It’s been exactly a year since I threw the concert for my parents, and I feel like if I’m ever going to write about it, it might as well be now.
For those of you who don’t know, my dad had both of his legs amputated about 15 months ago, due to Type 1 diabetes. This was after a triple bypass and several vein replacements the year before, not to mention losing an eye two decades earlier. When I first thought about this concert, only one leg was missing and I had hoped to buy a prosthetic with the money. Soon, both legs were gone, he developed a category 4 bedsore, and it became apparent that (because of his blindness), he would require 24/7 care – most likely (and as it turns out) for the rest of his life.
The actual money I raised (around $3,000) paid for a hospital bed, a trapeze bar for above the bed (so he could exercise), a portion of an expensive wheelchair and medical supplies. It was much needed, and I know this because I had to pick up a lot of equipment and run to the pharmacy for him almost daily. My dad was expensive – worth every penny, but expensive. Above, you’ll see the receipt for my first trip to the pharmacy for him – $538.39.
I didn’t write about it right away because I wanted time to let it absorb. Then, around the middle of December, he got sick again. He had gastroparesis, which makes patients feel full even though they haven’t eaten. As a diabetic, eating was essential, and the doctors were having trouble getting a feeding tube to work. The day before Christmas, my brother went to the hospital with my mom to speak to counselors about end-of-life decisions. I thought he was going to die on Christmas. My concert seemed pretty pointless, my initial optimism seemed childish, and in addition to the sadness, I felt like I had let everyone down.
However, he came home soon after, and aside from one more hospital stay, he spent the last 7 months of his life at home, in the house where he lived for over 30 years. My mom was with him almost 24/7, and when I moved home in mid-May, he got to see me every day, too. He had a lot of visitors and got to spend holidays like Easter sitting at the head of the dining room table, just like he used to. The equipment helped make all of this possible, and the concert helped bring the equipment home, so it was worth it.
Man, when I started this entry, I wanted it to be about the concert itself and all the positivity, but it’s impossible to explain even the facts of my dad’s story without being long-winded and heavy. Anyway:
The concert was amazing. There were so many friends from so many different parts of my life, and I think I even remarked onstage that it was kind of like a wedding in that respect – when would I get all of those people in the same room again? I remember choking up during my speech (and saying, “Shit.” when I did). I told everyone that my family spent so much time sitting around in hospital rooms that we would run out of things to talk about. And when that happened, I would tell them about my friends. My parents knew about almost everything that happened to my friends, and asked about them, too. “How’s Warren’s house?” “How’s Emily’s baby?” “Does Ron like teaching?” “Did Jen get over her cold?”
I told the crowd, “You all mean a lot to my parents, because you mean a lot to me. And it’s really nice that I can tell my parents that the same is true about them.”
I can’t tell you how amazing it was in the weeks leading up to the show – businesses handed over gift certificates without blinking, Off Broadway opened their doors gladly (and for free), friends like Janet and Ann pitched in to make fliers and banners, Rob brought pizza for the bands, and all the musicians/friends I asked to play gladly accepted. Erin (who was still a relatively new friend at the time) gathered money from her co-workers, promoted the shit out of the show, and brought several friends with her.
Friends bought insane amounts of raffle tickets from my boyfriend (in his cute raffle outfit). I remember one friend buying 40 at once! Oh, here’s one complaint – I kept picking the same 5 winners, no matter how hard I shook that bucket. What the hell? One friend handed me a $100 check on the spot and another friend hugged me and slipped me a wad of cash for just as much.
I also got tons of checks in the mail – one of the first was from my first grade teacher, all the way from Texas. Hell, I even got a huge check from an ex who had every right to hate me. I raised almost twice as much from these checks – a part I wasn’t even expecting as first – than I did from the actual concert.
The staff at Off Broadway was awesome, too. They gave me drinks on the house and the door guy kept diligent track of the amount of guests (80) and the money they gave. He made me pull up to the front door and walked me to the car with all of my cash. And speaking of the cash – have y’all ever walked downtown with a huge stack of bills? I had to, because that’s where my bank is. I thought I was going to die.
Overall, the whole experience was overwhelming. When I got home that night, I was sitting on my bed holding all the money, and I just burst into tears out of exhaustion and gratitude. And as you’ll see from the following video, my mom did, too:
So I know this is about a year too late, and I thanked everyone who needed to be thanked already, but I wanted to reiterate how amazing this was. I knew that putting together a concert would be helpful and therapeutic, but I wasn’t expecting so much support and kindness and positivity. I didn’t have the time or the money to help my parents, so I used what I had – friends. Talented, generous, incredible friends. And what I received from everyone involved didn’t just carry me financially – it gave me what I needed emotionally to survive this last year. So once again, thank you from the bottom (and top, and middle) of my heart.