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Archive for the ‘thoughtfulness’ Category

Leave it to Irvie: Goes Out With a Giggle

irv profileIt’s been quite a week around here, since Dad died February 22nd. In honor of the fact that he died on George Washington’s birthday, a profile picture which I thought looked a bit presidential is  featured. Also, before we go any further, I apologize that this post at least twice as long (or more) than I prefer and probably you prefer. If it’s TLTR (too long to read), just do what you can. No rules here.

Let’s just say, “Alzheimer’s Disease – or any form of dementia- is one ugly beast”. I hate it and what it did to Dad and so many others. I hate that many of you are currently in its grip with your own loved ones. But hate is an ugly word, so let’s focus on some good stuff, shall we?

What I learned: that even in the darkest hours, humor can bubble up through the tears.

And yes, there were some bubbles of humor during his last week. First, Dad’s very mean roommate, bless his gnarly heart, caught me at a bad moment. Really bad:

Him (growling): “Is it time for me to go into dinner yet?”

Me: “I don’t know.” (Queue major snotty attitude, like a bitchy 13-year-old in puberty.)

Him: “Why don’t you know?” (Dripping with sarcasm.)

Me: “BECAUSE I DON’T WORK HERE!!!!!!!” (Note: all bold caps and multiple punctuation marks.)

Him: “That’s the problem. Nobody works around here.”

All staff in earshot: (laughter).

Boy, did that feel good. Don’t cross me, Buddy. I bite back. Hard. Fortunately, there was a private room open and Dad was moved into it for privacy.

Funeral arrangements: I had many questions:

“Do we put britches on him?”

Funeral director: “It’s a good idea, in case the body would have to be exhumed for an investigation, DNA match, and etc. (Uh-oh…they’ve Googled Dad’s cousin, Mickey Cohen!)


Funeral director: “Yes.”

“Socks? Shoes?”

Funeral director: “Socks, yes, shoes are optional, usually not.”

“But Dad was a shoe man. He MUST wear shoes.”

Funeral director: “That’s fine.”

We started coordinating the outfit. I’d ordered (Thank goodness for Amazon) an Ohio State golf shirt, representing two of Dad’s favorite things: Buckeyes and golf. Jeff contributed an undershirt (Dad ALWAYS wore one under his golf shirt), slacks, socks, belt and Topsiders.

I delivered the outfit to the funeral home. Then it hit me out loud, “WAIT! How is Jeff’s 10½ shoe going on Dad’s size 12 foot?

Funeral director: “It won’t.”

“Will you just cut out the heel?”

Funeral director: “Probably. “It’ll be like he’s wearing CROCS.”

Me: “I don’t think so. I’ll be back.”

There was one obvious solution and the universe delivered. Dick’s Sporting Goods golf shoes were on clearance: Walter Hagen’s, $29.99. YES! Anybody who knows me knows I love a good theme: golf it was. It was my secret, because few shared my humor, except for Dad. I’d explain at dinner, after the burial. It was out with the Topsiders, in with the cleats.

We held a private graveside service with military rites. Dad probably would’ve wanted a parade and fireworks, but it was going to cause much anguish among some family members and wasn’t worth it. Let me just say, “Every veteran deserves military honors.” The meticulous flag folding, presentation, twenty-one gun salute and Taps were so touching and deserved. (In my opinion, he deserved a 42-gun salute for his P.O.W. deal, but Dad hated rifles anyway, so never mind.)

Traditions: If you’re unfamiliar with Jewish burials, you need to know the casket is lowered during the service. Unlike other religions, the mourners leave and the crew finishes later. After lowering, the funeral director, Jeff, pulled a strap out from one end. A vault company employee, we’ll call, “Harvey,” tugged and tugged, but Harvey couldn’t release his strap. It was stuck under the casket corner. As a last ditch effort, HE JUMPS IN THE HOLE! Yes, he did. I looked at my Jeff wide-eyed, then at our son, Nick. You could hear Harvey’s boots land on top of Dad’s new roof. The grave was deep enough, that Harvey disappeared from sight. He climbed out with the strap, as if from a swim pool. I mean, how else would get out, right? Each corner of the metal frame, which held the casket, had a plastic cap on the four corner domes, to protect from scratching the casket, if contact was made. One of the four caps fell into the hole. We heard Harvey groan, as if to say, “Noooooo, not again!” Yep, HE JUMPS BACK INTO THE HOLE!  I look at Jeff again wide-eyed; this time smiling, then at Nick who is wide-eyed and nearly smiling.  My girls are snickering/crying/stifling soooooo hard, they can’t contain themselves. They were audible. The officiant looked at them, smiling nervously, as if they were out of order, which they both were and weren’t. It WAS comical, you have to admit. I wasn’t much better, holding my program underneath my eyes to cover my full smile. I was crying (not from grief); the substitute rabbi and funeral director wouldn’t know which kind of tears were falling. All I could think about was Dr. Seuss’s “Hop On Pop!”

The bottom line was (sorry, bad pun…) Dad would’ve absolutely LOVED this series of events so very much. He would’ve been crying from laughing (i.e. “Craughing”) if he’d been on the outside looking on. In fact, he’d probably said out loud ,”OH MY GARSH!”

Sidebar: In support of the vault company and the funeral director, Jeff Spear, for whom I cannot say enough good things, they were probably sweating bullets. We decided this might happen a lot more than we know, as most of the time, the mourners are not present. Leave it to the Schecter’s to have Murphy’s Law of Laughter*. It truly was the best and most fitting end to a sad situation.  

A serendipitous moment occurred when I attended POUND class on Monday morning, after the funeral. Two of the songs were: “Raise Your Glass,” by Pink, and “Thanks for the Memories,” by Fallout Boy. Coincidence? I think not. Those two songs are now part of my play list, because we did, (raise our glasses) and we are (thankful for the memories.)

One last thought: I thought for sure I’d be finished with my book on aging parents, before any of our parents died, but whenever we put an assumption out there, the universe proves us wrong, right?  This is such unusual, therapeutic material, for possibly the final chapter, and for which I’m most thankful. I think it was meant to be Dad’s final gift to us: laughter. I’ll take it. RIP Irvie. 1924-2018.

The end. Yes, that it was. Quite the ending.  bw

*Murphy’s Law of Laughter: “At times when you shouldn’t be giggling, the oddest thing will set you off in uncontrollable laughter.


Why I Gave Him the Finger

give the fingerTo those I’ve interrupted, “Guilty as charged”.


It’s recommended that we find our “third place” to write, do taxes, work, read, pay bills, think, study, sketch, paint, workout or meditate. I tried a Third Place on Sunday.


What and where is your third place?


It’s not home, or work.


It is a neutral, mostly distraction-free zone. Think: coffee shops, parks, libraries, gyms and beaches.


Third place-why? First and second places tempt us with many diversions, such as:



An instant burning desire to wash, dry, and fold every last article, which includes ironing Jeff’s Jockey’s or sockies.



Without hesitation, you’re outside the house or down the office hall chatting with neighbors and co-workers, whom you’ve ignored for years.


-Eating: Before starting, you need a little snack, which turns into a full out pantry and floor sweep for crumbs, expired spices and old food in the fridge. Sure, the kitchen sparkles after this effort, but you haven’t done one intended thing yet.


-Revamping space

Home closets, credenza drawers or under your work desk are favorite diversionist destinations. A simple pen search evolves into sorting envelopes, medications and paperclips. There’s something safe about diving deep into closets, drawers and other dark spaces.


Why are these activities appealing distractions? Google it. I’ve decided to term it: “Ostriching”.


Ostrich defined:

A flightless swift running and the largest living African bird with long neck, long legs and two toes per foot.


Myth: ostriches bury their heads in sand to avoid predators.


Fact: they would die from asphyxiation.


Fact: When nesting, they dig shallow holes to bury their eggs. From afar, ostriches appear to be burying their small heads, when they’re simply tending their eggs.



Human ostriches (i.e. procrastinators):

People who refuse to face reality or accept facts, such as finite time. While ostriches are actually engaging in functional activity in their nests, humans, on the other hand, creatively try to avoid the intended task by burying their heads into places like closets, washers and refrigerators.


Our third place isolates us from distractions and enables us to stay on task.

Starbucks was my third place Sunday morning. I sat in the corner with my ear buds inserted and thought, “I don’t know anyone here!” Which was shocking. Then, a man, whom I scarcely knew, approached me while chatting, but I couldn’t hear him, of course.


I decided I had to give him the finger or he’d stay all morning. Mom always gave me the finger too. The “Wait-one-second-I’m-in-the-middle-of-something-on-which-the-survival-of-the-human-species-depends” finger. To further indicate my intention to stay on task, my eyes remained on my paper; ear buds stayed inserted. I felt (a little) bad being rude, but these types of people are easily encouraged and hard to disband.


What I learned

  1. If you want your time uninterrupted, you must be willing to protect it.
  2. When I happen upon someone who’s obviously busy, I will resist the urge to engage him or her in mindless chatter. Unless my pants are on fire. bw

January: from grief to great

For most of my life, January was the draggy, first month of the year. That was all. Then in early1988, January became the month that forever made me a better Bobbe. I found out I was pregnant. (Forgive me, in the olden days, we didn’t say, “We got pregnant.” It still confuses my brain.)


Shock was the word. A baby! A baby? I mean after eleven years of marriage, it seemed unlikely to everyone. Our families, while elated, but shocked. My boss did the jaw drop. Nobody else was privy to our early news. We’re funny like that.


Jeff, the forward thinker, and I talked endlessly about how a pregnancy would change plans. The most immediate battle was, “You probably should save your two weeks of vacation in February for your maternity leave.” WHAT? We’re going to mess with my vacation now? This did not set well, as I had not yet learned the lesson of sacrifice for what’s truly important. I felt selfish and defiant, but I lived for a winter vacation! I can hear what you’re thinking. “Pathetic.” I reluctantly agreed,


Our quietness proved wise, when three weeks, later on a cold, grey January day, the ultrasound tech said: “I shouldn’t be the one to tell you, but there just isn’t any activity. I’m so sorry” I’ll always remember her kindness, because my OB/GYN lacked it. I can still recall his approach. “Twenty-five percent of all women miscarry, but 90% of them go on to have as many children as the want.” Good information, but not for somebody like me, who for the first time, needed someone more therapeutic than statistical.


I realized doctors are more suitable for some patients than others. It never mattered before, but now it did. I changed docs.


I went to Mom and Dad’s to miscarry, seeing as Jeff was out of town. Mom slept in the other twin bed. As we lay awake, she told me she was having empathetic labor, right along with me. She was no stranger to the process. My in-laws sent a touching card that read: “After the rain showers, the rainbows appear.” I have held onto that thought and that card for thirty years.


Various “deals” were made with God and myself, namely, “If I have the chance again, I won’t blabber about ruined vacation time. How immature! I won’t complain about any of it!”


Fast forward, our daughter, Korey, was born January 31, 1989. Her arrival redefined the month for me forever. January now holds great promise and large lessons. As a result, I believe I never took my children for granted. Ever. At least, I don’t think I did. I occasionally stomached gobs of guilt, when I missed certain milestones, but guilt is the gift that keeps on giving and regardless of whether it’s about children, or a partner or a pet, guilt helps us to instantly redefine misdirected priorities.

Our hardest lessons give us the most needed gifts. What life-changing event reshaped your attitude? Care to share? Bw.

The Only Thing Normal in My Life…


Bobbe White


It was one of those days, when the universe says, “Not so fast, Kid!” Life is easy peasy? Watch this…”

 Most of my laundry piles were washed, but unfolded. There were a few piles of dirty laundry too. Hey, it’s been busy around here, okay?

 I would do pile management Thursday evening and ran laundry baskets up the stairs a thousand times to fold, then back down to change the laundry and switch the stuff to dry. Then back up to fold until 8:00 p.m.

 Jeff fell asleep at 8:37p.m. I decided a Hallmark move and I could tackle one or more baskets. I trotted downstairs again, but hit one-half inch of water in the laundry room. My mind raced. 1. Clean it up. (Immediately!) 2. Wake Jeff. (Not yet.) 3. Where’d it come from so fast? (No clue) 4. Did I cause it? (Probably.) 5. Wake Jeff up? (No. HE*L no!)


Towels, blankets, sheets and old shirts were thrown down to soak up water. Oh goody, new laundry to wash and dry. With my upcoming schedule, I couldn’t fathom tackling this new monster pile, so I stuffed it all into giant Hefty bags and dragged them upstairs. This called for a Laundromat.

By 10:30 p.m. I was tired and sweaty. I took a 40-second shower, should the shower be the culprit. I’d tell Jeff in the morning, but as soon as my head hit the pillow, I blurted, “The sub-pump isn’t working.”

 “Huh?” he mumbled. I repeated. “And I just spent two hours mopping it up.” He flew out of bed and downstairs in his post-slumber rage, as expected. We ran through all possibilities. In other words, “What had I done to excess?”

 In the morning, I loaded 200 sopping pounds of laundry into my car and headed to work. At lunch, I shoved the mess into two jumbo washers. The cycle was longer than my lunch hour; Attendant Terri took my coins and offered to switch the laundry to dryers. I gushed thanks and returned to work.

 After an exhausting day, I returned to the Laundromat. There sat my laundry, folded to perfection. Even fitted sheets were squared and tight. Unused quarters were in the basket too. It was a breathtaking sight and wonderful to realize how incredibly thoughtful Terri was. She had no idea how stressful this had been.

 I bought her chocolates, a thank you note and one more towel to fold: a holiday dishtowel.

 Next, I treated myself with Starbucks and paid it forward for the ladies behind me. (Shouldn’t it be pay it backwards?)

 Some days the only normal thing is a setting on the washing machine. And some days, a person’s kindness is just the detergent to make you want to pass it on.

 What made it even sweeter was that on Monday, Jeff threaded a snake through the system. I had NOT caused the flood. Woohoo! The culprit was a neighbor’s tree root, which had clogged the pipes. That’s pretty normal around here too.







Dad’s Lesson or Dad’s Gift?


 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.

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.




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?