A Donor’s Story: Aging, America, and Music Maker

inTheir Needson April 24, 2018

We asked new donor David Propst to write about his experience with Music Maker after visiting some of our partner artists.

David Propst and our Programs Associate Zoe Van Buren visiting with Freeman Vines in Fountain, NC. Photo by Timothy Duffy

In July 2012, I moved back in with my parents. My mother had been diagnosed with dementia years before, and it was becoming obvious to my siblings and me that our parents would not be able to take care of their needs much longer.

My father, due to osteoporosis, became bed bound in the summer of 2016. The long-term care options in our town (and county) were not adequate. My sister, who has been in the Durham-Chapel Hill area for many years, suggested we move our father to a better facility here in Durham. We moved him up here in late 2016. I continued taking care of Mom at home until we sold the house and moved here in July 2017. Mom passed away about six weeks after we moved here.

Music has been a big part of my life since elementary school — listening. The first time I heard Muddy Waters sing Mannish Boy, I woke up. I was fourteen. From that time until now, blues music has been my psychiatrist, my nurse, my companion, my solace, my teacher. Everything you need to know in life can be found in the blues.

After my mother passed, I suddenly found myself with more free time. After discovering what a huge music scene Durham has I started looking around for volunteer opportunities. I sent email messages to a couple of organizations but never heard back. Then I came across the Music Maker web site. I read about their work, it sounded cool, and then I looked at their Advisory Board, the first two names I noticed were Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal. That was good enough for me.

I was the “primary caregiver” for my mother for five years and I was with her when her last breath left her body. Knowing that Music Maker provides aid and assistance to aging musicians means a lot to me. Dealing with the so-called Health Care Industry in this country was an incredibly frustrating experience. I have been in and out of hospitals, rehab units, psych wards, memory care units, etc. The State will never take care of people. People have to take care of people.

Aging and death are viewed, in our culture, as a medical problem and the vast majority of people I have met who work in the health care industry are incapable of actually caring for people. In almost every “health care” facility I have been in, I have seen mostly unhealthy people.

Music Maker is a community. It is a network. Perhaps what I like most about Music Maker is that, as an organization, they do not pretend to have answers or solutions. They just look around and see what needs doing and try to do it. If a family calls and says their elderly father is sleeping on the floor, Music Maker just buys the man a mattress.

The only thing I want Music Maker to do is to Just Do Now.

That’s all you can do, anyway.

— David Propst

  • Pat Kramer

    Nice story, David. It’s so very sad what happens to people who don’t have loving caregivers. Thanks for what you did for your Mom and thank you Music Maker.

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