Routine is Important: Just ask my Mother

As we age, we’re told to mix up our routine. Keep our brain challenged and break out of our day-to-day pattern. It’s healthy for us, or so we’re told.

And to some degree, I think there’s some merit to the medical studies that espouse such recommendations, but I think there’s also something to be said for sticking to a routine.

Routine is important. Just ask my mother. Disturb her before she has her first cup of coffee and visits the loo in the morning and she’s not a happy camper. God forbid, if you should bother her before her favorite television show, “The Price is Right”, is over. Not a pleasant experience to have with her.

Every morning, my cat and I dance. She whines. I feed her. She jumps up on my desk, starts chewing on my paper work and walking across my computer key board. Then she wants to go outside. Of course, she can’t simply walk out when I open my patio door. She has to walk around the perimeter of the living room first, then around the overstuffed lazy boy rocker and finally she’s ready to exit. I have to patiently wait while she does this little two-step of hers, and then I can close the door and go back to whatever I was doing.

There are days that I’d like to choke the little twit as she slowly prances by me and looks up as if to say, “Humans are so clueless.”

Maybe Boo’s trying to teach me patience, or maybe this little tango is something that keeps her safe and she depends on it. I don’t know. I’m no cat whisperer, and I certainly haven’t a clue as to what makes a cat tick.

I do know, though, there are days in my life when everything is crazy and life is one crisis after another. Having a routine and sticking to it keeps me secure: Taking daily walks. Going to exercise class on Wednesdays. Seeing my yoga buddies on Fridays. Reading a good book and falling asleep on a rainy afternoon with our other cat, Molly, spread-eagle on my belly. All routines I relish and enjoy.

And when the sump pump breaks, the IRS notifies me that I owe them $5,500, the inspector says my house has termites and my doctor tells me that I have pneumonia; I remember to get up, wash my face, put on a little lipstick and face the day, ‘cuz that’s what Mom taught me to do.

I’m not so much into the lipstick, like my Mom, but I definitely understand and appreciate the need for a consistent schedule to keep me going. There are days when I need the safety and comfort of knowing that I have certain things planned. So, when life comes along and messes with those plans, I still have the comfort of knowing that my daily regimen is still intact and it can be restarted with the dawning of a new day.

I keenly remembered how my special needs kids depended on a routine. They vociferously complained about it on a regular basis, but change it on them once in a blue moon, and they let you know they weren’t pleased. For many of them, their day to day home life was chaotic and their only source of reliability and sanity was my classroom and the safety of its expectations and schedule.

As I slowly age, I realize that I need to keep my mind challenged and continue to learn new skills and stretch my imagination, but I also realize that there are days that I need to feel stable and safe and having some structure and routine in my life is ok and actually beneficial to me in a number of ways, both physically and emotionally. So, I give myself permission to throw caution to the wind, and on those days I need to have a miniature snicker’s bar after I eat lunch, I go for it and sometimes even have two!

In the meantime, I need to feed Boo Boo, again, and wait at the patio door while she sashays around the border of our living room furniture. Have a great week, People, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes!

A Rainy Day Analogy

Northern CA. has been getting pounded with weather this past month, and if the truth be told, I’m one of those crazy individuals who actually likes the rain. I find it cleansing and sometimes a signal to slow down with the day-to-day busyness of life and curl up with a good book.

Slowing down and napping on a sunshiny day just doesn’t seem right. One time I actually told my Pastor that I couldn’t understand how people could in fact die on a sunlit day – that death seemed more appropriate for rainy, cloudy days – and that life and living seemed more suitable for sunny days. Needless to say, my Pastor was a little flummoxed with our conversation that day. She awkwardly changed positions on our couch many times, while she tried to explain to me just why I may not have a choice in the matter.

I respectfully listened and acknowledged her reasoning, but it’s been 8 years since we had that little chat, and I still think it’s unnatural to die on a cloud-less day. Just seems like an oxymoron of sorts to me, but what do I know? The Princess and I are moving to the state of Washington, soon.

I don’t think I’ll have that problem any more.

That’s what all my well-meaning friends and relatives keep telling us: We’re headed to the land of constant rain slickers and duck boots, and sunglasses are a thing of the past; or so we’ve been warned. Guess it’ll make my impending twilight years and eventual death easier to deal with, eh?

At least my rainy-day analogy says so.

And it’s not death that has me so concerned these days, as much as the concept of growing old while trying to maintain my dignity and independence.

As I write this, I’m struggling with the fact that my mom and loved ones are three thousand miles away from me trying hard to maintain some semblance of independence; some modicum of respect and autonomy. Each of them fighting hard not to be an imposition on their friends or relatives, and each of them realizing that Father Time is playing havoc with their bodies.

In 1983, in response to her 55-year-old mother’s need for extended care after she suffered a devastating stroke, Keren Brown Wilson built her first assisted living house in the state of Oregon. What she and her husband envisioned when they built Park Place was an assisted living center that provided assistance, while at the same time giving the residents a sense of independence and privacy. She wanted the elderly to feel the sense of being home and not imprisoned or institutionalized, and by many accounts she succeeded.

The problem, as I see it, resulted when she wanted to reach more elderly and went to Wall Street for capital to build more places. Her company went public and their original concept of assisted living got watered-down. She went to Congress and spoke across the country trying to enlist the help necessary to sustain her original ideology, but was hit head-on with the medical and legal road-blocks of the ever-elusive concept of the “continuum of care” ideology.

And sadly, the idea of assisted living, as she defined it, all but died.

As I sit here today in the heart of Silicon Valley and think about how advanced we are in so many areas of society, I can’t help but see the paradox: is our technological evolution creating a people bereft of compassion and humanness, and do we need to seriously re-examine what is important to us as a civilization?

I don’t know about you, but when it’s time for me to hang up my saddle before I ride in my last rodeo, I want to know that I’m going to be assisted by people who care about me. I need to know that I’m not just a chore. It’s important that I am seen for who I am: a loving, kind woman who gave to her family and society and now requires a little assistance in return.

Dr. Wilson continues to advocate for hard-to-serve elders both in the United States and in Central America. I pray that her efforts are soon legitimized and honored by those in power. We seriously need to change our view on aging and what it means to “grow old”.

Until next time, be kind to one another, and I’ll catch you the next go-round, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

 

People Wanna Know if I Write Fiction

Now that I’m retired, people want to know what I do with all of my spare time. Many are pleasantly surprised that I don’t have a problem filling up my day with meaningful activities.

Between breaks with some heavy-duty storms that Northern CA was pounded with last week, I was bent over on my arthritic knees; looking head first, into a 4-foot hole, with my arse saluting my unsuspecting neighbors. I was trying to figure out why our back-yard sump pump wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do – sump water away from our home and into the streets.  I had difficulty assessing the situation because of all the standing water in the hole and decided to try using a portable pump to help me.

Un-hun.

I got my garden hoses attached to the pump and lowered it into the hole, when it started to rain.

Again, I was bent over with my larger – than – life buttocks shooting straight up into the air, when I suddenly felt water trickling down my hiney.

“No biggey,” I thought to myself. “My socks are totally wet and I need to change them anyways. Not a problem in changing a wet pair of undies, right?”

So, into the house I traipsed, grabbed a new pair of drawers, changed my underwear and socks, and headed for the loo before leaving to my exercise class. I opened the bathroom door, and Molly – the cat that I have the door closed for because she likes to piddle on bathroom rugs –  sashayed pass me.

“Cazzo (Ot-so!),” I said out loud, as I slid into the cat pee.

“I must have accidentally locked her in there when I left this morning for my walk,” I said to myself, while shaking my head in disgust.

“Shoot!”

All right, this was also no big deal. I have many pairs of socks. I changed into pair number 3 and out the door I headed for my morning A.P.E. class at the Senior Center.

Yep.

My Subaru decided that it did not want to start.

Dead battery.

O.K.

No big deal. I had a camper van that wasn’t used in a dog’s age and needed to be run. It was sitting under an ash tree for the past umpteen storms and unbeknownst to me had accumulated all kinds of goodies on the cowl of my van’s hood.

As I began to drive to class, it started misting, and I unwittingly turned on my wipers. Suddenly, my windshield – that was kissed ever so lightly by the morning’s mist – was now an impenetrable lens of mud and muck.

As I drove down Virginia Avenue, blind as a bat, I looked up to the heavens and shouted, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Ya wanna give me a break today?” As if on cue, the heavens promptly opened up and it began pouring – really pouring –  enough so that it cleaned the gunk off of my windshield.

Yep.

The Big Guy came through for me once again.

I got to the Center, pulled into the parking lot, made an abrupt stop and got slapped in the back of my neck with water that apparently had accumulated under the canvas of my pop-up roof.

At that point, I looked up to the skies, told God that he had a great sense of humor, but that he needed to find another muse for his merriment.

And People want to know if I write fiction?

No, People, this is my boring, retired life. Who needs fiction when you’re living life in my shoes?

Stay well, and I’ll catch ya next adventure.

A Time of Thanks

Dusting never came natural to me. Mom tried teaching me the finer nuances of the activity, but I wasn’t a very adept student and continue to have difficulty with the skill to this day.

My paternal grandmother never liked dusting, either. I think my dusting aversion was acquired genetically, or at least that’s what I told my mother. I can remember writing out my name with a smiley face in the dust on Grandma Hattie’s end tables a number of times when I went up to Caroga Lake to visit her. The funny thing, though, I really didn’t care one way or another about her dusty furniture. I just remembered the blue enamel turkey roaster that she kept loaded with popcorn on her kitchen cupboard, and how you never went hungry in between meal times at Grandma’s house because you always had access to popcorn and butterscotch candies. A candy, mind you, that I learned to hate after choking on a piece, one afternoon when I was 7 years old. Guess I laughed and swallowed at the same time and got the stupid thing lodged in my throat. It stayed there for most of the day, despite numerous glasses of water and attempts to force it down by having me eat bread. To this day, I avoid butterscotch candies like the plague and find my throat contracting every time I see them on the store shelf.

Grandma Hattie wasn’t a wealthy woman, by any stretch of the imagination. She lived in a tiny home with one bedroom and a bathroom that was later converted into a bedroom to accommodate my older cousin, Kip. And when Kip grew up and moved out, we kids slept in it for sleep-overs and felt pretty darn special.

Yep. Had a cozy bed and warm, comfy blankets strewn all over the lumpy mattress, and I felt like a princess in that room with a toilet in it. Sounds a little weird to have a bedroom in a bathroom, but I haven’t really moved up in society all that much, lately. My bathroom is still a stone’s throw away from my bed. Only now-a-days, it’s called a master suite with an adjoining bathroom. And my old body is grateful for a bed that isn’t lumpy these days, but I miss the quiet and the calmness I felt in Grandma’s country home on those winter, Adirondack nights; nights when the snow quietly accumulated, and my sleep was momentarily interrupted by the clanging of the tire chains on the town’s snow plows, as they whizzed-by, scraping it from the packed roadway.

My Grandmother never dressed in the latest fashions, and certainly didn’t have the money to spend on things other than the bare essentials, but she certainly made me and my siblings feel loved and wanted. Every summer, she’d load up her old, beat-up baby buggy with the youngest of the brood, pack our lunches and make sure we each had a beach towel and a swim suit and off to the lake we’d head – big kids holding onto the hands of the little kids and some of us littler kids holding onto the side bars of the baby carriage – brothers, sisters, cousins, alike. And off we went with Grandma for an afternoon of swimming; an afternoon of being a kid.

I remember the smell of the freshly tarred road that we walked on and the laughter and teasing and how patient Grandma was as we peppered her with questions:

“Why’s the road stink so, Grandma?” I’d ask as we walked and our sneakers stuck to the road. “It’s sticky and stinks; not like our roads at home,” I continued. “Why are country roads stinky and rocky and city roads smooth?”

“It makes my feet hot, Grandma,” my cousin chimed in. “Can’t wait ‘till we get swimming, Grandma,” he’d add on. “Are we almost there, Grandma?”

She’d smile and nod and acknowledge each one of us, and down to the lake we’d waddle, baby carriage, kids and all. And today when our local freeways are jammed and the news is overwhelming, I think back on those moments and think back to those times; when the roadways were stinky and my sneakers were hot, and I smile with the warm memories of a less hectic time and remember my Grandmother and am thankful she cared.

Those were good days; days of innocence – days few in number – but days remembered and treasured.

May this season of thanks be one that is joyful, and may you be blessed with the memories of days past when your sneakers were sticky and your grandma was kind, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

Let Everyone Play

In 1984, many of us remembered Sally Fields holding onto a coveted Oscar for her role in “Places in the Heart” and declaring, “You like me. You really like me!” In actuality, what she said was, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.”

Like most of us, I’ve come to hold onto the first quote as the real one. For me it has accurately summed up my need for belonging and acceptance over the years, and explains why I felt so giddy last month after receiving my yearly t-shirt and hat from the Veteran’s Senior Center of Northern Ca.

I felt like some smilin’ 5-year-old, that day, who lost her first tooth and was eagerly awaiting a visit from the tooth fairy. And if the truth be told, I continue to feel that way.

You would think at this age that I’d be able to buy myself as many blue t-shirts and baseball caps as I wanted, and technically you’d be right. But there’s something that makes me cry with happiness when I think about what the shirt and cap mean. There’s something that’s so deep and primal about what those two items represent, that in one instance it overwhelms me with an unbridled joy and a feeling of unconditional acceptance and love. And in another instance, I travel back to my childhood, and am engulfed in a down-to-my-toes sorrow and a feeling of exclusion and dislike.

No matter how old, how rich or poor, how educated or uneducated we are; where we were born, or the color of our skin…we all have the need to belong and be accepted.

When we’re young, having friends is so important to our development and well-being. But maintaining friendships as we age sometimes becomes difficult. Our careers, family demands, and health restraints – all pull us in different directions – all pull us further away of what is truly important; truly valuable to our survival.

As a child, I keenly remembered being left out of play groups and study groups. According to a group of neighborhood kids, my family was poor and our father was crazy. So, it gave them a reason and justification to exclude me from playing kickball and hide and seek in the Cherry Street Park on those sultry, Adirondack nights as the lightening bugs dotted the sky.

“No newcomers,” Rosemary yelled as I rounded the corner from Orchard Street to Cherry, smiling with the anticipation of a naive 10-year-old who just finished her household chores and was ready to play. “No newcomers,” she yelled as I innocently looked behind me until the reality of her comment struck home.

Slowly my smile faded, ever-so-slowly my pace slackened. I was crushed – my spirit deflated – my self-esteem kicked in the stomach. But I knew then, as a 10-year-old that those kids weren’t going to get the best of me. So, I smiled even broader, straightened-out my young shoulders and walked right by them ignoring their jeers and taunts because I knew who I was – even as a 10-year-old – and I knew that I was better than their insults and abusive remarks, and I wanted nothing to do with them or their unkind ways. Or at least that’s what I told myself, as I walked around the block and went straight home to curl-up in my closet and sob myself to sleep, comforted only by the quiet and darkness of a long, summer night.

The fact remains: we were poor and our father was crazy. Killing guys on Pork Chop Hill during the Korean Conflict and leading men into a battle that took many of their young lives can do that to a person. There’s no doubt in my mind that my dad suffered from PTSD; no doubt in my mind that his self-imposed isolation and sitting for hours playing basketball with a small plastic, hand-held toy after he came home from the war were both signs of a mentally unstable young man; a man not able to appropriately parent four children and be a good husband to Mom. His demons were many and all went untold. So he’d thrash-out at my mother and beat-up on us kids and the more I’d watch shows like, “Father Knows Best,” and “Leave it to Beaver,” the more I thought something’s not right with this family, something’s not right in our home. But my mother would feed us, iron our clothes and try her best to keep smiling between my dad’s constant blows.

My mom would divorce him and eventually he died young – died alone and on vomit from an illness unknown, and I and my siblings went on with our young lives and turned into good people in spite of our poor start.

We had something more than money could buy – we had something more than fashionable clothing and all the newest toys – we had a mother who loved us and believed in us and taught us to be compassionate and fair. We had something that no one could give us or take from us; we had something undefined.

Our survival as a community, a nation, a world and a species, all depends upon our ability to make friends and play nicely together in the sand box that we call life. No matter who wins this election come November, may we all go forward and graciously let everyone play, because it’s necessary and it’s needed and it’s the right thing to do.

And in the meantime, I have a nifty new cap and a pretty blue shirt and I’m hoping that someday that everyone does, too. Have a great day, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

A Silent Drive Home

I’ve come to the inauspicious conclusion in life that old age doesn’t kill us – loneliness does. On a recent trip home this fall to visit my family members and friends in the heart of the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York, I had the unmistakable experience of seeing firsthand what isolation does to people when they’ve been indiscriminately placed in elder care and then unintentionally ignored over a period of time.

I went home to see my mom and help out with some day to day activities of shopping, cleaning and cooking to lighten her workload and visit with her while we did our routine activities every day. What greeted me upon my arrival was something totally and completely unexpected: my uncle (her youngest brother) was hospitalized and subsequently placed in a nursing home, and my mom was depressed and not eating or socializing.

When I travel back to my childhood home, I expect to be emotional about seeing people and places that I haven’t seen in a long time – it’s part of what makes me, me. What I don’t expect, though, is to be so completely and totally inundated with feelings of powerlessness in situations that I have no control over – I don’t expect to be so thoroughly overwhelmed when I looked at faces long lost to any semblance of hope or redemption.

Every day I taxied my mom to and from the nursing home to see her baby brother. Every day my uncle’s strength improved, my mom’s resilience did, too. Where I once saw helplessness and desperation in mom’s eyes, eventually I noticed a life-force slowly coloring her cheeks and soon after an appetite for food and activity.

In November 2015, I read an article in the New York magazine that described a study on relationships called, “The Widowhood Effect,” and how when one spouse dies, the likelihood of their partner dying increased significantly. My mother and uncle aren’t “partners,” as such, but have had a close relationship since their youth, and I seriously began to wonder if my mom’s passing would mirror this study. She certainly was not doing well when I first landed, and I began to wonder if instead of a visit with friends and loved ones, I’d be attending a funeral for a favorite uncle and soon after a wake for my mom.

Allowing myself a brief time to deal with the emotions of the situation, one day a flicker of life suddenly appeared in my mom’s sweet eyes; and I decided that this little, gray-haired Italian passerotta (term of endearment for sparrow) still had some hell-raising left to do, and so I set out to make changes as needed.

Operation passerotta started and soon after success came as gradual and beautiful as the leaves changing colors on the hills of the surrounding Adirondack mountains.

She sat in silence. I sat quietly nearby.

I cooked and ate. She eventually started cooking and eating.

And very soon after, I became my funny, wise-cracking self, and she became her feisty rompicoglioni (pain in the butt) self.

Her brother’s physical therapy started working, and soon we started doing other things besides trips to the nursing home. Shopping at the dollar store, picking up a few things at the local grocery store – all things she routinely did before her brother’s ill health – slowly began to be part of her daily agenda; slowly began to blossom.

What amazed me each day, though; what never seemed to be missing with mom was her unconditional kindness and unwavering love for others.

Every day she dressed and put-on a little makeup. Then she walked down her apartment’s long hallway, deliberately grasping the handrails to guide herself toward the apartment steps that she took one at a time; careful not to fall or trip on her way out to her rusted, but reliable Flintstone car. And off we’d slowly drive over familiar roadways, past familiar homes.

“Take a left here,” she reminded me. “Go straight over the Meco Flats,” she continued.

“Make sure you watch for that pot hole on Easterly. I think it’s right there. Stop at the stop light and drive slowly. We don’t want to miss the turn-off,” she gently guided me as if carefully reminding herself.

“Why are you smiling?” she’d ask and continued before I responded. “Wait ‘till you get old. You’ll soon be doing the same.”

I sighed and kept smiling and went on with the drive until we reached the nursing home. Every day she walked into the place, she left a little love: a little kindness.

“I see you.” She said to the wheel-chair-bound woman sitting in the entrance hallway. “I see you,” she continued as she bent closer to her face and gently cupped her cheeks between her hands. “And I love you,” she whispered into her ear, as she smiled and kissed her cheek.

“And God bless you, too. Have a nice day.”

And down the hall she’d shuffle, taking a moment or two to acknowledge most everyone she’d pass.

Every day, we’d do the same thing. And every day she’d acknowledge the living and honor their spirit, and on the last trip to the nursing home – the last trip to my uncle’s temporary abode – we rounded the hallway’s corner to walk down one last time to sign him out and escort him home, and life hit us head-on.

I know my mother saw it. There was no mistaking it. What once was a life force, a life fully lived; was a being no more, was a soul for the heavens. A person of substance, now an inanimate lump. What once was a human, was vaguely hidden from view, by a flimsy, gray sheet on a one-way-wheeled stretcher; a stretcher of eternal rest.

We continued our walk until we reached my uncle’s room. It was time to go home and he was eagerly waiting. It was time to live life and continue what God planned.

Papers were signed, brief wishes exchanged and out the door we headed; out the door he was wheeled. Conversations were limited and emotions were raw; one last look at the stretcher-one last look at life stilled.

I looked for the wheel-chair lady. I know my mom did, too, but nowhere could I see her; nowhere was she found.

We drove home in silence – overwhelmed by the day. I remember the bright sun and blue sky and the rolling lush hills, speckled with the hint of color from a few frosted evenings, touched by the Adirondack cool air, and I silently thanked God for my car-mates and said a quiet prayer of gratefulness.

Life is precious.

Be kind to each other, People, and I’ll catch ya next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

Lost Child

I never quite understood my affinity toward kids and their quaint, multifaceted peculiarities, but I learned years ago that their thought processes and actions totally fascinated me. From the moment I asked our neighbor’s kid why he had to splash every puddle in front of him on our walk and he answered, “’Cuz it makes my feet feel crunchy and my socks fit better”, to the more recent Little Miss Grumpy cat’s comment of “Mommy, this lady’s smiling at me. Tell her to stop smilin’ at me”, I’ve always been enamored with little people.

Kids have an innocence and naiveté that quickly dissipates with age and sophistication, and it’s their total and blatant honesty that I’ve always admired and tried to emulate. The problem is that with age and sophistication, we’re supposed to develop a certain editorial edge in order to maintain relationships – familial, professional and friendly. The difficulty for me is that while I’m juggling all these half-truths and inaccurate stories, I’m cluttering my already garbage-filled, aging memory with rubbish and crap that with time and repetition begins to cement in my brain as the honest truth. And if I repeat the story enough times to enough people, I’ve got a totally jaded version of what really, actually happened – what really, actually is the truth. And therein lies the dilemma – the edge has inadvertently created a dishonesty of sorts.

Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me that likes directness and honesty. New Yorkers are blatantly truthful people – mostly. If you don’t want the truth, don’t ask a New Yorker. I remember a clueless reporter shoving a microphone into the face of an obviously distraught New Yorker on the day of 9/11 and asking him how he felt, and how the incredulously New Yorker looked back at the reporter and bluntly said, “How the f–k do you think I feel?”

Simple. Direct. Honest. No game playing. I knew exactly how the guy felt. He didn’t have to elaborate for me. His world was crushed. Life as we knew it was now history. In the blink of an eye, our lives were transformed, and this stupid reporter asked him how he felt?

I don’t even know how to respond to stupid people like that. Kids don’t, either. Try asking a stupid, illogical question of a kid and I bet’cha they answer with a blank stare and silence. Either that or they totally ignore the question and start talking about a completely unrelated subject. They have an innate genius to sniff-out stupidity.

Maybe my affinity toward child-like honesty was learned. Mom brought us up to tell the truth and always, always be honest in your dealings with people – both professionally and personally. Doing this honors them and you and speaks volumes for your sense of integrity.

One of my former classmates from Estee Middle School ran into my mom a few years ago and asked about my well-being and then told her a story about me that made her proud to be my mom. Tommy told her how he tried to help me pass a test in our 9th grade Asian History class and how I refused to take his help because it was cheating, and I would not cheat. I was studying my butt off and trying like hell to pass the class, but was failing miserably. Allowing me to peek over his shoulder and copy the answers from his test, though, was not cool, despite the fact that I was well-aware that many in our 9th grade Honor’s History class were cheating at the time. It was dishonest, plain and simple, and I was not going to do the same.

Tommy was a young man of morals and principals, as well. He had a terrible sense of fashion – liked to wear plaids with stripes – and he wasn’t exactly  Mr. Popularity  among the Freshman class, but he knew that I was trying hard to succeed and keenly aware of the fact that a lot of our classmates were successful because they were cheating. He just wanted to even the playing field, and I’ll always be grateful to him for that.

Momma Benedetti always taught me better, though, and I couldn’t disappoint Momma. I’d settle for an honest “D” that I earned with a lot of extra credit assignments, rather than cheat like the others and have a higher grade that I didn’t honestly earn.

Tommy went on to be a highly regarded pediatrician, and I have no idea if his fashion sense improved, but I certainly hope so, for his wife’s and family’s sake. What his casual disclosure to my Mom validated with me, though, is that the respect and honesty that I value so much today, were traits that I honed as a child and were actually acknowledged by others way back then.

Thank you, Dr. Tom. Thank you for remembering and acknowledging that and letting my mom know that what she taught me stuck with me and is still an active part of the woman I am today.

Years ago, a highly regarded professor of mine once said to me, “Lucie, whatever you do in life, don’t lose that child-like quality of yours. It will serve you well, if used correctly, but be your downfall if abused by others.”

I never really understood what she meant. Today, unfortunately, I do understand – understand all too well.

I miss the kid in me and wonder if I’m aging because I’ve lost her or lost her because I’m aging?

Therein lies the paradox.

Until next time, People, be kind to one another and I’ll catch ya the next adventure, looking at life from my shoes.