Monday, September 15, 2014

The Big C Hop: Willful Women With Woes and Secrets of Honor

A person's true character is revealed under the most adverse conditions. When my mom's close friend Joy's prognosis from lung cancer was only six months, she came up with a plan. After she made her funeral arrangements, and got the rest of her affairs in order, she invited my mom, and another friend to go on an Australian cruise with her. They made the most out of their "last hurrah." Happily, Joy proved the doctors wrong by stretching those six months into ten years.

Between chemotherapy and radiation treatments many cancer patients have difficulty coping. My Auntie Rho was not one of them. She made friends everywhere she went, and continued throughout the worst of times. Though she wasn't my aunt by blood, she could not have done more for my family. Before she came down with lung cancer, the non-smoker was the first one to help me clean up after a holiday dinner. Even at seventy, she would have everything cleared off the table and put away faster than I could bring out the next course. Just when she seemed to be fading away, Auntie Rho miraculously rallied to celebrate her seventy-fifth birthday with family and friends.

After my neighbor moved away, we were in and out of touch for a few years before she was diagnosed with leukemia. Since she underwent a bone marrow transplant, she has suffered from one complication after another. Her extensive cocktail of anti-rejection drugs has resulted in diabetes, as well as a slew of other ailments. Fortunately, she continues to maintain her wonderful sense of humor.

Whenever I inquire about her health, she always replies, "You don't want to know." Then she rattles off one horrible thing after another in a surprisingly amusing way. Recently, in an attempt to prevent a corneal transplant, her ophthalmologist glued her left eye shut for three and a half months. Her grandson asked her when she was going to stop looking like a monster. Despite all of her hardships, she still managed to potty train him in just one day.

Because she's been to so many different doctors, she's threatening to change her name to "Ologist." Remarkably, she doesn't let any of her ailments slow her down, and though her eyesight has been fading, her nose for news is stronger than ever. She is always up on all of the latest happenings in the neighborhood, and had to fill me in on what was going on practically outside my front door.

At the end of our recent phone conversation, I couldn't believe we had been laughing for over an hour. This tough little survivor who at one time dropped down to seventy-eight pounds, could always keep me in stitches. Though we have had the most entertaining time on the phone together, I couldn't remember why we haven't seen each other in years. Then it hit me. The last time I suggested getting together, she didn't quite share my enthusiasm, as she replied, "Well, it's almost winter."

Needless to say, all of the women fought with dignity, grace, and humor. The youngest, and feistiest of the group continues to fight off whatever is thrown her way, and I hope she doesn't stop taking my phone calls for many years to come.

This story may be featured in an anthology to raise money for  Melissa Bradley  who has been battling cancer. Proceeds will also go to Gilda's Club Chicago. Please visit Melissa to learn more about her story. You can  find Melissa, and the rest of the talented participants  here.  Special thanks also to Michael Di Gesu  for hosting this worthwhile event. I wish Melissa all the best in her recovery.


In other news, I'm thrilled to announce Carol Kilgore's SECRETS OF HONOR is now available on Amazon in print and Kindle editions.

Purchase Kindle edition here:

Purchase paperback edition here:

Please visit the delightful  Carol Kilgore at Under The Tiki Hut to congratulate her.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ferreting Out The Competition



Last week in celebration of our new release Old Broads Waxing Poetic, we held a contest inviting bloggers to write about their favorite old broad. Our winner wrote not one, but two essays about his mother which shot him straight to the the top of the list. This made me think of another sharp shooter who treated his ma right.

Gangster Meyer Lansky remembered how much his mother sacrificed for him, and vowed to take care of her when he became wealthy.  He set her up in a luxury retirement complex, and often visited her. The "mob's accountant" always made sure his mother had the "very best in medical care, and remained an affectionate and devoted son."
I'm pleased to introduce you to another devoted son,  Stephen T. McCarthy, who has won a copy of Old Broads Waxing Poetic. Congratulations Stephen! Though his stories about his favorite old broad were both funny and heartwarming, they were too long to post here. They are definitely worth the trip over to Susan Flett Swiderski's to see for yourself. I would pack a light lunch, as it will take a while.

After you've stopped laughing and crying yourself silly, you should head on over to Stephen's Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends.  If you haven't been there already, I guarantee the shock value alone will make your head spin. The man clearly revealed his sensitive side to Susan when he eloquently wrote about his "tough Ma" Any man who cares that deeply for his mother, is a good man. I'm sure that's what Meyer Lansky's wife told herself too.

Friday, September 5, 2014


 Available on Amazon

To celebrate its release, each old broad featured in this book is blogging about her favorite old broad today, and we invite each of you to tell us a little something about your favorite old broad in the comments. Stay tuned for more details on how you could win a free copy of Old Broad's Waxing Poetic.

I couldn't decide on just one favorite old broad, so I thought it would be fun to create my own. My mission was to build the best old broad by combining the most exquisite features from glamorous screen legends.

I came up with Elizabeth Taylor's eyes, Raquel Welch's cleavage, Jane Fonda's abs, Cyd Charisse's legs, and Lena Horne's sizzle. I glanced at the list, and couldn't quite put my finger on what was missing, so I called my life coach.

I went over the list with my mom, and she was unimpressed. She began talking about some of the legendary movie stars from her day like Veronica Lake who was known for her beautiful blond "peek-a-boo bang," and Betty Grable 's "million dollar legs." Sadly both actresses died young. Veronica Lake died at fifty from hepatitis, while Miss Grable lost her battle with lung cancer at fifty-six. Like many of our writers, technically they were too young to be considered old broads.

This conversation took place while my mom was having her bedtime snack. I overheard her request a "handful of peanuts" from her caregiver. It was after eleven o'clock, and I was making her late for bed. I didn't dare comment on her dangerous late-night snack. She said in an irritated voice,"So they both died young. What do you want from me? Why don't you go with Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies as your favorite old broad?"

My mom was in a better mood when I redialed at 11:02. She started to whisper when her caregiver left the room. "Can you hear me? I have to talk fast. I want you to know that I moved my money from the third drawer on the right to the second drawer on the left in the other room. That's where it will be tonight. I'm planning on moving it again tomorrow. I just thought you should know in case anything happens to me."

Then I asked her if this meant I got to keep all of her bingo winnings for myself, or if I had to divide it among the family. With that she let out a very husky laugh which reminded me of  a younger Lauren Bacall. My mom regained her title as my favorite old broad. Though she had known all along that her position was as secure as her forty-seven cents.


Now it's your turn to tell us about your favorite old broad for a chance to win a free copy of Old Broads Waxing Poetic.  Just write a short poem or essay in the comments.  In addition to reading a wonderful mix of entertaining and heartwarming poetry, you'll also feel good in knowing all proceeds from its sale are going to CARE International.

Now let's meet our talented group of young and hip Old Broads. Be sure to follow their delightful blogs.

NOTE: "Technically, Michael isn't a broad. He's a very nice guy who used that lovely image from Francesco Romoli to create our cover for us, so you could say, as an important member of our team, he's an honorary broad. With hairy legs."  -Susan Flett Swiderski

Help spread the word on Facebook and Twitter throughout the week. Also, please indicate where you posted about your favorite old broadso we're sure to find it. The winner will be announced next Friday, September 12th. Thanks for your part in making this a very broad celebration.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

IWSG: So, you're a poet now?

Now that it's the third anniversary of the Insecure Writer's Support Group,  I finally feel like I belong here. Yes, I've always been insecure, but with the publication of our new anthology, Old Broads Waxing Poetic, I officially consider myself a writer. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh  for all of your support, and congratulations on leading this inspirational group for three incredible years. You can visit the other talented IWSG members here.

When I told my friend about our poetry book she replied, "So, you're a poet now?" Well, the jury is still out, but I do feel confident that I've surrounded myself with seven sensational poets. Since we are constantly being judged by the company we keep, my poems have been given a chance to shine among shooting stars.

It's also been a tremendous learning experience. This has enabled me to go behind the scenes in the world of self-publishing. Though I was always the last to be picked in gym class, this was a true group effort, and I owe it all to this hard-working team.

To celebrate our book launch on Friday September 5th, we're inviting bloggers to enter to win a copy of Old Broads Waxing Poetic by writing about their Favorite Old Broads in the comments section of our blogs. I hope to see you on Friday for the cover reveal, details about our broad spectrum of writers, and easy-breezy contest rules.

Though I'm still insecure about my writing, thanks to my three years of therapy with the IWSG, and wonderful experience with Old Broads, I have graduated from a tricycle to a big girl bike. Nonetheless, I'm not quite ready to take the training wheels off, just yet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Blame Game

Host: Welcome to The Blame Game where children blame their parents for everything that's gone wrong in their lives and vice versa! Let's get started by introducing the Weasel family. Curt Weasel is a student at Cal State, and he's here with his parents. What are you studying, Curt?

Curt Weasel: Human behavior, social habits, movement and motion...

Host: So you're a psych major?

Mrs. Weasel: Not quite. He's been living on campus for two years trying to find himself. Though he's been accepted by the university, Curt hasn't officially accepted them. He's decided to live on campus for a probationary period until he's made his decision.

Host: So Curt has all of the benefits of college without actually being a student. Does he work to help cover his expenses?

Mr. Weasel: Does Curt work? No, finding himself is a full-time occupation. I, on the other hand work two jobs, and his mother runs a cathouse.

Host: Do you enjoy taking care of cats, Mrs. Weasel?

Mrs. Weasel: Well, the big tippers aren't so bad, but some of them are a literal pain in the butt.

Mr. Weasel: I thought you had that looked at?

Host: Considering the sacrifices your parents have made for you, what do you blame them for?

Curt: Just look at them. Mom's losing her teeth, and Dad wears socks with sandals. I can't be seen with them in public. They're an embarrassment.

Host: And Mr. and Mrs. Weasel, what do you blame Curt for?

Mrs. Weasel: He's such a sweet boy, but we do wish he'd call or write more often.

Host: Let's have the audience decide who is more to blame.

They tabulate the votes from the audience. Buzzers are beeping and lights are flashing. After a brief commercial break, the winner is announced.

Host: Well, the audience has made their decision. It was a very close race, but Curt is the winner! Let's find out what Curt has won.

The audience is simultaneously applauding, while cheering Curt's name.

Off-stage Announcer: Curt has won an all-expense-paid trip to a luxury resort in Maui where he'll have fun in the sun by day, and enjoy fine dining and entertainment by night.

Host: Curt, normally we provide a trip for two, but in this case you're entitled to bring two guests with you on this once in a lifetime adventure!

Mr. and Mrs. Weasel smile as they hold Curt close.

Curt: That's great! I could really use the time off. I think I'll bring these two hot girls I met backstage with me. Come on out ladies!

Two bimbos come out from behind the curtain. Curt places an arm around each girl, and exits the stage. Curt's parents and the host are left standing with their mouths wide open. 

Cue The Blame Game theme music. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Trouble With Lying About Your Age

I'm (on the right) with my adorable sorority sisters in 1981. l'll never tell which one was my partner in crime.

I've always done it. From an early age, my parents even encouraged it. One year, they had my older brother pretend to be nine when he was twelve in order to get into a drive-in movie for free. My dad quizzed him several times to make sure he could smoothly rattle off his fake date of birth, so that our parents would only be charged for two tickets instead of three. I could rest easy, as I was really nine, and in the clear. My brother worked well under pressure, and passed with flying colors during the practice drills. When my dad pulled up to the front of the line, the cashier asked him our ages. Before my brother could speak, my dad anxiously blurted out, "He's twelve and she's nine." They never asked my brother to lie again, but I was a different story.

As I grew, the lies grew with me. When I was fifteen, I passed for eighteen at my brother's college campus. The drinking laws were very lax in the 70's, so I just had to say the fake date and year I was born in before I transformed into an instant coed.

Things became more difficult during my college years. The drinking age changed from nineteen to twenty-one, and if you were caught with a fake ID, it was immediately confiscated. Fortunately, my tall, blond sorority sister came to the rescue with a copy of her driver's license.

It's true how everything comes around full circle. Now I fib about my age at the movies in order to get a senior discount. Some of my friends have caught me in the act, and hide while I purchase our tickets. It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't the same age, and older.

As for my lovely, kind and considerate older sorority sister, today she has a bionic hip, and still looks great in a bikini. Though at fifty-four she is a year older, she could pass for ten years younger. You would think I'd learned my lesson, but once a liar always a liar.

At a recent college graduation party for a family friend,  I decided to join in conversation with a group of women whom I'd never met. Introductions were made, and the topic of age came up. One woman said she was forty-five, another fifty-four, and then it was my turn. As they waited for my response to this silly question, I thought it only appropriate to respond with a silly answer. I concentrated on keeping a straight face when I told them I was seventy-two. Without missing a beat, the younger woman replied in all seriousness, "Well, you must have stayed out of the sun then."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Middle-Aged Bragging Rights


Do you ever notice how some people can't go one minute without bragging? They start at a young age, and every conversation turns into a competition. They go to the best schools, graduate with the best jobs, marry the best spouses, and move into the best homes.

After their gorgeous and gifted children move away, they come to the realization that they have very little to talk about. They're at that awkward age where their bodies are creaking, and their weight is shifting in the wrong places. Trapped in middle-aged limbo: too young for retirement, yet too old to sit in a chair without dozing off. If only they had grandchildren to bounce on their knees before arthritis kicks in. Here they are, a group of friends gathered around the picnic table bundled up in blankets beside a roaring fire on a balmy summer evening playing the latest board game. 

It's Toots and Bladders, Battered Hip, and Crazy Mates all rolled into one: the game where it pays to decay. A player draws the first card which asks, "Have you ever had a cyst lanced from your perineum?"  Raymond answers "yes," collects $200, and advances his miniature oxygen tank down the board.  Pearl throws the dice, and lands on Constipation Blvd. Everyone presses the buzzers at once. To break the four-way tie Lexi shouts out, "How long has it been?"  Pearl answers "five days," Raymond three, Lexi two, and Leonard adds, "since lunchtime."

When Leonard proudly admits to having hair plugs he is forced to move his miniature enema kit into the Unnecessary Cosmetic Procedure Pavilion forfeiting his next turn. Now the competition has shifted from earlier conversations about material possessions to who has the largest surgical scars.  The couples are thrilled to have something to talk about, even if it means battling it out to see who has suffered the most. 

Lexi draws the final card which reads, "Congratulations on your fifth anniversary of being cancer-free..." Lexi can't believe that her husband and closest friends remembered it has been almost five years to the day since she underwent her last radiation treatment for breast cancer. She is so excited that they went to all the trouble of ordering a customized version of the game just for her. Then she reads the rest of the card, "...and your mother-in-law will be joining in the celebration tomorrow, when she moves in with you after her hip replacement surgery." With that everyone turns their winnings o
ver to Lexi, right after prying her hands off of Leonard's hair plugs.

This is a repost from November 2011.