Welcome to the Scandinavian Cyber-Posten!
The Scandinavian Cyber-Posten is my blog for the band. Ever since I started reading The Machine's Pump on the Brave Combo website I've wanted my own blog. After all, I'm a creative and intelligent person and I have thoughts on a lot of things. Here's a place where you can read what I think about a variety of topics. I hope you enjoy what you read. If you have any feedback on what I've written, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, May 14
Rest in peace...--------------------
Howdy everybody! It's been a good six weeks since the last update here at the Cyber-Posten. I'm sure you're wondering just what's been going on.
It's been a sad and difficult time here at Scandinavian Central. Just around the time of my last post my uncle's mother passed away after a long battle with cancer. June was like a second grandmother to me and she was extremely special. She was one of those people that others look at and just wonder where all the goodness in her heart could come from. Although we miss her very much we also know that she's in a place where she knows no pain and suffering; her long and trying ordeal is over.
The week following her passing I was in another hit-and-run accident, this time in my beloved Buick. At the time it seemed very significant and was very frustrating. The police didn't do anything to help me other than to tell me the name of the person who hit me. I guess that's something. After fretting, fuming and worrying over the incident I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to try and live out my faith and forgive the person who hit me. Believe me, it was a real relief. I still feel the sting of having something taken from me by something beyond my control, but now I'm able to put it into a better perspective. I know that although my Buick is very special to me, it's still just a car. It's a temporal thing that won't go with me when I make my final journey in this life. (When I do make that final journey I'd like to go in a classic Cadillac hearse, BTW).
The next blow came when I got an early morning phone call informing me of the death of a really great local musician, Arne Thogerson. Arne, like myself, belonged to Leif Erikson Lodge #1, the local Sons of Norway lodge here in Seattle. I mostly knew him from playing music with he and Kenny Owens in their band, the Wild Turkeys. I had so much fun playing the old standards with them up at Normanna Hall in Everett. There are few things as satisfying or as educational for a young musician as to play with great older musicians. They do a very special kind of teaching. I wasn't really close to Arne so his passing, while sad, didn't have the same kind of impact on me that June's did. A loss, however, is still a loss.
Four days later I found out from my mother that her father-in-law had passed away. He had been quite ill with cancer for many years and had just finally decided that death was a far kinder fate than his meager, pain-addled, over-medicated so-called life. I had never met the man. He was just a mythical figure that Mom and Harry would visit in San Diego. What touched me was the impact that his passing had on both Mom and Harry. She was greatly saddened. He was nearly beside himself with grief.
On May 2nd I got one of those phone calls that everyone with loved ones- and I mean very close, immediate loved ones- dreads. Mom called to say that Grandma had a stroke and was on her way to the hospital. Just recalling that horrible moment brings back all the pain and fear. My grandmother is the center of my world and the anchor which keeps my ship from setting adrift. She has been the single most inspirational person in my life. She instilled solid Midwestern values in me and taught me to appreciate my Scandinavian heritage, herself being a tough, wiry Norwegian.
Now Grandma is in rehab at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup. While it pains me greatly to see the effects of the stroke and how it has robbed her of some of her vitality and most of her independence, I'm also inspired and filled with hope at the fact that she's insisting on walking as much as she's able and will constantly work her arm and leg to restore what mobility she can. Moreover, I'm grateful that the Good Lord has seen fit not to take her from me just yet- I still have a few more days, weeks, months or hopefully years with her. Last year I started telling her that I loved her everytime I'd end a phone conversation with her or leave her house. I wanted to make sure that she knew how much I loved her because I know that every time I tell her it could be the last time.
Wednesday, May 5th was another day of loss and sadness. Art Craig, Past Sovereign Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and a friend of mine, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Brother Art was, of course, a great and caring man who shared his acts of kindness and generosity with several people. To me he showed how the small actions of one person can make the world a much better place. My first year attending Grand Lodge I had very little money (well, I *ALWAYS* have very little money) and he let me stay with him in his hotel room and gave me tickets to the banquets he wasn't attending. To him it was a very small gesture but it meant the difference between me attending and not attending. Art was full of such small but meaningful gestures. He always had a smile for me and when I was in Buckley on business I'd drop in and say hello. He bought me lunch once just because I happened to be there at lunch time. The world is paved with small kindnesses such as those.
Yesterday was perhaps the most emotionally-draining day of the whole recent ordeal. Yesterday I lost one of my best friends in the whole world, Jim Kinney. I met Jim back in 1996 while I was still attending Cornish College of the Arts. In the time that I knew him we came to be wonderful friends. Jim played the banjo. He introduced me to literally hundreds of great musicians with whom I would go out and play. He and I travelled all over the place together with the accordion and the banjo, just having fun and enjoying life. His face always beamed with joviality, always looking for a way to brighten other peoples' lives. He was supportive of young, creative people and always wanted to do what he could to help them along their way. I remember when he moved into his condo on Lake Union he had a ratty old cardboard file cabinet that he was throwing away. I asked him if I could have it since I was starting my business and needed to file things. He insisted that I needed something better and so I threw out the old cabinet. Two days later a truck from Office Depot arrived at my apartment and unloaded a brand-new four-drawer file cabinet, compliments of Jim Kinney. That's the kind of guy he was.
On the day he died I had been scheduled to take him to his dentist appointment. His caregiver called me earlier, however, and told me he needed to go see his doctor so I agreed to come down right away. When I arrived, the home health nurse was there and had taken his vital signs and suggested that he needed to go by ambulance to the hospital. 911 was called and the medics arrived. By that time Jim was pretty weak and was having significant trouble breathing. He suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder which caused him endless breathing problems for the last five or so years. The medics took him to Swedish Hospital; I followed behind with his caregiver. We waited in the ER at Swedish for about 40 minutes. The doctor came in and told us that they were unable to save Jim. Maggie, his caregiver, and myself cried together for a few minutes and then we went in to see Jim one last time. His once bright, jocular face had become still and ashen. Jim Kinney's long and difficult struggle was over.
The memorial service for Jim Kinney is on Saturday. I know that I'll see most of his friends and acquaintances there. It will probably be the last time that the amazing assemblage of people who called Jim a friend will ever be brought together by him. I don't know if I'll see Vern Higman and Darren Boeholt again. I don't know if I'll here another story about playing banjo on a submarine in Spain again. I do know that Jim's legacy lives on in many ways, not least of which is in our own banjo player, Scott Adams. Without Jim's encouragement and support (and loaner banjo) Scott would have never found his way to that instrument.
In the past two months I have personally experienced more deaths, traumas and sad events than in my entire life previous. I can't make sense of all of this. All I can do is trust in God to carry me through it, something for which I am thankful. I am also thankful for my wonderful band. I am blessed to have around me a group of kind, thoughtful, supportive, wonderful people who also happen to be gifted musicians. I'm thankful that I was able to know and play music with or practice Odd Fellowship with the people that have passed on. I'm thankful that I was able to be with Jim at the end of his life. I hope that he was comforted by my presence and realized just how much all of us love him. I'm thankful that I have every remaining moment with my grandmother. I'm thankful that I have other family around who love and support me. I'm thankful that I get to do the thing I love most in the world, to play music, and that I get to share that with everyone I'm able.