Thomas R. Aylward: A Reflection One Year Later

This Thursday is the first anniversary of my father’s death. He died on March 26, 2015; he had malignant brain cancer.

In the year after his death, doing anything I liked to do–and liked blogging about–seemed like an alien concept or even a luxury; I was busy helping my mother run the family bakery in Sonoita (Monika’s Home Bakery), help her sell her house and sell the bakery, help her move to Tucson and buy a house, and finally, help her through a December 2014 motor vehicle accident in which she broke her ankle and 5 ribs, a tough trauma to overcome at age 73.

My dad had a seizure several months before he died, which is how he was diagnosed. The first MRI was just a dot in his brain; the second, just 4 weeks later, looked like a hazy donut-shaped cloud with fuzzy clusters.  He had surgery and then a day later had a seizure from which he never regained consciousness. My mom and 4 of my 5 siblings were at the hospice the day he died, but my dad managed to slip away in the one rare moment when no one was paying attention, while my brother John had this Joao Gilberto song playing on his laptop. My dad as many of you know loved to play guitar and played a few Bossa Nova tunes.

Here’s a photo of him with me and my mom at the bakery just a few weeks before he died; I think we all look exhausted, which would be accurate:

thomas aylward blog photo

When thinking about his symptoms I’m reminded of Rainer Ptacek, my favorite musician in Tucson when I was 17 but musically precocious enough to appreciate his music and old-enough appearing to get into bars; his sound was quite sophisticated and magical sleepy Tucson in the early 80s. He had seizures and brain cancer too, but he was much younger when he died. You can listen here for a sense of his music, an inspiring sound during difficult times. I guess I have a new and unfortunate knowledge of brain cancer now. I have lots of old Rainer flyers for his shows back in the day and I know they could be used to make a really cool art quilt somehow.

My mom and I are headed out to Organ Pipe National Monument to camp out and have some peaceful time in the desert to reflect on the year gone by. My mom can walk again, and drive. It’s been a long year. It’s going to be good to get back into art-making. Photos of our trip to be posted. I look forward to sharing them with you all.

Labeling

Recently, I posted about moving cases of home canning into my parent’s new bakery. Here are all the jars of jam, pickles, chutneys and sauces:

Yes, that is a shortwave radio. And don’t be fooled by some of the empty shelves, because on the full shelves the jars are stacked high and deep. Here’s my mom, hard at work; the dining room is taking shape and soon the bakery will be open soon:

Today my brother and I spent some time attaching price tags to all the jam. There are lots of jars, hence lots of hand-written price tags:

Here’s my brother Eric with my mom in the kitchen:

The new cappuccino machine arrived last Friday; my dad whipped up a couple really nice lattes for me while I was pricing:

And the patio is looking fantastic; doesn’t this look like a lovely place to have lunch? If you look through the gate to the faux, decorative hand-powered water pump in the background…..that’s the small residential house behind the bakery.

I’m looking forward to my first cheese danish, that’s for sure.