The Day The Music Died…

IMG_2456The bells have stopped ringing at “Villa Paradiso.”

My mom and step-dad gave their home that name, Villa Paradiso, soon after it was built eighteen years ago and for good reason. It was their paradise.  Nestled on a quiet cul-de-sac in Carefree, Arizona, the 9,000 square-foot home is a gem in Santa Fe style, inside and out.  An eclectic mix of wind-chimes and bells from the famed Italian architect Paolo Soleri used to hang from trees or around the length of the long patio in the back yard. Even on a day with barely a whisper of wind you could hear the song of a bell or a wind chime. Now, the bells and chimes are gone. I’ve taken a couple, sis has too, and one went to a friend. I had also packed several of mom’s favorites to take to her new home but learned too late that they wouldn’t be approved according to the rules in her continuing care community.  I thought the bell I brought home to “middle earth” would soothe my soul.  So far it has not.  It doesn’t seem to belong here. It’s song is just not the same.   It belongs at Villa Paradiso. But the heart of that place is gone.

Tears. Bucketfuls of tears. And, as if to echo the sadness of what sis and I had to do, there was an unprecedented amount of rain in the area …gray skies, buckets and buckets of rain, and sadness.

The bells have stopped ringing.  It reminds of a line from Don McLean’s “American Pie” song:  “…but something touched me deep inside, the day the music died.

Yes….that’s exactly the thought that hit me early one morning.  Sis was still sleeping.  The sun had barely peeked-out over the eastern horizon. I had taken my cup of coffee….the first one of the morning… out onto the back patio of my mom’s Carefree home. I’d only had a couple of sips when it hit me like a ton of bricks. Silence. Even the birds were quiet!   The music of the Villa Paradiso was no more. The life has been sucked out of this house now that mom and Kurt are no longer in it.

Saying good-bye was going to be much harder than I had imagined. I had wanted to enjoy the last couple of days out in the yard, sitting on the back patio in the remaining blue patio chair, before the final arduous push of packing and moving mom and her most prized possessions out of the house. In fact, I had a list of things I wanted to do before closing the doors on Villa Paradiso. Unfortunately, as it turns out, I didn’t get to enjoy two of the most important things on my wish list. I did not make it back into the pool, under the never-ending blue Arizona sky, to enjoy a lazy hour of playing in the water, just above the dancing Kokopelli figures in cobalt blue tiles that grace the bottom of the pool. Nor was I able to watch another spectacular sunset from the roof-top of mom’s house. I did however, spend my last night with sis, closing in on midnight, in the sadly empty house, seated at the bar, wine glass in hand.

“Did you ever think that it would end this way?” asked sis as we clinked wine glasses in utter exhaustion and sadness.


Of course we knew that the dream would someday end. But, not this way. I never thought Villa Paradiso would end like this.

Reality bites sometimes. Absolutely nothing, stays the same. We all know that.  But still…..wouldn’t it have been lovely to make time stand still the day sis got married in mom’s garden to the love of her life?  Or the day my nephew had his first bite of solid food right at the bar in the large kitchen. Or even the hilarious sight of The Poodle finally getting into the pool, then back out again, his relief that he “survived” the whole ordeal spread wide across his poodle face. I’ll forever remember catching sight of a brilliant green flash…a falling star ….while standing on the back patio. Rocket-man and I were excited beyond belief over this ever-so-brief moment. We nearly stumbled over each other in giddy happiness trying to quickly make a wish over the falling star.

So many memories, all forever locked in head and heart. At least we have that sis…eh?

Sis and I didn’t have it in us to go room-to-room reminiscing about special times, or even the not-so-good times. We were simply too worn-out, emotionally and physically from four days of packing, unpacking and dealing with all that was entailed in situating mom in her new home.   Besides, I knew I’d break down again if I did. Sis and I had already shed quite a few tears. And even though I am now back home in “middle earth” mine aren’t done. I’d venture to say the same goes for my sis.

And mom?

Folks, she is in a fabulously beautiful place. A continuing care community that is the crème de la crème of Arizona. I’d want to live there!   Mom isn’t happy about any of it mind you….at least not yet. Sis and I are hopeful that mom finds her way out of more than six years of self-imposed darkness and tries to live her remaining years in her new home with a renewed sense of life and purpose. It is all in her hands.

As for me? I’m one emotionally spent soul. My mind is so fuzzy and my body so exhausted that I can barely function.  I feel like I am drowning in quicksand.

So, I’ll need a few days…maybe even weeks, to get back to the business of living.

Rocket-man is right on top of things though.  He signed us up for a 50-mile cycle ride event in the morning.  I’m honestly not feeling up to the challenge but Rocket-man insists its time to start having fun.

Aren’t I blessed?!

2 thoughts on “The Day The Music Died…

  1. My Dearest Cristina,

    Over the course of the last 6 months, I’ve been amazed at how articulate and level headed you have been, while in the midst of one of the most hard-earned chapters of your family’s life. You’ve expressed, with such color and clarity, the swirl that we, the viewing public, were witness to from afar. It was a JOURNEY. But don’t let that word fool you. It’s over-rated.

    There are other words that will come to mind over the next few months and years. At first, there will be words that will evoke intense memories, words that will run you over, words that will break your heart. Then, gradually, the words will evolve.

    After a time, these new words will begin to describe and fill-in where you need detail. Detail that is absent when in “survivor mode”… But they will come and begin to fill-in, fatten-up, if you will, the scurvy of memories that seem impossible to explain. Days blending into nights…repetition…nights ending all-too-soon to the next days’ work.

    What I seem to be caught on, is the intensity you express in the closing of the Villa Paradiso. It wasn’t your home. It wasn’t even a place you had as singular and very dear memory of…like Barbara having her wedding there, or your dear nephew having his first bite of real food there. It wasn’t really through the others or of the others really. It was something else.

    What I’ve come to realize is Villa Paradiso represented something you never had growing up. It wasn’t even the fact that Kiki was there. It wasn’t really the location. It wasn’t even the years of in/out visitations. I’m thinking it was what Kurt created.

    That house and the life that you did have while visiting, represented a happy time and a fulfilled time that didn’t disappoint. It was solid. It was there. And…it was a place you could call home…albeit somewhat adoptive…and it was real. It was a place that shared the best of moments for you and Rocket-man and now…it has to go.

    Villa Paradiso served a very important part in your life. It was there for you and it represented a birth of a new era. Seeing it go was a shell that needed shedding. Seeing it go was a way to say…I did something extraordinary…I supported, I loved, I persevered, I loved, I conquered, I loved, I endured, I loved, I grew…and I survived….and I still love…and I am a better person for it all.

    Ok. That’s all I can speculate. But I do not think I am far from point. You have Rocket Man…a bicycle…a poodle…and many, many hours of revisions you will make on the way to the next chapter. Yes…those pages do continue to turn, and some of the ink is indelible and some of it is written in pencil. Resist the temptation to erase the bad…because in that house it wan’t bad at all. It was growth and future and reward….yes…it represents reward.

    Just so you know…I too have a Arco Santi Bell Chime. Mine is not of any shape but one of a true sound as it clangs when just the right wind chooses to grab it.

    You have been an inspiration to us all.

    Love, M. The Cookie Friend…


  2. Wowza Cookie. Thank you. You know me better than I know myself. And YOU should be writing/blogging by the way. Awesomely articulated. And if not writing….then hang out your “Counselor” shingle. I’d come to you in a heart beat for a session….well….as long as chocolate chip cookies were on the table along with a box of tissues. Kidding aside, thank you and I’ll come even if cookies aren’t part of the deal. Love ya. C


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