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Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

Dad’s Lesson or Dad’s Gift?

Wtad.com/whitepages/102017

 Bobbe White

 Dad/Irvie turned 93 Sunday. It was a simple occasion. His food is pureed now, which sort of blows the whole cake ‘n candle thing out of the water. Alzheimer’s. Grrrr. Cake, candles, gifts and photos are just window dressing we can do without anyway. His needs are small. Our quest for dignity is large. We get that in huge doses, at the Illinois Veterans’ Home. They love Dad/Irvie, awake or asleep. And that is enough for me. 

“Hi Dad!” is how it began. “Hi Babe!” he replied. “YES… this is good!” I thought. “He knows me today.” Rationally, and my sister, Cathy, reminded me, “He calls everybody Babe!” I know. He always has. He would walk in the bank and address his favorite employees, “Babe” or “Doll”. It wasn’t creepy, nor was it a slur. It was a term of endearment at many levels. The nurses say that when they get a “Babe or a Doll” from Dad in the morning, they know it’s going to be a good day. It’s more commonly called, his, “Once a week awake day.” Hence, he’s become known as “Once-a-Week-Irv.” It fits his former sense of wry humor very well.

I told him it was his birthday. He looked puzzled at the mention of 93. But the fact that he was awake to hear it at all was something. He sleeps a lot now, but he didn’t sleep through his birthday breakfast. And that was enough for me.

 Cathy visited later. He was awake for then too. We considered this a good day. We tacked a couple of birthday cards on his wall. I’m not sure why, but in lieu of all the other birthday bells and whistles, it seemed like a festive thing to do, even though he can’t see that far, nor read anymore. Okay, it made little sense, but it’s hard not to mark the day with a little fanfare.  

Cathy and I shared our visit experience and the agony of the Alzheimer’s process, not to mention the longevity. It’s not that I want him to go, but what is the purpose of his existence in this state? It’s confusing, heart wrenching and overwhelming. Then I pulled out of my you-know-what, this idea. I texted her. “I think that Dad’s final gift (or lesson?) to me to have patience with his situation. Everything runs its course for a reason, even if it’s not what we like or understand. Maybe his gift to you is to be stronger.”

 She texted back, “Good thought…I’ll hold on to that.” So, look who’s giving the gifts on his birthday. And that’s enough for me.

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Oh, Those Cubs, Always Full of Surprises

Wtad.com/whitepages/101317 

Bobbe White

IMG_2957 (1)el tappe

On a sunny September 9th, Wrigley Field spread before us. It was my first visit. I now have a certificate that says so. The ballpark is spectacular, from the rooftop bleachers to our seats in the shade and I now have a greater appreciation for “Field of Dreams.”

As we waited for the opening pitch, I envisioned, one former player at catcher. Our very own, El Tappe, from Quincy, IL. Google El to read about his impressive career. Knowing the man, I was somewhat awestruck by how much he actually had done for this club. I impressed our friends with his trading card, which I found online, during the game.

His MLB debut was 1954; his last appearance was in1962. Wikipedia writes that, “He was best known for being instrumental in implementing the Philip K. Wrigley College of Coaches, to give the team better leadership and stability, by utilizing coaching talent from within the organization. Tappe was one of the rotating coaches himself for 95 games. He returned to his backup catcher role for his last year as a player.”

To me, El was simply Tammy’s dad and Donna’s husband. He was one of the nicest, funniest gentlemen I’ve met and he was never crabby when we girls got bratty. It’s funny how someone of such stature can remain humble and patient. To growing up girls, he’s basically the nice dad of your best friend.

Here’s the odd part. Every fall, Tammy and I went to Madison school. In second grade, I ratted her ponytail, while sitting behind her in Mrs. Long’s class. However, every year, during K-6th grades, Tammy disappeared after Christmas Break. I’d receive her new school picture from Mesa, AZ. I guess I wasn’t curious enough to ask where she went each year, because she’d always return for the summer. The Tappe family relocated annually for the Cubs’ Spring Training, El was part of the coaching staff and scout. In hindsight, Tammy says she feels so fortunate to have had this split opportunity. Donna continued to visit her Cub “family” after El passed away.

In high school, we girls were given the opportunity to socialize (i.e. drink beer) with the Cubs AAA players, who played summer ball in Quincy. The fun continued, when at Arizona State, a few of my friends and I went to the Allman Brothers Band at the Mesa ballpark with the AAA’s. I wonder if any of them made the A team…

I pull for the Cubbies harder now that I have experienced the Wrigley Field awe. I understand the pilgrimage people make game after game and particularly when Cubs Vs. Cards.

Is this a great country or what? If there’s a major league in heaven, I’ll bet El is either still scouting, coaching or back at catcher. Thanks El, for giving my ball park more meaning, even if you guys lost that day 15-1. Ouch. Okay, now, PLAY BALL!

BUT SHE THINKS I’M A BOY!

 

Bobbe White for wtad.com/whitepages/8.01.17/

school daze
To a teacher, the month of August is like a month of Sunday nights. Suzy Duker

 

Goodbye July. Hello School. If there’s ever a memory trigger, going back to school is a powerful one. My vivid memory is first day of kindergarten at Madison School.  My outfit has quick recall. Imagine a red and white checked tablecloth. Picture it in gold and white, made into a dress. Over top of the dress was a tent, with ties on either side. In fashion terms, it’s called a pinafore apron. Think, “Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie Style.” My bangs had been severely cut to five inches above my eyes. Before bed, Mom snapped on pink curlers on every side. This meant I slept on my face, because curlers and pillows never co-exist.  Bobby socks and saddle shoes completed the ensemble. Go ahead; say it, “Precious.”

Hand-in-hand, Mom trotted me up the school steps, then down the stairs. Something wasn’t right. The kindergarten I knew was upstairs. It was the morning class; the downstairs classroom was afternoon class. We were a morning type of family. This would never work. We scanned the class list outside the room. If a kindergartener can recognize two words, it’s his or her name. There it was:  “Robert Schecter.” Mom said, “Let’s go in.” I burst into a sob, “BUT SHE THINKS I’M A BOY!” I wouldn’t go. There’s a reason my nick-name through high school was “Stump.” Even for a five-year-old, I had strong legs. I locked my quads and poured weight into my heels. They held fast.  Mom couldn’t drag this bull-dog across the threshold. I resembled a Vietnam War protest sign, “HELL NO, I WON’T GO!” The teacher coaxed me, but saw the resistance through my tears. Mom finally said, “I’m afraid there’s been an irreparable mistake. Morning session was much more workable with our schedule.” “(AND YOU THINK I’M A BOY, YOU WITCH!)” I wanted to add. Mom explained the problem to Mr. McKinley. Everyone in the principal’s office stared at me, like I was a monster. I must’ve had a look of defiance, “Nobody puts Bobbe in the corner.” It worked out that I could be switched to Miss Kuhlo’s morning class. I knew she’d know I was a girl. And I schooled happily ever after.

Don’t think for a minute that this was the last time I was called a boy. In every college class roll call, the instructor scanned the room for a guy. I became used to it; even amused by it.  Tears bubbled up no longer, nor did I ever switch classes for mistaken gender. Sometimes you just have to stand up for what you are until you are heard. Perhaps in all of that confusion was a great lesson, because I’ve done this my entire life. Who knew my first school lesson would be the most impressionable?

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.

On Losing Things and How to Find Them

WTAD-White Pages-6/15/17

Bobbe White

Are you acquainted with the prayer to St. Anthony, the patron saint of all things lost? St. Anthony is currently the one praying…for a rest. He’s worked overtime for me lately. Those of you who have confused look on your face may not understand; St. Anthony is available to all faiths. Trust me. Here’s how our son, Nick, explained it, eighteen years ago.

Skip: “What religion are you, Nick?                                                                                                                      Nick: “Well, my mom’s Jewish and my dad fishes.”

I digress. Back to topic. Last weekend, I attended a terrific women’s conference, “LET’s RISE”, in Austin, Texas. Our kids gave me the best Mother’s Day gift: Austin gift cards, to experience the food and charm as I moved about the city. With just five hours to redeem these on Friday, mission control ignited. I walked a mile to Terry Black’s BBQ, with objectives: (1) quickly learn the menu (2)  manage ravenous hunger and (3) spend the card. I failed miserably on #3. I realized I’d left the cards in my hotel room. Yes, I did. When I pull a “Schecter move”, I get REALLY mad at myself. This is what I’ve come to call them. That’s my maiden name. We just get excited or in a hurry to go and we don’t do the mental checklist. Always have. My other side, the Whites, have yet to experience a Schecter moment. This includes in-laws, out-laws, my husband and children. They just would not. Back to the hotel I trudged. Time is evaporating. It’s hot. With cards secured, I UberX takes me to the BBQ, because now I’m hot, tired and mean hungry. (Worse than hangry.) BEST BBQ EVER! Next, I went to the fancy, Driskill Hotel, with my cocktail gift card. The Driskill’s couches, chairs and coffee tables are covered in cowhide. Giddy-up! I rested on a cow, recharged my phone and my own battery. Next, I walked a mile to Amy’s Ice Cream. They prepare food fast, because it’s hot. As the waitress kneaded my order, she flipped the ice cream into the cup. And some residue into my hair. That’s how you remember your order. Ahhh! Chocolate, check. Coconut. Check. Almonds. Check. Oh well, I would shower before dinner anyway.

The rest of the weekend was seamless. Until I returned to St. Louis Sunday. I couldn’t find my car key. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  I pray the abbreviated version:  “Tony, Tony, come on down. Something’s lost and must be found. Amen!” The only thing I found was a locksmith through AAA motor club, who could make me another key for $165 and a two hour wait. There are no other options. Steven had been super busy, “People are crazy today, losing keys in lakes (and Austin…).”

On Monday, my key search in a little red zipper wallet began. I called all over Austin, retracing my path, which was everywhere. Let’s pull my agony to a quick resolution, shall we? Tuesday noon, I checked messages at lunch. “We have found your red zip purse and key at The Driskill. Please call 512-391-7078. YEE-HAW! A cowboy found my stuff? Don’t know. Don’t care. I have to follow an email link to: ILEFTMYSTUFF.COM.  (I’m not kidding!) For $18.95, cough, cough, they’ll return my stuff. And my sanity. I love Austin. I love The Driskill. And Terry’s BBQ and Amy’s and Torchy’s Tacos and Mozart’s coffee and my feet, which hurt like the devil.

First Class Flying: Is it all that?

Wtad.com /white pages/ 5/18/17

Bobbe White

plane people

Upgrades in my life? About two. It wasn’t horrible. Especially the time when Woody Harrelson sat behind us.  However, first class fare can be quite costly.  Google it sometime. For what, exactly, are they REALLY paying up there?

PRE-BOARDING: that’s nice and all, but they look so unhappy when the rest of us slubs parade down the aisle to economy class. Maybe it’s that I just cracked a guy’s head with my overhead bag. Oopsies! Maybe first classers would be happier boarding last, so they don’t have to look at us. Maybe it’s the…

FREE BOOZE: Personally,  Johnnie Walker scotch doesn’t appeal at 5:55 a.m., which is when I usually depart. The only thing I want straight up, at that hour, is coffee. Besides, the air is bone dry in every section and alcohol just exacerbates dehydration. My skin’s already fossil-like, who needs it?

SEATS/SPACE: there’s more leg room, but if you know how to pick, there are some economy seats offering leg room, too. Reclining is a matter of degrees, unless you’re on a fancy, schmancy international flight where the seats flip into canopy beds.

AMENITIES: blankets, pillows and socks, oh my! I do kind of miss blankies in the back…

LAVATORY: Technically, fewer people = less waiting. Just remember Murphy ’s Law of bathrooms: the worse you have to go, the longer the wait will be.

FOOD: Some say it’s improving, but from any food I’ve ever eaten up there, it’s more institutional, than gourmet. Cinnabun tastes and smells better, by far. That’s why so many carry-on food.

DE-PLANING: Obviously, deplaning is like accounting 101: FIFO (First in, first out), but I ask you, don’t we REALLY get there all at the same time? Exactly.

SAFETY/SECURITY/SURVIVAL: Again, the law of averages would dictate that the fewer the wingnuts in a given area, the less chance of a meltdown. Sorry, that boat doesn’t carry much water for me. As for a crash, they call it, “Nosedive,” for a reason.  ‘Nuf said. We slubs in the waaaaay back might be the last in the big splash.

PEOPLE are people, regardless of class. Some in first class have no class. You know what I’m talking about. Both flight attendants and passengers can be polite, rude, noisy, quiet, helpful, bitchy, loud, smelly or sad. Everyone has a story. My dad always said, “You don’t know what you don’t know. You may never know what you don’t know. And you may not want to know what you don’t know.”  Passengers are a microcosm of the world. As Abercrombie & Fitch advertised once:  “We’re all just passengers flying around and there’s no room for extra baggage.” It’s a lot like life down here, right? People sitting or standing next to you, in every arena, struggle for one reason or another: financially, physically or emotionally.  Sometimes, you can utter three words to make peace with your neighbor, “WHAT A DAY!” It might start a brief –or longer- conversation. Flying at any level in the atmosphere can be trying. Or exhilarating. “WHAT A DAY!”  are three possible words to blurt when you enter your 42D. That’d be my seat number, not my bra size. “WHAT A DAY!” It’s open to interpretation. It can be positive or negative. A door opener. An Ice breaker. Give it a go. Now, go have a nice flight in any cabin of the world or airplane. It’s time for take-off.

airplane food.

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.