Monday, September 14, 2020

Waltz of the Angels

Saturday was a busy day for me, although probably no worse than any other Alzheimer’s walk day. Because of the pandemic, walk was everywhere, and  Jim’s Team walked the same route as we did the first time Jim and I walked. As far as I know, that was the only time the Alzheimer’s walk started at Liberty Park.

 My day started with a quick trip to visit the Promise Garden at Centennial Park. Then, I drove nearly an hour to join the Capps Family Band to play music at a Swap Meet where we raised money for Alzheimer’s. Well, we were pretty excited to play in front of an audience again. Originally, I said we couldn’t play music the  same day as the Walk to End  Alzheimer’s. After a few phone calls, I decided to change the time of our walk to early evening so that I could do my favorite thing—double book myself.

 

After we played music for a while, my sister-in-law Kathy stepped up to the mike to sing “Waltz of the Angels.”

 

“I had a dream about that song last night,” I said, to no one in particular.

 

As Kathy sang, the dream came rushing back to me. In my dream, Jim was dancing with his cousin, Joyce. The dream was based on a memory and thoughts of Joyce. I had just learned that she had cancer and was not doing well. 

 

My mind wandered back to the 1999 Fisher Family Reunion. Jim was at loose ends. Some of the family was playing music, but Jim had trouble playing along with them and became frustrated. Joyce walked up to him and said, “Come on, Jim, let’s dance.” She took his arm and led him out into the grass and they started dancing.

 

I don’t remember what song they danced to at the reunion, but in my dream, they were dancing to “Waltz of the Angels.”

 

After we finished playing music at the Swap Meet, Mom and I went through McDonald’s drive-thru. While we were waiting to order, I turned my phone on. The first thing I saw was a message from Jim’s sister with the news that Joyce had passed away.

 

Joyce had a personality that was larger than life. She was a prankster and enjoyed embarrassing young people, but it was always with good humor. The stories people are sharing about her are a good reflection of the person she was when she was having fun.

 

Although she often made me laugh, the side of Joyce that I knew best was the woman who cheered her cousin up by asking him to dance. I think of her eyes welling up with tears as she hurt when others hurt. I think of her caring heart and her faith in God.

 

I remember one time when we were all much younger, Joyce made Jim  promise that he and his brother would sing at her funeral. I can’t  remember what song she wanted them to sing. The fallacy of that plan was that Joyce outlived Jim, and he won’t be able to keep that promise here on earth.

 

In my heart, I hear the music playing as Joyce is reunited with her loved ones in heaven. In my mind’s eye, I see Jim and Joyce dancing the waltz of the angels.

 

Copyright © September 2020 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ

Friday, September 11, 2020

Almost Fall Y’all

 

September shepherded autumn into our lives ten days early. I had to wear a sweatshirt the past few days when I took my dog out. The skies have been gloomy and fog drifted by from time to time like so many ghosts looking for a home.

 Fall is a wonderful time of year. I love fall colors, smells, and slipping into my faded and torn flannel shirt. With the cooler fall-type weather, I don’t feel so silly wearing my Halloween leggings. Confession time, I wore them all through the lockdown, but, hey, they are in remarkably good shape for all the wear they’ve had.

 

This has been a rough summer, and it looks as if Mother Nature and Lady Luckless are nowhere near finished with us. As if a pandemic weren’t challenge enough, the East coast of our country was battered by Hurricane Laura, and the West coast has been consumed by fire.

 

Here on the home front in Missouri, we face our own set of challenges. Life has changed during the lost spring and summer of 2020. A year that promised to be a year of perfect vision has clouded over with isolation and financial hard times for many--a time that brought out the best and worst of us. It has been a challenge to know when to standup or to stand down, and too many of us haven’t figured it out yet.

 

Many members of my Oregon family have had to evacuate ahead of the blistering damage of wildfires. Fire has forever changed the landscape of the place that was home in Jim’s heart. He often talked of and visited his “childhood” places. I’ve watched with dismay as landmarks Jim loved to visit lay in a heap of ashes. My heart hurts for the loss of property and  life.

 

My niece told of their harrowing exit to escape the impending danger of the wildfires. They checked on neighbors, helping a bedridden man out of his home and rescuing another couple whose car was broken down. They took time amidst chaos to lend a helping hand.

 

I watched horrifying videos of Oregon burning. Then, like a rainbow, I saw some shots, my cousin Debbie Kuhn took of the David Dewett Veterans Memorial Wayside in North Bend, on the Oregon coast. The eerie orange haze of the wildfires added an ethereal beauty that belied the deadly blazes ravaging the countryside. Nature can be glorious in its treachery.

 

The motto “Some Gave All” made me think of Jim and reminded me that some soldiers who made it home from the war died in Vietnam; they just didn’t know it. The war changed Jim and shaped his life, and most likely led to the dementia that ended  it. I’ve come to the conclusion that life teaches us a lot of lessons, but death teaches us more. We cannot afford to squander the limited amount of time we have to accomplish our mission here on earth.

 

I used to see autumn as the few months before the cold, blustery winter and spent the glorious days dreading what lay ahead. Winter seemed to be a miserable time of year. I can remember Jim going out and starting the car multiple times so that it would start the next morning. Frozen pipes, high heating bills, snowdrifts, and bone-chilling weather made winter a dreadful time of year.

 

Now that I’m retired, I don’t worry about winter anymore. I think more of the glistening snow and less of the cold. Only I choose whether to dread the ugliness of life, or to seek the beauty that surrounds me. 

 

Copyright © September 2020 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ

Saturday, September 5, 2020

September Song

 

went to the gas station and inserted the credit card into the slot.  A message popped up that said “Rejected card expired.” I stared at the 8/20 expiration date in disbelief. That’s stupid, I thought, it is not expired. Then, I had a “duh” moment and realized that it was indeed September and the message was correct.

 Well, there you have it—it’s September. I thought about the lyrics of “September Song.” This song is a metaphor for the seasons of our lives, where September is short, but an, oh, so, important time of our lives. By September, we realize that we need to cherish each day and make the most of it.

 

September is also a time for new beginnings. Kids are beginning a new school year. Of course, true to form for this unusual year of 2020, school may be online or in person with a new set of rules and standards.

 

September  is “family reunion” month. The Fisher family reunion is always the Sunday before Labor Day. We are so set on the time and place that the Tuesday immediately following the reunion, we are at the park office to rent our favorite shelter.

 

Fisher reunions were always music fests. Jim, his uncles, dad, and siblings used to bring their instruments and play country music. Over time, that tradition was passed onto the younger generation. Year after year, until this one, we celebrated music and family. This year, we cancelled the reunion.

 

Labor Day is always the day we hold our Walk to End Alzheimer’s team fundraiser. We have had a traffic stop every year since 1999. This year, for safety sake, we decided to cancel.

 

I told my son, “This is the first time in twenty-one years that I don’t have my Labor Day weekend booked solid.”

 

Even the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a different type of event. I won’t be up before the butt-crack of dawn to help set up the walk. No, this year, some members of  Jim’s Team are walking Saturday evening. Since Walk Is Everywhere, we were able to change the time so that my granddaughter could walk with us. Our team will be walking a nostalgic route.

 

September song also brings to mind our new fundraising idea. Our family band  has been suffering withdrawal since we haven’t been able to play in the nursing homes every month. We’ve been meeting weekly to work on our song list, and for some time have been floating the idea of an Alzheimer’s fundraiser. With the oppressive heat this summer, we couldn’t pick a good time to have a concert in the park.

 

Along comes September, and  my brother found an opportunity for our band to perform at the swap meet in Versailles. Finally, the Capps Family Band will be playing for an audience on September 12. 

 

We will enjoy our September songs, and hope to coax a few smiles and some toe tapping. So if you’re in the neighborhood, drop by for a free concert, and an opportunity to join us in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Copyright © September 2020 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ