Remembering my father (and mother) on Father’s day

My parents before they were married.

My parents before they were married.

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I close my eyes in my bedroom, and pretend, only for a minute, that I’m back home in my old bedroom. I visualize where the bed was, my dresser, and the closet.  I think about where the other rooms of the house were situated and what they looked like.

Sometimes, when I’m remembering, I hug the pillow and remember how it felt to hug my parents. How comforting it was, and how safe and loved I used to feel with them.

I had a special relationship with both of them. I was the baby of the family and lived alone with them from the age of 13. I did miss having my two newly married sisters living with us, but I enjoyed hanging out with my old parents. We went out to eat a lot, saw movies, and attended the theater. (My old parents were somewhere in their late 40’s and early 50’s.)

Sometimes, I try to remember them talking in the kitchen on a Sunday morning. I can see my mother sitting at the table, newspaper not too far from her. (She loved to read that newspaper cover to cover.) My father is standing up, probably doing some chore. They’re talking about his job, or what they’re going to do in the future.

I can almost hear the comfortable din of their voices. She saying, “Hank, why don’t you get some blintzes from Solomon’s?” (We used to get blintzes from the local delicatessen every Sunday.) Before he ever left the house he would always give her a quick kiss. Before too long he’d come back with the scrumptious Solomon blintzes. All my mother had to do was heat them on the stove.

After we eat our blintzes, my father is going to go out and do outside chores like mowing the lawn or shoveling the snow. He might run some errands.

Sometimes, I’d tag along with him. I was crazy about my father. He’d talk to me like an equal, and was a good listener. He always made me feel loved and important.

He had a friend who owned a car wash, so about every weekend I’d go with him to watch the car get cleaned. I’d carefully watch the car go through the stages, while he kidded around with his friend. I could see that Dad could get along with everyone.

I had an acquaintance whose parents were divorced, and the father would take the kids somewhere special every Sunday. I didn’t know it was because they were divorced. (In those days people kept divorces quiet.) So, I kept pleading with my dad take me out on Sunday without my mother. He did it once. We went to the planetarium at the Cleveland Science museum. We looked up at the pretend stars in the planetarium and listened to the lecture. I loved having my daddy all to myself. (I only hope my mother wasn’t too hurt.)

My parents sometimes took me to a local amusement park, Euclid Beach. My mother would park herself on a bench and my dad would go on rides with me in the park. This was a big feat for him because he was really not too crazy about amusement park rides.

One time we got on a ferris wheel and before it started, he asked the ride attendant to let us off. Another time we were on an Over the Falls” ride and the power went out. We were stuck on the ride for about 20 minutes. I wasn’t worried cause I was with my dad. (Years later, he told me he was nervous about my mother being alone, and us getting stuck on the ride.)

My dad  always took time to get dressed for work as a Cleveland Policeman. After he shined his shoes, and put on his uniform with the golden badge, and completed it with his hat, he didn’t look like Daddy anymore; he looked liked a king. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world to have such a good-looking, important father.

My parents were so close, that I can’t remember my father on this Father’s Day without including both my parents.

Happy Father’s Day to them both, wherever their souls ended up. If there is such a place, I have no doubt that they are together.

Thanksgiving: A Time to Treasure your Family

I have some happy memories of Thanksgiving when I was a little girl. My immediate family would gather round the table. This included my grandparents, my parents and my two sisters.  I was the youngest!  I felt very happy and loved in my family, and enjoyed those celebrations.

Although both my parents had big extended families,we never shared Thanksgiving with them. It was a pretty simple holiday. My mother insisted on being  alone in the kitchen preparing the meal. We knew to stay out of her way.  If we went near her or her preparations, she would get really upset. She wanted everything to be perfect.

It wasn’t a totally traditional American menu because it always included chopped liver, and Matzah Ball Soup. We had the other things: stuffing, turkey, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green beans with mushroom soup,  cranberry sauce, a salad, and pumpkin pie for dessert.

My mother never changed the menu.  It was the same every year. Later, my sister added her cherry jello mold (with sour cream) which I later added to my own celebration. Unfortunately, I never wrote down my mother’s recipe for matzah balls, chopped liver, or stuffing. I’ve made all those things, but it never tasted like my mom’s.

One day my oldest sister offered to take over the Thanksgiving celebration. (By this time, one of my sister’s and her husband had moved out-of-town.) My mother was happy to relinquish her role as hostess.

Now, our celebration included my two nieces, my brother-in-law,  and their dog, Gus, who gleefully ate all the scraps. (By this time, my grandparents were long gone.)

Eventually, my family scattered, and Thanksgiving together came to an end.

I did get everyone together for Thanksgiving in 1979, but it never happened again.

Siblings: TOS

Siblings: TOS (Photo credit: rbarenblat)

Nothing lasts forever, even families. The best thing to do every year is be thankful for what you do have, and savor every moment together.

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

I’d welcome comments about your childhood Thanksgiving celebrations! What’s your happiest memory?

TV Reaches a new low: Nancy Grace Weighs in on Honey Boo Boo

Nancy Grace's Objection! — How High-Priced Def...

Nancy Grace’s Objection! — How High-Priced Defense Attorneys, Celebrity Defendants, and a 24/7 Media Have Hijacked Our Criminal Justice System (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You want evidence our society is in trouble? What Toddlers and Tiaras. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. The show where the wannabe mothers doll their kids up, put on make up, and sexualize them with strange costumes.

There is a new offshoot starring Honey Boo Boo, one of the little beauty queens.

I really cannot take the lawyer Nancy Grace, but I stumbled upon her show while surfing the television. Nancy Grace seems just plain mean and nasty. (Her voice modulates between nasty and overly  sweet which just seems dishonest to me.)  She claims to want to help innocent victims of crime. The former prosecutor is pretty brutal to some of her guests. I think she drove one of them to suicide.

Every once in a while she’ll be talking about a controversial subject that interests me, so I’ll watch her show. Sometimes I find her extreme behavior slightly entertaining.

She was talking about “Honey Boo Boo”, a star from Toddlers and Tiaras.  Her mother is obviously starved for attention and is using Honey Boo Boo to make a name for herself.  She is succeeding.

One of Nancy’s guests was Mike Walker from the National Enquirer, the best trashy newspaper rag out there. Why Walker was offended by Honey Boo Boo makes no sense. He makes a living digging up dirt.  He should love watching Honey Boo Boo dress up in her Dolly Parton outfit, and wiggle her little behind.

Nancy Grace  on a campaign to stop Honey Boo Boo and her mother. (You may remember Nancy on Dancing with the Stars. She wasn’t afraid to wear provocative costumes on her overweight body.)

Nancy feels that sexual pedophiles are loving this show, and might go and try to hunt these little girls down. She contends that is probably what happened to Jon Benet Ramsey, the little beauty pageant winner who was murdered. They never found her killer.

Nancy  showed a video of Honey Boo Boo dancing at a college bar on top of the bar.   She also showed her pulling up her little shirt, rubbing her  already fat naked tummy, and drinking Go Go juice, a combination of Red Bull and Mountain Dew.  Honey Boo Boo  said, “it makes me laugh, and pull mommy’s hair.” She only uses it before a performance.

Honey Boo Boo’s father, a convicted felon, is trying to take custody of her. Like Nancy Grace, he feels this is child abuse. God knows what he’s planning to do with Honey Boo Boo once he gets custody.

But as much as Nancy Grace annoys me, I have to agree with her.

If those mothers want to be glamorous strippers, they ought to lose weight, get themselves in shape and live out their dreams. There is nothing more abusive than a parent who lives out their fantasies and dreams through their children.

What they’re doing to their kids is child abuse.

What is even sadder is that Toddlers and Tiaras is TLC’s—The Learning Channels—#1 show. Honey Boo Boo is an instant hit.

One of my friends suggested that people watch those shows to make themselves feel superior. (I may be a lousy mom, but at least I don’t dress up my child, and allow them to dance on top of a bar, or walk in a sexual way.)

Do you think there is a place for kiddie beauty pageants? Do you think Honey Boo Boo’s mom loves her child more than she loves herself? Convince me I’m wrong.

Television Review: “Shameless” See it on Showtime

I’m hooked on a TV Series.

English: Intertitle from the Showtime televisi...

It’s called “Shameless” and it airs on Showtime on Sunday nights. While the credits are rolling in the beginning of the show, the characters are taking turns in the family’s bathroom.  It’s not gross, but you get the idea. The smallest character, Liam, is wrapped up in toilet paper by his sister. He is a very cute little guy, so that helps.

The show is about family, but they’re not your grandmother’s type of family, unless all the members were immoral and lacking in common sense.

People used to keep family skeletons hidden, but now it’s fashionable to have them out in the open. Not only in the open, but starring on their own TV shows. Somehow I feel a little better watching a fictional family act inappropriately instead of the real thing.

The main character, Frank Gallagher, (William Macy)  is a hopeless drunk who acts more like a child than his six children. His wife Monica, (Chloe Webb) drifts in and out of the home.

Macy is good in every role I’ve seen him take on, and he’s particularly effective as Frank. Even though Frank is slimy, somehow Macy makes him appealing. You love to hate him.

The six children are better off than their parents, but they do have their problems  It’s like all the guests on Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew, and Jerry Springer got together to live in one house as a family.

The oldest daughter, Fiona, (Emma Rossum) is the strongest and most moral member of the family. She tries her best to keep all the kids going in the right direction. By day, she has her little sister, Debby,( Emma Kenny) running a daycare while she recovers from the night shift at the local watering hole. Debby wakes her up when a parent wants to make sure a responsible adult  is taking care of their children.

There is a genius teenager, Lipp,(Jeremy Allen White) who spends much of his time lighting up cigarettes, fooling around with the next door neighbor, and trying to get out of school. White plays him with intensity and energy.

Joan Cusak, another of my favorite actors, plays Sheila, the next-door agoraphobic neighbor, who is proper on the outside, but a tigress in the bedroom.

There are many characters and intertwining stories going on in this show

If you want to know about more subplots, go to the Showtime website.

I am ashamed I like “Shameless.”

Questions: Do you like or dislike Shameless? Tell me why.

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A Valentine’s Day Post

My husband walks into the room carrying an old-fashioned  sound movie projector.

“Look”, he says, “ I found this on Ebay. We can finally watch our old movies again.”

He sets up the projector, and I impatiently wait for the movie to begin. I want to revisit the past. Finally, the  projector makes a whirring sound and  I’m transported back to 1982.  My heart skips a beat when I see my little girl, Stacey. She has a headful of blonde curls, and an engaging smile. Although she is barely two, she is wearing a pink shirt that says “big sister” in bold black letters.

Her little brother, Brian, is sitting in his orange baby seat. He’s only about six months old. One day, he will travel the world, but in 1982 he is restricted to the top of a kitchen table.

The movie camera turns toward me. My appearance startles me. I didn’t know I’d aged so much. My hair is long, wavy, and dark brown, and I am surprisingly thin.

I whistle at my son, and he giggles. He turns toward his sister, and intently looks at her. It’s the start of a close relationship between the two of them; one that will last.

Turning to my daughter, I ask her to say”daddy”. She complies, then shoves the movie microphone close to her mouth. I ask her to say “nose”. It’s too much for her, and she throws down the microphone. I should have known when to stop. It’s not the last time I will conflict with my spirited daughter.

The movie gets a little shaky, and I remember taking over the movie camera. I focus it on my tall strapping young husband. He scoops both children up in his arms. My older daughter, not wanting to miss out on the fun, enters the kitchen. Before she can say anything, I hear the reels signaling the end of the movie.

The wall gets dark, and we turn on the lights. Now, there are only the two of us standing in the same kitchen where the movie was made all those years ago.

Six months go by, and now I find myself standing in the “Renaissance Hotel” in Columbus, Ohio. Stacey has grown into an independent young woman. In a few hours, she will become a wife. She is behind the door, ready to reveal herself to the female members of the wedding party.

“Are you ready to see her?” asks my oldest daughter.

“Ready,”we say in unison.

The door opens, and a beautiful bride steps forward. Her  flouncy wedding dress, without jewels or beads on it, is simple and elegant. The veil has little scattered rhinestones and a pretty pearl barrette  is holding her blonde curls in place. She is wearing the simple diamond necklace my husband and I bought her for her birthday.

Celebrating Love

“You never looked so beautiful,” I say.

“Thank you mommy,” she replies.

The rest of the day unfolds like a  Frank Capra movie.  The sunny weather and blue sky make it a perfect day to get married on the third floor terrace of the lovely hotel. There is a panoramic view of downtown Columbus, Ohio. This location is fitting because generations of my husband’s family has worked in locations within view.

We all laugh at a large image of Andy Warhol staring at us from an adjacent building. It’s almost as if he’s come to the wedding without an invitation.

The wedding guests include family members from all over the country, but most of them are their friends. I miss my mother for a moment. She lived a long life, and always liked family celebrations.  A bittersweet feeling momentarily washes over me.

As the wedding party lines up inside the hotel, we vaguely hear music coming from the terrace.  My husband, daughter and I wait for our cue. I was honored when she insisted we both walk her down the aisle.

Finally, we hear the beginning notes of the  Pachelbel’s Canon, and we start towards the chupa (altar). The look on the  handsome groom’s face is joyful and loving.  She gave her heart to him long ago, so I don’t feel any sense of loss. They are so right for each other.

Since they come from two different religions—Judaism and Catholicism—they have chosen a non-religious person to marry them. He’s a lay person who has the authority to marry couples. He is a good choice; he does an expert job leading the ceremony.

They tried to include parts of both religions in the ceremony. A chupa (altar), and a unity candle. There is a reading from the New Testament.

I reach for my husband’s hand during the ceremony. We are still each other’s best friend and we are still in love.

My little girl, now grown up, stands across from her soon-to-be husband. The tears of joy in his eyes— when he looks at her— starts her own.  Lovingly, he wipes hers away.  It speaks volumes about their love.

I listen to the wedding ceremony they’ve written themselves. They have compiled prayers and words from different traditions. The ceremony speaks of love, commitment and becoming one. I am so busy watching them that I don’t absorb every word. When it’s time to light the unity candle, the wind keeps blowing it out. Finally, their two older sisters block the wind, and the candle finally lights. Later, he breaks the glass. One final tradition from Judaism and they are married.

The musicians playing at the reception are like the groom’s family. He is the lead guitar player, and one of the singers. He brings her close to him, and surprises her by singing her some songs The guests gather around to watch. Their happiness is contagious, and everyone is smiling.

The bride and groom sit on chairs, and are lifted during the ceremony, a Jewish tradition. No one is sure how long they should be aloft, and they both look relieved when the chairs are once again on the ground.

It’s a lively wedding, and two traditional dances are introduced to the guests, the Italian tarentella, and the Israeli hora.  At first, it’s a little awkward, but most everyone ends up laughing and out of breath.

The celebration lasts until midnight. The musicians put away their instruments, and the wedding ends.

A memory of a perfect day will be stored in my heart. It will be there for me when I need it.