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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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Alphabetiquette: more couth after youth

wtad.com/whitepages/8.10.17/Bobbe White/

Alphabetiquette (n.) al-fuh-BET-i-ket) simple manners for couth after youth.

By surprisingly popular request, this is a continued list from my 1.27.17 post, where A -D were introduced. These are common sense manners we see broken every day, everywhere. I post these, not because I am Ms. Manners, but because certain actions bug people. Our culture has become more relaxed, which can be refreshing in some cases, but not all. Manners are increasingly not being taught in the home, so is it left to the rest of us? As always, email me the stuff that bugs you and our Alphabetiquette team will work it into the list. Since 1.27.17, one more “D” word was added. Here you go…

Digitaliquette (dij-i-tul-i-ket) The art of knowing when a food item is to be eaten with your fingers or a fork.

Earbudiquette(eer-bud-i-ket) (1) Checking yourself from singing with your iTunes, when wearing earbuds. Buds do not instantly morph you into Celine or Justin. (2) To remove at least one of the two earbuds, when someone obviously wants your attention. (3)The reverse of this, is having the restraint from wanting to chat up a person wearing earbuds, especially when they’re hoisting an 800lb. bench press.

Entertetiquette(en-tur-et-i-ket) (1)Holding doors open for others when entering a building or room, instead of letting it slam in front of them. (2) Exhibiting patience when merging onto a freeway.

Exitetiquette(egg-zit-et-i-ket) (1)Holding a door open for someone, instead of letting it slam behind you when leaving a building or room. (2)   To thank the host(ess) before leaving a party (3)Having the wherewithal, when leaving the freeway, or turning a corner, to turn on your car winker.

Expressiquette(egg-spres-i-ket) (1) To get an honest, actual count, up to 10 items in your shopping cart, to determine if you belong in the Express Lane. (2) To use discretion while nursing your baby in public.

Electiquette(e-lek-ti-ket) Stifling the need to talk about politics or politicians, unless you have something nice to say, which very few do.

Eyeballology(I-bol-ol-o-jee) (1)The study of focusing on the person with whom you’re conversing, rather than reading your phone, printed materials, TV, or Netflix. (2) Understanding that when you are engaged in conversation with person “A”, it’s rude to scan the room for persons “B” through “Z”. This can be particularly difficult for persons who are taller than I am, which is about everyone.

Flanelletiquette(flan-el-et-i-ket) Having the ability to avoid wearing p.j.s in public. (Also see slipperetiquette).

Follicletiquette(fol-li-kul-let-i-ket) (1) To wash and groom your hair on a regular basis.(2) To refrain from examining and extricating your split ends or chin hairs in public. (3)To wash away eloped hair in the sink, tub or shower.

Funeraliquette (fyu-ni-rol-i-ket)  This post isn’t long enough for this topic. We recommend Googling “do’s and don’ts at funerals” articles. A few basics are addressed here: (1) snacks and candy at the wake, visitation or service are usually for the family. Keep your mitts off, unless invited to partake. (2) Do not snap your chewing gum. It’s annoying. (3) If you are an “Ex”, ask the family permission to attend. The last thing needed are family feuds, resembling Congress trying to get along. (4) Silence phones, stop texting, reading or posting to Facebook – or any SMS while in attendance. (5) Absolutely no selfies, even if you run into an old acquaintance at the service. (6) No butting in line.  (7) Don’t come late; don’t leave early. (8) Dress respectfully. (see flanneletiquette). (9) Use your inside voice or softer. (10) Contain your giggles, which will turn into chortles and snortles, because you know you shouldn’t. Avoid sitting by these people who ignite this type of behavior in you. You know who they are. Is it you? Confession right here: when nervous, something happens to my brain and just about anything can tickle me. (11) Pull your vehicle over to the side in respect of a passing procession. (12) No honking or waving. This is a funeral procession, not a parade. (13) Under any condition or fleeting temptation, do not, I repeat, DO NOT practice pick-up lines on pretty girls or dudes, whom you find rather hottish. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

That’s it for now. “M.O.M” (mind our manners), because when we don’t, our mothers are perched by our ears saying, “Don’t you do that!”  Send me your own.

 

Get It, Girl

wtad.com/white pages/7.19.17

“When you know your why, you can endure anyhow.” John O’Leary

 

IMG_4111

 

Last Tuesday was a difficult day, one of many, because that’s life.  There was the day we had to take Dad’s keys away. That was a doozy. Or maybe when we moved Dad into the Veterans Home – without Mom. That one was the mother of all tough days.

After enough of these, we begin to understand that no matter how many tough days we have, their purpose is merely preparation for the next tough one. It reminds me of track hurdles. I attempted them once, but was never adept. Leg #1 cleared the hurdle, but then there’s that Leg #2. It’s like an educational program: “No Leg Left Behind.”  But the back leg just won’t rise up enough. I still can’t hurdle, even though the hurdles are now shorter. Pet gates at home are hurdles. They keep Lily White corralled. If I had a nickel for every time Leg #2 leveled the gate, I’d be retired on a beach in Fiji. The lesson: next time lift leg higher. It’s hard -sometimes very – because of  “it”. Yesterday “it” was a tough conversation with Mom. Who knows what it’ll be tomorrow?

What’s that troubling issue in your world? Imagine you’re on a relay. The runner prepares to pass the baton to you. You must grab it and immediately hurdle. Without tripping. Not this time. Tuesday, I told myself, “Just get over it. No moving gates aside, like I can with Lily’s gates. I got over it. It wasn’t easy. Tough’s hard.

There are other ways to help clear the hurdles. It’s whatever works for you. Here’s what I did. Tuesday I dressed for strength. My earrings were from Poland. Korey gave them to me on that trip. We toured Auschwitz I and II,  to understand history and the conditions in which my P.O.W. father was forced to live. And because that girl of mine/ours is one strong gem, conquering hurdle after hurdle. She inspires me. My necklace and ring are from Jeff. If he was a boxer, his robe would read, “THE ROCK”. Sometimes I’d like to throw rocks at him, but he just builds me a path with them. My bracelet is from Nick, given to me on his and Jenna’s wedding day. As a four pound preemie, we prayed he’d have strength to survive. Did he ever. Let’s call him, “ROCK II”. Mr. Strong & Steady, Jr. My skirt is from Jenna, who exhibited unbelievable strength on the premature death of her dad. She’s currently hurdling a new career like an Olympian and also being strong for Nick throughout Grandpa’s death. Love that girl, like our own. My hair is from my mom. Talk about a strength in the face of adversity. Whoa. Now, it’s my turn. Sure hope I got that gene. Finally, my shoes. I recently attended “Let’s Rise!” conference. Jeff Googled it and thought I’d find inspiration and rejuvenation. He was correct. I’d forgotten my shoes, so had to buy some. Wearing them reminds me of what I learned at “Rise”: with thought and preparation, we can do more than we thought.

It’s been tough before.  It’s tough today. It’ll get tough tomorrow. I need to get it done and behind me. After Tuesday, I’m not jubilant, but relieved and a bit stronger. I’m doing the right thing. I know that feeling.

No resting on laurels, Girl, get strong for the next tough opportunity.  At Hobby Lobby, I saw “Get it, Girl”, an 8”x 8” light-up, home accent in Barbie colors. I know! I called later. They held it for me.  At 90%, it probably won’t drop further…better grab it for $2.50.

What’s your “Get it, Girl?” What thing gives you strength?

Find it. Own it. Get it.

In Memory: He Took My Can’t Away

written for WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES – 7/14/17

Bobbe White

Another piece was written yesterday, but I got busy and forgot to send the accompanying photo. I finally remembered, but it was after we’d gotten the call, Jeff’s dad had died. It didn’t seem fitting to post my typical, “Silly day or thought in the life of Bobbe” post. Instead, it’s preempted by a tribute to my father-in-law, Jim White.

It’s kind of unusual when the parents of the guy you start dating are already friends with your own parents. Our dads golfed together on men’s day; our moms teed it up together on Ladies’ day. They ate dinners together and occasionally traveled together. A few times the guys even fished together. For about twenty years, our parents were even neighbors. Our kids grew up assuming everyone’s grandparents were buds as they ran back and forth between homes. It was great skipping one of those horribly awkward “Meet the Fockers” events.

I had the privilege of working for Jim at State Street Bank for nearly twenty years, until he retired. Believe me when I say, “He played fair, but he never played favorites.” His decisions weren’t always popular, but they were respected. I haven’t met many people who didn’t like him, but I’ll bet they respected him. He didn’t manage. He coached. He rarely complimented the individual performance. He always recognized a good team effort. Rest never lasted very long; he’d raise the bar a notch for the next project.

The best lesson from Jim was a tough one at first. As we brainstormed ideas for State Street Bank’s 100th anniversary (1990), he kept suggesting an antique car show on. That was about the dumbest idea I’d heard yet. Me plan a car show? So it was set. We were sponsoring an antique car show, the centerpiece of our anniversary events. My anxiety kicked into gear. I felt paralyzed with fear of how to execute. I remember telling my co-worker and sister-in-law, Laurie, that I just can’t do this anniversary thing. Too much pressure. “Tell him you can’t do it.”

In my head, I knew it was unacceptable to not try. Jim grew up understanding you can do anything if you’re willing to work hard to learn. What I learned about antique cars and their events was throttling. (Oh, good pun!) Who knew car spaces were wider than our lot’s painted stripes? No door dings at our event! Who knew there was a difference between antiques and repurposed? Who knew this was a strong, thriving culture, drawing car enthusiasts from miles away? I learned that when you can’t do something, you get an expert’s help. You learn from them. It came off without a hitch (Ha-ha – another good pun, no?) I was one proud cookie, as the “Best of Show” trophy was awarded. Jim was right. The event was a gas. (A gas!! Queue: knee slap) People loved it. I loved it.

On the family front, Jim taught Jeff many life skills. This is mainly because if you got in trouble at home, your punishment was working with Dad. It usually involved early risings and long days. Suffice it to say that of all the six kids, Jeff is the one who learned woodworking, automotive, electrical, farming and metal polishing the best. Metal polishing? Yep, one time, punishment put Jeff inside the safe deposit vault, polishing hundreds of little doors made with brass hardware. I chuckle every time I escort a customer in or out with their safe box.

Whenever I entered the White house, Jim would greet you, “And what did you accomplish today Bobbe?” I would try to recite every task and he would answer, “Okay.” My accomplishments never seemed adequate. He always said, “Okay.” I began to wonder if I told him that I’d cleaned the Taj Mahal, swam the English Channel and climbed Mt. Everest, his answer would still be, “Okay.” It angered me because I always felt like I’d disappointed him. His son, Jeff, had married a star slacker. One day, I walked in behind my brother-in-law. Jim asked Kent, “What did you accomplish today?” Kent said, “Not a damn thing, Jim.” He answered, “Okay.” What? Okay? Hmmmm…”Okay” is simply his answer. His reply. His conversation starter. He wasn’t measuring. I felt like a dummy.

Until that day, when it wasn’t obvious to me that Jim was simply responding with a word, not a judgment. Oddly enough, that question remains in my head, to make sure I accomplish something every day. And even when you don’t accomplish anything, it can still be okay. (But probably not very often.) We’ll miss you Mr. White, Jim, Dad, Grandpa, and Great-grandpa. Thanks for teaching us we can, even when we can’t. Best lesson ever. Rest well. Hit ’em straight. Hook a monster. Take that bird. Give Keith a hug for us.  James E. White (5.5.28 – 7.13.17)

 

 

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.