My husband and I had the privilege of keeping the spouse of this family member company at the hospital during the day’s nail-biting, angst-filled four-hour surgery. All of us, family and strangers with a loved one in surgery, were gathered in the same neurosurgery waiting room, a room where the surgeon meets up with families immediately after the surgery to deliver the exploratory news that summarizes the surgery and its outcome.
Approximately fifteen minutes prior to our surgeon’s meeting with us, another neurosurgeon met with a family fifteen feet away from us in the waiting area. Their news was not at all good. The only words I heard were, “I know you hoped this surgery would be the end of it but that is not the case I’m sorry to say.” The four daughters and husband immediately started sobbing. I felt I was an unwelcome observer because of the grief I witnessed.
Then my family member’s surgeon met with us and declared that he had removed all of the massive tumor from my sister-in-law’s brain and it was not cancerous. We were relieved and felt exhilarated but tamped down our excitement.
How can it be that in the course of a quarter hour’s worth of time, one family’s extreme happiness could co-exist with the other family’s extreme devastation?
I guess the answer is that life happens to all of us; sometimes it is good, and other times it is not. Very sobering, to be sure.
I am ecstatic that our news was good but very much aggrieved that the other family’s was not.
- Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Blue sky at night? Day.
- Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, 9/10ths of people wouldn’t know how to start a conversation.
- It’s been raining so much in Los Angeles, the chia pet I threw away in the garbage is now blocking my entire driveway.
- Twice a year, we change our clocks for daylight saving time, and twice a year, one particular company assistant arrives late to work the Monday after we do so. “Do you have a problem springing forward or falling back?” I asked. “Not at all” she responded, “What gets to me is staying up until 2 am to change the clock.”
Walt came into our lives when we lived in Los Angeles, California. He worked at the same company as my father who was a mentor to the young, up-and-coming new employee at Manufacturers’ Life Insurance Company. When my family moved from LA to Honolulu, Hawaii, Walt kept in touch with us, oftentimes flying through Honolulu on his way to Maui where he vacationed from time to time.
We hadn’t seen Walt in a while, so when my mother died in September of 1994, imagine my delighted surprise when I entered the church for my mother’s funeral service and there stood Walt near the altar, a friend who had flown to Honolulu from Toronto, Canada where he had relocated years prior to work in the head office of my father’s company.
At forty years of age, I ran up the aisle of the church and threw my arms around him, so thrilled to see our family friend and so blessed that he traveled all the way from eastern Canada to honor my mother and our family by his attendance at my mother’s service.
Fast-forward twenty-four years to Monday of this week when eighty-three-year old Walt D. called me from Toronto to congratulate me on my novel, Requiem for the status quo. He had just finished reading it and couldn’t wait to talk to me about my accomplishment. “Irene, there is no reason why your novel shouldn’t be on the New York Times Best Seller List!” I thanked him for his very generous review and we then talked about the book’s subject matter (Alzheimer’s disease and its effect on families) and how he, in his golden years, had witnessed dementia’s hold on many of his friends. Since Walt and I communicate by postal mail several times a year (he does not own or use a computer), I was well-aware of his involvement with the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada where he volunteers and participates in their equivalent of the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Walt visited my father after my Dad’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, even while my father was in the middle of his Alzheimer’s journey. Walt made a point of keeping in touch with Dad, knowing the window of opportunity would come to a close in time.
I spent nearly a half hour on the phone with Walt this past Monday, feeling so close to this man who had entered our lives way back in the early 1960s, and who had remained a part of our family for almost sixty years. Friendships don’t have to end because of distance and time; when you stoke the flames they can survive and be contributory to one’s quality of life, as Walt’s has been to mine.
Kindness doesn’t recognize the barriers of distance, time, and even age.
Kindness can live on if we make the effort to nourish it.
This week, Valentine’s Day will be celebrated or it will be bemoaned. It’s just a day but some people put so much pressure on this Hallmark holiday that they end up being miserable leading up to the day, on the day, and the days following it. Here’s some sarcastic humor that just might ease some of the pressure.
Mike walked into a post office just before Valentine’s day, he couldn’t help noticing a middle-aged, balding man standing in a corner sticking “Love” stamps on bright pink envelopes with hearts all over them. Then the man got out a bottle of Channel perfume from his pocket and started spraying scent over the envelopes.
By now Mike’s curiosity had got the better of him, and so I asked the man why he was sending all those cards. The man replied, “I’m sending out 500 Valentine cards signed, ‘Guess who?'”
“But why?” asked Mike.
“I’m a divorce lawyer,” the man replied.
A guy wins a free ticket to the Super Bowl and so he’s very excited. However, he’s not so excited when he gets there and realizes his seat’s in the back of the stadium. So he looks around him for a better seat, and to his surprise, he finds an empty seat right next to the field.
He approaches the older guy who’s sitting in the seat next to the empty one and asks if the seat is taken. The man replies, “No.”
The young guy is very surprised to hear this and asks, “How could someone pass up a seat like this?”
The older guy replies, “It’s my wife’s seat. We’ve been to every Super Bowl together since the day we were married but she’s passed away.”
“Oh, how sad,” the young guy says, taken aback. “I’m sorry to hear that, but couldn’t you find a friend or relative to come with you?”
“No,” the man replies, “They’re all at the funeral.”
This real story takes the place of this week’s Lighten up Mondays.
Most of our utility bills are in both my husband’s name and mine. Our Frontier phone/internet bill, for whatever reason, is only in my husband’s name.
We’ve lived in our current house for over fifteen years. Approximately one year into our residency at our current address I called to make a change to our services. I found out that because only my husband’s name was on the bill, I was not permitted to even talk to the Verizon (now Frontier) customer service rep. Jerry was home at the time so I requested his presence in my office and told him he needed to talk to the utility person to authorize me to do business with the utility. He did so, they supposedly noted his permission/authorization in the file, and I was able to complete my service request with the utility. Over the years, it took at least three additional calls to Verizon/Frontier before they stopped asking my husband to intervene to authorize everything I said to them. Dilemma solved, right?
We recently upgraded our internet from Frontier’s DSL, also known as slow-poke broadband, to internet service provided by our cable TV company, Wave. The new cable modem/router was installed and voila! Instead of a Download speed of 9.6 mbps, Wave’s Download speed is a wapping 100+ mbps. The primary user of our iMac computer – that would be me, The Little Woman – is thoroughly ecstatic with the improved service.
The day after unplugging Frontier’s DSL and plugging in Wave’s extraordinarily fast internet service, I called Frontier to cancel our internet service – but still retain our landline phone service with them – and the technician said, “Is this Jerry I’m speaking to?” to which I responded, “No, I’m, Irene, Jerry’s wife.” “I’m sorry, you’re not authorized to make changes to your service, is Jerry available?”
Imagine the top being blown off a pressure cooker on my end of the phone line.
“Oh, do not go there. My husband authorized my involvement with this account almost fifteen years ago and did so repeatedly each and every time you questioned my authority to the point where you finally stopped requiring Jerry’s personal authorization.”
“I’m sorry Ma’am, but if your husband is there to make the request, we’ll take care of this for him.”
I hung up on them. Five minutes later I called back to make the cancellation of service request, speaking in a lower voice and identifying myself as Jerry, and the customer service rep simply asked Jerry’s birthdate, which I provided, and presto-chango, our cancellation of internet service request was granted. Keep in mind, in the past when I successfully was able to get through to Verizon/Frontier to talk about our account, I had to provide Jerry’s birthdate, our account number, and the private PIN provided by the utility to verify my authorization capabilities. If they had asked that of Jerry – the authorized person – he wouldn’t have known where to find such information. Why? Because The Little Woman is also the Finance Manager for the Olson household. Bills get paid utilizing bank account resources because I set up these recurring charges to be paid automatically just as so many of you do for your own household. I move money around from one account to another, set up new accounts, fund them and the like because as the household Finance Manager, I am dedicated to keeping us financially organized, healthy, and comfortable in our retirement.
Am I mad at Jerry as a result of this fiasco? Not in the least. He was out of the house when this most recent matter occurred and when I relayed it to him he said, “Oh oh, I hope you didn’t hurt anyone too badly.” He thinks this whole authorization requirement is a joke, especially since he relies on me to manage everything having to do with our finances. He knows I’m quite accomplished at taking on these tasks and is thrilled that he doesn’t have to mess with the minutiae of managing this aspect of our lives.
I guess I can say I had the last laugh, however. Lowering my voice and using language patterns that might be common for the Man of the Household allowed me to wield the authority that up until now had fully evaded The Little Woman of the Household.
- If con is the opposite of pro, then isn’t Congress the opposite of progress? – Jon Stewart
- I cannot stand people who disagree with me on the issue of Roe v. Wade … which I believe is the proper way to cross a lake. – Stephen Colbert
- As a new federal employee, I felt a combination of excitement and anxiety about meeting the strict standards of discretion and respect that our government imposes on its workers. Fearful of making a costly mistake, I decided to read up on procedures and standards on the federal Office of Personnel Management web page. I’m not sure if I was relieved or worried when I clicked on one page and found: “Ethics: Coming Soon!”
- Q: How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb? A: Two: one to change it and another one to change it back again.
I rest my case.