Nearly two weeks ago, Carol Langner sent out a press release announcing the appointment of Mark Wong as the next organist of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. She sent me a courtesy copy which included Mark’s biographical details, but also mentioned that Mark was the successor to my 35-year tenure. Well, this is how reporter Pat Gee’s story in the Star-Advertiser came out this morning:
Mark’s story was completely overshadowed by my retirement!
During the course of my interview, she asked me why, if I am “retired,” am I still trying to make music? That’s when I let the cat out of the bag and told her about my age-related macular degeneration (AMD). She then asked if she should keep this out of the story, but I decided I wanted to bring more awareness to this affliction that is affecting baby boomers like myself.
My macular degeneration came on very suddenly and I only wish I had been more articulate about the nightmare I had a year ago last November. In my dream, I was playing the previous continuo organ (the one which has a pedalboard and is now at Holy Innocents Episcopal in Lahaina, Maui) which had been placed on a slanted platform. The entire organ was at a 45-degree slant including the pedalboard! And that’s when I started screaming that I couldn’t play the organ, especially the pedals with my body and the music at a 45-degree angle! Not only was my music sliding off the rack, I was also sliding off the bench! When I woke up, I opened my eyes and saw the room at a 45-degree angle.
Within the next week I saw three eye specialists, and got the diagnosis. There is presently no cure for macular degeneration, but there is treatment which slows and hopefully stabilizes the vision loss. It means that I have monthly injections, directly in my eye — think Oedipus! As I have told people, though, the actual injection is not painful because of all the anesthetizing eye drops which precede it — all I feel is a little pressure.
Sorry for all these gory details, but now you know. And I did tell the paper that the photo credit should go to former student, Joey Fala, but they unfortunately did not include it.