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Posts tagged ‘memories’

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.


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.


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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written for WTAD White Pages 4-7-17

Bobbe White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Almost Time: Teams for Tots


wtad.com/white pages/3.30.17/Bobbe White


Ahhhhh, spring and summer sports. To a child, it’s like Christmas. Hear them singing?

“T-balls roasting in the summer sun…”

“Deck the pool with lots of chlorine, fa-la-la-la-la…”

“Hark the herald grass and sand traps!”

“Tennis balls are coming to town!”

What an exciting time! There are uniforms to buy, schedules and transportation to coordinate, and some weeks, it’s your turn to take treats. YAY.  If you’ve not participated at some level, pull over next to a baseball field or park and watch newbies in any sport. It’s cheap entertainment. 

Here’s what you may witness:

T-Ball: It’s been too long, but I think everybody gets “at bats”. A game ends after a set time. They may not keep score, which is just peachy for peewees. 

Softball: A softball Olympian now coaches her son’s baseball team. Are her expectations unrealistic? Nope! She understands seven-year-olds want to dogpile at third base, or in the outfield. She smiled when a batter got a hit, then ran to third base, instead of first. When asked, he answered, “Well, nobody was on third and somebody told me it’s closer than running to first anyway.” Logical.

Tennis:  I taught tennis for the City of Winter Park, FL. It lasted a month. Seemed like a year. The upside: chasing a million stray balls was slimming. The downside: fifteen (seemed like fifty) children returning balls at my head was risky business.  

Golf: For years, Dad helped junior golfers. Irv loved Tuesday mornings. He had the patience of a saint and encouraged every effort. He understood sand traps fascinated little kids and that you ALWAYS stand back when the clubs are swinging. Remember, they just MIGHT hit a ball and flip it back over their heads or ricochet off an old oak tree. Dad wanted kids to love golf, like he did. Parents were appreciative. (Because Dad got them off the hook, maybe?)

Soccer: One dad-coach, had a half-time pep talk. Hot and tired kids sprawled on parents’ laps. “Team, we’ve got one goal and one goal only for the second half. Our goal is to have at least ONE players on the field by the end of the game!” Lofty goal. Our daughter was only in it for the end-of-season pizza party. Whatever.

Swimming:   Swim class/team resembles a gaggle of guppies. They’re in perpetual motion, resembling Minions in their goggles. Within fifteen minutes, everyone is shivering. And it’s 97 degrees that day. Little bodies are so darn slippery, they slither from your grasp and scramble up the ladder. That’s because they have to go to the bathroom. Again. It’s all that water. Unlike the above sports, however, at least they finish cleaner than they started.

If you have coached in the past, thank you. If you get asked, say, “Yes.” It’s a season, for heaven’s sake, not a ten-year contract. Batter up! 




Bobbe White

The red crush of Valentine’s Day is over.We all somehow survived. It’s always interesting around an office, even if you’re not a fan of the holiday. ESPECIALLY if you’re not a fan. Why? Because we performed complicated algorithms on how many floral orders were delivered in direct correlation to total number of possible recipients. For those who can’t remember basic mathematics (who can?), an algorithm is a set of detailed instructions, which results in a predictable end-state from a known beginning. In other words, I have no clue what that means. In other words, the total number of bouquet deliveries I observed was 2.75. Odd number? I think not. Two bouquets were legitimate, obligatory Valentine’s bouquets: one newlywed and one newly engaged. Those are obvious.

The third recipient’s bouquet celebrated not only Valentine’s Day, but also their wedding anniversary, which happens to be Valentine’s Day. She gets a ½ point, since Hubby was double-dipping: ½ Valentine, ½ Anniversary. Still, I’d give him a high five for picking this date.  He’ll never, ever, ever forget.  That leaves ¼ of a bouquet. There, on one desk, was one lovely red, variegated rose. The card read, “And you thought I forgot!” That was my desk, my $4.00 rose and my handwriting. Yes, I bought my own. I did last year and will again next year. Big deal. My husband doesn’t do flowers. So what? I just wanted flowers on my desk. Ladies, if you are feeling glum, because you were flowerless in the public arena, take control, stand tall next year at the floral desk and shout, “ONE ROSE, PLEASE. IT’S FOR ME!” Sometimes we need to complete our own darn selves. Besides that, the algorithm proved that we are in the 90th percentile. So there’s that. The bottom line?

“Teach your children well”.  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

They’ll thank you one day.