Like Mother, Like Daughter

By Leslie

I have been increasingly vexed by the billing practices (not to mention the reporting) of the Arizona Daily Star. But, I am, nonetheless, dedicated (or shall we say addicted?) to reading the daily paper – and on paper! This morning, after yet another frustrating telephone call with their Customer (Dis-)Service, I became extremely agitated. My husband suggested that I call the Publisher, and so I did. What followed was based on sheer luck. As his secretary was out of the office, he returned the call! We had a marvelous conversation on a wide range of topics. I doubt that his mind is greatly changed, but I did give him some food for thought. And I, well I could almost, just about dance in place.

As I reviewed the morning’s events – buoyed for hours after the call – I reminisced about a similar chain of events that took place over 50 years ago! To make a very long story short, I applied for, and, to my surprise, won a NY State nursing scholarship while in college. When I excitedly informed my mother of my prize, she retorted, “Didn’t you always want to be like Albert Schweitzer or Tom Dooley – doctors?” I replied that you had to take a test, the MCATs, before medical school applications. That test was imminent and I had not even registered, much less studied for it. She instructed me to ascertain the “head” of the MCATs – and I did. She happened to call when his screening personnel were at lunch, and in her very unique and persuasive fashion, convinced him to allow my late registration. Every one of my mother’s friends in our apartment building chipped in for the sizable fee. And so I took the MCATs – and you all know the rest of the story. Off to the University of Chicago Medical School I went the following year.

As they say – “Like Mother, like Daughter!”

September 2017

Advertisements

Thoughts on Aging

By Kat

My dad often described feeling young inside despite being wrapped in an aging and ill body. His still youthful, open mind seemed unusual to me. I had seen many older folks who seemed always to be angry and willing to place the blame for that anger on others. Perhaps their bitterness and stubbornness was born of resentments never assuaged. They did not seem to understand that the power to accept and change their emotions rested solely inside themselves.

Yesterday I met a man in his nineties whose demeanor reminded me that happiness in our later years depends on our ability to maintain a young, open mind, and to allow the wisdom of a lifetime of experiences to infirm that mind. Though in pain, and often isolated, he displayed a ready smile, a soft voice, and projected happiness. I was impressed and inspired by this man’s joy in the face of adversity.

Though in spirit, I still see myself as capable of the physical feats of my past years, my body is incapable and unwilling. As often happens, yesterday I was forced to ask for help from someone physically more able than I. Each time this happens, I feel an unexpected blow to the person I have long thought myself to be. I aspire to be able to take this in stride and to be less apologetic, instead accepting help with the grace and wisdom of my years, despite the young person inside me struggling to escape.

At the end of a long, hot, difficult day, I returned home to glimpse a woman standing by my desk. She appeared to be experiencing some internal struggle, maybe pondering who she will be as she continues to age. I wondered who is that old woman in the mirror?

September 2017

Why?

By Sally

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of “finicky cats.” Well, I have proof! I have a bowl in the bathroom with water for the cats, half tap, half filtered. They run through the house to get to that bowl and drink.

So, I put a bowl in the kitchen, same water, different bowl. They tried it, then stopped drinking out of it.

After a couple of weeks of putting in clean water, same as in the bathroom, they still went to the bathroom to drink. OK, I changed the bowl in the kitchen, clean water, and once again they wouldn’t drink that water.

This went on for a few months. Even though I changed the bowl, they would sniff it, take a taste, and return to the good ole bathroom bowl.

Trying to figure out what to do next, I got a bowl very, very similar to the other one – same shape, size, color and texture – filled it with the same water, and waited.

Oh my gosh! They drank the water in the kitchen! When I noticed the water level had gone down in that bowl, I was surprised. So what was the difference? I wondered.

I’ve been told animals are color blind (except for bulls raging at red), but when I put down the bowl just like the other one, they drank out of it!

Well, I haven’t come to any conclusion on that yet, except maybe they just enjoyed running to the bathroom. I really don’t know, and maybe never will. They’re just finicky, I guess.

August 2017

This Was the Week that . . . Wasn’t

By Leslie

The week of August 13th started on the right foot. It was preceded by a lovely, bounteous rain which further enriched our land, and landscape. Sunday morning was perfect – well almost, except for fairly flat tires on my “chariot” (aka wheelchair) bed, which resisted my husband Bill’s efforts at inflation. That did not deter us and “miracle de dieu,” we went to Church . . . a very rare event.

Monday dawned, another day, and the start of weekdays crammed with activities – or so I thought. First call was from my haircutter whose family commitments caused her to postpone my scheduled haircut. Tuesday, our sort-of monthly cleaning person called – family illness prompted her rescheduling to the following week. Tuesday afternoon, my dear friend who was planning to drop by, injured her knee. Need I say more?

I will. This Friday my medical school friend (with advanced lung cancer) had been planning to fly to Tucson for a visit. Oops! She realized that her childhood friend from Hawaii was going to be visiting at that very same time. (Cancer has not slowed Betty Lou down too much!) Southwest Airlines obliged by changing her already purchased tickets for a date in September – and even granted her, the world’s supreme bargain hunter, a $50 refund!

Ah well – I’m just waiting for the call from . . . The Writers!?! Next . . .

August 2017

Stream of Consciousness

By Kat

Daybreak. Bright electric blue sky sliced by clean white rays rising from the still hidden golden orb. I cannot resist the crisp morning, fresh with sweet promise of accomplishments and adventures as yet unknown. Steam rises from my coffee as I contemplate beginnings, possibilities.

The beep, beep, beep of equipment moved into place by the palm trimmers. They’ve been cutting fronds for two days, dropping them from the sky, stacking them below. My morning view includes fifteen of these trees, stand impossibly tall and thin, sporting new haircuts, a few tightly-grouped fronds sprouting from their heads, reaching for the sky, lending them a naked look of perpetual surprise.

This morning highlights the perils of homeownership. Despite being on wheels, my home suffers the same raft of things – that go wrong – as any home. Today it’s the depletion of a battery which runs the 12-volt lights. Yet somehow, the refrigerator, which runs on 110, will not run without this battery, so I’m feeding my cooler ice every day. It’s the weekend. The likelihood of getting help is slim. Apparently my trickle-charger has been stolen from an unlocked storage bin. I’m feeling the slow creep of a full-blown overwhelm.

Recognizing that there are no immediate solutions, I get hold of my emotions and give them a good shake. When nothing can be done, there is nothing to do. Feels like the perfect time to visit the pool. Cool blue water refreshes body, mind and spirit. Meeting a friend there brings conversation, commiseration, and shared aaahs for the joy of submersion.

For awhile, a hefty, sixtyish man in a brimmed sun hat, noodle tucked under his arms, keeps up a running soliloquy by following us around the pool, trying a bit too hard to explain his belief in the equality of all humans, finally followed by his return to his own friends – and the immediate telling of a black joke.

We move from pool to hot tub, soothing sore muscles, and back to the poop, now free of revelers and proselytizers alike. As hot afternoon wears into balmy evening, my friend heads home and I venture into the clubhouse library in search of books to borrow. I come away with several, including David Gutterson’s “Snow Falling Cedars.” Relaxed and happy, I return to the pool for one last swim.

Floating on my back, looking up at the dark night sky. Against that dark backdrop, bright white, moon-illuminated, cotton candy clouds hang by invisible threads, creating the illusion that I can simply reach up and tough them, perhaps tear off a bit of fluff to melt in my mouth.

Back home, I scrounge up a dinner of items not requiring refrigeration, and retire to the bedroom, where the nightstand holds my only 110 lamp. Opening to the first chapter, I begin to read the beautifully written, ”Snow Falling on Cedars.”

September, 2017

Past the Age

By Sally

Hey! All you guys and gals over 65. Reach for the sky! Whatever you want to do (unless it is illegal) is in your pocket!

That’s right. You’ve earned your duty to life – family, employment, etc. You don’t need anyone’s approval to do what you would like (depending on your health, of course), but even without an excellent body or pocket book, there are things you can do without wondering, “What would my family or my friends think?”

Oh yeah, they might say, “At your age?” or “It’s too much for you to do.” Even if it’s only taking a ride to visit a friend in another state, or just to go on a sightseeing tour, or even get married again! So what if you’re 80 or 90, you still can enjoy life! No need to say, “Well, I’m too old to do that.” No you’re not!

Think of something you’ve always wanted to do, or somewhere you wanted to visit. I realize a lot of us are under a doctor’s care. But if all you’re doing is staying home, twiddling your thumbs, looking at the walls, it’s time to make a change. And there are times when change can be the best thing for you. So take your medicine with you, but enjoy what you have left.

 

And I speak now to family members. Just because you have a busy schedule, it doesn’t give you permission not to include your family members in some part of that routine – a routine we often get stuck in and don’t “think” we have any time for anything else – or anyone else.

When parents have children, they basically give their lives to them – dads work to supply all their needs, and moms make sure they are well cared for. You probably know the rest. But no matter how you feel towards your own parents, they are still a part of your past, present and future.

Okay, my lecture is over. All I want to say is – no matter how busy, how old, how sick – they are, there’s still room to show how you care for and love them. Take advantage of it. You’ll never regret it.

 

Back to the older generation. Yes, you’re spent your life working hard for your family. Now even though you’re “older,” it’s still your time to shine. If you’re in a care home, talk to your family and be a part of them, but not a ruler to them. What they do is their God given choice, and that goes for you too!

Take care and enjoy. Love to you.

August 2017

February 22nd

By Leslie

Do you recall who was born on February 22nd? Hard to remember now-a-says, especially for our children, who think that most major events and birthdays of important people occur on Mondays! To return to my original question, February 22nd is George Washington’s birthday, this past year “observed” on February 20th. Oh yes, February 22nd just happens to be my birthday, and I’m not changing its date to fit the day of the week . . . ‘though if I had my choice, I’d change it to Saturday or Sunday when my husband is not off volunteering someplace else. But then I never loved celebrating my birthday – ‘twas too young (19 years on entrance) in medical school – and now to ancient, perhaps, at least in body.

As a child in New York it was a great benefit to be born the same day at “the Father of our Country.” We had the day off from school. Likewise, Lincoln’s February 12th birthday was another legal holiday, both in NY and in Illinois, whence I attended medical school. Though truth be told, there were NO holidays in Medical School.

So, do we really need “President’s day” on a Monday in February? If you are not a killjoy, the answer is yes. Who, especially among the working public and school-age children, wouldn’t want a 3-day weekend/holiday? But how about just learning or teaching shoes birthdays we really are celebrating when we celebrate “President’s Day”? . . . and I don’t include mine.

August 2017