures before. I thought I could just go to the file manager and select the folder and start the slideshow. Not so fast, pardner! I finally got a program going that showed the images from each folder only. I had to exit the program ( I don’t remember what it was called) each time I finished a folder – and I have many – then reselect a new folder and start again. Tedious.

Of course I showed every picture I took, including pictures of flowers and multiple images of essentially the same thing at different exposures. I think everyone nodded off at one point or another.

Finally it was time for Mary to show her pictures. The TV was working well so she logged onto Google Drive on my computer and started showing her pictures. But the videos didn’t work. There was a message about restarting ‘your device’ to make them work. Never mind, now we’re getting short of time.

Mary and Jim had to time their activities so that they could be back on the ground in Auburn while there was still daylight. When the issue came up, Mary was about halfway through her pictures and it was 5:30 already. They needed to leave by 6. Oh, too bad about dinner! Then some of my images that were on Google Drive started showing up along with Mary’s. What?? She soldiered on and we got through at 6 exactly. Rose and I had picked them up on our way down but we wanted dinner so I ran Mary and Jim up to PAO and came back. 40 minutes round trip.

The four of us had a nice dinner on the patio and we left a little after 8 but the whole day had seemed way more rushed than I liked. Teresa is going to want to see everything as will Jane so we’ll likely have a chance to do it again. On our drive to the airport, I suggested to Mary that we consolidate our better pictures on Google Drive in a special folder for showing. I don’t know what we can do about the videos. There’s work to do.

I left the original HDMI cable in the trash.

Mom and Dad

I went down to Mom and Dad’s today. Originally I was going to see them this weekend for a birthday party but now the party is happening Saturday when I have to work. Happy Birthday Jim and Teresa! And Happy Birthday to Connor on Monday!

So, it was kind of an old-fashioned day for us, like the ones we used to have (seemingly) all the time before 2015. The only difference was that they had to go to a funeral and didn’t get home until one pm. Normally, I got there at noon or 12:30 for lunch and stayed through dinner. Today wasn’t much different: I ran a couple of errands on the way down and got to their house a little after 1.

We had a leisurely lunch and sat around the table in the sun room talking for over an hour. Before the funeral mass, they had gone to their exercise class so they were pretty tired. About 2:30 they went in to take a nap and I went to the computer to work on their taxes. Actually, their taxes are done. What I’m doing is running the numbers through Turbo Tax to see if there are trouble spots with an eye towards doing the taxes for them myself next year. It doesn’t appear that the tax guy is putting in any kind of special sauce for his $500 so now all I have to do is convince Dad to let me do it.

After a while, Mom came out and started working on her genealogy program. She determined that she isn’t keeping up with the various families as much as she wants to. Then she looked into a letter she had gotten from the Kaiser people about her password. She got that fixed then asked me about downloading Dad’s health record. Pretty cool! We got it done, then for good measure downloaded hers as well. Now they’re resident on her computer in PDF form.

About then Dad was up and got the News Hour started on the TV. It usually drives me crazy but today it was fairly reasonable. They had a long story about the Great Barrier Reef dying off because the ocean temperatures are rising. They also had a pretty balanced panel commenting on the Supreme Court vacancy hearing today.

Then it was time for dinner and Jeopardy, followed by Wheel of Fortune. Tradition!

I usually leave right after dinner because I’m tired and I don’t want to get involved in the evening TV watching. Tonight I was getting my things together when their friend Chacko called. Chacko is part of the 10 am community at the Mission and a regular on Thursday afternoons at the coffee shop. He’s at least 10 or 15 years younger than most of the Thursday crew but he was calling to tell them his back has gone out and he won’t be going tomorrow. He apologized for missing the funeral Mass too. We all commiserated, then he signed off and I headed out. My father said, as he often does, ‘Drive with care, everywhere!’

 

some good things

Politics and bad drivers seem to be often in my mind for possible blog posts but there is much that is good in my life.

What are some good things that have been in my life recently? I need to get my laundry done today and someone has been using the laundry room for the last 2+ hours. Well, writing another blog post is a good thing!

Seeing Sarah at the Symphony, playing in that great orchestra, is a good thing. She’s playing every, or nearly every, set through this month through the East Coast tour a month from now. After that, no one is saying.

I went to the dentist today for a teeth cleaning. I hadn’t been in 3 or 4 years so I guess that’s a good thing. She wants to do a deep cleaning, of course. I expected that, but she and the hygienist were very nice so I decided I would go ahead. The hygienist recommended a Water Pik instead of an electric toothbrush so I bought one afterward. Now I just have to use it!

The jazz band is playing two charts that have guitar solos and a couple others that have exposed parts so the results of my practicing – or not practicing – is evident every week. That’s good. I’m practicing more. I’ve gotten compliments on my playing from band members. That’s good.

Work has been good. Work is work so what I’m really saying is that I haven’t had too much of it. SoundBox is next week and indications are that last months’ chaos will not be repeated.That’s good. I am continually thankful that my colleagues are all people that I enjoy being around.

I did a really thorough house cleaning before Tom came over last week. That’s good. I’ve been keeping up with the dishes lately so there aren’t piles in the sink all the time.

After living through several droughts in California, I learned to appreciate the rain. We’ve had both rain and sunshine in the last couple of weeks. That’s all good. The deep green hills look great in the sunshine.

I bought plane tickets for the work weekend in South Carolina last week. Not only will I get to see Jeremy’s family but also Micah and Julie will be there from Baton Rouge. I had already bought a ticket to meet Jeremy in Georgia to help move his family out west. There’s one more ticket I bought that I can’t talk about because it’s a surprise. I gave JJ all the dates so there won’t be any work conflicts. The other summer trip is the one to Germany with Mary Beth. We haven’t bought tickets yet but it will happen in August. These are all good things.

I went to a funeral Saturday. That wasn’t so good but I saw two people there from my high school days that I didn’t expect to see. That was awesome. John and Gary, I hope you read this!

Ally posted a video on Facebook of Noah from 2011 that I watched about 4 times. Then there was a current one of Noah and Myles together. Both precious for different reasons. I am really looking forward to seeing Noah at the work weekend. I already have a birthday present for him!

Rose continues to be my rock and my best friend. I often think about the unexpected paths our lives took to bring us together, then apart, then together again. Maybe someday I will find the strength to write the story of Rose and Chris. It’s not what you think and we don’t know the ending yet.

Every day I spend with Mom and Dad is precious. Last week I had two. On one, Dad asked me to cut down a dead pyracantha and I almost had a heart attack sawing it up with his little hand saw. After we got home from the funeral, I had at the stump with my sawzall. That took about 20 minutes instead of the 30 seconds I thought it would be. Dead wood is harder than live, don’t you know? He’s always happiest outdoors with growing things.

Virginia

So, I punted my opportunity to write about this last night when I had time. This morning I woke up with the feeling that I really should do this now. I have about half an hour . . .

Mom & Dad have a regular get together with some friends from the Mission ‘community’, as Dad calls it, at a local coffee shop every Thursday afternoon. One of the group is a feisty lady named Virginia. I happened to be sitting next to her yesterday and had some very interesting conversation.

She started by telling me that she had had her blood work done last week for her annual physical and it was ‘perfect’. Naturally, she was very pleased about that. Oh, actually, the first thing we talked about was her new car. Well, new last October. She had shown it to me in some detail the last time I was down there a couple of weeks ago but forgot. She loves talking about that car. I had been hearing about it for some time but finally got the tour. She used to drive a Cadillac El Dorado but had to give it up because it couldn’t pass smog. Her new one is some kind of Buick. Quite a bit smaller!

Virginia is 92, worked at NACA in Langley in the early fifties before it became NASA, played organ at the Mission Sunday Mass for 30 years, and still plays organ for weddings at various churches. One of her sons is a mathematician who works for the NSA. One of her other sons was killed by a Santa Clara policeman 15 years ago.

I had heard the story but hadn’t thought about it too much recently. She had never brought it up before in my presence. Yesterday I got going talking about Zach, though, and she told me about a bereavement group they (she and her husband Don) go to in Santa Clara. It’s just for parents who have lost a child. They’ve been going for 15 years. The next meeting is Tuesday. I am scheduled for work so I told her I would try next month, but when I got home I found that there is nothing in the evening next Tuesday at Davies. I’m going to go.

good things – people mostly

This past year has been one of much sadness and tears. On top of that, I’ve never been a fan of the Christmas season. The days are shorter and the ubiquitous ‘buy’ messages everywhere are cloaked in false bonhomie. Feh.

So it was with a bit of surprise the other day when I found myself thinking of all the good things that are in my life now. Jeremy, Sarah, Ashley, Rosalie, Noah, Mom & Dad. Teresa and Jane, my two sisters who live nearby and keep checking on me. Tom, Mary and Tim, my brothers and sister who live further away but I treasure them as well. Rose, my neighbor who is also my best friend. Allyson and Dave, Noah’s Mom & Dad.

Work is going ok, too. I got through SoundBox with only a couple of glitches and the show got great reviews. There is a great group of Local 16 people that I get to work with at Davies Symphony Hall. All are competent and congenial. I hate to name names because I would leave someone out but Hal and Gus are my long-time compatriots in the Sound Department and extra special to me. JJ, the unquestioned head of Davies stagehands, always willing to share his knowledge. In management, Michele stands out among many fine people.

Of course, many of these people were in my life before Zach was killed but the experience of losing him has made that which is left more precious.  Merry Christmas!

Denver part 2

Where was I? OK. Friday morning. We left the stone cutter’s and headed back out 44th Avenue to Mt. Olivet Cemetery. 44th runs parallel to I-70m that we had seen backed up earlier and the traffic coming towards us was solid for two miles. At 11:30 in the morning!

Dad wanted to confirm his burial arrangements at Mt. Olivet. There is a large stone there with several Wood’s buried there. Mom and Dad have decided that they want to be buried there.

slides_01_099  slides_01_101

It’s a little hard to see in the second photo but there is space for two names on the far end. How exactly to fit Mom and Dad’s names there is what we discussed with the stone cutter.

After Mt. Olivet, Dad wanted to see the Thaler house on Vrain. Patty is living there but has not been well so we only drove by. There are huge duplexes on both sides of that little house now! Who allowed that zoning variance?

Mom and Dad wanted to get together with Dad’s high school friend Ginger. (Urrk, can’t remember her last name!) After some negotiating, we agreed to pick her up at her house and go out to lunch. This is where Dad got the freeway exit right and I didn’t. We were a little early until the detour . . .

After a nice lunch and visit I asked Dad if we could drive by the house he grew up in. ‘Grandma Flynn’s house.’ He wasn’t wild about the idea but I persisted. It was pretty much right on the way back to the hotel, assuming we didn’t go on the freeway, which I didn’t want to do. It was around 3:30 by now on a Friday.

So we worked our way through Denver city streets until we came to the house on 1st Avenue. There was a parking space right across the street so I pulled in and told Mom and Dad I just wanted to take a good look and a couple of pictures. This I did but as I was getting ready to leave a woman and a boy came riding up on bicycles and she went up to the side of the house to put away her bike. I thought she might have seen me snooping around so I thought I would explain myself. She turned out to be thrilled that we had a connection to the house. She and her husband had lived there since 1993. She insisted that Dad come out of the car and invited us in to look around. I didn’t remember the inside at all but of course Dad did and so did Mom. They declined the invitation to go upstairs.

After many thanks we said goodbye and continued back to the hotel.

The next day we had no plans beyond going to Tim Flynn’s that evening. I looked up Lawson and found that it was only 35 minutes from our hotel. Lawson is where my great grandfather Thomas Bernard is buried. Mom and Dad declined the invitation to go there with me. I got going early and got to the cemetery around 8:30 am. It was considerably colder than Denver there at 8500 feet!

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It’s a pretty spot but I noticed the freeway noise (I-70) for the first time. Unrelenting.

I went on into Georgetown for a cup of hot chocolate and a muffin. The car helpfully told me the outside temperature was 36 degrees!

Back to the hotel for an afternoon of resting and watching football. At 5 we headed out for Tim’s. Tim had moved back into the house he grew up in and recently finished remodeling that he wanted to share with the family. Tim and Debbie hosted us, Patty Thaler, Jackie and her husband Dan and their sons Sean and Brian, Michelle and her husband Steve, Mary Helen and her daughter Melissa and her husband Silvio. We all toured the house and had a fine time sitting around chatting. Patty has a very serious lung problem so had a tank of oxygen with her at all times. We aren’t what I would call close to our Denver relatives but we always enjoy each other when we get together.

Jackie and Patty had invited us to join them Sunday morning at their church. I was ready to go but Dad nixed the idea in the morning. Actually, he nixed just about every idea Mom and I came up with for how to spend the day. Finally he agreed to go see a movie so we went to see ‘Sully’. After that we went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We had lunch there first but when we finished at 3:30, Dad didn’t want to go into the museum. He was anxious to be at the airport. For a 9 pm flight.

OK, let’s go. Before heading to the airport, I did drive slowly through City Park, where the museum is located. On our way out we passed an imposing building that Dad said was Denver East High School and that he had attended there one summer for a class that St Francis didn’t have. Well, that’s cool!

From there I spotted the dome of the Capitol building so I drove down by there and then through the downtown area. I sort of half heartedly looked for Union Station but failed. I guess I was ready to go home too. Going to the airport, I drove through city streets again just to look around. The day was lovely but taking a walk was not in the cards.

We got to the Avis place at 4:45, dropped off the car with no hassle, got through ticketing and security and to the gate by 6:30. Once on the plane, there was a delay for reasons never explained. We left about 20 minutes late. Arrived SFO 11:15, got back to pick up Mom and Dad with the car at midnight, got to Santa Clara about 12:40, turned right around and headed home in my car, arrived in Pacifica at 1:30 and couldn’t sleep. Urrr. Ibuprofen to the rescue. Attained sleep about 2:30 but had to get up at 6 for an 8 am call at Davies which lasted until 2 am.

But that’s another story.