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Dad’s Lesson or Dad’s Gift?

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 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

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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.

 

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?

Get It, Girl

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

 

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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.

Hair Day Goes to the Dogs

wtad.com/white pages/7.19.17

Bobbe White

 

 

 

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Once a month is hair cut day, at 7:00 with Kris. That way, I always try to take the 7:00 A.M. slot – you know, FIFO: first in/first out. Plus, it’s quiet, as none of the other stylists or aestheticians schedule patients – I mean clients – that early. Let me tell you, my hair looked really sick yesterday. I don’t mean sick, as in cool, but rather, not well. This is because of the shower before bed. There’s only one style messier than bed-head and that’s wet-bed-head. The top resembled a ski jump –flat approach on the left side to a peak on the right side. Only Kris could tame this mane.

Tuesday also called for Lily White’s appointment for rabies shots and the series of horrible diseases from which she is protected: distemper, bordetella, whooping cough, malaria, yellow plum and Silly Yak disease. She rode along for the 7:00 seeing as I didn’t have time to run home and fetch her. I expected she would bark as soon as I entered the salon. And she did for a while. Then there was quiet. Dangerous quiet, like you have when a toddler gets quiet. I went to the car and Kris invited her in to the salon. She had a leash on, so how hard could this be? I knew Kris loves dogs so it would be fine and he has other clients with dogs too. He gave Lily White a warm reception with pets and scratches.

“Her nose is bleeding.”

I said it was just a tender patch of pink on the end of her snout from scraping it on our fence. She was digging under it, the little beast. “No, it’s really bleeding!” And it was. Kris grabbed an old towel and I dabbed the dog’s nose, but it kept bubbling up. Kris put a bandage on it and I got hysterical. Of course, within seconds, Lily pawed it off of there. She was dripping blood droplets on his floor. This was so embarrassing. Eventually, the coagulation began and I sat back in the chair.  As Lily settled to sit down, she started whimpering and held her right front paw up. OMG! Now what? Kris, God love him, inspected her paw and announced, “Her nail is broken and it’s bleeding.” I’m shaking my head. Good grief. Whose salon appointment was this? “Do you still want your hair cut? Kris asked? “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

To think we’d gone through all of this and no cut or style for me. Unthinkable.

Fortunately, my cuts take about twelve minutes. I paid and tipped Kris $20 for the home health care nursing. He scoffed at that. “Donate it to the Humane Society then. I don’t care.” Off to the vet we went to get the shots and her nails clipped. The vet stopped the bleeding of her broken nail. We finished and headed home so I could get ready for work, even though I’d already felt like I’d put in a full day. On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks for a latte for me; a Puppacino* for Lily.  And they lived happily ever after.

 

*Puppacino is a junior cup of whipped cream, sometimes garnished with a milk bone for dogs. And it’s free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once a month is hair cut day, at 7:00 with Kris. That way, I always try to take the 7:00 A.M. slot – you know, FIFO: first in/first out. Plus, it’s quiet, as none of the other stylists or  schedule patients – I mean clients that early. Let me tell you that my hair looked really sick yesterday. I don’t mean sick, as in cool, but rather, not well. This is because of the shower before bed. There’s only one style messier than bed-head and that’s wet-bed-head. The top resembled a ski jump –flat approach on the left side to a peak on the right side. Only Kris could tame this mane.

Tuesday also called for Lily White’s appointment for rabies shots and the series of horrible diseases from which she is protected: distemper, bordetella, whooping cough, malaria, yellow plum and Silly Yak disease. She rode along for the 7:00 seeing as I didn’t have time to run home and fetch her. I expected she would bark as soon as I entered the salon. And she did for a while. Then there was quiet. Dangerous quiet, like you have when a toddler gets quiet. I went to the car and Kris invited her in to the salon. She had a leash on, so how hard could this be? I knew Kris loves dogs so it would be fine and he has other clients with dogs too. He gave Lily White a warm reception with pets and scratches.

“Her nose is bleeding.”

I said it was just a tender patch of pink on the end of her snout from scraping it on our fence. She was digging under it, the little beast. “No, it’s really bleeding!” And it was. Kris grabbed an old towel and I dabbed the dog’s nose, but it kept bubbling up. Kris put a bandage on it and I got hysterical. Of course, within seconds, Lily pawed it off of there. She was dripping blood droplets on his floor. This was so embarrassing. Eventually, the coagulation began and I sat back in the chair.  As Lily settled to sit down, she started whimpering and held her right front paw up. OMG! Now what? Kris, God love him, inspected her paw and announced, “Her nail is broken and it’s bleeding.” I’m shaking my head. Good grief. Whose salon appointment was this? “Do you still want your hair cut? Kris asked? “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

To think we’d gone through all of this and no cut or style for me. Unthinkable.

Fortunately, my cuts take about twelve minutes. I paid and tipped Kris $20 for the home health care nursing. He scoffed at that. “Donate it to the Humane Society then. I don’t care.” Off to the vet we went to get the shots and her nails clipped. The vet stopped the bleeding of her broken nail. We finished and headed home so I could get ready for work, even though I’d already felt like I’d put in a full day. On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks for a latte for me; a Puppacino* for Lily.  And they lived happily ever after.

 

*Puppacino is a junior cup of whipped cream, sometimes garnished with a milk bone for dogs. And it’s free!

Where the Rabbit Goes, So Does Your Time

Bobbe White for wtad.com/The White Pages   7.07.17

FullSizeRender (2)Avoid rabbit holes. We all feel so tapped out for time. I started looking at where my own goes. Rabbit holes might be the places you find yourself when on the internet. Staying focused on a project can be difficult for those of us who are easily distracted. When online, links can take you to places you never intended to spend your precious time. You get lost in a third space. Two tips:  if you have a PC or a MAC that announces the time, it can help bring you back to the present. My MAC announces the time every quarter hour. The other is to say out loud, “RABBIT HOLE!” when you find yourself going elsewhere. It’s my wake-up call, “Get back on track, Girl!” Your rabbit hole might be your home – you know how it goes. Cooking, doing bills and laundry and the next thing you know, you’re straightening the space under the sink. And liking it! It’s just procrastination. Some see it as the devil. It is, but to a point. Isn’t it interesting how appealing a job like under the sink or cleaning out your closet tops something else?

 

Enjoy outdoors. I have a habit of reading my phone while dog walking. It’s a rabbit hole of a different breed. Unlike my dog, which walks with her head up, or sniffing the scents of the grass, I could be anywhere, but there. I have written entire blog posts in my phone notes while walking. There are completed grocery lists or hotel reservations nailed down. I guess being outdoors relaxes my brain and the words or thoughts flow better. Sure, it’s multi-tasking, but it prohibits one from experiencing the benefits of being outside. This is something we need, particularly after working inside all day. Walk more like a dog: be aware and enjoy the surroundings. On the down side, I’ve had some bad experiences while not paying attention too. Two years ago, Lily White, the black Lab, did an about face and I fell on the one square inch of ice. I broke my hand. Lovely. Another time, there was a one foot by four foot sink hole by the curb on our route. Into the abyss I stepped. It was at least three feet deep. I wasn’t hurt, but I felt like a real sinkhole. I’ve stepped in you-know-what and nearly walked into parked cars. That’s embarrassing.

 

 

This happens while driving as well. I remember scolding myself while traveling through parts of the Rocky Mountains and reading a book or being on my phone. (Yes, I was a passenger.) Shame on me! Mountains fill my spirit. Why miss them? The same goes for the beach or a pool, although reading at either place is debatable. The goal here is moderation, in order to enjoy both focuses. Imagine being on the beach to enjoy the sunset. You’re with your favorite people, glass of wine in one hand; phone in the other. You choose. Surf the wrong thing and you’ll miss the glorious sunset. Why did you even bother coming to the beach in the first place, just to miss the show?

 

What are your rabbit holes? I’d love to hear!

To Nag, or Not To Nag?

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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.