No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli ** Guest Post**

It's a big welcome to Frank Morelli who is visiting us today with a guest post featuring Gabe LoScuda, who features in his YA book, No Sad Songs. First, here's a little about the book:


Following a family tragedy, 18-year-old Gabe LoScuda suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of caregiver for his ailing grandfather. Between the shopping trips and the doctor visits with Grandpa, Gabe and his friend John try to salvage their senior year, meet girls, and make the varsity baseball team. It doesn’t take long for Gabe to realize that going to school and looking after a grandfather with Alzheimer’s is more work than he ever imagined.


And when long-lost Uncle Nick appears on the scene, Gabe soon finds that living with Nick and Grandpa is like babysitting two grown men. Aside from John, the only person who truly understands Gabe is Sofia, a punk-rocking rebel he meets at the veteran’s hospital. When these three unlikely friends are faced with a serious dilemma, will they do what it takes to save Grandpa? If there’s a chance of preserving the final shreds of Grandpa’s dignity, Gabe may have to make the most gut-wrenching decision of his life—and there’s no way out.



A Conversation Between Gabe LoScuda and Some Old Dude Who Created Him




When I decided I wanted to write a novel that would raise awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease and the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, I didn’t really know what kind of audience I was looking to reach. I thought about writing a book intended for adults, and then it dawned on me that adults in the present day are more likely to be affected by Alzheimer’s than to be warriors in the fight against it. I realized that young adults, aside from being impressive scholars and technological geniuses, will soon be called upon to play important roles in the battle. Therefore, they needed a way to make connections and experience the problem so they can make informed decisions going forward.



Once I made this decision, I needed to find a vehicle with which to deliver my story. That vehicle came in the form of an eighteen-year-old everyman named Gabe LoScuda, a young man whose heart and loyalty far exceed his status as a high school nobody. When his parents are lost in a tragic accident, Gabe becomes a caregiver for his ailing grandfather, and his obsession with living up to the wishes of his father makes his life more complicated than he ever imagined it could be. While writing Gabe’s story, I became inextricably linked to him. At the same time, I found myself wishing that someday I’d have a chance to sit down and have a heart-to-heart discussion with the kid. Well, today is the day.



FM: Gabe LoScuda, thanks for sitting down with me and sharing your experiences living in the world of No Sad Songs.



GABE: Happy to be here.



FM: So, what is the hardest thing about caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia?



GABE: Everything. Like. Every. Single.Thing. There’s the time commitment, because caring for someone with dementia--even if they’re eighty or ninety years old--is like raising a young child. You need to maintain their daily schedules with even more attention than your own. You have to think about medication schedules and doctor visits and dietary concerns. You need to have ice water in your veins and remain cool under the most pressure-packed situations you can imagine. You need to be empathetic at all times, protecting the dignity of the person under your care. You need to relish in the happy moments and remember to laugh when possible, because these moments often prove to be few and far between. But, most of all, you need to be a study in stoicism because there’s nothing harder about being a caregiver than watching your loved one disintegrate right in front of your eyes. They literally become different people who barely resemble the loved one you grew up adoring, but you still need to find a way to provide the kind of love and compassion you’d have given them in their best moments.



FM: That sounds like an impossible situation. What is your perspective on how the general public could help caregivers like yourself?



GABE: I really don’t know. I’m not, like, a political consultant or anything. But if I had to offer solutions I’d say the best thing that can happen for caregivers like myself is for the general public to know we exist and that we’re doing some of the hardest work in the world without getting paid or even receiving credit. I’m not looking for applause or anything, and I’d care for my grandfather in total secret if that’s what it took, but it’d be nice if maybe the government decided to step in and create some programs that could help people like me pay bills and receive qualified medical support. And, no, my Uncle Nick does not fall into the category of “qualified medical support” unless we’re using one of those gigantic, plastic stethoscopes made by Fisher-Price.



FM: How important is friendship in your life?



GABE: When I was younger I used to think--



FM: Wait. When you were younger? You’re eighteen, Gabe. Exactly what do you consider “old age”?



GABE: Look, sometimes things happen in your life that make you feel and think and act a whole lot older than any birth certificate could tell you.



FM: Point taken.



GABE: Like I was about to say, I thought I could solve problems completely on my own when I was younger. I didn’t think I needed anyone to tell me how to relate to my own grandfather, for example. But I’m pretty sure I was horribly wrong. So, yes, I feel like friendship is important. My friends John and Sofia are the only reasons I’m having this conversation with you if you really want to know the truth. They’re real friends because they don’t just tell me what I want to hear. In fact, they almost never tell me what I want to hear. But they tell me the truth, and anyone who’s willing to tell you the truth about yourself is a valuable asset. It might sound weird, but I love them for telling me all the things about myself that kind of suck. Which is a lot, but I’m working on it with a little help from my friends. Damn, that’s corny. Please don’t print that.



FM: <crossing fingers behind his back> Oh, don’t worry. I’ll be sure to strike it from the record. So, what would you consider to be your greatest attribute, Gabe? Which attribute would you like to change about yourself?



GABE: Easy. It’s the same attribute. I’m a man of my word. If I say I’ll do something then I’ll do it. Most people reading this are probably thinking, “Uhh, dude, how can that be a bad thing?” Well, being a man of my word gets me in trouble sometimes because I, uhh, have a big freaking mouth. I make promises to people without thinking about whether or not I’ll need to transform into a literal superhero in order to carry them out. Believe me, there’s no worse feeling than realizing you’ve let someone down. If you want to experience this, all you have to do is agree to do something that can’t physically be accomplished. Set yourself up for failure. Then you’ll understand pretty quickly how being a man (or woman) of your word can be both a blessing and a curse.



FM: In the novel, you’re constantly comparing things in your life to lines of poetry and lyrics in some of your favorite songs. Why do music and poetry play such important roles in your life?



GABE: I mean, are there people out there in the world who don’t like music?



FM: I’d assume so.



GABE: That’s just weird. Damn. I couldn’t live without a personal soundtrack playing behind me. Even when I have a day that feels like it will never end, I can still throw on the old headphones and lose myself in a song. To me, poetry and music kind of go hand in hand. I mean, lyrics are basically just lines of poetry that are easier to understand. Sometimes, anyway. And I’m not like one of those people who will sit here and say poetry sucks just because it’s scary to read and can sometimes make your head want to explode. I see both music and poetry as mental puzzles, I guess. If you can unlock what’s inside them you can usually find the keys you were looking for. Then you can unlock doors in your life you never knew were locked in the first place.



FM: Who’s your favorite musical artist of all time and what are your thoughts on punk rock?



GABE: This is the hardest question in the history of Planet Earth. Are you sure I can’t list, like, twenty bands here?



FM: Just one, Gabe.



GABE: Then I’d have to go with Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was a visionary. He was the ultimate poet/lyricist/musician and it’s sad that he never had the chance to reach his full potential. Can you imagine what he could have done if he could have just lived past age twenty-seven? And punk rock has grown on me like moss on a stone. I used to think it was mindless and loud and had no point. Then I met Sofia and she scared me into listening to it. I mean, really listening to it. I still think it’s pretty loud and mindless, but now I love it for just those reasons. Now, I can probably sit around and listen to Ramones albums all day long.



FM: What are you plans after you graduate high school?



GABE: Things got pretty messed up for me during my senior year, which is usually when most students my age are busy touring college campuses or looking for jobs or even figuring out what they want to be when they grow up. I spent most of my time mopping drool off my grandfather’s chin and running from the law, so spending an overnight at Drexel wasn’t high on my priority list. I think I’ll just take things as they come after I graduate. There’s no reason why I can’t take a year to figure out what it is that drives me (besides my ‘81 Trans-Am). I can tell you one thing, however. Auto mechanic is definitely not an avenue I’ll be driving down anytime soon. Just ask John or Officer Patterson. They’ve both seen my work.



FM: Speaking of hard work, why are you so obsessed with making the baseball team?



GABE: I’m not obsessed. I’m just interested.



FM: You’re totally obsessed, my dude.



GABE: Fine, I’m obsessed. You know why?



FM: I literally just asked you that question.



GABE: I liked you better when you just made me do things with the flick of your pencil. You’ve changed, man.



FM: ....



GABE: Look, it’s not hard to understand. I want to make the team so I can prove to myself that I can stick to something and succeed. I want to make the team so I can be part of a tradition in American childhood. I want to make the team for Dad and for Mom, even though they’ll never see me play a single game. Or maybe they will. Who knows what they can see from way up there or wherever they disappeared to after the accident. It would honestly be worth it just to know they would have been happy to see me reach a goal I’ve had for a long, long time.



FM: So, who’s your favorite ballplayer of all time?



GABE: Without a doubt it’s Michael Jack Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies. Most people probably forget about the Hall of Fame third baseman, but not me. I mean, how can you forget about a guy who won ten gold gloves, hit 548 dingers, and made the All-Star team a dozen times? All those things are great and all, but what makes me worship Mike Schmidt is how everyone in Philly kind of counted him out. They didn’t expect him to ever reach his potential after his rookie season, where he batted a dismal .196, struck out 136 times and made seventeen errors. The sportswriters hated him. The fans hated him. I think he even hated himself a little bit, though I can’t be sure because it’s not like I ever talked to him face-to-face or anything. But, you know,  Schmidty didn’t let any of that distract him. He just kept being the kind of ballplayer he knew himself to be and everything seemed to work out fine. You know, like, the whole Cooperstown thing happened. So, yeah. Mike Schmidt. Good, old number twenty. Dude is a baseball god.



FM: If you could trade in your ‘81 Trans-Am for any other car in history, what would it be and why?



GABE: Oh, man. There’s no chance I’d ever trade in my Trans-Am. It was my dad’s car and he kept it as brand new as any car with over a hundred thousand miles on it could be. The interior still smells like him and there’s not another car in the world that could give me that memory. But, you know, if the thing stopped running one day and I needed any old vehicle to get me from Point A to Point B, I guess I’d settle for a Porsche or something.



FM: Just to get you from Point A to Point B, eh? A Porsche?



GABE: I have a problem with being late. Tell me, you ever heard of someone arriving late in a Porsche?



FM: Good point. And thanks for sharing with us, Gabe.



GABE: Thanks for having me...and for, like, creating me and stuff. That was really cool of you.



FM: Don’t mention it. I was just trying to kill time.



GABE: Not cool, man.



FM: <laughing>

Thanks so much Frank for introducing us to Gabe.
You've given us a great insight into what makes him tick!

 About the Author



FRANK MORELLI has been a teacher, a coach, a bagel builder, a stock boy, a pretzel salesman, a bus driver, a postal employee, a JC Penney model (see: clerk), an actual clerk (like in the movie of the same name), a camp counselor, a roving sports reporter, and a nuclear physicist (okay, maybe that’s not true). At heart, he’s a writer, and that’s all he’s ever been. His fiction and essays have appeared in more than thirty publications, including The Saturday Evening Post, Cobalt Review, Philadelphia Stories, Jersey Devil Press, and Indiana Voice Journal. His sports-themed column—“Peanuts & Crackerjacks”—appears monthly at Change Seven Magazine.

A Philadelphia native, Frank now lives near Greensboro, NC in a tiny house under the trees with his best friend and muse, their obnoxious alley cats, and two hundred pounds worth of dog.

You can follow Frank here:Website  |  Twitter

Book links: Goodreads   |  Amazon UK   |  Amazon US  

Thanks to Frank Morelli and Jenny of Neverland Blog Tours for a place on the tour.


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