Our/Parent’s Stuff: The Backbreaking, Heartbreaking Saga  2

One of George Carlin’s most hilarious and endearing routines was about all the stuff we buy until death do us part. Worse than that, we keep buying until we are forced to buy bigger homes. “Gotta have a good place to store all that stuff.”

The first time I heard his rant I elbowed my husband in between howls. But now it’s no laughing matter.

In the past few years years, I have had to sort through the personal belongings of not only my parent’s stuff, but my in-law’s stuff. It has been both a backbreaking task and a heartbreaking one to discard/donate their lifetime possessions as if they were meaningless.

And yet, after digging through decades worth of old photos, report cards, instruction manuals, magnets, broken costume jewelry, expired coupons, tzchakas, souvenirs and many objects that defied description, I feel like I’ve earned a golden shovel.

Trouble is, I’ve seen the future and it is mortifying.

Will my children open my underwear drawer, laugh at my choice of bras, and toss them in Hefty bags as if these relics are an insult to their more dignified choices? Will they read through my love letters and gag? Will they roll their eyes when they discover bags of receipts, maps and postcards from places I visited in the 70s?

Not unless I get to my belongings first and show up with lighter fluid.

Meanwhile, in this era of loyalty programs, online shopping, outlet malls and Target, I am just as guilty of buying and keeping more stuff than I could ever use. And Exhibit A is my garage and basement, which resemble mini landfills. In order to pass through, you have to do a Dick Van Dyke sidestep.The closets are no better, begging for warning signs: Avalanche Ahead.

Mind you, all of this stuff doesn’t belong to me alone. My husband and three grown children also use the house as a local warehouse, especially the two married ones who couldn’t fit all their beautiful wedding gifts in their tiny New York City apartments. Need a Michael Aram something or other? We’re like Staples. We’ve got that!

It’s all so overwhelming and senseless. But tackling the problem is on my summer to-do list. No really, it is. To prove it, I’ve made a list of companies that will show up, clean up and drive away with all the unnecessary stuff.

It’s here somewhere.

 

The Wonder Years Revisited  0

Bet you can name every character in this wonderful cast

Bet you can name every character in this wonderful cast from “The Wonder Years”

Who didn’t love ABC’s entertaining series,”The Wonder Years?” Starring the cherubic Fred Savage as Kevin Arnold, the show took us back to a time in life when innocence gave us our best laughs and also our most broken hearts. But as funny and poignant as each episode was (and I never missed a single one), like most Hollywood send-ups, it glossed over the pain so many of us felt at this age of reckoning.

In middle school (or Junior High as it was called before it got a fancy new name), every kid wanted the same things. To fit in or even better, to be popular. To not look/act stupid and unworldly. Mostly we prayed not to be tormented by teachers or other kids. Any day that went by without being humiliated, scared or bewildered was considered a big win.

"No, Mom. I DON'T want a haircut for my class picture..."

“No, Mom. I DON’T want a haircut for my class picture…”

This is my recollection of how I felt during those so-called wonder years:

1. I’m a freak. I totally and completely hate myself

2. Also, I hate my friends

3. And my parents. So annoying! And clearly they love my brother and sister more than me

4. Does anyone, anyone at all, get me?

5. Wait. Do I even get myself?

6. My hair is the worst. Maybe in my next life I’ll find someone who knows how to cut bangs

7. Ugh! I have the worst body. I’m too fat, too flat, too short and who did you have to know to come into the world looking like fill-in-the-blank?

8. Is it my imagination or am I always left out?

9. It would be awesome to have one cool friend. Just one. That’s all I ask.

10. Will any boy ever like me?

Given the sheer hell of these “wonder” years, it’s a wonder anyone would want to revisit them. And yet I’m doing just that, at least in the fictional world in which I am immersed. I have written a novel called THE MIDDLE SCHOOL MEDIUM, about a lonely girl who is more comfortable talking to spirits than humans because spirits aren’t judgey or mean- just a tad more evasive.

Still love Paul Pfeiffer, Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper after all these years

Why go there? Because the best advice I ever got was to write about something that scared the crap out of me. And frankly the prospect of ever having to be back at Wilbur Wright Junior High in Munster, IN was at the top of that list.

I had a nice group of friends and lots of outside interests, but I well remember being treated like a freak by a lot of kids. Maybe it was my strange name, or my unusual hair, or the fact that I was the only one who thought I was hilarious. It was so hard to ever feel like I mattered.

I pray I was in a show and not on my way to school,  but you never know.

I pray I was in a show and not on my way to school, but you never know.

And yet, soon after I started drafting the novel, I realized that my tween days were a cakewalk compared to what today’s kids endure.Thanks to computers, cell phones and social media, the speed at which your life can be turned upside down is terrifying. There is no such thing as a private matter. No such thing as time to figure out who you are and what’s important to you. And faster than you can see little birdy, an unflattering image of you can be uploaded and insulting comments posted, possibly scarring you for life.

Quick: Name a nice thing someone said to you in seventh grade. What about something mean/awful/mortifiying? Bet that list is much, much longer. So as I dug deeper into my hero’s life, really explored what was at the heart of a young girl’s anguish, this I knew for sure.

We move on and grow wiser, build successful lives and careers, but we never forget those vulnerable, uncertain “wonder” years. Never forget the humiliation and the wish to be someone, anyone, other than who we were.

In my story I purposely set up my hero to get the happy ending she earned for believing in herself, in spite of the odds. Like Kevin Arnold, at least someone that age should have hope.

P.S. In case you don’t remember the cast, it included Jack and Norma Arnold, Wayne, Kevin, Karen and Kevin’s best friend Paul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brisket Envy  0

If you grew up celebrating Jewish holidays, you never had to wonder what was being served for dinner. It’s written in stone. One of the ten commandments. Thou shalt serve brisket. Maybe a roasted chicken or some stuffed cabbage, too. But no meal is complete with out the sweet, delectable, piping hot roast drowning in natural gravy.

Yummy brisket as it was intended to look

Yummy brisket as it was intended to look

But what if the cook is, let’s say, clueless?

In my kitchen, hard boiled eggs have torpedoed out of the pot onto the ceiling and the smoke detector is our official dinner bell. And don’t get me started on chopped liver. If the recipe had clearly stated that I needed to cook the liver first, I would have been happy to oblige.

Shouldn't someone named Saralee know how to cook?

Shouldn’t someone named Saralee know how to cook?

So trust me. No matter how easy everyone says brisket is to prepare, they lie. Because if it was that simple, family would not come to my house for a holiday dinner having already eaten. Nor would they have stories that will follow me to my funeral about the time I undercooked everything but the salad, which I burned.

And believe me. I’ve asked around for the no-brainer recipes. Trouble is if you ask three people, you get four opinions.

Some insist that the trick is to buy Kosher meat only. Others say Kosher meat never softens. Some believe you need to prepare the brisket on the stove. Others go wild if the meat doesn’t cook in a hot oven for hours. Maybe days. The real innovators suggest that you can take all of the guesswork out by placing the roast in a crock pot. Six hours should do it. OK, maybe eight.

And then there are the quintessential secret ingredients- the kind everyone insists will make your brisket the talk of the family (for a good reason). The trick is to add beer. Or wine. Or chili sauce. Even Diet Coke. Others say the trick to making melt-in-your-mouth brisket is adding onions and carrots. One time my hairdresser whispered that his secret sauce was brine. I nodded like I knew what that was.

Ah! But cooking is only half the battle. Carving is the real challenge. That’s right. Once you’ve stuck a fork in the meat and decided it’s no longer coming back alive, you have to slice it so it’s doesn’t fall apart or get all tough and chewy. Again, everyone has an opinion. Let it sit in the fridge over night and cut it cold. No!!! Let it get to room temperature and then slice it. No!!! Cut it when it’s piping hot so the knife goes right through. And be sure to use an electric knife. No! Never use an electric knife.

Of course everyone agrees on this. You have to cut the brisket against the grain. Ha! I think you have to be a member of Mensa to stare at a hot hunk of meat smothered in onions and figure out which side is up. And do you cut diagonally? Perpendicularly?

This explains what I call Brisket Envy. I am jealous of anyone who can cook the perfect roast, slice and dice it and have everyone at the table grabbing for seconds. The only time this happens at my house is when I order a ready-made one. Shhh….

I have never felt worse about my defective cooking gene until this past weekend. My newlywed daughter, Alex, offered to make the first night of Passover and started fretting over which of the dozens of brisket recipes she should use. Then she called six times the day she was making it to tell me she was nervous. What if it came out dry or fell apart? Crock pot or oven? Chili sauce or ketchup? Then she told me I would have to carve it because she couldn’t handle the pressure.

Could this holiday be saved?

Beginner's Luck!

Beginner’s Luck!

 

Happy ending. The brisket was delicious. A huge success. But maybe next year she’ll add more onions. Not buy Kosher. Forget the crock pot. Pour in some beer. And what was that about brine???

L’chaim! To life! And brisket. Have I mentioned it tastes even better on the second day?

Just add mustard and rye!

Just add mustard and rye!

 

 

 

 

 

We Just Want to be Heard And Other Reasons I love “The Voice”  0

Pick me! Pick me!

Pick me! Pick me!

I can carry a tune, and I am Aretha in the shower. But I have never aspired to try out for a nationally broadcast singing competition. And yet I am completely gobsmacked by NBC’s, The Voice.

It’s not that I’m huge fans of the judges, although I find them endearing. It’s not that I like all of the song choices, although when I hear a new rendition of a classic, it’s inspiring. It’s not even that I like the prospect of discovering a new artist, although after seven seasons, none have broken any records (pun intended).

So what is the appeal of the show? For me it is the chance to live vicariously through someone who has talent and guts but needs their big break. Someone, who only the day before, was flipping burgers or filing accident claims for an insurance company. Call it rags to riches, but this show does make dreams come true. And as a writer, I totally connect with those who are lucky enough to have a chair turned.

If you are unfamiliar with show, the start of the season begins with blind auditions. It means that an artist will perform while the four judges have their backs turned. If they hear a voice they love, they smack a red button and their chair turns. It only takes one judge to move a performer to the next level. And if more than one judge is in, they have to convince the artist to let them be their coach.

Can you imagine the mind-blowing thrill of working tirelessly to get noticed, and then suddenly some of the most successful recording artists are begging to let them coach you?

Every time I watch the blinds, I daydream…

I’m on stage reading an excerpt from my latest work-in-progress. There is an audience of hundreds, along with millions of viewers at home. And the judges? They are the top editors and agents in the business. I read only a few short sentences and miraculously, all four turn their chairs. Then the fun begins.

They tell me the reasons I’m an amazing writer. No, an extraordinary writer. They promise if I commit to them, they will launch my career into a stratosphere that is unfathomable. Maybe they rush over to hug me and whisper in my ear. “Pretty pretty please?”

Imagine that!

16-year-old Treeva Gibson

16-year-old Treeva Gibson

But last night’s show, the first of season 8, grabbed me in a different way. It featured Treeva Gibson, a 16-year old hearing impaired girl, who is the daughter of two deaf parents. She sang “Young and Beautiful” as if her life depended on it and got Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera to turn their chairs. But what moved me was her insights about living in a silent world. She said it teaches you how important it is for all of our voices to be heard, whether we can sing or not.

“Everyone has a voice and needs to be heard.”

It’s a great reminder that whether we sing, paint, dance or write, creative expression must be nurtured and embraced. Not for the grand prize, for the chance to share messages of love and hope.

I don’t know who will win season 8, but anyone who is lucky enough to perform on The Voice stage is already a champ. So too is anyone who shares their creative gift.

Sunny and Sixty: Tales From A New Decade  0

I knew the big milestone birthday was approaching. My life insurance company was the first to inform me that for their purposes, I was considered 60 at age 59 and a half. Then my kids started asking, “Mom! How do you want to celebrate? A party? A vacation with all of us? My husband, who wanted to privatize his 60th, suggested we keep it simple. But when my grandson, Chris, asked if I felt really, really sad being old, I realized I needed to lead the way or be stuck dealing with other people’s versions of what the day should mean to me.

Mom and Dad, 2006

Mom and Dad, 2006

One morning while looking at a picture of my parents, who I recently lost, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to return to their beloved home in Sarasota, FL with my sister, Mira. Not to be maudlin or to spend a few weepy days longing for them to still be alive. To celebrate the thirty-four years they enjoyed there and that we got to enjoy with them when we visited. Then I wanted to fly to Chicago to celebrate our mutual birthdays with my younger daughter, Taryn.

And so a plan was born. It didn’t thrill my family, who felt left out from the festivities, but it thrilled me and they understood. It’s my party and I’ll fly if I want to…

What a great decision. Even if the weather in Sarasota wasn’t sunny and sixty. At least I was! How comforting to  revisit our parent’s favorite places with Mira, seeing their old friends and doing what experts advise never to do. We rang the bell of their villa and asked the new owners for a peek inside. Lucky us! They couldn’t have been any more gracious and proud, as they showed off the extensive renovations to make it a beautiful, new home for their family.

In 2005, we delivered this Holocaust Scroll.

In 2005, we delivered this Holocaust Scroll.

We also returned to their synagogue and introduced ourselves to the new Rabbi. We were so happy to share the crazy story of how we helped our father transport a Holocaust Torah scroll from London to its new home at Temple Beth Sholom, where it remains proudly on display.

We ate lunch at their favorite restaurant, First Watch, went to a $2 movie at the Parkway Cinema and shared a bagel breakfast with my father’s beloved Y’s Guys, his workout buddies of twenty-five years. We did, however, draw the line at having to eat at Outback, the one place they insisted we always go. We blamed it on not having a coupon.FullSizeRender_1

We also loved returning to the timeshare my husband and I bought in 1981, the year my parents moved down there. It sits right on the Gulf of Mexico and the sandy beach has beckoned ever since. What a joy to spend a few nights and remember the many holidays my family spent there, to recall bringing my babies into the warm pool, when only days earlier they were bundled in snowsuits, to walk to St. Armand’s Circle for ice cream at Kilwins, and to take a several mile hike every morning along the waters edge.

But the highlight of the trip was feeling our parents presence every step of the way. There was no question they came along for the ride because it all worked out so well. Even the sun and the warmth returned. So boo-yah to the experts who tell you that you can’t go home. You can and you should.

Then the next leg of the journey was spending the weekend with the other January birthday girl in the family. Taryn is my baby, my golden girl. People say we look alike (twins, in fact) and we do admit to the resemblance, though trust me, I never got to be a natural blue-eyed blonde.

Happy birthday to me and Taryn

Happy birthday to me and Taryn

 

In fact, there were five birthdays to celebrate. Mine, hers, Mira’s husband, Darryl’s, their daughter Alison’s and her son, Carter Henry who turned one.

January birthdays from 1 to 66.

January birthdays from 1 to 66.

IMG_2434As for answering my grandson’s question about feeling really, really bad about being old? I don’t feel bad. I have never felt better. I am happy, hopeful and truly blessed to have an amazing family and wonderful friends. May it be sunny and sixty all year long!

 

 

 

2014 ReBoot: What’s Better, What’s Worse  0

Each year is a mash up of great strides and bitter disappointments. But as 2014 wanes, I’ve been thinking about our collective experiences. How we as citizens and consumers are grappling with the fast changing times. In some areas we are making progress and in other areas we are being tested to our limits.

Here are 10 things that got much, much better this year:

kids1. We’ve reached the tipping point with gay marriage and the legalization of pot, even in the red-meat states. Yawn. They’re still on the ballot? Next!

2. Blame it on Russian greed but their choke hold on oil has lost its grip. Yay! We’re paying less at the pump. In some areas of the country it’s under $2 a gallon. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of eye-popping fill-ups because Lord knows we could use some of that extra dough to buy food.

3. Speaking of which… though most of what is sold at the supermarkets is still more science experiment than food, things are looking up. And I’m not talking about the glut of gluten-free products that are this year’s  darling. Did you know that many gluten-free foods often contain arsenic? But back to the good news. The once paltry aisle dedicated to healthy choices that was once shoved in some back corner is finally expanding. Now you can choose from lots more organic produce and dairy, all natural packaged goods (Justin’s Hazelnut Peanut Butter is the best!) and prepared entrees that contain ingredients you can pronounce. As always, read the labels.

4. Women continue to take three steps backwards for every great leap. Sure an elite few are business titans, political leaders and entertainment moguls, but they represent a fraction of those who are underpaid, overlooked and subjected to double standards. And yet here is a sign of hope. The Church of England named its first female bishop. A parish priest for over twenty years, the Rev. Libby Lane just got the nod. Will we ever see a female Pope? A girl can dream.

5. Stroke victims finally have a better chance of recovery. After decades of dismal options, researchers have developed a treatment that can save lives and leave less debilitating after effects. It’s a matter of removing the blood clots that blocks blood to the brain at the crucial onset. Duh.

carol burnett show6. Reality TV is on the wane (adios Honey Boo-Boo) and quality series are lighting up the small screen. Why else would be all be binge watching? Even better, our viewing is not limited to the big broadcast and cable networks. Did anyone say Netflix? Also, it’s fun to discuss episodes on social media (even when the haters come out). Christopher Walken’s performance in Peter Pan comes to mind. Still, it beats the days of copycat sitcoms and sappy Lifetime movies. Just wish some brave Hollywood souls would bring back sketch comedy shows like Carol Burnett and Jackie Gleason. And away we go….

7. These are not your mother’s coupons! Promo codes, group savings, private sales, bogo’s and other savings opportunities rule. In fact, restaurants, retailers and online business must offer free shipping and/or price breaks if they expect customer support. Walk into Bed, Bath & Beyond without a stash of 20% off coupons? Never! Full price is so yesterday I go nowhere without my Ziploc bag of coupons and loyalty cards and I know you are doing the same.

8. Goodbye photo albums. Photo books are the best! Gone are the shopping bags and shoe boxes filled with pictures you meant to put in albums ten years ago. Now you go right from your smart phone to a photo site and in an hour pick up a beautiful customized album. And don’t forget to add the promo codes for instant savings!

9. Amazon got its ass kicked by authors who stood up to their bullying tactics against Hachette. Looks like they’re not so infallible. Hopefully it will be awhile before they hold publishers, writers and readers hostage again.

10. Kids are great. I mean kids have always been great, but this crop seem smarter, more generous and more tolerant than any previous generation. They’re being raised to speak up, ask questions and end bullying. They’re asking intelligent questions about the environment, government, gun violence, equal pay, racism and even violence in sports. They give me hope that sanity is around the corner. Or at least greater compassion and understanding.

And here are 10 things that have gotten significantly worse:

spirit airlines1. Flown lately? If ever the divide between the haves and have nots was more evident it is when you fly coach. If you are not a platinumgoldelitesuperstartwinkletoes member, you will board the same time as the goats and camels. And if that doesn’t make you feel like steerage, wait until you squeeze into your seat. Even the most mild mannered turn into sumo wrestlers vying for overhead bin space. Maybe the airlines could use some of money they no longer need for high fuel prices to give back some extra comforts like elbow room. But don’t count on it. They are making record profits and don’t care if the folks sitting behind the la de dah section are miserable. Serves them right for not upgrading.

2. Oh for the days of 24/7 customer support. Today companies and online sellers alike are limiting their availability to what used to be known as bankers hours. So if you’ve got a problem in the evening or on the  weekend, or heaven forbid a holiday, prepare to listen to five minutes of nonsense while you push 1,2,3 only to learn they’re closed and will reopen when the wind blows in the right direction. By the time you actually connect with a human on the other side of the world, you may have forgotten why you called.

3. If you have experienced the joy of buying your prescriptions through a mail order pharmacy, chances are by the time you get to ask your questions, you will have added high blood pressure to your list of medical conditions. These aren’t service lines, they are the Depts. of Sales Prevention. Their only function is to make sure that you do not get what your doctor prescribed unless they first send in your preauthorization not once but ten times. And only if they say pretty please and promise to no longer prescribe an expensive medication will you finally get approved.

4. Don’t you love the drivers who can text and give you the finger at the same time? Seems they don’t care that the light turned green or that scientists can prove it is unsafe to look down while operating a 5000-lb vehicle going fifty-five mph. Seriously. It’s scary out there. And it’s not just the kids that are clueless. I see parents with small kids in the car texting and driving. It’s only a matter of time…

5. Social media offered the promise of connecting with friends and strangers alike to share common experiences and make the world a warmer/friendlier place. But now it’s just an online bazaar of haters, bores, braggarts and moochers. I’m slowly withdrawing because there is a no-refund policy on time wasted on these sites.

6. We have gotten waaaaaay to comfortable with gun violence. Sure we hate it but the NRA will never back down so why bother taking to the streets? What we need to do is think of gun control as a disease to eradicate. Then we’ll witness the 4 P’s of change: protests, parades, pink ribbons and politicians pretending to care.

7. The speed at which states are circumventing the constitutional rights of women to have abortions is staggering. So too is the fact the lunatic fringe on the Supremes is rooting for them to do so. Don’t you just love the people who under the guise of being god fearing/god loving souls will carry on about the need to protect unborn fetuses, but won’t think twice about crushing skulls at WalMart to get cheap TVs? Fund programs to abate hunger? That means less money for beer and gambling. For more information, look up the definition of hypocrisy.

8. The flames of hatred and bigotry fueled by Fox News show no signs of slowing down. Although on the upside even they found Sarah Palin intolerable. Common ground, people. We have to look for it wherever we can.

9. Climate change is not a problem. For proof that only crazy liberals are concerned, tune to Fox News.

10. Haters are loud, proud and everywhere you look. And unfortunately they may be related to you. The only hope is to remember that the vast majority of people are hard working, honest, well meaning, kind-hearted, sensible and open minded. They’re just, unfortunately, very, very quiet.

 

What do you think got better or worse this year? Do tell!

 

 

 

 

That Number on the Scale is a Typo. Right?  1

NOTE: Due to WordPress glitches, unfortunately there is no way to add images to posts. Hopefully the words alone will keep readers engaged.

The holiday season is the worst time to be discussing weighty matters like dieting. Especially for someone like me who thinks a balanced meal is a cookie in each hand. In fact, I usually wear so much Lycra that I caution people not to come near me with a lit cigarette or I might blow like a Goodyear tire.

But this year is different.

The number on the scale is so low it must be a mistake. Women named Saralee who live for dessert and who know the points plus value of every carb found on store shelves don’t usually smile during this morning ritual.

Unless maybe they’ve changed some bad habits.

Which I did. I decided before I left my 50’s that it was time to reboot. I just didn’t imagine I’d pick one of the most difficult and challenging years of my life. My mother was gravely ill and died in March. My daughter got married in October and there were a million details to arrange for her bridal shower and the big day. In  between I traveled extensively, ran Camp Grandma and continued working on a new novel. And yet some simple, yet radical moves (for me) literally lightened my load.

The first change was the decision to eat real food instead of science experiments. I basically called it quits on packaged goods produced by companies that are trying (and succeeding) to kill us. Now my mantra is this. If it doesn’t come from a tree, the sea, the ground or have parents, I pass.

Within a month the pounds started rolling off. Imagine. All I did was eliminate the chemicals, preservatives, pesticides and other yummy ingredients found in our daily diets. Honestly, when you study a food label and can’t pronounce most of what’s in there, it’s time to rethink.

I also kept my body moving. On average I walk 15-miles a week and spend three mornings with my beloved Master Lee. Under her guidance I have learned to breathe, meditate, do yoga, tai chi and bend like a pretzel (though I no longer eat them). It is amazing how inches melt away when you stretch both your body and brain.

And yet with all these positive changes, I had yet another hurdle to overcome. In September I joined the millions living with diabetes. Seems that age, heredity and a lifetime of crappy eating habits finally did me in. The good news is that since I was already eating well and working out, the tweaks to my lifestyle were minor. Difference being that this new way of living is no longer an elective. It’s a required course.

So be it. I’m happy, I feel great and it’s fun to choose my outfits based on what I adore, not what I can squeeze into. As for all the holiday goodies that are everywhere I look, I’m fine to take a few bites and move on. And that number on the scale? It neither defines me nor scares the crap out of me anymore.

I am finally eating to live and not living to eat. Ironically it is exactly the way my mother lived and she made it to 91 with her heart and mind in tact.

Mother does know best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

No More Cake for Saralee… and Here is Why  1

Welcome to sixty. You have diabetes!

Wilford-BrimleyOkay that’s not exactly how my doctor, a Wilford Brimley lookalike, broke the news to me back in September. Instead he mumbled something about disappointing results from my recent bloodwork and in a stoic, resigned voice concluded that he would be prescribing Metformin.

Bright girl that I am I said, “Are you saying I have diabetes?”

He nodded. “According to these lab results it seems so.”

“Should I get a second opinion?”

“Here it is, he replied. “I’d also like you to see a cardiologist.”

“Wait. I have a heart condition, too?”

“Not yet.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means we’ll do our best to monitor you here, but there’s a family history and don’t forget you’re turning sixty.”

Don’t forget? As if I needed my medical chart for verification? Believe me I’m aware. In fact, today is 60 to 60. Sixty days until I celebrate this milestone birthday, just apparently not with cake. Which is a sacrifice for a girl named Saralee. But I’m fine with it. No really I am. 1798601_10202815948503956_7208731145055079761_n

In the two months since my diagnosis, I’ve discovered that diabetes is treatable. It’s manageable.  And though it requires vigilance in monitoring blood sugar, being mindful of carbs/sugar and committing to exercise, it doesn’t deprive me of living a life that matters. Literally there is nothing it will stop me from doing.

I am grateful to have been “caught” early as opposed to the millions of Americans who are diabetic but have no idea. I am grateful for the meds that are keeping me in check and hopefully sparing me of more serious complications. I am mostly grateful for this chance to share my news and urge anyone who is at risk to see their doctor.

Mine has zero bedside manner and I worry that one day central casting will discover him. But for now I’m happy that he remains at his post as my watchdog. After all, I’m turning sixty and I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Frankly, I thought I’d feel bummed that I’m getting older but as my dear dad liked to say, “Consider the alternatives.” Happy birthday to me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunrise, Sunset…  0

Escorting1601395_10100112559925831_2536479223188349791_n your baby girl down the aisle to meet her husband is both the shortest and longest walk of a mother’s life. I didn’t know that until last Sunday when it was my moment to clutch my daughter’s arm and take those milestone steps.

I’m sure there was music playing but I couldn’t tell you what the band played. I’m sure there were dozens of pictures taken but I didn’t notice the cameras. I’m sure there were smiles and tears but I was only mindful of my own.

Alex and I did chuckle at the colored leaves strategically strewn down the aisle. Only we knew what a pain it had been to gather enough bags in time or how we cursed the person who thought they would be a nice touch. But then as we neared the Chuppah (wedding canopy) my heart stopped.

Forget the stupid leaves. I needed a time out. Had I remembered to tell her how much I loved her? How proud I was? How stunning she looked? How much we loved Barry? Had I told her all that she needed to know about marriage? Her father and I had just celebrated our thirty-seventh anniversary so surely I could share something wise and witty about patience, compassion, forgiveness and honesty. Did she know the rule about not going to bed angry?1621834_10202797567364439_2731242780183314308_n

Too late. We were being prompted to stop so that her handsome prince could walk her the rest of the way. We gently kissed her cheeks but her gaze told the whole story. She couldn’t wait another second to marry the man who stole her heart. The man who would love, protect and nurture her forever. The man who could make her think, laugh and love beyond her dreams.mr and mrs. gilbert

And so we let go and took our place beside her, happy but wistful. If you spend a lifetime raising a child, why are the years so fleeting? Then I remembered my father’s sage advice. He said it was a parent’s job to give their children roots and wings, but after that the journey was up to them.

I know for sure that I remembered to do that. Sunrise, sunset indeed.

 

 

 

Think Disney Is the Happiest Place on Earth? Wait Until You Arrive at Kleinfeld!  2

10646805_10202574647631585_3096669570620921465_nWithin days of my daughter getting engaged, the application to appear on Say Yes to the Dress was filled out and submitted… but not by the bride. Not even with her knowledge. It was all handled by her younger sister who saw this as the chance for them to experience the excitement that has no equal- a visit to Kleinfeld.

Mind you I enjoy watching the show and have gotten sucked in like everyone else when the family’s story is touching, or they have terrible taste, or especially when the MOB (mother-of-the-bride) isn’t as nurturing and supportive as surely I would be.

But actually shop there for my daughter’s wedding gown? No thanks. Why put up with pushy bridal consultants, not to mention price tags that rival tuition payments? The girls could go have their fun and report back like they had watched a movie that didn’t interest me.

kleinfeld dressing roomHa! If you have daughters then you know where this story is going. I got dragged to the showroom as punishment for all the years I preached that they must be open-minded. “How do you know you won’t like it unless you try it???” So off we went to the Shrine of Chiffon with me muttering that we would not be saying yes to anything other than champagne if they offered.

Now here is where the story gets really predictable (especially if you have daughters). From the moment the bride and her entourage start snapping selfies at the front door, our collective hearts raced. The cavernous lobby beckoned with its stone pillars and sumptuous couches. Then the receptionists greeted us warmly and we could feel the buzz of the brides.

But that didn’t compare to the joy of discovering what was happening in the showroom. “Mom! They’re taping an episode.” And off they raced. Maybe they would get lucky and be seen in the background, or hold your breath, meet one of the stars. That’s when I texted my husband and said, Heads up, Honey. The Festival of Checkbook has begun.   

"Oh please, Mom? It'll be fun!"

An hour later the bridal consultant pulled back the curtain and my daughter twirled in a stunning,  Romona Ceveza gown. There were tears and they were mine. Then we were ushered into the showroom with its jeweled showcases and multi-level platforms for the “jacking up”. From out of nowhere the staff appeared like Cinderella’s mice to add the finishing touches.

“Are you saying yes to the dress?” the consultant asked. My daughter looked at me, her sister, her sister-in-law and her future mother-in-law and our smiles said it all. Are you kidding me? Of course she is! And after the call to Daddy to say thank you, thank you, thank you, my baby girl was officially a Kleinfeld bride.after kleinfelds

Now here is the truth. The Kleinfeld experience was as perfect as the gown. Not once were we pushed into buying or doing anything that didn’t work for us. We spent what we budgeted (well maybe a tad more), our fitter was a lovely woman whose expert eye resulted in the most beautiful alterations and between the numerous phone calls and emails, we were never disappointed in their customer service.

As for my starry-eyed daughter getting her fifteen-minutes of fame on the show? Didn’t happen. But after a fitting, Randy Fenoli, the famed Fashion Director, happened to be chatting with customers. In two seconds my girls raced off to ask him to pose for a photo. Thankfully, he could not have been more gracious.

This morning I drove into Manhattan to pick up the dress and with military precision it was brought to my car. Now it hangs in kleinfelds3my daughter’s room, awaiting her grand entrance at the ceremony when for a brief instant she can recall the moment she said yes to the dress… and her wonderful groom.

Disney claims to be the happiest place on earth but only until those little princesses grow up. Once they’ve found their princes, get real, Mickey. Kleinfeld is their new magic kingdom.