Wednesday, January 2, 2019

IWSG: In Appreciation of Mom



It's time for the first 2019 edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support Group Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                                            In Appreciation of Mom


As I sat by my mom's bedside, I told her how she helped me in ways she hadn't realized.  I explained that it wasn't until I started writing about her humorous adventures that I developed a small but loyal following of bloggers which led to giving me the confidence to put together the anthology, Old Broads Waxing Poetic with Susan Flett Swiderski and a host of gifted writers/poets.

A few years later, I accumulated enough diverse stories to include in a modest portfolio, thus enabling me to get hired as a reporter for a local news website and newspaper - my dream job. But none of this would've been possible without my mom's help.

After I thanked her, Mom replied, "And in all that time I was never a burden."

And my mom kept her word. Even after she endured endless pain from spinal fusion surgery about 10 years ago, I was the cause of my mom's only complaint.

She lived in the multi-level home that my brother and I grew up in, while our home had a first floor bedroom and bathroom, So I insisted that she move in with us for almost a year. But my mom wanted to live on the edge instead of being in my overprotective custody.

She said, "I can't live with you, because you're too nervous that I'll fall every minute. How am I supposed to have any fun?" Mom was about 74 at the time.

Mom's health took a turn for the worse a few months ago. Some of her symptoms included: pneumonia, low hemoglobin which required a blood transfusion, and loss of appetite. She also has Parkinson's Disease.

She was admitted to the hospital on November 18th, but discharged after a few days against our wishes. Though at first she seemed to be doing better, on the day before Thanksgiving she was very weak and didn't recognize my brother. She also was barely eating.

My brother pleaded with the head hospitalist, head nurse and head of patient care to let her stay in the hospital and have more tests to find out why her health wasn't improving, but they insisted on discharging her.

Unfortunately, these strangers who had never met my mom before told him that she had dementia and there was nothing more that they could do for her. He tried to explain that she had all of her faculties before she had taken ill, but they wouldn't listen.

Nine days later  my brother and I agreed to have Mom readmitted to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a collapsed lung and stage 4 lung cancer. Apparently, the hospital hadn't done a CT scan during her prior visit.

She is now in hospice at the nursing home where she's resided for the last three years.Though my mom lost her ability to walk years ago, she never lost her  positive outlook. True to form, she is handling her recent prognosis with grace and dignity.

When I told her she doesn't have to be so brave, she explained that she's grateful to have lived a long life.

My brother and I have tried to spend as much time with our mom as possible. He has been a tremendous help to both of us. Though I tell him not to, he often visits me at the dialysis clinic before heading over to Mom's.

I'm also grateful to my husband and our boys. While my mom was in and out of the hospital, I never once had to ask our grown sons to visit her. They continue to see their beloved Nana frequently which is her greatest joy.

My mom has good days and bad days, but through it all she has never lost her sense of humor. Recently, when my brother asked her to tell me where she'd like to go, she thought for a minute and said, "To the mortician."

But she had talked about wanting to attend the Academy Awards. She always enjoyed the glitz and glamour and would've easily fit in during her heyday.

The other day, Mom noticed that my concealer wasn't blended in properly under my left eye and wanted to fix it. She couldn't believe that I didn't have an emergency supply of Q-tips with me, so she decided to make her own by attaching a cotton ball to a pen. So what if I risked getting poked in the eye, as it was more important to look good than to feel good.

This experience has definitely brought us all closer. My brother and I have spent many nights with our mom, reminiscing, singing her favorite songs and telling her how much we love her.

Growing up we fought about sitting next to our mom on the couch while watching our favorite TV shows. Ever the genius, my brother would always find ways to trick me into leaving the room, so he could steal my seat.

Now we politely take turns sitting next to our mom. Though on some days, Mom could barely speak above a whisper, she said she loves when we fuss over her.

On New Year's Eve, Mom's favorite nurse's aid announced she was going on vacation for a week.  We were all sad, because she's gone above and beyond for our mom and we think of her as a member of the family. Then she told me that my mom asked her to take care of me when she's gone.

In second grade we were asked to write about our best friend. While others were writing about their neighbors or classmates, I wrote about my mom.

I hope to continue writing about my courageous mom and all of her witticisms, Fortunately, she hasn't tried to throw me out of her room yet.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

IWSG: #MeToo at The Movies?

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.  

                     IWSG:  #MeToo at The Movies?

Many cinema classics are known for their romantic love scenes. Everyone remembers when the masculine Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) first kissed selfish Scarlett O'hara (Vivien Leigh) in Gone With The Wind, as well as the iconic scene where Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster) and army wife Karen Holmes (Deborah Kerr) were frolicking on a Oahu beach in From Here To Eternity.

But with everything surrounding the #MeToo movement, I wonder if screenwriters will take pause before the handsome leading man takes the lovely leading lady in his arms.

Below is an example of how a future love scene might go in keeping with recent happenings:

This scene takes place outside a New York brownstone apartment, as a young couple are giggling and running upstairs to seek shelter from the rain. Both the man and woman are dressed alike with short hair, black long sleeved t-shirts and black form-fitting pants, as they are equals in every way.

Woman: Would you like to come in for a drink?

Man: Yes, if it's not too much trouble.

They enter the apartment and he sits on the couch while she pours two glasses of wine in the kitchen. Then she brings the glasses into the living room.

Man: Oh, you already poured the drinks?

Woman: Yes, why?

Man: Well, how do I know that you didn't slip anything into mine?

Woman: (sarcastically) So that I could take advantage of you?

Man: Just kidding.

She chooses to overlook his peculiar remark and they toast to getting to know each other better.

After a few more drinks, they look into each other's eyes and move closer.

Man: Is it all right if I kiss you?

The woman leans in.

Man: I want to hear the words.

Woman: Yes, it's all right to kiss me.

They kiss awkwardly and the man jumps up. He pulls something out of his pocket and hands it to her.

She reads it and a strange look comes over her face. 

Woman: Is this some kind of a joke?

Man: No, it's a perfectly legit list of all of the things that we'll likely be doing tonight and hopefully tomorrow morning. Just initial all of the items front and back. Then sign and date at the bottom. Oh, and you also have to include a separate signature for item #103 that states you will not change your mind about consenting 30 years from now. You know, in case I make it big.

Woman: But you play the kazoo in the subway.

Man: Yeah, but I could get discovered any day now.

Woman: What's this part in the contract about size?

Man: Size doesn't matter and it should never matter or be discussed. Just date and initial that too. Which reminds me that as a safety measure, all cellular devices, cameras, and lights should be turned off throughout my stay.

Woman: I don't think you need to worry about that last part or any of this ridiculous contract, as I'm not going to sign anything.

Man: (points to his short and pudgy looking self) Well, then you're not going to have any of this.

Woman: GET OUT!

Man: Calm down. I'm not the enemy here. I did this for you.

Woman: What are you talking about? We just met at a bar across the street about an hour ago.

Man: Well, you're the first woman I've given the contract to. I had my friend who's studying pre-law draw it up on account of the #MeToo movement.

Woman: This has nothing to do with #MeToo.

Man: But, the President said men have to be more careful now. This protects us both from making any mistakes now or in the future.

Woman: The President says and does a lot of things that are just wrong. #MeToo is about women standing together to make sure that men don't take advantage of them in the workplace or anyplace else. The message is simple, "No means no."

Man: So I guess I'll just rip up the contract then.

Woman: Better yet, take it home, so you could shred it and recycle it. Bye bye now! (Before she  completely closes the door, he sticks his head back in.)

Man: Do you have any single friends?

End scene.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

IWSG: Oh Brother & Apology from a Bad Blogger


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.  

                            Oh Brother & Apology from a Bad Blogger

I am grateful to all of the supportive bloggers throughout the years and apologize for not doing a better job of returning the favor. Though I have been experiencing computer issues over the last few months, I have also been trying to adjust to my new role as a professional patient.

I finally took my son's advice to increase my chances of a getting a new kidney by going out of state. I'm currently on a kidney transplant waiting list for a hereditary condition known as Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). The waiting list in Illinois is estimated between five and seven years, so my husband drove me to a hospital in another nearby state for an evaluation.

We were both impressed with the transplant team's thoroughness. Before the visit I had to have several tests to rule out everything from heart disease and cancer to a special evaluation from my dentist. After the visit I had to follow up with more tests. 

I wanted to get everything over with, so last week I saw doctors Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and underwent dialysis treatments Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Hence, I became a professional patient. Fortunately, the tests all came back negative. 

My brother had a kidney transplant more than 13 years ago. After I began dialysis this year he has been working tirelessly talking to politicians, clergy and other local leaders to get the word out on the importance of becoming an organ donor. 

Many countries have "opt-out" policies where citizens are automatically organ donors and those who wish not to have to sign forms to opt-out. He has been on a mission to have this system incorporated in the U.S. but has been met with little support.

Many people are falsely under the impression that their religion forbids organ donation, the state will control their bodies, or an emergency room doctor will declare them prematurely dead in order to use their organs for a friend or family member. 

There's a shortage of organ donors and one donor can save up to eight lives. The need to educate and correct misinformation is vital to increasing the number of donors.

What I've found most therapeutic is the ability to laugh about my experiences. On long days of dialysis, my brother never fails to lift my spirits; although our dark conversations are not for everyone. 

I'll tell him that on the positive side if I'm diagnosed with a more devastating disease, it gives me comfort in knowing that I can stop going to dialysis. And he'll tell me that if the doctors ever say he's contracted an incurable disease and only has a few months to live, he'll travel all around the world. 

Then I'll say, "What if the doctors are wrong and after spending all of your money you find out that you have years to live?"

Of course my brother is saddened by this possibility and tells me that I have ruined his pipe dream.

Meanwhile, the 87-year-old patient to my left and 95-year-old patient to my right just look at us like we're crazy.

In addition to cheering me up, when my brother noticed that another patient was waiting a long time for a ride home, he personally drove him home several times.

This patient spoke little English, so my brother later followed up with our doctor who changed his dialysis schedule to accommodate his transportation needs. Our doctor is always thrilled to see my brother and treats him like family.

Remarkably, my brother still remains humble though he is treated like a rock star at the dialysis center, as well as our mom's nursing home.

I guess things haven't changed that much since I was a little girl and every night at bedtime I would yell downstairs to my parents, "Sorry for being so bad," and my brother would add, "And I too would like to apologize for being so good."

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 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."