Saturday, December 12, 2009

Final Days

A friend is losing her husband. It really sucks because she was in a very unhappy marriage that took her years and much pain to get out of. She went it alone for a few years with her two boys who are now grown men. She became involved in local politics and met a man who was a long-term bachelor. They became friends and then they became lovers and were married. She was happier than I've ever known her to be. Not very long after their marriage, he was diagnosed with Stage IV esophageal cancer.

Last Sunday, I went over to her house to watch him while she went Christmas shopping. Hospice had provided them with nursing visits, a feeding tube and a hospital bed. At that point, he was sleeping most of the time. About every hour, he woke up and tried to sit up and asked for his wife. Like a child, he was comforted by the news that she would be home in a few hours, each time asking me what time it was now and how long until she was expected home. When she got home, she gently woke him and told him she was home.

That night he was admitted to Hospice. I was not able to go visit her until Friday night. I spent several hours with them Friday night. He was not able to speak anymore; experienced quite a bit of what they call terminal restlessness; and needed to have her in his sight most of the time. It is hard to know what he is thinking as he is not able to talk. He seemed to recognize voices and he certainly tracked his wife with his eyes.

Saturday morning, I went over again. She tried to lay with him in his bed, but because of the way he was laying, it upset him too much. He could hear her voice, but could not see her. So she moved to the chair to hold his hand. Watching her with him these last week has been very moving. She speaks to him in a firm quiet voice, telling him that everything is ok, he shouldn't be upset, he should stop fighting, she has taken care of everything. It is hard to know how much he understands of what is going on around him, but today he smiled at her and lifted his head off the pillow so that she would kiss him. After she kissed him, he smiled again.

Friends come in and out to visit him. Some are not able to visit - it upsets them too much. This morning, his former neighbors came to see him. A young couple with a teenage daughter: The wife was able to visit with him but her husband began crying as soon as he came into the room. He fled quickly for the hallway and did not return. The teenage daughter was awkward and nervous in the face of death. She said hello and then also began to cry.

Hospice here is a wonderful place. The facility is beautiful and the nurses are so kind and helpful. But as my friend said today, no one should have to go thru this process.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Still Around

Sorry for not blogging much these days. Spend too much time on Facebook or getting other things done.

Will return soon.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Journey in Atlantic City

I told one of the directors at work that I had won tickets to see Journey in Atlantic City. He said, "What? You're going on a journey?" Every time I go to a concert, he has no idea what or the band is. We went to a conference and the entertainment event was Don Henley. He sent me an email and said who is Don Henley and would I like his music?

Anyway, I won a radio contest and received two tickets to see Journey Friday night. Asked around and one of my friends was able to go with me. We wanted to leave around two, but due to work, we didn't really get going until 3:30.

We got to the Borgata in time to grab a quick bite to eat before the show. If you haven't been there before, it is a small theater, about 1,000 seats. I was happy to win the tickets, but I wasn't overly eager to go see Journey. I honestly didn't know much about them other than hearing their songs over the years. It was funny a few months ago, my now 14-year old son was telling me about his favorite song. He played it for me and it was the Journey song, Don't Stop Believing.

That is what I thought of when I thought of the band Journey - love songs - Faithfully; Don't Stop Believing; Anyway You Want It; Loving, Touching, Squeezing; Open Arms.....

The band came out on stage and my first impression was, they are old which means I am old. Weathered faces, mature bodies, holding their guitars and winking at the people in the front row, putting on their "hot rocker" gestures and expressions. Then their new lead singer came out. (I say new, but he's been with them since 2007.) He was little, Filipino, and leaping all over the stage, playing the air guitar, throwing his cordless microphone from hand to hand or flipping it up and catching it. He looked in his early 30's - a sharp contrast to the other band members. He sounded like Steve Perry. He overly emoted his facial expressions along with the lyrics and my first thought was Karoke! I felt that disconnect for almost the first half of the set. But by the end of the show, I wasn't thinking about the age of the members, their expressions or their gestures - I was immersed into the music. And, the band members seemed to warm up as well. I have to confess at the end of the night, I wasn't thinking that Noel and Jonathan were old and trying to look like younger rockers. I was actually thinking they were pretty hot and they could wink at me anytime.

But at the same time I was experiencing the disconnect with Arnel, I was struck by the expertise of the band members - Noel Schon, Deen Castronovo and Jonathan Cain. The live version of their songs allowed for much more extensive instrumentals than what a radio allows. We couldn't remember who their lead singer used to be - knew it was Steve... but couldn't think of the last name - so I googled Journey from my phone. We were shocked that Arnel, the new lead, was 41 years old. He doesn't look like he is in his 40's! But I also learned that Noel picked up the guitar for the first time when he was 5 and was professionally touring as part of Santana when he was 15. At 55, he is still incredible on the guitar and had many solos last night.

Deen, also sang many of the songs last night. Arnel cannot sing every song, not with the intensity of how he is singing the songs. (I liked it better when he was not trying as hard to sound like Steve Perry, but he is very good. Can you believe they found him on the internet by seeing some YouTube videos of some cover songs?) Deen is an fantastic drummer and it amazes me how someone can be as vigorous a drummer as he, while singing at the same time. Or, likewise, be jumping and running all over the stage, but at the same time singing without sounding like you are out of breath! Deen and Arnel got quite a workout during the set, but at least Arnel got the chance to run backstage every two or three songs. Vocals were alternated by Arnel, Deen and Jonathan. Every band member had the opportunity to perform at least one solo, generally more, to showcase their talents independently.

They played about two hours or so. Their tour schedule doesn't seem to be giving them too many nights off - they play again tonight, and two more times this week.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Commuters and Regular Drivers

While driving to Philadelphia to see Billy Joel/Elton John last week with two friends, it occurred to me that I am no longer a regular driver. Actually, re-occurred or maybe just verbalized by me, because I have thought about it before.

When I was a child, we would go on family vacations and spent days in the station wagon on the road - to Florida or to Canada. Often we would go with another family and would follow that family in our car. Mr B was a traveling salesman. He flashed his lights at people who didn't drive fast enough or stayed in the left lane too long. He gestured a lot and was impatient. We tried to keep up with him, often times driving too quickly or switching lanes too often for my parents' liking.

Since I have become a long-distance commuter, I have become Mr. B. I don't flash my lights or gesture, but I am increasingly impatient and angry at drivers who drive the speed limit or slightly above the speed limit in the left hand lane. How dare someone go into the EZPass lane and slow down or God forbid, stop in the EZPass lane?!? My carpool members are also the same way. We take an evil pleasure in blocking someone from passing us on the right when we see them weave in and out of the lanes behind us. We mutter under our breaths when someone is driving too slowly in the left hand lane and refuses to move over to let us on our way. We glare at other drivers who cut us off and then later end up beside us.

Some of us react more strongly than others. One man in my carpool is by most appearances, very mild-mannered, and old-fashioned. He doesn't drink, doesn't swear and doesn't like to talk about 'questionable' topics. But behind the wheel of the car, he demonstrates a very strong road rage. Flash your lights at him and he is going to block your way in the left lane and refuse to let you pass. Cut him off by passing on the right and he is going to ride as close to the back of your car as he can.

I'd like to rig up my video camera as a dashboard cam so I could show some of the horrible driving we encounter. And, as we joked yesterday morning, our carpool stories and banter could make for a very successful comedy sitcom. A dashboard cam could pick up those stories as well!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Doesn't Seem Right

When he was alive, the headlines were about how strange he was, how strange he looked, how strange he acted.... Now he is dead and all the people are being interviewed, saying they knew he was abusing drugs, they knew there were problems and they desperately tried to save him. Did they really do all they could? Now the headlines are all about him, news coverage 24/7, praising him, but at the same time, sensationalizing his finances, his lifestyle, his manner of death....

Millions of people are mourning his death, gathering in large crowds across the globe, buying tributes of flowers and other gifts to mourn his death.

Protestors are dying in Iran. Children are dying in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Darfur. Where are the millions protesting and spending money on tributes or aid? Is it that as individuals, we feel there is nothing we can do?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Political Unrest

Heard today that North Korea is going to annihilate the US. Why? Because inspecting one of their ships would be considered an act of war.

Heard today an Iranian protestor beg a tv correspondent to help the Iranian protestors. She cried and screamed on the phone, pleading for help, saying that they were being destroyed by the regime, asking why wouldn't anyone help them? He didn't know how to respond to her and there was an awkward silence after her pleas.

Heard today, the Iranian government say that Neda was shot by terrorist conspirators who set it up to look like the government killed her and then I heard them say that the government may have shot her, but it was an accident because they thought she was the sister of a terrorist.

Heard today a governor ask for forgiveness from his wife, his children and his constituents for deceiving them and for cheating on his wife.

Heard today that Cheney is going to get about $2 million at least for his memoirs. Profiting again from his mis-deeds.

Heard some of the Nixon tapes today where he coached Bush Sr. on getting more women (attractive women) involved in the Republican party.

With everything I have going on in my life and all I have to do, I can't stop checking Twitter and other sites to see what is happening with the Iranian protestors. My prayers are with them.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bad, bad blogger....

I've been too overwhelmed with work and other stresses to properly blog. I can't write about work on-line and that's been the biggest part of what's been going on. I have done some concerts since Feb (my last post!!) but mostly work with a lot of business travel.

I also have gotten a little too involved in Facebook and that takes up a lot of my online fun time. But I will try and do better in the future. I see I get some regular hits on here so I don't know if anyone is still really checking here or not!

Hope everyone is having a great start to their summer!

Check out this article on the new healthcare proposal. I'm really concerned about the amount of debt the US is taking on. I wouldn't be as concerned if I thought it was worthwhile debt. But, it seems that most of it is wasteful and ill-thought out. For example, the rush to approve the economic stimulus bill - what has that really done for us? And, how much pork was in those bills? We are making some really bad decisions and the fear that was used to get us into an poorly executed war is the same type of fear that is being used for the economy and the healthcare situation....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Basketball Game by Text Messaging

Jason had a tournament game tonight. The weather was rather iffy today - first it snowed, then it rained, then it hailed and then it got very foggy. The game was over in the next county, about 50 minutes away. My mom and her husband were going to go to the game but decided not to because of the weather. My daughter also didn't go. We were late to the game due to the weather and rush hour traffic. We got there before the game started, but Jason was so upset in the car because he wasn't going to have time to warm up and he didn't want to play anymore anyway, blah, blah, blah...

So I kept my mom and daughter in the loop by texting.

6:22 pm (me) CMS 12-10 /*CMS is his team*/
6:25 pm (Mom) Good is Jason playing
6:26 pm (me) Yes, he just got in, they're only up by 1 pt
6:27 pm (Mom) Good
6:28 pm (me) Jason just scored
6:28 pm (daughter) Cool
6:29 pm (Mom) Yea
6:30 pm (me) They're up by 8
6:30 pm (daughter) Okay I dont need every update :)
6:31 pm (me to daughter) Should've come
6:31 pm (Mom) Great
6:34 pm (me) Scored again, end of first half, up by 7
6:35 pm (Mom) Thank you
6:36 pm (me to Mom) Other team has 2 tall boys; rest are tiny
6:47 pm (daughter) Sry
6:48 pm (me) Almost 3Q, up by 7, he hasn't been back in yet
6:49 pm (daughter) that's why I didnt go. He never plays when I go
6:52 pm (me) Beginning of 4Q, he's going back in
6:55 pm (Mom) Good how is Ty playing
6:55 pm (me to Mom) Ok, he's alternating the two of them it seems
6:56 pm (me) Tie game
6:57 pm (me) Jason just broke the tie with a 3 ptr
6:57 pm (daughter) Nice
6:57 pm (Mom) Wow
7:02 pm (me) Was tied again, Ty broke it and got an add'l foul pt. Ty just got fouled again,
we're up 3
7:03 pm (me to Mom) Ty and J are in together
7:05 pm (me) Jason was fouled; got 1 of 2
7:06 pm (Mom) Score
7:08 pm (me) Tie game, 17 secs to go
7:09 pm (Mom) Wow
7:11 pm (me) 2.7 sec, we're down by 2
7:16 pm (me) Lost by 2
7:17 pm (Mom) Bummer
7:19 pm (daughter) That sucks

Should explain that in the beginning of the season, while his father and I, and several other parents thought Jason played extremely well, the coach didn't put him in for more than 5 minutes a game. As the season went on, he got more playing time and in this game, he played half of the game, the 2 and 4th quarters. The other night I was late in picking him up for practice and it was just him and the coach hanging out for a few minutes. I spoke to the coach and told him how much Jason liked the game and he told me how much he had improved over the season. We talked about possible summer camps for basketball and then I got in the car where Jason was waiting. I said something about what the coach had said and he snorted and said, yeah, he told me I was getting to be almost as good as Ty. Shows how badly he thought of me. I said, well, there must be something that Ty is doing that the coach likes and maybe you can learn from him. (That comment didn't go over well.) In today's game, he alternated Ty and Jason except for the last few minutes where they played together.

It was a nailbiter at the end of the game, but well-played by both teams. We fouled too much and that's why they lost the game.

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Computer

Got a new computer earlier this week. Now comes the joy of transporting files, photos and music from the old one! I am also finding software incompatibilities and the need to either upgrade or see if I can make the old versions work with the new computer....

Saturday, February 07, 2009

New Beginnings

A friend of mine and her husband have bought a small restaurant. I went there this morning for breakfast taking my son and two of his friends who had slept over the night before. When I walked in the door, a couple, who were my parents' best friends and who are still close to my mother, were sitting at the first table. I hadn't seen them for a while so it was great getting caught up with them. They are regulars at this place and told me that on the first day that my friends took ownership of the restaurant, my friend was so nervous and anxious, her hands were shaking.

I think she is still nervous, but excited over this new endeavor. Her husband has lost his job a number of times in the last few years. He has always loved cooking. It was his idea to buy the restaurant - said that he wouldn't get laid off and it would be up to him to fail or succeed. It's a very small place, almost like a diner, open from 5:30 am to 2:30 pm. I had never been there before, but had driven by it many times on the way to somewhere else. There are always cars parked anywhere possible so I knew it was a busy place. We were able to get a table when we got there but I heard that before we were there, you had to wait to get a table, and shortly after we got there, there was a line of people waiting.

Today was the first day that their son, my son's friend since first grade, was working at the restaurant as a bus boy. He was so proud and happy that his friends came to see him on his first day at work. He took a break and had lunch with us while we ate our breakfast. The boys had been at a middle school dance the night before. They talked about the girls they danced with and the sports they were playing. I watched their faces, noticing the changes that have started to come more quickly now as they move thru puberty. The bus boy who had always been a somewhat heavy boy, has lost weight, is taller than his mom and his face is thinner now taking on more of a man's face than a apple-cheeked boy. My son is almost as tall as me. The four of them have been close friends since first grade. There would have been five of them, but one was sick this weekend and missed the dance and the sleepover.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Time For A Change

Tomorrow, my countdown to the inauguration goes to zero!! I started it a few years ago, counting down to the time that GW would be out of office. Watched DL Hughley the other night. He said he was trying very hard to say something positive and honest about GW on the final show before his farewell. What did he say? Something, like "George W Bush, you are our 43rd President...."

I am afraid of Obama's election. Not that I think he is a bad man or a bad choice. It's just that so many people are counting on him, depending on him, and worshipping him. It makes me feel uneasy. I am praying that he stays safe and that he can fulfill half of what we are asking him to be and do.

My daughter said to me a few months ago, "Why is everyone talking about this being such a big deal? Why wouldn't a black man be President? I don't understand, why is it such a big deal?"

Yesterday, in a church Sunday school, an adult said "Why are they calling him the first African-American President? He's not black. He's a half-breed."

Both statements make me want to cry. The first, because we are moving toward a world that is racially-mixed and more color-blind. The second, because we still have so far to go. (I could agree with the sentiment that he is not 100% black; he is multi-racial. But how many of us are 100% of one race? even if we think we are...)

But 2009 is a year of change for me. I am determined this year to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I may need my current job until my son graduates high school. But what do I want to be when my children aren't relying on me for support anymore? A better description would be, not when I grow up, what do I want to be when I don't have to be a grown-up anymore?