Wednesday, December 30, 2020

45 Years!


I married the love of my life 45-years ago on December 28, 1975 and it has been a wild and wonderful ride.


Although we went to the same high school, we never REALLY met there (okay, I punched him one time when he was a hall monitor and attempted to stop me from going to my classroom after the “switch” was over); we actually MET a few years later as volunteers in the NYC Auxiliary Police. I was already a member of our unit when he signed up and, as Personnel Officer, I had to interview him. He passed and was admitted into our unit… but neither of us liked each other, lol.


However, as time went on we did eventually go out on a date and we both seemed to enjoy each other’s company… he asked me out for the following weekend. Within two weeks, he proposed, I said NO (not because I didn’t like him, I just didn’t think I was ready) — he was “persistent” and the following morning we announced our engagement. Then I went away for eight weeks to work at a summer stock theatre, he drove up to visit me several times.


By the time I returned home everyone wanted to know if we had set a date, we hadn’t yet. On December 28, 1974 we attended a formal ceremony for my Dad at the local J.W.V. chapter, they were honoring him for his community service as the local Auxiliary Police Captain as well as his WW2 service in the Army Corps of Engineers. While there, once again Mark and I received a multitude of questions about the date of our wedding until we both just looked at each other, smiled, and responded “One year from today”.


We did start discussing what kind of wedding we wanted, I was all for a small Rabbi’s study with just our immediate families present. Although Mark was easy going, his father and one of my aunt’s made it difficult to plan something intimate. We wound up compromising on a guest list of 90 (approximately 80 showed), both of his folks were pleased, the aunt made arguments right up to the wedding (and no, she was not paying for it!).


The day of the wedding was… memorable to say the least. My mom was totally stressed dealing with the intrusive aunt, on the way to the catering hall my sister (my Matron-of-Honor) fell down a flight of stairs and we thought she had broken her leg; trooper that she is, she managed to pull herself together and promised to be able to “hobble down the aisle” for her little sister, and I hadn’t been able to reach Mark (before the era of cellphones) and we arrived so late that he had almost  given up waiting.


Everything was finally underway! We posed for an array of photos, and then the ceremony began. We were married!!!!! Then… my poor Mom, a diabetic, had a serious low-blood sugar reaction to all the stress and upset about my sister’s tumble and she wound up spending the majority of party time lying down in the bridal suite while my Dad took juices to her; she wouldn’t leave and go to the hospital. Finally, the end of the party came, my mom was able to be present for the latter half of the party and in time to see me throw my bouquet and leave with my new husband.


Maybe we should have realized that our wedding day was a forecast of our marriage with all of our ups and downs, but in the end we drove off TOGETHER excited about our new life. We weathered crazy downstairs neighbors, the deaths of all four parents (in a five year period), a few miscarriages, buying a house, the birth of our daughter, the preemie birth of our son, ups and down in jobs and finances, seeing both of our children grow into phenomenal adults and (after a few false starts) settle down in their own homes with loves that are terrific people, we survived a serious illness, and finally a retirement and move to a beautiful home not far from where we actually honeymooned.


In 45-years our love has grown, been tested, and shined even brighter with each new day. I am so glad that he was persistent on the night he proposed — I couldn’t imagine any other life.

I love you, Mark, now and for eternity.



Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Family Ties


For most of us, the lucky ones at least, growing up in a family setting (whether it was just parent[s] and you or a large extended family) was like you had whole world surrounding you with love and care. As we grew older sometimes we made “best friends” outside of our homes, but coming home always meant coming to a place where you always felt you belonged.


As we grew up and experienced teenage angst and the trials of young adulthood, tempers and words now and then caused arguments and tears — generally our parents forgave us the cross words we used in pain, our siblings might not have been so forgiving quite as quickly, but they still seemed to have our backs when it counted. Somehow as adults… and maybe parents of adults, we may lose that capacity to forgive the cross words so easily. And some even seem to forget the importance of family. That is sad.


Someone says a cross word in anger or pain, or maybe it was just a poorly worded comment with no malice intended, but suddenly it causes a family divide. And you just let it go, let it fester, while you wait for an apology that might not even be understood. Time passes, time that you can never get back and some even run out of time to make things right. When you realize there is no more time, no chance to hug that person again, no time to say “I love you”, that’s when you cry over your memories and especially the memories you were cheated out of.


Nowadays so many are taking mail-in DNA tests to find family that they may have never known existed, but somewhere along the line there was a break, a divide, people just drifted apart. While it is a great thing to find those long-lost family members, you can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to share the years before you found each other. Yet, even for those who crave those DNA matches, not all of them hang on to what they already know they have just because someone got annoyed.


Hang on to your loved ones because no one has forever. You can’t redo lost years; you can’t share memories that you were never together to share. And down the road when you realize how much you’ve lost, you might begin to question if waiting for that demanded apology was really worth it. There is a saying, “if you want a lot of space in your life, just be angry at the people around you,” and it could get very lonely. Even if you raised that child, realize that not everyone is going to think the same way you do. And even if your older parent seems to be annoying because they are so “stuck in their ways”, they are not always going to be there. Remember that siblings are often the first playmates you ever had and you’ve shared your lives and memories together.


 Logistically many families don’t remain together in the same locale and you may have to work a little to keep including each in your life. Between marriages and extended families, and when children or grandchildren come along, it’s hard to keep giving the same time to everyone, but make sure to remember to reach out. The effort is well worth it. Remember to tell your family members that you love them, pause and think before you let anger respond, share your thoughts, listen to theirs, and let them know how precious they are in your life.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Time for Unity


We, as a nation, have gone through (most of) a year of… Hell. Folks used to joke, LAST YEAR, about 2020 and “perfect eyesight — well we sure have seen a lot since January.


Legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed in a tragic helicopter crash stunning sports fans and leaving a mourning mother and wife. Our 45th president was tried, impeached, and eventually acquitted. The #MeToo movement encouraged many to speak about their sexual assaults (and rapes), and many survivors cheered when some big names who felt entitled to abuse innocent victims were finally served justice.


America heard about the first reported cases of COVID-19 on our shores; these spurred a lot of misinformation, prejudice against Asians, fear, hoarding, restrictions, lockdowns, fighting, and even a stock market crash. Police-involved deaths of several Black men and women, as well as the outspoken rhetoric of prejudice, spawned the Black Lives Matter Movement and instigated many peaceful, and some violent, demonstrations.


Meanwhile, many businesses closed (some permanently) due to COVID-19 related restrictions, many children “went back to school” via the computer, jobs were lost, and families were devastated financially. For those who were able to work from home, their homes became crowded business offices, schools, gyms and more. The name “Karen” became an insult for an angry, often middle-aged white, woman who lived a privileged existence and attempted to inflict her will upon others.


The sitting president of the United States came down with COVID-19, and survived, and other prominent Americans from politicians to actors and sports-stars caught the virus and some did not survive. Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent 27-years sitting on the Supreme Court and eventually died after a long struggle with Pancreatic Cancer; finding and appointing her replacement was a lengthy political struggle that led to a resurgence of the #MeToo movement. Beloved TV personality Alex Terek died of Liver Cancer after a courageous battle.


More than four-million acres burnt, and some still burning, in California and the western U.S. costing billions of dollars; firefighters from across the country flew in to help an area where the heatwave and Covid-19 caused complication during evacuations, hundreds of homes and structures were burned, dozens injured, and multiple firefighter fatalities were recorded.


We are halfway through December and celebrating the holiday season in a year where many family get-togethers were only virtual, where many restaurants are closed to dining, movie theatres remain dark, and few indoor recreational activities exist. America has lost more than 300-thousand people to COVID-19, families and friends did not even get to say goodbye to many because of quarantines. And numbers keep rising.


But now, halfway through December, a very contentious national election has seen its final result with the Electoral College, and progress begins towards a new presidency. Vaccines against COVID-19 have been approved and a limited number of healthcare workers are beginning to get vaccinated – more vaccine is coming and eventually the hope is that most, if not all, Americans will be vaccinated against this sometimes deadly and often disabling disease within the next several months.


Now is the time when Americans need each other, no matter what our political affiliations are, no matter what our ethnicities are, or our lifestyle choices, and no matter what our financial status may be. We have been through Hell and we are almost to 2021. Let us come together and recover, let’s work together and heal our nation, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who have suffered, and be a united America.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Eyes Wide Open


Many of us have the luxury of growing up “without a care in the world” — yet as life goes on and we face hardship or loss, our attitudes change, our priorities shift. It’s not only the sad times that change us.


Try to think back to your childhood; What were your biggest concerns? What were the things you were sure you knew all there was to know? How confident were you that you could handle anything that came your way? Hopefully, as a child, you were able to know love, you were kept warm and nourished, and your biggest problems were which toy you wanted to play with — I was indeed one of the lucky ones.


My parents weren’t rich, but they were extremely loving and made sure that my sister and I were cared for. Even if some of our “wants” were beyond their means, they made sure we had what we needed. One of my favorite playthings was a dollhouse made of a cardboard box and plastic toy rejects made at the company where my dad worked. My mom was disabled for as far back as I can remember, but she was always there to talk out our problems, to help us with our schoolwork and to teach us about growing up.


Eventually I did grow up. Life was different. My sister was married and a mom herself, and my dad had been sick and it scared all of us, fortunately he did recover. And I had met the man I fell in love with and we got married. Life seemed idyllic as we began our married life in a place of our own and even with job loss and an out-of-control downstairs neighbor, things were going well. Then life changed… a little more than one year into our married life both my husband and I had to bury our fathers less than three weeks apart. And less than two years later my mom passed away. No matter how old you are, when you lose a parent you feel like an abandoned child.


We pulled ourselves together as best we could and life went on. A house in the suburbs and we decided to grow our family. After two early miscarriages, our beautiful daughter was born. Life was wonderful, we enjoyed being parents and my mother-in-law was thrilled with her granddaughter. We tried again to expand our family and four months into my next pregnancy my mother-in-law died — and I miscarried again. Life continued changing. My doctor wasn’t optimistic about my getting pregnant again, but quite surprisingly, a positive test came back and at six-and-a-half months, we brought a beautiful baby boy into the world.


We went through the ups and downs of their finding their way through their childhood and teen years. Our two beautiful children grew into amazing adults, their individual accomplishments and adventures continued to thrill us. Amazingly we both saw similarities to our four parents (they are named for three of them, a niece is named for the fourth), we admired their activism, their skills, and their compassion. Each had romances, some false starts, and (today) they are both settled down with wonderful mates. Seeing our children grow has been total joy.


Four years ago my husband suffered a stroke, he was rushed to the hospital, thank G-d survived and spent the next two months in rehab. I will never forget how, just after midnight on our 41st-anniversary, the doctor walked in with the diagnosis. I was devastated to learn that my wonderfully strong husband was disabled. Today, four years later, though he has regained several of his abilities, the effects of the stroke remain (which often frustrates him).


So in 700-words, this has been my life. My priorities have changed, wearing a fancy dress to a party is no longer the most important thing. Losing our parents, our miscarriages, 9/11, storms we literally weathered, my husband’s stroke and this pandemic has certainly helped me see what is really important. Having my family around, seeing my (grown) children’s happiness in their own homes, knowing they each have good people to experience life with, and still having my husband to grow old with… to quote the song, “these are a few of my favorite things”. Happiness is what you have in your heart, the memories you’ve made, the dreams you still look forward to.


In a poem by Linda Ellis, it’s said “what mattered most of all was the dash between those years” (between birth and death). I’d like to think that one day my dash will shine very brightly with my memories, my tears, my joys and the love I have always known.


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Holiday Greetings ~ Stop the Spread


Last week I spoke about seeing my family via ZOOM for Thanksgiving.  It was a wonderful success; not everyone was able to make it, but we did have a nice crowd. We were later able to touch base with the few family members whose work and other obligations kept them away.

As wonderful as it was to see faces and get to speak in real time, it also was very poignant. This is life now, MAYBE one day things will go back to “normal", but really what will our new normal be?

Will we ever feel safe hugging each other again? Will we see that friend that we haven’t seen in …forever and will we be able to hug and exchange kisses on the cheek? Will we be able to stand close, sharing secrets, and actually see a smile?

Whatever our new normal will be, it will never be the same because the last eight months happened. Sad, but true.  I'm sure we will find a way to deal with it all, but when we think about the way things used to be, we'll miss it.

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is behind us and we are coming up on Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's; once again our collective celebrations will be long distance. Yes, I am feeling a little sad, maybe a lot sad, but celebrating together puts our loved ones (and us, the seniors) at risk – and goes against the restrictions set by our respective lawmakers.

I'm not a happy camper…but, thank goodness for all of the instant messaging and virtual media available to us in 2020 (and soon 2021). As much as I miss the real feeling of my children's hugs, I would rather have more months of these virtual visits and the knowledge that one day we will all still be here to enjoy our moments TOGETHER.

However, as I sit here I am reading about the COVID rates rising all around us and these increases suspiciously coincide with both the Halloween and Thanksgiving festivities where some folks did have groups together without masks or social distancing. It’s sad to think that our precious moments with family and friends could have devastating consequences and illness.

But it is true, just today I heard of someone just finding out about a potential exposure he had on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving; G-d forbid, but if he is now positive, then anyone he spent Thanksgiving with is now exposed.

With Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve just around the corner, we need to remain vigilant and social distance even from those we love and care about — if for no other reason than we love and care about them. The sooner we can stop the spread, the sooner we CAN get together when we want to and not worry about our loved ones getting sick.

Let’s make 2021 a healthier and happier year than we’ve just had. We can do it.