Tag Archives: Mom & 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.

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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.

the Denver trip

I went to Denver last weekend with Mom & Dad. We had been planning it for several months but it kept getting pushed back. They didn’t want to wait so long that the weather turned crappy and I kept having work conflicts. Anyway, about three weeks ago Mom & I sat down and hammered it out. We ended up booking through Priceline.com about which more later.

They bought the tickets and paid for the hotel room and I paid for the rental car. I think they want to reimburse me for the car but I will resist.

The trip actually was OK overall, but there were difficulties with practical issues.I did a pretty good job of slowing down my expectations of what Dad can do. Spending 4 solid days with him gave me a new appreciation of what Mom has to deal with. He’s just enough on the ball to surprise you once in a while but more often he’s just not quick enough to do what he wants to do. And I can see he wants to do all the things he’s always done.

Especially traveling around Denver, his home town. He knows the streets but not necessarily the best way to get around. I ended up using the GPS in my phone most of the time but one time he was right and I was wrong and I gave him full credit. At all times I tried to treat his directions with respect.

Traveling is tiring under the best of circumstances and even though it didn’t seem like we did much, he was worn down. Sunday night at the airport going home, Mom told me (out of his presence) he said to her, ‘Never again!’ That makes me sad as he has always been a great traveler.

The weirdness started Wednesday night. I went down to Santa Clara for the night. Mom and I had agreed when we did the booking that we would fly out of SFO instead of San Jose because there were more and cheaper flights. Oh you fools! Well, that meant we had to get from Santa Clara to the airport and back during a time when everyone in the local family was working. I decided to drive Mom and Dad each way and just use long term parking. Expensive, but simpler.

When I got to Santa Clara, Mom was concerned that they hadn’t been abler to check in for the flight so I went straight to the computer. There I found to my horror that the airline we had chosen, Frontier, charged for baggage on a sliding scale. The closer you got to the gate, the more it cost. Not only that, they charged for carry-ons!  This discovery was after we all had packed in small bags for our 4 day trip. It was actually cheaper to check the bags than to pay the fee for carry-ons.

Then it turns out that if you want to sit together, you have to pay extra to get a seat assignment. What??!! I had to do the same thing on the flight back so that added almost $200 to our trip costs.

We got up the next morning and got to the airport in good order. Got on the plane, got to Denver pretty much by the numbers.

Our plane landed at 3:20 (I kept notes for all of this). At 4 pm, after thrashing around with different carrels, our luggage came out. Then we got on the shuttle to the Avis rental place. Arrived there at 4:30 to find a line of perhaps 50 people to rent cars. I got to the head of the line at 5:20 and showed the clerk the timer on my phone. He said, yeah that’s about right. then he hammered me with all the stupid extras that I never want; tried to upsell me to a larger car. Jeez, just give me the goddamn car, would ya?

At 6pm we were driving out of the lot. We never did get lunch. I spotted a Denny’s on the way to the hotel and we went there (6:30 pm).

I realized after I got home that I had paid Priceline ahead of time for the rental so when I returned the car I had evidently agreed to a $30/day loss damage waiver so there was another $100 I hadn’t counted on. Priceline, Frontier and Avis – you can all piss off. Never again.

Well. it’s only money. The hotel was fine (Holiday Inn Express). Friday morning we ate breakfast late, marveled at the stopped traffic on the freeway at 9:30 am, and headed along surface streets to the stone cutters. That was the main goal of the trip and it was perfect.

I’m going to finish this story later.

Mom & Dad

When I moved back to the Bay Area in 2010, I naturally visited Mom & Dad more but I didn’t think too much about it. I went when I had time but I didn’t make time for it.

Until one day. The day was nothing special; we might have watched golf on TV. We didn’t talk about anything heavy or important. But as I was leaving, they were effusive in how nice it had been for them to have had me there. It hit me like a ton of bricks: they’re your parents! They worked hard and raised you and allowed you to become who you are. And they’re in their 80s and aren’t going to last forever. Many of my friends my age have lost one or both of their parents – I need to treasure them!

So I made vow to visit them more frequently, which I have largely done. If two weeks pass without my getting down to Santa Clara it’s unusual. I’ve helped them with some things but mostly I just hang out with them. In fact, a common pattern for a visit is arrive for lunch, eat lunch, sit around and talk, take a nap, eat dinner, go home. Pretty sweet for me!

This past week I went down for the specific reason of meeting the Kaiser nurse who had given Dad a memory test. She had done the same test on him 4 years ago and now wanted to meet with another family member (besides Mom). As it happened, Mom had a bad cold & couldn’t go to the meeting so it was just Dad & me with Elaine the nurse & Grace the social worker.

They delivered the news: Alzheimers. It felt like they said Cancer. As in a death sentence. However, they said the disease is slow moving and Dad could still be happy for a long time. We discussed a lot of things and they gave me a huge packet of stuff to take back. At home, Mom wanted to know the bottom line, which I had trouble saying, but when I finally did she didn’t seem surprised.

Nothing is changed, really. He’s not going to take any drugs; he’s not going to die in a month. We, the family, are all determined to do what we can to keep him engaged and active and in his own home.

My own insight was in being there for two days with Mom being sick, I learned how much she does to keep things running. I couldn’t just sit back and wait for dinner to appear! I had to acknowledge that although she is in generally good health she is only a year younger than Dad and shouldn’t have to bear so much burden.

This story will be continued . . . .