Susie Notes: Our 44 year old son has been diagnosed with Leukodystrophy, and is in ‘an altered mind state”. Read: dementia
Since all this has happened we’ve tried to find little ways to make us happy.
We’ve been married over 46 years and have enjoyed music that has eventually played out the story of our life together.
Our Bose stereo system was over 20 years old. After being ‘fixed’ ten years ago, it’s been disabled for a long time, holding cd’s hostage for too many years. Bossman hooked it up to another CD player for a while but I had to use three remotes to run the working CD player that was on the bottom shelf, a quarter of an inch from the floor. I wear progressive bifocals. Fagedaboudit. I strained my neck trying to figure out what stupid button did what.
A few days ago, I wandered into the living room, stood in front of the cd player with all my music in it and started to cry.
Bossman said, “What’s the matter?”
I sat on the edge of the coffee table, looking at that blurry old cd player and said, “All I want is my music.” I sobbed and he held me.
Monday he went to one of the Big Box stores, Sam’s or Costco, priced out equipment and came home to share what was on sale.
“Go get it. We need it.”
He went to the bank with his safe deposit key, and took out money from his dad’s estate sale that he’d been saving for the last eight years. (this is very odd, since Bossman will research something until it’s out-of-date) He brought home a new speaker bar and had it set up before dinner was ready.
For the first time, in a long time, we danced with tears in the living room to our music.
It’s New Year’s Eve and our house is full of modest activity. Bossman is cleaning off his desk, The Queen of English is probably watching a Hallmark movie or is at her desk editing bird pictures from today’s sit-outside. The Man-Boy is in his bedroom meditating after trying to figure out all the problems with this blog over the last few days. I’m sitting here, drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte with Wild Turkey. Don’t judge.
A lot has happened this past year. Good and Bad, of course. The Queen of English has been afflicted with Meniere’s Syndrome for almost a year. It’s horrid. Her POTS, postural orthostatic, tachycardia sydrome has been pretty steady at being just ‘bad’. The good news is that she’s finished her novel and has gone through three edits. I’ll keep you all posted when it goes off to agents. Her birding has also been pretty steady. 99% of her sightings are from the backyard and she’s ranked 6th in the county for species sightings for the year.
The Man-Boy, 43, has moved from Oregon to our spare bedroom. He’s job searching and ready to start over in the south where the weather is warmer and brighter. He’s a helper to all of us and has lifted his sister’s spirits quietly by just sitting and watching Hallmark movies with her during the holidays.
Bossman has played golf two to three times a week in good weather and enjoys poker night with the neighborhood guys once a month. He keeps busy with tons of bookkeeping and paperwork, shuttling The Queen to therapy and appointments, finishing handyman work around our house and anyone else’s who needs it.
Our ‘chosen’ grandkids are the lights of our lives. Kate is almost 17 and Cannon will be five on our birthday. Such fun with these two!
Last year started out with a bang for me. I had basal cell surgery on my nose in February which took six hours because the wonderful, amazing Doctor William G. Stebbins rebuilt my nostril. I love showing it off. I stick my nose up in the air at a lot of people. In March I had two wisdom teeth removed. The only outcome of that was the tattoo I decided to get of Bernie Sanders. (get it?)
I’ve been active in my three writer’s groups, one which Bossman has now joined, and another with just chicks. I also am a leader in our church’s Poets and Writers group.
I attended two family weddings and four graduations in Mississippi, New York and Atlanta. I traveled to EUROPE!!! It was a dream-trip~ France, Switzerland and Italy. Words fail me. I went with 14 others from the Journey Church Arts Collective and we had an experience of a lifetime. The bonding was unexpected and is still so very strong months later.
Last February I was approached by my friend and Creative Pastor, Brett Mabury. He asked if I thought I could write lyrics. “Sure! I think I could do that.” Meanwhile a little voice was yapping at me, “What? What? You? Write lyrics??? hahahaha”. Well, those lyrics were for a song that was hopefully going to be included in a movie; which opened this December, and had music from Journey Church people, including my song. I took all my friends and family to the red carpet premieres in Franklin and Nashville. I had to join a union. I met the actors in the movie, Believe, and we have three songs, including mine, that are three of 91 songs submitted for nomination for an Academy Award for best original song in a motion picture. We will find out January 24th if we’re nominated. One song, by Rachael Taylor is Number One on the Christian Music Charts right now. She sings my song, Mother’s Theme (I didn’t name it that), in the movie and on iTunes. The DVD should be coming out in January of 2017.
The trip to Europe and the song have been highlights of this past year. What a blessing to have these happen late in life. I’ll turn, cough-cough, the magic age of Social Security benefits in May. It’s never too late to have some exciting firsts. God has plans for us that we never see coming, sometimes.
A few hours ago, I walked out my backdoor into the day’s twilight and my focus instantly shot up into the dusky sky and stuck on the glittering red planet directly in front of me. I was filled with awe at Mars and its backdrop of a fading blue sky, with cotton-candy-spun dirty white clouds. My eyes shifted to the right where a brilliant white star or possibly, Saturn, stole my attention. Shifting back and forth between the only two lights in the sky, I was filled with innocent wonder as the fireflies, far beneath them, flitted through the trees, mimicking the two brilliant lights and begging for my attention.
How clever for our Creator to mimic His stars, planets and tiny little flying bugs. From the astounding mammoth creation of the Universe to the tiny, short termed lifespan of our fireflies.
I am awed and child-like.
Photo by Matt Poll, upstate New York, May 29, 2016
These summer months in Tennessee have brought family and friends to our home as they traveled from one place to another. South Carolina to Colorado. Texas to Vermont. Florida to Mississippi to Ohio to New York. Michigan to Ohio to Tennessee to Michigan. We’re in the perfect position to nab them as they travel on I-65 and share a evening or two of fleeting quality time.
Though, some stay longer.
This morning I was up at 4:45 baking brownies for our friends to enjoy on their trip back to Michigan. They’ve been here for ten days spending time with our disabled daughter while we were away, and when we returned, with us as a family. Food, games, laughs, long talks and an ER visit that was thrown in for good measure, were shared. The ER visit proved to be a God-send. Discovery that our daughter’s three pulmonary embolisms had disappeared with the treatment of Xeralto over the last three months. Thank you, God and physicians!
Bossman and I missed the field trip to the ER. We were in D.C. attending the stunning and somber ceremony in Arlington Cemetery of the funeral for Bossman’s brother, Major G. R. Dunham. His widow, daughters, son-in-law, aunt, cousins, mother-in-law, Bossman and I all stayed together in two enormous suites in a Wyndham timeshare at National Harbor. Treasured family bonding was experienced by all.
After our Michigan friends headed out this morning at 6:30 and Bossman left to play golf, I felt the need to visit my past.
I grew up in the ’50’s in a small village in upstate New York. All my relations lived within walking distance. Hot summer days were greeted with the women getting out the hose and washing down the front porch or stoop and the sidewalk. I remember my Nanny Donovan, neighbor ladies and Mom with the green hose, and pointy nozzle hosing down the dust, dirt, bugs and grass clippings from the porches and sidewalks.
So, I did that this morning. Pulling the hose up the steps I shot water at the cobwebs, the wasps, the grass clippings and the dirt. Brick and cement turned dark as the water washed over them and the old dirt and cobwebs dripped over the porch and ran down into the mulch that drank it all up. Blades of mowed grass, nudged out of corners of steps, washed away into the street.
The fragrance of wet brick, water, humidity and grass were a natural cologne in this morning’s summer heat. A prescription for calm.
I’d like to share a photograph of the gift my husband and daughter presented to me for my birthday on the 24th of May, along with a poem I had written about the same subject: Building Eight at the Factory in Franklin Tennessee. It’s where God found us. Our church. Journey Church. We’d never gone to church regularly in all our thirty-seven years of marriage. We went occasionally on Christmas Eve, the kids and hubs kicking and screaming most of the time.
In 2007 our adult daughter and her dog moved in with us while a mysterious illness started to attack her body. We had a tornado shelter installed in the garage and agreed to show it to any potential customers for the shelter company. One couple wanted to see it. Bob and Amy. They came, saw our daughter’s obscure little dog and said, “Is that an Affenpinscher?” Really? They had one. “Do you have MS?” That was a suspicion of doctors. Amy had MS. We all became friends and Gretchen agreed to go to church with them. Odd. Very odd. After a few months she asked us to go. We declined. A lot. She begged. “Go for me.” Fine. That was 2008 and Journey Church. We’ve never looked back.
Church is in flux right now. Searching for a new home. The Factory is reinventing itself and we are not part of the plan. I’ve written a poem about Building Eight and the memories it carries for many of us. My daughter took a photograph of the inside where we were loved and allowed to sit, ask questions, disagree, cry, sing and find Christ over the years. A friend from church turned the photo into a painting. Here are the painting and poem:
Remembering Building 8
Journey Church, The Factory in Franklin
By Susie Dunham
What is this place once filled with the trust of a paycheck and food on the table,
where lunch pails held coffee thermos’ and dreams,
and men told stories of family and faith in good times and bad?
What is this place now filled with rails and chains and pulleys and rust,
walls of brick mortared with the sweat of decades of work days and,
floors where ghosts resided in bird filth knee-high?
What is this place where sweat, love, hope, and grace has lived,
this place where voices and instruments blazon the story of Love,
where the Spirit has danced and held us if only for a breath?
Where is this place after the rust and brick are surrendered,
where the sanctuary, the safe haven, the church will live,
where souls will heal and awaken to God’s love and joy?
Ah, poise is warranted, for our God has much work to do in our world.
We will trust.
We will be patient.
We will never forget.
The winter of 2015 has become a cabin fever nightmare.
The Northeast has been hit time and again with blizzards that would freeze your gizzards.
A gazillion feet of snow in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, little Rhode Island (now a big snowball), Vermont and New Hampshire (secretly one good-sized state cut on a diagonal) and New York, including the frozen Big Apple and the rest of the state which is an massive orchard in size-comparison.
Slip on down the coastline and everybody has gotten a taste of winter right into the Carolinas and into the mid-south states of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Here in mid-Tennessee all schools, and trash pick-up are closed for the rest of the week. Malls, restaurants, offices, fast-food, slow-food, doctors and lawyers have closed offices. Our area has been crippled. Except for the NHL game in Nashville! Hockey fans rock it!!! Go Preds!!!!
So, my prediction from all this snow, ice and mayhem?
I was born and raised in the Northeastern part of the United States. All my family has lived up in upstate New York or northern Massachusetts for decades upon decades. Hearty people who can handle the cold, hard winters and appreciate the beauty of the four seasons. This year has been a record breaking snow year. My cousins in northern Massachusetts and fraternity brothers over near Boston and Maine have had 5.5 feet of snow in three weeks. My sister in upstate New York (picture) and the rest of our family has drifts of snow almost up to my Aunt Shari and Uncle Mike’s porch which is about 4 feet high. I could ask my cousin Mike exactly how high it is since my sister and cousin Greg convinced him he could fly off of it when he was five, which is just a few years short of a half-century ago. Broken leg for Mike and the other two went into hiding. But, I digress… Snow. Lots of it and newsworthy. Yes, it’s the north and we expect snow, but not all at once for three consecutive weeks. It would be like having 105 degree weather, day and night, for three weeks in August here in the south where we now live. Stay safe and hearty, my Northern Family and Friends. I’ll visit in August.
(cousin Mike,53, runner/athlete had successful quintuple emergency bypass surgery last month. Genetics… He’s doing very well in recovering)
While the north was getting forecasts for more snow on the first Saturday in February at 1pm, sirens sounded in our neighborhood. I froze and listened; observed the sunshine and brilliant blue sky out the patio doors and realized tornado season is now upon Tennessee. Oh joy. Tests of the tornado warning system on the first Saturday of each month during Twister Season have begun. Time to restock and clean the shelter in the garage.
The Day the Music Died the House Got Dirty
Just the other day, as I looked around my living room/dining room/kitchen combo area, I wondered where my get-up-and-go went when it came time to really clean the house. Windows, windowsills, cobwebs, corners, baseboards, doors, framework, floors, upholstered furniture…. Did I leave anything out? I looked at it all and then I left. While preparing to clean up a few dishes later in the kitchen, I thought, “This just isn’t fun. “ I turned on my iPod player and it became easier, still not fun, but easier. “That’s it! The music’s gone.” When Bossman retired in 2005, it was the day the music died. I used to have the stereo blaring The Doors, and other classic rock. Old pop hits like Manilow, Neil Diamond and the BeeGees. Kenny Rogers and Dotty West got me through a lot of housecleaning chores. Bossman doesn’t like loud music or my music. Neither does the Queen of English who lives with us. So, I’d try wearing my iPod and earbuds but would nearly strangle myself getting the wires caught on the broom or mop and the family would start dialing 911 if they heard me singing, thinking an injured hyena had come into the house.
Cleaning is just not fun since the music died and I’m all about the fun. So, a little dirt never hurt anybody, right?
As I was getting ready to post the above material, I realized how long it had been since my last blog, Mr. Bo Jangles. Billy-the-peeing-guy-dog’s death in September took a lot out of us as a family. Soon after we had another huge and unexpected loss. My husband’s brother, Ross, passed away the beginning of October. Very unexpected. He’d not felt well and went to the doctor who did tests and found cancer in his chest area. Before they could schedule other tests, he was gone a short three weeks later. Ross was 67, a runner since high school who never missed a day on the streets. It’s taken a lot out of us as a family. He’s left his wife and two daughters, son-in-law, his only sibling Terry, me, and our two kids reeling. A stepmom, aunt, cousins and many friends stunned.
Time moves on and so do we. Never to be forgotten, life continues for us earth-bound beings who fight weather, traffic, illness, dirt, memories, hackers, FB unfriending, unanswered emails and try to make the best out of annoying situations. Be nice to each other and pass it forward when you’re blessed in any way.