Strange days

There’s no theme to this post, just a collection of timely thoughts and observations.

First up, if you’re interested in or worried about the Wuhan coronavirus, this prepper website is a great resource. It’s very hard to say how widespread and therefore dangerous this virus will become, so best to be informed.

Speaking of preppers, I have a bit of that tendency myself. Part of it was my constant safety/preparedness training at my job, part of it was living through the damnable 2007 fires, and part is just common sense. I have a bug-out bag in my car at all times. We have a PV roof and a new automated fire suppression system for outside the house. All my data is backed up in several places, including offsite. So anything that looks like a credible threat to our way of life, I enjoy getting prepared for it.

Second up, today was the day Kobe Bryant died. A complete shocker, and particularly sad that his helicopter had eight other people aboard, including his daughter. Kobe lived a very big life in only 41 years. RIP.

Third up, in a weird display of synchronicity, my best friend from high school is going through pretty much exactly the same thing as me with his father. Mike and I have a lot in common. We’re both the oldest of four brothers, each two years apart. We both went to UK and became engineers. Our birthdays are two days apart. And now we’re both enmeshed in moving our fathers from independent living to assisted living, ASAP. I’m a week or two ahead of Mike, but…wow. I suppose statistically it makes some sense – I believe our fathers are the same age, 84, and they live in the same town. But we were both dumbfounded when we learned of the coincidence. I hope to see Mike soon, once he’s got all the logistics of this move worked out. Best of luck!

In better news, my UK Wildcats defeated a tough Texas Tech team in Texas last night. It was the best basketball game I’ve seen in years, watched after a fun afternoon out at Cougar Vineyards. UK is finally coming around and looking like the team we hoped they’d be. Most of all, NICK RICHARDS! He’s the poster child for staying in college more than one year. Go Nick!

Finally, I spent a lot of time today modifying my home security system. Moved one motion sensor, added another, tested the sensors and just generally fine-tuned the system. It’s a good feeling knowing that our home now can’t be invaded without an immediate alarm and notification. And the technology available now to monitor and protect your property is pretty amazing.

 

Sunday evening blues

It’s Sunday. I have to check the calendar these days to know what day it is – they all run together. I’m in eastern KY and in the final stages of helping my dad and stepmom move from their home of 25-ish years into an assisted living facility. It’s been quite an experience. Some events that stand out in my mind include:

  • Driving a giant U-Haul truck through a tiny alley, maneuvering it in and out of dad’s neighborhood. I got a weird thrill driving the big truck without mishap.
  • Watching three large and strong young guys (hired movers) carrying furniture effortlessly, the way I used to. It was a harsh reminder of how I’ve aged in the last 35 years (doh!).
  • The weight, emotional and literal, of layers and layers of things two people have accumulated over the years. Wading through it has been pretty awful, frankly. It gives one a real perspective on the futility of acquisition. Note to self – experience, don’t acquire.
  • How beautiful the KY hills and valleys can be in the winter, as seen in the title picture above, taken some 18 years ago in eastern KY. The industrialized areas of eastern KY are pretty rough-looking. The unspoiled wooded areas, what few are left, are magnificent.
  • The fun of working through all this with my three brothers. We don’t spend a lot of time together these days, so this shared set of tasks has had a silver lining. We get to catch up and spend time together as we shut down an old, cluttered domicile and start up a new one for the parents.

When I leave here in a few days for the Left Coast, I’ll have the peace of knowing we did everything possible to make our parents’ transition from independent living to the next stage as easy and healthful as possible. Many families aren’t so lucky, though it’s clear to me that this kind of outcome is part luck, part hard work and lots of goodwill across siblings and generations.

 

 

Running on Empty

“Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running, too.” – Jackson Browne, 1977

Another one of Jackson Browne’s trademark songs sums up life lately. I’ve been shuttling back and forth between Socal and KY, and on that end  between Louisville and eastern KY (Ashland). Lots of miles, lots of time to think, lots of stress in what’s going on and a ton of work to do. Running on empty.

Basically, we’re moving my dad and stepmom into assisted living facilities. This is one of those points in life that most everyone will experience, so this isn’t exactly a unique situation. You can intellectually understand that it’s a tough time for all, but until you’ve lived through it you can’t appreciate the difficulty.

We have several complications in this transition:

  • Trying to assist from long distance (2400 miles, in my case)
  • Parents who aren’t ready financially for the transition
  • Decades of junk to deal with in the house being vacated
  • One parent with problematic health and behavior

All three of my brothers are involved and helping, and I’m sure thankful for that. We’ve made all the hard decisions, and now it’s just going through the steps to make it happen. With any luck at all in ten days my dad and stepmom will be in a safe, clean, healthy and constantly-monitored place, and the rest of the family can breath a little. Fingers crossed…

(Jackson Browne photo taken by me at the Actor’s Gang in Los Angeles, 2019. Front row seats!)