New songs. Hell, it’s been almost 2 months since “Edward”. What else am I supposed to do? Work?
Writing on the piano this time. Bear with me.
In a bit..
My father died shortly after 2am on March 30th, 2010. My sister was with him at hospice. We were keeping a vigil on a rotating basis. We knew the end was near. Most had already said their goodbyes a few hours earlier. But we were determined he was not going to die alone. It’s a fear we all have isn’t it?
I was sitting up on my couch….dozing. My head jerked awake…and once I caught my bearings I sent a quick text to my sister. She replied that things were the same. A few minutes later she called me. He was gone.
It happened just like that.
I was numb. Like a robot I went to the closet and put on my coat….then slipped into the car and out into the street. Back to the house I grew up in. I spent the night in my old bedroom and was awoken by birds outside my window.
Alzheimer’s is a cowardly fucking disease, and it continues its grisly march through our family. It doesn’t kill. It slowly ravages the mind and the body, allowing something else to bring on death. In my father’s case, his organs were shutting down. And he simply lost the strength required to breathe. It was a horrible thing to watch, and in many ways the end came mercifully quick. His fight with Alzheimer’s had lasted more than 5 years. He gave no quarter. He raged….sometimes growing so frustrated by what it was doing to him that he’d pull his hair. Or pound on the side of his head with an open hand. Hard. He knew. Parts of him the disease could never touch. He knew. And to me there’s nothing more tragic than that. But Alzheimer’s is a fixed fight. The outcome is determined in advance.
So now it’s a year later.
He’s never far. I often think of how he’d respond to this or that. Or what path he’d suggest I take. He had the ability to point out the right path, knowing that I’d choose the wrong one, and then help me up and brush me off when I went back to him asking for directions to the location he suggested all along…without saying or even implying “I told you so”. Not sure how he managed it. I must have driven him half mad over the years. But he’d say, “I’m proud of you”. And all would be right with the world. Nobody else can do that.
He taught me how to be a father. What greater lesson can a man learn? He also taught me that being a great father doesn’t guarantee that your kids are not gonna make you cringe at times. I’m Exhibit A. But if I can do half the job he did, my 2 girls will keep my cringing to a minimum.
We become torn when terminal illness invades. One one level I can’t be truly sad that he’s gone. For him to live as he’d been living was a form of torture. Just when does the “sanctity of life” become perverted? When your options are reduced to unbearable pain or drug-induced oblivion, what then? I won’t go into the whole religious argument, and I’m certainly not suggesting anything draconian here, but there’s something to be said for allowing our loved ones to go through pain that we’d never subject our pets to. Something to be said indeed….although I’m not sure what it is.
So, it’s been a year. Sometimes it feels like he’s been gone a few days. And sometimes I have a hard time remembering when he was here at all. When I could call him. Laugh with him. Learn from him. Alzheimer’s took most of him from me long before his last breath. It robbed him of what he wanted to say but could not find….and where he wanted to go but could not get to. It forced this man who had always taken care of others to allow others to take care of him. And for certain, surely terrifying moments, those “others” were complete strangers to him. Even when they were us.
Tonight will be hard. When 2am rolls around I do wonder if I’ll wake suddenly again. Or if I’ll even be able to sleep at all. What jerked me awake that night a year ago anyway? I like to think it was Pop saying goodbye.
Maybe tonight, he’ll say hello.
Just a bit of info on what’s been happening.
“Edward” is out and about and doing quite well. I’m pleased with the reception the record has received. I’m very happy with the songs, which all seemed to coalesce at one time….so I thought it only proper to record them all at one time. The record wasn’t planned at all. In fact, I’m still stuck on the record I was planning, and remain afraid to let those songs go. Not sure when they’ll see the light of day. The way my mind works it could be next week or 2014. Flip a coin.
In other music news, my self-taught piano lessons continue. I’ll never be confused for Liberace (in more ways than one), but I’m getting to where I don’t make others cringe when I play. I’m faking it quite well actually. All I really want is to be able to use the piano to write songs, and I’m nearly there. When the guinea pig is written, my plan is to drag the recording machine upstairs and take a crack at recording it. Throw some good vibes my way please.
In theater news, my play “Colorblind: The Katrina Monologues” recently won first prize at the Pennsylvania Association of Community Theater festival. It now moves on to represent the state in the Eastern State Festival next month, with the winner of that heading to Washington DC for the national festival. Who knows? I’ve got a great cast and a great director and know enough to stay the hell out of everyone’s way.
My play “Go Irish: The Purgatory Diaries of Jason Miller” (co-written with Rodger Jacobs) recently finished a successful short run in Camden, NJ and will head to off-off Broadway at the end of April and the beginning of May. It ain’t glamorous, but it is the Big Apple, so what the hell. It’s where every playwright wants to be, ultimately. I’ll worry about the digs later.
My blog with co-conspirator Mike Stevens continues uninterrupted….mostly because I badger Stevens unmercifully when he doesn’t post. It’s a lot of fun, and it keeps the fingers and (to a lesser extent) the mind limber.
I’ve got lots of future plans and if I wasn’t so good at procrastinating I’d be working on them now instead of writing this. So onward I go…
In a bit…