Tom Ashley contacted me last week, and we made plans to go and see dad this morning. We left my house about 7:45am. We arrived at the facility at about 9:40. We went into Dad's room. He was dressed and lying on his bed. His nursing staff lady was Jonnie, the same lady who was there last time I visited. We listened to Mississippi John Hurt, and then Jonnie put Dad into his chair so that we could take a tour around the facility to give him a little change of scenery today. We took a long tour, trying to get in some sunlight and some fresh air. He seemed to enjoy it. He can't talk any more. He is skinny. His face is strong and unmistakeable, but he has been consumed by his illness.
His laugh is the same, but he also cries easily. Emotion is emotion--and the laughing and crying and anger all seem mixed up. We sang "There Ain't No Bugs On Me" and "The Teddy Bear Picnic." We played him a tape of himself singing his lullabye "Way Long Timey Ago." Then we put on a videotape of Wallace and Gromit's "The Wrong Trousers" before we left. We acted like tough guys when we said "so long." He acted like a tough guy too--I think--but I am not sure he knew what was happening. The pros tell me that he doesn't have any comprehension of time anymore. If it was me, I might have acted tough, or I might have despaired. I don't think Dad has despair anymore.
We made plans to see him again the middle of next month. On our way out, we are honored to help "Jesse," a quadriplegic, get himself a Pepsi. He has an automatic wheel chair and a cup with a straw and velcro to hold it to the arm of his chair. He tells me that an auto accident had caused his paralysis several years ago. He says he needs to drink a lot of fluids to remain healthy, and he thanked us for helping him get his Pepsi.
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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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October 27, 2001