How I Do Challenges / Help Comes from Everywhere...At around noon on Saturday, January 15th, I e-mailed the Lucille Abbey 12.95 Club document and the accompanying pieces "Grom Who" and "the week that was" to a few dozen people. At 6:00 p.m.I received my first response from David Belkin, an "out-jazz" friend in New York City. A few hours later, Robin Simmers and Frank Butrey of Philadelphia came on board. The next morning, Diana Hume George and John Edwards replied with a "yes". Julie and John Chacona followed.
At around 3:00 p.m. a few of Lucille's children and/or their reps showed up unconvinced, having earlier convened and read the 12.95 Club letter. They informed me that "we can't do this..." and that Lucille was going to be placed in a nursing home. Oh ye of little faith...
I gave a nonstop twenty minute speech, trying to give them an inkling of the amount of audacity that is tied to my talents. (A week later I asked "Did you have any doubts?" and was told "No, because you were so adamant.")
[For anyone who doesn't know: I've had virtually no contact with any of my family members except Lucille for the past thirty years. There were/are aspects of it that require more effort in maintaining masks and manners than I was prepared or willing to expend, having lived my life with an open-door, heart-on-my-sleeve policy that has me telling everyone everything. So, they simply don't know me, nor are they aware of my capabilities.]
I told them that all I needed was a week to make this happen. I told them that if need be I'd do it all by myself. I told them that all they had to do was whatever they could manage: no demands, no expectations. I told them that I did not need them, but that their mother did. Do what you can, I'll handle the rest. Stunned, they agreed to give me one week.
Sunday afternoon I began stuffing letters into mailboxes. Laurel Swartz called that evening, saying she and partner Steve Sonnenberg were in for an hour each. My wife's sister Eileen and husband David Disk of Pennsauken, New Jersey joined. Mentor David A. Lawrence of Palo Alto, California came in for three months of one-hour per. My son Aaron affirmed his love, as did his sweetie Gina Tullio. Lucille's daughter Carol "No Nursing Home" Clore and her sons, Hugh Powell and Joe Clore, of Fort Myers, Florida and environs, followed. Sunday wound down.
On Monday I stuffed more mailboxes and took an offer that made me realize that everything was going to slide into place as required. Lea Bodine of the Chromatic Dance Studio volunteered for day-nurse duty one full day per week. Finding Lea available only until 3:00 p.m. each day, my son quickly took responsibility for the balance, and in a flash four days worth of health-care costs were eliminated. Lea's man, Rick DiBello, a musician friend of mine, volunteered to design and maintain the Lucille Website. Later that evening another "out-jazz" pal, Igor Danilishen and his wife Vera, Russian expatriates now of Chicago, sent $50.00.
Things were happening quickly.
Tuesday morning my lovely boss, Dick Robertson, and his equally lovely wife, Debbie, wrote me a lovely letter saying they would donate one lovely day per month. Hugs all around. Connie (Lucille's niece) and Jack Schillinger joined up that evening.
Then came the capper. On Tuesday afternoon, while I had stopped home to check on Lucille's latest stroke, Patty Baldwin, a photographer pal, called and made an initial offer far too generous for me to accept. I spent a few minutes weeping into the phone and trying to back her down a bit. This then was the defining moment for me: the moment when my full-tilt obsessive two-decades-plus of passion-driven work in the arts came roaring back to finally pay off in a real and meaningful and ultimate way. A payoff in love, in much-needed help, and in an outpouring of unselfish humanity. I'm still falling down from this. She told me that my work had been an inspiration to her, that it had been a gift in her life, and that that was why. Patty Baldwin, in for a day's worth plus. I can't even explain. When I set the receiver back in its cradle, I knew I'd done it. All those goddamned donuts and car-rides and cups of coffee and lunches and dollar bills that my grandmother had palmed into my homeless teenaged hand and stuffed into my pockets and selflessly dealt me over the stretching years had begun flying back into her tidy little purse. C'mon home. Time to pay the debt. Who needs a week?
Joining in the succeeding days were dear friend Karen Mead of Aroma's Coffee for two hours per; Neil Donovan, educator and artist, also for two hours per; Ken Kopin, artist; Phil Popotnik, Raven Sound, musician; Richard C. (Lucille's son) and Nancy Abbey for 3 hours per (plus volunteered administrative duties); Karen Dodson (artist-educator) and Joe Popp (musician, Erie Art Museum Frame Shop); Linda Gamble, nurse; Craig Abbey (Lucille's grandson) of North Carolina; Gary MacGlaughlin and Dee Costley of Salt Lake City, Utah for 2 hours per; Elizabeth and Charles (musician-educator and Major-Mentor-o-RickLopez) Ventrello; Graham Connah, out-jazz friend-o-RickLopez from San Francisco, CA; Paul Olson, theoretical mathematician and musician, from Flagstaff, Arizona; Jack Hanrahan and Kim Krynock-Hanrahan, (and Max!); Joan Lasher; Tony Lican, Erie Solid Surface; Sue Daley and Jim McEnery, and the hits just kept on coming and coming... I'm still getting a phone call or two every day, nearly a month after the fact.
Among the more surprising was a card from Dan and Sylvia Skea of Las Vegas, Nevada. Total strangers who saw the poems and letter on-line and sent a donation of $100.00.
Also figuring in Lucille's future on May 28, 2000: (Mark up your calendars!) will be a vast benefit concert (I'll be playing with five of my former groups, including Charles Ventrello and Concourse; Field Theory; Blood Pudding; DiBello/Blaetz/Lopez; and the new "3bak Beast," which is Joe Popp, Ken Cornelius, and me; and APE will ghost-perform on tape during breaks.) In conjunction with this, Art Becker, photographer pal (for whose photos I wrote the text to the book "Time Stops") will coordinate an art auction benefit-- all this probably at the Erie Art Museum Annex. Watch Showcase for details.
This all might equate as a type of success, no?
MEMBERS of the Lucille Abbey 12.95 Club
Patty Baldwin (x9) *Special thanks to Ms. Baldwin for additional support
Dick & Debbie Robertson (x9)
Debbie & Greg Swabb (x4)
Richard C. & Nancy Abbey (x3+)
Theresa Gamble & Erik Mildner (x2+)
Laurel Swartz & Steve Sonnenberg(x2)
Karen Mead (x2)
Gary MacGlaughlin & Dee Costley (x2)
Tim Heberle (x2)
Julie & John Chacona
Diana Hume George & John Edwards
Eileen & David Disk
Connie & Jack Schillinger
Karen Dodson & Joe Popp
Lucille & Joe Ruffo
Alice & Richard W. Lopez
Elizabeth & Charles Ventrello
Elaine & Bob Hill
Julie Hauser & Matt Ferguson
Shirley & Fran Schanz
Kim & Louis Ferrara
Cathy Merski & John Vanco
Rene Rodney Kathy & Don Loomis
Mary Sue Baron & family
Debbie Thompson & family
Kathleen & Craig Latimer
Darlene Melchitzky & Bob Hoff
DonationsSylvia & Dan Skea / $100.00
Sue Daley and Jim McEnery / $100.00
Mary & David Blaetz / $100.00
Denise & Jerome Swbb / $100.00
Robin Simmers and Frank Butrey / $50.00
Vera and Igor Danilishen / $50.00
Robert & Ken Persinger / $50.00
Kim Krynock-Hanrahan and Jack Hanrahan and Max! / $50.00
David A. Lawrence / $40.00
Paul Olson / $40.00
Marilyn Crispell / $40.00
Joan Lasher / $20.00
Anonymous / $20.00
In-Kind Services:Dick and Nancy Abbey / Project Administration
Lea Bodine / Day-Nurse Duty 28 hours per month
Rick DiBello / Design & Maintain the Lucille Abbey Website
Aaron Lopez / Day-Nurse Duty 8 hours per month
Joe Popp and David Blaetz / Coordinate Benefit Concert
Art Becker / Coordinate Art Auction Benefit
Additional Thanks:Dr. David Lesseski
Carol Prizinski & GECAC
Visiting Nurses Association
Next: LUCILLE / Month 2