November 26, 2008

Into Africa

I leave in the morning for South Africa and am very excited. Unfortunately it's after 10 p.m. and I haven't finished packing. So odd for someone as organized as me!
If I find some internet cafes while I'm gone I'll post some trip reports, just to let you know what we're doing. And if not I'll tell you all about it when I get back.
Well, better get back to my packing...Malaria pills. Check. Imodium. Check. Sun screen. Check...

Stay tuned!

November 18, 2008

Book Club Babble

I've never been a "joiner." I don't much care for groups, especially groups of women, that meet regularly (about anything), but for some reason I joined a book club in my building. I'm off to the meeting tonight to talk about a book I didn't finish. Actually this is my fourth or fifth meeting and I can honestly say I've only liked one of the books so far and it's the only one I was able to finish. If I read 50-100 pages of a book and don't like it by then I hate to waste time when there are so many good books out there yet to read.
But I enjoy the group, we always have lively conversations, even though they're all women and even though we have a wide range of opinions. Isn't it amazing when someone likes something you think is just crap? And vice versa, I suppose, altho of course I think my opinion is the only valid one.
I can pretty much guarantee I'm not going to like next month's book. It's called Undercover Angel and the woman who suggested it had no idea what she was getting into. She'd heard an interview with the author, a Chicago ex-beauty-queen-turned-private detective, or something like that. Here's the cover:
Hah! It should be called Undercover Hooker. I'll let you know next month about this one.
I just realized, after posting the photo that I pulled off of, they cropped the cover for their website. There's quite a bit more of the blonde on the actual cover - including her HUMONGOUS, silicone-enhanced breasts.

November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day 2008

Whether or not you support the war (I don't), today's Veteran's Day, a day to say thanks to the men and women who risk their lives for our country. On this day I'm particularly thinking about my beloved father who served in the Army, my Uncle Ben, who was lost in action for a while, but who ultimately returned home safely, and my Bill who served in the Marine Corps and went to Viet Nam. I can't imagine doing anything like that. But I'm grateful for the people who do.

Here's my Bill and Ron Kovach wearing Ron's Marine Corps clothes, which (amazingly) he still has and even more amazingly they were able to button.

November 4, 2008

Election Day

I don't often write this kind of thing in my journals, usually it's much more personal, but this is what I wrote in my journal on July 28, 2004:
"Barack Obama was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention last night and his speech was electrifying. He has amazing presence. He's a man who can rally the troops, who can bring all the factions together, who has a traditional view of America and who wants to preserve the values this country was founded on. I think he will be the first black President of the United States in 8-12 years."

In a few short hours I hope to say, "Ok, so I was off by four years."

I have felt so emotional on this Election Day and not sure why. Perhaps because it gives me hope that this man could be our president, not because he's black or white, but because of his intelligence, his grace, his judgment, his wisdom, his ability to build consensus and confidence...AND he happens to be a black man. It gives me hope because of what that says about our society today and, even though it's taken too long, I am struck by how far we've come in my lifetime.
And I've felt emotional about our democratic process today and what a miracle it is that we, as individuals, go to the polls to cast our vote from our hearts and souls, and that we are free to do this. Whatever one's opinion, whoever we choose to support, I think we should all feel honored to be part of this process.

November 3, 2008

Fall in Chicago

What a glorious day it was today in Chicago. The changing leaves looked beautiful in the sunlight, a light breeze was blowing, it was about 72 degrees and everyone walking down the street was smiling. With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away it made me think of other things I'm grateful for, which is basically my whole, wonderful, fortunate life.
First, I'm grateful for my Bill, the love of my life. I feel so lucky to have found him after all those years and all those relationships. Maybe it's timing, maybe it's just dumb luck, but somehow Bill and I really work as a couple and have now for more than five years (record-setter for me), and it's wondrous. God knows we're not perfect people but we're perfect for each other.
I'm very excited to be getting ready for my trip to South Africa with my dear friend Claire. It's a place I've wanted to visit for a long time and on Thanksgiving Day (how appropriate) we leave for two weeks; one week in the Cape Town area and one in Kruger National Park. I'm pinching myself, it's so unbelievable. Part of the reason we're going is that Mikki Williams (who I work for as Director of Everything), had a week's vacation she couldn't use before the end of the year and generously offered it to me! A week's stay at a resort anywhere in the world. Amazing. The perks of working for Mikki are fabulous and she's also someone I'm thankful for.
I'm thankful that my lovely friend Lauren, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, is doing so well, being proactive in her fight, handling it all with grace and that her prognosis is excellent. She's a rock and an inspiration.
I'm thankful for all my other friends who support me and give me strength and make me feel valued; Judi, who's been my best friend for 45 years, Barbara, Debby, Susan; also my sister and my cousins. I know I've left people out but it wasn't intentional and your friendship means the world to me.
Those who know me well know I'm not a mushy person so enough of the mush for one day.
It just seemed like too perfect a day to go unrecognized.

The Man Who Looks Like My Father

Originally published by A Long Story Short.

I walk into room 283 at the nursing home to find my father slumped in a wheelchair, face unshaven, mouth slack, eyes closed. A month before the stroke, people were amazed when they found out he was 80; he looked no more than 65. Now he looks ninety and I feel as if someone has punctured my lungs. Tears gather in my eyes. I kneel in front of the chair and put my hand on his.

“Daddy?” He doesn’t stir. “Daddy,” I say anxiously, louder, and his eyes open slowly. His head comes up. His stare is vacant. “Daddy, it’s me.”
He turns to me and stares. Then he says, “Oh. Hi, honey,” so weakly I can barely hear him.

“How are you?” I ask, even though it is painfully obvious.

“Have someone get me back to bed,” he says. His voice trembles. “I call and call. For hours. No one comes.”

Now I am puffed up with purpose. “I’ll be right back,” I say and rush out to the nurses’ station where an unkempt young woman shovels Cool Ranch Doritos into her mouth. Her considerable bulk threatens the buttons of her uniform and I resist the urge to tell her the Doritos aren’t helping.

“I need someone to help my dad back into bed.”

She wipes her fingers delicately on a Kleenex and says, “Who’s your father, hon?”

“Oliver Green.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you.”

“Well, he’s only been here a couple weeks and I’ve been out of town.”

“Mmm hmmm. How was your trip?”

I bristle. “It was business,” I say. Does she think I’d put my father in here and then go on vacation?

“That must be stressful for you. He’s doing fine, though, really.”

“He doesn’t look fine. He needs to get back into bed. Can you help me? He says he’s been calling for someone for hours.”

“I’m sure it seems like hours to him but he’s only been in the chair for about forty minutes.
We need to build his strength and he won’t do that by being in bed all day.”

She smiles, her eyes soft and sympathetic, her confidence deflating my anger. “Lunch is coming soon,” she says. “Let’s leave him in the chair for now and I’ll come in after lunch to help him back to bed.”

“Okay,” I say, relieved that my father’s being looked after by this kind woman. “Thank you.”

When I reenter my father’s room he looks up hopefully. “Is someone coming?”
he asks.

“After lunch, Daddy.”

“Oh, honey,” he says sadly. “I’m so uncomfortable.” His disappointment erodes the good feeling I had and makes me feel like a failure.

“Lunch will be here soon,” I say, “and right after that we’ll get you back into bed. The nurse says you’ve only been in the wheelchair for forty minutes.”

“Who said that? That fat one? She’s a witch and a liar.”

I stare, stunned into speechlessness. He has never, in my whole life, spoken ill of anyone. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, were the words he lived by and instilled in me.

“Don’t look at me like that. It’s true,” he says, his anger bringing him strength. “Oh, she smiles,” he says, “and makes up to you but she doesn’t do anything. She’s fat and lazy. She’s a witch. She won’t help me eat or drink and she never answers the call button when I ring it.”

I feel as if I’ve come into the wrong room. This man bears a physical resemblance to my father but it’s as if he’s had a personality transplant.


After lunch he’s back in bed, calmer, his hair snowy white against the blue of the pillowcase. He smiles at me.

When the Dorito-eating nurse comes in to take his tray I brace myself.

“How was it, Oliver?” she asks.

“Tasted like gruel. I was hoping for filet mignon,” he says.

“Oh, you snuck a peek at the dinner menu,” she says.

His laughter floats around the room and embraces my heart. I stroke the slack skin on the back of his hand, examining the age spots, his long fingers; cherishing this moment. How many more moments like this will I have with my father?

“Do you know how much I love you, Daddy?”

He looks at me, his eyes clear now, and focused.

“However much that is, sweetpea,” he says. “I love you a hundred times more.”