after decades…relinquishing control…

We wives and moms metamorphose all our lives.Butterfly-Header

Sometimes we’re butterflies. Wowee!!! Look at me flutter…

MothsO18Most times, however…we’re just plain, ole moths. Hardworking, for sure. No time to flit around looking beautiful all day long. We save that for special occasions, which get fewer and farther along once the children start coming.

I can’t remember when I last felt like a butterfly. Come to think of it, I can’t remember what it was like to be twenty-something. Those days of short-shorts and string bikinis are all but forgotten. And yes! I did wear both. You’ll barf if you’re trying to imagine it, given what I look like now. So don’t try!

Over the last 29 years I’ve worn my moth-eaten wife and mother’s gray garb with happy determination. When I was younger I could do it all. At least I thought I could.

Multi-tasking was a given. Getting hubby off to work after a nourishing breakfast…seeing my daughter onto the bus headed for school…household chores…grocery shopping and other errands…yard work…classroom volunteering…chauffeuring my budding ballerina to dance classes…meals to make…laundry to do…bedtime stories with which to settle in.

Thank goodness hubby loved to play so he and our daughter could do their thing every chance they could. I never got over my childhood habit of…work before play. With 7 sisters to do most of the work around their house, my husband and his 4 brothers were “boys of leisure.” From what I saw when we were dating, they didn’t even make their beds…at least not my husband.

That’s not to minimize playtime, however. I was extremely glad my hubby liked playing with our daughter. Otherwise, that would’ve been one more thing on my “to do list.” And if that were the case, I’m sure it wouldn’t have felt like fun to my toddler if I clocked how much time I had to sit around playing games.

I even explained to the school counselor during kindergarten orientation how I would prefer my child have a teacher more akin to my husband than me. Would you believe I even teared up about it? I was adamant about not wanting someone geared toward the three R’s…reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic….and nothing else. My daughter would get enough of that kind of discipline at home…from me.

So over the years as a stay-at-home mom, I assumed control over an empire…my empire. Even when the “king” returned home to his “castle,” I was still in charge…on the quiet, of course. I feigned homage to my lord and liege.

We moms know who manipulates the strings behind this real life puppet show. Don’t we ladies?

For 45 years, even after we became empty-nesters…almost 11 years now, I ruled the roost. Although as this monarch aged the job was no longer a cinch. Not that it ever was. It’s just that I’m not as adept at  keeping all the balls in the air anymore. It’s more like I’m rolling the balls along a gravely path. And it’s getting gravelier every year. Trust me. One of these days it’s going to seem as though I’m rolling those balls straight uphill.

The last several years I rationalized my loss of get-up-and-go to doing quality work. Doing one or two tasks a day was just fine. At least that’s what I told myself. Meanwhile dust collected. I could no longer see my reflection in the wood floors. Not that I ever could. But they were better than they are now, that’s for sure. A few more days went by before I did the laundry. I bought more underwear to tide us over.

I could chalk it up to my having an under-active thyroid, which I learned about during a visit to a naturopath. Thankfully, that’s been resolved.

Working thyroid or not, getting old slowed me down. I can’t do half of what I use to do, more like a third, on my best days. And I sure as heck can’t move between the house and the yard without breaking a sweat. Don’t get me wrong, it was never a breeze. Just more doable. These days the weeds live in harmony with the flowers. That way, the jack rabbits…yeah, they’re no longer cute, little bunnies…can graze on something other than my prized plants, lovingly hand-picked and bought with hard-earned dinero.

So what’s my point?

Yesterday I decided to skip out on an appointment with the designer who was stopping by to discuss window coverings for our newly remodeled, downstairs master bedroom suite. After almost 3 months as project manager and all that entails…on top of my normal routine…on top of nursing our beloved dog who eventually passed, and a loving cat who almost died from some mystery ailment…and on top of 3 weeks in Nashville literally helping my daughter get back on her feet after back-to-back surgeries…my vintage locomotive of a body finally went kaput! My brain gave in and decided we should all take a mini vacation. So I did. I drove to Home Goods, a subsidiary of the retailer Marshalls, and left my house in the very capable hands of my recently semi-retired husband.

Going over what we’d decided to install on the windows, I opted out deciding I’d live with whatever technicalities the designer and my other half finalized. It felt really, really good to relinquish control. My husband could grill the designer on her credentials as far as the installation went. After all she doesn’t work for the manufacturer, so her information is second-hand. More than that, she had to prove to my husband that what she was selling was worth every penny of his money. She knew my aesthetics; she’d never dealt with his budgetary consciousness…first hand. I did. Convincing him to spend the money was a job in itself. Of course, I knew the right buttons to press. Like “It’ll only increase the resale value of our house.” That’s always a good one. Fastest way to get him to open up his checkbook. Not that he’s ever “fast on the draw,” just not “slow like molasses.”

butterfly-garden-4For a couple of hours I felt as though I was floating along on a cloud…free as a…butterfly. No worries. No cares other than looking at what was in front of me…a wall rack for the laundry room doubling as a gift-wrapping station…decorative waste baskets…a piece of art for the bedroom. When hubby joined me later I showed him what I had in my shopping cart. He pointed out things I’d not thought about which made me change my mind, returning some of the items to their shelves. Made me feel good too, having someone else make decisions, however small.

I felt so calm and refreshed that hubby and I wound up having a date night. We walked to nearby AJE restaurant, dining on Japanese food, a favorite of ours. Not having been to the movies in a while, we decided to stop at a nearby Regal Theatre to see The Avengers Age of Ultron. We both dozed off, unbeknownst to one another, near the beginning of the film. Hubby said he awoke and saw me asleep. We didn’t miss much, however, since most action films are primarily about the actors annihilating one another, or trying to at least. It was good not having to think about anything…except the good guys smashing the bad guys to smithereens.

Today I was back on the job. MothsO125As project manager I oversaw last minute details…where to hang mirrors, artwork, vintage pieces and chandeliers.

I never know how purchased items are going to look once in place. I have some idea, based upon pictures and customer reviews. However it isn’t until I see a piece in place will I know if it works as I imagined, or not. Take the massive metal chandelier I bought online to hang over the end of our king-sized bed. I thought it would hang 24″ low. Not until the electrician was up on a ladder, fixture in hand, did I learn that my gorgeous chandelier would block most of our view of the newly minted porcelain tile fireplace with gas insert, as we lay in bed. It was me and my woman’s intuition going up against the practical mindset of 3 men, including my husband and our contractor.

I’m delighted to admit…the men won! What got me over to their side? The electrician saying “If the chandelier isn’t hung as a flush mount, then the only other option is that it hangs 34″ from the ceiling. In that case, what you’ll be looking at while sitting in bed is the light glaring out at you from the chandelier.” That made total sense, so I relinquished control of that debate.

I think I’m going to like having the men in my life take back control…

…as long as i agree. 

………hugmamma. butterfly-world

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nurturing thursdays: celebrating the goodness of people…

My husband’s 40+ years of dedicated service to the traveling public has come to an end.

What began as a summer job with Pan American World Airways in the mid-to-late 60s, followed by a stint with American Express as a travel agent in the early 70s, eventually flourished into a full-fledged career in the cruise industry.

I have never doubted my husband’s charisma and talent to do anything he wanted. Although his seeming shyness and humility had me wondering if he could ever climb the corporate ladder. I didn’t think he had the killer instinct required to get from one rung to the next. Last night’s retirement dinner confirmed the fact that he remained true to himself through all the twists and turns of a career that took him from airport ticket agent in Honolulu to Vice President of Human Resources in Seattle…via The Big Apple, New York City.

One of three executives who retired the beginning of this year, my husband listened as others spoke of their personal and professional experiences with him throughout the years.

The man who heads the entire brand has known my husband since their younger days working at another cruise line headquartered in NYC. That’s going back some 30+ years. My husband was then a reservations supervisor; the other, a purser on board one of the ships. I didn’t know him then. We only became acquainted about 6 years ago, when my husband moved out of Guest Programs into Human Resources and reported directly to his former colleague, now in charge of the whole operation here on the West Coast.

Small world. Even smaller when folks remain in one industry throughout their entire careers. Our daughter, the dancer, will confirm that.

It’s always deeply moving for me when others reiterate the same qualities I most admire in my husband…his compassion…his fairness…his trustworthiness…his calming influence. Once a prospect for the priesthood…before we met, obviously…he has never lost his Christianity. He continues to practice his faith in God and others…in all ways.

Last night some jokingly referred to him as a saint, including his boss.

During one of our first arguments as newlyweds 44 years ago, I asked if he knew how hard it was living with a saint. Genuinely hurt, he said that was the worst thing I could have said. Of course I never went there again. Nonetheless…it isn’t always easy trying to modify my behavior according to someone who is so uniquely wired.

I had worked for a number of corporations before opting out of the rat race for the best career ever handed me…motherhood. None has been more satisfying or rewarding. I got out what I put in. I couldn’t say that about the corporate jobs I’ve had. I always felt I put in more than I got out. It was always…”manana”…tomorrow. Do this today and you MIGHT see some payback tomorrow…or the next day…the next year… or the year after. I didn’t have that kind of patience. Still don’t. A little better, but not the same as my husband’s.

I’ve always felt, still do, that employees are a reflection of those for whom they work. They embody the corporation’s principles. The management style of the person at the top filters down throughout the entire workforce. Great employees are a credit to a great boss; on the flip side, a mediocre boss inevitably breeds mediocrity among his employees.

Having had access to the back story via what I saw for myself as well as what my husband confided in me, the corporation from which he recently retired was the best I’d seen in all my time in and around the business world. 

The man at the top, my husband’s boss, held to the same values as us…uncompromising integrity and family above all else. The leaders he chose to effect his agenda were men and women who demonstrated similar principles. I can attest to it because I met many of them, even getting to know some well. Talk of family, interest in our daughter’s dance career, was always part of the conversation. And, of course, we always asked after their children’s well-being and what they were doing.

My husband’s boss and his wife are the only executive couple with whom I have ever been able to speak freely and from the heart. So I guess it was no surprise to them, that when after all other speeches were made, including those by the retirees themselves…I asked if I could say a few words.

Speaking from the heart…as Hawaiians do so well…I explained the attachment I felt to my husband’s boss and his wife. Once, some time ago, at a social function I had said I would have loved being both their mothers. (They are good people. They would make any mother proud. Having met both sets of parents, I understand why they became who they are.)

I went on to explain to those gathered my own corporate career experience, and how I’d never witnessed the same familial environment apparent in my husband’s company. I credited that fact and my husband’s ability to thrive within such an atmosphere…to his boss’s management style. One that wasn’t only focused upon “the bottom line,” but also upon the coming together as…ohana…Hawaiian for “family.” 

In conclusion, I asked that those present…all in varying leadership positions within the company…”hang onto that feeling of ohana. That it is a rarity, as much now as in the past.

Hugging both the CEO of Holland America Group, Stein Cruse, and his wife Linda, I said I loved them. She and I shed tears as we hugged. Just like a daughter… And he stooped to embrace me in a bear hug, whispering that it was sweet of me. Just like a son…

Public speaking has never been my forte. My voice cracks. I ramble. I say things which might make most husbands and daughters cringe with embarrassment. Fortunately for me, mine “get” who I am. As my daughter explained…whatever I know might go public. She knows too that it’s only done out of love and compassion.

I have no filter when it comes to praising others. I say what I feel. Perhaps because I craved approval the better part of my life, and probably still do, I give it freely whenever I am afforded the opportunity.

Seeing others warmed by a few words of praise…blesses me.

And so I count my blessings…

…as often as i can.

………hugmamma.

Enjoy other inspirational words at
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/nurt-thurs-you-are/

 

 

retirement bliss…

So far my husband’s retirement has been a dream for both of us.

I have to pinch myself when I realize my husband will no longer be gone 13 hours a day anymore…leaving at 7 a.m. and returning at 7 p.m.

Decades of that routine can be wearing on a marriage. Thankfully, loving and liking carried us along the oft-times bumpy road striving to meld two lives into one.

It helped that we’ve always been best friends. 

As best friends we began with much in common. With the passing of years we grew even closer…as expected when couples share their daily lives almost 24/7…by phone, email, or text message. And voice mail when nothing else works.

These days I don’t mind that hubby’s gone a few hours a week as a consultant with his former employer. I’m sure his ego is buoyed by the fact that he’s still needed and wanted. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone needs to feel valued. And not just by his spouse.

Anyway, it gives me a chance to blog. Something for which I feel valued apart from being a wife and mom.

Another wonderful by-product of retirement is being able to do whatever, whenever. There’s no end to the day.

Driving home from a day browsing through antique stores late Sunday afternoon, I thought we might stop for dinner and a movie. Almost midway through that thought I got a sprinkling of Sunday blues.

I use to get that all the time when I worked…the Sunday blues.

Sunday afternoons were a downer for me. Mondays meant another five days of work before I was again free to do whatever I pleased…for a whole day-and-a-half. 

I hated Sunday afternoons.

Almost immediately, however, I remembered my husband no longer HAD to go to his office on Monday. Hallelujah!!!

Too tired from walking in and out of shops all day, I decided spending the evening at home with hubby would suit me just fine. He agreed.

A little hiccup in an otherwise smooth couple of weeks of retirement occurred last evening.

My husband was invited to join a friend and a few other neighborhood men, at a local wine bar for drinks and conversation. We agreed it would be nice to meet other retirees.

A couple of hours later when my husband returned home, I learned the three other men were far from retired. They were probably only in their 40s.

While it was fine getting to know them, my husband decided he had little in common with those young whipper snappers.

For starters, the men were planning a 15 mile run which they intended to complete in 2 hours. From the look on his face, I saw that my husband was probably picturing himself flat on his back not far from where they began their run.

Without skipping a beat, and with a hint of mischief in my voice, I said ” You should run with them. Just think, even if you pulled up the rear, you’d be doing great!

Hubby’s reply?

…yeah…not so much.

………hugmamma.

nurturing thursdays: loving is…living

You might wonder why my limited writings of late have been as entries on blogger Becca Given’sNurturing Thursdays.

Two reasons.

Thursdays suit me well. Having run errands and done chores earlier in the week, I reward myself with a short stint at my laptop doing what I do for sheer pleasure…writing.

More importantly, however, is Becca’s invitation to share words that help us feel good about ourselves. God bless her for giving contributors a platform which encourages us to have compassion for ourselves and others.

While other writers contribute more regularly, I’m grateful that my entries are accepted when I am able to snatch a few moments here and there. Perhaps if I limited myself to a few inspirational words, I’d do better. And yet, I can only think to share a little slice of my own life. If it inspires then I am blest. Mostly though, it’s just me trying to figure out…life.

The passing of my beloved Mocha recently coincided with my husband’s casual announcement that he was retiring sooner than expected. Instead of 2016, his last workday will be January…2015!

After the dust settled in my brain, gone musty as an empty-nester these last 12 years, I listened as hubby revealed the whys, hows, and wherefores of what had transpired. Suffice it to say, he’s come out on top. Although retired, he’ll continue as a consultant for another year.

All I’ve ever wanted of my marriage since day one…was my husband.

IMG_4079I’ve waited 44 years to spend more than a few hours a week with my best friend in the whole, wide world. I’ve only had a taste of what his coworkers have always shared with me when we’ve met at office functions.

Among the many compliments were my husband’s fairness…his calm in the midst of turmoil…his patience…his generosity in sharing the limelight…his integrity…his humility…his willingness to mentor others…his loyalty and dedication…his work ethic…his tireless efforts in always seeking the truth…and his willingness to go the extra mile on behalf of others.

Yes. My husband’s a saint. I called him that once when we were first married. His retort was that it was an unkind remark. Only my husband would take offense at being held up on a pedestal.

My husband loved our little Mocha as much as I did. He wasn’t as demonstrative toward her as I was, not given to hugging and smooshing ad nauseum like me. Nonetheless, Mocha always knew she could depend upon him for a walk anytime of the day or night. With me, there could be resistance depending upon the weather and what hour of the night it was. My arthritis doesn’t do well in the wet and cold, and I’m deathly afraid of encountering a bear or cougar in the dark.

IMG_2145When Mocha left us I couldn’t help but feel she did so knowing my husband and I would have more time for one another…one less family member who needed our care and attention. Especially with all she required the last months of her life. Feline siblings, Sitka and Juneau, are now happy to get more cuddle time with me. Although I think they miss their little pal as well.IMG_4810

In reflecting upon Mocha’s life and my husband’s retirement, I couldn’t help but think that those we love the most live on through us who remain. We are their legacy. We continue to tell their story long after their physical presence is gone. We attest to their having been here.

Sad then, those who die unloved.

Who will speak of them? Who will testify to what they did…their dreams…their passions…their accomplishments…their failures? Who will say “We played softball together on the weekends.” Or “She loved doing things with her children.”

Perhaps when we care for others we, in some small way, acknowledge their reality. They live because we think about them…even if only for a moment. All those with whom we engage as we go about our daily lives…the waiter…the supermarket cashier…the dry cleaning clerk…the pet groomer…the landscape worker…our furry family members.

We matter to others. Probably more than we know.

Mocha’s still with me as I go about my day. Reminding me that as long as we’re here, she’ll be with hubby and me…

…enjoying our retirement years.

………hugmamma. 

(Enjoy other inspirational writers at  https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/nurturing-thurs-next-time/                                                                                                                                            

 

Imported Photos 00137

an opinion…to ponder

I came across the following in today’s Wall Street Journal which I thought deserved sharing, primarily because of its author.

afghanistan

afghanistan (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)

The gentleman is not someone of notoriety; rather, he’s more like…every man.


A Marine Volunteers–for a Pay Cut

by Benjamin Luxenberg

US Navy 090424-N-3271W-021 More than 500 veter...

US Navy 090424-N-3271W-021 More than 500 veterans who escorted the unclaimed remains of seven Iowa veterans to their final resting place at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery line the procession route with American flags after providin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America owes its veterans. For the past 12 years, they have toiled and sacrificed in Iraq, Afghanistan and in so many other places around the world. Thousands made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, and thousands more were wounded. Even those without serious injuries gave their blood, sweat and tears. When service members take their oath, they are writing a blank check to the U.S. government, to the American people, for their lives. When and how America chooses to cash that check is beyond their control.

Nor should the untold sacrifices of military families be forgotten. How many husbands weren’t with their wives during the birth of their child? How many kids’ birthdays or Little League games were missed? How many childhoods were missed almost entirely? Twelve years of war does that. The time cannot pay veterans enough to compensate for those kinds of losses.

America has asked–or, more truthfully, demanded–so much from its veterans. And yet the country must now ask for more. Not for more of those things that really matter, the things that make life worth living. What the country seeks is more material in nature: basically, money.

The current budget sequestration plan protects military pay at the expense of all other costs in the Defense Department. Because our pay (I am a Marine) has become sacrosanct, even deeper cuts in the rest of the Defense Department budget will have to be made–cuts that will endanger us now and in the future. It isn’t just a matter of national security but also of personal security. As the Pentagon reduces funds for equipment, troops may begin to wonder: Are we going to be forced to surrender body armor to keep our pay? A more reasonable balance needs to be found. Even the currently envisioned cuts won’t necessarily be enough to stave off future ones, especially if military pay continues to be off-limits.

National security shouldn’t be sacrificed on the altar of military pay. But cuts wouldn’t have to start with basic paychecks. They could begin by aligning special pay across the branches. For example, airmen who serve aboard Navy ships earn “hardship pay” while the sailors aboard those same ships don’t. Serving aboard ship isn’t reasonably more difficult for an airman than it is for a sailor or Marine. Lodging and food allowances for those temporarily assigned to certain units can be reduced; there is no need for service members who are on temporary active duty in Bahrain–sometimes for as long as a year–to receive $142 per day on top of all the other moneys and forms of compensation. And there are, no doubt, dozens of other small fixes that can make some difference to the military budget.

But, ultimately, even base pay may have to be put on the line. Congress should cut only what feels justified in the name of national security. The cuts should be done the American way: Those who most need the money should be affected the least. Don’t start with cuts for everyone across the board. In the Marine Corps, we have a saying” “Officers eat last.” We officers exist to serve the enlisted Marines under our command. Start with us. But don’t start with those of us who are married and on whom spouses depend. Don’t start with those of us who have children. Start with those of us who don’t. Start with the single, childless officers. Start with me.

Yet active-duty service members and veterans cannot endure these sacrifices alone. For the past dozen years, most Americans have barely felt the impact of the wars and deployments abroad. To steer the government and the U.S. economy–the greatest pillar of national security–back on track, let everyone bear some of the burden. Let civilian officials take a pay cut too. Let older Americans, including my own grandparents–Nani, Papa Bernie, Grandma Dorothy–accept some cuts in Medicare. The middle-aged (that means you, Mom and Dad) must accept some cuts to Social Security benefits upon retirement. And to my civilian friends (Greg, Preethi, David, Anna), you must accept raising the Social Security retirement age, whether it is a mere two years or a painful 10.

It is long past time for all Americans to share in the sacrifice. Nothing should be off the table. Maintaining present comforts at the expense of future security endangers everything that veterans and their families have fought for. Don’t tell them that they fought in vain. That is what America owes.

Mr. Luxenberg is a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. His views do not represent those of the Defense Department or USMC.


We all make sacrifices, big and small.

Even civilian families are often denied the substantive presence of working fathers…and mothers. And many do not have Uncle Sam footing the bill for health care costs and the like. 

Notwithstanding such comparable sacrifices, those in the military are charged with the extraordinary task of dying…to preserve our freedom and those of others who desire democracy for themselves.

Death is…the ultimate sacrifice.

English: Arlington National Cemetery: A U.S. M...

English: Arlington National Cemetery: A U.S. Marine with the Drum and Bugle Corps, Marine Barracks Washington, plays Taps during an interment ceremony for 11 Marines recently brought back from Vietnam. Hundreds of friends, family and service members were on hand to pay tribute to the men who made the ultimate sacrifice so many years before. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…not something to be taken lightly…

………hugmamma.

details…little known facts

Secret Service agents in response at the assas...

Image via Wikipedia

In summing up what I’ve learned about President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan from reading I Love You, Ronnie, a couple of details came to light which I’d not known before. And according to Mrs. Reagan, only those close to what occurred at the time, knew. The first dealt with the assassination attempt on the President’s life 3 months after he took office. The second was an incident that probably caused the premature onset of his Alzheimer’s. Only a handful, it seems, were privvy to both occurrences.

Waiting for news, Nancy Reagan sat with Sarah Brady, whose husband Jim had also been shot in the attempt on the President’s life.

As we waited, I looked out the window and saw how, in the buildings all around the hospital, people had thrown sheets out the window saying things like GET WELL, MR. PRESIDENT and WE LOVE YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. Every now and then, a nurse would come and report to me on Ronnie’s progress. At first, the doctors were having trouble finding the bullet, which was a devastator bullet, the kind that explodes inside. One time, the nurse came and said, “We just can’t seem to get it out. We may just have to leave it in.” Well, that didn’t sound so good to me. And then another time, she said, “They’ve found it, but the doctor is having a hard time removing it–it keeps slipping from his fingers.” Finally, she came back and told me that the doctor had gotten it out, but I almost lost him then. The bullet had been lodged an inch from Ronnie’s heart.

We were lucky–we didn’t realize how lucky, in fact–because when Ronnie had arrived, all the doctors were in the hospital for a meeting. No one had to be called in. Everyone Ronnie needed was right on hand, and there was no waiting. …

I wanted to stay there all night, but the feeling was that it would be better for the country if I left and went back to sleep at the White House. Otherwise, people would have assumed the worst and there would have been panic. As it was, Ronnie’s aides had to do all they could to calm the country down. The briefings made to the press were partial, to say the least. The assassination attempt was really a much closer call than people were led to believe at the time. Everyone was trying not to frighten the people in the country, but the fact was, Ronnie almost died. It was a miracle that he didn’t. And I knew all along how serious things really were. …

Needless to say, I was terrified. After the shooting, every time Ronnie walked out the door to make a public appearance, my heart would stop–and it wouldn’t start again until he came back home safely. Ronnie knew how scared I was. But if he was frightened too, he never let me know it. As always, he was cheerful and optimistic. God had spared him, he believed; there had to be a reason why. By making jokes…he tried to take the edge off my fear.

The Reagans wave from the White House after Pr...

Image via Wikipedia

Who could fault the First Lady’s hovering over the President thereafter? No wonder her seeming control of his life, personal and public, for which the media liked to criticize her. I know because they had me convinced she was running the country with her husband, an unofficial cabinet member, as was constantly written and spoken of in the news. How the spinmeisters love to slant the facts. Readers, beware!

Fast forward to July 1989, after the Reagans had left the White House. Visiting with friends Betty and Bill Wilson at their ranch in Mexico, the President went riding. An accident occurred.

Ronnie had been thrown off his horse. He was riding with some other men, going up an incline, when one of the ranch hands had hit something that made a loud noise and spooked Ronnie’s horse.

The horse reared once, and Ronnie stayed on. It reared a second time, and Ronnie stayed on again. Two Secret Service men tried to move in and calm the horse, but they couldn’t do it. The horse reared a third time, bucking so hard that Ronnie fell off and hit his head on the ground, miraculously missing the jagged rocks all around.

President Ronald Reagan

Image by edalisse via Flickr

We got him on a plane and immediately took him to a hospital in Tucson, Arizona. He should really have stayed there, but it was my birthday and the Wilsons had planned a celebration, and Ronnie was determined to go back to the ranch. We went back–but at my insistence, we took a doctor with me.

The day after…we flew home. I was very uneasy and kept at Ronnie until he agreed to get his head X-rayed. We went to the Mayo Clinic, where we’d gone every year for checkups. It turned out that Ronnie had a concussion and a subdural hematoma. He needed to be operated on right away. It all happened so quickly that I think, once again, I was in shock. …

I’ve always had the feeling that the severe blow to his head in 1989 hastened the onset of Ronnie’s Alzheimer’s. The doctors think so, too. In the years leading up to the diagnosis of the disease, in August 1994, he had not shown symptoms of the illness. I didn’t suspect that Ronnie was ill when we went back to the Mayo Clinic that summer for our regular checkup. When the doctors told us they’d found symptoms of Alzheimer’s, I was dumbfounded. Ronnie’s fall from the horse had worried me terribly, of course, and I’d had to urge him to take time out to recover after his operation. But I had seen no signs of anything else.

There’s no telling if President Reagan would have enjoyed more years of retirement, free from the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s. How fragile the brain, with only the skull as protection from the hazards of everyday life…like horse back riding. Spared from the assassin’s bullet, Reagan succumbed to no less a devastating end. As his devoted wife, and true witness to her husband’s last 50 years on earth, Nancy Reagan suffered Alzheimer’s alongside him.

Senator Corker greets former First Lady Nancy ...

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…First of all, there is a feeling of loneliness when you’re in this situation. Not that your friends aren’t supportive of you; they are. But no one can really know what it’s like unless they’ve traveled this path–and there are many right now traveling the same path I am. You know that it’s a progressive disease and that there’s no place to go but down, no light at the end of the tunnel. You get tired and frustrated, because you have no control and you feel helpless. We’ve had an extraordinary life, and I’ve been blessed to have been married for almost fifty years to a man I deeply love–but the other side of the coin is that it makes it harder. There are so many memories that I can no longer share, which makes it very difficult. When it comes right down to it, you’re in it alone. Each day is different, and you get up, put one foot in front of the other, and go–and love; just love.

I try to remember Ronnie telling me so many times that God has a plan for us which we don’t understand now but one day will, or my mother saying that you play the hand that’s dealt you. It’s hard, but even now there are moments Ronnie has given me that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Alzheimer’s is a truly long, long good-bye. But it’s the living out of love.

Photograph of Newlyweds Ronald Reagan and Nanc...

Image by The U.S. National Archives via Flickr

…blest by true love…even in the face of adversity…hugmamma. 

 

“anchors”…weighing in

 

Brian Williams at the Vanity Fair celebration ...

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Not sure if you watch the evening news. I tend to tune in most nights. Kind of set my clock by world news’ broadcasts. There’s TV before Brian Williams, and then TV after he’s done his schpeel. My internal clock probably kicks into overdrive thinking “okay, now I’ve only got 5 or 6 hours” to accomplish what wasn’t done during the rest of the 18 or 19 hours, well maybe 12 or 13 hours, allowing for the time I was still in bed.

Now that you know which anchor I favor, I wondered who yours might be? Or have you no preferences? I’ll tell you my reasons for faithfully tuning in to hear Brian Williams recap the news of the day. First and foremost, he reminds me of Peter Jennings, former anchor of ABC’s evening news. Yes, Williams rode the coattails of Jennings in gaining my viewership after the more seasoned newsman died of lung cancer.

Peter Jennings

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Jennings was attractive, with a winning smile. He was easier on the eyes than Tom Brokaw and the other famous anchor whose name escapes me. I was just drawn to whiling away the news hour with Jennings. But the moment which locked in my devotion was his coverage of the hijacking of a TWA flight in the 80’s or 90’s. At the time I was working for the airline. Needless to say, we employees were never far from the television set, at work and at home.

For me, Jennings came to represent the Walter Cronkite of my adult years. I felt comforted knowing that Jennings was there  guiding us through the ups and downs of national and global affairs. If he looked alright; I felt alright. So it was with sadness that I learned of his passing, as if he’d been a distant relative.

Walter Cronkite takes the helm of Constitution...

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When Charlie Gibson assumed the vacant seat as evening anchor, I stayed tune. He was different, but likeable nonetheless. Gibson felt like a big brother to whom I could turn, knowing he always had my back. There was no celebrity aura about him. He seemed what he was: A husband, a father, in a highly visible job, trying to put the best spin on life, even when the news didn’t warrant it. So when he announced his retirement, I was again a little dazed.

Not a huge fan of Diane Sawyer‘s, although that wasn’t always the case, and unfamiliar with Katie Couric, I started watching Brian Williams. The more I saw of him, the more reminiscent he was of Peter Jennings, a younger version, still a little “green” by comparison, from what I remembered of the former anchor. But time aged Williams in appearance and delivery. I found him more and more trustworthy as the years have passed. I now look to him, as I once did to Jennings and Gibson. But since I’ve also aged, where I used to look up to Jennings as a Cronkite, Gibson as a brother, I have a warm spot for Williams as a mother does for a son, or an aunt has for a favorite nephew.

Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter o...

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What turned me away from Diane Sawyer? Many of you know that I’m an admirer of Michael Jackson as a phenomenal entertainer. I also believed in his ill-fated marriage to Lisa Marie Presley. While a short-lived, rocky relationship of 2 mega-famous individuals, I subscribe to their having truly cared for one another. Having watched Sawyer’s interview of the couple during their marriage, and then of Lisa Marie after their divorce, I felt the anchor’s demeanor very condescending. She treated both like children, with brow constantly furrowed and lips curled into a near snarl, Sawyer seemed to badger them about their answers. Other than living their own lives, I didn’t think either deserved the treatment they received.

I never really took note of Katie Couric. Actually I preferred ABC’s Good Morning America with Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer, until the latter’s aforementioned interview. As with the rest of the country, Couric got my attention when she asked Sarah Palin what kind of literary material she read. Watching that interview play non-stop throughout much of the presidential campaign, had me noticing the anchor more and more.

Cropped headshot of Katie Couric

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Since Couric and Williams broadcast the evening news back-to-back, not simultaneously, I now watch both if I’m able. As I observed Couric’s handling of disastrous news, like the mid-east uprisings, and the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, I found her serious, yet compassionate and calm. By contrast I found Sawyer’s presentations agitated and discomforting. Her facial expressions always seem to register acrimony. I don’t get that from Couric or Williams, nor did I get the same feeling from Cronkite or Jennings.

Well, there you have it. I’m sure we all have reasons for watching whomever it is we watch. I’m a people-person, so I tend to focus upon the connection I have with people, as to whether I put my faith and trust in them. I’ve been meaning to voice my opinion about Jennings and Williams for some time. So now I can cross this off my lengthy “to do” list.

any thoughts?…hugmamma.

“laughter,” always heart healthy

You might think my friend Sylvia sits at her computer all day, laughing. I can assure you she doesn’t. Her house is immaculately kept. She knits up creations that could make her wealthy if she didn’t give them away. She and Jim pet sit without hesitation. They’re also active participants in their retirement community, socializing, as well as helping others in need. Sylvia is the last of her generation, I’m sure, to hand write letters and Christmas cards, in beautiful calligraphy. And the lady has monumental health issues with which she deals daily, none of which stops her from living her best life. Needless to say, she’s a great role model, with her no-nonsense attitude.

Sylvia may not “get” the ins and outs of the internet, but she does relish its entertainment value. She shared the following with me, another gem from her British network. It took me a couple of reads to “get” it. My daughter, on the other hand, burst into laughs immediately. Go figure.

Should a Child Witness Childbirth? (Here’s your answer.)

Due to a power outtage, only one paramedic responded to the call. The house was very dark, so the paramedic asked Kathleen, a 3-year-old girl, to hold a flashlight high over her mommy so he could see while he helped deliver the baby.

Very diligently, Kathleen did as she was asked. Heidi pushed and pushed and after a little while, Connor was born. The paramedic lifted him by his little feet and patted him on his bottom. Connor began to cry.

The paramedic then thanked Kathleen for her help and asked the wide-eyed 3-year-old what she thought about what she had just witnessed. Kathleen quickly responded. “He shouldn’t have crawled in there in the first place…spank him again!”

If you don’t laugh at this one, there’s no hope for you.

guess there’s some hope for me…since i took a couple of seconds…hugmamma.

“it’s a job,” oprah

Just finished reading Oprah: A Biography by Kitty Kelley, an oversized tome, befitting a mega-watt personality. I wasn’t inclined to read it when it first appeared in bookstores. It was too pricey at $30, and what more could I learn about the woman whose presence is literally everywhere. I know her better than the Pope, and I’ve been a Catholic for 61 years. But browsing the biography section of my favorite “Half-Price Books,” I spied Kelley’s book for less than half its original price. That sold me. And I’m very glad I bought it. I think I can now “close the book” on what I think about the reigning queen of day time talk shows.

Throughout Kelley’s book I vacillated between throwing myself solidly in Oprah’s camp or remaining at arm’s length, a stance I’ve maintained for years. I can safely say that after reading her biography, Oprah is just living up to the job description she’s written for herself, and continues to rewrite every day. Suffice it to say, there’s no other like it, in the whole wide world. And with her lofty career comes a lot of stuff that lesser humans like me, couldn’t begin to fathom, not in a billion lifetimes. 

Kelley has unearthed 495 pages worth of facts, good and bad, about Oprah. At first these seemed to offset one another, leaving me in limbo as to how I felt about her. Oprah is better than the Great Oz, for she has been adept at keeping her true identity secure, despite having openly lived in front of the cameras these last 25 years. How does she do it? With Herculean strength I would offer. 

“Will the real Oprah Winfrey please stand up!” Remember the TV show What’s My Line? Even for a kid like me back in the days of black and white television, I was always fascinated by the give and take between the mystery person and the celebrity panel doing the questioning. As good as they were, their questioning did not always render successful endings. That’s how I felt about Kelley’s trying to discern the “real” woman behind the woman, Oprah.

Reading between the lines, I think Kitty Kelley feels Oprah presents herself as magnanimous, when in fact, she is not.

Oprah became so accustomed to rapturous audiences that she reacted negatively if she saw someone not standing to applaud her. “One time she spotted a young black man who just sat there,” said the publishing executive. “She began heckling him. ‘I see someone here who is very brave.’ She began shuckin’ and jivin’: ‘Oh no. I don’t have to stand up and cheer for Oprah. No, sir. Not me. I’m the man. I won’t bow to Oprah.’ She did her whole ghetto shtick. It was ugly, very ugly for about four or five minutes while the poor guy just sat there as she mocked him. She wouldn’t let up….She was pissed that he was not giving her the adoring routine that the rest of the audience was….Turned out the young man was mentally challenged and severely disabled.”

On September 13, 2004, Oprah proclaimed the year her best, except for the year she started her talk show. The reason for her elation was that “she opened the season by giving away 276 brand-new Pontiac G6s, worth more than $28,000 apiece, for a collective total of $7.8 million.” Unfortunately the recipients, “Teachers and ministers and nurses and caregivers who had been walking to work for years or taking buses and having to transfer three times…,” were ill-prepared to pay $7,000 in taxes for the prizes, as the cars were deemed. In answer to their request for assistance from Oprah, her publicist “said they had three options: They could keep the car and pay the tax, sell the car and pay the tax with the profit, or forfeit the car. There was no other option from Oprah, and Pontiac already had donated the cars and paid the sales tax and licensing fees.”

Author Kelley highlights a particular show where Oprah “was barely civil to Hazel Bryan Massery, who as a young white student had yelled at Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine, who integrated Central high School in 1957 after President Eisenhower sent federal troops into Arkansas. ” Probably unbeknownst to the public, including me, Massery had apologized to Eckford “for her hateful rants,” the two becoming very close friends. When they were invited to appear on Oprah’s show, the talk show host was “highly skeptical of their friendship and would not accept that Hazel’s remorse had led to reconciliation.”

“They are friends,” Oprah told her audience in disbelief. “They…are…friends,” she repeated with obvious distaste. She then showed a massive blowup of the photograph taken that historic day, showing Elizabeth, silent and dignified, carrying her books into school as a crowd of screaming white students taunted her, the most menacing being Hazel. Oprah was icy as she asked Eckford why that photo still upset her so many years later.

“She (Oprah) was as cold as she could be, ” Eckford told David Margolick of  Vanity Fair.  “She went out of her way to be hateful.”

Margolick, who spent time with Eckford and Massery to write their story, added, “Characteristically, though, Elizabeth felt sorrier for Hazel. She was treated even more brusquely (by Oprah).

Oprah has openly spoken about being sexually abused as a youngster, beginning with her experience at 9 years old with a 19-year-old cousin by marriage. According to Kelley,

Oprah appeared to be so open with revelations about her intimacies on television that no one suspected she might be hiding secrets. Like comedians who cover their darkness with humor, she had learned to joke away her pain, and keep what hurt the most stuffed deep inside. She knew how to give just enough information to be amusing and to deflect further inquiry, which is one reason she insisted on taking control of her own public relations when her show went national. While she looked like she was telling the world everything about herself, she was actually keeping locked within more than she would share on television. She felt she needed to present herself as open, warm, and cozy on the air, and conceal the part of her that was cold, closed, and calculating. She was afraid she wouldn’t be liked if people saw a more complex dimension to the winning persona she chose to present. “Pleasing people is what I do,” she said. “I need to be liked…even by people I dislike.”

While Oprah has bestowed a good life upon her mom, Vernita Lee, buying her “a fur coat, a new car, a new house, no bills,” doubling her salary in retirement, and even gifting her with $100,000 one Mother’s Day, ” Oprah “really didn’t like her mother at all.”

…she was still bitter toward Vernita for “giving me away,” and she ricocheted from resentment to gratitude over those motherless years. She understood that the lack of her mother’s unconditional love drove her to develop skills to get praise from others, but she also saw that she tried to fill her motherless hole with food as a substitute for love and comfort and security. It would be many years before she reckoned with the depth of her psychological damage. …

Oprah goes on to say:

I don’t feel I owe anybody anything but my mother feels I do….She says, ‘There are dues to pay.’ I barely knew her (when I was little)….That’s why it’s so hard now. My mother wants this whole wonderful relationship. She has another daughter and a son. And everyone now wants this close family relationship….They want to pretend as though our past did not happen.”

Because she feels far removed from her birth family, several close friends are Oprah’s family of choice. Among them are poet and author Maya Angelou, of whom Oprah has said she ” ‘…was my mother in another life…I love her deeply. Something is there between us. So fallopian tubes and ovaries do not a mother make.’…Oprah carried Maya’s monthly itinerary in her purse at all times so she could reach her morning, noon, and night.”

“Once Oprah met Sidney Poitier, she bound him to her like a kind and loving father. ‘I call Sidney every Sunday and…we talk about life, we talk about reincarnation, we talk about the cosmos, we talk about the stars, we talk about the planets, we talk about energy. We talk about everything.’ “

Quincy Jones is a beloved uncle, in Oprah’s mind. ” ‘I truly learned how to love as a result of this man…I unconditionally love him and…I would slap the living shit out of somebody who said anything bad about Quincy.’ ” And Gayle King was the adoring sister, and John Travolta the brother, whom Oprah didn’t realize in her own kin, her siblings by birth.

” ‘…My friends are my family.’ Oprah frequently mentioned on her show how disgusted she was with all the beggars in her life. ‘I’m hearing from so many people now who want me to give them money, or lend them money. I say, “I’ll give you the shirt off my back, as long as you don’t ask for it.” ‘ “

We’ve all got “baggage” that we cart around throughout our lives. When and how we acquired it, with how much we’re saddled, and how we deal with our lives because of it, are questions only we can answer for ourselves. I’ve set my course in life based upon my own personal deprivations and disappointments, as well as my accomplishments and joys. I think laying expectations upon one another has the potential of backfiring. If people don’t measure up, our perceptions of them are muddied. But worse, I think we are hurt because of our emotional investment.

I’ve not felt inclined to invest in Oprah, because I was too busy investing in myself. I tend not to follow other’s advice, unless I can own it for myself. It amazes me that someone, like Oprah, can convince legions of people to hang upon her every word. But she has a gift, she’s even said so. What more telling event than her influence to get Obama crowned President.

With tears streaming down her face she rejoiced, standing on the right side of history and knowing that she just may have had a role in shaping it.

“My job was to make people, or allow people, to be introduced to Obama who might not have been at the time,” she said. “I wanted him elected, and I think I did that.”

I’ve decided that Oprah is doing a job for which she is well suited. She has positioned herself as Chairman of the Board/CEO and President of all she surveys. She’s paid her dues, and continues to do so. I say let her do with her life what she will. I had nothing to do with its creation; I have nothing to say about its evolution. She will answer to her Maker, as we all must. It’s between the 2 of them, and perhaps all those who have placed Oprah upon a pedestal. After all, they have a great deal to do with the billionaire she has become.

until you walk in someone’s shoes…hugmamma.

postaday2011 topic: what would you do with a million dollars, tax free?

Pay off bills, so my hubby wouldn’t have to stress. Enhance our retirement fund since hubby’s retiring in a few, short years, and we’ve used some of our funds to help our daughter with her profession. Set up a trust for her so she could dance without worry about her future. Set up college funds for nieces and nephews who might need help. Give monetary gifts to family members in need. Make donations to individuals struggling to improve their lives, or nonprofits working to help the impoverished, the abused, the downtrodden.

a million bucks may not do all that…but a little bit here and a little bit there can also help…hugmamma.

a “hand-up” for local seniors

As my husband and I approach full-time senior citizenship, when he retires that is, I’m becoming ever more aware of things we now take for granted. Friends of mine in their 70s who lost their dental insurance a few years back, have not been able to afford preventive dental care.

I truly believe, having seen the negative results my mom’s mostly toothless smile had on her overall well-being, that healthy teeth go a long way in ensuring one’s quality of life. And the longer our generation of baby-boomers continues to occupy earth space, we most certainly want to spend the extra time doing what we want to do, not what we have to do, like abstaining from all life’s pleasures just to stay alive.

So for those in our local community who have to forego dental care because of lack of insurance, the following might be an option. The ad ran in January 7, 2011 edition of The Issaquah Reporter, fast becoming my favorite print paper, aside from the Wall Street Journal.

Affordable Teeth Cleaning at the Issaquah Valley Senior Activity Center (age 60 & over) only $75! price includes

  • Fluoride treatment
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Dental hygiene assessment
  • Professional cleaning by licensed hygienist of teeth, dentures and partials
  • Referrals to local dentists

Call the Senior Center to schedule your appointment 425-392-2381. Services provided by Healthy Smiles at Issaquah Valley Senior Activity Center.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if such programs were available nationwide? How about optometry services? How about senior discounts for haircuts and hair styling? Quality of life for the elders in our society would surely see an upswing, if they were given a “hand-up” financially. If only those in the “driver’s seat” would remember that one day they too will be “passengers,” no longer in control. That it won’t always be “business as usual.”

hope such services are available when our insurance disappears, and we’re living on a fixed income…hugmamma.

McGarrett, no replacement

As I sit typing away at the keyboard, Steve McGarrett’s face lights up the TV screen behind me. The low, husky voice is enough to conjure up the handsome Jack Lord. I’m reminded that in “Hawaii Five-O’s” heyday, I had a crush on the actor. So while I was disappointed in his marriage to someone other than me, I took comfort in his wife’s dark-haired good-looks as indicative of Lord’s preference for exotic types.

Beyond Lord’s presence in the series, “Hawaii Five-O” was a favorite of locals because it was filmed in the islands. The production company’s home base was located a few miles from my mother-in-law’s house. Filming on location meant natives would be used not only as extras, but possibly in featured roles as well. I think one or more of McGarrett’s  detectives were island men. Not only did the series provide jobs for locals but they, along with the islands as a backdrop, gave the show authenticity. Viewing the show I could identify every place they filmed, streets, buildings, restaurants, night clubs, malls, parks, beaches, hotels, churches, temples, airports and more. It was thrilling to see local celebrities like Danny Kaleikini and Genoa Keawe perform. Don Ho also guested but wasn’t a favorite of locals, who viewed him as a cheesy rendition of the true Hawaiian artist. Besides, Ho was always seen with a drink in his hand. Islanders did not relish being dubbed as slap-happy alcoholics to an audience of television watchers.

While not knocking the socks off of critics, the dramatic series entertained “Hawaii Five-O” fans for years. I know my family watched it with regularity. We probably set our dinner schedule around its time slot. After all, watching the show was like witnessing real life as it unfolded on our streets, in our homes, in our work places, among our people. We weren’t watching look-a-likes, so imagining that “Hawaii Five-O” was about us wasn’t far-fetched. And Jack Lord imbued the Hawaiian spirit, if not in looks then in his love of the islands and its people. During the series and through his retirement, he and his wife lived in Honolulu, calling it home. We were as enamored of the man, as he was of Hawaii, its culture and the natives. So while another reprise of the TV series is in the offing, there’ll never be a replacement for Jack Lord, the one and only Steve McGarrett. I wonder if the theme song will be updated as well; the old one is like “comfort food.” Right now, watching the original “Hawaii Five-O”, I’m remembering the “good old days” of my youth.

they can try, but…hugmamma.