Tuesday, September 4, 2018

IWSG: Mom Talks About...SEX


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

                                                    Mom Talks About...SEX

According to a recent Newsweek.com article, a young married Chinese couple, ages 24 and 26 were trying to conceive for four years, and it wasn't until they visited an obstetrician that they discovered they were literally doing it backwards.

In other words, you know how some wives say their husbands are a pain in the...? Well this young woman was not exaggerating.

The article explained that the reason for the couple's confusion was that China considers sex-education classes in schools "taboo."

Shortly after the doctor sent the couple home with a sex-education handbook, the wife became pregnant. The happy couple was so grateful that they gave the doctor a live hen and 100 eggs.

Sadly, most of my fifth grade sex-education class remains a blur. I just remember while most of the boys were snickering, the graphics scared me into thinking - I will never ever do that with anyone!

Of course my mom was thrilled to hear that, though she reassured me, "You'll feel differently when you're married."

Fast forward 16 years to a month before my wedding. My mom sat me down and in between drags of her Virginia Slims cigarette, she asked me in all seriousness, "Do you have any questions about the wedding night?"

Keep in mind that I was 26 and had been engaged for almost a year. Although I didn't save my handbook, I wasn't going to take a back seat to anyone and my mission was front and center.

So I confidently told my mom that I did not need her help in that department. Then I asked her what outfit to wear to work the next day and if she had time to iron it for me.

My mom sat in a daze until the strangest look came over her face. It was like a huge boulder had been lifted from her shoulders. Then she smiled, but it wasn't her usual smile.

I considered driving her to the hospital, but I really needed my dress ironed.

Words were never spoken, but Mom embraced me in a loving hug.

Did this mean she was finally proud of me?

The news that I was closer to Miss Kitty than "The Flying Nun" made my mom prouder than when I wrote a story about her in second grade entitled: "My Mom's My Best Friend."

When I recently reminded my mom of these events, I eagerly awaited her response.

I said, "When you were trying to give me advice about our wedding night, were you worried that I was going to screw that up too and the lovely wedding you planned would never come to fruition?"

She smiled and said, "Something like that." 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IWSG: The Writing's on the Card


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

                                            The Writing's on the Card

While others were planning outings to 4th of July parades and fireworks, the Chicago meteorologists were forecasting rain. But I was not anticipating gloom and doom, as I was reflecting on our recent 31st wedding anniversary celebration which all began with a card.

When we first got married our anniversary meant a trip to the jewelry store - now it's a trip to Walgreens. 

My husband woke me that morning with a kiss and a plastic bag filled with two- for-one vitamins and a card. He grinned and handed me the card, as he anxiously awaited my response.

It was a plain brown and gold card that looked like it should have had Hillmark or some generic name other than Hallmark written on the back. 

But he especially liked the line, "You've seen me at my best, my worst & first thing in the morning." He gazed lovingly, as the blinding sunlight shone through our curtains framing my bedhead and raccoon eyes. 

When I asked him if he noticed anything unusual about the card, he gave it a once over and said no. 

That was strange, because in the left hand corner of the cover the card clearly stated: "FOR MY HUSBAND."

If you can't tell who's who in this photo then I'm really in trouble.

Was my husband trying to tell me something?

Were there signs that I didn't recognize? For example, a few weeks ago we went shopping and my husband picked out a blue plaid shirt for me.

Me: Are you sure I don't look like a farmer?

Hubby: No, I like it!

After I calmly pointed out what the card said, he quickly crossed out HUSBAND and wrote WIFE next to it. He apologized and said he honestly didn't see it.

Truth be told, my husband doesn't have any vision in his left eye, but he's an avid reader and this was printed in large letters.

A few days later, our kids brought dinner over for a belated anniversary celebration. Without saying a word, I handed the card over to each son separately. I was shocked when neither one of them burst out laughing.

Apparently, both boys held the card with their hand covering the left-hand corner where "FOR MY HUSBAND" was printed vertically, so they also failed to see who the card was meant for.

This made my husband feel much better, though it only made me feel worse.

Of course some of us had a good laugh afterward.

The next day I came home to find that my husband cleaned out my clogged bathroom sink and vacuumed the rugs.

Now he can call me whatever he likes.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

IWSG: The Motherhood of The Traveling Pants


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

                                        The Motherhood of The Traveling Pants


When my mom moved into a nursing home a few years ago, I decided that I wasn't going to take any chances. After many falls, she had been in and out of nursing homes for rehab throughout the years and I had noticed that some of her clothes went missing. So every week I brought her clothes home to wash.

Then the calls started coming.

Mom: I have no pants.

Me: What do you mean you have no pants?

Mom: There are no pants in my closet.

Me: How can your pants be missing? They couldn't get mixed up in everyone else's  laundry, because I wash them myself.

Mom: If you don't believe me come and see for yourself. I'm hanging up now, because I have to get ready for dinner.

Me: But Mom it's only 3 p.m.

This happened several times and I searched high and low in her room, but couldn't find any sign of her missing pants. So I went to her favorite department store that she retired from years ago, with her cherished employee discount card in hand, to buy her new pants. 

But then the new pants started to disappear.

At one point I suggested that my brother install a camera in her closet to see who was taking her pants, but her favorite child was too busy bringing her groceries, taking her to bingo, rearranging her room and doting on her other needs.

It really cheered me up when my mom introduced me to a resident's daughter who thought my brother was an only child.

Then one day, as I was hanging up my mom's wash, I noticed a pair of pants that I had never seen before. I checked the label and they were a women's 'tall.'

In my mom's prime she was a statuesque five foot five, so I knew trouble was afoot.

When I asked my mom, she explained that one of the staff gave them to her after she told them that her pants kept disappearing.

Me: So she stole an old pair of pants from someone else and gave them to you to replace a nice new pair of pants that I bought you? 

Mom: Well I needed black pants and they fit when I'm sitting down. I have no problem with that.

Suddenly, I had an urge to watch Robin Hood.

Recently, my mom's favorite department store announced that it was going out of business. The store holds many special memories for all of us. Though my mom worked in women's better sportswear, she knew every inch of the store and always found our family the most beautiful clothes for every occasion.

When we got married, she bought us lovely china that we still use, as well as other household items. She even helped us pick out furniture that has lasted for years.

But when I offered to take her to the store before it closes, she told me that she has a new favorite store with a great selection and even better deals.

Then she said to take a look inside her closet where there was a nice selection of pants that I hadn't seen before in several different colors.

I couldn't imagine where she had possibly gone shopping without me.

Then she explained that she got them just an elevator ride away at the Lost & Found.

When my resourceful mom told the woman who worked there that many of her pants went missing, she gave her the pick of the litter. She now has some great spring/summer jeans and casual pants.

Me: But what if you're wearing other people's pants who still need them?

Mom: Then they should have checked with the Lost & Found.

Me: So an eye for an eye?

Mom: More like pants for pants. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

IWSG: The Wrong Number


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

The following story is a blast from the past that I wrote in April of 2012. 

                                        The Wrong Number

Once upon a time before there was Caller ID, a young man named Stuart would call our house and ask to speak to Bonnie. I would tell him that there was no one here by that name, say goodbye and hang up. A week later he called again and we had the same conversation.

My mom overheard us talking and said, "Would it kill you to be Bonnie?"

I was 23-years-old, still living at home, and on the verge of becoming an old maid.

"No, I'm not gonna pretend to be someone else. We don't even know anything about this guy except that his name is Stuart, and he doesn't know how to dial a phone.

To which my mom replied, "Well, he seems nice."

This was a period in my life when I was working at a job that I loved, but I was in between boyfriends; while my mother and grandmother both had steady beaus of their own. Hence, my grandma hatched her own plan.

My grandma decided that she was going to fix me up with her friend's grandson, after discussing it with his grandmother on the bus. She had never met the grandson, and barely knew the grandmother, but what did I have to lose?

I thanked her and told her that I wasn't interested, but that didn't stop her from handing out my phone number.
He called a few days later, and we laughed about how funny the situation was. The fact that our grandmothers were desperately trying to fix us up, was hard not to find amusing, Since our conversation went so well, we agreed to go out on a date.

I remember that we went to see the movie "This Is Spinal Tap," and out for a nice dinner afterward. It was a fun evening, but we parted friends. We fulfilled our promises to our grandmothers, who may have sat on opposite ends of the bus from that point on and nothing more. 

My mom waited up for me to find out how our date went. I told her that we had a good time, but that I wasn't interested in going out with him again. Then she said that she had a feeling we weren't going to hit it off, but not to worry.

Before I could question why Mom announced, "Stuart called again, and I told him my Bonnie would call him back tomorrow."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

IWSG: Is Mom Turning into Florence Nightingale?


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


After spending the day visiting my mom at the nursing home, one of my 20-something sons asked me, "Was Nana always so mean?"

I thought carefully before answering and decided to ask him to explain.

He said that while he was pushing my mom in the wheelchair, she kept yelling, "Faster, faster," to lose a 90-something neighbor named Nadine who was gaining speed while pushing her own wheelchair.

In all fairness, Mom had tried on several occasions to be friendly to Nadine and though Nadine never had trouble recognizing the other patients on her floor, for some reason she couldn't seem to remember who my mom was and couldn't hear anything she said.

A few weeks later, my brother came to visit Mom after dinner and there was no sign of her. He asked the nurses and combed the floor, but it was as if she had vanished without a trace. He was particularly concerned, because it was BINGO night and she had been on a roll winning two dollars in two weeks.

After my brother turned down several nonagenarians' invitations to see their etchings, our mom finally appeared outside her room.  He hugged her in relief, as she explained her whereabouts.

Using her super hearing powers and ability to read the room, my mom sensed trouble in the dining room after dinner. Apparently a patient had asked a nurse's aid for a banana and her request was not met. Though Mom had never met the patient, she could not sit back and allow her to be ignored.

She remembered that she had an emergency banana in her room, and sought out to find the woman.

On her journey, Mom never let her one good foot and minimal upper body strength deter her from fulfilling this stranger's dream as she inched down the hallway.

Eventually, a nurse helped guide her over to the patient's room. By this time she had forgotten all about the banana and asked my mom to leave.

On her way back, my mom realized that she had created quite a stir and all of the nurses had been talking about her. Mom took it in stride and held her head high.

When she returned to her room and found my brother in tears, she realized that she didn't have an emergency banana after all.

Later when my brother relayed the story, I told Mom that the patient might have been on a low potassium diet which either restricted bananas or limited them.

"But what if she was having a leg cramp? The potassium in bananas helps with leg cramps. I couldn't just sit back and let her suffer."

My mom's now known as the Florence Nightingale of the 7th floor. Well, only a few people know about it, as most of them can't hear.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

IWSG: Diving Into Dialysis


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

My brother took this photo during one of his frequent visits to dialysis.

January got off to an unexpected start, as I began undergoing dialysis due to a hereditary condition known as polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Though I inherited the disease from my dad, and my brother underwent a kidney transplant about 13 years ago, I was surprised when my doctor informed me that my kidney function had decreased to 7%.

The good news is that the dialysis center is less than five minutes from home, and the nurses have been wonderful. The bad news is that it could take a few years to receive a matching kidney for a transplant in Illinois and the same is true for nearby Wisconsin.

A friend told me a CBS News story about a dad who went to Disney World wearing a T-shirt announcing that he had five kids and needed a kidney transplant. His blood type and cell phone number were also imprinted on his T-shirt. 

He met a man at the theme park who offered to take a photo of him to post on his Facebook page. The photo went viral, and the dad received thousands of responses. Months later, the dad received a new kidney and a friend for life.

 I told my friend that I was thrilled for the dad of five, but I'd prefer to have a dead donor.

Concerned Friend: Well if I live one knocked on your door and offered you something workable, would you turn it down?

Me: That's a tough one. How would I ever be able to repay the person and what if he/she had complications from the surgery? I'd feel horrible for him/her and their family. So I'd rather not be in that position.

Concerned Friend: Sometimes people do things without wanting anything in return. I'm not saying that I'm one of them, but that happens.

I decided to nip this conversation in the bud.

Me: The truth is, I just don't want to have to be nice to anyone.

For now, we've agreed to disagree and my friend still hasn't given up on me.

 I'm  grateful that my family has been so supportive. My older son has been calling hospitals to find out about donor lists and researching websites, and my younger son has made the ultimate sacrifice by finally friending me on Facebook.

Additionally, my husband/caregiver has been constantly by my side driving me to appointments,  talking to doctors and bringing me my favorite foods. Oh, and he even offered to donate a kidney, but then I'd never be able to win an argument.

My treatments are three hours, (a total of four hours start to end), three days a week, and after a few more months I might reconsider my options.

In the meantime, I take comfort in knowing that I don't have to worry about being too nice.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IWSG: The Defiant One


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

The following is a repost from May 2014 when my mischievous Mom was in rare form.

(The Defiant One) 
Before we boarded our flight home from Israel, we made a quick stop at the duty-free shop at Ben Gurion Airport. We picked up some Ahava Lotion for my mom. She likes the special formula of Dead Sea minerals, and the convenient travel size tubes. When I told my husband that we needed to get a few extra he said, "She probably uses them like cartons of cigarettes in the joint." Then we rushed to catch our flight.

After our son graduated, I prepared myself for the worst. Though I knew he would be eating better at home, anything could happen once he stepped out of our house. All it took was a matter of minutes for him to get lost, robbed, or kidnapped by a gang of raccoons.

It didn't matter that he lived on his own for four years at college, now he was on my turf, and I felt entirely helpless. I've heard many stories about sneaky twenty-something kids who've gotten into all kinds of trouble. Little did I know, that he wasn't the one I needed to worry about.

I usually talk to my mom on the phone at least twice a day. This rule still applies on days that we spend together. The other night, I reminded my mom that I had an early dental appointment in the morning, and that I would talk to her afterward. She wished me luck, and said that she also had to get up early. When I asked where she was going at the crack of dawn, she replied, "Downstairs."

This struck me odd, as she usually doesn't go to early morning activities at her retirement home, but she said goodnight before I could get anymore information.

The following day I tried calling my mom, but there was no answer. She finally called me back later in the afternoon. I asked her if she was feeling okay, and she said that she was fine. Then I asked  if she went to the doctor. She said, "No, why? What have you heard? Who told you?"

I told her that her story didn't make any sense, and if she was only downstairs then she would've returned my call earlier. Then I asked what was wrong with her, and why she had to keep it a secret. She gave me her standard line, "I didn't want to worry you."

I dove deeper by asking how she got to her appointment. "My nurse took me."

She has a visiting nurse that is set up through her insurance. I didn't realize they were that close. I asked why she asked the nurse to drive her, when I could've taken her. My mom said that her nurse doesn't drive, so her husband took her to the hospital.

My Novocain was beginning to wear off, but I tried to remain calm.

"So her husband drove you?"

"No, he met us at the hospital. Her boss drove me."

"Let me get this straight. So the nurse, her boss at the agency, and the nurse's husband were all at the doctor's office with you, because you were suffering from chronic constipation? It was okay to bother all of them, but you didn't want to bother your own daughter?"

"That's right."

"Did anyone in the group bring you a box lunch?"

"No, but no one gave me any lip either."

"I'm sure your doctor referred you to a gastroenterologist. Did you make an appointment?"

"No, I need to see a spine specialist first."

"Makes perfect sense. I'm sure he'll do wonders for your constipation. And I suppose you gave your nurse a nice present for taking you."

"As a matter of fact, I did."

"The Ahava Lotion?"

"It's the least I could do."