Tonight the sky is sweeping colors through its vast space. There is a soft green light to the night, and the blues fading with whites quietly lulling the sun to sleep remind me of my father. What must his mind be like now?, does it search like a person would for that one thing they are certain they left in a room, search and search until the frenetic pace leaves nothing found but a choatic mess at the end, exhaustion and frustration. When I have these moments, the tears well up and I pray that the sadness that envelopes me won't keep me from the present moment of what is in front of me...this beautiful sky with an outline of a giant white pine that looks like its proping itself up into the air, hovering high and mighty.
My father was a jazz fanatic, yes he was a fanatic to the extreme. He would start and never stop the music, "man listen to that!" man oh man..." he would shake his foot, my memory starts with his wingtips and now they conjure up his apostle like tevas that cover huge white socks, velcro across thier tops. Tapping. He could tell you all about the arrangements, and the instruments. HE never played ever...but the love and the intensity the way he could communicate when he listened to jazz well it always made me smile even though I often played annoyed. My parents had a dutch door at the house and often you could hear it blaring on a sunny spring day...the trumpet of miles davis wafting like a bake good out the door onto the porch and to the ears of sidewalk passerbyers.
As my father got older, and his alzhiemers began to take shape. My mother would always be the one to drive to jazz festivals. Every year they would get ready for the big Suttons Bay jazz festival. A day of jazz and good food a great crowd and the aquamarine blues of lake michigan setting the stage for this day of heaven. We would setup the chairs and find the space, get food and sit and close our eyes. The last time my father went to the Suttons Bay jazz festival was in the summer of 2007, we all went together. It was the last festival for him and my mother. We set ourselves up and began to enjoy the music, the day was sunny and colorful. I would walk with my dad to the tent area and sit with him and listen to the music, we would eat and walk around. This last year we setup our chairs near the old maple and somewhat far off, it was good for us to be away from the crowd a bit but we good still see the performance.
The couple behind us was sharing a bottle of wine and began to talk to my mother and sister and I, whilst my dad listening intently to the music. The woman somehow figured out my father was off key a bit and asked aloud "does he have alzhiemers? my father does! my mother and I smiled and nodded yes and than looked onto the stage. " so are you getting ready to put him in a home? said the loud booming voice behind us. "no we have a home", my mother graciously replied. "No you-Know, after my dad got it man that was awful," she began a diatribe of what happened to her father and how trapped her mother felt. The drunker she became the louder she was, and the more I felt the heat of humiliation run upon me like a breeze. My father was quite concious back than and was listening to everyword this babe slurred.
I had left the concert before my other family members, but the next day my mother informed me that the drunk next to us got so sloshed her husband ended up getting her out of the concert before it ended. We spoke about how awful that must have been for my father to have a complete stranger carry on a conversation about him in third person, as if being diagnosed with a disease already made you a non-entity. It must have felt like a boy rejecting you, by not noticing you standing by the lockers, or one walking into a room and no one acknowledges you. The more we spoke, the more insensed I became, trapped by that emotion, wanting to lash out at that woman for belittling my father and putting my mother in that position.
Its been four years, not sure what brought that to mind today. Maybe its the Hawthornes blooming, or the ole magnolias hanging out and about beautiful and proud with display. Its the season, the one both my parents adored so much. They would find themselves staring at the large park across from the house and discussing the trees in the morning as they drank their coffee. They would make plans for the fesitvals. Take drives down the coastline, eat burgers on the piers. Listen to Ella boom, or Coltrane blow...
Later on this evening, I noticed a print advertisement for Arecept, there was a picture of a family and there was a young daughter with a newborn in her arms, her parents looking over proudly yet the mother was an outline. A ghost, a non entity..it was the alzheimer medicine we first got my father to slow the progression down. For some reason today, I was suppose to think of this time and honor my father.
Now he sits in silence, he has no interest in the music, he sleeps no longer fumbling for that thing in the room. He can't seem to muster much these days, he no longer goes to the jazz for the dose of life he use to, he no longer attends the festivals with my mother. Two things he loved the most he has lost and so he no longer particpates in Jazz since his muse took flight, she is no longer there to share in Ella's Boom, or Coltranes blow...Today, I wonder if its not humanity that a alzheimers patient seeks for when confused, simple humanity....
Its dark now this sky, a quiet still darkness and its time to leave this memory for nigh.