Archive for October, 2009

Greeting cards vs. Rhyming Trbutes

People forget what their greeting cards said by the time they have put them down and picked up a new one, but they remember their rhyming tributes forever. At least that has been our experience.

October 27, 2009 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

Before They Write the Eulogy

Why Wait ’til They’re Dead? is one of the company mottoes that never made out of the boardroom. The point is, you go to these memorial services for such wonderful people, who have so many grieving loved ones and such a lot of nice things to say about the deceased…but it’s all falling on deaf ears, as the expression goes. The person who might have cared to hear these comments most of all is not available! It makes no sense to me. The time to set the record straight is NOW. Do it in rhyme–it’s so much less treacly and clunky than straight prose. It brings more humor and joviality into the enterprise when the tribute rhymes.


October 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm Leave a comment

Blessing Bounty

Blessing Bounty_2

Our Bearded Dragon, Bounty, being blessed on the Feast of Saint Francis at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, CA.

October 13, 2009 at 6:29 am Leave a comment

The Sandwich Generation: Hold the Cheese

I have heard all kinds of horror stories of my peers living with once reasonable parents, who have been transformed by dementia into wanderers, paranoids or just mean-spirited bullies.   I suspect these parents didn’t think about taking out long-term care insurance when they were still in their right mind (It’s expensive, for starters).  Mine did. At last count, the insurance has paid out over $300,000 worth of assisted living expenses and for Dad at least, there are probably years left of living for him to do.

Residing 1.5 miles from aging parents is the perfect co-habitation policy for the sandwich generation. Under the same roof might not go quite so well, but having a father in his eighth year of Alzheimer’s lovingly cared for by my mother and a crew of ‘care managers’ at Sunrise Assisted Living is the most pleasant possible arrangement for this doting daughter.  I drop in on them at mealtimes, and sit over a quick cup of decaf, catching up with Mom and giving dad intermittent hugs and winks.  For Mom, who is nursing Multiple Myeloma, yet clinging tenaciously to a fairly active life, a surprise visit from her only local kid is like getting mail at a faraway summer camp. It brings her enormous pleasure for the short time she gets to enjoy it.  I fit them into my schedule, and they are appreciative of any face time.  We also go to the same church, so there is another fixed rendez-vous every week.

October 13, 2009 at 6:26 am Leave a comment

Feast of Saint Francis

Feast of Saint Francis

October 12, 2009 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

Family tradition

Every family is like a little country, with citizens, government and cultural traditions.  The form of government that worked best in our family growing up was a form of Marxist cooperation.  When we cooperated, things ran smoothly. When we did whatever was required of us “with good grace,” things ran even better.  For example, let’s say the oldest needed the car to get to his job dispensing soda at Jimmy’s in Milford.  But the next oldest had a babysitting job in Hamden. The third child wanted to go to the movies…in some families this situation would end up in loud shouts, slammed doors and squealing tires. Not at our house! The oldest would drop the younger one at the movies, swing by the babysitting job, and get to Jimmy’s 45 minutes early where he would sit in the parking lot reading Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Maybe he would not have done it “with good grace,” but God knows he would have done it, without involving any raised voices or slammed doors. The tires might have squealed a little, but definitely out of earshot of the parents.

Decades later, we pride ourselves on having made it through those formative years without so much as a dent in our family structure.  Whatever grievances we may nurse deep down, we ride a pleasant wave of nostalgia and good feelings whenever we get together.  When the parents’ fortieth anniversary loomed, two of us got to talking about what to give the loving couple.  Perhaps forty of something? How about a roll of quarters? suggested my older brother.  We thought a little longer and came up with the best gift kids could ever give their parents (apart from a rhyming tribute, that is, and Lord knows we’ve given plenty of those): Forty Happy Memories.  Thus began a tradition of publishing little booklets at our local copy shop of Forty Happy Memories, a page per memory, first for the parents, then for each child as s/he turned forty.  When the kids started turning fifty, the books morphed into Fifty Reasons Why We Love … (fill in the blank).  Now, everyone I know has a whole storehouse of unhappy memories, and plenty of reasons why we rather resent certain people, but these little books help us all remember what it is that makes being a close-knit family such a good idea.

October 2, 2009 at 11:22 am Leave a comment


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