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Archive for the ‘aging parents’ Category

To Nag, or Not To Nag?

wtad.com/white pages/6.22.17

Bobbe White

Define nag: noun 1. annoy or irritate (a person) with persistent fault-finding or continuous urging. 2. horse especially : one that is old or in worn-out condition.

Nag comes from Middle English nagge; akin to Dutch negge small horse. First known use: 15th century.

In other words, women have been nagging their husbands to do things around the house since 1417. It’s nothing new. It rarely works. This post is about getting things done without acting like a small worn-out irritating horse.

Jeff made me a beautiful seven-foot trophy case in 1973. It has a little engraved brass plate that reads, “Bobbe Schecter – 1973 – JWW.” I had been at college, while Jeff took a semester off to work and build things. He built the case for my childhood swimming awards. There may have been a few water polo trophies, as well, but not because I was any good. I could out-sprint most girls to the center of the pool to swat the ball back to my teammates. That was about it for me. I was afraid to catch that hard polo ball (jammed fingers) and threw like a weak kitten. I digress.

cabinet

The trophy case lived in my parents’ basement for twenty years. I mentioned it occasionally, “Why can’t it live at our house?” I can’t recall the answer. It then moved to my parents’ next home for twenty years. Are you seeing a pattern here? When they had movers anyway, why didn’t we move it to my house? I guess it was easier not to move it. I asked a few (hundred) more times to move it. In 2013, my parents moved to assisted living. Finally, happily, the case moved to our basement. It was placed on its side. The ceilings weren’t high enough to stand the damn thing upright. There it slumbered like a beached whale for four more years.

Last month, we gathered Korey’s things for her move to D.C. To help Jeff (and me), two guys from work agreed to carry a heavy table upstairs and out to the garage for loading. “While you’re at it, bring that stupid trophy case upstairs too.” Ha!  They did it! “Set it up in the corner.” Up, up, up it went like a flag on Iwo Jima. Our carpeting, it seems, was too deep of a pile. The case was top-heavy and it lurched forward.  Down went Shamu, to the floor, to rest in the middle of the room, as it had downstairs. Terrific. I paid the guys with two six-packs of good beer.

Last weekend, Nick and Jenna came home for Father’s Day and my birthday. Jenna asked, “What are your birthday dreams?” Nick analyzed the trophy case’s tipping point and sent us to Home Depot for shims. And we shimmied that whale right into the corner, where I hope it lives for at least twenty more years.

HAIR VIGILANTES UNITE!

Bobbe White 

written for wtad.com and trylaughter.com
5/11/17

“If I spent as much time praying as I did plucking, I’d be the Dalai Lama!”
Diane Sawyer

This quote from More magazine is taped it to my mirror. I feel exactly the same way.
There you are, out somewhere. You brush the  jawline accidentally. There is the familiar little solo stubble. OCD bubbles up until you can extract the enemy. One moment the chin is baby smooth; the next, a stubble like our grandmothers emerges. In the short time it takes to cross the street…BAM! A single hair has pokes surfaces.

Each hair reminds us that we have fewer hormones, which used to keep unwanted hairs at bay. Cosmetic drawers contain multiple tweezers and magnifying mirrors of various strengths. I sadly realize that even my dearest friend in the world, or my honest daughter, won’t mention the occasional stray that went wild. It’s nearly an inch long! What’s worse, in my white-haired world, it’s black. Definitely black. I am appalled and curse these witch-like indicators. Aging is now beyond normal maintenance. Patrolling facial hairs requires daily vigilance!

There’s evidence of various tools on the man’s side of the bathroom counter as well. No, Ladies, we are NOT alone in this war! There are E.N.T.s (Not doctors…ear & nose trimmers), magnifying shaving mirrors and a pair of cheater (glasses) to assist in detection.

I have four thoughts about this battle which is clearly endless until, you know, the end. (I hear hair continues to thrive posthumously. Is there no mercy?)

1. I’m thankful hair still grows. This means my system is working.
2. I’m thankful my eyesight is myopic. I can find a stray hair on a gnat’s ass.
3. Call attorney today: “Draw up a B.P.O.A. (Beauty Power of Attorney) A.S.A.P. My sister and I agreed years ago to honor this legal obligation ’til death do us part. We agree to continue the search and tweeze program that remains critical. Long after my vision clouds or my hands shake, stray hairs will not win!

4. Apply to law school to set up a B.P.O.A. Practice. Think: baby boomers + aging = strays. The case load will be heavy. Staffing needs must be adequate. Armored cars will be contracted to carry all the cash payments.

Never before has one affliction -stray hairs- been so universal and prevalent in our society. None of us is exempt. Ahhhh, hair: the great equalizer.

SPRING MUSINGS

Wtad.com/white pages/4.13.17
peeps                                                                                                                      by Bobbe White

Spring in the Midwest is a season of surprises and contradictions. Here are a few:

WEATHER                                                                                                                                              Like any season in the Midwest – we have about seventeen of them- everybody talks about the weather. My favorite comment, “I wish the weather would just make up its mind!” This is the Midwest. That’s what our weather does best: spring into summer, then spring back to winter. BoInG! BoInG! BoInG!

YARD                                                                                                                                                        I like mowing, because of the exercise. Plus, it’s great to see instant results from your efforts. However, thick, spring grass provides resistance. I pretend I’m a football player trying to push a sled and the coach is standing on it, for more resistance. Drive by our house every other day. I’ll be mowing after work; Jeff follows behind me to fertilize the yard. Okay, let me get this straight: I mow frequently. He fertilizes to make it grow more, so I’ll mow more frequently.  How does this make sense? But I don’t complain, because I like to mow.

MUSHROOMS: a Midwest phenomenon. Many people spend hours hunting for them. The environment must line up perfectly: moisture, temperature and timber. Add ticks, snakes and spiders. It’s the best. Preparation involves frying. We seldom fry food, but with mushrooms, we eat them faster than we can fry them. Those who don’t find them, buy them from other people who found them. How do you find a seller? Just listen to conversations on Monday mornings and the finders brag, “I found 13 pounds this weekend.” However, they’ll never reveal where they found them. I have “Mushrooms” in my phone contacts. I’ve paid up to$20.00/lb. I know. It’s crazy. But they’re crazy good! Sometimes, when we have them for dinner, we even add a main course.

EASTER MEMORIES                                                                                                                             As I write this post on Maundy Thursday, I remember when our daughter, Korey was the only Jewish student in St. Peter’s kindergarten. Mrs. Kuhl washed feet, while Mrs. Wavering distributed grape juice and crackers. Korey said, “THIS SURE LOOKS A LOT LIKE PASSOVER.”  Mrs. Wavering agreed, because, actually, The Last Supper was Passover. Some years, like 2017, Passover and Easter overlap, which I think makes total sense. Other years the holidays can be a month apart. Why? It’s complicated, due to different calendars.

Because we’re an ecumenical family, we also had Easter baskets for the kids. On Saturday night, I lined up Peeps from the kids’ bedrooms, down the hall, like little soldiers, to their baskets. Those little devils were hard as rocks by morning. We figured it was a better use for them than actually eating them. One year, after Nick had rifled through his basket, he seemed a wee bit disappointed. Apparently, the bunny had forgotten to include a new tooth brush. Bad bunny!

Never discount how deeply engrained our seasonal habits or traditions are. Whether it’s mowing, mushroom or egg hunts. Now, go continue –or make- your memories. No Peeps, please!

alzHACKer’s disease:  Helpful hacks for improving your communication efforts

Written for WTAD White Pages 4-7-17

Bobbe White

                                                                                                                                                                You’ll eventually know someone with Alzheimer’s disease (A.D.).  Percentages are expected to increase exponentially.  Watching Dad succumb has been educational, at best. At worst, “It aint’ purty.” A day doesn’t pass, when someone doesn’t mention their family is dealing with A.D. Check out these hacks for improving communication.

A dopt a smile before entering their room. (Fake or real, they won’t care.)

L et them lead the conversation, even if it’s nonsensical. If Dad mumbles, I either answer randomly or agree with him. Nobody insists it must make sense.

Z ip your mouth when you get the urge to argue. It’s not worth it. Nobody wins.

H ave your phone handy. Show photos. Play music. It possesses power for persons with various dementias. Select hits from their 18-25 adult years. Observe their reaction. Some music sparks happy memories, some triggers sad ones. Note bobbing head and tapping feet. With Dad, it’s not a tremor. It’s his mojo!

E ngage in conversation around someone with A.D. Even the sound of your voice can be soothing.

I nvest in a baby doll.  Watch someone with A.D. cradle, rock and love it. It’s soothing. I believe there’s an innate sense to feel needed. Even better, bring a real baby or puppy!

M ake eye contact. (Not with the puppy…the person!)

E ncourage staff to share funny situations you may have missed. “Laughter is like a dry diaper. It doesn’t take care of the problem, but it makes it bearable for a while.” Michael Pritchard.

R esolve to sloooooooow your pace. Especially if feeding them! They can’t go from 0 to 110 anymore.

S o, they don’t know you. It stinks. It’s the disease. Dad thinks I’m a waitress. He calls me, “Babe.” (He knows me!) Then I realize he calls everybody, “Babe”. (Sigh…)

NO TABLE FOOD! (Okay, maybe just a little).

wtad.com- WHITE PAGES-2/21/17

Bobbe White

NO TABLE FOOD!!! (Okay, maybe just a little…)lily-sushi

Ten years ago, my son, Nick, and I brought home a free, scruffy-eared puppy. She was a mix between a Llewellyn Setter and a Labrador. The breeders hadn’t planned on such a mix and couldn’t jeopardize their reputation by selling anything less than a purebred. Like we cared. Jeff put his foot down on several house rules. The one of which he was most adamant was, “NO TABLE FOOD!”

Four years later, that changed and we weren’t exactly sure why. Then Jeff told this story. In the dog days of August, Jeff set out for the duck camp to treat the American Water Weeds on the lake, with chemicals. One can never begin preparing too early for the duck season, you know.  (It lasts about thirteen months in our family…) Jeff hooked up his chest waters and entered the deep water. The bottom of the lake was thick silt. As he stepped through a known low spot, he felt his boot sink into the silt. It literally grabs and holds your boot. The pressure was similar to quicksand, except he wasn’t being sucked down. He was just stuck in the mud. He was in deep sh*t, you might say. Lily White, the black Lab was swimming and playing, as usual.

Jeff weighed his options, none of which were viable. If he didn’t figure out something soon, he’d be a stick in the mud until we started looking for him. That would likely have been hours and hours later. There wasn’t anyone else around to help. Except for Lily. My guess is that Jeff’s voice, normally strong and resonant, had a tone of alarm to it. She dog-paddled back to him and made a 180 degree turn. He grabbed her collar. She started swimming furiously towards the shore. He pulled back against the resistance until his boot popped out and away from the silt trap.  Jeff was then able to make it easily back to shore.

Lily is ten now. She still loves the water, but tires more quickly. Her coat is still soft and shiny black. Considering she’s 70-ish in dog years, she really doesn’t look it, aside from some gray on her muzzle. Jeff thought Lily deserved whatever food she wanted after this rescue. This dog now enjoys occasional table leftover treats. No doubt, the leftover salmon is good for her (and her coat!) as is chicken. Boneless. Last night took the prize however. Lily actually liked a couple of remaining pieces of sushi. California and Philly rolls. She insisted on chopsticks.  Anything, Lily, anything.

 

The Gift of a Lifetime…Literally

Written for wtad.com by Bobbe White 2/02/17

After his dad, Jim, died last year, Ted Johnson was cleaning out his father’s possessions, when he ran across an LP album. The record label was titled, “Irv Schecter: This is your life.” It was recorded in 1957, by H & H studios, 638 Maine St., Quincy IL. Irv (my dad) was 33 years old. Yours truly was almost two. Ted brought the LP to me at work, still in its original simple album cover, made of brown craft paper.

We have a turntable in our storage room; I had little confidence it still worked. Instead, I got the material transferred onto CD. When I popped the CD into the car player, my world stopped.

In the 1950’s, my parents, apparently, were in a social group, which occasionally, surprised someone with voices from his or her life. They picked Dad; the committee put Mom on task to contact each person, who could speak to Dad’s life from each stage. Friends and relatives were recorded when they called in, or their letter was read.

 

The LP sound quality was a bit scratchy, due to age. Still, it was easy to recognize familiar voices as the emcee played each piece to roast and toast him. Every person was introduced, in chronological order, from Dad’s past. Their names were withheld, so Dad had to identify them by voice.

1.    My paternal grandparents. Sadly, I couldn’t remember Grampy Sam Schecter’s voice.  He died when I was young. Grandma Schecter’s voice was a different story. Her Russian accent and voice tone rang loud and clear in my brain!

2.    Uncle Sid’s commanding voice sounded as if he was in the back seat of my car. He ended by saying, “By the way Irv, you still owe me $1.38…

3.    Next, was Aunt Pat, Dad’s sweet, sister, with a small shoe size (4.5!) and a big New York accent.

4.    Several childhood friends were followed by fraternity brothers, from The Ohio State University. More than one guy joked that dad owed him a bit of money.

5.    Dr. Ben Kimmelman, a dentist from California was the heart stopper. Ben was a fellow P.O.W. in World War II, during the Battle of the Bulge. The miracle that these two buddies survived was not lost on the audience.

Dad’s comments, interjections and craughter (crying from laughter) were something to experience again. I envisioned him being a good sport, as he threw his head back in full-out laughter, as if to say, “You got me GOOD!” And they had.

Here I was driving around town with a car full of memories. What a gift. Ted’s trash. My treasure. The mystery of why Jim would’ve even had the LP is puzzling. The fact that Ted could have easily tossed it out –but didn’t – is another puzzle. First, our fathers were definitely acquaintenances, as most Quincy businessmen were and are. But other than that commonality, the only other connection that I know of is the fact that both were residents at the Veteran’s Home on the same floor, until Jim passed away recently.

Remember this simple gesture when weeding out your own homes or those homes of others. You may give someone the gift of a lifetime…literally.

Thanks Ted. I’ll never forget this.