November 1, 1999

 Since my last update on Dad a lot has happened, and I've been thinking about a lot, too. We went to see the Current Red Clay Ramblers at the Eastern NC Memory Walk on October 2.  The Current RCR's played, among others, "Wahoo", and some Old Time tunes.  They sounded good, and Al McCanless of Celtic Jam joined them for a tune or two.  It was really a wonderful reunion.  Al and His son (Will?) were doing sound.  It was great to see them and get back in touch.

 The funds raised by the Walk will go to family services in North Carolina.  Many special services are needed for families with an Alzheimer sufferer, especially families in Eastern NC, who will be recovering from the Floyd Floods for a long time to come.

 Dad was okay, but it tired him out.  I think that kind of thing is getting to be too much for him.

Recently, a band calling themselves the Cluckeneers (A.C. Bushnell, Richard Perz, and Bill Parsons) were reunited (after 20 years) to perform at The Skylight Exchange in Chapel Hill.  They wanted to perform "The Atlantic Coastal Line" for Dad.  I felt that dad was unable to negotiate all the transitions necessary to take him to the Skylight Exchange, so they came to Britthaven.  They played the "Atlantic Coastal Line," and the response of the residents and the staff was so positive that they delayed leaving for their sound check for an extra ten minutes to perform another, "Waterbound." Dad liked it a lot and sang along with them.

 In the meantime, Evelyn Shaw's band, The Dixie Crystals, has scheduled a performance at 7:00 on Nov. 15 at Britthaven.  Hurray!

Just to let folks know--Dad's main concern now is being valued and useful in his community.  There is little that he can do because of his coordination, language, and perception problems. You don't think about coordinating your right and left hand until you can't do it any more. You don't think about visual figure/ground perception until it is lost.  You donít worry about walking and standing and sitting until you no longer have a sense of where you are and how to control your limbs.  He is not able to read.  He is not able to turn on and off radios, or operate CD players.  The losses he has experienced must be incredibly painful to think about.  He cries out "What did I do??!!!" It is the dementia patient's way of asking "Why me?"  I have learned that there are certain reminders of his past which I must stay away from.  He gets inspired when he hears Charlie Poole or Tony Ellis on CD, and then frustrated that he can no longer get together his friends and create a band.  Like my brother has been saying, I have to learn how to "Be-here-now" with dad, and to enjoy This Moment.

He can still harmonize. He is gentler and sweeter than he's ever been. He loves children and animals. The staff at Britthaven loves him for his dedication to justice, peace, and understanding.  He is often the voice of reason in the strange world of the Arbor Unit there.

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Besides Tommy's section of the site, the following pages are also related to Jesse and Tommy:
Blurred Time "The Sleeper": the aftermath of Jesse and Bobbie's car accident
Mike Craver's "Visiting Tommy"
Roots of the Red Clay Ramblers:
Fuzzy Mountain String Band: Jesse's mom, Bobbie, recorded with Rambler Bill Hicks and others
Hollow Rock String Band: Tommy and Bobbie Thompson named this band for their community

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February 17, 2000