The long goodbye…

Last night we watched an episode of The West Wing titled “The Long Goodbye.” It dealt with CJ Craig’s trip back home…the rationale was to give a speech at a high school reunion, but underlying that was a desire to check on her dad who has Alzheimer’s.

The nickname for that disease is “the long goodbye…”

It was rather ironic that we watched that episode at this particular time, because we’re starting down that road with my mother. I don’t know that it’s specifically Alzheimer’s, but watching CJ interact with her father was so much like some of the interactions I’ve had with my mother.

She can still function in her usual routine in the home where she lives, and she can still get where she needs to go without getting lost. But her short-term memory is fading…and, to some extent, so is her long-term memory. When we visit for 10 minutes, we can have the same conversation 6-8 times–and each time is the first time for her. And if I call her later that day, we can again have the same conversation–again for the first time.

She’s also forgetting some things that she’s known for years…and hiding things in her apartment so well that we are unable to find them.

It is a long goodbye…

We went through this with my father-in-law–basically lost him two years before his body gave out. And I was hoping not to go through this again. But…

My father was mentally with us until a couple of hours before he took his last breath. And his sister is still living by herself…still active both physically and mentally at the age of 90. I had hoped that would also be true of my mother.

Having to parent your parent is difficult. She knows she is losing sharpness, but she also does not want to be treated as a child–understandably so–even though there are some aspects of her life in which that is becoming more necessary.

“The long goodbye…” I don’t know how long it will last, but it will be a lesson in loving, patience, and understanding.


Tonight is the 94th annual performance of Handel’s Messiah…It will be at Community of Christ Auditorium. This will be the last performance there, because next year it will move to the new performing arts center in downtown Kansas City.

There are so many thoughts / emotions tied up in that one word…”Messiah.”

Yes, it includes the performance…sadness about the Auditorium tradition ending…but also delight that the Kansas City Symphony wants to keep the tradition alive with the Independence Messiah Choir, even if it will be in a different venue. And yet, in many ways it’s coming full circle, because the early performances of Handel’s masterpiece were in downtown Kansas City…and so, in some ways, we’re closing the circle.

But there are also deeper meanings to that word–“Messiah”–meanings that in many ways are caught up in the words of this oratorio.

I could be picky and say that there are places where Handel got it wrong…where he didn’t have the insight of current biblical study and scholarship, and so his use of the scripture is just all wrong. And some might.

But when I sit and listen to it–to the whole thing–there is such a celebration of the One whom I believe came to show us the way to develop a closer relationship with God…who came to bring healing and wholeness.

And the power of the music isn’t limited to “formal” performances. Just watch what happens when a choir breaks into the Hallelujah Chorus in–of all places–a food court!

Nor can I forget the power of “I know that my Redeemer lives”…or “The trumpet shall sound”…

As we move into this season of Advent, I am reminded by Messiah of so many meanings….that Christ has come once….that he will come again…and that my challenge is to live in such a way that my life will truly show that I believe the music I hear.


After a family Thanksgiving feast yesterday, we were invited to spend the rest of the evening with some family members, watching the movie Stomp. I’d heard of the group before…and had seen little snippets here and there. But I’d never seen what they really can do. Theyr’e incredible!!

Apparently the group has changed personnel at times, because some of the folks we saw were different–but the work they do is still impressive. Here’s a montage:

It’s not just percussion….it’s not just dance…

And they don’t use fancy instruments…just everyday, ordinary stuff. Well, okay….some of the things you might not have just laying around your house. But a lot you do….and one of the most incredible sections to me used nothing but the human body to create an incredibly complex and sophisticated¬† experience.

If I were teaching music appreciation, this would certainly be in my repertoire of resources!

What an incredible way

Happy Thanksgiving…and thanks-living

I want to wish all my friends a happy thanksgiving. May you be blessed with true friendship and a joyful life.

We had our thanksgiving service at church a week ago to allow folks to attend who might otherwise be traveling. As I was preparing for it–looking up some Thanksgiving Day trivia (fun and otherwise)–I was reminded again of just how significant that first Thanksgiving was.

The people who were celebrating it had been through a more difficult time than I can imagine. Only about 40-50% of those who had made the voyage survived–and their food supplies were running low. Yet they were still able to give thanks.

I have a warm home, plenty of food, and have basically had a healthy life. And yet, how often do I forget to give thanks?

Thanksgiving Day is simply that–a day. My challenge is to be a “thanks-living” person…to live every day in appreciation of how I am blessed…and to consider how I can share that blessing with others.

Boring could be nice

Don’t get me wrong…I enjoy my life…at least most of the time! But sometimes I’d like a little boredom!

Just about the time one situation seems to be getting under control, another breaks out…and of course, they never seem to be easy ones. For whatever reasons, they are ones that stretch and challenge me in all kinds of directions.

If the “challenges” were all related to one part of my life, that would be one thing. At least I’d have some idea of what to expect. But no…they come from work…church…family…personal…medical… Nothing seems exempt!

I know that some stress is good in our lives, and I don’t mind that. In fact, in a lot of ways, I work better under pressure–when there is a specific goal that needs to be accomplished in a specific time period. But when that goal is accomplished, then there should be at least a little down time before the next one arises.

Oh well…I’m beginning to think that the only time my life is going to get boring is when I’m no longer breathing, and I’d prefer to put that off as long as possible!