The AP reported the good times never seemed so good for Neil Diamond. Neil Diamond will be honored with Broadway singer Barbara Cook, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, saxophonist Sonny Rollins, and actress Meryl Streep for their contributions to American culture through the arts. I smiled fondly reading the article. Carolyn would have been ecstatic about the news! She was the biggest Neil Diamond fan I ever knew.
My mother in law – Carolyn – simply adored Neil Diamond. In fact, back in 2008 when she found out Neil was performing in Tampa, she pitched an “I’ll buy, you fly” deal to me. You see, traffic and the never-ending roadwork in Florida make driving for seniors difficult and frightening. There was simply no way I would refuse this dear 70 year old woman the opportunity. It was early spring when we bought the tickets. Level one directly across from the stage about 10 rows up were the best tickets I could get. She was elated with the whole idea even though she had already seen Neil Diamond live several times before. An instant smile was drawn as I listened to her speak about our date in anticipation.
As life would have it, Carolyn fell and broke her hip sometime in late June. This was her second fall and much worse than the first time. She spent the night, over 12 hours, alone on the floor until my brother in law stopped by to visit and found her. Beyond that, she spent two months in a convalescent home recovering, missed a trip to Italy with her church and her great nephew’s wedding. On top of that, there was no way she could climb stairs to the seats for the Neil Diamond concert in the fall. After finally arriving home in September, she told me to sell the tickets. I refused. The woman had suffered so much and for too long, I was determined to find a way for her to attend.
I contacted Ticketmaster and explained the dilemma. They had me contact the St. Pete Forum to investigate handicap seating. The Forum customer service was excellent. They provided me with entrance information as well as the row and seat numbers to accommodate my mother in law. Back on the line with Ticketmaster, the conversation was almost miraculous. Not only did they issue a refund of the original tickets but also waived the return fees and gave us floor seats for the same price!
Oh and it gets better. Once we gained entry to the Forum and made our way onto the ground level, we learned the stage had been reconfigured. This landed us in the first section about 10 rows back from the stage! I’ll never forget the look of sheer jubilation and exultation as the usher pointed out our new seats.
Every time the crowd stood, she stood too. I was freaking out, worried she might fall again. Thankfully, the man seated behind her put up his hands every time she stood just in case. I thanked him repeatedly. Neil Diamond is an exemplary performer and sounds great live even at seventy years old. I knew upon performing his first song the reason Mom adored Neil Diamond. He is, without doubt, worthy of The Kennedy Center Honors.
Diamond said he used to get distracted when people sang along with him to hits like “Sweet Caroline,” which was written for presidential daughter Caroline Kennedy.
“But I realized pretty quickly that it was a compliment and I had no choice in the matter anyway, so I got with the program and just learned to love it,” said Diamond, who earlier this year was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (AP)
I knew it would be difficult and a bit scary to make this two and half hour trip with a wheel chair bound senior in tow, I simply would not cancel. Hubby, his brother, and Mom were all concerned about us going. I stood firm, to deny her yet another vital occasion was unthinkable. Mom talked about this trip for months afterwards. We laughed about how difficult the uphill walk to the Forum entrance had been and the scary moments trudging through parking lots to make back to our car afterwards.
Unbeknownst to us, Mom never truly recovered from the injury. The surgeon informed us back then that 80% of the people who sustain a broken hip in this situation do not live a full year. Mom passed away in July 2009 almost to the date of her accident, but not before seeing her beloved Neil Diamond one more time!
Caring for our seniors can sometimes be daunting and even bewildering at times. However, regret for things left undone is far worse. Of this, I am certain.