A lovely California wedding


 May 7 didn’t start out as a usual day. What was different? My husband and I were  going to spend the next few days celebrating our  son’s impending marriage.

When I got off the plane at The Bob Hope Airport in  Burbank, California, the weather wasn’t wedding friendly. It was a drab, cold day. Was this a joke? Isn’t it a rule that the sun is always supposed to shine in California?

So, after rolling our suitcases for at least a mile, (Okay a 1/8 of a mile that seemed like 5 miles), we  rented a car at the airport and headed to Hollywood. My son lives there, and booked us a room at a Best Western “Hollywood Hotel.”

Hundreds of movie stars were permanently residing at this hotel. Unfortunately, most  of them are no longer with us, but their likenesses and autographs were everywhere: the elevator, the bedroom, the hotel walls, and even the bathroom.  Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne are only a few of the featured principals. Millenials wouldn’t have a clue to some of their names. “Fame is fleeting.”

I encountered the other two wedding guests in the hotel lobby, my lovely daughters. ( My son-in-law and grandson could not attend). My mind’s eye flashed back to 1982. I saw myself and three little children going around the neighborhood block; my eldest daughter leading the way,  pedaling her shiny, blue, two-wheeler with training wheels, and her brother and sister in the double stroller. After a few seconds I catapulted back into the 21st century. In front of me I saw three responsible likeable adults.

The next day the family headed toward Santa Barbara, the wedding destination. I thought, how can this be bad when the place and I share the name, Barbara? The place is breathtaking. How can you go wrong with the Pacific Ocean, and mountains, and no honky-tonk; The shopping area is away from the beach and is very quaint.

My son’s  future wife is English and is a woman with good looks and spirit.  With her English accent, she sounds so “proper.”  Many things are “lovely.” During one of our conversations, we learned that people often wear hats to weddings in the UK.

The next day we got up, and went to the shopping district sans the bride and groom. One of my daughters saw a hat shop, and suggested we make it a “proper” English wedding. We happily tried on hats for an hour. I almost bought one of those english hats that they wore to Kate and Will’s wedding, but I figured the royals aren’t going to invite me, so  I settled on an American style  floppy white one.

Finally, the day of the wedding arrived. We arrived at the beach where the wedding was going to take place. It was an idyllic setting.The officiate, wearing an appropriate white blouse and black slacks arrived and told us where to stand.( Nobody minded the cute little dogs walking the beach with their owners.)

As if on cue, the sun decided to shine. It was like an old-fashioned film. (The era before they blew up buildings, people and chased each other in moving cars.)

The officiate earnestly performed the ceremony she’d written, based on the information the bride and groom gave her. She brought up William Shakespeare and his views on marriage. She also acknowledged our long 42-year old marriage. My daughter-in-law picked her parent’s wedding anniversary to marry. What a tribute!

Finally, they exchanged unique rings flown in from Hawaii. They were finally man and wife. The passionate kiss after the pronouncement made it official.

The small intimate wedding they planned together was lovely.

What kind of a world are we making for our children?


Another bulletin comes on the TV about another shooting, this time in a mall in Maryland.

What bothers me most about my reaction is that I’m not shocked. Shootings around this country are becoming a commonplace thing. Do you even pay attention any more when those “special bulletins” come on TV interrupting the violent program you may be watching, (You might even not be watching TV, you might be playing those realistic killer video games. ) Could there be a connection? Duh, yes.

What worries me is my little grandson. He’s so sweet and innocent. What kind of world does he have to look forward to? Is he going to have to be locked down in his house at certain times of the day.

I remember when I went to school. It was one of the safest places in the world. The thought that somebody would come in the school and harm the children was the farthest thing from anyone’s mind. Everything was orderly, and kids didn’t have to be frightened.

I did see changes come  when I was still teaching school. We had several lock downs because of the rumor of drive-by shootings. Those guns again.

Something tells me that our gun policy is not working. It’s getting more and more like the wild west every day. I’m thinking even the wild west isn’t as wild as our society is becoming these days.

I heard some conservative woman on TV suggest that we should lock more people up in mental institutions to solve this problem. As far as she could see, the problem had absolutely nothing to do with too many guns. I won’t even dignify her by mentioning her name. (She is the one with the long blonde hair and the irritating voice. )

It looks like I’m going to do most of my shopping online. I’ll try not to worry about the future. But I really wish my grandson’s mother would start thinking about the benefits of home-schooling.

A courageous girl, Anne Frank, would’ve been 84 today.


Cover of "The Story of Anne Frank"

Cover of The Story of Anne Frank

Today I found out that it would’ve been Anne Frank’s 84th birthday. Being Jewish, I was always haunted by the story of Anne Frank.  You can read her story in “The Story of Anne Frank.”

Anne was a young, Jewish girl who was forced to hide away with her family in Amsterdam,Holland. It happened during the Holocaust during World War II. The family found a hiding place above a factory, and successfully hid there for several years. Tragically, someone turned them in, and were ultimately captured by the Nazis.

Anne’s father survived, and went back and found her diary. It was later published and has been read by thousands. Why am I giving out these details? I’m thinking less and fewer people know about this diary. They used to teach it in high schools, but I”m wondering how true that is today. Can the young people of today relate to the words written by a young girl in the 1940’s?

It’s more real to me because I am going to be 63 years old. When I was born in 1950, the War had only been over for five years. It seemed very real to me. When I found out about this tragedy, it upset me. To think people would kill others because of their religion. Since that time, I’ve read hundreds of books about it, and heard survivor’s talk about it. I’ve accepted it, but it still makes me very sad.

In the early 70’s, I took a trip to Amsterdam and got a chance to walk through the hiding place that is now a museum. The space was so small. I wondered how 3 families could have survived there for so long. I looked out the window at the very same tree Anne longingly looked at from her hiding place. I was touched by the pictures of American movie stars of the 40’s that she had taped on the wall.

In her diary Anne stated that “I still believe people are really good at heart.” One wonders if she still believed this by the time she died, and directly experienced such cruelty. How did she feel when she got off the train at the concentration camp and realized people were starving and broken? What did she think when she saw the stacks of the gas chambers that killed her peers, neighbors, loved ones, and fellow Jews? (It wasn’t only Jews that died.) This all happened in a civilized society too. It’s very frightening.

How tragic it was that someone with such insight and talent died so young. She was never to know that millions would read her words. If it was a fictional story, she would have survived. Sadly, it was a real story; perhaps, she went to a better place. Who knows?

The real tragedy is that people’s cruelty to each other hasn’t ended. It continues. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. Somehow, good does win over evil. It takes a while, but it seems to happen.

The best we can now do is think about Anne’s advice “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

How many have ever been to The Anne Frank House? How has her diary impacted you? Please share.

Coming full circle: taking a walk in the woods on a wintry day: Memoir


Today I came full circle. My two  daughters and son-in-law took me out for a walk.  I was wearing a funny black furry hat  reminiscent of something my  Russian grandmother would wear,  a pair of sunglasses, my old red sweater, black stretch pants, and running shoes with a ragged shoelaces.

I have vague memories of construction workers whistling at me 40 years ago.  I didn’t like it. It embarrassed me, and I felt like it was an invasion of my privacy. Oh, what I would give to have anyone whistle at me now.

Before we got to the park, the grown up children made sure I was buckled in the back seat. My oldest daughter fastened my belt for me. It was rather humorous. I don’t feel I’m quite at the state where I can’t handle a seatbelt, but I thanked her for it.

We got out of the car, and started walking. It is Ohio, and it was cold. Naturally, they all sped ahead of me. My knee which recently was in a state of disrepair, is still not feeling too normal. Something tells me that it will never be the same again.  I banged it into the stove or closet or something, and had to wear a knee brace for two months.

My doctor consoled me by saying, “if you were a world-class athlete, they’d have gone in and cleaned it up already, but you’re not. Give it a couple of months. It’s just a knee.”

So, we went on our walk. and I ignored my nagging kneecap.

I could see the two girls as they once were. Both blonde, one with curls, and one with straight hair. The youngest following the oldest one around.  They’ve grown into beautiful caring young women.  The person missing is my youngest son. He, like my oldest daughter, now lives out-of-town. It’s a rare occasion when all three of them are together. It is always a joyous occasion for me.

Now, they’re all grown up.  It seems hard to believe they were ever little. I have vague memories of dragging all that baby stuff with me: diapers, an extra set of clothes, a baby seat to set up. I always had the oldest child to help me with the other two.  I also remember the youngest two fighting over who was going to sit on my lap while we watched TV.

So, we finished our walk, and I got back in the backseat. I was  glad the walk was over. It was too cold for me. I would not  have  lasted if I was by myself.

Post script

I wrote this a couple of years ago. My kneecap is now back to normal. I have also updated my wardrobe.  Unfortunately, nobody is whistling at me. I guess those days are really  gone!

How do you feel about getting older?  Do you recall a moment when you realized that you were in the last stage of your life?

Reflections of getting older

Reflections of getting older

“Argo” is a good flick. I hope it wins best picture!


“Argo” is an attention grabber. It keeps you engaged in the story  from beginning to end. . It’s a movie depicting the Iranian crises that took place in 1980. The Shah of Iran was deposed by the Ayatollah  Khomeini, an Islamic extremist. The Shah was accepted in America.

The Iranians were so angry, that they took over the American embassy and took hostages. Six Americans  managed to escape  the embassy and went to the home of the Canadian ambassador. They successfully hid out there for several months.

The CIA knew it was only a matter of time before the Iranians at the embassy would figure out that the six were missing.  The movie is based on an actual incident.

Affleck portrays a CIA agent, Tony Mendez,  who has to think up a way to spring the six Americans.   He decides the way to rescue the Americans is to pretend they are all making a movie together. Affleck plays the agent to perfection. He knows how to do his job.  Affleck

Ben Affleck speaking at a rally for Feed Ameri...

Ben Affleck speaking at a rally for Feed America in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

also directed this movie!

If you’re a baby boomer, and remember this time, the movie will bring the whole hostage crises back to life. There are clips of Walter Cronkite and Ted Koppel  Suddenly you remember how upset we were when our hostages were taken by the Iranians. It took 444 days to get them home. Luckily, nobody was physically harmed. Who knows what emotional consequences they suffered?

Standout actors are John Goodman and Alan Arkin who portray the Hollywood types who aid Affleck in his endeavor.

Today, on CNN, President Carter said that the movie “didn’t give the Canadians enough credit.”

Go see it! And Ben Affleck , you should have been nominated in the best director category at the Oscars. I hope the movie wins Best Picture. That would be sweet.

What do you think?

Don’t ever leave your key in the ignition when a toddler is in the car


The day my daughter took my her little brother for a ride in a mini-van

 

I will never forget the day my daughter figured out how to drive. She was around 3. I went in the house to get something, and left my kids in the car for only a  minute or two.  Somehow my daughter maneuvered her way into the driver’s seat. (In those days she wasn’t required to sit in a child’s seat.)  She also figured out how to turn the key sitting in the ignition of the van.

 

When I came out of the house, the big van was rolling down the driveway. My daughter looked like she wasn’t a bit surprised that she was powering the car down the driveway.  I ran to the open window of the driver’s side. I looked back. My son was in his baby seat looking like it was perfectly normal for his big sister to be driving him down the driveway.

 

I ran and tried to get to the steering wheel, but I couldn’t get to it.  The car was going very slowly. It ran over my foot. I still kept going. We went out the driveway heading for my neighbor’s car parked in their driveway across the street. I ran and ran. Finally I got to the steering wheel and pushed it toward the parked position. We were 1/2  inch from my neighbors car.

 

It was like being in the movies. I was so relieved!  The only consequence was my foot hurting for a couple of weeks.

 

But this could have been a real tragedy. A car could have been coming down the street, or she could have run into my neighbor’s car. I recently heard of a case where the outcome wasn’t so good. A woman left her key in the ignition and as a result the child had an accident and is now brain damaged. That sad story reminded me of this past incident.

Steering Wheel

Steering Wheel (Photo credit: Wikiped

 

Lesson: don’t ever leave your kid in the car by themselves with the key in the ignition. Not even for one second.

 

Kids are smarter than you think.

 

A Valentine’s letter to my mother


Dearest Mom,

Happy Valentine's Day...

Happy Valentine’s Day… (Photo credit: Јerry)

I wish you were here. It’s almost Valentine’s day, and I still think about you. I thought you would live forever and you almost did. At ninety-one you finally gave in. I feel slightly guilty that I made you sign the paper giving the doctor permission to do that hip operation. I didn’t know you’d be signing your death certificate. I know you would never want me to blame myself. I do believe it was your “time to go.”

I figured you’d come through that like you did everything. You’d had a couple of  really bad breaks. You were a strong woman. You weren’t the type to feel sorry for yourself. Going blind at the end was very hard on you, but you “did the best you could.”

Things were starting to slip. Sometimes, you’d get things confused. One time, when we were listening to the radio, you asked me who was singing. It was Perry Como, your life-long crush.

[Portrait of Perry Como, New York, N.Y., ca. O...

[Portrait of Perry Como, New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1946] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

You didn’t remember much about my childhood. That you’d nursed me through a staff infection for two years, that when I broke my shoulder, you’d made slings out of Cleveland Indian scarves. You couldn’t remember our family trip to Washington D.C. when I was 12.  It was like that part of our lives together never happened.

You rarely talked about my father. Not unless I brought it up. Remembering him was just too painful. I know you were hoping to see him after you died. But being the practical person you were, you didn’t believe that was going to really happen. Even though I’m just as practical, I like to imagine that you are together.

When I came to visit, we stuck with the tasks at hand. Walking down to the dining hall, taking a walk outside, and listening to that old radio station where they played all your favorites: Eddie Fisher, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and all those singers from the 1940’s.

You still loved to go out to eat. It was almost like you were escaping from that independent living facility every time I came to visit. It was almost like we were partners in crime.

You loved to go to the beauty shop, and listen to the hair-stylists talk to their customers. It was the last place where you could feel like one of the girls.

In your old age you still cared more about me than you did yourself. You asked me if I wanted that extra dinner you’d ordered from the kitchen of the independent living facility where you lived. You asked me if I was comfortable sleeping on the couch overnight. You offered me sheets and a pillow. You tried your very best to be a good hostess.

You dearly loved all your grandchildren ( and great-grandchildren) and gave what you could to all of them. They were your hope for the future. Maybe your exterior seemed a little tough, but inside you were all mushy. You just didn’t let anyone know it.

When we went through your apartment, we found evidence of this secretive side: saved birthday cards, our old school report cards, photographs, engagement and wedding announcements and  programs from college graduations.

So, on Valentines Day I think of the one woman who loved me the most. When you died, you took my nickname with you. It isn’t the same if someone else calls me “Barbie.”  So, a part of me went with you. But, I’ll never forget you.

Happy Valentine’s Day mom.