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May 4, 2020

ZOOM Memorial – Sunday, May 10th, 3pm

A virtual memorial will be held for Fred this Sunday, May 10th at 3pm on ZOOM. To be clear, we’re still hoping to have an in-person service once it’s safe to all be together. Until then, we invite you to have a beer, share a story or two about Fred and join his many friends in celebrating his extraordinary life.

Below is a little more information, along with the ZOOM meeting info.

We aren’t planning anything too formal – this will just be a place for friends to connect, have a beer in Fred’s honor, and share our favorite memories and stories. Fred’s family will begin with a few remarks and then open up the floor. To prevent any inadvertent chaos, I ask that you please email me (jparkermusic@gmail.com) beforehand if you want to speak about Fred – please let me know by Saturday evening (5/9) if you plan to speak. I will keep a list of speakers and will serve as a sort of master of ceremonies. If there are still people who would like to speak who didn’t email me, they’ll have a chance toward the end of the call.
Please email jparkermusic@gmail.com if you would like to speak about Fred.
I understand not everyone is familiar with ZOOM, so I’ll briefly explain how to join this call. If you have the ZOOM application on your computer, you will be able to join the call on Sunday by clicking the meeting link in the meeting info below. If you would prefer to join this call on your phone, you will just need to dial the call-in number and then when prompted, enter the meeting ID number (all of this info is also listed below). And finally, if anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me and I’ll be happy to assist. Again, my email address is jparkermusic@gmail.com
Below is the ZOOM meeting information for the call this Sunday (5/10) at 3pm:
Memorial for Fred Parker
Time: May 10, 2020 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)


Join Zoom Meeting [FOR PEOPLE USING THEIR COMPUTERS] https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7495209598


        +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

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April 30, 2020

A memorial website for Fred has been created.  You can view photos from throughout his life, read the obituary in the Alexandria Gazette, and post comments with memories of Fred.  Special thanks to David Henderson for getting the site up and running.   Go to www.fredgparker.com.

We have also added a photo gallery with captions to his Facebook page.  To view, please visit his Facebook page.

April 28, 2020

In the age of Covid-19, it isn't possible to have an in-person memorial service for Fred, so Jonathan and Ned, with help from David Henderson, are compiling a digital slide show, and we will add memorial text to it.  Look for that in the next week.  Many, many thanks to all of you who have followed our journey on this site and provided so much morale support.  If conditions permit, we may have a real memorial service some months from now.


April 27, 2020

     Fred passed away at around 7 PM yesterday.  He had been surrounded by family all day long.  Ned had posted on Fred's facebook site that if anyone wanted to say some last words to Fred, they could leave a voicemail message on Ned's phone, and Ned would play it back to Fred as he lay in bed, since we knew he could hear.  We were touched by the number of calls we received.  Somehow that message ended up on Zebra, the local community paper, and Fred received messages from people who had grown up in Alexandria, had looked for the horse in the truck whenever they were on King Street, and from people who loved the Hard Times restaurants.  We heard from parents of kids in the boys' former cub scout dens, from Ned's childhood friends, who hung out at our house growing up, from many far-flung former employees of the Hard Times family, from those who had participated in Open Mike nights upstairs at the Alexandria Hard Times, and from business owners that Fred worked with through the Old Town Business Association.   It was obvious that he had touched the hearts of many people.  A little while after that, I climbed in bed with Fred, telling him that I would continue the mail order business (which is presently booming due to Covid), while Ned assured him that he would always drive the truck in the parade.  We also assured him we would take care of his stuff (all those machines and crazy collectibles in our house).  I think he had been waiting to hear those words, because at that moment he just stopped breathing. 
   Although we were very distraught, after awhile we calmed down, and once my sister and brother in law arrived to be with us, we all raised a shot of Jack Daniels to Fred, who would have approved.  Although the days leading up to Fred's death were extremely painful for us, we feel we gave him as good a death experience as could be had under the circumstances.  Here's to you, Fred.  You will be missed! 


April 25, 2020

I am posting this update for friends and family far away, to reassure them about Fred's end-of-life care. Fred is now unable to speak, but we know he is able to hear us because he can nod very slightly yes or no.  Yesterday he was still more or less conscious, with short periods of hallucinations.  In the morning he received calls from old friends Cotton Kent, Louis Gerteis, and Phil Stanford, with pal David Henderson having spoken with him the day before.  His son Charlie by his first marriage had called him a few days earlier, and we are glad of that. Fred was able to talk with his friends yesterday on the phone, although they did most of the talking.  After that, we watched a Tom Mix silent film and a Tex Ritter B-Western on Amazon-Prime.  He was able to follow the plots and make a few comments.  Meanwhile Ned was in a race against time, driving to Brooklyn to pick up Jonathan, after I had a teleconference with the hospice doctor, who said Fred's time was short.  In the early afternoon Fred became somewhat agitated, and I gave him a little Atavan to ease his nerves, as prescribed by the hospice doctor.  By the time Ned and Jonathan arrived at 6:30, Fred was unable to speak, but we could see that he understood what we were saying.  We all stayed with him during the evening, Ned playing some of Fred's favorite songs (Home on the Range, Somewhere Over the Rainbow) on the ukelele. I also played him his favorite song ,"Empty Saddles," from Huxtable, Christensen and Hood's last recording.  Ned and I turned in at midnight, and Jonathan stayed up all night holding Fred's hand, helping with the urinal, and talking to him when Fred was semi-awake.  I relieved him at 5:15 AM.  He seemed to be in a bit of discomfort around 7, so I gave him a small dose of morphine.  Ned asked him if wanted more morphine just now, at 9:30 (we can't give him more until 11 AM), but he signaled no with a slight nod, so we know he is still aware of us.  I
     It is very hard to watch someone you love slowly die. Your loved one may moan or reach up with uncontrolled or jerky movements.  You can't be sure if he is comfortable.  You are filled with regrets for old wrongs, filled with sadness at the thought that someone with whom you raised a happy family is leaving, and worry that your husband is suffering.  I am so lucky to have Ned and Jonathan here with me at this time.  I would like to thank Hillary's parents the Clausens for sending over last evening's dinner, for supportive phone calls from my sisters, brother, good friends Cindy Brown and Ann and Jeff Irving, for the lovely flowers from Bev Armsden, and the many supportive comments all of you have made. I may not post again until this is all over.


April 23, 2020

Fred has asked me to post an update about his condition.  According to the hospice doctor, Fred is now in the end stages of his disease, and the timeline is one to three weeks. He is unable to walk, is sleeping about 90% of the time, and he is not always aware of what is going on around him. My son Ned will drive to Brooklyn tomorrow to bring Jonathan back home, and Jonathan will stay here for a few weeks.  He will have to quarantine himself in the basement for a week at least, but he can come up to visit Fred if he wears a mask, gloves and doesn't get too close.  Let's hope Fred lasts longer than that first week.  We are well supported by hospice, and we are hoping that Fred will go peacefully, surrounded by family.


April 15, 2020

After discussion this morning, Fred has agreed to go into "hospice at home."  This means he will no longer seek curative treatment, but instead he will receive only palliative care. He will remain in our home but will be visited by a doctor or nurse several times per week, and the organization will provide equipment such as hospital bed, commode, additional drainage kits, medications, and other items as needed according to the progression of the disease. The oncologist and family doctor had already recommended this two weeks ago, but Fred wanted to try one more Keytruda infusion, originally scheduled for next Monday.  However in the intervening time, he has become much weaker, with the drainage in both lungs increasing, more weight loss, sleeping virtually all day, and increasing difficulty in swallowing. In light of these developments, he has accepted the inevitable.  He was less resistant to it when I explained that he can remain at home, and nothing will change except for no more visits to the oncologist, which would be difficult in his current state anyway.  Our sons were involved in the discussion, and they agree it is the right thing to do.  This decision is a great relief to me, since I had been feeling that I was moving forward blindly, without advice or support in end-of-life issues.  One uncertainty is how long Fred will survive, a thorny issue, with Jonathan up in Brooklyn and not allowed to travel to Virginia without a 2-week quarantine.  We will do the best we can under the circumstances.  Ned, living nearby, supplies constant support, and my sister is coming by on Friday to help me relearn how to use my sewing machine.  My pal Steve Brown has been accompanying me on short hikes not too far from home, and I have Vidal, our home health aide, coming in 5 days per week.  Added to that is support from a network of hiking buddies, friends, neighbors, and church, for which I am very grateful.  And I am thankful to all who read these posts and send in notes of support.  God bless you all.


April 10, 2020

     Just so readers won't despair at yesterday's gloomy post, I want to describe how even at this point in his illness, Fred can have a good day, and today was one of those.  Although he slept most of the day, Vidal (our caregiver) and I got him up for an early dinner, and he ate well, even having a scoop of ice cream for dessert.  This was a surprise, given his recent lack of appetite.  Since he ate early and since today was a cold day, I started a fire in the fireplace, brought the laptop into the living room, and together Fred and I watched some old B-westerns starring Bob Steele, a cowboy star of the 1930s. Thanks to Jeff Irving for the tip about these films, available on Amazon Prime.  They are perfect for Fred, because they are only an hour long and the plots are very straightforward.  We watched "Sundown Saunders" and "The Colorado Kid," and I learned a lot of cowboy slang, such as being "dry-gulched" (killed) and "hit the leather" (leave in a hurry, presumably on horseback).  We had a bit of a glitch before bedtime, when Fred fell off his stool while brushing his teeth and I couldn't get him up.  Fortunately Ned is just a phone call away, and he was able to get him off the floor (uninjured). It is wonderful that Ned lives only 1 mile away!  So now Fred is in bed watching Rachel Maddow's show (he is her most loyal fan), I've just drained his lungs, the sheets are changed, and he has had his bath, so all is well. 
     Having Vidal here during the day has taken pressure off me.  It is great that he can get Fred to his breakfast chair, move him to the bathroom, bathe him when necessary, and feed him when called for.  It lessens my load, and now when something like Fred's fall happens, I am able to deal with it calmly because I am less exhausted.  So today was not only a good day for Fred but also for me.  I got to do some weeding in the garden and also take a long walk with my friend Anne, both of us wearing masks and standing 6 feet apart.
     Yesterday I was able to participate in my "virtual" church choir.  We all recorded a composition by our choir director, who sent us the music and instructions on how to record our parts, which he put together digitally, and it will be "premiered" at Easter Sunday's online service.  It is a beautiful piece of music, and it is great to once again have the time to devote to this.  Vidal will not be here over the weekend, but Ned will be dropping in, so I am feeling less worn out and/or desperate these days.  Thanks for all your supportive comments.  Despite what all of you say, I am no paragon of virtue.  I am just doing what any of you would do in the same situation.