Monthly Archives: April 2018
Many of you know that I do regular volunteer work for Gilda’s Club Twin Cities. Gilda’s is a place where support, education, classes in healthy living, social support and community resources are made available to anyone impacted by cancer – for free. That’s not just people with a cancer diagnosis, but their families and support systems. It’s an incredible organization and a beautiful and healing environment.
Because Gilda’s does not demand anything of its members, it is supported entirely by community donations. Our clubhouse is a gift of time, talent, and resources of many volunteers, community members and business organizations. The position I occupy, Gilda Greeter, is a volunteer position that many of the group of Gilda greeters have been doing for years. There is a lot of love at Gilda’s.
Last week was our big annual fundraiser. The “Imagine a Place” Breakfast started to raise funds to create a clubhouse in our area. Imagine a Place, our founders said, where people could go to get help and support. We continue to imagine and to grow. That takes a lot of time, a lot of hands, and honestly a lot of money. I put in some extra hours last week to help out.
The Aliveness Project has been around in the Twin Cities for a lot longer. They are an organization that supports people who are living with HIV and AIDs. They were one of the first groups that offered free testing. They also provide education and support to their members.
I’ve not been as active with the Aliveness Project, although many of my friends have. One of the best fundraisers they do is called Dining Out for Life. Essentially, restaurants who participate donate a percentage of the days take to the Project. It’s fun to make a date for a night out and know that because of the timing you are also supporting a good cause.
In all honesty, we didn’t plan our night out to happen along with Dining Out for Life. (In spite of the fact that we were all aware it’s a thing.) We didn’t pick the restaurant Northbound Smokehouse because it was one of the biggest supporters of the event (a platinum level participant). We just got lucky.
We ordered big, ate really well, tipped generously and all threw a little something extra in the envelope the Dining Out volunteers provided. We were happy, and grateful, to be enthusiastic participants. It was fun, it was easy, and most especially it was a good cause.
Minnesota has one of the most active non-profit communities in the nation. We have a council that reviews non-profits and provides information about how their money is distributed. We have community events, generous business owners and an understanding that if those in need do better, we all do better.
How do you support your community?
I’ve been posting a little inconsistently because I’ve been spending a lot of weekends “up north” at my parent’s house. As they age their needs have changed. Mom is mostly using a walker to get around, even in the house. She’s really needing a wheelchair if she’s out and about.
There was a big effort in March to get Mom a hospital bed to sleep in. She can use the adjustability. It will also help to have the grab bars just to roll over. We acquired a bed from one of the relatives (in the next state over). The logistics of getting the bed here and installed have been daunting.
The biggest dilemma in all of this has been space. My parents hang on to everything. As my Mom has lost track of what she has, she’s found the need to “replace” things that never were lost. We’ve seen them using what we would call rags and bought new as well. Then we discover the problem is just that the new stuff is being “saved for special.”
We are repeatedly invoking the mantra “Use the stuff! If you don’t use it, then toss it.” We’re at the point where the hospital bed is ready to install and the white gloves come off. We’ve spent the last weekend cleaning, decluttering and tossing. The whirlwind also included putting in new faucets in all the sinks (to stop the dripping).
It’s been a little distressing, a little disgusting, and required a lot of patience. The end result is that Mom can actually take her walker into any room in the house. Furniture has been moved and cleaned behind and under that had been collecting dust for 20 years. There is still a lot to do, but this is a good stopping point.
There is a lot of disorientation, especially on Mom’s part. It will take her some time to get used to the space. Dad has to touch everything that’s been put away and make sure that his most precious memorabilia is where he can get his hands on it at a whim. I’m sure in a couple of weeks piles will begin to accumulate again. Better is still better.
Thanks to my sister Andrea, her husband Butch, her son Zac and his SO Darcy, and Andrea’s daughter Alyx (who spent the weekend scrubbing). I couldn’t have touched this job and they took the lead on all of it. I’m thankful to be able to help at all. 5 years ago, I couldn’t have done anything.
Our culture has lost track of the sacredness of caring for our elders. We don’t have the time, services, support or even the examples of how to handle this. We are trying to do this work from a distance. 3 hours is no distance from my parents compared to what many of my friends deal with. Very few of us anymore have the resources to take our aging parents into our homes. We do what we can, and are grateful for the opportunity.
I’m tired of snow. So is everyone else. There’s a whole lot of grumpy going on.
This last batch I’m sure many people just left to melt. Indeed, the parts I didn’t shovel are pretty much cleared with the day’s sunshine. Unfortunately I couldn’t just ignore it. Orion’s transportation depends on a clear path from the road to the house. Pushing the wheelchair in even 1″ of snow is a whole different chore.
I have a huge blister on my palm. It’s from a sugar burn I got last Thursday. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t broken it yet, but it is a challenge. It made shoveling especially exciting this morning.
My Facebook feed is filling up with photos of blooms. Even here people have their seeds started indoors and there are pretty little sprouts peaking up. Not me. I can’t even bring myself to look through the garden catalogs.
I tried picking up some tulips. The “happy flowers” helped for a day or two. I tried a fire in the fireplace. That was great until I ran out of inside wood and couldn’t bring myself to trudge through the snow to unbury more. I tried baking (see above sugar burn). Even getting deep into a good book is difficult.
I’m antsy. I have spring fever. I want to open the windows. I want some light. Instead I’m curled up in a sweater with a cup of hot tea scrolling through re-runs.
What’s your cure for cabin fever?
Snow is coming in yet again. Not unseasonable for us here in the “cold north”. That doesn’t make it anymore pleasant when I’m stiff from shoveling and gazing longingly at the gardening catalogs filling my mailbox. I need to get in the car and run errands before the storm hits.
Orion and I listen to Sirius XM Broadway station whenever we’re in the car together. It’s the station we can agree on. We both enjoy musicals, and the Broadway repertoire includes music from every genre imaginable.
Orion is also big on filking. He has a talent for making up lyrics on the fly. He says, “If I was singing that song I wouldn’t sing it that way….” and goes on to demonstrate for me. He has some favorites. Instead of “I Could Have Danced All Night” he sings a song about being in the hospital with the catch “I Could Have Slept All Night” (if only I wasn’t woken up every 5 minutes by an alarm, a nurse, or someone wanting to stick my arm….).
Because of our shared appreciation for show tunes, Orion’s birthday present to me was a trip to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater to see Newsies. We got to go this weekend. It’s a show set at the turn of the century (not this one, but the last one) in NYC. The children of the city are working in sweatshops and on the streets. One of the jobs is hawking the day’s papers. When the big publishers decide to unexpectedly jack up the prices of the papers for the Newsies the kids decide to start a union and strike.
It’s a Disney show, so the historical content isn’t accurate. But it does reference historical events of the time. The strike that provides inspiration for the musical was instrumental in the development of child labor laws and the beginning of the 20th century.
On Sunday we celebrated “Ham Day”, in that I made a ham and invited a friend over for dinner. We also scheduled it so we could watch the Jesus Christ Superstar Live broadcast. I’m a fan of the show. I think it’s smart, musically brilliant, and generally fun. This production was impressive. It was well cast. The vocal performances were balanced.Sara Bareilles gave the best performance I’ve ever seen of Mary Magdalene’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”.
Somewhere I also found time to spend with my daughter. She spent most of the weekend setting up for the Easter Buffet at the pub where she works. But she deigned to include me on her Salsa dancing night. I had a good time, and even danced a little. I had more fun watching her. She shines in a crowd and really loves to dance to the Latin rhythms.