The Rise & Fall (Diary)

August 3, 2019

So what’s happened in the few days since I’ve last written here?

I’ve had one fall, on my way out of PT (Physical Therapy). I survived.

Yesterday, after supper, or getting up after supper, or trying to get up after supper, I almost plopped to the floor but was saved at the last minute by a blue shirt who actually had experience with stroke patients and knew what to do. (Grab me by the back of my belt and get my bum back in the chair.)

The most experienced blue coat who deserves the name of health aide is leaving this Friday. Two relatively new (and damned smart) blue coats are grumbling about not being able to take it anymore. (I don’t blame them.)

I opened my account with Fresh Direct and for a while I wasn’t going up to the dining room at all, except to see some of my friends. Nan is back. Looking a little beat up from her fall, and a little mixed up, but still quick witted.

When she went up to the dining room yesterday, there were only 3 settings at her table. She sat down at what is usually Pat’s (90 something deaf and blind) who feels her way into her seat. And I kept yelling at the dumb as shit blue shirts that they were missing a chair at that table and when Pat came up there was going to be a commotion.

Finally they saw what I was talking about and dragged another chair over for Nan, and then Nan, weak and thin as a rail slowly made her way over to the new chair.

I told one of the waitresses to help her over as she hung on the arm rest, trembling and out of breathe. The waitress looked over at her and said, (you guessed it) “that’s not my job.” I caught the eye of one of the smarter blue shirts I just mentioned and she dashed over to help Nan get into her chair.

Meanwhile, Pat, being lead by another blue coat who had taken her from her room was just beginning to feel her way into her corner spot.

She was still feisty and wanted to do that last fumbling into her chair on her own.

So that was the table for four: Spike,Lawrence, Pat and Nan.

At my table for two the ex-boxer and world renown organist, Reuben, and myself. Reuben and I could talk about music, and laugh about it, but he couldn’t remember anything from the previous 10 minutes.

Which was good for me because I could tell him the same stories about musicians (he loved hearing what a dirty bastard Beethoven was) and the same exact story of how Beethoven kept a filled chamber pot under his piano was good for three laughs a meal.

The adjoining table with Ike and Nancy looked over to see the two of us laughing and Nancy who was, sort of his girlfriend, or at least cared for him, told me I was the only one she had seen him laugh with.

That made me feel good.

She asked me my secret, and I told her I knew music theory, and I could twist it all up in a way that made him laugh. After all, I did begin college as a music major and was pretty good banging chord inversions on the piano.

He loved the story of how I used to play chords to rock and roll songs and my mother (classically trained pianist) would yell from the kitchen: stop all that banging. I’m going to have to have the piano tuned again.

Oh,I had a wealth of musical stories: my father practiced the clarinet and idolized Shaw and Bennie Goodman, and played in the high school band until the time he died, in his mid-80s.

And never got any better.

In order for him to practice in our pre-war apartment in the Bronx, my mother forced him down one hallway that had a door you could shut, and into my room at the end of the hallway, with a door that never shut all the way (it needed sanding), and she would go into her bedroom at the other end of the house and put on a hat with earmuffs, and turn up the t.v. and still, when I sat with her through this ritual, you could hear the squeaks from the back room. And my mom (and me) would cringe: nails on a chalkboard.

When the torture was over, my dad would emerge with his spitty clarinet and declare that he had just learned a new fingering that made it less squeaky. And my mom had taken off her hat. And no matter what we said he had to demo the fingering for us.

So there were countless musical stories to amuse Reuben.

At any rate, I was happy to hear that his agent got him two gigs. And with Nan around to remind him and the agent around, that’s good news. He can still play really well.