… on the Facebook page.
My mom would have been 74 today. We had a tradition where I would take her out to eat – generally a Mexican restaurant – and we’d make it a party with friends and margaritas. She loved to celebrate; she’d take the whole month as hers (pretty much the opposite of me, as I tend to hide all references to mine.)
This past Sunday, we held a memorial service for her at her home church. If there was one thing she would have gotten a kick out of, it would have been the amount of us unbelievers sitting in a church on a Sunday.
The service was nice, and I think she would have loved it – the pictures, the flowers. So many memories with friends and family, followed by drinks at the bar. And she would have enjoyed both, I know.
Some of my lady friends wore red nail polish – the same kind that my Wonder Twin Hillary painted on mom’s nails just a few days before she passed. They also all picked out pins (brooches? I don’t know fashion) from her collection to wear in her honor.
The amount of love and support has been amazing, and I thank you all for that.
This is all still new to me. And I don’t even know for sure if it’s really hit me yet. But either way, I think I’m going to find a Mexican restaurant tonight and have dinner and a margarita for her.
Sometimes I have so much running around in my head, I don’t know where to start. So I guess I’ll start with a simple ‘thank you.’
Thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to message, text, comment, call, hug, bring/deliver food, send a card, reminisce, share, offer encouragement and an ear/shoulder or beer/shot, and everyone who took the time to send love to me and my friends and family.
I’m the type of person that wants to respond to each and every comment; I have been able to respond to a few, but the outpouring of love has been overwhelming in the best kind of way. So I do apologize for not being able to reply to everyone individually as I’d like to, but please know that I have read and very much appreciate your words of comfort and the memories you’ve shared.
My friend Lydia coined the name “Mama Pat,” and it was embraced by so many people over the years. I saw one comment that said “she was a mother to all of us.” When meeting with the funeral director and discussing the obituary, I remember joking that she is survived by her son – and all of her adopted children.
I began crying when reading through the comments and stories/memories. It showed me just how loved my mother was, and as I said in my last post, my main goal was to make sure she knew that. I love my mother so much, and it warms my heart to know how many other people loved her, too.
So many people have asked me what I’ve needed and told me to contact them if I need anything. I’m not sure what “normal” is in these situations. I don’t know what is normal to feel, to think, to act, to say…to need. I just don’t know. But please know that I appreciate the offers.
I know of something my mom would want, though. There were two organizations that were extremely helpful to us during her battle with cancer, and there are so many people fighting similar battles that could still use help. And I know she would want to help others who are in that situation.
When my mother went through radiation – three weeks in 2016 and two more weeks this past summer – the Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge in Birmingham provided us a place to stay at no cost. That kept us and many other families from all over the southeast from having to travel long distances each day for treatment, or endure costs of finding a hotel for weeks at a time.
Another organization that helped us was CancerCare. The costs of chemotherapy drugs can get expensive. Even with good insurance, co-pays can eat into a person’s budget, especially when added with other medical costs. CancerCare has a program that helped cover co-pay costs for the chemotherapy drugs my mother took, which was extremely helpful.
If you would like to make a donation to one of these organizations in my mother’s name, you’ll be helping others going through similar experiences while honoring my mother’s memory.
In the meantime, her memorial service will be Sunday, Oct. 29 at her home church – Harvest Family Church (7245 Copperfield Dr., Montgomery, AL 36117.) Service begins at 3 p.m. and people can arrive during the hour prior.
Again, thank you, and much love.
“Love is watching someone die.”
Since April 20, 2016, the date my mother was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, I knew this day was coming sooner rather than later. The ups and downs, with each doctor visit and each stage of treatment, were difficult, but love sticks around. Love means watching the deterioration happen day by day. Love is watching someone die.
When I first heard the diagnosis, I set goals. I told her I would stand by her. I told her that I would back her up in whatever her wishes were. And the main goal I set for myself was to make sure that she knew how loved she was by so many people.
I hope I succeeded.
Along with that Death Cab for Cutie song above, another that really got me was the song “Flirted With You All My Life,” originally by Vic Chesnutt but covered by David Bazan. I’m a Bazan fan, and his voice and delivery really make this song impactful, especially this part:
“And when my mom was cancer sick
She fought, but then succumb to it
And you, you made her beg for it
‘Jesus, please, I’m ready’”
I love you, Mom. And I miss you already.
In August 2016, I began work on a documentary film project, and I am happy to announce its completion!
There is a monthly music event here in Montgomery that I have regularly posted about and photographed for quite a while now – the Guitar Pull at the Cloverdale Playhouse. The more I was around, the more I would hear stories about how it all began, and I thought it was an interesting story to tell, which led to my new feature film Commit to the Song: The Joe Thomas Jr. Guitar Pull and the following tagline:
“A true story of music, inspiration, death, amputation, and legacy.”
Many thanks to the film’s stars – Robert “Bubba” Hall, Jonathan Tew, Gini Thomas, Greg Thornton, Michael Thornton, Sarah Thornton, and Mike Winkelman – for their time and support, and thanks also to all the musicians who allowed me to document their performances and everyone who contributed info, photos, encouragement, etc.
I’ll be releasing more information in the coming weeks. Follow this blog via email for updates, and connect with me and Terrible Master Films on social media.
Thanks for reading!
I recently took a trip down to Atmore, AL to shoot some footage for Big Escambia Spirits in anticipation for the launch of their newest product – Dettling Bourbon. They handle every part of the process – from getting their corn locally in Escambia County to each stage through bottling.
I directed this spot (produced by Terrible Master Films) which they posted publicly today:
Got corn in my shoes and pants today. Check out the new @big_escambia_spirits product "Dettling Bourbon," which will be hitting shelves soon! It is the first bourbon 100% made in Alabama. #bourbon #whiskey #bigescambiaspirits #dettlingbourbon #spirits #craftbourbon #madeinalabama #alabama #atmore #escambia #escambiacounty #goodstuff #fieldtobottle
Sometimes, there are so many things I want to say, but I question whether it’s my voice that needs to be heard. I question whether I have anything to contribute that has not already been said, probably much more eloquently or with more depth.
I try to listen more than I speak. I also try to communicate clearly and authentically. I try to write and speak from reasoned logic and kindness instead of anger.
But I’m angry. There are things in this world that I don’t understand, and quite frankly, I don’t want to understand.
It’s fucking 2017 and there are nazi pieces of shit walking in the streets with goddamn tiki torches. What. The. Fuck?! Don’t like my language? Too bad. There is a place for righteous anger and cursing for emphasis, and if stupid fucking nazis and related white supremacist assholes causing riots and using vehicles as weapons in American streets in 2017 isn’t it, then I don’t know what the fuck it might be.
I feel anger. I feel sorrow. I feel helpless.
I teared up watching the Vice News episode on this horror. (And damn, it’s hard to imagine the Vice crew having to hang out and be face-to-face with those nazi shit stains for this story…) Watch it. Look at these hateful fucks. Use it as a teaching tool to make sure the next generation doesn’t end up lost in more hateful ignorance.
I generally try to understand motives. But I don’t understand this kind of hatred, and quite honestly, I’m glad I don’t understand it. I really don’t want to understand it. I don’t want to understand that level of ignorance. I don’t want to understand that level of hatred. I don’t want to understand why someone would embrace those ideals.
I love the fact that I have friends from different races and cultures and beliefs and backgrounds. I’m happy to see love and acceptance from good people who know and embrace ideals of empathy, understanding, equality, and diversity. I want to be around good, genuine, accepting, loving people. And I want to be those things myself.
I want to see and support the agents of positive change. I want to lend my voice, as little as it might be in the grand scheme of things, to positive change, to progress, to empathy, to encouragement, to better days.
So let me be perfectly crystal clear: if you are a white supremacist of any shape or form and you happen to follow me on social media or have sneaked your way onto my “friends” list – delete me. Seriously. I don’t want that kind of bullshit in my life.
Per some perusing of social media lately, the new website and app Sarahah seems to be somewhat polarizing – some people are liking it, while some people are slamming it as cowardly, urging people to say things directly to other people, instead of anonymously.
(I say “somewhat polarizing” because some of the comments under these posts are more in the “What the hell is it?” category. If you’re wondering, the word “sarahah” is Arabic, apparently, synonymous with candor, openness, frankness, honesty.)
Either way, I signed up recently, fully expecting jokes and a decent amount of hate mail. So I admit that I was surprised to get some very nice, encouraging, and heart-felt messages from people. Who are these people? Well, since the site allows anonymous messages, I have no idea.
One of the more funny/lighthearted ones:
“I’d toast your almonds you sweet cream muffin!”
And then there’s this one:
“I think you’re too good for this desperate please show me attention app…”
And there are others that are lengthier and heart-felt (and thank you to those who have posted those. I do appreciate your messages and encouragement very much.) I’m not going to post them all here or anything, and again, I have no idea who is behind these messages, but I received one I’d like to address:
“I’m in awe of your creative drive. Makes me wish I hadn’t given up.”
If the person that left this is reading this blog post, I want to say two things:
First, thank you. Second, it’s not too late to start back.
I don’t know what creative outlet you gave up on, whether music, film, painting, writing, or something else. But you can start up again. Write. Record. Play. Direct. Film. Edit. Produce. Practice. Act. Whatever it is, and whatever quantity you can give time for it – 5, 10, 30 minutes, an hour – do it.
The world can always use more art. Let that creativity start up again. Feed it. Nurture it. Grow it. And share it with us. Be encouraged.
For anyone else, if you want to tell me something anonymously, feel free: joshcarples.sarahah.com. Or if you prefer to tell me things directly, use the “Contact” page on this website, or hit me up on my social media accounts. Either way, thanks for reading. Much love.