Hello Folks:

Hard to believe it's been four months since we've added anything new to our News Pages.  Even my performance calendar has been sadly neglected.  Truth be told, I'm performing as much as ever this month, which is always my busiest season.  But updating the website has unfortunately become a low priority in my life lately.

Amazing how time does indeed slip away, as has been said in song over the years.

Health, especially as we age, is so vital to productive and meaningful living.  While I've dealt with my share of health issues over the past few years, my focus now is on the declining health of my 86-year old mother.  She's struggling lately, big time.  I hate to think that her days are numbered, but I'd be lying if I tried to say otherwise.

Within just a couple short months, Mom has contracted illnesses and health related challenges too numerous to mention.  She'd been living independently in a nice, Catholic oriented facility in Mt. Angel, Oregon, known as the Mt. Angel Towers.  A perfect place for her on so many levels. She'd been there a little over three years, since Dad passed in the summer of 2011. 

The "Towers" offers much of what matters to Mom and our family:  Good meals, a beautiful, bucolic setting, lots of good friends and activities, and something hugely important to Mom: daily Mass in the Towers' "chapel."  Virtually every phone conversation I had with Mom these past three years consisted of her talking delightedly about how much she enjoys living there.

But I'm afraid she may never return to the Towers as a resident.  She's spent several days in the nearby Silverton Hospital lately, as tests have been conducted exploring everything from blood related issues to urinary tract infections and numerous other concerns with her health. The stunning aspect of all this is how so many illnesses have struck her at once.  Suddenly her immune system and metabolism are showing their age.  There just seems to be too much for them to adequately handle at this point.

Of course my brother, Don, and I are doing what we can.  My cousin, Doris Layton has stepped up and helped Mom on many levels, too.  I've flown to Oregon several times the past few months, and Don will be spending time with her as Christmas approaches next week.  We wish we lived closer to Mom, though of course our lives have taken us both out of state over most of our adult lives.  But the family has circled the wagons, and we're monitoring Mom's status closely.  I have a feeling I'll be heading up to see her again very soon.

Thanks to all the relatives in the great Pacific Northwest who've kept in touch with Mom at The Towers these past three years. Mom's nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters have all paid her frequent visits, and it's touching to see.  Mom's a good, strong woman, who's lived a full life.  While I hope it continues, my instincts say that her days may be numbered.

Sad and draining as all of this is, there are lessons to be gleaned from being closely involved in Mom's health and well being.  I've learned more about Medicare and Medicaid in the past month than I'd ever known before.  Many conversations with doctors, nurses, and caregivers has taught me a lot about the complicated and often perplexing world of medicine and health care.  Taking care of her will and Advanced Health Care choices has also been part of the learning process.

Occupational Therapy was something I knew nothing about a month ago, and now I'm all too familiar with what it means. (Basically it's the ability to "live": eat, bathe, get to the restroom and just function on a basic level).  And Physical Therapy, one can't emphasize the importance of physical health and mobility enough.  That's one of Mom's biggest issues now, her lack of mobility and strength. A few minutes of exercise exhausts her.  Hard to believe she was a farm girl, working in the fields and exercising virtually every day of her life until lately.

So...Baby Boomers and everyone else....It pays to exercise and keep in shape to the greatest possible extent.  It will prolong your joy of living - guaranteed.  It's worth the effort to become and remain as physically sound as possible.  I see that now more than ever.  I need to heed my own advice, especially as the years continue to slip away.

No, this News Update isn't at all music oriented.  Yes, I'm still playing and performing on piano virtually every day this month, sometimes as much as three times in a day.  But it's been a struggle.  My mind and spirit, as you can see, are largely elsewhere. But music is, of course, a wonderful outlet and escape.

Yet, it's all part of the circle of life, isn't it?  As Townes Van Zandt, the great singer-songwriter once wrote:

"Days up and down they come, like rain on a conga drum.  Forget most, remember some, but don't turn none away."

Indeed. We fact whatever is presented to us.

Happy Holidays to all.  Thanks for checking in.

Jim Hudak         Clayton, CA



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