Sunday, November 7, 2010

with apologies to Nora Ephron, who feels bad about her neck

I feel really bad about my legs. Thay have served me well, and we have had  mutual respect for each other. Only twice did I fall and really hurt them: once on a tennis court, once rushing to get a frozen yogurt cone and tripping over a planter..And, of yes, up the steps frpm the garage to the house at Harmons, helping to clean up the Bloody Mary remains. On July 4th.

They are medium-looking legs; no one ever said "wow. look at them gams", but no one averted their eyes because I had thinny, stick-like legs, either. Or did I wear long skirts or pants to disguise them. They were just my legs and they suited me fine.

Until I hit 91. And it's not as much that they look much worse, but they have mostly stopped working. During the day, with considerable help, I can use the walker for the short 26 steps to the bathroom. It's 26 when I am not shuffling or mincing along, but walking like a real person.On a walker.

At night, that is a different story. Back and forth in the wheel chair! I hate that. And I wish my legs would reconsider our happy, long relationship, and show a little gumption and let me get up and go.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Euthnanized Enthusiasm

In the '60's, when I was in my '40's, we plaintively asked, "Where have all the flowers gone?" Now I am in my '90's. and we are well into the next century, I plaintively ask, "Where has all my enthusiasm gone"?" I am too lethargic by half, and, once a political wonk, I now, hardly, my dears, give a  damn.

I miss getting excited, I miss getting involved, I miss being passioante about something-- about anything. (Even at 91, I miss being passionate about passion, itself.) And all of this, at long last, is what aging is.

The election, tomorrow, would have had me worked up into a fine lather. I definitely have my preferences, but not enough to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. I certainly prefer Strickland to Kasich; I prefer Fisher to DeWine; it may be close ( the Governor, anyhow), but I am not going to want to escape to Canada or Outer Mongolia even if my candidates lose. Even when Ohio State loses.

Maybe it is alright to smother my enthusiasm; maybe, finlly, at my age, I have a little perspective on life.

I liked the other me better; but this is the me I've got.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Time is a terrible thing to waste

This is in the nature of being a confession. (Note: I am even equivocating on the subject matter). So let me just come clean. This is a confession. I have been a lazy bum for almost a week.

For ninety years, I was an industrious little bee, bed-ridden or not. At 91, I caved ( temporarily, I hope) and just laid back and closed my eyes at every available opportunity. I know I am of an age when I can forget chores, and goals, and deadlines, but I have lived too long with a to-do list to be suddenly faced with a blank note bad. It is bad for the mind and worse for the soul.

Last Friday night, after I dozed through Washington Week, I didn't know what to do with myself. My son had sent me a stack of wonderful books for my birthday, and I felt too dumb to start reading them. I'm not talking Proust (I've always been too dumb to really understand him); I'm talking Alter and Remnick; wonderful writers I thoroughly enjoy. So, I firgured I'd watch an old NCIS.

My brother had told me, a few years ago, that these are good episodes to kill an hour. To kill time... ( kill time!) horrors, that is a punishable infraction. It worked, and I fell in love with Mark Harmon, my new friend, " Leroy Jethro Gibbs". It's like pistachio nuts, you know you can't eat just one pistachio nut. If you don't get that, it's because it is an inside joke--Abbie and Gibbs and mine.

Well, I watched an episode I had watched twice before, where the Iranian mother-in-law and Mike, Gibbs' mentor, sit on the same deck and watch their joint grandchild playing with her mother.

Three viewing of that is only one too many--- but here I am, back in the land of the living.

Thank the good Lord. Blessed be.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tough Love

Who knew that so much love can do you in (temporarily)?

Or that I could tell a lie, continuing to post as Wedeb90)?

I did and I do. Full confession.

My son, Tim and his daughter, Hannah, my youngest grandaughter, came for a pre-birthday celebration on October 14. We ate our version of the city's finest food: Rubino's pizza, City Barbecue, Block's bagels and Bob-bob Evans' chicken and noodles. My twenty year old could be six again, and I could be seventy. Only my digestive system knew for sure, and it said, ""Phyllis, you idiot, act your age, "but I wasn't listening. It was worth the small digestive price I paid.

By Wednesday, October 20, when wedeb90 became wedeb91, I thought I was ready for whatever small celebration would come along. Wrong. No one, not even Mother Theresa, could be so overcome with caring and goodwill. Twelve full hours of calls, gifts, flowers, phone calls, Facebook messgaes, e-cards....

After D.G, brought me Guiseppi's spinach lasagna, courtesy of lovely Vesna, I was completely out of steam. Yesterday, I was back to square one, where  Hospice had come in. I was diappointed in myself, and my unforgiving body. I couldn't walk. My legs locked in under me; I needed the wheel chair to get to the bathroom. My hands kept shaking. I could barely talk to my children. I slept almost all day, and then all night, opening my eyes long anough to watch Gray's Anatomy. ( I guess I thought it would make me feel better, to see people in worse shape than I.)

When I woke up this morning, I was fine. Back on the walker, like any good quarter back, staying "in the pocket", instead of hanging on for dear life at a 90 degree angle.

I didn't age 10 years overnight. I feel like the spring chicken I am, and you wil, I hope, be hearing from me as wedeb90 when I might actually be wedeb95.

Blessed be.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My friend, Alice

 In the city where I live, where many of my friends live, there is no reason to identify a person as "my friend". In the ever-shrinking circle of wagons that protect me, no known enemy approaches, and we are all friends. By my age, all those who have no particular interest in me and my well-being, have all dropped away, out of sight.

But after I have called Alice, in Massachusetts, I always explain that I have spoken to "my-friend-Alice". She has only been in Columbus once, and that was Christmas vacation of my freshman year in college. 1938. Not one person who met her then is still alive.

Yesterday, I reached her answering machine. We hadn't talked since I went into Hospice care, and it seemed strange that she wasn't home. Ten minutes later she returned my call: she was still in Rockport, at a house on the beach there. It had been her parents house, where she, her sister and brother- in- law live during the summer. She has her own apartment in town and she is returning there next week.

"How are you"?, I asked, of course. "Well, I'm fine" she answered, except I had to have some surgery on my eye this summer, and so I am just seeing out of one eye, but that's ok"was  her answer.

"My friend, Charlotte from California from kindergarten came to visit", she told me. "I remember Charlotte", I told her, even though we had never met.

"Anything else new?", I queried. "I'm still doing a little counseling on the phone; just a few clients" . She is almost 91 years old, still working. Still of good cheer, a laugh peeking through her voice.

Alice got her MSW after her three boys were fairly grown; her nice, MD husband had died very young, and she has been a working single mother for quite a while. One of her sons became a doctor, too.

Plus, she must still be beautiful; she always was.The last time I saw her was at a college reunion nearly ten years ago, and, mirror, mirror on the wall, she was the fairest of us all. 

And so we touch base, and I feel refreshed and restored.

She is my friend Alice.  I confer the words as a title, which I bestow with respect and love. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wede I be

 It suddenly dawned on me that you know that wedeb90, but, for many of my new friends, you know little more about me than that I am in Hospice care, have a bad (but loving) heart and observe life, primarily, from my bed. Which has its benefits, believe it or not.

What you cannot know is: once I was as busy as anybody in town. I truly love my community, and it is much more exceptional than is generally assumed. Quantifiably exceptional. We have the number #1Lbrary in the country and the number #1 Zoo, among other bragging rights.  I have been a lifetime volunteer, and even worked for the Mayor and the city at one time.

I keep referring to my DD, which translates to Designated Daughter, and her nom de plume is D.G. Fulford. Do I have you utterly confused yet? Well, she and I wrote a book together called Designated Daughter, the bonus years with Mom. She describes the last twelve years since she moved home from Nevada to be my ever-ready, ever-steady other half. I contributed my own reactions to her actions, and the book (excuse the commercial) is available in hard back wherever books are sold. Or in your libraries in the many countries where so many of your reside.

All the other clues I drop about me and my lucky life give me, I hope, form and shape. Just know how appreciative I am, and how much your comments mean to me.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My new fall wardrobe

A nip is definnitely in the air, although we are having a few delightfully warm days, every other week or so. But I have to put my mind, and my daughter, on what I need. I day-dream about a new purse, or a pair of shoes; wouldn't an up-to-date blazer be nice? (Or does anyone still wear blazers?)

It's all make believe, this coversation between me and me; I really need new nightgowns. I have one flannel gown that was mistakenly put in the dryer after the first wearing, so if you look at the too short sleeves, you might think the wearer is a growing girl. That is, until you look at the arms themselves. They scream "old woman".

So, my really fine DD ( have I said often enough what a good daughter she is?) went up to the mall and began the search.She found only four in my size, and brought them to me so I could choose two. It was easy: the two extra small, from one store,  fit;  the plain small from the other store were too tight.

So I am happy with my new fall wardrobe: pink. to match my pink room, (foolishly girlish, I'm afraid), a room no self-respecting man would live in. But no man except my family enters, anyhow. And the only man I really want to enter has been gone twelve long years.

The other gown is white, with a bluish-gray design, with red cardinals, the official bird of the state of Ohio. That's my scarlet and gray football nightgown. How very, very well-dressed I will be every Saturday.

And she brought me a box of gingersnaps, too.

Blessed be.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Really, really who am I?

 A few weeks ago, my daughter was sick; she ached all over, especially her shoulder. She tried holistic medicine, and then main-stream medicine: x-rays, blood work up, EKG. As she continued to feel under the weather, I felt more and more helpless. I could not even go the few miles to her house, and there was not one thing I could do once I got there.  (Needless to say, she is well again, or I wouldn't even be writing this.)

I am extremely lucky to have care-givers in times of crisis. Rosie is the laughing, happy girl from Jamaica, who has been in the United States, on her own, since she was eighteen. She is educated in the hospitality industry and has worked at Disney in Orlando and the Westin Hotel. While working there, and during the times she works for me, she graduated from college with a  degree in the management of medical recocods.  Her mommy, in Montego Bay, calls her at least once a day.

Tall and beautiful Lise came from Rwanda.She worked at Delphi in Dayton for a few years, and when they went belly-up, she was able (it's a long story, with a long series of pitfalls) to get her tuition paid at a  nursing school in Columbus. In a few months, she will be an LPN. She would like to continue on for her RN, but that is one tough road..... Her parents call her every day,  and after she talks to her siblings, she is homesick.

As I fall asleep at night, I think about Mrs. Gardner in Jamaica and Mrs. Urejani in Rwanda.We are thousand of miles apart; we have never met. But I know that, at their very core we are the same people. We are mothers.  Make that a capital M.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What passes for exitement

 It was around 5:30 p.m., and, as usual, the heighborhood was quiet; the weather was clear, my dinner was started in my old electric overn, and ---poof, with no warning, the electricity went off.The small, little sound that I heard and ignored, was, of course, the sound of a blown transmitter. I can't evn count the number of times this has happened to me in my 90 years.

We have had outages that lasted so long we had to empty our refrigerators and freezers. We have had outagea so severe water pipes froze and I styed at a motel for two nights. I used to even enjoy the outages when dinner was in the oven, and I could say to Bob, "Good, let's go out to dinner".

Bu this was my first outage, stuck in an electric bed and unable to go anywhere. The house would get cold, but I have extra blankets. The food -in the oven wouldn't cook but the food in the fridge was still available; jellied consomme, sour cream, and sliced turkey for a sandwich. The only real concern was the electric bed ,which was frozen in the sitting position.But, c'm on, Phyllis, I thought, we have other beds.

Suddenly, just as quietly as it went out, the lights came on and the electricity was back.

But the cable was out, too; no phone, no TV.Then I remembered an old analog TV we had.. and I had gotten a converter for that. Just for  an"emergency" like this, I guess. So I watched CBS, which is my Tuesday night channel of choice, with a new" NCIS" and  "The Good Wife,"

As I went to sleep at 11, the regular TV had set itself to the correct time. I didn't even try my cell phone to call my landline.

So how would I react if there actually was some excitement? I'll let you know if it ever happens!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Legally Legal

The other day, I discovered that my handicapped parking permit had expired in July. Not that it should matter, because I am going no where--no where, at all.

 But what if I did need to go to a doctor in an emergency, which I won't, because I am in Hospice. But, really-- what if?  And my daughter found a handicap space,  she got me in the wheel chair, and we had no permit and .....

One of the deadly sins to me, is to use a space to which you are not entitled; interpreted broadly, it is fair to say that I value integrity above all other virtues. And so for good measure, I contacted the Ohio Bureau of Motor vehicles. (Permit division).

(They answer their phone, which is more than I can say for their drivers' liscence division. Mine is due to renew on October 20, and because there is no circumstance in the world to get me behind the wheel, I do need a valid ID, I suppose.)

Back to the permit people. I gave them the id# on the card, and explained that I was sure I had had the request  to my doctor before July rolled around, and that he had returned it. Needless to say, I was a little preoccpied at the time. They had no record of this, so they will send me a new request form. Don't hold your breath, it will be sent in two to three weeks time.

P.S. I reached Susan Hospice on Friday afternoon and the table was delivered at 7:00 p.m. It's working great.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Space

It is not that I am being crowded out by people, or that I feel I deserve more space than I have;  I have a whole bed to myself...even a whole room.

 I am being hedged in by my communication devices: the bed control, the tv control, the phone, the laptop, the thesaurus, magazines, books, a little pile of papers that need tending to, a small baggie with my compact and lipstick...

I am having a hard time thinking, let alone writing. If my house has not always been impeccably clean, it was always neat. Clutter drove me crazy. (Only one of our children inherited the "neatness" gene; the other two thrive in disarray,) I still have a lot I want to say, but by the time I get the correct device in my surrounding (bed)scape, I want to pick up the magazine at hand, instead.

I was talking( complaining) to my Designated Daughter about this, when we both remembered a table Hospice had lent Bob, with a leg that slides under the bed and the table top can be moved over or beside the bed.

I just called Sue, my awesome nurse, and one will be delivered to me! 

 I probably won't write any more often, but I will be much more comfortable doing it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The worst words

A number of years ago, when the grandchildren were in their teens, we were talking about some long-forgotten subject, that caused me to comment: "you know what I think are the four worst words in the English language: " I think you should.'" It gets under my skin for anyone to think he/she knows better than the person to whom they are speaking, what the person should do. What is wrong with "Would it be a good idea?" or "what if you try x or y".

A grandson spoke up to add that his worst words were "shut up". He hadn't heard it at home, I'm sure. Those words were also verboten in our house. It was a contemporary, with bad manners. And then another grandchild added, "I think the worst words are ' you dirty liar'".

Which lead us all to the worst sentence: "I think you should shut up, you dirty liar," a families' words of wisdom that is exactly what the family does not believe.

I think it is a kind of funny anecdote, worth blogging about. I'm sure every family has words they choose  to live by, by not using them.

And I need to push the "dislike" button for one of my "heard on TV" phrases. There are weather men, when referring to an area, say "And that's where the tornado touched down at." Edwin Newman, we miss you.

Thank you, again and again, for your kind reponses to my BBC video. I wish I could answer each and everyone. I think I shoud--- but I cannot, But I have read and relish every single one. You are eloquent and kind... and there a quite a few of you! 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Setting the bar

All of you wonderful readers have mde me realize that. even though I was assuming that I was writing for my own amusement and pleasure, there are people all over the world who now will search out this simple little blog.

And my thoughts and my fingers and my sense of humor are kind of freezing up, even though it is a beautiful day in my neighborhood. I am distracted by the men, pounding and cutting and repairing the deck across the way. A huge tree fell across the deck, not last Thursday, when we had ten tornados touch down in Ohio, near, but not on, us. This accident happened in an earlier circular high wind, and it looks as if it almost took out not only their deck, but a beautiful sculpture in the yard by Alfred Tibor, who survived the Nazi death camps and made the horror of them live on with the anguish of his stylized figures.

I do not want to disappoint you. Even more, I do not want to disppoint myself with careless writing; I have already inserted and erased commas all over the place. I will read this over and decide whether I just have the late Sunday afternoon blahs, or whether I need another day to get over myself.

These two days have been a lot for a 90 year old blogger to comprhend. But she knows enough to realize that such a miracle as the BBC has wrought happens pretty infrequently.

Next blog, I think I will try to trace back to the beginning, how this all began. We may have to go back to Adam and Eve.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On being overwhelmed

To all of you who saw the BBC post of this 90 year old blogger and took the time to write me from all over the world: I, from whose mouth and fingers words usually pour out, I am nigh on to speechless.Thank you, thank you everyone. 

And thanks to Daniel Sieberg and his crew for such sensitive editing... and for wanting to come to Columbus to meet DG and me in the first place.

I knew that the media's reach was far and wide --but the speed in which I got comments from all over the world was incredible.

With gratitude to all of you. May the days ahead be good for all of you. I send my best wishes.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

walking on Hospice Air

This morning, D.G. and I were invited to be guests on All Sides with Ann Fisher. D.G. went to the studio, and I joined the conversation on the phone. If talking about Hospice and end of life issues can be a blast, this one was.

Ann is a very knowledgeable and gracious host, and her interview with Drs. Morrison and Jackson that preceeded us was a treasure trove of information that had to have been helpful to all those listening. D.G. and I were just ourselves, overflowing with gratitude for all of our experiences with Hospice Care.  And to Ann for affording us the opportunity to tell her listeners what Hospice does to give a family peace of mind, a sense of calm, and the knowledge that help from nurses is but a phone call away, 24/7.

I'm about to take a nap-- after all, those of us in the public eye :-) need to get our rest. But first, I want to post this on my Facebook page--if only to beat D.G. to the draw!

And I learned a medical term for what drove me to the end-of-life conversation: it's called "intractable nausea."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

the moving finger writes, and having writ moves on...

My Uncle Harry used to quote that phrase, which I have since learned is from the Rubyyat of Omar Khyyam (thanks Google). I have no recollection of why or when Uncle Harry said it, but I thought it was both out of the blue and out of context. As I had the urge to write a wedeb90blogspot today, those words become exactly apporopriate, and I understand them. I have been writing--something, anything-- for years, and I can no more stop writing than I can breathing, which, thanks to all the good care I am geting, I seem to continue to do, successfully.

I think what prompted this blog was looking over some of the 70 blogs I have posted since December, 2009. Why did Sir Edmund Hillary climb Mount Everest, a reporter asked.  "Because it was there," Hillary replied. And that is the simple answer as to why I am a blogger : the blogger dashboard is there in front of me, bare, and the moving finger writes.

My blogs, and my Designated Daughters blogs, are going public (in her case, puiblic-er, she's on Womens" Day blog spot three times a week). We are going to be on Ann Fisher's show on Tuesday, August 31 in the 11:00 a.m. hour,on WOSU radio when the subject will be Hospice care. I know two physicians will be talking from 11:20 to 11:40. and then D.G. and I will be heard, she in the studio, me, at home, in bed.

We are experienced in the subject. Bob was in Hospice care for three months beforr he died; I was in once before, and I "graduated" with the help of a wonderful  physical therapist.  This time, I am in as long as the afore-mentioned-heart keeps beating. And I am at its mercey--- and in the hands of the Lord.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's not the heat. it's my stupidity

It is really hot and muggy; Ohio at it's summer worst. Plus, I hate, hate, hate air-conditioning. But how callous and unfeeling of me to complain. There are hundreds of people out there who have no air-conditioning to turn on. Our brave troupes are sweltering in Afghanistan. It is terrible enough that our brave troupes are in Afghanistan at all.

I'm up to my old self, again; bitching about circumstances I have no right to bitch about, and then feeling guilty. If all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players, what is my role? Cranky old dame? Normal for 90? Or just aching for a spell of lovely weather?

That's it! I am aching for a lovely, breezy, 75 degree afternoon with the chance to veg-out on the deck with a wonderful book. (The last wonderful book I read was the Imperectionists. It was so good I read it twice.)

That breezy afternoon ain't gonna' happen. I faithfully watch our TV weatherman, who looks to be about 19 years old, and I am so unamused at his boyish enthusiasms that I pay scant attention, primarily because he loves to talk about rain; chances of, possible storms, or pop-up showers, even SEVERE weather, (run to the basement) . Ha.

I am more than aware that parts of the country have had devestating storms and floods. I support the Red Cross when they ask for help. Here we are: back to cranky 90.

Yesterday was nice, mid-morning, so I was wheel chaired out to the front driveway, in my pink nightgown and looked at my newly weeded  (?) front yard. Outside, in my nightgown! This is what I have come to? Phyllis Harmon Greene, who was known to wear gloves and hose and even an occasional St. John.

I don't think I appreciated 80 enough.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

On being a (Hospice) patient

I am in Hospice Care, at home, in my own bed and it is weird, unreal, surreal, but REAL. I finally know that the root of my evil is a failing heart with its fibrillations and pacemakers and old valves. They, or it, has a right. It's 90 years old, for heaven sakes.

After a miserable month of retching and nausea that made me moan like the tennis Williams sisters' serving, my doctor could not prescribe for me, without actually seeing me. I knew I could not go to his office. Our son Tim found a way. He secured an impressive  private ambulance service who maneuvered their way down my terrifying driveway. DG rode with the driver, Tim followed. They took me to a pre-arranged examining room, the IV was set-up and waiting, the EKG was done, blood drawn, a thorough end-of-life talk ( no death panel, this) and by the time the ambulance got me home, I was enrolled in Hospice.  

My New Yorker magazine ( August 2 issue) arrived the next day, and although I had not felt like reading for weeks, I was drawn in by the cover. There was this little old person, pedalling all alone on a yellow road, through a lovely forest. The rider had to be me; I was on the road to eternity. When I looked at the table of contents, I found an Annals of Medicine article, "Letting Go", a scholarly, well-documented argument in favor of Hospice care, written by Atul Gawande , Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. I am likely reading more into this than it is, I know, but it felt absolutely cosmic to me.

That night, I fell into the first real sleep I had had in over a month, not drug-induced, just good old-fashioned sleep-sleep. The crickets, the katydids, the cicadas were singing a musical, a magical surround-sound  outaide my bedroom window. I was at peace with myself, with our hard-won decision. I am in the hands of the Lord.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How I spent Fathers' Day

To be honest, I have not been feeling all that good this week, and it was with trepidation that I went to sleep last night, wondering if I could go to the cemetery with DG today.

I woke up feeling better than I have. and so off we went to Greenlawn.  The day was beautiful, the sky was blue, and aside from missing a turn or two on the way to section 41, we arrived with Bob's favorite day lilies in hand. DG placed them on the overgrown headstone. The whole place is unkempt, but still beautiful, with the huge trees and the birds and God's blue skies. We sat in the car together, then, and rememberd DG's Dad, and we cried because we think he would be pleased to see how well we are doing.

Then we drove around to the other side of the section, and we put day lilies on my Dad's head stone.  He has been gone since 1938.  Still, he is always in my thoughts. He was, to my children "the real Al Harmon"; as much as they and I adored Al Harmon Jr., they are still respectful and loving to a man they never knew. There have two Al Harmons since my brother; we have Rocky, Al III and Weiler, Al IV. And I think it is appropriate to include Alex Ruben, named for Molly's Dad.

We stopped for Starbucks on the way home, and visited with each other some more...

A perfectly wonderful day. I wish the same to all your parents out there. 

I don't have time to edit this.  The Pebble Beach golf tournament has just come on.  It's kind of ironic that I am rooting so hard for Tiger, who doesn't seem to have been a wonderful father, but his Dad was so important in his life, and in his skill , that it is fitting that I salute all fathers everywhere, including, of course, the fabulous fathers, Bob and Tim Greene.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The need to know

I have always been a policy wonk; long before there was such a descriptive word. I read every paragraph James Reston wrote, and corresponded daily, by letter, to the Eisenhower White House. (Oh, that Ike; he must have had his mind on Kay Summersby; he never responded to my letters. I thought-- and I still do-- that the better informed a citizenry, the better the country would become.

Wrong! wrong!

Now, I am ready to throw in the towel. Everyone has what they consider an informed position, and everyone feels a need to write about it. There are paid pundits and self-promoting folks who use Jack Cafferty, for instance, to get their two-cent worth of "wisdom" out to the public.

Have a certain point of view, and you will find a newspaper, a radio station, a news channel to give you access... and validity and visibility. We are drowning in words. (Believe me, I love words, I'm a writer.) Just don't use the words foolishly; use them so they are useful , not full of hot air.

I was not going to blog today, but this morning, as I tried to digest the Dispatch and the New York Times, I had my a -ha moment. I just don't give a damn. It seems incredible but no one is credible anymore.

I may spend my days idly watching soap operas, eating boxes of bon-bons as the world turns.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's all about my driveway

Norah Ephron wrote about her neck and Sarah Silverman about her bladder, and it's my driveway that is worthy of a blog, if not a book. 

"Many long years ago," the story begins. The house was built by people who wanted nothing but the best. Not my style, exactly. Not my style at all. We bought it, though, because it really is a great house and, eventually, the heavy velvet drapes with the lace panels beneath wore out... and I have lived with the stone-encrusted bathroom counter tops so long I don't even notice them.

The house sits below a (very) small hill. It is a horizontal house and it seems to me that, if in the beginning, they  could have designed a semi-circular drive down the hill past the house and then up the hill, again, to a road hardly ever travelled, life would be a lot easier for my aging friends who come to see me.  But I'm no engineer and the property is narrower at the top than down in the back So. We have a driveway that is a pain for guests and, in winter, unmanageable.

We always drove down into the garage, and backed up to the street. When I was in my prime, I could almost do it with my eyes closed. Others, less familiar with the terrain have come close to tipping over. "Come close" is the worst that ever happened.  Thank the good Lord.

It is these difficult Ohio winters that have, truly, caused the problem. Adhering to the principle of "nothing but the best, the original drive was concrete. By the time it became ours, the concrete was  cracking up. We had taken on as much as we could handle to buy the house. Concrete was too much of an investment.

We went with blacktopping. Blacktopping, blacktopping year after year after year, because the %^&#&* concrete base kept cracking up beneath the blacktop.

The black-toppers are here today. They have applied one coat and an asphalt patch, and will be back this afternoon for coat two.

At this terrible time when the Gulf beaches are covered with tar, it is ironic that I am needing more tar.

The world is so full of problems. Norah's neck or Sarah's bladder or Phyllis' driveway seem ridiculous to even mention. But I cannot help thinking about it, imprisoned as I will be for 72 hours.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

May I call you Phyllis?

I was making one of those necessary, and usually annoying, phone calls: to order shoes, or question a charge, or change my gas supplier, at the end of a two-year contract that I should never have chosen in the first place. I wish I could remember exactly who it was, for this is a kudo to them or their phone rep.

After I had identified myself to a robot, either by my phone number or the last four digits of my "social", a lovely-sounding human being said to me, "May I call you Phyllis?" I was dumb-founded! How long has it been since anyone asked your permission to call you by your first name?  Daily, someone calls and says, 'Phyllis, are you interested on our special price for grub-control?", when they aren't even my lawn service, or, in my e-mail, there are messages from purveyors of goods I have used that start, "Phyllis, it's time to send Carolyn flowers again."

It is not that I think I ought to be called "Mrs. Greene" because of age or seniority, although I am always older than the caller. Are there any jobs for 90 year old gardeners or even on phone-banks? I think not, although there are plenty of the aging population who could use the income and welcome the diversion.

I have always suggested to care-givers that they call me Phyllis. They are my friends, as is everyone who  helps me in anyway. Nobody should expect due-deference; that should have expired with slavery.   I did have a severely ill friend whose family had called in Hospice. The nurse, on her first visit, called the client by his first name; his wife saw the expression on his face and when they left his room to talk, the wife said, "I think he would prefer to be called Mr. K.....". 'Nuf said.

When I first got very sick, three years ago, I had a care giver who had lived in Paris most of her life, but whose family still lived on the Ivory Coast, where her mother, the matriarch, had care-givers of her own. She had some relationship to African royalty. Martha refused to call me Phyllis; it was improper to use a first name for an older woman. She referred to me as "La Contessa". I was never sure she meant it as a  sign of respect, or if she was inferring that I was surely not worthy of the title, and , in some way, she was condescending of me.

Whatever.  Please, just call me Phyllis. It is very nice if you ask what "title" I prefer. I would appreciate your asking. But I warn you in advance, if you are comfortable with Ms., Mrs. or hey you, just say it. But remember, I ain't no Contessa.  

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This morning, I went to the Legacy exhibit at the Columbus Jewish Center. Toby Brief, another Designated Daughter, who came home when her father died, volunteered to be the innovator, designer, historian and curator of one of the most exciting historical exhibits I have ever seen. She has given meaning and beauty to the story of the Jewish immigration to Columbus, Ohio. It was a wonderful experience, looking and listening as D.G. pushed me around in my wheel chair.

As I have been contemplating the wonderful ninety years I have led, I have zeroed in on the events of these nine decades; this morning I realized how privileged I am to really have personal memories of my antecedents. There is hardly anyone left to whom I can talk about those people. As a little girl, my father took me to see his father, and two old ladies who were his step-grandmother and, I think, a step-great aunt. Aunt Bet was a little, round old lady who lived up a steep flight of stairs. Great grandfather, Henry, had arrived in Columbus in the 1860's and had run a grocery store. He brought his first wife and their children, and when she died, he remarried and had more children.

There were fascinating maps of early Columbus, the merchants side by side on High Street. There was a section devoted to the early junk dealers, all of whom grew prosperous by turning their scrap metals into something else.

At each stop I babbled on, I kept saying, "His grandson was in my confirmation class" or "yes, she was Uncle Harry's sister."

The collection of items is beautiful, and beautifully presented. The meaning is even more significant. Keep the old pictures and artifacts. Write your memories. You probably have no idea what it will mean to future generations.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Political news made personal

Alert: this is not a political blog, but, I think the reason it appeared on the front page of the Dispatch is a subtle reminder that it is much better to have the Casino in Franklinton than in the Arena District. Of course, if we hadn't had a constitutional amendment in the first place and blah, blah, blah...

Whatever.  The cut was an old car lot and the copy was:
        Holy intentions for an old car lot 
         West side Catholic Church is looking to a former Ford dealership as a new soup kitchen and museum
            Long before the dealership, the ground was home to the Convent of the Good Shepherd...
 This is where my story begins.

In 1942, after many months of heart-to-heart, Q&A, countless contention about the advisability of marrying a brand new infantry Second-Lieutenant, I finally was the winner and my parents would send me off to Oregon to be married. We announced our engagement in July, when the groom  was home on leave before moving to Medford, Oregon to help activate the 91st Division at Camp White.

Whether it was a delaying tactic or a sign of the times, we could not set the date until my trousseau: slips and gowns and a beautiful floor-length velvet robe could be hand stitched by the Nuns at the Convent of the Good  Shepherd. Those Nuns were very slow at their stitching. Time, and my groom, were a' wasting.

Finally, finally at long last, the arrangements were made to travel to Portland, Oregon for the wedding. Bob's mother and my mother went with me on the train. The flowers, the Rabbi, the photographer had all been arranged for. The small ceremony in a suite at the Benson hotel, and then dinner in a private dining room there, and off we flew to Medford. My mother gave us the left-over liquor which I tucked into my luggage. The plane, a DC-something was not pressurized, and as we snuggled in our bumpy seats, the tops popped off the scotch and the bourbon.

Arriving at the St. Francis Hotel at 3:00 a.m., our promised room had been given to someone else, but, they had an empty bridal suite for us. As we opened our luggage, the suite smelled like a brewery. The Nuns had slaved in vain! My navy, monogrammed lingerie bags had faded on to everything! We draped them around the living room and went to bed. Laughing.

And we lived happily ever after. Laughing for 56 years.

Friday, May 21, 2010

How family history becomes FAMILY HISTORY

It is the small things that happen that remain in the mind and in the heart that, without our realizing, become family history. Not that the importance of writing it down hasn't been hammered into my head by my daughter, whose Remembering Site is one of the things that she does for a living. It is what struck me, just after Mother's day, and I felt compelled to tell the story to my nieces, on Bob's side of the family.

The California Greenes visited often; the children alone, Bob's brother and wife--make that wives--Bob's brother and mother together. My side of the family, the Harmons, knew the Greene side but they didn't have many shared memories.

And this is the FAMILY HISTORY that caused me to smile, as it grew, in my mind, from lower case to upper.

For years, on Mother's Day, my sister-in-law and brother hosted a delicious picnic, serving among other things, veal sausage on the grill, sliced , speared by a toothpick, as an hors d'oeuvre. When Bob's mother moved to Columbus, she was invited to the party and she loved those veal sausages. As the years went by, they began to be called Grandma Ethel's sausages.

Grandma Ethel has been gone more than twenty years , Bob, twelve. And my brother Al a year ago January. Sue now lives in a lovely condo, so this year, Sue and Al's youngest daughter hosted the event. I couldn't make it, but D.G. did, and she told me that as the appetizer was taken off the grill, someone said, "Oh, Grandma Ethel's sausages."

How happy it would have made Bob to know his mother is in the collective memory of my side of the family.  I passed the story along to Bob's brother's daughters, for they, too, should share this really nice piece of family history.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A'panting we will go

My (laughingly-called) wardrobe is old and tired. That puts me and my clothes in the same boat, and if I rejuvenate the one (clothes), maybe the other one (me) will be perked up. I'm not looking to be high-styled, never was, never will be. But, truly, I need new pants. I do own some decent (old) tops, which just will have to do. How wrong can you go with Talbots, circa 2000?

The problem is, pants; nice tailored pants are hard to come by. DG said she would go shopping for me, and I told her I thought jeans were not age-appropriate for me. She burst out laughing. Where do you draw the line, she asked? They were okay for you at 90, but at 90 1/2, they aren't? I think that is it. I am really over that 90 line,and no more jeans for me.

So, good designated daughter that she is, she bought me some pants, just like the tan pants I already have, but newer.

Obviously, clothes just aren't my thing and this is the last time I will discuss them publicly. But you may see me out in public one of these days, so please notice my pants.

Or what you can see of them as I sit. And sit. And sit.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A gloomy sort of day

Every once in a while, actually quite infrequently, a day comes along and I am dispirited. Not necessarily about myself, but about the whole world. Of course, we all are wearied by the on-going bad news: the Greeks are broke ( and so are we), the oil keeps spilling, nothing gets solved in the middle east.

( I went to my thesaurus, trying to find the exact word I was looking for and found "pain in the ass"). It is one description of the pain the world is inflicting on us all. It is also a pain in the heart and in the mind. That is worse.

Then I began to wonder why I was feeling gloomy and out-of-sorts and aha!: I had read the morning paper after breakfast instead of before dinner, my usual routine.

Thus, I was turned off by the bad news, both local and national, before I had a chance to get my bearings.

The Dispatch, itself, is a sad remnant of its former self. It gets thinner and weaker, as its' rates keep rising. We are newspaper people, D.G. and I say to each other. We need to subscribe to the local paper. I wish the old Citizen-Journal was still around. I really liked that paper, in a very personal way. Dick Campbell was a great guy, and our paths crossed often in the day.

In this worst (I hope not, really) of times, it is wise to get the day's news when the day is almost over. We know not to cry over spilt milk.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother vs. Daughter

No, my daughter and I are not having a fight. We have never had a fight. She, nor I, ever really fight with anybody. I am mulling over the role of daughter and the role of mother, trying and trying to compare the pluses and the minuses.

I have been a mother for 63 years; a daughter for 88. Right off the bat, that makes me an extremely lucky woman. Can I draw a comparison? Which role is better? Easier? More fun? Rewarding? Difficult? None of the above?

Of course, if you are born female, you have no choice; every girl child is somebody's daughter. Whether you want to be a mother is up to you, and Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood.

Here is where I need to gather my thoughts and apply that old force-field analysis.

I began this blog yesterday afternoon, and wanted my brain to simmer over-night, to find a truly fascinating  and logical answer to my own kind of dopey questions.

This day has been full of incredible kindness and love, tangible and personalized. Flowers and cards and Facebook messages from my real children and the children of my heart. (Yes, Hofheimers and Lazaruses that means you.) And Bob sent the most beautiful, big, matted, professioanal photograph of the Masters' tournament at Augusta,  amen- corner with the azaleas in bloom, and glimpse of the Hogan bridge, that I wait each year to see again.

So why even try to frame the questions? Being the mother is the best job in the world. But that is a typo. I meant joY.

Mothers' Day. This is the day I can truly celebrate.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Shingles Shot Saga

As best I understand the Health Care bill, I am all for it. It hardly matters to me personally, since I am 90 years old and have medicare and my excellent HMO, Medigold, absolutely faultless since the day we enrolled. But I support the Health Care bill for the people who won't be bumped because of a pre-existing condition, for the people for whom escalating premiums are so prohibitive. And I love the Palin-defined "death panels", because any physician worth his salt has that rational kind of conversation whenever a patient is speeding toward physical disaster.

So let me tell you my shingles shot saga.

Last Saturday, friends came by to say hello, and bring me magnificent tulips from their yard. They told me of another friend who was miserable with shingles for the second time. They said their MD had recommended they have the shot. They immediately did so. I had no idea that such a shot was even available. My mother had shingles in her head, and even the strongest pain meds hardly helped. Another friend got them five minutes ( or five hours) after her husband died and she suffered for months.

So I e-mailed my doctor's office to ask for his advice, and his nurse returned my call twenty minutes later and reported that he thought it was an excellent idea, and there would be an rx for me at the front desk. Their office does not carry a supply because it needs to be administered immediately from a refrigerated mix. They suggested I go to a mini-clinic in a pharmacy. I wanted to go that day, but Tim was coming for the week-end, and I certainly didn't want to be bothered by a sore arm or reaction, or whatever. I knew none of that would happen, but my daughter felt it might.

Thus, last evening at 4:30 when my caregiver arrived, we went down to Walgreens at the corner where there were two signs in the window that said "Shingles shots available." The only time I had been at Walgreens was the drive-through window. It is a gigantic emporium, and the only way for me to get to the pharmacy department was in a wheel chair. So, in we went and the young woman on duty said the person who gave the shot was only there certain hours on Tuesday and Thursday. I suggested to her it might be wise to give that information on the window signs. She allowed as how that might be a good idea.

 Monday night, I called Krogers where there is a mini clinic, who assured me there would be a shot-giver available all day. This morning, Tuesday, I had a hair appointment at 11 a.m., in a strip mall across from Krogers. I bestirred myself a little early and, once more, I had to be wheeled in to the clinic, which was like a mile from the front door. Never having used Krogers for any medication, I filled a lengthy form, the kind that seems endless when you go to a new doctor. We seemed to be second on the sign-in sheet.
After what seemed like an endless wait, we learned we were  not supposed to be at the clinic but at the pharmacy, one window down. I handed my prescription to a pleasant older lady on duty, who said it would be twenty minutes to process it.  The insurance company, ya know, and all that.  The minutes were ticking away. What if I just paid for it, myself, I asked. That would be $300 she said. I'll use my Medigold, I said. I will be back in forty-five minutes. We drove across Broad Street and arrived at JeAni's salon (ha) just in time.

Once washed and blown dry, with an added treatment for my dry scalp, back to Krogers we went. At the pharmacy window, I was greeted with the news that they couldn't read the signature of my physician.
The telephone of the office was there, but not a list of the physicians in the practice. So we waited another ten minutes until they did whatever they were doing.  I was wheeled into the clinic office and got my shot.

And that took less than a minute and cost $25.00.

So what is the point of this whole long saga? It has nothing to do with the parameters of the government involvement with health care.  It's about human competence, logical thinking, good training.

 And the patient's patience.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ro-Ro's birthday

My aunt Rosina would be 110 today, and the world would be a better place if she were still here. Kinder, gentler, all those good words George H.W. Bush used to say.  Rodney King could have learned "Can't we all just get along?" from her.  She was a 100% loving woman, who was 100% loved. If there is a down-side to that image, it is that there was no steel in her, so that when she was blind-sided, she really felt the pain.

My mind's eye sees her laughing with love and great humor.  She had two fine sons, two beautiful grandaughters, one niece (me) and three nephews.  Which eventually gave her fourteen greats.

She loved to recount the story my husband told to explain his mother-in-law's family. When they were young and lived in Hartford City, Indiana, they had a pony. Amy, the older sister and my mother (the one who got the steel) , Bob explained, got the first ride. The younger brother, quite successful in business as the years went by, sold the manure at a profit, and Rosina went to visit the pony's sick grandmother. Is that a parable or an allegory? Whichever, it is a great description.

Whenever one of my children had a birthday, whether it was a first or a fifteenth, she explained to them that it was the best age to be. That was just how she saw the world.

She had a voluminous number of correspondents. She stayed in touch with all of her mother's and father's siblings. There was an aunt Nellie and an aunt Edith and an uncle Morris. And more. That is why, when she was sick and in the hospital, hundreds of cards poured in, and she wanted to answer each one. I took a shopping bag full of them, and told her I would write the notes. I couldn't possibly do it; it wasn't necessary to do it. But once the shopping bag was out of sight, she stopped worrying. And I felt my not-writing was a little white lie.

That was the day before she died. So many, many mourners. Rest in peace, RoRo. Give yourself a break. Maybe, in heaven, you can allow yourself to think only of yourself .  

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Toot the Horn

My Dad, who has been gone now 58 years, often told me "He that tooteth not his own horn, his horn shall not be tooteth."

 I was never quite sure what the lesson was supposed to be. He was out-going and well liked, and successful in the insurance agency he founded sometime soon after World War I. But he never bragged or showed off about any of that. Was he telling me that tooting oneself was a good or bad thing; that hiding your light under a bushel is wrong. You need to participate, to be out there, to be counted. You need to toot.

As I sit here and look at his picture on my desk, taken when he was, perhaps, fifty, he is forty years younger than I am now. Yet the words from that young head still resonate in this old head, and they instructed me to be whoever I am.

I caught up with a young man on Facebook this week. We had worked together for the community's benefit, and I told him what good memories I had of the projects we tackled together, and that I still am concerned about the world around me, especially the world of Columbus, Ohio. His lovely response was that he was not surprised about my focus on the world because, he said, you were always "other-centered."

My Dad would be happy to know that Brad Quicksall had tooted my horn, for me, and that I am tooting it forward, for all of you who try and care and strive to make your community a better place.

Our words to our children are never lost. Whether they are heeded or not, they are there, in their heads.

Kind of scary, isn't it?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Me and my Toyota problem

 It's not that I ever owned a Toyota, but Toyota's acceleration problem and my acceleration problem are exactly the same. I cannot slow myself down. Mentally, I mean.  Physically, I am r-e-a-l  s-l-o-w. And that compounds the problem; my mind races blithely on, while I am seriously sedentary.

I put my mettle?, medal?, mental? to the pedal, and I'm off to the races. Each morning I wake up and have a  to-do list. A list of no import, yet important for me. Checks to be written, groceries to be bought, charities to be given, housekeeping to be done. And I am not able to do most of them alone.

Frustrating; extremely frustrating.  Here's where my sitting room, of which I often speak so fondly, comes in to play. In the little space around my chair, I find everything I need. Here I am the captain of my ship;  the phones--cell and land-line, the TV control, the call-for-help buzzer, my address book, my calendar are all at my command. The whole world opens up to me when I go to my laptop on the perfect table I bought years ago from a catalogue for $8.95. It is light-weight and on runners, I can push it aside or pull it in close. And here I begin to function.

 I am a life-long student, with a huge world out there, waiting to be studied. I have been carefully taught to keep learning and listening. What if I had never learned about the computer? What if I did not have my Toyota-impaired brain? What if I had been satisfied to sit and daydream?

My racing mind slows down as I begin to do the things I have been wanting to do. My home page is the New York Times, which I read pretty thoroughly, then I read my mail, and then I go to Facebook, and then I start a blog. Eventually, I  will read a book or my Kindle and the morning paper. The day is not nearly long enough.

 Am I lucky, or what?


Monday, April 19, 2010

Oh, I remember it well

There are so many things I can't do; like going out to lunch or a party or a meeting. Or a grocery. Or my kitchen. But it is no big deal. I love my aging house: the living room is bright and sunny, my bedroom is all pink and pretty, and my office is blue, with one wall so full of family pictures that I think if we hang one more, the whole thing will fall smack down into the room.

I have vowed not to live in the past, but when an outside source reminds me of what was, and the role I was privileged to play, I am filled with happiness and satisfaction.

A wonderful wind is racing around my life, transporting me back to the exhilarating years when I was out and about, and so busy with the community.

Early this week, the Dispatch reported the new and exciting change of FirstLink to HandsOn, Central Ohio. There was a report of the origins of the organization and the tremendous growth it has had, how important a resource. It so happened that, in the early seventies, I chaired two committees at the United Community Council that gave birth to both the Volunteer Action Center and Community Information and Referral Center. Later they merged, and in cooperation with the Junior League, became CallVac. It was thirty years ago, that they became FirstLink, under the leadership of Marilee Chinnaci-Zuerker.

We had a great party for CallVac at the Governor's Mansion, when the Governor lived in Upper Arlington. We celebrated, staff, volunteers, the technical guy from the phone company, who had helped us set up the system so that a client, with one dime, could contact us and be directly connected to the agency who could help. Tom Battendberg was there, with his beautiful horn, as were the young women who ran the kitchen at the mansion.

And that was when some of us learned what a data base was.

Also, last week, there was a picture in the paper of the city's tribute to the Holocaust and its victims. There, walking toward the river, were Greg Lashutka, Buck Rinehart, Mayor Coleman and Alfred Tibor. They were on the way to the Battelle Riverfront Park, where Mr. Tibor's statue to freedom stands. Mel Dodge, Director of Recreation and Parks had appointed me to a committee to decide where, exactly, the art work should be placed. If Mel asked, you accepted. So there I was, with Dean Jeffers and a few others riding around in a van, making our choice. And, if I remember this correctly, Mel over-ruled us.

And the next day, out of the blue, there was a post on my Facebook page from Jim Barney, and a comment from Brad Quicksall, both from my days when they, and I, worked with Mel.

And to top it all off, on June 2, my son, Bob is the speaker at the Columbus Metropolitan Club for their thirty-fifth birthday celebration. Thus a founding mother of CMC and a founder's son will cross paths.

And that is one meeting I am going to. It may look as if I am in a wheel chair, but, really, I will be jumping for joy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Getting It

This exploding world of technology is almost more than I can comprehend. Since the days of the first computer, I was captivated by that skimpy little device, and I caught on, and caught the fever. And I still have it, the desire to do more and more.  It is mind-bloggling; I am dancing as fast as I can to keep up, though, and I am kind of getting it.

Getting it. What a meaningful phrase.  When I was ten or eleven years old, someone would take us to the Glengarry Road pool, on the Three-C Highway, to spend the day, every day. For lunch, we would walk up a small hill to a lunch counter, to eat grilled cheese sandwiches. I kept trying to teach myself to dive off the board. Over and over again. Finally, in one miraculous moment, I got it. I gracefully entered the water, hands together over my head, legs together, pointed toes  following in one smooth motion. I had it, by George, I had it. Just as Eliza Doolittle had " the rain in Spain,"  I had the dive.

And what does this have to do with technology? It is the lap-top I am learning to master (very slowly). I am pretty old to have a multi platform presence, but I am getting the e mails, the Facebook, the links, the blogs, the on-line comparison shopping, the news of the world, the You-Tube videos.

My work space is so cramped it is laughable. Yet, it allows me to reach for what I need without getting up. The thesaurus is on a lower shelf of a table to my left. It's a real reach to pull it up, but I can do it. My notes are scattered in notebooks on a table on the other side. I hate to waste paper; I remember Anne Frank and how hard it was for her to write her diary, using every available inch of white space she had. I have plenty of notebooks, but I. write on both sides of the small notebook paper, thus confusing grocery lists with blog ideas and things I want to remember.

To see me,  compulsively typing away, you might think I had a deadline to meet, or people holding their breath until my next blog.

Dream on, Wede, dream on.

But I am getting it; I am getting it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

on being wedeb90

When I was young and eighty, I became an author.

 Taken from some diary entries I wrote, after my cherished, bed-ridden husband  escaped from the indignities of his illness, I began to write a book, and within a year, I was published. I had my few brief moments as an Amazon best seller, (really brief), but I was hooked. So I wrote another book, Shedding Years, growing older, feeling younger and then, when I was approaching ninety, my daughter and I wrote a book together. She is the designated daughter, I am the grateful mother.

So what does it mean to be Wede, at age 90. By the way, Wede is my grandmother name, bestowed upon me by Grandchild #1. From the moment she was born, I always said " Hi,Sweetie" when I saw her. And she really was a sweetie. So, she discerned that this is how big people spoke to each other, and, when she first learned to spell, she chose w-e-d-e, and Wede I have been to one and all for some thirty plus years.

So what does it really mean to be a ninety year old great grandmother who writes, not for a living exactly, but writing as a professional? I have, indeed, earned a little cash, emphasis on little. I still have the fire in my belly to keep writing, the knowledge that I am not a shriveled, wrinkled, white haired old woman, (which is what you see on my outside). I am open to whatever comes along, and thank my God every night of my life. More than once.

AT&T has a new ad. I like it a lot.  It is about the new technologies available to all of us; if we could understand them, I guess. It is the punch line I like: Rethink Possible. That is exactly what the last ten years have taught me, that being ninety doesn't mean being on my way out. I may be, what with my fibrillating, pace-makered, failing heart. But I don't think so. There is no end to the possibilities.

Years ago, I was sitting at Boston's Logan airport, waiting and waiting to depart. A young woman was sitting next to me, busy with some strange device on her lap, which I later learned was an early laptop computer. I couldn't help but ask her about this, and she told me she traveled for AT&T. Then I had the audacity to ask her what the message of their current commercials meant. I don't remember them now, but I could not relate to them; they were vague, ephemeral. Which is one reason I like Rethink Possible. I understand it, and I can personalize it, and, what's more, I can do it!

I anticipate wedeb95.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My secret pleasure is really very public

I thought I might be the only person who watched NCIS, and suddenly, my choice was vindicated to find that, every week, it is one of the most watched shows on television. The NCIS that I so enjoy is the original with Mark Harmon. I am addicted.

It was probably two years ago that my brother, Al Harmon, ( no relation to Mark) told me about these
police procedural shows, and said it was a good way to pass an hour. When I found myself bored, I decided to give it a try. And in my memory of useless details, I knew that Mark was the son of Tom Harmon, the Michigan half-back. He was exactly my contemporary, but he certainly attended the wrong University!

Be that as it may, I began to really enjoy this NCIS; NCIS Los Angeles. not so much. I began to search it out in the Dispatch TV Guide, which they call Click. It is an unweildy, complicated newspaper insert, that arrives in the Sunday paper.  In my never-ending whining about the good old days, I remember with fondness that little book called TV Guide, which my mother often subscribed to for my children.

Now I know how to search CBS or USA, and I find NCIS somewhere every night. I am really challenged to find anything else I enjoy. I cannot even enter the conversations about American Idol or Dancing with the Stars or Lost or The Amazing Race or Desperate Housewives or Entourage. Sixty minutes, yes; Mad Men, Grey's Anatomy, sometime, all sport shows. I can hardly wait for four o'clock this affternoon, when I can see Augusta, Georgia again. I always look forward to April and the Masters, for the beauty of that golf course and the azaleas.

Thus, I leave you now and turn on the TV. And study Click for tonight's NCIS.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Where have all the giants gone?

I may be what is termed a cityphobe, if that is the proper definition of someone who loves her city too much. But Columbus, Ohio is a great city, and it grew to be great by the involvement of the Giants, the last of this generation, who just died at 97, John G. McCoy.

 He turned a small midwestern bank into a global powerhouse, and brought the Columbus community along for the ride. Growing was what the local Giants did: the Lazaruses, the Wolfes, Preston Davis, Ferdinand Howald,  and all the others who jump-started the civic, cultural, business and charitable institutions that make this city what it is today.

Their role, they felt, was to provide a strong underpinning, adaptable to growth. They had vision, and they had practical smarts. ( I feel a little foolish, here, to be taking on a subject more appropriate to George Will or Paul Krugman or Susan Sontag.)

The city has grown and changed and morphed from the 20th century to be ready for this forward movement we see in the early part of the 21st.

 For ninety years, I have grown (or shrunk) and changed and morphed along with the city.  I am overwhelmed by our shared history.

 And, frankly, in over my head with this blog.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The world in a nutshell

I'm talking Google here, and all the other search engines. People have their preferences, Bing, Yahoo, Dog Pile; even Ask Jeeves may still be in existence.( It is. I just Googled it to find out.)

All of this information at our fingertips; is it a good or a bad thing? Well, of course, it has to be good. A thought crosses our mind or the partial memory of a song appears in our heads, go to Google. You will find all the foot note information you need to write a term paper on the thought, or retrieve the lyrics to the song, and the date it was written and which crooner sang which version, when.

When I was a little girl, my parents bought a World Book encyclopedia, from a door-to-door salesperson. It was a luxury for us. We scoured it for information. My Dad bought us an up-date volume every year. The Encyclopedia Brittanica came into our possession after Bob's father died.  Our school age children used the old World Book to cut out pictures to embellish their hand-written elementary school reports. My grandchildren have never had to research anything on paper. And my great-grandchildren already have Wikipedia. Thank heavens their good parents read to them from real books every night before bed.

Computer illiteraccy will  soon be more disabling than illiteraccy, unless it already is. Just read the blogs and comments and posts of people who know exactly how to say something on line, but whose grammer and use of language would get them a D in an English course.

My heart almost broke when those beautiful little wooden library drawers vanished.  Everything arranged alphabetically, coded by the Dewey decimal system, replaced by the computer. It was easier, and/but less brain-taxing.

I fear we, as human beings, may be squeezed out of existence by technology. There will be too little room to breathe. The machines will have taken over our world.

There are, I think, movies and TV shows with variations on this theme. I'm too lazy to Google it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You could have fooled me, April first

I just came in from my deck, and it felt as if it were July first out there. It is weather made-to-order for me; the sun was tanning my face, even as I sat down.

I know, I know; this is terrible for my skin, but perfect for my soul. Soul beats skin, everytime.

There was a lovely little breeze and the wind chimes were singing away. Each time I hear them, I remember buying them, at a beautiful bookstore on Longboat Key. Long, long ago, long ago. They were supposed to have been especially designed so that the music was reminiscent of a theme of a symphony.. or something. Today, like always, it sounded like a tiny, heavenly choir.

We only have one chair on the deck; winter's dirt is still there, and it is going to be power-washed and stained, hopefully, next week. Then, the rest of the furniture will be out, the pots waiting to be planted. My umbrella will be up, so I can be a little careful of the UV rays, and too much heat to this old grey head.

Today was a special day, back to basic summertime. It is a day I need to share; too good to be true. On a scale of one to ten, this was a million.

Everybody, of course, talks about the weather, so, I am cutting myself some slack, and blogging this cliche, because it was all too nice to keep to myself. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

From an infected toenail?

 It is possible, probable, ultimately unavoidable that our deaths will be caused by something. We are born to learn this lesson; I find it comforting to be so sure of something, and know that at age 90, whatever that something turns out to be, I have had an exceptionally long and happy life. I am ready and accepting; I know, also, that I am good to go for years to come. My life, to me, is a miracle. 

My latest tale is about a toenail, and the new miracle that developed just this week-end. I was awakend at 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning by a pain so severe that it felt as though my toe was in labor. A throb, then a minute let up, then the throb again. It passed through my mind that it might be gout. Gout! I haven't had much alcohol at all in a decade; none at all in the last four years. Eventually,  extra strenth Tylenol earned me a few hours of dozing. By daylight, I could see that I had an infection in a corner of my toenail. Rosie, my caregiver, dabbed some neosporin on it. D.G. made her 9:30 call, and insisted that I call the doctor's office. They used to have a physician cover the week ends, when he would check in hourly for any calls for help that had been phoned in. That is no longer a service. 

And I called Dr. Stephen Shell, at home, and reached him as he was leaving for the airport. He phoned in an anti-biotic perscription for me, and Rosie flew to the Walgreens right at my corner, and I had my first pill by 10:00 a.m.

As much as we know about infections today, I need not lay out a "what-if" scenario for you. 

I had just finished a book, Friday evening, Lit by Mary Karr.  It is a sassy, funny, poignant memoir of her recovery from alcoholism, and how, when she was at her lowest, she was saved by religion. 

I didn't need the lesson of "Let go, let God". I have held to that thought for years, and on my sitting room wall is a plaque that reads "Bidden or not bidden, God is here."

Mary Karr describes the long road to learning that. I have had the miracle of knowing. 

I think it is ok for me to talk about my miraculous life; this is a thank- you note to whatever supreme being is watching over me, and all of you. 

I'm adding my toe to my grateful list.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Political Pot Pourri

My request for an absentee ballot arrived in yesterday's mail, asking for a minimum amount of information, so that I could be sent an absentee ballot. They asked my party affiliation, and my birthdate and my address. I was pleased they did not ask for anything extraneous, but I thought they could have used much cheaper paper instead of this "card stock."

 That same mail also brought the reminder census post card, the THIRD piece of mail I had received from the census bureau.  First, a notice that the form was going to arrive, as if I hadn't read that in the papers and seen it on TV for the last six months; the form, itself, followed in two days. I returned it immediately, only to receive the reminder card. How many millions of dollars was wasted on that foolish process?

Hearing constantly about waste in government,  we think of "pork" and  "bridges to nowhere" and special deals for Nebraska. That is millions in waste; I am talking pennies, or maybe even dollars. I am a child of the depression years, not really affected personally, but I saw those men selling apples on street corners, in freezing weather and no gloves! That such poverty could exist, and still does, taught me that  savings, large and small, can make the difference between comfortable and miserable. So I want the lights turned off when they aren't needed; don't let the refrigerator door stay open longer than necessary. I was an energy saver before Al Gore told me why it is so important. (My husband, Bob, told me.)

On the absentee ballot, I marked Democrat with a bold, black check mark. My voting record is pretty consistent. I cast my very first vote, as a senior, at Wellesley, for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, continuing to vote for him until he died. When Eisenhower ran, I didn't care whether he was an R or a D. Like so many voters, I just liked Ike. That slipped me in to the Republican camp, and before I knew it, I was a Rockefeller Republican. He had the credentials and the values of the Democrats, which, I think is why he lost his place in line, and here I was, stuck with Nixon. I came back to the more liberal side of the fence as soon as I could, and have been there ever since.

In the winters we spent on Longboat Key, I am sure most of my friends were Republicans. An air of civility prevailed, and one just didn't discuss politics at dinner tables or cocktail parties. From 1980 until 1998, I only once declared, "I am an L". I think they were somewhat surprised, but Bob was born and bred an R, so all was well.

It has taken me a lot of words to get to the point: political civility has completely disappeared. I am appalled at what I see on the internet and in comments to columns and news articles.

I am overjoyed that Obama's health care plan has passed, even though now we are back to the ugly infighting. God bless the United States of America, land that I love.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Death by a thousand paper cuts

Don't worry! I'm not really dying by anything. What is true, and has been true is what I have written before; I am really fine, I feel good, but, hell, I should, I am only 90!

I have just finished an amazing book, by  Diana Athill, a great English editor, Somewhere Towards the End.  She is startlingly honest about her life, to much of which I could not relate. She had been a highly sexual woman who never had, nor wanted, children, and she was an atheist. But as she confesses to the small humilities and indignities that we old folk face,  she gives me the freedom to complain just a little bit.

I have never been thin-skinned; I don't take offense easily or often. And my actual skin, my epidermis, that which covers my bones, has been as tough, or tougher than most. For years, my pleasure was to burn myself to a crisp in summer or in Florida, and not be sun-burned, but just a nice, dark brown. The few little skin cancers that I had have been easily removed, and if the price I paid was a few more face wrinkles, I pay that gladly.

Now, however, I have so thin a skin that, at the slightest touch, I bruise or bleed. It hurts. And trying to heal small wounds is so hard to do. At one time, I owned a little Johnson and Johnson stock, but I sold it the minute I heard that a Chicago pharmacy had sold some bottles of tylenol in which cyanide or something like it had been placed by, obviously, a deranged person. I should have held on to the stock; I have contributed mightily to their bottom line, buying all their wound-care products for the last three years.

There is no easy fix; there is no fix at all. So, I shall continue to bump and bruise and bleed, knowing that it doesn't matter all that much.

As Diana Athill says, "One doesn't necessarily have to end a book (blog) about being old with a whimper, but it is impossible to end it with a bang."

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I read this quote somewhere on the Internet: "Our fingerprints don't fade from the lives we touched." Google attributes it to Robert Pattensin, but it has showed up in a lot of places the last few weeks, on FaceBook and Twitter. I want to be utterly honest (as always) and so, now you know these words are not mine.

I wish they had been, but I would have switched it around to say that the lives that have touched mine will never fade from me; I tend to keep relationships going as long as I can. Of course, I am not that good at remembering names, but it is very seldom that the "touch" disappears.

For instance, I met a woman in Florida, once, in a pre-arranged tennis game, and. as we sat out between sets, she talked about a handicapped grandchild who had found a new world in a computer. This happened years before the advent of the computers as we know them today. I think it was that five minute conversation that propelled me to computers, in their earliest commercial form. And from which I am deriving so much pleasure as I write this blog.

A small fingerprint grows to tremendous proportions.

There is an entire other story that popped into my head as I read the quote. In 1956, or thereabouts, Tim brought home from pre-school, his hand-print in clay.  I'm sure his older brother and sister had done the same, but, for Bob, this was the time and this was his inspiration. The Bron-Shoe Company where Bob began and ended his business life, was thriving because sentiment was their business, the ability to bronze baby shoes ( foremost) among other things they did. Bron Shoe was the largest, and then the only such manufacturing company in the country.

Bob dreamed of setting up a new product for the company, and we began to count our riches. We envisioned a future with a yacht, we really were that naive!

Our high-school baby sitter was a beautiful artist, who went on to be an artist in the advertising department at the Lazarus store, and after that, taught art in the Columbus Public School system. Roseann sketched a circus wagon, with a wheel to fit the hand-print. The box, that eventually would contain a ceramic version of the circus wagon design and a package of clay for molding, was eye-catching and well-done. The name of the product was Imprints.

On a Saturday, for friendships' sake, Bob was given a "square" at the front of Lazarus, and there he stood, all Saturday afternoon as customer after customer passed by. And did not buy.

Imprints was a dream unrealized, but I had a closet full of boxes that I gave to all my friends' children as our Christmas gift to them. Today, on my "family" wall in my sitting room, I have a round, black ceramic plaque, with Tim's handprint in bronze,with a small bronze engraved plate that reads, "Tim's kindergarten handprint, 1958.

So "the dream lives on, ( obviously not my quote, either). And the fingerprints that have touched me will remain visible to me, always.

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's 3:30 p.m.; do you know where your 60 year- old daughter is?

 Okay, I admit it. I am an inordinately anxious mother. Most of the time, I am just an ordinary anxious mother. Sometime, even a regular mother-mother. But my very grown children are never far from my mind. And, truth be told, I think it is all a part of being a M O T H E R for all of us.

Calling-on-the-clock has its upside and it's anxious side. DG calls at 9:30 almost every morning. Until it gets to be 10:15 and I haven't heard from her, I calmly think she is asleep. But at 10:16, I simply have to call her to be sure nothing bad has happened to her. Neurotic, maybe, but that is why she calls me at 9:30 a.m., to be sure nothing has happened to me overnight.

I found myself way beyond neurotic the other afternoon. I had spoken to her, as usual, at 9:30, but at 12 noon, there was some news that seemed important at the time, and called her. The answering machine was on. So I called again at 3:30, and still I got the answering machine. I was, for whatever reason, freaked out. And I left my nervous voiced message: "Where are you?"

When she called a short time later, she told me she had been doing her usual errands. Of course: CVS, the Post Office, the Cleaners, Trader Joe's. Thinking about the foolishness of it all, we had a good laugh. It was stupid/funny of me; but how I felt was how I felt.

Remembering back many years... I had been staying with my mother at an apartment in Florida as she was recovering from a heart attack and a newly implanted Pace-maker. I was with her at a Spa (at a five-star Hollywood Beach hotel) when she had the heart attack. The hotel's doctor diagnosed the attack, but wouldn't call an ambulance until I gave him a check for $50. He sent us to a second-rate hospital, but we were strangers in a strange land. We were there for five or six weeks, as I remember it. 

My husband, my brother, my sister-in-law all spelled me over the long ordeal from the ICU through to this last stage, in a lovely beach apartment, waiting to be released to fly home. We had an RN with us during the day, and, one afternoon, I rented a car to drive to visit Bob's mother who lived in Bay Harbor. I had to take a bus down to what is now South Beach for a car rental place, and then drive north, visit for a little while, return the car and, bus on home. I was gone less than three hours, but when I returned, my mother began to cry tears of relief, she had been worrying so about me. It was irrational, just as I was irrational last week.

We have come a "furr piece" from 1982; rental cars will pick you up at home, there are cell phones to make instant contact. We don't have to know where anyone is, yet we can reach them. So why didn't I call DG last week? I didn't want to distract her on a freeway with a call.

So call me irrational, call me illogical, call me unreasonable, but, DG, just call me. Or better yet, I will now call you. I have nothing to say but I want to hear the sweet sound of your breathing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Shared History

     This could have been titled "Another Leaf," but I don't want to scare you off. And it ultimately isn't about the death of Harriet Bracken at age ninety, although I mourn her passing.  Her daughter called me yesterday, saying she knew her mother would want me to know. And then the Columbus Metropolitan Club sent an e mail to notify many people that one of the Founding Mothers and the Club's first president had died.

     I first knew Harriet in the Lazarus advertising department.  She was Harriet Oelgoetz then and my boss. During the war, with Bob overseas, I went to be a copy-writer. I had majored in English so I knew my nouns from my verbs, but I had much, much to learn about journalism. It was a great experience, but as soon as Bob came home, I didn't want a career; I wanted a family. The road I chose was the right road  for me. Even if I could have succeeded in advertising, I would not look back on it now with the sheer joy I feel, looking back on my life as a mother.

     Meanwhile, Harriet moved to become a vice-president of the Huntington National Bank and a Columbus power-house. By then, she had married, had two children and was one of those women who "had it all". 

     In 1976, thirteen women came together to form an organization, the CMC, that would bring to the public the opportunity to discuss and debate in a diverse forum, local, national and international affairs. Our mission was to be the best place to have a community conversation. Harriet and I were two of the thirteen, all with the energy to make things happen.

     We combined our lists from all the organizations to which each of us belonged and mailed a letter of invitation. We expected that our next step would be to make hundreds of follow-up telephone calls.  I think we were all dumb-founded to get so many responses to our letters AND requests from others who
asked to be invited! Everyone was welcomed, of course. That was the point. We tried to keep the dues low, and we actively recruited men and members of the Black community. We were top-heavy with white women.

      We started with a volunteer administrator, who kept the files at her home. Eventually, we could pay an administrator and have a small office. Because women were not welcomed through the front door of the downtown clubs, we  rented a back room of a popular restaurant for lunch time, and had various events there. When they had some mafia-like problems with, I think, a chef, we moved to an office building and had our own rooms, a micro-wave the only heating unit allowed. Marg Haldi was a fabulous chef, and that small office/cum/restaurant was a lovely spot to go for lunch.

     Our program schedule and venue has changed  much since our first meeting. We had a Forum once a month at the Motorist Mutual Building, and then a mid-week conversation in a smaller room, wherever we could cadge a free room. For a while, it was in a room of the law offices of Bricker and Eckler.

     The Forum has been at the Sheraton Hotel, the University Club (now gone) and for the last years at the Athletic Club.  There are marvelous Forums, great special events, evening meetings...

     When we began, we hoped we could be like the Cleveland Club. I think we have left them in the dust. Our membership is somewhere in the neighborhood of 700, and I think we easily have as many, if not more, men than women. To my sorrow, I can no longer attend but can see a complete video of each Forum from the Home Page, thanks to a relationship with WOSU.

       We have become a true community institution, and this is my salute to all those who have shared in the history of the Club, and a sense of gratitude for having been allowed to be part of it all.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Physical Phitness for Phyllis

     Everywhere you look, everything you read, every time you really think about your health (which is as seldom as possible for me), the importance of being physically fit is in- your- face.

     I have never subscribed to gym classes, or health clubs, or personal trainers; that's for smart and careful people. My whole life I just assumed that I would keep walking, until I could walk no more. And that would be when I would be dead.

     The spring we came home from Florida, 1998, from what  we knew was be our last winter in our personal Eden, Bob figured out a way to bring the washer and dryer into a closet on the same floor as our living, dining sleeping, office rooms. It was ingenious what he did; I thanked him, but thought to myself, "that is really unnecessary; I will always be able to take the steps."

     I was brought up short by the medicine gods, in 2005, or maybe the real God, when I found myself on the operating table to repair a hernia on the left groin and, back a week later, for a hernia on the right side. That was the beginning of a long getting-really-sick back to a getting-real-better time. I had an epiphany about trainers and therapists when I had a young man teach me to walk again.

     I can walk, but not far, and if no one is with me, I use a walker.

     I am literally terrified of breaking my hip.

     I am back to my own self-prescribed therapy. With someone to walk beside me, I walk all around the house, which is not really big at all, but very horizontal. I have made it up to one walk-through twice a day. I'm aiming for two twice- a- day. 

     Is ninety too old to stay in shape? It better not be, because my goal is to run around the house in two more years.