Leslie Green and Larry Graham

“Dig a little deeper”

Larry Graham.Leslie Green
May 2018
As you may recall, my sister Leslie had a terrible bicycle accident on June 4, 2018. In case I had forgotten, she recently sent me a picture of her, taken about day 12 of her month-long stay in the hospital.

After a few more operations and treatments, she is well on the road to recovery. She’s not 100%, but she is SO much better.

Besides the accident being all sorts of scary, that narrative all but obliterated the great time she and her daughter Rebecca Jade had just a couple week earlier. Rebecca was touring on a fortnight of cruises with Dave Koz and his band throughout Scandinavia, starting in Copenhagen.

Leslie participated in the “So You Think You Can Jam” talent contest. She has been singing about as long as I’ve known her, from the MAZET Singers in AME Zion Church in Binghamton, to various school choirs, to the Green Family Singers. She performed in a bunch of gigs in the Northeast – Crystal Ship! – and then for over a half dozen years in Puerto Rico.

She STILL sings in church and occasional local gigs. Every interview that Rebecca Jade has done, she’s rightly credited her mom to get her to sing harmonies as well as the melody.

When Leslie and Rebecca got to jam with Larry Graham, that was very cool. Larry, in case you didn’t know, was the bass player for Sly and the Family Stone. Then he fronted his own group, Graham Central Station.

So, for Leslie’s XXth birthday, I thought I’d link to some Larry Graham music. Happy birthday, sis. Enjoy the tunes.

Sly and the Family Stone

Dance to the Music, #8 pop, #9 RB in 1968 – “I’m gonna add some bottom”
Everyday People, #1 for four weeks pop, #1 for two weeks RB in 1969
Sing A Simple Song, #89 pop, #28 RB in 1969 – “I’m walkin’, walkin’ walkin’, walkin’, walkin’ in the street”
I Want to Take You Higher, #38 pop in 1970, #24 RB in 1969 – “Music’s gettin’ longer too”

You Can Make It If You Try – “Dig a little deeper”
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), #1 for two weeks pop, #1 for five weeks RB in 1970
Everybody Is a Star, b-side, 1970 “‘Til the sun that loves you proud When the system tries to bring you down”
Family Affair, #1 for three weeks pop, #1 for five weeks RB in 1971

Graham Central Station

We’ve Been Waiting
Can You Handle It, #49 pop, #9 RB in 1974

Chart action per Billboard; RB = R&B/soul

Recovery of Leslie Green, post bike accident

One surgery that IS scheduled is to remove the metal hardware from Leslie’s left arm/wrist on October 1 as an outpatient.

lesliesbikeOne of the many things I’d been planning to write about has been the recovery of my sister Leslie. She wrote this on Facebook on September 30, and I have purloined some of it. OK, all of it.

“As many of you know, I was in a serious bicycle crash on June 4th and was in the hospital until July 4th. I was riding downhill, was only a block left to my destination, avoided traffic, lost control, hit the curb and flew over handlebars to face plant into a hillside. Certainly not one of the most gracious things I have ever done!”

Yes, I visited the crash site the week I was out in San Diego the week after she got out of the hospital. Her friends found some eyewitnesses who thought she wouldn’t survive.

“I broke my nose, left arm/wrist and the surgeons had quite a task of putting together the pieces. (ME). They did a great job and are amazed at how quickly and well I am healing!”

Yes, even in week two, she was almost unrecognizable, but a month later, she started looking like herself.

“I give thanks to God for healing and keeping me. I thank all of those who showed the outpouring of love, support and prayers. It has been amazing. Especially from my kid!”

Her daughter Rebecca Jade and her many friends, especially a tigress named Leilani (hope I spelled her name correctly!) were great, even by the time I got there. Also thanks again to my friend Carol from Texas, who was able to visit my sister a month before I was.

“When I am thankful for the medical team, and thankful for purchasing a bicycle accident two days before the ordeal. It truly was a ‘helmet of salvation’ and helped save my life.”

Without the helmet, she had about a zero percent chance of avoiding severe brain damage or, most probably, death. Not so incidentally, when I got back to Albany, I bought a new helmet, one that fit my large head better.

“I feel ok and am doing ok, thanks be to God.

“There are a couple of surgeries I may need, but MDs want to wait and see, as I may heal without surgery. Time will tell.

“One surgery that IS scheduled is to remove the metal hardware from my left arm/wrist. It’s on October 1 as an outpatient. It will be so nice to have an increased range of motion again!”

That’s today! She has, if memory is correct, three metal rods in her wrist area. Not incidentally, Leslie is left-handed so this will be extremely beneficial.

“Please keep me in prayer for a successful surgery and healing, which I trust it will be.

“Thanks for all your love, prayers and support. It means a lot.”

Spare a good thought for Leslie today, if you would.

H is for helmet: bicycle, motorcycle

Bicycle helmets cut the risk of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) by half.

helmetFor the longest time, I’ve been wearing a helmet when I ride my bicycle. Years ago, I used to take a lot of grief for it. “Whadja think you’re doin’, riding a motorcycle?”

That’s because in New York State, only bicyclists under the age of 14 years old are required to wear safety certified bicycle helmets when they are operators or passengers on bicycles. BTW, children aged 1 to 4 must wear certified bicycle helmet and ride in specially designed child safety seats.

Whereas, motorcycle helmets ARE REQUIRED in New York State. “It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a protective helmet of a type which meets the requirements set forth in section 571.218 of the federal motor vehicle safety standards as may from time to time be amended.”

I’ve read that protective headgear is designed to absorb shock and redistribute impact on contact, thus reducing the risk of traumatic brain injury. Specifically, despite some criticism of bike helmets for not being protective enough, they do cut the risk of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) by half when riders suffer a head injury, a U.S. study suggests.

I have this friend Donna who had a serious bicycle accident in July 2017. She recently showed me photos some days beyond her event, and she would agree about two things: 1) she looked pretty terrible in the after her event, though she looks quite like herself now; and 2) if she had not been wearing a helmet, at best, she would have had severe brain injury, and more likely, she would have died.

I sought her out because my sister Leslie had experienced a remarkably similar event in June 2018, with each flying over the handlebars. Having seen her helmet, which she bought only three days before the event, there’s little doubt she would have been dead or permanently injured without the “shell”.

Some people don’t like helmets because of vanity, or “freedom”, or wanting to feel the wind in their hair. My experience suggests those are meaningless trade-offs if you’re deceased.

For ABC Wednesday

Revisiting dad’s death with sister Leslie

What also helped me was the fact that I wrote Dad a letter when I was about 23.

Leslie Green, Roger Green, Les Green
When I was out in San Diego visiting my sister Leslie in July, we sat around and talked. A lot. Other than go to doctors’ appointments and dealing with visits and phone calls from nurses and hospital folks, there wasn’t that much else to do.

One of the topics was our dad’s death, back on August 10, 2000. The facts, of course, haven’t changed, but my understanding has.

I was the first child, the first grandchild on both sides of the family, after my mother had miscarried almost two years earlier. At some point, I always felt that I was a disappointment to him. Les Green was VERY artistic, in many ways, and I just wasn’t, and aren’t to this day.

Whereas Leslie was largely everything he was. Dad arranged flowers for debutante balls, family and church weddings, and the like. I had no eye for this but Leslie did. I was useful in that I could schlep stuff, but get Leslie, not me, to tie ribbons that looked aesthetically pleasing.

Dad tried, and failed, to teach me how to play guitar. Leslie got her own guitar on her 12th birthday and was competent on it in a month. When we’d sing together, the only instrument I ever played was the comb, which I WAS sorta OK at.

When adults came to visit my parents at our home, I would drag myself away from reading the World Almanac an encyclopedia, or the backs of my baseball cards to say hello, stay as briefly as possible and then retreat to my room. Leslie, on the other hand, would engage them in conversation, even gregariously entertain them. This made no sense to me, as I figured these folks didn’t come to see her, or me, or our baby sister Marcia.

So Leslie was dad’s favorite. I say this without malice or jealousy. I knew it, she knew it, Marcia knew it. Our mother knew it, and tried, in little, awkward ways, to try to balance the scales.

All of this is not in dispute. What I didn’t really recognize until the trip to San Diego was the weight of being Dad’s favorite, of being the little hostess, to be more his artistic collaborator, to be NAMED AFTER HIM.

What also helped me was the fact that I wrote him a letter when I was about 23, complaining about the fact that I was spanked unnecessarily as a child. I may have used the word “sadistic,” but I’m not sure. We didn’t talk, except through my mother, for six months.

I couldn’t stand it, and I wrote ANOTHER letter, expressing the joy I had singing with him; playing cards with him; getting lost with him in Speculator, NY on the way to Lake George; going to Triplets baseball games; him painting the solar system on my bedroom ceiling; et al. He started talking to me again.

I had the BEST time with him, one-on-one, when I was at an ASBDC conference in Savannah, GA in 1998, and he drove down from Charlotte to hang out with me, and, naturally, flirt with my female friends.

I almost certainly had an easier time accepting our dad’s death in 2000 than Leslie did. This is why she wanted the showy funeral, though nothing my father had said suggested he desired such trappings. This is why Marcia, my mother and I waited her out for hours at the funeral home until she agreed to let dad be cremated.

I really wasn’t picking up on the BURDEN of being Les Green’s favorite child until this summer.

Sister Leslie is home, having a birthday

Leslie’s tribe of friends had wanted the feeding tube gone much earlier.

Sister LeslieI had this post about my sister Leslie converting to Roman Catholicism this year pretty well constructed in my mind. It’d have been how it was surprising it was – she did it as a secret from virtually everyone – but how it was fine by me.

Then she had this serious bicycle accident on June 4. To recap, she had been on vacation the previous month in Europe seeing her daughter Rebecca Jade sing on a cruise, but also spending a few days in Copenhagen, Denmark on her own.

She went back to San Diego and decided to start riding her bicycle partway to work. Since she is a safety official, she thought she ought to wear a helmet, so she bought one on June 1; wearing it almost certainly saved her life.

While I was in San Diego July 9-14, her friend Cathy managed to recover Leslie’s stuff that had been in storage at the first hospital she went to, Scripps Mercy. The distinct smell of dried blood remained on the helmet even days after being aired out. She’s keeping it, certainly not to wear again but possibly as a prop, along with her mangled bike, about the importance of bicycle safety.

Sister Leslie was semi-liberated from the SECOND hospital, Kaiser Permanente, on July 4, but she had a hospital bed in her bedroom at home because she still had a feeding tube attached. She was getting 1500 calories via it every night, but we – Leslie, her wonderful friend Leilani, the nutritionist, and i – agreed to start cutting back incrementally.

My primary task while I was out there was to get her from the bed, where she was not comfortable enough to sleep through the night, to a reclining chair. I became moderately competent at detaching and reattaching the “food” line when she needed to walk around.

I went to a couple of her doctors’ visits, notably to a heck and neck guy who removed the eight screws that had aligned her teeth to her jaw but were no longer necessary. Remember the worst pain you ever had at the dentist? Double that and add another 30%. That’s what the removal of the metal appeared to feel like, despite six shots of Novocaine, and I was in the room when it happened.

The good news is that, absent the metallic taste and feel in her mouth, she was more inclined to eat on her own. Then the feeding tube was removed on June 20. Leslie’s tribe of friends had wanted it gone much earlier, and I understood their feelings. I said, and she agreed, that it made her LOOK sick.

A couple of her friends asked me if her cognitive ability had been hampered. She took a test, and not only did she ace it, she explained the flaws in the testing instrument: “If Jill is taking off from her stockbroker job to raise the kids, what money are they living on?”

One of the words she’s had trouble remembering was “morphine,” which she was on during her first two weeks in hospital. It was probably just as well, as she had four broken ribs, but it really disoriented her. Except for that period, she was unfailing polite to everyone.

Given how she appeared in photos a month and a half ago, I note that she looks pretty darn good, i.e., more like herself. She has this little Harry Potter scar, and another hidden by her glasses.

The primary concern now is her left, dominant hand, which is still wrapped. Her friends need to exercise her fingers, lest they atrophy. She also likes lotion, especially between the fingers.

I’ve known sister Leslie longer than any living person and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to help her a little, even though I never did figure out all that long-term disability paperwork.