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 .