Wednesday, December 29, 2021

December 28, 1975


Forty-six years ago my sister fell down a flight of stairs…


We were on the way to my wedding. Our parents had already made their way out to the car, my sister and I were the last to leave our parents' apartment when she tripped over the gown bag that she was carrying. She laid crumpled at the bottom of the flight of marble steps between the second and third floors in the Bronx apartment house where we were raised. I don't remember if it was my brother-in-law or me that ran to get my dad.


While she laid there in obvious pain, her concern was that she was making me late to my wedding. While my dad and her husband made an assessment about whether she needed to get to the hospital, I ran back into my folks' apartment to use the phone. In the years before the popularity of cell phones, I hoped that someone would answer the phone at the catering hall – no answer and no answering machine to leave a message. I was so frantic that my fiancĂ© wouldn't wait.


Determined not to ruin my wedding my sister argued with my dad and her husband that she just needed help to get to her feet. Leaning on the two of them, she managed to hobble her way down to the car. Fighting traffic all the way, we finally reached the site of the planned wedding and reception out in Queens. I cried in the backseat of my parents' car and kept an eye on my sister, brother-in-law and nephew in their car.


My husband-to-be's younger brother was pacing across the entryway when we got there. I got out and burst into tears telling him what had happened. He ran in to assure my betrothed that I had arrived and told him and explained about the delay. My mom dabbed my eyes with a cold washrag to try to minimize the puffy eyes from my crying and she helped my sister get her gown on before she got herself dressed in a hurry. Finally, we were ready — the next step was our "First Look" and then photos while our guests munched on hor d'oeuvres in the next room.


The ceremony began. My 4-year-old nephew, my sister's son, was our ringbearer… we all laughed when he stopped the ceremony demanding that the Rabbi bless our rings. Then our attendants began their walk down the aisle. My sister, my Matron-of-Honor had a huge smile and looked beautiful as she wore her beautiful gown and a pair of everyday shoes, she couldn't walk in the matching heels she had planned after taking that fall. And Mark and I were married in front of all four parents, our siblings and dearest friends. The reception had its own tsuris (troubles); my mom, a diabetic, had a bad reaction from her worry, refused to go to the hospital and spent most of our reception lying down in the bridal suite.


At the end of the reception, in the middle of a snowstorm, Mark and I finally drove away to begin our new life together. It was 45-miles to our apartment where we decided to spend our first night as a married couple and since we didn't have a phone in the apartment yet, Mark stopped at a pay phone and carried me, in my gown, over a snowbank so that I could call my parents and make sure my mom and my sister were really okay. After being reassured, we finally spent a romantic evening as Mr. and Mrs.


The next morning, we headed off to our honeymoon in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. This wonderful week began our wonderful marriage, still filled with lots of ups and downs. Through the years we shed tears as we buried our parents, celebrated as we bought a home, rejoiced as we raised our remarkable children, a daughter and son, watched nephews and nieces grow, survived health scares, and finally retired.


Life goes on still filled with joys and tears. This past year we sadly buried my sister, and we celebrated as her eldest son, our ringbearer, became a grandfather. Three years ago, we made a move to our "retirement" home, a beautiful house in the great Pocono Mountains — kind of where it all began.


I love you Mark, now and forever.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Reading the Fine Print


Sometimes it seems that "everyone" is trying to coerce you into wrong decisions, scam you out of money, fool you into thinking you have no alternatives… It is TIRING!


Most of us really don't have any major problems with comprehension, and many of us are just looking to be treated fairly, the same way we prefer to treat those around us. (Okay, I admit, some do look to get away with whatever they can, but not most.)


I get calls daily, sometimes more than once a day, telling me that "your car warranty has expired…" Heck, I haven't owned a car in at least eight years! And oh my goodness, heaven help us if we dare to click on a Facebook ad, we'll get put on every possible email list and then some… and too often if you try to make a purchase you either never see the product or it winds up that your charge card is used multiple times WITHOUT your approval.


I realize that there have always been scammers and con artists, but lately it seems to be everywhere you turn. Even sitting at your own computers in your own home is risky — did you ever get one of those authentic looking popups saying your computer is infected and just click here to clean? DON'T! And I can pretty much guarantee that no one in Nigeria is going to offer you millions if you give them your bank account number.


There are so many DON'Ts these days. DON'T push any buttons to remove yourself from a call list! DON'T store your credit card numbers on your computer! DON'T correct the info someone allegedly has and has to verify before sending you that "surprise"! DON'T dial back that phone number from the most recent nuisance call – you'll either negate that Do Not Call rule or you won't even reach the scammer and find they have spoofed some innocent's phone number. And definitely DON'T run to buy that gift card to send so that your phone doesn't get shut off or some such nonsense.


Aren't times tough enough without having to dodge every scam thrown your way? Most people are just trying to survive, pay their bills, stay healthy, and spend time with family. It is downright annoying when you receive an onslaught of email messages from your "favorite" social media site saying that they received "your" request to change your password, and you click each email with "No that wasn't me", and yet they keep on coming. And it is highly unlikely that your local State Police Department is selling you raffle tickets over the phone.


One very, very cruel hoax that is commonly pulled on the elderly is a phone call about a "grandchild" in trouble… car accident, jail, stranded in a strange country. The caller will pull as much information together as possible to totally frighten the loving grandparent and manages to con them into giving financial info over the phone. Meanwhile the grandchild is safe and unaware that dear old Grannie is now shaken to the core and totally ripped off of her savings. How can people be so heartless?


Another popular scam is when you go to sell something online. The potential buyer, usually long distance (allegedly) offers to mail you a check, and they do, but somehow they have included extra so that you can afford the shipping and then you will reimburse the excess. So in good faith you deposit the check, give it a day or so to "clear" and then send the overpayment by Western Union while you wait for delivery instructions. But then, lo and behold, the original check is pulled out of your account! But you are still out of the money you "refunded". Note that your bank will hold a check for so many days before it is permanently deposited in your bank account, find out how long.


Do yourself a favor and learn about Common Scams and ways to protect yourself from sites such as and It can be a cold cruel world out there, arm yourself with knowledge.


And by the way, the IRS is NOT going to call you on the phone about your overdue payment!


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Dream, Dream, Dream…

Do you remember your dreams each night? Do you sometimes wonder if they REALLY were dreams, or perhaps something more ethereal? My husband claims he doesn't dream, I think he just doesn't remember them.


I know I've often dreamt of loved ones who have passed, those are often delightful dreams. It wonderful to have moments where I feel as if I've visited or been visited by people I love who are no longer earthbound. Most times I wake in the morning with a rather nice feeling, so many times I wish the dream had lasted longer. Many have said my dreams are only my memories or imagination and while they may be pleasant, they aren't real — I call these folks cynics.


When my sister and I were little girls we both had dreams of being told bedtime stories by our maternal grandfather, the man had died long before we were even born. Often in the mornings we would tell our mom about the "nice man who told us bedtime stories" (not always together, so we certainly weren't mimicking each other). Curiously she asked us about this "mystery man", we each described him and her eyes widened, and then we told her some of the stories he told us… seems he was telling us some of the same stories he would read to her as a little girl. We agreed, this wasn't any simple dream.


The other night I had a bittersweet and amusing dream. Since we were first married, we've always had multiple cats and since cats have a shorter life expectancy than most humans, we have unfortunately had to bury several. Each one has remained in our hearts. My dream seemed a little odd, my husband and I were both in it… we were visiting "someplace" which I didn't recognize, and we were surrounded by lots of talking and standing-tall cats and dogs, some of whom called us Mom and Dad. In my dream I remember being in awe and saying, "These are cats and they're talking!" Each was excited to talk to us and tell us they were having fun and they were okay.


Then, in my "dream" (shortly before I woke up) we had to leave. We went down a level and I looked up and they were there waving, I asked "Aren't you coming?" and whoever was guiding us towards an elevator said "They have to stay, but you'll see them again." I actually felt a bit happy when I woke, I felt as if I had been visiting them after a long time. Maybe it was a dream, but then again, maybe it was more.


During Friday evening services in our synagogue we sing a song Shalom Aleichem, basically we welcome new angels and say goodbye to others. Depending on the faith you believe in, angels can be messengers, and sometimes they can carry you to visit loved ones, or the other way around, while you sleep. Unfortunately, we can't simply order up a "trip", it just happens, I guess, when it is supposed to. It is a comforting feeling to know that occasionally we are permitted a glimpse of loved ones and perhaps a little conversation. Maybe our loved ones can become our own Guardian Angels.


Maybe it's the angels helping us, or maybe it is really just dreams — what do you think?




Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Year of Firsts

I posted back in June, my only sister passed away fairly unexpectantly. She was five years older than me and in her early 70s, we had A LOT of time together, I am very blessed for that. It's still a huge change in my life though…


As we are nearing the end of 2021, and with all of the holidays surrounding us, her absence from my life is weighing heavily on my mind. This is what I call the "Year of Firsts" — it's the FIRST time that I am doing things differently, doing things without her presence. Although I will always be sad that she isn't here, the "next time" becomes a little bit more normal.


We lost our parents in 1977 and 1979 and we had each other for support during the years of firsts (and yes, Thank G-d, we also had our husbands who were total rocks for us). As our own young families grew, we spent many, many Thanksgivings together taking family pictures and torturing our kids along the way, lol. As our own children got older and had their own homes, we didn't have the dinners together, but my sis and I often spent A LOT of time on the phone "cooking together"… this year I didn't have that.


I began to think about the upcoming New Year's Eve and how every year we would be on the phone together within minutes of the ball drop in Times Square. That phone call will be missed this year. Her first birthday since she is gone and all the holidays since have been painful reminders that she isn't here, everything was a first. I know that even after the first anniversary of her passing there will still be so many poignant moments, but I will have gotten through it once already.


It's not that I am strong, but I do remember all the wonderful years I had with her and all of our memories. I am in the process of writing MY memories down because with my parents and now my sister gone, I'm the only one with ALL of those memories. (And as my daughter said to me, it's a GREAT opportunity for me to put MY spin on everything!) My memories and my blessings are what will get me through.


I had my sister in my life for 67 years, a lifetime of secrets, laughter, compassion, sharing, joys and just simple talks. I have my brother (in-law), her husband, who has known me since my teen years and has become more of a brother than an in-law. I have my sister's sons and their families in my life. My husband and our children and their mates got to know her. And I have many little tidbits of advice she gave me (she not only loved to tell me what to do, but she was also a psychologist) that will remain with me forever.


While I still shed tears, sometimes more often than I want to admit, I also realize how fortunate I've been to have had ALL the people in my life that have been here — and I am truly so fortunate to have had such a wonderful friendship with my sister.


I am halfway through the "Year of Firsts", I'm going to make it.


Bobi, I will always love you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

IT'S A SMALL WORLD (after all)

When we were little kids the world seemed so very big and immense. We tried but we couldn't possibly know everyone. But then as the years go by the friends we knew in our "yesterdays" seem to have gone their own way and we don't hear from them much anymore. And yet, so often we find reminders, connections, and sometimes even the people themselves…


In my own life there have been so many coincidences where my "yesterday" becomes part of today. In the past few years my husband and I made a move more than 100 miles away from where I grew up (not far from where he grew up). Since living here I found that among my "new" neighbors was an acquaintance from around the corner in my childhood neighborhood and even more recently I found that one of my NOW neighbors is the nephew of my next door neighbor when I was all of five or six years old. Not quite as close to where I live now, but still quite local, is a woman who lived in the same community that we raised OUR children in.


Although it isn't coincidence at all, it still is sort of mind-boggling to find distant relatives (many you never even knew existed!) after doing a DNA test; I did 23andME. The few I have been in touch with have amazingly similar attitudes and views… so much so that one 2nd cousin who lives more than 2,000 miles away, someone I have never met face-to-face and only learned about recently, agrees with me that it almost sounds as if we grew up together! (Genetic memory?) It is ironic to find these long-lost relatives and find out how much you have in common.


Another amazing small-world connection occurred nearly 50 years ago when my soon-to-be husband and I were planning our wedding. I was getting our important documents together for the marriage license and such when I noticed that we were BOTH born at the same hospital and BOTH delivered by the same obstetrician 16 months apart! — no, our moms did NOT know each other, and our parents did not live in the same neighborhoods.


My husband and I raised our children in a suburban community more than an hour and change from where we were born, so imagine my surprise when I went into a local pharmacy and noticed the pharmacist's name tag, it was the same last name as the obstetrician that had delivered us. I jokingly asked the man if he had any relation to the doctor, and it wound up that the man who delivered me (and my husband) was the uncle of this pharmacist!


Six degrees of separation refers to a theory that all people on Earth are connected to one another by no more than six separate individuals. A theory that parallels the idea that “it’s a small world,” it maintains that, through a series of connections or steps, all people have the potential to know one another on a first name basis through mutual acquaintances. (wisegeek)


You never know where or when the past and present are going to collide. Don't be surprised, it is, after all, really a small world.