Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And the blind shall see!

I was reminded recently of a former beau I once dated.  David was a really neat guy who happened to be blind.  We met under unusual circumstances.  I was acting as an interpreter for a deaf/blind student at the University and David was an acquaintance of Don's. Don would call him quite frequently and on those occasions using a speaker phone I would interpret David's side of the conversation to my deaf/blind student who although deaf was able to speak.  My job was to be only an instrument but it was impossible not to get involved to some degree.  I found David very interesting and  I really wanted to know more about him.  Sometimes I would have to speak directly to him when he had difficulty understanding Don on the phone. 

David worked for the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and had met Don through his work there.  Evidently he was curious about me as well and obtained my number from Don.  One nigh he called and we spent about 3 hours talking on the phone before we decided to go out together.

I had never dated a visually impaired person since my work was with the hearing impaired.  I had learned a little about working with the blind from being with Don but my knowledge was definitely limited.  David was a patient teacher.  

We had several dates before I took him to meet my parents.  I had explained to my mom and dad that David was blind before I introduced them.  We had no more sat down in my parent's living room when my mother started walking around the room talking while at the same time changing the light bulbs in all the fixtures.  She was replacing every 60 watt bulb with a 100 watt bulb when my dad asked, "Lolita, what in the world are you doing?"  

David leaned close to me and asked me what was going on.  I explained that my mother was increasing the luminosity of the room when David laughed and responded, "Why didn't I think of that!"

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekend warriors

I was all set to go to Colorado in July but then the air conditioner in my car quit working.  I have to see what that will cost to repair before I commit to a trip.  I'm bummed!  Oh well, have to have priorities and fixing the car is at the top of my list.  It's way tooo hot for a car with no air!!!  I don't like sweating.

Ron and I took my brother to a funny movie Saturday.  We saw Grownups.....all you need to do is leave your brain at the door..thinking is not required for this movie but it is silly and funny!  Mike and Ron really enjoyed it (it's a real guy movie)...It was a good way to spend a hot afternoon!

Ron is at the dermatologist this morning getting (his age spot) looked at.  He didn't call me so I don't know what the doctor told him.  If he does say it is just an age spot Ohhhhhh Lordy....Ron will have a fit!

My daughters left this morning for Corpus Christie, they are chaperones for a bunch of 5th grade students.  They will all be spending the night on the USS Lexington and going to Sea World exploration camp.  I'm sure they will have stories to tell when they get back.  I think they are chaperoning 14 boys and 1 girl on this trip.  Have mercy....


Friday, June 25, 2010

Ever have one of those days when you just woke up feeling like pure ole blahhhhhh....well that's me today!  I got a haircut yesterday - don't like it - can't say why because it probably looks just like it did 2 minutes before I got it cut - which just says I wasn't happy in the first place.  All that just sounds like a good case of whining!  If I put my mind to it I can change my mood around before lunch time. 

I loved this little story about how one mother made her son feel guilty when he called her on the phone:
"Hi Ma, How are you?"
"Not so good.  I haven't eaten for 27 days, so I'm very weak."
"Good heavens, that's terrible.  Why not?"
"I didn't want to have my mouth full of food if you should happen to call me."

Here are some NEW Barbie dolls to coincide with her and OUR aging gracefully.

Bifocals Barbie.  Comes with her own set of blended-lens fashion frames in six wild colors (half-frames too!)  neck chain and large-print editions of Vogue and Martha Stewart Living.

Hot Flash Barbie.  Press Barbie's bellybutton and watch her face turn beet red while tiny drops of perspiration appear on her forehead.  Comes with hand-held fan and tiny tissues.

Facial Hair Barbie.  As Barbie's hormone levels shift, see her whisters grow.  Available with teensy tweezers and magnifying mirror.

Flabby Arms Barbie.  Hide Barbie's droopy triceps with these new, roomier-sleeved gowns.  Good news on the tummy front, too - muumuus with tummy-support panels are included.

Bunion Barbie.  Years of disco dancing in stiletto heels have definitely taken their toll on Barbie's dainty arched feed.  Soothe her sores with the pumice stone and plasters, then slip on soft terry mules.

Post-Menopausal Barbie.  This Barbie wets her pants when she sneezes, forgets where she puts things, and cries a lot.  She is sick and tired of Ken sitting on the couch watching the tube, clicking through the channels.  Comes with Depends and Kleenex.  As a bonus this year, the book "Getting In Touch with Your Inner Self" is included.

The good news about mid-life is that the glass is still half-full.  Of course, the bad news is that it won't be long before your teeth are floating in it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

update on Ron

Ron saw his doctor Tuesday and after the appointment he came walking into my office looking glum and holding a piece of paper.  My heart sank because he looked as if he had just been told what I've been fearing since last September.  He sat down next to my desk and handed me the paper.  I was shaking when I opened it and read "How to manage Gerd"......acid reflux?  This is why you look like someone ran over your dog?  The doctor wants you to go on a diet????????  That's all?????????  I thought he should have been dancing on the ceiling but NOOOOOOOOO he was upset because the doctor told him he's fat!   Well, welcome to my world!!!!!!!!!!!  As long as I live I will never understand this man!  I can't tell you how relieved I am that his diet is his only immediate problem.  The bulge on his side is normal for the type of surgery Ron had and basically the doctor told him he would never be symetrical again.  (This too upset Ron)  I asked him if this news had thwarted a possible career move as a Chippendale dancer but my humor only made him mad.  Oooops  Sometimes he drives me absolutely nuts!  I guess we will just sit back now and wait until September when he has his next CT scan.  In the meantime I'm looking for bricks to elevate the head of his bed!  I guess the best place to look is in HIS HEAD!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First Date

 I guess everyone remembers their first date or at least most girls remember.  I was 15 when I had my first date and I was scared out of my mind.  I remember my father gave the boy a tour of our house....A TOUR for goodness sakes like this kid was considering architecture as a career choice or better yet, interior design.  I about died when my dad opened the door to my room which was a complete disaster because I had tried on every article of clothing I owned looking for just the right outfit.  I just remember thinking my dad was a complete dork.  But when I became the mother of soon- to-be-dating teens I realized I had not been the only nervous person in my family when I had my first date.......so was my dad!

Now, teenagers and dating....those are two words that would strike fear into the hearts of any parent.  When my girls got to the dating age I was a single parent and could only wish for an intimidating figure like my dad to infuse fear into the hearts of all would be suitors.  As a single mom and not a very imposing figure to those hormone raging young men I had to get creative.

So, when the first pimple faced, hormone raging, knocked kneed suitor came a calling I was ready.  Before the day of the BIG DATE I had found our old Sesame Street Growth Chart and nonchalantly taped it along side the door frame of the front door.  I then got my old Polaroid camera and loaded it with film.  Then I waited!

The next day when froggy came a courtin I insisted on being the first to greet him.  We exchanged introductions and I got the itinerary for the evening and the time I could expect my daughter's safe return.  I could see that my daughter was showing signs of relief that so far I hadn't embarrassed myself or better yet her.  Then just as they were about to leave I whipped out the camera.  My daughter grimaced but decided to pose and get it over with.  I told her first I wanted one of her date alone.  I asked the young man to line up next to the growth chart and to say "cheese".  With Polaroid picture developing before our eyes I then advised him how handy it would be for the police if my daughter wasn't returned in the same condition in which she left!  

Intimidation knows no gender!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My poor kids never had a chance when it came to names.  I didn't want the rhyming twin names but I wanted some similarity so I stuck with the same first letter, Jamie and Julie.  That was probably a little too close but what the heck, I was twenty so what did I know.  Now the identity problem was always an issue and one my father never tried to resolve so he just called them names like turd and bird.....or the generic, "hey you".  Their friends called them JamieJulie just so they wouldn't get the wrong name.  Our neighbors called them Ding and Ling or sometimes Link Link.....The girls just learned to answer to just about anything even each others names.  

When they were teenagers I would be with one girl shopping and someone would come up and start a conversation.  Later when I asked who it was my daughter would say, I don't know it must be one of the other daughter's friends.  Whoever it was they wouldn't want to embarrass the person by telling them they were talking to the wrong twin.  

Another little stunt they would pull was when boys started calling.  They would switch the phone between them when they got tired of talking and the poor boy never knew he was talking to the other sister.  I know this trick has been played on me too but I've never been able to catch them at it.  Because we all three sound alike on the phone my dad always asked first "which one are you" before he started talking.

What I really love is the reaction to Jamie's pre-k students sometimes have the first time they see her sister.  Some have actually cried because it startled them so much but all of them just go into a dumb struck stare.  Then they have to discuss all the similarities...."She has your face"  "You sound just alike"  etc.  The one big advantage to Julie being the kindergarten teacher is that Jamie's four year olds have an easy transition from pre-k to kindergarten.  I'm not sure some of them even realize they have a new teacher.  I do know their parents are relieved when the new year starts and no one is crying.

Raising twins has been my greatest adventure.  Even though I was out numbered from the get go I have had a great time observing them and trying to figure out this whole twin connection.  It also gives me great comfort to know that they have such an incredible bond.  They always have each other!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Weekend Updates

Ron has finally agreed to see his doctor.  He was sick all weekend and he felt bad enough to agree he needs to go to the doctor.  He is having pain in his back, his blood pressure is up and his heart is beating way too fast and all this occurs after he eats.  He is supposed to call this morning and set up an appointment.  Since he was feeling so bad we didn't do anything yesterday.  It was so hot here that it was too miserable to be outside anyway so I tried to fix lunch for him (but it made him sick) and it wasn't my cooking either!  Or at least it didn't make me sick.

I finally got the results of my mammogram and everything was OK...no change since the last one.  I also had a Dexa scan done Friday on my bones.....checking for osteoperosis but I don't have the results of that one.  Soooooo one more test and then I'm good for another 365 days or 3,000 miles or whatever the case may be.

I've scheduled vacation time for July 16 through July 25th and I have absolutely no idea what I'll do.  I need some vacation ideas.....I'm not a traveler but I need a change of scenery.  Anyone have any favorite vacation spots?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day

One of my favorite holidays!  I've been a single parent since my now 39 year old daughters were 5 years old.  Because their dad was not in their lives they started honoring me both on Mother's Day and Father's Day.  It started out with them giving me a traditional Father's Day card but it gradually turned into a full out event!  Over the years they have given me what they considered "Dad gifts".  I got tools (some of which reallly came in handy) Best Dad cups, fishing pole (I never fished in my life along with the pipe I've never smoked).  When they were twelve I dressed up in my version of Dad attire.  I wore some baggy plaid burmuda shorts, a t-shirt with World's Greatest Dad printed on it with black socks and sandals.  I carried around an empty beer can just for a touch of class and burped on command.  (about made myself sick)  I really can't wait to see what they have in store for me this year!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I had an interesting question posed to me by my daughter. 
 "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"

I have been giving that some thought and so far I've got a list of things but haven't quite narrowed it down to one.  One idea I was considering was auditioning for America's Got Talent but that might only get me on the show where I would then go on to make a complete fool of myself.    Dieting is another big contender.....I could not fail......Then there is the whole go to Vegas and gamble thing but that might just get me double on a $20.00 bet since $20.00 is all I have to spare at the moment which just doesn't seem worth the airfare.  I'm back to dieting.  (can't fail)  I was considering solving some big problem like the gulf oil leak and if I was really an unselfish human being that would be the one and only contender but I really am drawn to that diet idea...........I'm going to have to give this some more thought.   I'm really interested in hearing what you would attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Words from an old coot!

I know that as we age it is natural to think that the younger generation is spoiled and being reared by incompetent nitwits, never mind the fact that the older generation is responsible for the rearing of those so-called nitwits.  Now that I myself am a card carrying member of the senior generation I have found myself making observations of my own.  However, I am trying to bear in mind that my observations, though astute in their own right, are nothing new and were clearly noted by the generation before me.  I remember hearing the stories of how my father walked 10 miles each way to school in the snow compared to how my happy self was chauffeured by a big yellow school bus.  I was as impressed by his comparison at the time as anyone younger than 20 would be of mine today.  What I do see lacking in the younger generation of today is accountability.  It seems that every parent has an excuse for their child's behavior and can find ways to either justify it or blame it on circumstances beyond their control.  I hear stories every day from teachers about student's lack of accountability.  Parents are quick to protect either a bad grade or issues concerning behavior.  It is never their child's fault.  What I remember as a kid was that if I got in trouble at school I was sure to face consequences at home.  That was just a no brainer.  I was expected to listen to my teacher and to be respectful.  My parents would have never considered the idea of going to the teacher to question her judgment or authority.  When I came home complaining about a teacher my dad would tell me it didn't matter whether he/she was my favorite teacher.  He did however suggest that I find a way to become his/her favorite student.  This was advice that served me well in school and in life.

I don't want to be an old coot that just thinks everything is going to the dogs.  I do however get a little nervous when I see the behavior of a group of young people who will soon be making decisions that will affect all of us.  Will they be prepared if they have no experience in problem solving or have never learned to be accountable?  I've learned more in life from the mistakes that I have made than I ever did from a book and I'm happy my parents allowed me the opportunity to learn those lessons.  I know as parents it is hard to resist the temptation to rescue our children from hurt and disappointment but learning how to cope with minor disappointments while young gives us the tools to manage the big disappointments that come throughtout life.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Raining Cats and Dogs

We've had a little rain in Oklahoma over the past two days.  This is the flooding that took place in Okla. City. Yesterday.  We received more rain last night.  Thankfully we've experienced nothing on the scale that happened in Arkansas.

They received over 11 inches of rain in about a 2 hours span.  That's a lot of water.  Some places received as much as 16 inches.

I am still waiting for the report on my mammogram.  I'm hoping to hear something today.  The doctor was not in the office yesterday when I called.  I am expecting she will send me for a follow-up ultrasound just like the last time. 

I still haven't convinced Ron to call his doctor yet.  I'm relentless so he will eventually give in just to shut me up!  He did however get an appointment with the dermatologist because he saw a brown spot on his face.  I'm pretty sure it is just an age spot and if the doctor tells him that he will have a fit.  He is not handling the aging process gracefully!  (ha)  Men crack me up!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bits and Pieces

The two girls on the ends are mine!  The one in the middle is a sweet co-worker of the girls.  They have always thought she was the missing triplet except she is 20 years younger than my daughters.  What great smiles!  They all clean up good!  They were attending another teacher friend's wedding Saturday night and took this picture.

A dear friend of mine tragically lost her precious 2 year old grandson this weekend.  He had been ill since birth but his death was sudden and unexpected.  How on earth can anyone prepare themselves for such a loss?  Whenever we think we have troubles all we have to do is look around to see that there are others suffering greater tragedies than our own.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I hope I didn't sound alarmed in my post yesterday because I'm not.  I had this same situation 2 years ago.  I think the problem is that I went to a new facility and they did not have my old films to make comparisons.  I had a fibroid cyst the last time and they are probably just seeing it again.   My aggrivation is why they try their darndest to scare the bejeebers out of people.  Not me....I'm on to their game!

Ron came over last night after work and we had dinner.  He's been telling me for some time that his stomach has become distorted in shape since his surgery.  I always try to minimalize everything and kept telling him that his body is bound to go through changes after such a radical operation.  Well, last night I told him to get over his modesty and show me what he's talking about.  He took off his shirt and oh my gosh.....he has a huge bulge on his left side.  I tried to keep my face from showing how shocked I was and then I just told him he might want his doctor to look at it.  

When I say huge I'm not exhagerating.  His right side is just straight and lean and then his left side looks like a football is sticking out the side.  I sure hope there is a logical explanation for this. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Define ASAP

You know it is quite apparent that one persons sense of urgency may not be the same as your own.  On Tuesday I had my yearly mammogram done and yesterday afternoon I had an "urgent" call from my doctor waiting on my answering machine.  She told me to return her call asap.  So first thing this morning I called and was told, "Dr. W. will not be back until Monday".  Huh???????? and to top it off no one seemed to know what the call was about. double Huh???????? so I called the imaging center where I had the mammography done and they instructed me to get copies of my last test (which was done at another facility) and bring them to them asap.  So....I drove to the city and was told by the "records manager" that I could have them in 24 hours.  Obviously asap doesn't mean the same to her as it does to me but again....different sense of urgency.  So, here I am, stuck until tomorrow and then I don't know when I'll know just what is exactly going on.  But, my philosophy is don't borrow trouble until you know you have some.  So, onward I trod.

While I was in that torture device the other day I started thinking about this little song....

Do you ears hang low do they wobble to a fro?   Why yes, yes they do.

Can you tie em in a knot, can you tie em in a bow?  Why yes, yes I can.....oh no, that's my boobs!

That little diddy has a whole new meaning to me now in the gravity years.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Down in Who Ville!

What happens to those cute little baby girls we bring home from the hospital?  You know the ones so sweet and cuddly. And who can get enough of their sweet baby smell? What happens to those adoring looks from our toddlers as they reach up to us with their trusting little arms? What happens the moment they turn twelve and hormones start raging and they turn into she-devils in disguise?

I'm not an authority on parenting but I'd like to think I learned a few things as the mother of twin girls.  Because I recognized almost immediately that I was outnumbered by a formidable alliance I knew I'd have to get my bluff in early.

It has been 27 years since I had two pre-teen daughters and was on the verge of sending them to a convent. My only hope of revenge was for them to get their payback with 12 year old's of their own but they foiled my plan by avoiding parenthood.. Since I cannot hand down my sage advice to them I will share it with the entire world. If you are the mother of a twelve year old girl and cannot leave home for the next say six to ten years please feel free to utilize my method to conquer the pre-teen mouthiness at your house.

My plan was created one day after a very stressful morning of trying to get my twelve year old twin daughters out the door without drawing blood from one another. After I had sounded the alarm more than once that I was on the verge of taking drastic measures if I received one more flippant “Well, duh” as a response to a civilized question posed by their mother I decided to simply wait for my opportunity to illustrate the consequences. I had finally had enough of the constant bickering over clothes and who “called” what in advance. Blows would ensue when one twin emerged from her room wearing the same outfit as her sister. This offense was grounds for all out warfare if she refused to take off the obvious reference to their status as twins. According to them dressing alike was a sure fire ticket to being a dork!

After reaching my proverbial limit I waited until everyone had left for the day and I called a dear friend to loan me her truck. I then proceeded to call a storage facility whereby I rented a cubicle for one month and then proceeded to unload each of my daughter’s rooms of their contents. I was like the Grinch who stole Christmas. I took everything, all their clothes and their bobbles and left holes in the walls where the pictures had hung. I cleaned out their rooms as quick as a flash. Why, I even took their jars of cold cash. What I left was one blanket, a pillow and one change of clothes and then I quietly closed their doors.  Oh, and I made sure the change of clothes were matching outfits:)

Oh I could hardly wait for 3:30 to arrive and the little darlings to return from school. The only thing I forgot was the camera to immortalize the looks on their faces when they opened their bedroom doors. I had left a letter to each daughter sitting on her remaining meager pile of belongings. It was a list of the requirements that would have to be met BEFORE I would return their possessions (which I reminded them were graciously provided by me in the first place).  1.  Chores done immediately after school followed by homework.  2.  No bickering with each other and  3.  No backtalk.   I had a calendar on the wall with seven days highlighted in red.  If any of these 3 rules were broken it would add another day to the punishment. 

So, they sat in their rooms (staring at their blank walls) and discussing just how crazy they thought their mother was while I enjoyed the peace and quiet.  Every day it was blissful.  I'd come home to a clean house and total solitude as the alliance withdrew to their rooms in an attempt to punish me with their silence.  Ahhhhhh it hurt so good!  It was the most blissful seven days of my life.  Better than Club Med.  Every day the girls had to wash their outfits for school the next day.  By the end of the week they had started making jokes about their twin attire and all the attention it had received at school.  Oh my, the little darlings were bonding!

On the last day of their sentence I waited until they were at school and proceeded to put their rooms back together.  My mission was accomplished.  I won't say that they never tried to push the limit with me again but I will say that by the time I got to the second warning they wouldn't risk the consequences.  They just weren't quite sure WHAT their crazy mother would do and that's just the way I liked it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I don't know if I ever mentioned it before but I don't have a mechanical mind.  I can't figure out how to change the batteries in the remote control but this past weekend I made a slightly impulsive purchase.  I purchased two atomic clocks, one as a gift and the other for myself.  These aren't just atomic, they are projection clocks that project the time and outdoor temperature on the ceiling. I'm not sure why I thought it would be great to look up at my ceiling and get all this information since the only time I look at the ceiling I usually discover cobwebs and that leads to a whole other train of thought but anyway....it seemed like a good idea at the time of purchase.

Well, the first night I tried setting the clock I soon discovered that there were some pre-requisite college courses required before I'd have sufficient knowledge to set the clock.  I needed physics 1 and 2 and a minor in geography just to get the time zone set.  But after an hour of checking maps online I finally felt somewhat confident that I had the clock and alarm set but just in case I kept my trust analog clock plugged in as well.  

I went to bed and looked up...and just as promised, in a dim red light, there on my ceiling, was the time and 5 secs. later the outside temperature.  Yep, it matched the time on my trusty old analog clock as well.  

I fought the temptation to look at the ceiling for most of the night and finally drifted off to sleep.  About 3 hours later I awoke to find myself in a new time zone some 10 hours later than the rest of the house.  I have no idea how this time travel occurred but if I don't get it figured out I will have to renew by passport just to go to the bathroom!

Friday, June 4, 2010

America's Got Talent but just not in Oklahoma!

As a kid I was always trying to find my special gift, you know, what they call talent? My mother was a singer with a beautiful soprano voice. She sang all her life in operas, the church and anywhere she was asked to perform. My father was a gifted, and I mean gifted, storyteller, writer and actor. He performed in college and kept his hand in acting all his life. Like many little girls I wanted to be just like my mother. So, the first attempt at finding my own talent was dancing lessons.

My mother enrolled me in Mr. Michael’s Dancing School when I was five years old. He started all of us out with tap dancing. Now, I didn’t have much trouble with hop, shuffle, step, slap step. I got that move down rather quickly but it was everything that came after that they had me stumped. When the row of girls would tap their way to the left I was always going to the right. I just didn’t have any sense of where I was in time and space. Fortunately for me five year olds are pretty much cute no matter how non-rhythmic they may be.

What I lacked in talent I made up for in enthusiasm. My favorite part about dancing was the costumes. At my first recital we were to suppose to perform, “The Naughty Girl Polka” and I absolutely loved the costume. It was in my favorite color, red. It was a red leotard with a red and white polka dot skirt and a little peter pan collar made of the same material. A big red bow tie finished off the ensemble.

In this number we were supposed to come out on stage and sing a song about a naughty little girl. We all lined up with one hand on our hips and our free hand shaking an accusing finger at our audience. Well, I handled that with no problem. I shook my fanny and wagged my finger and when I was done I just walked off leaving a gaping hole in the chorus line. I completely forgot to do the dance!

I at least redeemed myself with the next dance and managed to one, two, three, four, five, one, two, three, four, five, step, brush hop, step brush hop. with the best of them. However, I think it was obvious to both my mother and Mr. Michaels that I was no Ginger Rodgers in the making.

So onward I forged in my quest to find “my talent”. It took about six months of begging and promising to practice every day to convince my mother to enroll me in piano lessons. After what seemed like an eternity of begging I was enrolled with Mrs. Glasscock the piano teacher. By now I was at the ripe old age of seven. I won’t bore anyone by retelling my brush with the keyboard but you are welcome to peruse the tale again here.

I will say that even though I never became an accomplished pianist what I did learn remained a source of pleasure to me all my life. I just wish I had kept my promise to practice every day.

My next stop on the road to fame and fortune was my attempt at singing. By now I was in Junior High and had been in the girl’s chorus for about a year when I broached my mother on the idea of singing lessons. Always willing to assist me in my quest to find “my talent” she agreed and into my life walked Mrs. Mayfield. She was a young pretty blonde who had been 1st runner up in the Miss Oklahoma contest. I met with her every week and while I sang the scale she would push on my diaphragm in an attempt to get something louder than a whisper out of me. Her other efforts were concentrated on trying to remove the nasal quality from my voice as well as all signs of my Oklahoma twang! I did manage to lose most of my accent but I never could tell when I was singing out my nose.

The first time I sang in public I was also wearing my first pair of high heels. I wobbled on two skinny legs out on the stage where I proceeded to sing a little show medley from South Pacific. I remember looking out at the audience and locking eyes with my mother. As she sat there with a frozen smile on her face trying to calm my nerves with a mother’s look. It didn’t work. I couldn’t get any sound to come out of my mouth. And just as I sang about my attempt to Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair, my knees knocked and my ankles folded right out from under me. Down I went along with my dignity and any chance I may have had of becoming the next Debbie Reynolds.

So, though I am still in search of my special gifts I am forever grateful that I had patient, supportive parents who allowed me to explore so many venues in spite of the risk to the family name and reputation. Thanks Mom, thanks Papa, Thanks, For The Memories!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Biggest Surprise of My Life!

It was Halloween, 1969, the day I learned that I was having twins and the beginning of a life filled with excitement and wonder at every turn. I was only twenty-one years old, just a baby having a baby according to my mother. My husband Jim and I had only been married nine months when we learned we were expecting. Jim was also on the verge of enlisting in the army and facing the likelihood of being sent to Viet Nam.

The wonderful thing about youth is that we haven’t had enough life experiences to know when we are in over their heads. What did it matter that we had no money, no health insurance? We had each other and love is grand.

I knew I was pregnant almost from the moment of conception. This was long before home pregnancy tests but all the symptoms were there never mind the fact that my stomach began to protrude even before the after glow had begun to fade. In fact, I wore a maternity smock to the first doctor’s appointment to receive the confirmation that I was indeed “expecting”.

I was five months into my pregnancy when my young husband was called to duty. The day he left I stood at the airport comparing my pregnant belly to that of another soldier's pregnant wife. I asked her when she was due and she replied “Any day”. This was a surprise as I was 3 times her size and not due for another 4 months. But ignorance can be bliss and I thought nothing more of it.

With Jim off to defend our country I had nothing else to do but expand and expand I did. Each visit to the doctor only confused me as he would measure my girth and then say things like, “This is going to be a big baby” followed by “I think this baby is going to come early.” Now what confused me about that was I had never heard of a big, premature, baby! But, oh well, he was the doctor!

By the time Halloween approached I was so big I couldn’t lift my foot up on a curb without grasping a parking meter and using it for leverage. It had been months since I had seen my feet and I needed a crane to get in and out of the bathtub. I had endured the heat of summer with only one minor mishap. In August I had gone to a sidewalk sale with my neighbor (Mrs. Farckle) and her 4 young children. It was 108 in the shade that day and just after entering a local drugstore to cool off and to get something cold to drink, I had no more seated myself in the booth when I passed out and rolled into the floor. I woke up to find the soda jerk sponging my head with a dirty dishrag while the entire lunch crowd looked on as if they were witnessing the beaching of a great white whale.

So, on Halloween I presented myself for my monthly doctor’s visit. The first thing the nurse said to me as I entered the exam room was, ‘‘Oh, you’re the one having twins,” as she perused my chart, not even glancing up.

With some minor difficulty I choked out the words, “No way, you must have the wrong chart.”

The nurse looked up and quickly excused herself coming back shortly to advise me that they were going to take an x-ray.

So, feeling very confused and a little dazed I followed the nurse down the hall to the x-ray room. There, a young male x-ray technician handed me one of those tacky hospital gowns and instructed me to go behind the curtain and remove my clothes and to put on the gown.

I did as instructed and emerged wearing the gown holding it closed in front. There was no way I could reach behind and tie it in the back. So, I climbed up on the table and lay down with the gown pulled securely as possible across my enormous belly. I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing so when the young man said laughingly, “Now, let’s get a look at what’s going on in there.”  I immediately threw back the gown exposing my bare midriff complete with a cavernous navel that could float a toy boat.” The x-ray tech. let out a holler and said, “Whoa, too much information” as he pulled the gown back across my blushing belly!

He quickly took the x-ray, probably hoping he wouldn’t get flashed again, and then instructed me to wait behind the curtain until they were developed. There I sat with my bare bottom stuck to a cold metal stool when I suddenly heard the doctor describing out loud what he saw on the film. “Now, there’s a head and there’s a head, ” reported the doctor.

I literally jumped off that stool flashing God and whoever was in my way as I bolted into the x-ray room. What did he say? Was he describing MY two-headed baby?

As soon as the doctor saw me (and all my glory) he quickly shouted, “You are having twins.”

Well, after imagining for a moment giving birth to a two-headed baby the news of twins was a relief!

Leaving the doctor’s office the only thing on my mind was finding a name for that second baby and calling my mother who upon hearing the news responded, “What have you done to me now?” after which she immediately began drinking margaritas and prioritizing what she needed to start worrying about.

I on the other hand just figured it was only one more baby and how hard could it be? Why I had babysat more than 2 children lots of times. My only concern was how I was going to tell my soldier husband and would he just throw himself on a mine rather than come home to a houseful of screaming babies. (I was young and a drama queen so cut me some slack).

I began visiting the doctor weekly who upon each visit said, “Next time I see you will probably be at the hospital.” But week after week I kept stretching until finally he stopped predicting.

I waddled through Thanksgiving and into December. My due date was December 10th and on December the 5th I had my first indication that things were about to start happening. I woke up that morning with a severe backache. I felt so much weight pressing down on my pelvic bones I could hardly walk. Even though I wasn’t having contractions I gave the doctor’s office a call. They said we were approaching lift off and that when the contractions began I should go on to the hospital.

I then called my mother and she came over to wait with me. It was a beautiful day so we thought we might speed things along if we went shopping. Bad idea! I hadn’t taken 10 steps into Target when I just couldn’t move my legs. Still no pains but I just couldn’t walk. We decided to go back home and wait.

It was 12:00 midnight when I felt the first contraction. I waited a little while before telling my mom it was time to go to the hospital. Bless her heart she was absolutely terrified. She jumped out of bed and put her clothes on inside out. I sat on my suitcase while she undressed and dressed again. We got to the hospital and the nurses immediately started prepping me for delivery. While I endured the indignity of an enema (now really) and the whole shaving protocol (which I understand isn’t done anymore) my mother phoned every relative bordering Oklahoma. Soon the waiting room was filled with anxious aunts and uncles as well as various well-wishers. Unfortunately, they were all in for a long wait.

Hard labor didn’t start until about 10:00 a.m. Shortly after things got rolling my family members started dropping. My father was the first to pass out in the middle of a contraction. My mother was his back-up and she didn’t last an hour followed by the burly likes of my older brother. One-by-one they went down for the count and one by one were ushered to the waiting area. Fortunately my mother-in-law got there and coached me the rest of the way. (Guess she had no emotional attachment)

On Sunday, December 6, 1970 at 4:00 p.m I was wheeled to the delivery room. Baby #1 made her grand entrance at 4:40 p.m. weighing 6 pounds,  followed by her sister at 4:42 weighing in at 5 pounds 8 ounces. They were each 16 ½ inches in length with only one curl topping their identical little heads. As they were being examined I was somewhat deliriously arguing with the doctor that they weren’t mine because as I reminded him, “You said I was having boys.”

By the time I left the recovery room and was resting in my room the full impact of what had just taken place finally hit me. All I wanted was to tell their father that our two beautiful daughters were here and I remember crying because I was scared that he might never see them. When they were finally brought to my room I sat there in awe looking down at the two squirming little beings that lay on my bed. Twenty fingers I counted, and twenty toes. They were perfect in every way though I had no idea who was who. I quickly checked their wristbands and read baby #1 printed on one and baby #2 on the other.  I then introduced myself.  "Hello" I said to Julie Ann, my oldest daughter and Jamie Lynn, my youngest.  "I'm your mommy, your one AND  Only!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Urban Legends

I live in a university town that is also home to the state mental hospital.  My father often commented that it was sometimes hard to tell the patients from the students especially during the 60's.  The mental hospital is located at the east end of Main street.  It's an old hospital dating back to the late 1800's.  The buildings are old and as a kid I was terrified to even drive past the tall gates surrounding the grounds of the hospital. 

The worst fire in my home town's history, measured by the lives lost, killed 38 men and boys in the Oklahoma State Hospital for mental patients occurred on April 13, 1918. That may have been the largest fire death toll in Oklahoma history. (The April 19,1995, Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 is considered in the explosion category.)

The fire broke out at4 a.m. on a Saturday, destroying two large buildings, described by our home town paper, The Norman Transcript as "old frame" structures, and a new building used as the dining hall.

All 38 victims were in a first-floor ward housing 48 boys 10 to 15 years old, the newspaper reported. Apparently some victims were attendants. All 36 patients in a second-floor ward were rescued, led down an outside stairway "by most strenuous efforts."

Eighty patients in the other destroyed ward building were evacuated safely. Firefighters were able to put out the flames in a third ward building, and patients who had been moved out were able to return. Others were covered with blankets on the grounds until they could be placed in other buildings.

“There were numerous instances of bravery in going into burning buildings," the story said, "but none of them take any special credit to themselves."

There was speculation that either an electrical defect or spontaneous combustion started the fire. A coroner's jury said the cause was unknown. Property damage was estimated at $25,000).

All but one of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and were buried  in one big grave in the northeastern part of the IOOF Cemetery. "Everybody was laid in a neat coffin and given every kindly consideration possible,"  the Transcript account stated.

Although the story: put the deaths at 37, The World Almanac calls it 38. Probably an injured patient died later.

As a kid the hospital's patients were a mystery to me.  They were never seen but you could imagine the stories that were told.  Whenever we had sleepovers there were always one or two ghost stories involving the mental hospital.  About the time I became a teenager the idea for mental health outpatient services started to develop. More and more patients were integrated into the community and many became urban legends around town.  Unfortunately people with various mental issues can draw a lot of attention to themselves. 

There are many, many, stories about individuals who have walked the streets of Norman whose permanent address was the state mental hospital. They had no where to go during the day except to roam the streets and sit on benches under the shade.  It is a sad commentary about the mental health system.

I remember Crazy Craig.  He was a fixture on the campus corner in the early 80s. He always kept a journal with him that he wrote and drew into. He eventually developed something of a cult status for his artwork, selling pieces from his journal for food money.  And there was Billy Three Hats, the guy who wore several hats precariously stacked on top of his head.  Someone said they heard Billy Three Hats was committed after assaulting his mother.  Some kids looked in his duffel bag one time when he was away from his bike.  They reported he had a pair of socks, a flashlight, a manual for a 72 Buick and a brand new hardback copy of Vanna Speaks!  The autobiography of Vanna White!

And there was Crazy Judy who carried a doll and her child's purse and would solicit business men on the street.  One day I saw her in the bus station diner and she had perched herself at the counter right next to a man sporting a 3 piece suit just having a quiet cup of coffee when Judy, in her booming voice, said "@#$% you for a dollar, I won't @#$% you for a dollar."  The poor man about scalded his chin as he tried to no avail to slide away from her to the next stool.  Judy just followed him down the row of stools until she had him trapped against the wall.  He had no choice but to try to make a run for the door with Judy in hot pursuit.

But probably the most infamous character  was a schizophrenic who had been a fixture in Norman for as long as I can remember.  There were so many stories about this man simply referred to as the Glove Man.  He walked all over town always wearing a white pair of gloves.   He was always engaged in conversation with imaginary companions sometimes raising his voice to a fever pitch.  I remember seeing him often, walking all over town and talking to someone who wasn't there. Once I was absorbed in picking out some veggie or other at the grocery store and didn't notice that he was doing the same, about 5 or 6 feet away. Suddenly I was jarred back to reality by a big, booming voice that said "I DAMN YOU, AND MY *MOTHER* DAMNS YOU!!!". I about jumped out of my skin. I thought someone was yelling at ME! I turned and saw him there, turning a green pepper in his white-gloved hand, looking like nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

One legend as to why he wore gloves was that his family had perished in a fire and he had repeatedly run into the house to try and save them and had been severely burned.  They said he lost his mind after the fire.  A lady once asked him why he always wore gloves and he said ,"Because they will do bad things if I take them off."

A story was done in The Oklahoma Gazette on The Glove Man around the time the movie A Beautiful Mind came out. This was after he died. Glove Man's real name was James Pittman and he was a gifted mathematician at OU, apparently with a very promising future. Unfortunately he developed schizophrenia, much like the guy in the movie. It had quotes from people that knew him before and after his illness, and all said he was always a kind and gentle man. It was actually very moving.

The real story here is that we encounter people every day who may seem a little strange or say things that aren't quite appropriate but they are someone's child, brother or sister.  They may have been part of a family and over time became lost or estranged from those who cared about them.   I didn't understand any of that as a kid.  I was just like most people, afraid of what was different.  But now I know that each and every person has a story no matter how odd or how different they may appear their story is worth being told.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My mind today is a bit combobbled with the stresses of dealing with family members and mental illness.  I have accepted the struggles associated with a schizophrenic brother.  A brother who has tested every nerve in my body at least once over the past 40 years.  I have celebrated his victories and anguished in his dispair. 

When our last parent died I assumed the role of caregiver with as much love and acceptance as I could find within myself.  I have been both astounded and grateful as to how well he has done this past year.  Butttttttt as he stabilized and his medications allowed him to start building relationships again with other family members I was extremely concerned about the bond he was building with our niece.  She has bipolar disorder accompanied by alcoholism, a disease difficult for family members to deal with in and by itself but accompanied with bi polar it becomes an almost impossible task.  It certainly isn't something a person dealing with schizophrenia can handle.  And just as I predicted her disease triggers my brother's disorder and the two of them together is wayyyyyyyyyy more than I can handle.  

I've tried to explain to my brother that he is my first priority and though he may categorize me as cruel and heartless for not taking on my niece as well it is just the way it must be.  My dance card for crazy is full!!!!!!!!!  

My niece is in a full blown depressive state right now and my brother is beginning to trip out from anxiety.  His behavior turns angry when he feels stressed and anxious and then I receive the brunt of it.  As I am aging I find I really don't have as much patience as in the past.  I also recognize what I do and do not have the ability to change.  

As a caregiver I have to maintain the ability to detach myself emotionally from the situation and simply act on things I do have control over.  I'm an available transport  to psychiatric facilities but beyond that I'm pretty much detached.  My brother is the only one I have the energy to deal with on a day-to-day basis.  And believe me there are days when I'm not sure I have enough in me to do that. 
Call me heartless but that's just all this 60 year old has in her.

The real tragedy is that the mental health system in this country began its' decline years ago.  Funding and resources have all but dried up completely.  Families are expected to assume the responsibility of their ill loved ones without any support.