Posted tagged ‘family’

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March 25, 2021

curmudgeonThis has been a difficult year: my wife’s breast cancer, COVID and the isolation that it brought, adapting to life in new place away from old friends in our 70s.   Both my wife Muri and I agree that this year has aged us more than a year.  I won’t make a guess about how many years it has aged us but I do know I entered the year a fairly content seventy-five year old and find myself, at the year’s end much more of a curmudgeon than I care to be.   One of the things that has made the year livable was living near my daughter, Amy, her husband, Lars and our grandchildren, Reed, Maddux and Savy.  We have not lived near family in many, many years and beyond the comfort of knowing they are nearby, we had the joy of seeing them, albeit less than we’d have liked because of COVID.   Of course attending the grandkids activities is wonderful (Reed swimming and water polo, Maddux soccer and Savy dance) but just hanging out together, talking or playing games is special, too.  And we are lucky that we are not only relatives to our daughter and her husband, we are friends.  One of the things we have missed due to COVID is going out to dinner with just the adults, where we could talk (and laugh about) adult things. (more…)

Year, New, Happy

January 3, 2021

Yes, I know 2020 has been over for several days now.   At my age my literary reflexes are a little slow.  Besides, 2020 has been a Year like no other, a year that requires some examination before moving on.  Oh, it started out OK … my wife, Muri, and I in a beautiful new home in our new home state of Utah, a few miles from our daughter’s family.  Selling our California house then moving had been an ordeal, and we’d lost my beloved Tuxedo cat, Claude, to cancer but shortly after arriving in Utah, we adopted Tyson, another lovable Tuxedo,  So on January 1, 2020, Happy New Year just rolled off the tongue.   But February of 2020 brought the first news of a pandemic and in May, a breast cancer diagnosis for my wife.   There would be surgery and chemotherapy and radiation (still going on) for Muri, and an out-of-control spread of a new virus until, at the conclusion of the year, more Americans had died of COVID-19 than in World War Two.   An incompetent, divisive president who’d managed to stumble along for three good years could not (or would not) deal with the pandemic, and  what would follow was the most divisive election in my life time, a national scene that for the first time made me wonder whether democracy can survive.  That was 2020. (more…)

Mom’s Favorite Ornament

December 23, 2020

This is our second Christmas living in Utah.   Last year, we moved into our new house on December 19, so we didn’t put up a tree.  It was the first time in 76 years, I didn’t have a tree.  That was fine because we spent the holiday with our grandkids and their tree.   But this year, I was anxious to have a tree again.   This year.   In a year like no other, our tree, too, would be different.  In years past, I would  spend days carefully  placing the several hundred ornaments we’d accumulated over the years and reserving a spot in front of my favorite ornament to shine.   This year we have a new family member, a lovable but somewhat mischievous Tuxedo cat named Tyson that we rescued last year.  The first day I put up the tree (sans ornaments) I found Tyson IN the tree, a third of the way up.  A shout, a clap and a squirt from the water bottle seems to have taught him that this tree is not for climbing.  Still, I only decorated the top two-thirds of the tree, placing my favorite ornament higher than usual. Compromising with a cat comes easier at 76 than it would have at 50.

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Christmas Eve with Dad

December 23, 2020

For the few days left before Christmas, I’m going to repost several of my favorites about childhood Christmas’ with my family.  This one is perhaps my favorite memory of my Dad.

When I search the dusty back shelves of my memories under Childhood with Dad, Christmas Eve is the fondest.   I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I started going out with Dad on Christmas Eve to pick up presents from our other relatives in the area, but I know it was after I stopped believing in Santa Claus.   My mother used to say that I believed in Santa Claus for so long that she was embarrassed to take me to Malley’s Department Store to see him, so I was probably older than you’d think.  (more…)

Fifty-Two Years

August 11, 2020

I have no recollection of what I did on the day before I married Muriel Steingard, the woman that is the best thing that ever happened to me. I am told that the day of the wedding I nervously talked everyone’s ear off on the way to Temple Sinai for the ceremony. I don’t remember being nervous, but that probably means I was nervous the day before, too.

This year on the day before our 52nd Wedding Anniversary, I accompanied her to the Jordan Valley Cancer Center for her second chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. It has been that kind of year. On her birthday last month she had the chemo port surgically implanted in her shoulder. In years past, we’d have planned a mini-vacation or special date to celebrate but even if there were not cancer treatments, COVID-19 has put the kibosh on any real celebration in this strangest year of our 52 together. Since it is uncertain how she will feel on the 11th … and because we need to be especially careful about exposure during treatment … I made dinner at home on Sunday night; filet Mignon, baked potato and creamed corn. We ate in the dining room and put flowers on the table. It was nice. Tomorrow we will take it easy and, as they say, play it by ear.

The thing about this star-crossed anniversary is that it puts everything in perspective. There is no place on earth I would rather be than by my wife’s side as she goes through this. And there is no better anniversary present than the positive prognosis for her complete recovery. The way we care for each other during her treatment … and make no mistake, I need special care, too … is what love and fifty-two years of marriage is all about. There will be other years and anniversary celebrations to come, but this one will always be memorable, the year we walked through the unthinkable together. I love you, Muri, more than ever. Happy Anniversary.

Gratitude Under Pressure

July 1, 2020

Twenty years ago, the Love of My Life was diagnosed with breast cancer.  The tumor was small and could be removed with a lumpectomy (although it took two tries to get it all).  She was treated with radiation and hormone therapy and regular mammograms, and in spite of a few false alarms, she remained cancer-free.   It seemed to be common knowledge that if you made it through 15 years without recurrence you were home free and we began to believe it.  Fortunately my wife, Muri, was conscientious about annual mammograms because last month, she had a callback for something suspicious.  What a shock.  If you have ever been down this road that no one wants to travel, you know it can be a maddening series of hopes and disappointment.  You hope that the ultrasound will show that its nothing to worry about.  Then you hope the biopsy will show it’s not cancer and then that its small and you caught it early.  Then you hope its a good cancer and not a bad cancer, a notion that would be ludicrous if it weren’t so true.   The specific characteristics of the cancer significantly affect the prognosis and course of treatment.  It can be a process that sucks the gratitude right out of you. (more…)

Fishing (Again)

June 26, 2020

My Dad, Frank, was an avid fisherman.  Even though he worked fifty or sixty hours a week, he still found time to go to one of the local fishing spots for a couple of hours.   He frequently returned empty-handed, sometimes because he threw back little ones and sometimes because he threw back keepers.   Although he was a fan of catching fish, he was not fond of eating them.   But the truth is, he just liked some solitary time walking along the edge of Lake Saltenstall or one of the other lakes within a half hour of home.  It was natural, then that I became a fisherman at first with Dad to show me how.   Sometimes we’d rent a rowboat and fish the shores of the big lake at Saltenstall.  Other times we’d fish the streams at Chatfield Hollow, or a lake in Guilford where his boss let us use his boat. Incidentally, one evening in 1952, Dad landed the largest bass caught in Connecticut that year, an 11 pound beauty.  Opening day was special … we’d rise early and stop for breakfast at the New Idea Diner, then head to Chatfield Hollow to compete with the dozens of anglers fishing for trout.   Beginners, my Dad called them, some of them idiots.   One particularly cold spring, I lost my footing on a slippery rock ans sat down in the brook.   My hip boots filled with freezing cold water, which my Dad thought was hysterical.   Looking back, it was … but at the time, not so much. (more…)

Seventy-6

May 19, 2020

Today, I turn 76 years old, passing the quarter century mark. When people find out my age they are usually say, I’d never have guessed you’re that old. Talk about a double-edged compliment. The surprise likely owes to the fact that I was blessed with wrinkle resistant skin, at least in the places that show, and I regularly shave of any trace of white hair off my head and face. I remain passionate about life, which always makes a person seem younger and I move around pretty well in spite of a mix of aches kept in check by exercise, stretches and a few over-the counter medications. Perhaps the biggest difference between 66 and 76 is that staying active and passionate takes more effort than it used to. (more…)

Shelter-In Place Scavenger Hunt

April 9, 2020

So, we had no sooner settled into our house in Utah and started to enjoy visiting with our grandkids than the coronavirus reared it’s ugly (if microscopic) head.   At first we visited carefully but as things got worse, we stopped regular visits and, of course, all their activities which we love to attend are shut down.  We still get to see them car to car in the park, or at quick visits when their Mom drops off some goodies for us and we can still Facetime.  But I wanted to have a more regular presence in their lives and perhaps provide a break from boredom.  So I came up with a game I call Shelter-in-Place Scavenger Hunt.   Every day I text them something for each of them to find and text back a picture.  Of course, these are 21st century techie kids who can Google, cut and paste and download pictures on their devices, so I try to make it educational and interesting.  This is this morning’s game and their answers (click to enlarge):

It keeps us in touch every day and they seem to enjoy it.   Or maybe they just know it makes their Papa happy … they are good kids that way.

Stay home and stay safe.

Happy. Merry. Utah.

December 26, 2019

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I know many people worry about how we greet one another during this holiday season. Christians insist on Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays. Some Jews are offended if someone wishes them Merry Christmas instead of Happy Chanukah. I don’t know anyone who celebrates Kwanzaa or Festivus (for the rest of us) but given human nature, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of them were offended by the incorrect holiday greeting. Personally, I am not offended by any greeting I receive at this time of year. I will take all the good wishes offered me, no questions asked.

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