Tuesday, April 17, 2007


My parents are going to remain in Oregon for a few more days, so Joshua and I are still caring for my parents' dog.

Joshua does not go to work until 11:15 a.m., so he is with the dog until that time. The dog is alone in our apartment from 11:15 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. or so, when our landlady gets home from work. She lets Rex out and allows him to run around the yard for a while before Josh and I get home, which is very kind of her. Rex seems to be perfectly content spending a few hours each day in our apartment alone. I think he naps most of that time.

My parents are doing OK. My uncle suffered horrible burns during his radiation treatment--a very aggressive course of therapy was required--and, according to my parents, he looks very bad indeed. My father said that it was all he could do to keep from crying when he first saw him.

My father was the only one of my uncle's siblings that my uncle's wife called and asked to come to Oregon. My parents did not know, until they arrived in Oregon, whether my uncle's wife had called other siblings as well. My uncle's wife must have been terrified at the results of the radiation treatment, which have included burns and severe blistering, and apparently she did not know anyone else to call.

My parents had never met my uncle's wife before they arrived in Oregon on Saturday. She is his second wife, and she has been married to my uncle since 1989, but she did not accompany my uncle to Iowa to attend my grandparents' funerals in 1990 and 1993, as she had never met my grandparents. Consequently, this was my parents' first opportunity to meet her.

She is in great distress now, which is to be expected. My uncle is weak and fatigued from his many treatments, and it is almost all he can do to get up and sit in a chair for a few hours each day. A short walk around the yard is a major challenge for him.

There is little my parents can do except offer assistance around the house, and offer support and encouragement to my uncle and his wife. My mother is taking care of the house and meals, and my father stays at my uncle's side most of the day, sometimes talking and sometimes not.

I asked my father why my uncle called him, and no one else in the family. My father really does not know the answer to that question. His only response to me was "He knows I'm dependable".

My father told me that my uncle remarked to him "Now, I regret that I never had children. At times like this, a man needs children. You are lucky. You have three fine boys to look out for you."

My father did not know what to make of that remark, and neither do I. Did my uncle not have children because he was too focused on his work, or were there other reasons why he and his spouses elected not to have children? None of us knows the answer to that question.

My father says that my uncle has been asking many questions about me and my brothers, which my father finds odd, as my uncle never exhibited much interest in us before now. My uncle asked to see photographs of us, so my mother called my brother in New York (he is the camera maven among us three boys) and my brother sent some photos to my parents via email.

My parents said that my uncle cried when he looked at the photos.


  1. I've gone to an immense amount of trouble to comment on your blog - signing up with Google and then trying to figure out why my user name and password didn't match up. Having finally achieved success, here goes.

    I came across your blog through your Karita Mattila comment on Will's "Designer Blog." Evidently she's touring the country because she'll be here in K.C. on Saturday night.

    I started to comment on Ms. Mattila (I heard her at the Chicago Lyric in "Fidelio") and Ms. Dessay. Then I read your archives and felt too intimidated to write or recommend anything.

    I've not come across such refined tastes and strong opinions ranging over a broad spectrum of the cultural landscape, at least from a non- professional. And, you're so young! Not that I would "despise your youth" per the Apostle Paul. In fact, I wondered if your blog was real or if it was one of those clever fakes that sometimes turns up in the ether.

    Having covered myself with all of those caveats, I do recommend Dessay. I heard her at the Chicago Lyric in "Lucia" a few years ago. She took a fairly silly opera and turned it into a compelling experience by her extraordinary singing and her complete immersion in the role.

    Have you considered the out-of-towners package that's offered by the Lyric? Many folks from Minneapolis subscribe. A year ago I met an older gay couple from the Twin Cities at the Lyric and have enjoyed connecting with them twice a year in Chicago.

    Keep up the blogging. I'm fascinated by your apparently golden life. To have had so many cultural experiences and to have traveled so widely at your age. And then there's your partner and your gay-accepting families. Quite astounding.

    Oh well, you're actually sort of an inspiration. I'm your dad's age and retired. I need to get myself in gear and do Europe while I'm still healthy (I haven't been there since 1956).

    Having said all that, my life hasn't been a total loss. I heard Janet Baker in the early '70's; I heard Henryk Szering play the Bach Chaconne; I saw the NYC Ballet three times in 1967; and I heard Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra play the Sibelius 2nd. All of those were transcendent experiences.

    I know this post sounds effusive and over the top. But, hey, it's 3:00 a.m. and I'm allowed.

    Finally, where on earth did you hear about Overland Park and its school music program? I didn't know anyone outside of the KC metro knew about Overland Park.

  2. David:

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    I am sorry that it was such a pain to comment. Perhaps I should switch my blog registration so as to allow anonymous comments, but I fear that doing so may result in advertisements flooding my blog.

    I have noticed that I have had trouble commenting on other blogs that require "visual identification"--sometimes I have typed in the code over and over and over, and yet it keeps coming back for me to do it once again, and out of frustration I finally give up--and that has inhibited me from commenting on blogs I enjoy reading. I do not want to inhibit comments anyone wants to make on my blog. I have never deleted any comments, except for advertisements.

    Anyway, I am sorry for all the trouble you went to.

    I am a real person; I am not ether. Could ether possibly be as incredibly boring as my blog? My brothers make fun of my blog all the time, and they tell me that it is positively sleep-inducing. They say that they are waiting for my blog entry on "The History Of The Potato".

    I am not sure why I began my blog. I think I wanted a record of my early years with Joshua, something I can go back and read in the future, something that captures my thoughts and feelings and impressions and experiences now.

    My life, in many ways, is thoroughly boring--I have to work for a living, after all, and gainful employment is pretty time-consuming. My life is pretty much work and family, and little else. Happily, I get a lot of enjoyment from my family, which now counts Joshua among its members. Without my family, I think my life would be pretty arid.

    I am not a professional anything except a lawyer. There are many things I enjoy, and many things I am curious about, but I have no professional background or training in any other field. I probably became a lawyer because my father is one.

    I happen to share a lot of interests with my mother and father, which I no doubt picked up from them, and I have them to thank for whatever appreciation of history and culture I have tried to develope.

    Goodness gracious, my life is hardly a golden one! It is filled with drudgery and routine, the hazards of anyone who works for a living. However, I love the people I am with, and that makes the drudgery and routine much more tolerable.

    I envy you your opportunties to have seen and heard so many great artists whom I shall never have the opportunity to experience. I am glad that those artists left you with such wonderful memories. I would give my right arm, I think, to have seen and heard George Szell, and New York City Ballet during Balanchine's lifetime, and Janet Baker, and many other others. You are lucky to have had those opportunities.

    My father occasionally went to Kansas City on business in the 1980's, and on a few occasions he attended concerts organized by one of your local colleges. The concerts were held at a restored theater in downtown Kansas City, and he said that the theater was a beautiful one, and that the concerts involved the very, very finest artists. Is Karita Mattila's concert this Saturday sponsored by that same organization? I hope you get to hear her. Is the Kansas City program the same as her recitals in Boston and Saint Paul?

    My parents used to attend performances of the Lyric Opera Of Chicago quite regularly, and I think, if I am not mistaken, that they did take advantage of the special weekend subscriptions for out-of-towners. However, they have not traveled to Chicago to attend opera performances there since my nephew was born, so I believe that the 2004-2005 season was the last time they attended anything at LOC. We shall have to look into going next year, or sometime soon, and I thank you for the information.

    By all means, I think you should travel to Europe as much as you can, now that you are retired. I suspect you would love it more than the last time you visited. My brothers and I picked up our love for Europe from our parents, and we have always had the most wonderful and stimulating times there. If I did not have to work for a living, I think I would want to travel there about 25% of the time.

    Why am I familiar with Overland Park? Well, my family knows a lot of musicians from church--teachers, professors, singers, orchestral musicians--and Overland Park is known for the excellence of its schools, including the music programs there.

    Thank you for your blog comment, and all the best to you. My email address is Drew80MN@aol.com. I used to have my email address noted on my blog profile, but I took it down after some unknown person kept sending me email messages, telling me, insistently, that my family and I did not in fact enjoy our trip to Hamburg, and after some other unknown person kept sending me offensive email messages about the opera, "The Grapes Of Wrath", whose score I have not even heard.

    Kindest regards, with much thanks,