Monday, August 31, 2020

Play Music on the Porch Day

The last Saturday in August is “Play Music on the Porch Day.” I’ve signed up for this songfest for the first time. Usually, after the day is over, I’ll see a post from one of my musician/singer friends and realize that I missed it again.

Playing music on the porch is definitely a throwback to childhood for me. My mom came from a large musical family, and they spent numerous Saturday nights playing music on Grandma and Grandpa Whittle’s porch. It seemed that everyone had an instrument and talent to spare. Grandpa would dance a jig, and we kids would try to keep up with him.


Jim came from a similar background. He grew up in a musical family with impromptu jam sessions galore. After we were married, it wasn’t unusual for Jim to invite his musical friends and family to our house for jam sessions. Jim and I sang together occasionally, but I preferred to listen to the more talented singers. I often told Jim that if I had his talent, I’d have been rich and famous. Jim knew the road for a musical career was often at the expense of the family left at home. “I won’t do that to my family,” he said.


Because of dementia, Jim lost his ability to play his guitar and sing. Luckily, the videotapes in our video library will allow our grandkids, and someday our great-grandkids, the ability to listen to countless “playing music on the porch” days.


But hey, singing on the porch is good for the soul and a great way to connect with other musicians. For the past several days, I’ve been watching the videos posted to the “Play Music on the Porch Day” group. It has been so much fun to see how others approach practicing for the big day.


Saturday was a lovely evening to sit on the porch and play music. I propped my phone on the music stand and shot videos of three songs. The first song I sang and recorded was “Cowboy’s Sweetheart.” For that song, I put on my hat. Due to a bad case of “hat hair,” I wore the hat for the other two songs I recorded, “I Love You Honey” and “It’s My Lazy Day.” I was enjoying myself so much that I played until my fingers hurt and the sun was getting low in the sky.


Since the pandemic hit, I’ve become more accustomed to enjoying the simple moments of life. Sunday afternoon jam sessions with the Capps Family Band are the highlight of my week. We haven’t been able to play music for the residents at the nursing homes for seven months, but we keep working on new material.


The Sedalia Walk to End Alzheimer’s is coming in twelve days. Our team has raised some money with our Facebook fundraisers and other donations, but we are far short of our goal. I’m excited that the Capps Family Band will play music at a swap meet in a few weeks as a fundraiser for Jim’s Team to benefit the Sedalia Walk to End Alzheimer’s. 

I've discovered that when my fingers are sore from playing music, my heart is happy. 


Copyright © August 2020 by L.S. Fisher


Friday, August 28, 2020

What the World Needs Now

In 1965, Jackie DeShannon had a hit single with the song, “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” What was the world like in 1965? Well, there were riots, civil rights unrest, protests, and political shenanigans.

 Here we are in 2020 and experiencing the same old, same old. In addition, thrown into the mix is the anti-social media where everyone’s prejudices, opinions, and stereotyping is published in a way it’s never been before. A deep fissure divides the people. Once again, what the world needs is love, sweet love.


Somehow, I don’t believe that’s the only thing the world needs. I’ve done some deep thinking, and I came up with what I want to call my “short” list.


1)  Respect.  Like love, respect is in short supply. Somewhere along the way, we’ve ceased to respect people who believe differently. Our disagreements may lay in politics, religion, economic status, country of origin, or an entire bevy of talents or intelligence. Throughout life, our DNA and experiences form us into an individual human being. Although most of us won’t admit it, everyone has prejudices about one thing or another. The key is to respect others and overcome unreasonable prejudices to the best of our abilities. Respect costs us nothing, but pays dividends for life.

2)  Commonsense. The world seems to be in short supply of commonsense. People believe you have to be all “in” or all “out.” Every little thing is either all “right” or all “wrong.” People are either “good” or “bad.” Without commonsense, you will see the world as black and white. I know, some of you will say, rather than black and white, we are talking shades of gray. I’ve probably said that myself, but I’ve changed my mind. When you make decisions by rote, rather than reasoning, you fail to see the living color that surrounds you. By not thinking for yourself, you will miss the wondrous rainbow of life.

3)     Unconditional Love. When it comes to love, we want to receive as much as we give. Dementia will strip away those expectations. Jim had aphasia and seldom spoke, but sometimes when I told him I loved him, he would say, “I love you too.” More often, love was a tender look in his eyes or the way he raised his eyebrows when he looked at me. In my journal I remarked one time that he said “I love you” like he really meant it. My love for Jim was founded in who he was before dementia, but I loved him “as is” throughout the disease.


So in addition to “love, sweet, love,” the world needs more respect, commonsense, and individuals with dementia need unconditional love. I can’t change the world and wouldn’t if I could. What’s right for me may be wrong for you. Let’s face it, if we all thought alike or acted alike, the world would be a mighty boring place. I’ll be me, and you be you.

Copyright © August 2020 by L.S. Fisher


Friday, August 14, 2020

Out of Gas, Recharging Batteries

One thing about the heat in Missouri, it limits the amount of outside work I can do in a solid stretch. Last week, I went out early to use the grass trimmer, the hedge trimmer, and to mow. I put my equipment on the mower and headed toward the worst area.

I glanced down and realized that the mower was about out of gas. I can’t lift full cans high enough, and I had already used the only partially full can. Oh, well, weed eating was the priority anyway. I went to work and realized I had two problems: the weed eater was out of string, and the battery was low. I picked up the hedge trimmer and its battery was low too.


I realized that I was about out of gas and needed to recharge my batteries. As I headed to the shower, I thought that my dilemma described how I’ve been feeling lately. I’m not sleeping well and I’m tired all the time. I’m physically and mentally tired. I’m about out of gas and need to recharge my batteries.


The way I felt after an hour in the heat reminded me how I felt after a day of caregiving. It’s disheartening to wake up feeling as tired as I felt when I went to bed the night before. Physically, I cannot do as much as I could a few years ago.


During the caregiving years, and now, it seems that my mental to-do list is as plentiful as the spots on a Dalmatian. Unwinding a tightly wound brain is almost impossible.


I have the same unsettled feeling now that I used to have when Jim’s health was declining. I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall, but I’m expecting it to fall out of the sky and hit me on the head. I have that familiar feeling when I awaken in the morning that everything isn’t all right.


As a caregiver, I felt isolated at times. Sure, I was around other people, but Jim and I spent time alone together. I missed the conversation, the companionship, and the love he had lavished upon me. It was hard to think for two, love enough for two, and try to stay in the moment without worrying about the next day, week, year, lifetime.


When it got too bad, I’d recharge my batteries. Whether it was a trip to Branson, a picnic in the park, or just spending time with my mom and sisters, it didn’t take much for the sunlight of inner peace to wash away the shadows of doubt and dread.


During a pandemic, it’s harder to find ways to charge my batteries. I’m taking a page out of Jim’s playbook when he was younger. During times when he was sad and depressed, he would play his guitar for “therapy.” His routine for years was to pick up his guitar every morning and play a tune or two.


I regret that I never learned to play an instrument while Jim was living, but I do find that playing my ukulele is relaxing. My granddaughter called the ukulele a “happy” instrument. I’m in the mood for a little “happy” and that might just be the way to do it.


No matter how down and depressed Jim became, he said that planning a vacation gave him something to look forward too. I may not be able to go on a physical vacation, but if I go on a mental vacation for just a few hours a day, I could recharge my batteries and refuel my spirit.


Copyright © August 2020 by L.S. Fisher