Writing My Life

Now and Then

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Wishful Thinking

If I could be granted my own “make-a-wish” desire, and if it were truly possible, which Ronald Mallet believes it is,  I would sign up for time-travel. Instead of heading for Swiss Days over the Labor Day weekend, I’d tell the ticket agent me “when” I wanted to go instead of where. For my first trip, I would head back to my own childhood to soak in thousands of details I thought I would remember forever but have sadly eluded me. I would bask in those less-than-significant family moments with Mom, Dad, and Connie  that added up to what I remember as happy times.  time_travel

While I’d enjoy revisiting monumental experiences, I really yearn for those tiny times – eating Dad’s toast and cocoa breakfasts he whipped up for Connie and me; watching Sunday night’s Kennecott Neighborhood Theater but listening to Mom’s rhythmic beating a batch of fudge; or sitting  at the vinyl and chrome kitchenette and talking. I remember the food more than the conversations – why is that? I’d love to listen in to what we chatted about while eating corn fritters, the main course that usually preceded paydays. I hated corn fritters, but I’d eat them again if it meant I could drop into 1958.

Upon my return, I’d record all those particulars that meant little to me then but everything to me now.

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Just a Little Observation

With all the significant posts waiting to be written, I’m not sure why this silly idea worked its way up the priority ladder, but it has. Besides silly, it will be a short and sweet piece.

Yesterday, I found this addressed envelope sitting atop the shredder and couldn’t help but laugh at my type A husband.


For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched him pull out a ruler before addressing envelopes. Who does this? I mean his printing looks like it could be one of the word-processing font choices on a drop-down menu – you know like “Bradley Hand ITC”. Only this script would be christened “Gary Hand GE”. (I can’t add “ITC” because the International Typeface Corporation didn’t design it, but I can include G.E. because Gary Eugene created the script, complete with “serif” – the little feet attached to the S’s. Hope you’re impressed with my fount of font knowledge.)

Anyway, this careful scripting says a lot about my old school husband and his preciseness. In general, today’s men do not print neatly, but Gar always has. In his mind, however, that’s not good enough for the Postal Department as the lines need to be straight, Hence the ruler.

I’m not sure where this habit comes from. I don’t think he’s read the high cost of illegible handwriting in the medical field; if he had, his scribble signature would be decipherable. Of course, Gar is not a medical professional; so that is irrelevant. What I do think, however, is that he a perfectionist in some areas, plus he does not want to risk late delivery of bills – which brings us to the other revelation about him. He HATES online bill-pay, and wishes I would abandon the practice. (I told him I will as soon as he takes over all the household accounting duties, which he is in the process of doing. YaY!) At any rate, he continues to mail bills or hand deliver them. Sheesh!

If any of you have received a note or card from my husband, you may remember that the envelope was addressed just as carefully as any of our bills. Feel honored. =) As a result, I have been thinking about hiring him out to address wedding invitations. Any takers?

I warned you this would be a silly post. I guess I could ask what writing about this says about me. But I won’t. And if a kind-hearted reader out there wants to take care of our car payment, you can send it to the clearly written address above.

Have a great day. R.


Memorial Day – aka “Decoration Day” – 2012

This is actually one of my favorite holidays, and I am touched when we make the cemetery rounds and find hundreds of families and folks still paying homage to their loved ones.

Today, we left mums, small versions of Old Glory, and lots of love at the grave sites of our fathers and mother. We have not forgotten you, Daddy, Chuck, and Pat. AND we miss you oh so very much.

Love Renae and Gary

Our traditional, yearly photo op: Connie B, Cute Mama, and me.

The “past-its-prime” flower and note are from a Cub Scout den, and they are saying thanks for Dad’s service to his country. Sweet, huh?

This man was a great son to his parents, and he’s a wonderful husband to me!

It’s wonderful to see that their 5 children honor Charles Harold and Jenny (Pat) with flowers and loves!

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… may be LOW-TECH, but homemade Mother’s Day cards are still the best … revisiting a 2011 post

Life being what it is, I decided to repost an entry from a year ago. I’ve also added a comment I entered on FaceBook this morning because I know many moms and non-moms don’t like this day that has been set aside for women. P.S. I revised a couple of phrases from the original FB post.

About Mother’s Day! I decided a LONG time ago that I’ll opt for being loved throughout the year rather than counting on ONE day of spoiling to make up for whatever I think I was short-changed. In other words, if I don’t get breakfast in bed or dawn to dusk attention, I’m just  fine. I am fortunate because I have a great family who loves me – warts and all – 365 days a year. And I love my darling mother 365 days a year! Have a great Mother’s Day – whatever it brings. Love to ALL WOMEN!

2011 ~ This past week I received an email from JibJab – the site where you grab some photos and lop off the heads of friends and family and stick them on the site’s videos or postcards for a hilarious effect. JibJab has all kinds of funny options customers could send their moms, and I will probably send one to my mom.

However, I couldn’t help but think about cards I used to make for her. Here are a couple I created for Mom in 1956 and 1957 or ’58. You will notice the “clip art” is either non-existent or lacking and Spellcheck failed to correct a few words, but the sentiments – strange as they might be came from my 7 and 8 year-old-heart.  Well, maybe I “copied and pasted” one or two lines for the first poem.

Connie and I probably created this poem in 1958 when I was in third grade. I was still writing “r’s” like Mrs. Quidor and the Palmer method taught me.

I went to a little more effort to create this card when I was in 4th grade in 1959. The front of the card is on the left and the inside verse is on the right. I even included a little Hallmark logo on the back to make it official! After all, didn’t card companies create Mother’s Day? (By the way, neither of these creations were school assignments!)

Because of the drawing, complete with halo AND horns, as well as the guilt-ridden verse, I have to guess that I must have gotten into some big trouble a day or two before Mother’s Day!

My mother NEVER hurt my EAR, but hey, it rhymed with DEAR!

Notice the “horns” on the anGLE’s head holding up her halo. Interesting.


Life with Mom: The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY

The puppies saved the day by going for help! Seriously.


In spite of chronic pain, my mother is still a delight. Her good attitude refuses to surrender to depression or self-pity. You’d have to get up pretty early to see her without her make-up or in her jammies. Her bed is made every morning – of course, we recently found out that she’s been sleeping in her recliner so she doesn’t have to make it. Naughty Mama!

She continues plays cards with her friends when she can, goes to the Hale Theater with us if the weather is good, and still works on the second volume of her life history. Mom is creating this project with the Heritage Makers program, which means she uses the computer to write her story and post pictures she has sorted through, scanned, and cropped! Impressed?

Mom may be ailing,  but don’t think you can put anything over on her as her humor and wit are as sharp as ever. Her teasing keeps us laughing, and we do our best to return the favor. We have to act fast, however, when she decides she wants to rearrange her furniture, fix her printer, or shop for something she needs. If we don’t, we’ll find chairs moved, cords everywhere, and packages from one or more of the dozen catalogs she receives. (Ex. “Eggies” that “boil” eggs in the microwave and the super-mini fridge to keep her diet Cokes cold and within reach. The Eggies don’t work, but the little refrigerator is great!)

The BAD:

Mom has three majors issues with her spine, and no amount of medication or number of  shots will totally eliminate the constant pain. All we can hope for is to manage it. The problem is the way her body metabolizes these pain-relievers..

When the problems first manifested themselves, we had to rush Mom to the emergency room one day. The technician couldn’t get into her tiny veins to administer the needed medication, and so the nurse gave her a shot. Two hours later, she was still hurting – a lot! The nurse gave her another dose, and that did the trick. In seconds, she finally relaxed – too much. By the time she was admitted to her hospital room, she was non-responsive.

I watched a sweet little nurse try to wake her up. Hoping  not to scare me, she phoned the on-call doctor and then dashed to find him. Gratefully, MOM’S doctor was there that evening and was already rushing to her room. Seconds later the crash cart arrived, and I called my sister the nurse who was working in Same Day Surgery.

ConnieB arrived in nano-seconds and held on to me. That’s when I knew it was REALLY bad. Thankfully, a drug that reverses the effects worked, and the paddles stayed in the cart. Mom came ’round and wondered what the fuss was all about.

That was the first time I faced reality. Mom wouldn’t be with us forever – at least in this realm. I experienced Daddy’s death four-plus year ago, and deep down I know that Mom will follow him – some day. But she had been so healthy, vibrant, and alive that I forgot how quickly things can change.

That experience was a turning point … for all of us.

The Ugly:

Last week I wrote of my wacky dreams, but nothing I experience in the dark of night compares with the scary hallucinations Mom encountered last November. Because of her independent nature and determination (aka stubbornness), we thought  Mom could handle her medications. So while we awaited her first appointment to a pain management center, she administered her own pills – maintenance and pain meds.

While at a work meeting one morning, I received a call from ConnieB. When I stepped  into the hallway to call her back, I noticed a missed call from Mom. I called her before returning Sis’s call, but no one answered. Then I noticed Mom had left a message when she made the call at 6:30 A.M.

Renae, if you want to know more about the fire in your mother’s kitchen, call.

It was Mom’s voice but not her intonation. My heart pounded through recriminations for not noticing the call and message earlier. I dialed Connie’s number and I learned that a neighbor found Mom’s little dogs barking and running up and down the breezeway. When she returned Betty and Lilly to Mom, she invited her neighbor in to see the “fire’s” damage. Thank goodness, there was no fire, but Mom swore there was, and she could see the charred walls.

“See all the damage there along the baseboards,” she said to her friend. That’s when the wonderful neighbor called my sister.

Over the course of the next 24 hours in the hospital, the doctors ruled out stroke and infections and determined the cause was related to erratic drug dosages and interactions. No overdoses but problems with metabolizing the pain medication.

During that time Mom told us about all the visitors who invaded her home during the night and those who had apparently followed her to the hospital: scores of 6-inch, well-dressed children (she knew some of their names and described their cute clothes), and a 7-foot man and woman who ordered her around during the “renovation” of her burned home.

She was so frightened and couldn’t get them to leave her little condominium even though she “tried to be gracious about it.” Mom said they forced her to do bad things while they rummaged through her cupboards, closets, and drawers.

Some attempted to repair the fire damage but those “workers” did a terrible job, and Mom felt so bad. Others redecorated her bedroom in garish green wallpaper and didn’t put anything back where it belonged. One or two threatened her and breathed menacingly in her ear, and a couple of the little folks tried to comfort her. She said she prayed and prayed while some of the “visitors” questioned her faith!  I cannot imagine how terrified she was as it was all so real to her.

Once we were by her side, she still saw frightening scenes: sores on my neck, a snake coiling  from my niece’s hair (probably her long braid), and blood stains on my sister’s scrubs; funny scenes: buck teeth on my husband (she mentioned that she AND he were planning plastic surgery, but she was NOT going to pay for his), pin-curls in my hair, and the 6-inch children in sailor suits; and worries: would my 12-year-old granddaughter be upset that she wouldn’t let her move in; would someone fix the poor repair job done in her kitchen; would we get the strangers to leave her home – none of these circumstances were real except to Mom.

There were light moments when we all laughed: like when her inhibitions let down a little and she shared interesting tales of her and Daddy’s romance that delighted my oldest son and me. And when she described the tiny children,  all I could imagine were the little minions from Despicable Me. None of that, however, changed the fact that this experience was terribly unnerving for all of us.


Although doctors assured us that Mom would be all right once everything was regulated, I still worried that the episode might trigger the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Neither of these have happened, but her memory is getting worse. As a result, Connie and I, along with support from our spouses and others, have taken over management of her critical needs while she takes care of whatever she can that doesn’t endanger her health.

As a result, we’ve seen such  improvement over the last six weeks. And while things are still up and down, and  we know she won’t return to full health, Mom still enjoys a nice quality of life – still painful, a little quieter, but filled with family, friends, and visitors (real people) who love and care for her.



Helicopter Children

You may be familiar with the term “helicopter parents” – those “who pay extremely close attention to [their] child’s … experiences and problems … whether they need them or not.”  But do you know about helicopter children?

In mid-October, Mom woke up with a back ache that changed her life.  An MRI revealed a compressed fracture, bulging discs, and worsening arthritis. Now robbed her of independence, she watched my sister and me morph into hovering daughters. Never far away, we swoop in to make sure she eats, takes her medication, and fights through chronic pain.

Mom is patient with our hovering, and we are soooooooooooooooo grateful for her!

Cute Mom and her two HELI-DAUGHTERS!