My guitar rests in its case, leaning up against the back of my office door. Every time I look at it I feel guilty, because I haven’t touched it in nearly 2 months. Haven’t stayed away from 6 strings ever, and I’m probably in for some serious finger-tip bleeding when the fast ends. But, like religious fanatics who flog themselves, I’ll feel I’ve earned the pain.
Sitting here now listening to Martin Sexton and wondering what could have been if the cards had been shuffled a different way. There’s so many things I’ve wanted to do but couldn’t, and so many things I should have done but didn’t. And now I’ve reached mid-life with graying hair on my head and face and a huge mortgage and driving a Toyota.
As my father’s illness progresses, it both saps my strength and forces me to become stronger…..which is an interesting scenario that I don’t wish on anyone but thought it worth passing on regardless. Alzheimer’s is the second most feared disease in America after cancer, and the fucking thing earns its high ranking.
Eventually, I’ll return to music, and surely with a vengeance. If only for my own peace of mind. I want to scrap everything I’ve done and start from scratch. I want to write different songs, not just new ones. If I can’t get out to play live shows I’ll schedule live streaming performances using a webcam. I’ll invite you all into my lair. How’d that be? Things are changing. Change or be changed.
Is this really me talking about change?
I guess so. And why not? Fear of the unknown has ruined all kinds of potential fun in this world. Tip your glass to what the Blues Brother’s called “ramming speed”.
In a bit…
I’ve become a haphazard diarist at best. Sometimes what you want to say does not jibe with what you’re willing to say….so you fight that battle by turning tail and running like hell.
But here comes a wall, so what the hell. My father is suffering from the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, and as his memories are slowly (and not so slowly) erased, I’m warmed by the fact that he still knows me. He still can see my face, and recall my name. He allows for the touch of my hand…something he won’t grant to just anybody mind you. Take too many liberties and he may show you the back of his. Such are the types of things this horrifying disease can do…..turning the most gentle of men into something not easily recognizable at times. But he’s still Pop. I don’t care how much the disease steals…..it can’t take that away. He’ll fight to his last days for moments of clarity…..and when they come he can force my normally grumpy face into twitching. Something like a smile some might call it.
I can’t pretend I’m doing well with all of this. But I also can’t pretend that I’m alone. Alzheimer’s is an unchecked epidemic, and myself and my family now have a ringside seat to a fight we never wanted. Our situation is worse than some, and better than others. We’re stuck right in the middle, trying to balance the pain with the good fortune we’ve had to be raised by a man with the most agile mind I’ve ever known.
Time doesn’t heal a fucking thing. But it allows calluses to spread over wounds so you’re not so reminded of them all the time. Our long goodbye has begun, but nobody is ready to put their coats on yet. Pop will eventually revert back to a child….and then an infant. But there is still a delightful, devilish quality to him that pulls us like moths to flame. He can still fix me with a frightfully clear gaze and zing the shit out of me….leaving me muttering to myself….”ok, I walked right into that one.”
I’m not sure how much he’s aware. Awareness is not always something to wish for. I can admit to breathing sighs of relief when I see him sleeping, and I’m pretty certain this doesn’t reflect too well on me. But then I’ve had no preparations for Alzheimer’s. Outwardly I get better every day. The insides continue to churn though. Not sure they’ll ever stop. Myself and my mother and my sister’s and my brother’s learn more and more, and knowledge gives one courage. We laugh with each other and we scream at one another and we cry on each others shoulders and we assuredly all cope in different ways when we’re alone. But we get up in the morning and face this fucking thing all in one piece, so we’re thankful for each other….even though we may be loathe to admit it sometimes.
Soon the songs and the words will come again, either leaking or pouring forth. My schedule will return to relative normalcy. My family will learn to live in a different way. With Pop, I trust.
In a bit…