It has been a little over a month since my sister and I found out our dad died. In that month, we have experienced what feels like a lifetime worth of startling discoveries and what seemed like a continuous barrage of shocks. A lot of what we unraveled is deeply personal and hard to share on such a public space. With the extraordinary aid of my wife, sister, kids and family plus many good friends and kind newly met individuals, we are at the start of a new beginning.
Our mom was living in a very difficult environment, and her condition was far worse than we knew or could even imagine. The circumstances of how our parents came to live as they did and the harm it did to them has left us reeling. Because my wife and I are caregivers to Jackson, our son who has a wide variety of special needs, we are never able to travel or leave town. In the 13 years since his injury, I left the Chicago area exactly twice…for my sister’s wedding and to visit our parents 6 years ago. While there were certainly signs that their health and lives had deteriorated, it turned out to be on a level that was completely unexpected. We have spent the past month travelling between our respective homes in Chicago and the Bay Area and Cleveland while dealing with all the fallout. Meanwhile, my wife had to manage all of Jackson’s caregiving and keeping things functioning on the home front during the final month of her break. It was very hard for all of us, and a super bummer tough summer for my wife and children.
Over the past month, we saw to our father’s funeral, re-homing our parents’ elder dog, emptying out over 40 tons of belongings and junk out of our parents’ home then hiring a hauling company to spend a full week after that finishing the job. We listed their home for sale and have dealt with a maze of financial, legal and administrative challenges and lots of hotels, road food, and stress. We were away from our immediate families, who had to deal with great challenges on their own. I relied on my work colleagues to keep things afloat while I was away or otherwise busy with these affairs. We saw to getting our mom into the hospital, then rehab in Cleveland, and finally to move with us to a new rehab hospital 15 minutes from our Evanston home. We experienced the very best and the very worst in health care and elder care. We ran all over the city and suburbs of Cleveland dealing with insurance, document gathering, wrecked cars, FedEx, certified mail, notarized documents, bank accounts, assets, debts, properties and so many other things. The good that came of this is that mom is here with us. She will now make her home in the Chicago area as she has little family left in Cleveland and while the future is still very uncertain for her, for the moment, she is being cared for, she is safe, she is getting good nutrition, and she is tended to by a variety of therapists and medical professionals.
I know my sister and her awesome husband Joe have their own challenges to face back at home, and will try their best to get their lives back to a new normal. My sister and I are grateful that the tough month we have endured has also brought us closer together, and neither of us would have been able to get through all of this without the other. We hope that the new life we are embarking on, and that are mom is working on, will allow us to see one another more frequently, and that we will stay more involved in each other’s lives. I hope that I will also be able to get back to a more normal life at home, and be there for my family and to resume caregiving for Jackson, but there is still much left to do, and so much of what my mom must deal with over the near and long-term future are unknown.
But here we are. The good part is she is near us and she is safe and she is being cared for and we can be a part of her lives, and she can be part of ours. As hard as this has all been, this is what matters the most, and it is the best of the new life ahead.
While dealing with all of this, I had an MRI on my still sore shoulder to discover two complete tears and a ¾ tear of various parts of my right rotator cuff, requiring surgery. This is going to require me to cancel the last two months of the tours I had hoped to run this year. I am issuing refunds to all the season ticket holders this week, and working on catching up with correspondence from the many kind souls who have reached out to me and my family during this past month. I’ll be getting the loaner bikes on sale soon, a plan already months behind, but hopefully next on my agenda with the time off I will have from the rides. I feel like I was already somewhat of a hermit…barely seeing friends or family due to life circumstances. The bike tours provided a great social life for me, and I will miss doing them for the rest of the year, but hope to resume them next Spring. I’ll miss riding while recovering from yet another shoulder surgery, and I’ll probably be jonesing for some kinship, friendship and socializing as the year spills into the fall and winter. I hope to snuggle in with my family, and as much as it pales in comparison, at least get some trainer rides in the basement as I recover.
In the interim, I get the chance to play music again, at least for the weekend, when the old bassist for one of my bands comes back in town for us to do a one-off reunion show at Reggie’s Music Joint. So many people I am friends with now don’t even know that I spent most of my life as a musician, and many of the people I know from that life I haven’t seen in years and years. If you aren’t doing anything this Saturday night, please consider joining us. I can honestly say it would be so good to see people and share some good times with everyone.
So…while I hate to announce the rides are done for the year, I intend to keep the rides going next year. I thank everyone that has supported me and my family through this all with help, a kind word, a message, or just their love and thoughts. It has made all the difference and I thank you all. I’ll post the bike sale details soon and maybe I’ll see some of you this Saturday for the Replica Republic show.
Replica Republic/Discoveries of the American Scientific/OUTDrejas
Reggie’s Music Joint
Saturday September 2, 2017