I have been home in Southern California for a whole week! I have not had time to update you, and if you read on, you will know why.
I am just now again with Walter in Nebraska, and he is visibly more agile than when I left. He has no more drains from his abdomen. There is no more bile leak... A CT scan determined that conclusively last week!! And Friday he learned that the virus that destroyed his "old" liver was gone. No more Hepatitis C for Walter! The medicinal treatment he was on for three months prior to this eventual transplant was victoriously successful! He is eating a little more all the time, and is doing interviews almost every day. He continues his regimen of three hours of physical, occupational, and other kinds of therapy per day. He has a long way to go to regain his strength, but he can now walk short distances without a cane. A major milestone! He speaks now again with that full Walter voice. That just makes me so happy to hear. He has such a warm voice – big voice, and when he was ill, his voice was drier and brittle, as could be heard in the documentary that is part of the Blues Came Callin’ release. Walter still does not LOOK like Walter. But he sounds like him! YES!!!
My trip home was .... wow. On the lay-over on the way home, I got a text message that our house was full of fleas. Somehow - and we have no pets - fleas had taken up residence especially in my bedroom. I did a quick google on what fleas look like - have never had to deal with them before - and after seeing the online images - envisioned large shrimp-like beings crawling all over my bed. Nice!
I am not a naturally neat person. In fact, by nature I am quite the opposite. Growing up, I did not pick up my room until asked to do so - and then hated doing it. I preferred the kind of organization that was random.... I liked my stuff where I could see it - randomly strewn about. As the complexity of my life increased in adulthood with a few active careers simultaneously, husband and three sons, organization became more than a preference in my life. It became a matter of being able to efficiently do the things I wanted to do on a daily basis. To organize my life meant that I didn't have to spend my time looking for things. I could plan and execute smoothly.
My being a neat person is thus an adapted quality. It is something I taught myself to do when my more chaotic and animated inner self rather would go play. And the more orderly I made my life, the more disorder disturbed me. I started to interpret the random, "layered", and visible "systems" of my youth, as unwelcome distractions. My linen closet became organized and my towels all folded in a certain way. I would pride myself on being able to find stuff in my office with my eyes closed! Husband and kids could close the doors to their havens and largely have their more "creatively organized" spaces. But in my areas, order was and is a necessity. My bedroom is light, airy and white.
And now full of fleas!
And that was just the beginning of my home experience. Walking in the front door, boxes and boxes of shirts, CD's, DVD's, books, and a cubic yard of unopened mail greeted me. My office was full of boxes that the bookkeeper had left for me to get to the accountant (we are on an extension and so it is also tax time for us…). I discovered that my office had in fact turned into a "creatively organized" haven for oldest son. The towel closet was empty - turns out towels were all in piles on the floor in various "havens". The linen closet had likewise suffered severely - and weeks worth of dirty sheets were dancing tangled tango on the floor in the laundry room. I quickly found out that both dishwasher and dryer were wonky - and so using them required both chanting, praying and a bit of luck, the skylights were broken, screens were missing, the backyard overgrown, windows out of whack, hinges on cabinets falling off, etc....
This is what happens when you do not live in your house for months. And of course those darling kids.... organization has not become a necessity for them... yet. To help my sinking mood that first night home, Jon cooked me dinner and I had some wine. Screw the surroundings anyway…. My kids were there and they were fabulous!
Dylan went to work with baking soda and vacuum cleaner in the back of the house to immobilize and remove the offending flea infestation. My first night in my own bed was spent worrying about those shrimp-like things. I had a spray bottle of lemon oil and verbena next to me. I sprayed myself with it. I sprayed all around the bed with it. I woke up several times that first night and sprayed up in the air and all around me to repel the shrimp-looking fleas I imagined hiding in all the crevices in my bed. I woke up smelling and feeling just "wonderful"! But unharmed!
Sweet Dylan baking soda'ed and vacuumed daily until I persuaded a company to squeeze our house into their schedule and fumigate the place. Hopefully that took care of any remaining "shrimp".
Then I needed to get the van and trailer ready for the band tour of the USA. The boxes of merchandise needed to be organized and counted. Jon needed a guitar repaired, get driven to and from rehearsal across L.A., Mike had a show with his High School - and I managed to see it. Dylan needed to get ready for two weeks at camp. I am the only legal driver in our household right now, as Jon lives in Denmark and is thus uninsured stateside. There were months of bills to pay. That cubic yard of mail finally shrunk after I attacked it. The laundry piles dissipated and my linen closets, along with the kid’s closets, and my office started looking like themselves as I washed and folded incessantly. Boxes of bookkeeping made it to the accountant; visits to banks, post office, etc... And I still did not manage to do all I wanted.
I enjoyed our boys through it all. We had ONE major blow-out. I had a melt-down. Plain and simple! Jon had to be ready to tour with Walter’s band, Mike is off to New Jersey to stay with a friend, Dylan is off to two weeks of summer camp, I was trying so hard to also be mommy and cook for them…. Make them feel special… while making sure we all met our deadlines. I over-extended. I felt alone in moving things forward on time. I freaked out! It was not pretty. I anticipate crunch time better than the rest of our brood, and instead of explaining to them why it is important to do things at certain times - I bark out orders. And as they ignore my barks, crunch time gets closer. Then I bark out five orders at a time, and things implode as we run out of time. Yup, not pretty.... But after the waves of the tsunami settled and we talked things through, I believe we all learned something. I know I did!
The last night I was home, I caught Walter's band with Danny Bryant fronting it. They were brilliant – and it was so good to see them play Walter's and Danny's music together again! Friends and fans alike came out and supported them, and there was so much love in the room...Danny is an amazing guitar player and singer, whom Walter has mentored since he was a young teenager. Now Danny is mentoring Jon…. Talk about Full Circle! Go see them if you can as they tour the USA all of August.
Danny and Kirby spent a night at our house as well this past week. Hopefully unharmed by fleas..... I enjoyed spending an evening with them. Kirby and I both manage our husbands’ careers and we have a special bond, just as Danny and Walter are connected musically. I am forever grateful to Kirby for creating the fundraiser campaign that allowed us to travel far to get Walter a new liver, dual households while we are in Omaha, piles of medical bills, and also get the after-care now for Walter so he can re-gain his strength. She is a jewel.
As I got on the plane to come back to Omaha, I found out that my rented place there is ALSO full of fleas. I am not kidding you! A week before I left for California, the landlady had bought a loveseat at an estate sale. And it turns out it had fleas in it. So I am now living out of my suitcase in a friend's place in Omaha as we wait for a company here to fit it into their schedule to fumigate. Fleas in California - and fleas in Nebraska! I have never had fleas in my home before... and now suddenly in both AT THE SAME TIME!!!
So what is the message – what does it all mean? Fleas, unrest, disorganization, no plans possible, contingencies and extreme multitasking..... Is there a message for me to pick up here?
I don't know. All I know is that Walter and I continue to have much to be thankful for. He has a new chance at life. Truly! Now without the Hepatitis C returning, the prognosis is full and complete recovery. Our three sons are good people, who I trust and enjoy spending time with. The worst they did while alone in the house and with Sarah off, was to make laundry piles and somehow bring in fleas! And most of the rest of the time they saw friends, and mainly just played music together.... day and night. We feel surrounded with love from you - our friends each day. I feel this love extended at the gigs for Danny, the band and Jon.
No, I am not a naturally neat person. And life can be messy. I learned to love to be orderly, efficient and make deadlines; to be in control. But my life lately has been one big testament to the fact that there is much more to life than what I can anticipate and manipulate. Fleas, messiness, illness.... in the end it is just experiences. And in this crazy time of our lives, I am not bored. I am not lonely. I always thought that living fully was about sipping cocktails on a peaceful beach under a palm leaf umbrella. And I can’t lie, that sounds nice, but only as a brief break in the action at some point. As I am spraying lemon verbena on my countenance - and battling to-do lists the length of legal documents - I have to say, I feel alive... I feel this crazy life run through me with intensity and vigor. My priorities are getting another make-over. Organization and planning can be stifling if I stare myself blind on them. Life is about much more than appearances. I feel creative even if what I kick into problem-solving mode for is to fix appliances, dinner, laundry, paperwork, and skylights. And lo and behold, order can be restored, fleas can be dealt with, and schedules picked up after the storm settles.... much easier than restoring someone's health. Health, love, and fun times with loved ones.... now that is abundance.
In the end, “don’t sweat the small stuff” applies. All is well here with the Trouts…. All is really well!