Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Father Would Have Been 100 Today.

My father would have been 100 today and rarely does a day go by that I don’t think about him.  He died at age 64 when I was 33 and I have felt as though I was cheated out of his presence for many years.

He was probably the most influential person in my life.  Growing up I didn’t always agree with him as he was very critical of me…..but in hindsight I realize that he only wanted the best for me, just didn’t go about it quite in a way that was easy.  I was an overweight, taciturn child and when he criticized me, I would just retreat further into my shell.

Since we lived in a small town and he was the town’s physician, life was very busy and not easy, and moments of peace few.  We never took vacations.  He had a great love of books, nature, and classical music. He would often take up a hobby and pursue it to perfection and then go onto something else.
He was one of the first joggers, running before it became a craze.  He also loved all sports.  His final job before he retired was as a school physician for a private school, which was right up his alley, as he could attend all the athletic events.

My daughter was the first grandchild (my sister’s daughter was born the spring of the year he died) so she was the only one able to benefit from his great love of children.  The photo above, taken when he was in China during the war, is so fitting of his personality.  He would have been very interested in my niece’s adopting a little Chinese girl.

He would not have dealt well with the present state of the medical world…..the bureaucracy alone would have done him in.  I always remember when April 15th rolled around we were told to leave him alone as he had left the taxes until the last minute…cannot imagine how he would have handled the Medicare/Medicaid situation.

I still feel his presence on my morning walks, when he whispers in my ear when I take too long a shower, when it is a beautiful day and I am not out enjoying it.  I think this poem by Robert Mazzocco, Dynasty,  is so fitting.

Family voices; you still can hear them,
Ever so dimly, there in your own voice:
Your father’s voice, even your mother’s voice.

The older we get,
The more you’ll hear them,
Though no one else does.

Just as you still can see them, all over
Your body, though, of course, no one else must:
Family scars and family kisses.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Is It Just Me?

The Granddaughters on my recent Maine trip.

Several years ago in my monthly newsletter The Gray Zone, I wrote about giving a wedding present of a basket filled with all sorts of scissors – good scissors.  If I were giving that same gift now I would add a few things to it that I find essential for everyday living. 

One Gray Zone reader, Paula, told me about seam rippers.  These are great to stab and tear those plastic packages sealed for a millennium.  On my recent trip back from Maine (and being without one of these handy gadgets), I had forgotten to pack a snack for the front seat and didn’t want to stop.  I realized that I could reach the bag of Trader Joe goodies and get the falafel chips' bag, but I could not open it!  I tore at it with my teeth, tried to tear it with both hands and was about to throw it at the dog to see if she could get it open.  I finally gave up which was probably just as well as I would have eaten the whole bag they are so addicting.

Is it just me that wonders why everything is so tightly wrapped?  And I am not a wimp but fairly strong having lugged wood all winter amongst other things.  But then I wonder, because when I enlist the help of my 6 year old grandson, Eli, he can immediately tear things open.  Is it a vast conspiracy against everyone over 65?

On another note, I have a great idea that I have been proposing to pharmacies.  They have blood pressure machines available, why don’t they have a scale?  It could be enclosed in a little booth so one would have privacy and it would have a weight chart on the wall.  I weigh myself everyday, which I am sure many think rather obsessive, but I know if I overdo one day, I can cut back the next.  Not all scales are created equal, but it would be great to have a medical quality scale available.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

When You Know the Grandchildren are Getting Smarter than You..............

Walking the dog with my six year old (his birthday is today) grandson, Eli.
Eli:  “ Clog, what is the smallest particle there is, is it a microbe?”
Clog quaking, pretends not to hear him.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ah, Football...............

While the world is watching grown men bash their bodies together and grunt, I am sitting home by my fire reading my book and thinking about watching an episode of  “Lark Rise at Candlewood”.  Oh, believe me, there is nothing wrong with sports, it is just something I am not terribly interested in.

Most of the men in my life have been avid sports fans.  As mentioned in an earlier blog, having to chase my father down across the street as he watched the final of some sporting event.  I was first married in my parents’ living room the day after Thanksgiving, and as soon as the brief ceremony was over, all the males retreated to the TV room for whatever all those post Thanksgiving games are.  Ah well.

With my first husband we used to go to Mets’ games and I did get a bit caught up in that…the fun of the stadium and ardent fans.  It was during this marriage that I realized when cooking Sunday dinner, that if you asked how long before the football game was over, and the answer was four minutes, that was a downright lie.

My second marriage also was with a sports fan, more basketball than baseball, and I did get caught up in the New York Knicks.  It was also helpful as my boss at the time was totally ignorant when it came to sports.  He smoked though and was part of the Monday morning crew outside the building fulfilling their vice.  He would come in the office and say “Quick, give me a rundown on yesterday’s game” which I would do, and he would happily go out and puff away, feeling somewhat of a Monday morning quarterback.  He would always come back to his office after these sessions and say “Ah, football” (or baseball, or tennis, whatever), a term that I have used many a time since for a conversation that I was not terribly knowledgeable about …“ah sewing’…….”ah, chickens”.

I shall undoubtedly be snug in my bed by 10, but I hope your team wins, that you don's stay up too late, or eat too much, and that you are not hung-over. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Siblings Probing.......................

I love my brother.  He is always calling me with these questions about our childhood.  He is seven years younger than I am, so I think he believes I have a more in depth perception on those years.  My favorite question from him was “Why did Mother get up at 4 AM to put the turkey in the oven at Thanksgiving?”

Anyway, he calls often and we always have a good conversation.  Last week we discussed television.  We did not have a TV for many, many years and would go across the street to this wonderful family and watch it there…..usually the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights.  Now my father was a big sports fan, so he would often be found there watching some final of a sporting event. I also remember having to often pry him away during the McCarthy hearings.  He was a country doctor with an extremely busy and hectic practice.  My mother got tired of having to go find him whenever some emergency arose, so that is when we got a TV.

My brother only remembers watching Bonanza on the TV once when he was sick.  I honestly don’t remember watching anything at all.  I did have a babysitting job after school watching these kids until their mother got home from work (the father was deceased) and I remember becoming quite enthralled with “Queen For A Day”.

I don’t have a TV now, but do get Netflix and I love the many BBC series that are wonderful tales covering historical eras – Foyle’s War,  Downton Abbey, and I am watching a whole series now on the Victorian era called “Lark Rise at Candleford”.  I began to think if there were any American series that were similar.  Many movies cover history, but I could not think of a good TV series (not a documentary, but a fictional series) that covered a specific era of history, save “Mash”.  So can you?  What did you love to watch as a child?  I would love to know.