This is my Dad. This picture was taken at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home in King. He developed bladder cancer which then spread to his bones. When he couldn’t stand or walk anymore, despite everyone’s efforts to keep him at home, we had to move to the Veteran’s Home. I remember the day he told me he had cancer. I also remember my dis-belief when he told me he was going to let it take it’s course and chose not to treat it with chemo. Even though I hated what he was telling me, I had to respect what he was telling me. It was very hard to see him decline in health, especially near the end. My Dad was really the one who got me going in music and I remember having a guitar that was as tall as I was. He taught me the basic 3 chords (cheater G, D7, and C). Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I wouldn’t be doing what I am as a musician today if it weren’t for him. I remember him jamming with a young lady who worked at the veterans home who plays the flute for the residents there when she can. It made his day to do that and I was also inspired by her for playing with and for my Dad. When my Dad moved in to the Veteran’s Home, their property had to be sold and had to go to the state, so my Mother also had to move to the home with him. It was hard for her, but it enabled them to be together in the same building, and I know my Dad was very glad she was there with him. When my Dad passed, I focused on my Mom, and when I would visit I always tried to get her out of her room. Sometimes we would go down by the lake and watch the fish and boats. We discovered the fish loved little crusts of bread! It was fun for both of us. When it was cold or rainy, I would utilize the tunnels below that connect all the buildings at Wisconsin’s Veteran Home. I remember pushing her wheelchair and when we would get to a downhill section we would go as fast as I could safely go! She just loved that. Once I took her to the little four-lane bowling alley there and convinced her to bowl. I’d set up the ramp for her and she would push the ball off (after carefully eyeballing the aim of course). She got four strikes that day, it took me a while to get the ramp just right, but we hooted and hollered when she rolled them. When we were done, she thanked me and confessed that she had never been bowling. I was shocked, but even more glad that we were able to share the experience together and I’ll never forget it. I’m glad I had my cheap little cell phone with me and had someone take a picture for us. I cherish it now. My Mom’s last birthday had me nervous. I wanted to do something special for her even though I didn’t know it would be her last birthday at the time. Growing up, my family was always big on singing happy birthday to who ever had their birthday. If it was someone who didn’t live in our house anymore, a call was made and as soon as the recipient picked up the phone and said “Hello?” the singing began. My Sisters still have been known to keep this family tradition alive today and it’s still special even if it happens to be a voice mail message. So I took my old Cortez guitar that I’ve had forever and tuned up the old (really old) strings. I grabbed my blues hat and sunglasses and along with an old sport coat made my way to Veteran’s Home. The cake was in position (my Sister and Brother-in-Law were my partners in crime) and I made my way up the elevator. I came out strumming and kind of playing the part of a hired birthday singer (I guess) and shouted, “So… I hear it’s SOMEBODY’S birthday today! With that I walked over trying to hide my nerves and sang it to her. “Ellie, huh?” I asked as if I didn’t know. I think she was a bit scared of me because when I got close, she recoiled! When I was done and took my dark glasses and hat off, she was shocked that it was me! We all had a good laugh and continued to celebrate with her. She even put the glasses and hat on to be a sport! I guess that was my very first session and I didn’t even know it! We continued to enjoy her as long as we could. I loved taking her outside, and always tried to get her to the bands
they would have there outdoors. As time went on I took more pictures, knowing that some day they would be all I had left. My Sisters and I went through a lot losing our parents as anyone does, but I was SO proud of how we all hung together as a family. We have our memories to hold onto for now and I even know memories can be taken as we age. That’s why I am passionate about what I do. My Mom taught me to always try to do what is right. I hope I am making her proud.
Love Conquers All