Tag Archives: Mom

Birthdays of dead people

Dad would have been 92 yesterday. I marked the day but didn’t think of making a post about it until too late in the day. His loss has receded into the general noise of the past.

I suppose it happens to everyone. It happened with Zach, too. The date of Zach’s death passed me by completely this year. I literally didn’t think about it at all until a day or two later. That’s a first. I did have an idea for a post on Zach’s birthday but the day slipped away from me. He would’ve been 33.

With Dad, I’ve been better able to recall the earlier times when he was his real, dynamic self. The last two years of his decline are what we have (mostly) forgotten.

The other day, Mom had me get out a walker that had been purchased for him. She wants to have it nearby for herself now. It led to some talk about Dad’s last days but in a fairly dispassionate tone. Maybe elegiac or wistful might describe it better. We talked about her and Mary getting him to Christmas Mass in the rain. It turned out to be his last time out.

Mom had told me she got emotional on Zach’s death date this year but the thought of Dad’s passing doesn’t have the raw emotion attached to it. His death date is coming up in about three weeks, tho’ . . .

I’m glad I’ve been able to change my focus to birthdays rather than death days. It’s part of looking forward, I believe.

So, Happy Birthday Dad and Zach! I miss you but I am working on bringing my memories of you to bear in a positive way.

I survived Christmas

Last year didn’t count. The vaccine had just been announced and no one was having any kind of gatherings. Two years ago, though, Christmas was not a very fin time for me. A large group of family were all at Mom’s house in Santa Clara. When the gift giving started, it quickly devolved into a frenzy of packages being passed back and forth around the living room and everyone seemingly talking at once.

I found it bewildering and confusing. I felt old. I didn’t want to have to experience that again.

This year, gatherings are more acceptable. Everyone who was going to be at Mom’s has been vaccinated. Most if not all have had the booster. Most tested before setting out so once we were there, we could relax without distancing or mask requirements. Of course, omicron, with its ability to ride on vaccinated people, is lurking.

But we set it all aside yesterday and had a good time: an even dozen of us. The gift giving was spread out a little due to Sarah and Mary arriving late in the day so it wasn’t so hectic.

I survived.

Today we’re back at home. It’s still raining. I’d like to get out a little but it’s unlikely with the rain. I don’t have work for a few days. There is a rumor that the New Years Eve show might be canceled. And I’ve written just my second post in nearly a year.

styptic pencil

Mom had given me Dad’s overnight kit several months ago. At the time, I was getting ready for my Europe trip and thought I might use it instead of the one I had already. It languished in a corner until the other day, when I finally took it out and looked through it.

Pretty much everything in there was unusable but it did give me a glimpse into Dad’s way of thinking. There were 35 mm film canisters with various pills (all OTC, cough drops and pain relievers, no prescriptions). A couple of razors, one electric shaver and one safety blade type. No shaving cream and no Old Spice. Band Aids. A little sewing kit. A shoehorn. And a styptic pencil.

I knew  what it was as soon as I saw it but I couldn’t believe that he still had one. More amazingly, I think it was the same one that he used with me when I was learning to shave! There were a lot of cuts in those early days.

Alum Sulphate, it says. Since, after 50 years, I thought I might have mis-remembered it, I did an Internet search and found that not only did I remember it right, they are still available! Wow! I don’t know if I’ll have the courage to actually use it, but I’ll keep it around for a while and see.

Dear old Dad!

oral traditions

Thinking about oral traditions in my last post, I remembered a thing that Mom used to do with her parents. They used to send cassette tapes back and forth to each other. Mom gave me a pile of them and I went through and converted them to digital files. They were cheap tapes to start with and a couple just fell apart when I played them back. Still, I got several hours’ worth of Grandma and Grandpa Mattingly talking to their daughter about the goings on in Zanesville from 1973 to 1980.

Memories . . .

Grandma was a great letter writer. I remember seeing her neatly typed letters many times as I grew up. Grandpa sometime appended a short handwritten note. I think Mom has many of those still. I seem to recall her telling me she went through them at one point and transcribed them somehow. Did she re-type them on the word processor? Or scan them? I’ll have to ask. Real documents are priceless but fragile. Digital documents are fragile in a different way. We do the best we can.

memories

Day 54 yesterday. Sepi and I went to Santa Clara yesterday. We saw Mom for the first time since early March. No touching, but we sat in the patio and chatted for a while. I brought some salt for the water softener.

After we got home I was spinning through FaceBook and saw that it was Noah’s birthday . . .

11 years old and he’s still the spitting image of Zach, at least to my eyes.

And once again, I am so pleased that he has a stable home environment to grow up in. Ally and Dave are terrific parents.

Well, the whole thing prompted some pillow talk with Sepi. She didn’t remember the story of how we found out about Noah and how Ally and Dave brought him up to Michigan to meet the family. What a tremendous thing that was! I believe I’ve documented here how difficult it was for me to accept him for what he was.

I still love Dave’s simple comment: ‘I’m the Dad.’

So this morning the power went out and I couldn’t work on the big computer as I had been planning so I picked up the iPad. This is the one that had belonged to Zach and still has some foibles related to his ownership. It still has access to his Google Drive even though I do not have the password.

It isn’t his regular Google Drive account. I got all the stuff off of that early on. This one – I think – was for his research into gender roles in intramural sports. It has videos of some IM flag football games. When I looked at them this morning I thought, these have no value to anyone any more. I deleted a couple, then noticed the date: November 10. Aiee!

Now I’m not sure – still, after all this time! – that I should be deleting anything. Then, when I went to crop the photo, I noticed that the dates were 2014. You probably can’t tell on this tiny photo but they’re all October and November 2014. Oh well. I haven’t heard from his thesis advisor since about six months after Zach’s death. He was going through some pretty serious changes then. I’m going to go ahead and delete them.

It’s even possible that I already sent this stuff to Alex and I don’t even remember doing it.

The only other thing of interest is Zach’s account name. He actually made two of them, both named Tom Brady with emails of woodrowreasearch and woodrowreasearch1@gmail.com. I haven’t tried to get into those accounts. I spent a lot of time in the first year going through Zach’s real emails and cleaning up things there. Whatever is in that inbox is way out of date. If someone else knows how to get into it and finds something of value, please let me know.

Or not.

Day 55.

social distance

. . .  and self isolation.

Phrases that I didn’t expect to be using to describe myself until very recently. Two weeks ago I was buying travel supplies at the drugstore, getting a haircut, and getting serious about what clothes to take on the tour.

Then, just before the show on Friday the 6th came word that the SF Performing Arts complex was going to be closed to the public starting the next day. The Ballet had a show scheduled at the Opera House. Cancelled. The Symphony was scheduled to perform at UC Davis. That went on but our performances for the next week were not going to happen.

The original announcement only – now I say ‘only’! – was for a closure of two weeks, until the 20th. Tuesday morning the announcement was made to the orchestra that we weren’t going to Europe because several venues there had closed due to the virus. New York’s Carnegie Hall was still open, though, so we continued rehearsals. The ban on public assemblies in San Francisco was extended first one more week, then two more still.

Thursday morning’s rehearsal became an orchestra meeting. Everyone put away their instruments. The official word came: New York was closing too. We weren’t going anywhere. The entire Symphony administration was being told to work from home. Orchestra committees had hurried meetings with management about what to do. It was decided that we would all go on vacation for 4 weeks, until April 11. That’s when we would have come back from Europe. Rehearsals and performances were in the pipeline.

Vacation is not the right word for what we are doing now: social distancing, and self isolating. At first, I thought that Sepi and I could use the time to get in our car and drive to LA, or Colorado, or Washington where we could visit friends and family. After some reflection we realized what self isolation really meant: stay home!

I was all set (in my mind) to go down to Mom’s and hang with her for a couple of days but that was nixed. Mom’s in the most vulnerable group! We don’t know if we’ve been exposed!

In Seattle, the orchestra there is performing for an empty hall and streaming the music to the public. In San Francisco we can’t even do that because the ban is for assemblies of 100 or more. Maybe we could do Mozart . . .

And the ban is now extended to April 30th. We have no more ‘vacation’ left. Will we still get paid? Big conventions, which are the bread and butter for many of my Local 16 brothers and sisters, have disappeared. Those people have nothing. A few hundred dollars a week from unemployment.

I will try to write about more uplifting things in the days to come but that is the environment.

2 months

I hate to write about how long it’s been since I’ve written, but that’s what coming out of my head right now. Life has been moving pretty fast the last few months. I got through the December madness: all the Holiday shows. I had a week off. Jeremy came to visit with Ashley and Rosalie. They stayed at my house. We did some nice things. We had Christmas at Mom’s with most of the California Woods.

When I got back to work, I promulgated a couple of new rules that has made my life a little easier. Not so much for the rules per se, but for the fact that I could feel ok about making rules. There are still some things in the works that I can’t talk about but developments there have been encouraging.

The last two weeks featured MTT conducting. One week included a new work by him. He can be amazing and annoying all in the same moment, it seems. He’s remarkable, there’s no doubt about that.

Starting today, we have three weeks of really simple orchestra setups which means I can look ahead without worrying too much about something immediate biting my ass.

The first thing to look ahead to is the Chinese New Year celebration. It seems to get bigger each year. There are lots of special events that need staffing and other planning.

After that is the tour. We’re leaving March 15th (or thereabouts) for just under a month in Europe. I’ve seen some itineraries but there are still many details to resolve. I did get approval to stay over for a few days and it turns out that Wilfried and Elisabeth will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary right after our last concert. I need to figure out how to get from Paris to some little town in the Schwarzwald that I’ve never heard of, then turn around and get to a major airport to fly home.

That’s enough for now.

changes

It feels like months since I’ve posted here. It turns out it’s only – only! – about 5 weeks. But it was 5 or 6 weeks since the one before that so in nearly three months only one post. Lame.

Yes, there has been a lot going on in my life. It’s mostly work related. My new job has been rather all consuming.

For reasons too complicated to go into today, I think I turned a corner this week. Running shows the last couple of days, I finally am feeling confident that I am not forgetting things. There are so many details and so many distractions.

The big push at the start of the season with MTT is now almost a month in the past. I had a week long vacation in which Sepi and I and Mom! drove up to Washington to visit Jeremy’s family. We also swung through Spokane for a quick visit with Dan and Nettie and Peter and Nanci. All went well. The shows after we got back were generally easy to stage. Last week the production team had a long meeting looking at the December shows and came up with some plans.

So, I’m breathing easier.

Meanwhile, the 4th anniversary of Zach’s death has been looming. For a long time, that number was more significant because it was the end of the statute of limitations for criminal charges. I held out hope for a long time, despite clear statements from the Baton Rouge DA’s office, that I could marshal enough evidence to revisit the actions of the drivers who killed Zach.

I say drivers because I believe that both drivers were negligent in that they were racing to be first out of the merge and did not watch the road as they should have. Zach was in the road and was hit by one of them.

The world moves on. Those of us who loved Zach have mostly come to terms with life without him. I haven’t had a big crying jag in a while but I think I may let go sometime this week. Especially in the last three months I’ve often wished I could consult with Zach over my work difficulties. He had the ability to step back emotionally that I envied.

Now I just muddle through.

4th of July

Yesterday was my first Fourth of July in Brisbane. It’s a little misleading to say that since I was at work for the early part of the day, then down in Santa Clara at Mom’s for dinner.

But we left Mom’s at about 8:15 and by the time we were driving through San Bruno 45 minutes later, the booms and starbursts could be seen and felt from the car. It was plenty dark, thanks in part to the thick fog pouring over the ridge.

At our house, there was no fog and we had our usual view of Brisbane and San Francisco. I heard the booms again as soon as I stopped the car. Looking out the windows from upstairs, we could see flashes and sparkles in the air in several places. Nothing in Brisbane, as far as I could tell. It wasn’t very interesting, to be honest, from such a distance, so we went about our business getting ready for sleep. Sepi went out pretty fast, but I couldn’t get comfortable. The booms weren’t bothering me but I could hear them and they didn’t stop.

At first I thought, ‘That’s cool. It’s quite a show out there.’ 45 minutes, an hour, still going on. I think I dozed. I got up at around 11:30 and they were still going. Not sporadic booms, but continuously every two or three seconds. Really? Who is doing this? These aren’t civic displays; these are private individuals spending their own money and time to blow up stuff. Does this happen in other countries on national holidays?

Many years ago, I was in Germany on New Years’ Eve, called Sylvestre there. There was a fireworks show put on by the town but it was pretty basic. Twenty minutes or a half hour, then it was over. I don’t recall any lingering flashes or bombs from other sources then.

We had been hearing booms on and off for the last several days in Brisbane but it was nothing like being in Pacifica. Jane was with us at Mom’s and when we left, she forgot for a moment that I don’t live there any more. She said, ‘Are you sure you want to leave now and be back in Pacifica when all the bombs are going off?’ She and Joe were staying in Santa Clara as long as they could to avoid all that.

Based on past years’ experience, the bombs there were likely still going off into the wee hours.

Happy Independence Day!

Patty

I had an idea earlier today for a post and time this afternoon to write it, but meanwhile the news came of my cousin Patty’s death. I call her Patty but for most people she’s been Patricia for many years now. I can’ t help it. We were closest when we were kids and she was still called Patty by everyone. By the time she was an adult named Patricia we didn’t see each other very often.

She wasn’t much for traveling. She came out to California once that I can remember. I went through Denver every few years but never as a destination. Unlike many of us, she never lost her staunch Catholic faith. She was active in her church and in her retirement I believe she attended Mass daily.

Still, after many years of declining health, when the news came last week that she would not live much longer, we also were told that she feared death.

I talked to Mom about it last night. (Mom is my chief conduit to the Denver relatives.) I saw parallels between Dad’s final days and Patty’s. Patty was 20 years younger but the long decline was similar as were the mixed feelings I had when death was clearly imminent. Do we wish for a return to health? Of course, but often, as in these cases, we know it’s not going to happen. Mom was pretty tough about it. She said the best thing was for Patty to die. Her ‘life’ was just pain and agony now.

There had been some discussion a few weeks ago of her going back to Patty’s funeral. We don’t know when that will be but Mom already decided she will not be going. She had already made plans to go to Denver in June to put Dad’s ashes in the ground there. She will pay respects at Patty’s grave then.

I believe Patty is in heaven. She led a good life.