Friday night. Carol in her chair, the dog sleeping on the floor. Snow falling as befits the official start of winter. Even though I spent some money to get my old snow blower repaired and ready, I decided to contract with the landscaping company that does my fall cleanup to take care of snow removal. I just don’t want to have to deal with that issue. If this deal gets too costly, I still have a reliable snow blower.
This is the start of an extended period of isolation, longer than my usual weekend break, because this coming Tuesday is Christmas day, and although I might have been able to pay extra to have my relief aide come, if she were willing, I chose instead to switch her to Wednesday. I usually do food shopping on Tuesdays but stores won’t be open. Nor will the library where I sometimes go to work. So, I just moved everything to Wednesday.
Not a happy prospect. But Ryan is coming for his usual dinner Monday night, and rather than plan on our take-out choices I bought a petit roast. I haven’t cooked one in quite a while, and this seemed like the right time.
Otherwise I guess I’ll spend more time writing and reading.
And that is not a bad thing.
Saturday night a few minutes after midnight. Just finished sitting with Carol, holding her hand, as she drifted off to sleep. As I settled into my chair, the dog decided her day was also over and strolled to her bed.
The first day of the long stretch between relief aide visits leading up to and past Christmas. A little snow on the ground, just enough to please those who believe the holiday must be white but not enough to pose a problem.
I guess kind of the best of both worlds although I could do without both.
The day went by easily and fast because it was filled with digital contact with my daughters. I hadn’t heard from Danielle for a while and so I sent her a text to which she responded after a while, and we caught up with each other messaging back and forth. I sent her a picture of the 1998 ornament on the little artificial tree, and she responded that she remembered making it.
As much as I would like to see her it seems a visit home for her is still a ways off. A piece of music from Interlochen Public Radio provided the impetus for me to get in touch with Kerri and Tracy, as well as including Danielle in the ensuing messaging. The station played a track of a klezmer band doing its version of The Little Drummer Boy.
I was perplexed. I couldn’t figure out whether I was more irritated or more amused by the extraordinary marriage of Jewish musical style performing a tune celebrating the birth of Christ. Klezmer music is upbeat and happy, played at weddings and other celebratory events. To hear it employed for this Christmas song was just weird. There is no other word.
So weird that I thought I’d share it with my daughters, two raised in Jewish households, and one in the Carol and Steve combo. Religion was not prominent in either of those households.
Of course, I would have loved to be able to talk to Carol about this musical experience, but she had slept through it and in any case would have only been able to offer a small response, a smile, or a frown, or perhaps a word or two.
But whatever it would have been I would have been happy to receive it. I’m pretty sure she would have been ambiguously amused. Klezmer music is hard to resist, and she wouldn’t have approached this performance from my more complicated perspective.
As it turns out, and as I learned later, Tracy was preoccupied and so did not respond to my message. Kerri, on other hand, did and we discussed it through a number of messages. We first checked to determine if the klezmer band is in fact a Jewish band. It is. We agreed the track was weird, not just strange, or different, but requiring a stronger descriptor. Weird will do.
To share the music, I found a YouTube version by the same band. That version of course has images, and the images, in cartoon figures, emphasized the religious message of the birth of Christ, which is not as prominent in the song as heard but not seen.
Adding those images sealed the deal for Kerri and me, as we agreed that whatever the band’s motive in producing this track was, the result was disrespectful to both traditions.
And yet, at least for me, that judgment is offered with a lingering smile.
Christmas eve after a good dinner featuring the roast with Ryan. Carol asleep in her chair, the dog as usual stretched out on the floor.
I had trouble finding music to listen to today, even on the classical stations. I have no objection to Christmas themed music but what was offered today just wasn’t that interesting. Ditto popular music with somewhat less tolerance because, well it’s popular music made primarily to cash in on the holiday and is just otherwise not that good. When I heard the fourth or fifth version of Rudolph, that time by Dean Martin, I had had enough and put on a CD of Pavarotti doing serious holiday music. I could listen to him sing the alphabet song.
Carol seemed indifferent to the music until she heard Pavarotti singing Ave Maria, and then she perked up.
During the afternoon an unexpected visit from Jane and daughter Marissa bearing gifts, followed by a long overdue catch-up conversation particularly with Marissa who will be finishing college in a year.
That socialization followed a weekend of long distance parenting with my daughters.
With Kerri, as described above, messaging about the klezmer band playing Christmas music, with Tracy a phone call later about various issues that she was dealing with, for which I served as a sounding board and one person support system, with Danielle the next day, an extended conversation concerning a life decision she faces, for which I was not so much as a sounding board but rather a source of fatherly advice.
Three daughters, three different interactions, all of them filling my usually isolated weekend with the reach of long distance interactions.
These interactions turned my head toward the future, reminding me of the ongoing parenting roles available to me, valuable in themselves, but more so as a mechanism to help me break my brooding chain to the lost past with Carol.
And just as important as breaking that chain is the strengthening of my resolution to continue my caregiving role with Carol by putting it into a larger context, one that extends beyond the possible limits of those caregiving responsibilities.
Just trying to keep my legs underneath me and my head on straight as I travel along this unknown road.