Monday, January 17, 2011

Thinning the Herds

Like a highly skilled sharpshooter, Alzheimer's is taking out one part of Flip after another. I arranged to sell most of his musical equipment as he can't use it any longer, and it takes up precious space in our small apartment. There is too much for me to transport, some of it heavy, so someone came from one of the guitar shops to look it over yesterday. Today, she called with an offer which was considerably less than I expected as we have a small fortune invested in this gear. Although some of it has hardly been touched as it was purchased after his abilities began to disintegrate and is in mint condition, it is still officially used, and the store needs to make a profit when reselling it. Flip and I agree that musical equipment should be used.

I was also forced to factor in my own attachment to his guitar gear because of my memories of him playing music. Flip was a fantastic guitar player who actually jammed with Jimi Hendrix in Maui when he was 19, but maybe removing the visual reminders will be less painful for both of us. I know that my memories are not worth money, but being offered so little seemed to imply that they are not worth very much at all. It's hard to separate Flip from Flip-the-musician, though. He has made music all his life, and more than anything else, it has defined him.

"How can you tell the dancer from the dance?" WB Yeats


Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine what you must be going through. My grandmother had Alzheimer's and it was difficult to witness her decline. Now her daughter, my aunt has it. My father used to fear it as do I, but he died young at 56 only six years older than I am now.

I did see something the other day that suggests having familiar things from early, early, periods can be calming. I hope it's okay for me to leave the link.

the walking man said...

Susan I hear you about them memories being worth more than the gear. But how would you feel if you walked past that guitar store and saw the price they had on it was two and half time what they gave you for it.

Ask them how bad do they want his gear, if it's vintage (1940-1975) and in great shape it's worth a small fortune depending on make model and style. So go back with a counter offer of about 4/5ths of its worth.

It's not used it's what people are looking for, broken in, aged. Don't be conned because even with the emotions and memories selling and buying is still business. And you know that they want gear as cheap as possible to raise the margin.

Negotiate, or hold off and put up a list of what you have and let your friends shop it to their musician friends.

Best to you and Flip


Grandma's scrapbook said...

La connaissance est difficile, mais vous, vous êtes grand,

e said...

Alzheimer's is a terrible thing. I agree with Mark about negotiating and perhaps letting musician friends buy the instruments.

Best to you both.

TaraDharma said...

my condolences on the disease and the parting with the instruments. I finally sold my beloved guitar because I had not played it in 15 years and it seemed a shame to me. I researched it, then advertised it on Craig's List and got a good price. You might give that a try.


James said...

I'm a guitar player (TechnoBabe's hubby) and I wonder if there is an amplifier in the equipment list. Let me know at

TechnoBabe said...

Darn it all, my friend. Did you close the deal or are you thinking of selling each piece online? You know my heart is hugging you.

Anonymous said...

I see the others have given advice about how to possibly get a better price for the equipment. Perhaps Flip's musician friends could also help? Perhaps in organising an auction or a benefit? In your place, I would definitely keep one piece for myself. God bless you and Flip.

nick said...

No advice to give as I've never even owned a musical instrument. But how sad that you have to offload all those things that mean so much to you. Such a painful decision. I hope you manage to get a more realistic price for them.

secret agent woman said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this - I can't help but wonder if they are trying to take advantage? I don't know the answer, but I am wishing you well with it.

English Rider said...

Everyone has commented with good ideas but your situation may factor in to the "value" of accepting less to avoid the hassle. Also, the market is probably saturated with people trying to sell their stuff and not as many buyers as in a normal economy. Do whatever feels right to you. I wish you the best.

mischief said...

I always marvel at how lucky Flip is to have such an amazing wife. He must be an amazing husband. I'm so sad that things are changing for you both, that you are parting with things you love, pieces you love, memories you love. I am sending you both warm thoughts and good wishes for some respite from the losses. Love.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you for sharing your family's experience with this horrible disease. I haven't had a chance to check out the link yet, but do believe that the earliest memories last the longest. During one recent episode in which Flip was unable to remember who I was, his own name or those of his parents, he did state his older siblings' names w/o hesitation. I realized that he was returning to a stage so early that his parents were "Mommy" and "Daddy," but his sister and brother always had names.


You and other friends who came by today convinced me to do a little more work and try to sell some of the items individually online, especially a couple of his electric guitars which are classic, much-coveted instruments. Thank you!


Merci beaucoup. À votre bon cœur!


Thank you so much!


You've encouraged me to try Craig's List again. I have had a few experiences with it and thought it dealt only in morons and lunatics.


It's nice to see you here. I'll write to you as there are a couple of amps in the lot.


Yes, I can feel the hug. It feels good. We're supposed to settle things tomorrow as I had a root canal today, but I am definitely having second thoughts.


Your idea is wonderful, but sadly, most of Flip's friends have disappeared into the ether. No one seems to be able to handle his disease except those of us who have to.


Nearly everything is painful these days. Part of me just wants to get rid of it all in one fell swoop, but another part would really like to get more than a pittance for it.


I'm quite sure they are trying to take advantage. Sadly, my course of action tomorrow will depend on how badly my jaw still aches.


You raise good points about the economy. And it is a hassle, but I hate to see anyone take candy from babies, especially when we are the babies.


I think the memories will remain. At least, I hope so. And yes, Flip is a lovely man, but his many wonderful qualities are being stripped away at a shocking rate. This disease is a malevolent "gift" which keeps on giving.
Love you, too!

Anonymous said...

This all must be so tough on you, Susan. My heart genuinely goes out to you. And surely to see the creative passion and skill leave the person you love must be excruciating, not to mention undeserved. But, we have no choice in such matters. Much, much love to you and Flip.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Oh, the agonizing decisions to which life subjects us! How hard it is but we must play the hand nature deals us.

For me, right now, it is heart-wrenching to see my once-active, vibrant, intelligent, out-going grandparents sinking into a world no bigger than their bedroom and bathroom, bit by bit losing touch with everything else.

David said...

I hope you are able to find a cost-effective and not-too-troublesome way to not only sell the equipment but also find a new owner who will love the equipment in the same manner Flip did.

My fantasy is that a young filmmaker will buy it and make a film about Flip at the same time. Wouldn't that be cool?

Jo said...

Susan, it must be so heartbreaking for you to lose Flip piece by piece. It's amazing the things that go into making up who (whom?) we are as people.

Somehow, I see a story in this. Those instrument are worth more than their market value, just because of the story behind them. Don't give them away...! (I like Mark's advice).

Warty Mammal said...

I have nothing to contribute, other than to say that I'm sorry things have come to this pass.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It is particularly heartbreaking that so much creative energy, both his and mine, must go into surviving this disease and its widespread effects on every aspect of our life.


I'm sorry that you and your family are also dealing with such issues. I feel especially blind sided by the fact that Flip is only in his 50's so there is no way we could have been prepared for this.


I love your fantasy! Hold that thought. I, too, would like to see someone get his equipment, especially the guitars, who will treasure them and also make beautiful music with them. I'm sure he would like that, too, although he can't express it any longer.


As always, thank you for your support! This disease is horrific but also fascinating intellectually as I watch a personality disintegrate. I would have been happy not to know these things, but the ever-present question is indeed, what, exactly, makes a person who he or she is?


Thank you so much! I'm always glad when you come by.

Lex said...


That breaks my heart. And it inspires me to play my guitars more. I love them, I really do. But I lack either the discipline or the confidence to become accomplished at playing mine.

I think of you often and wish you well.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you! I've missed you.

Discipline leads to accomplishment leads to confidence. Play your heart out today because tomorrow is uncertain.

Maria said...

I shut my eyes and tried to imagine having to sell Bing's guitar(s), her marimbas, xylophone, drum sets and all the little musical things she has laying around that drive me crazy (rain sticks, thumb piano, bongos) and it was too much...I had to stop.

I am so so very sorry that you are going through this.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I hope you never have to. And I love rain sticks and kalimbas.

Molly said...

Hugs to you and Flip as you deal with this awful disease. We never know what's around the next corner in life. You are brave and courageous and Flip is fortunate to have your love and loyalty.
There are so many things that Yeats says best!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Molly, thank you.

Yeats is a great comfort through life's trials, and a great celebration of its triumphs.

Donna B said...

TechnoBabe referred me here...I write a blog, Mystical Journeys about my Father who has Alzheimer's.

It is such a gift to bring music into this world...and saddest of all he can no longer make music of his doubt he still enjoys it though....

I want to follow. I really like your beautiful photos on your other blog.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm so glad you came by. Isn't Technobabe wonderful? I will definitely check out your blog - most of the people I know who are dealing with AD are the children of afflicted people, not spouses. This is my first experience with it, and I could have done without it.

I agree with you about the gift of music, and it's particularly sad to realize that my husband can no longer do something which has been second nature to him since childhood. Thank you for your visit! I really need to post some new pictures on my other blog and will soon.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Sad, and beautiful. Very sad.

What a wonderful gift he has given you, in those precious, priceless memories.

Sell the guitar another way, if the music store is not offering enough. A private sale would probably net more of a return for you.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...


We have an entire music store full of top equipment here. I am slowly getting myself ready to sell some of it, but seem to be remarkably resistant. Hope springs eternal.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


Hope does spring eternal. I'd forgotten that. What a sweet reminder, thank you!


Scarlett & Viaggiatore