My dad had passed away 2 weeks before, I was still in a fog from that. On Tuesday I was coming down with a cold, by Tuesday night had the shivers, fever. Wednesday morning awoke to the election results. Triple whammy. Flu, grief, and more grief. In this state, I couldn’t do much, didn’t feel like doing much. Looking for a place to sit, I sat at the piano. Too much energy to use both hands, so just let my right hand start plunking. And this is what came out. Sadness, dissonance, exhaustion, but still a whiff of hope mixed in.
I feel as if some far-off inheritance that I’d been expecting, but not depending on, has been taken away. You know, some kind of solidity that gives you a sense of security, that allows you to step out and take risks, knowing that the ground will still be under your feet after you’ve fallen and gotten up.
Such a vain and shallow man, who can spew such hatred in so many directions, who thinks so little of anyone except himself – he won? That so many could vote for him, either just to shake things up, or because he’ll move things in a more rightward direction, or because they really do share his hatred and disgust? It shakes my faith in America, in my country.
I’m so very sad. And afraid. Afraid the economy is going to tank. Afraid of nuclear missiles. Afraid for the glorious diversity that is my family, my neighborhood, my city, my country. Afraid that my health insurance is going to be cancelled, that my social security will be gone, that everything from here on out will be a fight for basic decency. Afraid for the whole world. And, did I mention sad?
“If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame”
After a long decline into Alzheimer’s, my dad passed away on Wednesday. Peacefully. As a young man he was incredibly dynamic. In middle to older age he was wound up pretty tight. The first years of memory and control loss were fierce and difficult, but a few years ago he sloughed off all bitterness and became a remarkable warm and happy person, a pleasure to be around. As sentences and then words abandoned him, I would run out of things to say to him after a while. But I would sit at the piano and play through a fake book, or just improvise, and he would dance, howl, and smile. He liked it when I went wild – clusters and forearm bashes and wrong notes tickled him.
This past week he was confined to the bed in his room, with no piano around. So I brought a guitar, and sang some songs, sometimes made things up. There was a lot of waiting, too much time to fill with talking, so the music helped me and my mom (and, we’re hoping, my dad). The wheezing and clunking of the oxygen machine was constant. When he passed, the machine was turned off, the room quiet. I kissed his head, one kiss for each of his 4 children (I was the only offspring present then), and reminded him how he lived on through us and his grandchildren. Then I was moved to play a last song for him. The music is from a production of Truman Capote’s “Holiday Memories” at the Aurora Theater. My dad came to all my local productions – he sat through all the radical left-wing Brechtian stuff I cut my teeth on in the 70’s, came to quite a few Bobs concerts in the 80’s, and attended the variety of stuff I got up to in the 90’s, including “Holiday Memories”. Can’t say why this is the song, why I needed to sing it… It just happened that way. As my nephew said: Love in all directions 🙂