Still More Reflections – 2015




2015 is about to fade away as 2016 awaits a cue to take the stage. It has been a year of unsurmountable highs and a year of unavoidable lows. The year began as I was recuperating from my 2nd major surgery in two years, this time dealing with Cancer. As my body began to heal, it was impossible to not wonder about the future of my health and how successful the surgery was. The City of Hope had provided the most professional service anyone could ever hope for and the surgeon, his staff and the cardiologist who had helped in preparation for the December surgery were as good as any medical staff one could imagine. The annoyance of dealing with drains, healing of wounds and frequent visits of home care nurses seemed to be a lot for this old guy to deal with. I needed a diversion, so, once again music came to the fore.


In January and February I attended the JEN convention in San Diego, the NAMM show in Anaheim and the CASMEC convention in Fresno. My physicians thought that it was probably not the greatest idea to do all of that beginning 22 days after major surgery, but those of you who know me… At JEN, Nancy and I attended some terrific clinics and concerts, had terrific meals, renewed old friendships with some terrific musicians, had terrific meals, enjoyed a magnificent view from our suite, had terrific meals, enjoyed seeing my fellow CAJ board members and had terrific meals!


The NAMM show in Anaheim was even bigger than the previous year. As usual it occurred the same week as my SDJW reading session so I attended on Friday, used Saturday to load the van for the Sunday read and rehearsed on Sunday. There was no time to think about bags, wounds or any of the physical stuff.


The drive to Fresno in February was long and boring, but the CASMEC convention was enjoyable. I enjoyed the appearance of the Canadian Brass and several other fine ensembles as well as meeting with former students, colleagues and professionals. I enjoyed working the CAJ booth, attending the clinics, visiting other booths and having terrific meals! I was sorry that future CASMEC conventions would move to San Jose…pretty long drive for this old man.


In March, I was so impatient to play my instruments that I decided to buy a new euphonium and I did. I got a terrific deal on a “like new” (it really was) King. From the first day, it played like a dream…I didn’t! This was going to take awhile. Fortunately I had my SDJW reading sessions to direct and if I could get help with the equipment, I could play my synth with the band. That worked out OK. Also in March a friend and former colleague lost his wife due to a fall and broken hip that led to her death. I felt awful for the family…in April, my mother fell at church and broke her hip. The drama had begun…


My brother David and I had to “take over” decision making from a lady who had “ruled the roost” for many decades…this was not going to be fun. We managed to line up a surgeon, get her through the surgery, and sit with her as she began to heal…slowly and painfully. We forced the issue when she could no longer stay at the hospital and needed to spend some time…lots of time…in a convalescent facility. This was not going to be pleasant. Mother felt abandoned, ignored and without any power over her own decisions. In the meantime, David and I took care of business, bills, legal issues, and all of the stuff that begins to snowball when a parent suddenly needs daily care. David was spending his “free time” when not teaching, working the legal issues and I was commuting several times a week from San Dimas to Long Beach to take care of financial issues and medical issues. Mother was slowly healing and her memory was beginning to show increased signs of fading and as she realized her memory loss, her sense of abandonment became more of a concern.


As the Spring arrived, I found that my chops were returning so I resumed my weekly brass ensemble rehearsals and in addition began rehearsing with the Covina Concert Band. Monday suddenly became the busiest and most musical day of the week. During the Summer, the concert band played several concerts in Covina, San Dimas, Forrest Lawn, Poway and Huntington Beach. The euphonium parts were challenging and great fun to perform. In addition, my brass ensemble and the SDJW big band were reading challenging literature on a regular basis. I felt like a musician again. I also decided to write one arrangement per month for the big band. That lasted a few months but was fun while it lasted. I had also been asked to arrange the opening number for the dedication of the new BUSD Performing Arts Center. I did an arrangement of show tunes to be performed by SDHS and BHS vocal and instrumental music students. The performance went well and I felt like a musician again.


Eventually Medicare would no longer cover mother’s care so David and I needed to find an alternative place for mother to live. She could not, at this time, live alone so we looked in earnest for a very good, yet affordable, alternative. We found one in Anaheim and set her up…once again, she was not pleased. We managed to get mother’s finances set and we helped her sell the house. That set her up, and with the help of a terrific realtor, we had a quick escrow and a successful sale. Mother was set financially if not personally. Through all of this, I am so pleased that my wife was supportive, helpful and loving, no matter the circumstances or my mood. She’s a good lady.


It appeared that the Fall was going to settle down. Mother was feeling better. I was playing again. The brass ensemble and the SDJW were going great guns. The Covina Concert Band was fun and I was playing well. David got sick…very sick. He had been having heart pain for some time and was now spending a second stint in the hospital. He had great care, but things were pretty serious. This was going to take awhile, and it did. Eventually he was strong enough to leave the hospital…good news. He was not yet 65 to get his Medicare in effect…bad news. David needed a pacemaker and had three months before Medicare kicked in.


As Winter approached, I had a feeling that much of a very eventful and somewhat troublesome year was finally normalizing. I had been asked to assist a middle school jazz program once a week. I was organizing my brass ensemble for the yearly Nestico program for the San Dimas Christmas Tree Lighting. My SDJW Reading Band was playing a new set every rehearsal. My brass ensemble was reading new literature every week. I had a new job with CAJ and I had managed to make it through the year without any health issues. My Cancer was “undetectable” throughout the year. My RA seemed to be under control. Nancy and I were enjoying retirement and having some down time. We even made it to Vegas!


So here we are on the last night of 2015. David has had his pacemaker surgery. Mother had a pleasant day with all of us on Christmas Day. Nancy and I are essentially over our week of flu. I have heard the All-State jazz trombone auditions this week. The music for next month’s reading session has arrived and will soon be numbered. Cody and Kitty seem content and well fed. The Christmas decorations are down and loaded in the SUV to go into storage. The trains still run. The computers all work. I have close to 2,000 wonderful FB friends (met some new ones this month). Life is good and next year is Leap-year. That gives us all an extra day to enjoy. God bless you all and have a very Happy New Year!

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