March 24, 2000
Dear Friends:

I just want to give you an update on dad.  Chris Frank of efolkMusic just recorded a set of cassettes for dad with all his songs and music since 1972.  I have been there twice playing these tapes for him. Have only got through one and a half of them so far.  They are great tapes, the best quality of course, and dad LOVES them.  The first time I played one, he started moving his hand like he was going to play the banjo.  (I stopped trying to get him to play banjo several years ago, because he didn't want to play in front of anyone.  Recently I put a banjo in his lap and he didn't know how to hold it or even grip it. I was concerned that he might accidentally drop it.  So I have given up on the banjo playing idea)

Since he was moving his hand like that, I suddenly got the idea that a wide shallow drum might work for him.  So today I went to The Music Loft, and Ed Butler, who works there, (sometimes of the Red Clay Ramblers) picked out a drum for him.  It sounds great, has a skin head and makes a nice deep tone.  I bought it for dad.  Dad told me he has to practice a little, but I really think this might be something he can do musically now.  In addition, I got a call from Carolyn Dorisdotter who is planning a talent show with Kris Snyder the activity director at Britthaven.  Carolyn says she has discovered a lot of hidden talent there.  Dad and I will be performing on April sixth, among the many others.  The show is at 3:00.

A couple other newsy items.  The Alzheimer conference really brought together a lot of folks who all know and work with dad in one way or another.  I think that this not only benefits dad but also others, because dad and I are able to reach more people with our message this way.  The immediate effect for dad is that his caregivers have all been brought closer together, and we work even more like a team now.  Also, I am getting to know other family members from Britthaven, and they me.  This is also good for our loved ones who are residents. 

Just two more things to mention.  Michelle, the Activities Aide from dad's floor has been promoted to another job in the facility.  She has been a great friend, and I just wanted to pay her a tribute.  She wrote to Patrick Couton for dad when he was first admitted to Britthaven.  I have seen her cooking, playing volleyball, building model airplanes, singing, dancing and partying with the residents.  When my brother and I took dad and another resident to the zoo, she came with us, and helped us push these two men in wheelchairs up and down hills all day.  If her muscles were as sore as mine the next day, she never told me about it.  It was a beautiful fall day, and dad and his friend really enjoyed the animals.  Michelle's picture with Tommy was taken by Al Hill, who's wife Mary is a Britthaven resident.

The other tribute I must make is to Maurice.  Maurice works in maintenance and housekeeping at Britthaven.  Maurice is from West Virginia himself and lost his own daddy in a coal mine. He says he has adopted the residents of Britthaven as his family.  Maurice makes dad laugh a lot since he has a great sense of humor.  Here's the thing about Maurice.  I called Britthaven on Christmas Morning to wish dad a Merry Christmas and remind him that we were going to come get him for Christmas dinner.  I wasn't sure they would have enough staff to answer the phones that day.  But when I got a voice on the line, it was Maurice.  I was so relieved.  Maurice seems to be at Britthaven 24-7.  He keeps threatening to take a vacation, and I'm sure he's good and due for one.  If he does take one soon, I won't blame him, but I will always be grateful that he was there on Christmas Day.
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Besides Tommy's section of the site, the following pages are also related to Jesse and Tommy:
Blurred Time "The Sleeper": the aftermath of Jesse and Bobbie's car accident
Mike Craver's "Visiting Tommy"
Roots of the Red Clay Ramblers:
Fuzzy Mountain String Band: Jesse's mom, Bobbie, recorded with Rambler Bill Hicks and others
Hollow Rock String Band: Tommy and Bobbie Thompson named this band for their community

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March 24, 2000