Tuesday, July 6, 2021

IWSG: Heavenly Mom Strikes Again


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                               Heavenly Mom Strikes Again

About four years ago, two smart and sexy grandmas decided to fix up their grandchildren. Last spring, in the midst of Covid, the efforts of my mom and her dear friend were finally rewarded in an engagement. Though we're deeply saddened Mom won't physically be with us in November when our oldest son will marry the girl of his dreams, her spirit continues to move in mysterious ways.

Contrary to most normal mothers of the groom, my biggest challenge in preparation for the wedding has been finding a dress. I haven't even worn a dress or skirt, since our younger son's Bar Mitzvah 17 years ago. My go-to attire for special events in anywhere from 20 to 90 degree weather has been a dressy blazer and pants. Not only is this pantsuit perfectly paired with practical shoes, but it's  forgiving of figure flaws.

Nevertheless, I decided to leave my comfort zone for this momentous occasion by exploring the world of formal dress shopping. After several failed online attempts, I was shocked to find that even the racks in the downtown department stores were sparse.. A sales associate explained that manufacturers cut down on their merchandise, as they anticipated a huge decline in formal events due to Covid. 

I felt hopeful when I found a lovely long lace gown at a local dress shop. But it needed a higher neckline and long sleeves to cover the egg shaped fistula on my arm from past dialysis treatments. 

Since the owner was out of town, I called her a few days later to discuss the price of the alterations. Then she contacted the dress designer, and got back to me right away. It seemed like a fairly reasonable price, but I wanted another opinion on the dress. So my best friend graciously offered to meet me at the dress shop.

When we introduced ourselves to the owner, I never thought we'd become intimately acquainted. She barged into the fitting room  while I was trying on the dress, and adamantly ignored my objections by stating, "That's what we do here." 

This brought back memories of my first bra fitting, followed by the fifth grade class pushing me into the girls bathroom for a closer look under my see-thru peasant blouse. I think several of the boys lined up too, and there was some grabbing involved,  but the teacher didn't seem to mind. Of course, I really wasn't ready for a bra at 10. This was confirmed the following summer when I was wearing a t-shirt at the pool, and the waitress said, "Your lunch order's ready, young man."

Meanwhile, back at the dress shop…I was relieved when my dear friend also liked the dress on me. The next step was for the owner to have the designer send me some sketches of how the dress would look with long sleeves and a higher neckline.

Before the sketches were sent, the owner said she’d contact the designer to find out the price. Though I tried reminding her that she had already quoted me a price, she adamantly denied it, and reiterated the tremendous amount of work it would take to design a custom fitted dress in two to three months. 

I soon realized there was no point in continuing to reason with her, because the owner was clearly trying to pull a fast one on me. I played along knowing full well she was going to hike up the price, while I continued to look for another dress on the down low.

Just months before the big event, the Dress Nazi finally got back to me. When I heard the price was more than double her original quote, I began to wonder what else she was lying about. Would there be other hidden fees and more importantly would the dress even be ready in time for the wedding?

 It was time to call in The Fixer. Though I had lost touch with my dear, stylish childhood friend, he always had great instincts and never folded under pressure. No, he didn't offer to rub out the Dress Nazi, but I'll always be grateful for what he did instead.

I recognized the name of the seasoned downtown dress designer, because my fabulous future daughter-in-law found her lovely wedding gown there.  However, it wasn't until The Fixer explained that the designer previously had a dress shop in the suburbs, that I remembered my mom singing her praises. But I drew a blank on the details.

Coincidentally, my best friend, The Fixer, and I all grew up on the same street, and the three of us were off to see The Dress Wizard. I found a dress immediately. and the designer had excellent ideas about raising the neckline and adding long sleeves. She also accompanied me into the fitting room, but in a much kinder and gentler way.

Even the pattern designer who took my measurements seemed to have been skilled in psychiatric training, as I stood in my bloomers pleading, "Do you mind doing this blindfolded?" 

Memories flashed before my eyes like the time my late doctor introduced me to a nurse by saying, "She's not fat, it's her liver."

Fortunately, my friends were in agreement that this dress was "the one," and my husband also signed off on the text photo. Then The Fixer suggested I wear one of my mom's classic brooches to complement the dress, so I could hold her close to my heart at the wedding. Just thinking about it still moves me to tears.

Then it hit me. I showed the delightful designer a photo of the dress Mom wore to my wedding 34 years ago. Without skipping a beat, she remembered designing the one of a kind Oscar worthy creation for my beautiful mom. If there were ever a sign that I chose the right dress, this was it.


                     (with my brother, grandma, and mom in June 1987)

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

IWSG: Meddling Mothers & Disappointing Daughters


 It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand. 

As Mother's Day is fast approaching, I hope many families will be able to gather together for safe celebrations this year. In the meantime, I thought I'd re-post this game show parody.

 Meddling Mothers and Disappointing Daughters

Host: It's time to play Meddling Mothers and Disappointing Daughters, the only game show where mothers and daughters try to get along to win prizes that the mothers will never be able to operate in the first place. Let's meet the contestants...(He notices that one mother is still trying to climb up into her chair)  Do you need some help Dorothy?

Dorothy: No, I'm fine thank you.

Dorothy's daughter: Just grab my hand, and let me give you a boost.

Dorothy: I said I don't need any help. STOP RUSHING ME!

Host: Okay, let's move on to Gladys and her daughter Gretchen. How many times do you call your mother a day?

Gretchen: Once. 

Host: And you Felicia?

Felicia: I call my mother once a week.

(A loud siren sounds)

Host: Where's Dorothy?

Dorothy's daughter:  She fell down and her Life Alert alarm went off.   

 (The paramedics lift Dorothy into her seat)

Dorothy's daughter: I call my mother six times a day. She hangs up on me, and says, "It's never enough."

(The bell sounds ding ding ding)

Host: You are correct. The answer is, "Never enough." You just won a case of prune juice. You must be very proud of your daughter Dorothy!

Dorothy: Did you see how nice those paramedics were? Why couldn't you have married someone like that?  

Host: All right then. Now we'll ask the mothers a question. Gladys when is the last time you said something nice to your daughter?

Gladys: Don't we get a lunch break?

Host: It's only been five minutes. We'll have snacks after the show.

Gladys: But this is when I eat lunch.

Gretchen: Here Mom, I brought you a sandwich. (takes one out of her purse)

Gladys: It's on rye bread. I like a nice roll. I can't eat this. What's wrong with you?

Fanny: I'll take it. I'm starving. (Looks at her own daughter Felicia) Why don't you ever make me lunch?

Host: Fanny, when is the last time you said something nice to your daughter?

Fanny: That's easy. As we were driving over, I told my daughter that her dress was very pretty...

Host: Well, that is nice.

Fanny: And I'm sure that if she lost ten pounds it would actually fit her.

Host: Maybe we should just throw out that question. Dorothy, when was the last time your daughter took you to the doctor?

Dorothy: You know falling down really makes a person thirsty. How come no one offered me a drink or a sandwich?

Host: If you answer the question, I'll get you both.

Dorothy: Okay, yes please.

Host: Yes please what?

Dorothy: I would like both a drink and a sandwich. Soup would be nice too, but I don't want to be a bother.

(Gladys is dashing across the stage with her walker. Her daughter is jogging behind her)

Host: Where are you going?

Gladys: I just remembered I think I forgot to turn off the stove.

Host: Can you have someone else check on it?

Gretchen: It's my stove, and I just got a text that the fire department is heading over to my house.

Gladys: Are we stopping for lunch first, 'cause I still haven't eaten?

Host: Good luck ladies. Be sure to tell us your new address, so we can send you a lifetime supply of incontinence products.

Dorothy: Continents? I can name the continents! There's Asia, Africa.....

Host: Well, that's all the time we have for today. Thanks for playing Meddling Mothers and Disappointing Daughters. (The daughters storm off stage) Aren't you forgetting something? Don't leave me alone with your mothers. Come back!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

IWSG: Psst...Looking For A COVID Vaccine?


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

             Psst...Looking For A COVID Vaccine?

It was almost midnight when the text came through. My friend had just made an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine and proceeded to share the details, so I could do the same. The first step was changing her iPhone general setting to a city in  Australia. As if reading my mind she added, "That's probably not the 'kosher' way to do this."

Though my friend is only 61 and has no pre-existing medical conditions, she embellished being an essential worker and has already received her first dose of the vaccine. She encouraged me to join her, but I politely declined.

Another friend and her husband who are both over 65 got frustrated waiting for the vaccine, so they obtained it by driving to a pharmacy in a crime-ridden neighborhood. Their registration method involved signing in on the website at precisely 12:01 a.m. and changing their zip code to increase their chances of finding a location. To complete the process, the retired couple both falsely indicated they were healthcare personnel.

 Needless to say, I was pleased when my age appropriate husband decided to wait to register until he was alerted of openings from our hospital. He received his first dose two weeks ago.

People of all ages without pre-existing conditions who worked from the comfort of their own homes have also found ways to get the COVID vaccine, and some were willing to pay $200 for it.

Despite this me-first mentality, there are still good people out there who inspire us to do better. One random act of kindness involved my former classmate who struck up a conversation about the vaccine with an elderly woman at a pharmacy.

When the elderly woman explained that her first dose was scheduled in a few days, but she had no means of transportation, my former classmate generously offered to drive her to the appointment. The pair became fast friends, and  the elderly woman has even been giving her art lessons. 

But the most inspirational story comes from Dolly Parton who donated $1 million dollars to Moderna for COVID-19 vaccine research. The 75 year-old country music star and philanthropist graciously insisted on waiting her turn for the vaccine, and finally received her first dose on March 2nd.

Parton explained her decision to wait in a February article in The Associated Press, "I don't want to look like I'm jumping the line, just because I donated money. I'm funny that way." 

We can all learn from Dolly Parton's extreme generosity and selflessness to get us through these tumultuous times. And of course, her wise words of encouragement have never rung truer:

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

IWSG: The Instant Gratification Sexagenarian


It's time for the first 2021 edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support Group. Happy New Year to all! Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.  

January 6 optional question - Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books?

Since the Covid outbreak, I've had more free time than ever; yet, I've become even less patient. For example, choosing a book and actually reading it from cover to cover has become more of a rarity. 

If the story doesn't reel me in right away, I throw it overboard in favor of binge watching a star-studded mini series on TV. 

Does my intense desire for instant gratification mean that I'm turning into a millennial disguised in Golden Girl clothing with a beauty shop hairdo?

Is it unreasonable for someone who takes over an hour to complete her nightly brushing and flossing ritual to want to feel some emotion for one of the main characters by the end of the first chapter? Indifference is not our friend.

I'd rather wonder what makes this woman so atrocious, or is this guy really as innocent as he seems, then when is this chapter going to end? And with my new gnat-like attention span, long chapters are my kryptonite. 

There's something satisfying about finishing a chapter at bedtime, and looking forward to delving into a new chapter with endless possibilities the following day. 

Though writers often spend years researching, writing and editing their manuscripts, many readers benefit in even more ways than they realize. The chance to settle in with a good book, is one of the best means of escape particularly during the pandemic, and the IWSG has many of you to thank for that.

I appreciate having the opportunity to share my two cents which is practically worthless, as the penny will soon be obsolete. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

IWSG: Writing Therapy


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

November Optional Question: Albert Camus once said, "The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself." Flannery O'Connor said, "I write to discover what I know." Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

I finally gathered up the courage to start writing in 2011 when our boys were off at college and law school. What began as a blog to share humorous stories about my life as an empty nester, became a scrapbook of wonderful family memories, and opened doors to becoming a journalist.

Soon the focus of the empty nest changed when my beautiful rebellious mom reluctantly moved into an assisted living facility. Her home of 46 years had multi-levels, so it was too difficult for her to navigate the stairs in a walker. Though we toured several pretty places, my young, hip septuagenarian mom had the same complaint, "There are too many old people here." 

Mom became the star of so many of my stories that she told me, " You're lucky I'm your mother; otherwise, I'd sue you for stealing all my best lines."

Writing about my mom was also therapeutic for me. Instead of pulling my hair out from her many falls and hospitalizations which later led to her inevitable move into a nursing home, we managed to always find the humor in every situation. And she took great joy in reading the comments from her many dedicated fans. I couldn't possibly have asked for a better muse, and nearly two years later, I still miss my mom dearly.

In 2015, I began writing for a daily local news website which featured a weekend print edition. I always wanted to write professionally, and believe the experience I gained through blogging and the IWSG, led to helping me achieve this goal. 

Though I learned a great deal about local schools and city news, I especially enjoyed writing human interest stories. Whether interviewing individuals  from 12 to 100, I tried to treat each story as a personal gift. 

One of my favorite interviews was a darling couple about to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary. When asked the secret of a successful marriage, the charming husband replied in two words, "Yes, dear." 

His wife had a wonderful sense of humor too, and they couldn't have been more appreciative. When I dropped off extra print copies of their newspaper article, she told me about all the positive feedback they received from the beauty shop, grocery store and even the gas station.

 Because they were "instant celebrities," they were now being approached by neighbors who never spoke to them before. She even joked about moving, as the women were getting a little too friendly with her 97-year-old husband. 

Then she took me aside and expressed how much my interview meant to them, since most of their family lived out of state, and many of their friends had passed away. Their humorous love story made her feel young again. I couldn't help but tear up, as we hugged and said our goodbyes.

Some of my other news stories were about Holocaust survivors, shelters for  abused women and children, and many health issues from preventing injuries to overcoming debilitating illnesses. I'll always be grateful to my encouraging editor who patiently guided me along the way.

My goal was to write news stories that were both informative and entertaining when possible. Though my blog stories have often missed the mark on both counts, I hope to at least provide a distraction during these turbulent times.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

IWSG: A Frightful Visit To The ER


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                        A Frightful Visit To The ER

It all began just days after my husband's successful knee replacement surgery. While he was racing around on his walker, I felt like I had just gotten off of a horse

Though I hated to bother my out-of-state kidney transplant team on Labor Day weekend, I feared without a medication adjustment, I wouldn't be able to continue to care for my strong and selfless hubby. 

After describing my symptoms, the transplant nurse urged me to head over to the emergency room. 

I told her that I couldn't possibly leave my husband unattended shortly after his surgery, and there was no way of knowing how long the wait would be in the ER. But the nurse apologetically explained that she couldn't prescribe anything without examining me, and didn't want to take any chances since my immune system had already been compromised from a serious intestinal infection last June.

Fortunately, both my considerate brother and devoted son graciously offered to hubby-sit while I drove myself to the ER. Thank goodness for cell phones, as I texted with friends to help pass the time. 

I knew it would be a long wait, but the staff would not let me leave the building to walk around outside. So I did laps inside the hospital until I got reprimanded for walking a short distance from the crowded ER to the empty lobby.

Three hours later, I was placed into an examining room. It took longer for me to change into my hospital gown than it did for the doctor to provide a humiliating diagnosis. 

He tried to ease my embarrassment by explaining that this painful condition resulted from having a compromised immune system along with being a complete nervous wreck. Well, he was two for two, but I couldn't help thinking he was being a bit rash.

Though I attempted to assure the doctor that I like Princess Di was a "woman with a history, but not a past," he quickly left to call my transplant doctor to discuss treatment. 

While I was awaiting the doctor's return, I called Hubby to fill him in, but no one answered. Surely, the poor boy was worried sick about me, so I called my brother to find out what was going on. 

My brother said my husband didn't bring his phone with him on their walk. This was the farthest he had walked since his surgery. 

Apparently while I was on the verge of being branded with the Scarlet Letter, my husband was holding court on a bench outside our apartment building, as some of the neighbors stopped to admire his new knee along with his sheer bravery. I could hear him laughing in the background; clearly having the time of his life.

After waiting almost another hour, the ER doctor returned to announce there was nothing they could do for now, but the pain would subside on its own in a few days. While I was doing the walk of shame out of the ER, I could've sworn one of the technicians winked at me.

During the drive home, a dear friend called to see how I was doing. I told her that it was all a terribly humiliating waste of time, but she didn't seem to believe me. I finally mustered the courage to say my disgraceful diagnosis out loud, as a train thunderously whistled down the tracks.

Then she blurted out, "What do you mean you have burps? And why would you have to change into a hospital gown for that?"

Later when I jokingly asked my husband for a list of partners he's had throughout our 33 year marriage, he replied, "Got a pen?"

Wishing everyone in blogland, a safe and happy Halloween!  In the meantime, please wear your masks in public, and don't forget to get a flu shot!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

ISWG: Slumming It In College



It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

I wrote this story in 2012 BC (Before Covid). Though I can't possibly imagine what parents and students are currently going through during the Coronavirus pandemic on college campuses across the country and around the world, I wish everyone a safe and healthy school year. 

In the meantime, here's a look at this neurotic mother's worst fears during what now seems like a much simpler time.


                              Slumming It In College


Last weekend our boys left for school. While our older son set off for his third year of law school, we drove our youngest for his third year of college. Both boys completed their physicals, were updated on all of their shots, had their teeth cleaned, hair combed and were good to go. Their clothes were washed and pressed, and they were starting off on the right foot. Unfortunately, our younger son's left foot got stuck in it when we arrived.

He was moving into an older house with three other boys, and I thought I was prepared for the worst. The rent was too good to be true, and I strongly recommended that he find another place last spring. My husband agreed, but he assured us that this was a great house conveniently located near the campus. It pains me to write these words, but we sort of trusted him.

It was raining when we pulled up to the wood shack, so the muddy walkway only added to the ambiance. We walked into the kitchen with a flickering ceiling fixture, and a sunken floor made of mismatched tiles with large gaps throughout. There were missing electrical outlet covers, missing sections of dry wall, and huge holes in the ceilings. All of these slight imperfections were found in the kitchen and living room. I was afraid of what else was lurking in this four bedroom house, and never made it further than our son's bedroom.

He lived in a fraternity house his sophomore year, and spent freshmen year in a dorm. I remember how we helped him set up his room each year, but this time I was afraid to even touch anything. He was offended when I said that his happy home resembled a crack house, and looked to his father for support. My husband calmly likened it to a slum. He tried comforting me by reminding me how our older son almost lived in a converted garage when he was an undergraduate. To this day, we're not sure if we talked him out of it, or if he was just relieved to get a better offer.

After the screaming subsided, my son told me that I was a snob. He went on to say that this house wasn't good enough for me. I told him that this house wasn't good enough for any human being, and that he didn't need to be in a place that wasn't safe to live in. To accentuate my point, as our son's foot gently brushed the top of the stairway, we watched the metal threshold come tumbling down.

Another pleasant thought occurred to me. Because our son is the first one in the house to turn twenty-one, I was wondering if he would be held responsible if there were an accident. For example, if an underage girl is over-served, and stumbled over a large rat at a party in their basement, would our son be carted away? Our older son alerted me by text that the owner would be responsible. 

The next day, my husband and son went to talk to the landlord. His office said that they would be happy to make any repairs and even offered to replace the dilapidated kitchen floor. They claimed that the house had already been painted. My husband asked how they could've painted over areas with missing drywall. Of course they blamed this on the hooligans who rented the house last year. 

When we said our goodbyes, my son smiled and assured me that he would be okay. He told me that I should stop being such a negative person, and focus on the positives.

 I hugged him tightly, as I did a mental count of all his fingers and toes. Then I took a deep breath and said, "Well, at least you're only about a block away from the hospital."