Friday, March 26, 2010

On Death and Dying Part III of III

So... after the Obituary is in the paper, the Viewing is over and your eulogy recited, where are YOU going to spend the rest of eternity?

I'm still undecided. It's forever you know. It's not like you can change your mind after you're there. I think I'm definitely against burial. It's cold, dark and wet. There are bugs. Plus, I know my family will feel compelled to traipse out to the cemetery to visit me, and I don't want any of their holidays to include a trip to the grave yard.

I guess that leaves cremation, but where do I want my ashes? I always loved the movie, 'The Bridges of Madison County'. I thought it was so romantic when Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep had their ashes mingled together and scattered off a local bridge so they could be together forever. Unfortunately, there is no leading man in my life at this time. I suppose there's still a chance that I have yet to meet my geriatric knight in rusty armor, but what if I don't?

The idea of being scattered in an exotic place is intriguing, but there's no guarantee where you're going to... land. I'd hate to spend eternity on the windshield of an old truck that just happened to be driving by at the time of the toss.

Perhaps, the 'wall' in a columbarium is the way to go.  If I choose one now, before I actually need it, I could check out my future 'neighbors'. Get a head-start on my eternal social 'after-life'. Plus... I could pick out a really beautiful urn for myself. The kids would probably still feel obligated to visit, but at least the columbarium is heated and air-conditioned.

I just hope they remember that my new neighbors may be watching when they do. I'd hate to over hear, "Oh my GOD! Did you see what her daughter was wearing? To visit her mother's GRAVE!? Good thing she was DEAD already!"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

On Death and Dying Part II of III

So what DOES one wear when hosting your own viewing? I guess it doesn't matter if you've worn it before, or even if someone else is wearing the same exact outfit. You can't really die of embarrassment since you're already dead. However ... whatever you're wearing, you going to be wearing it FOREVER. So you better like it. A LOT.

I'm undecided between burial and cremation. Mausoleums are a nice idea, but you have to worry that yours might become the hangout for the local teenagers on the weekends. I've seen many caskets exhumed on forensic television shows, and it appears that water frequently seeps into them. A leaky basement is bad enough. I couldn't stand being cold and  wet, especially for eternity.  

There are many options to choose from. If I go for the cremation, I could have my ashes placed into a columbarium. That's a building in the cemetery where the walls have slots to house urns. I don't want my kids to be burdened with my ashes, or if I'm married at the time of my death, have to worry that his new wife will suck me up with the vacuum. The columbariums look like condos for dead people. It's easy to imagine all the kinds of activities that might be available for the dearly departed residents to engage in. That could be fun. Weekend picnics for visiting relatives. Easter Egg hunts for the grand-kids. Contests for the most festive decorations during the holidays.

I've always wanted a nice viewing. A really fun one. Live music, good food, imported chocolate, all kinds of sweets, Christmas decorations, drinking, singing and dancing.

I envision a band escorting me to the cemetery like they do in New Orleans with saxophones and trombones playing old gospel hymns. I want everyone to have such a good time that they look forward to going to the next funeral like mine, even if they have to host their own. 

Stay tuned for Part III...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On Death and Dying Part One Of Three

I have always recommended that everyone have a back-up Plan in life. For every occasion. My birthday is looming up in a few months. I'm starting to accept the fact that not only am I over the hill, I'm sliding down the other side of it pretty quickly. I'm not really a morbid person by nature, but in case I don't live forever, here's Plan B. 

Since I got married when I was 16 years old, I not only missed out on a wedding, I never got to go to the prom, either. So I guess the one day in my life, where I will shine, where I will be the center of attention, where all eyes will be on me, will be at my ... funeral. It is rather irritating to think that on my glory day I'll be DEAD, and I probably won't look so good, but I'll do the best I can.

I may need a little help. Could somebody find me a make-up artist who doesn't use a spatula to smear it on for heaven's sake? And give the hair dresser a picture of me on a good  hair day. There MUST be one somewhere. I always hated my profile. I'm sure I won't like it any better after I'm dead, so tilt my face to the side. False eyelashes would be a nice touch. Don't forget a manicure,and PLEASE... make sure I'm wearing a BRA. I do NOT want to look saggy in my casket. I'd like high heels for the viewing, but replace them with my fuzzy slippers before you... put me under.

I'm a Team Player, so I'll do my part, too. If I have any say in it whatsoever, I will try my very best not to die when it's bitterly cold outside. Or swelteringly hot. Actually, I'll try not to die at ALL, but if I have to go, I'll try to be weather conscious. I will make every attempt not to die on anyone's birthday, anniversary, graduation or wedding day, or any other annual holiday. If I do go on someone's important day, please try your best to make light of it. You know a good sense of humor has always been one of my best qualities and it would be nice to always be remembered that way, too.  

Stay tuned for Part II... RSVP

Sunday, February 8, 2009

World War Onesie

In my day, and up until recently, I thought I was still IN my day, we used to put undershirts on infants. There were a million snaps, and they were difficult to keep down. Then someone improved them, and turned them into one-piece undershirts that snapped at the crotch, to keep them from riding up. I remember thinking what a marvelous improvement that was.

The reason we put undershirts on infants, be it a sleeper, a dress, or an outfit, was to keep the baby WARM. Babies, have always had a difficult time doing that for themselves. Yes, it was a pain to put on the undershirts in the first place, not to mention a new one every time they spit up on it, but this layering kept them toasty warm and happy. Fortunately, at one's baby shower, a mother gets no less than 30 of them.

Anyway... my daughter-in-law seems hell bent on NOT using the undershirts. And, she has the new improved ones at her disposal. They are called 'onesies'. But, despite the improvements, she doesn't want to use them.

I babysit two days a week. When I receive the baby, she is usually in a sleeper, with only a diaper underneath. It's damn cold here in Jersey this time of the year, and I just KNOW that my granddaughter would be MUCH more comfortable with a ONSIE under her sleeper. So as soon as the DIL leaves for work, I dress her in a onesie underneath that sleeper.

True, after the third time she spits up and/or her diaper leaks, I begin to realize what a pain it is to change a sleeper and a onesie, but it makes my Grammy heart glow with satisfaction to know that my little angel is warm and toasty.

Not wanting to interfere, one day I mentioned to the DIL, that I thought onesies were a great idea. She said she thought they were a nuisance. I added that I thought they made the baby feel warmer. She responded by saying that in her opinion it made the baby too hot.

So, twice a week, I re-dress the baby after the DIL goes off to work.

I have a feeling that it's not over though. Everytime I open the bureau drawer, there are less and less onesies in there. Either she's hiding them... or not doing the laundry. But that's okay. Grammy can afford to buy her own supply of onesies and bring them with her.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


On October 21, 2003 I wrote my very first Journal entry.  Almost five years to the day.

Like many other AOL members I shared a lot of my personal life with the world.  Reading other people's Journals brought me enjoyment, laughter and sometimes, tears. 

I'm happy to say that I've made many good Internet friends.  I cried while watching one member lose her fight with cancer.  Worried about a few Journalists who left without apparent reason, never to return again.  Kept my fingers crossed while one member got divorced and tried his best to be a good father to his kids.  I've prayed for one writer who sadly described her sister's slow decline into Alzheimer's Disease.  Held my breath as another divorced her husband, packed up her bags and moved to L.A. to start a new life.  I remain hopeful that one friend will finally find Mr. Right, and that she'll stay safe while she searches for him.

I've shared stories with new mothers, abused women and recovering drug addicts. Sat back in amazement at the profound wisdom of a certain sensitive friend from Florida.  Watched people fall in and out of love.  Enjoyed looking at pictures of their trips to fabulous, exotic places.  I've laughed at the antics of other people's children and shared my own stories.  The birth of my grandchildren, the purchase of my house, my menopausal misadventures and my On-Line Dating Site experiences. 

Now, AOL has decided to put an end to the On-Line Journals, to "concentrate on more popular interests".  If our Journals weren't "popular" then why did they decide to use our entries to pimp out unwanted advertisements?  Once again, it was without our permission or even opinion on the matter.

Oh, they've given us "helpful advice" on how to transfer out work onto other sites, but speaking for myself, I haven't been successful as yet.

All things considered, I've had quite a good experience writing my On-Line Journal, except for one hurtful episode.  Like life itself, our community has been through good times and bad.  Scandals and legends.  At least we'll always have the memories.

Today, on October 5, 2008, all I can say... is good-bye.  Good luck to all of the Journalists who have graciously invited us into their lives and shared their experiences with us... total strangers. 

And thank you.  For the laughs, the pleasure of getting to know you, and for taking the time to get to know me.  I'll always be grateful for the encouragement you have given to me through your comments and even occasional E-mails.

Thanks, guys.  I'll never forget any of you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Memory of 9/11

Today marks an anniversary of a day we will never forget.  It brings back memories of both sadness and hope.  Fear and strength.  Let us remember the victims and their families today, and the sacrifices of the men and women who worked so hard to rescue them.  Thanks to the talented photographers who captured the horror and the American spirit on film, we will never forget.

My oldest daughter Lisa wrote a very moving poem I'd like to share with you.

One Nation
Dedicated to those who lost their lives
in the September 11, 2001 attack on America
May God Bless you all!!
In the bright September morning
without warning to us all
A few thousand lives were shattered
and we watched two buildings fall
And a  billion souls felt empty,
and the flags at half-mast fly
In the memory of the innocent
which didnt have to die.

We’ve lost brothers, sisters, cousins.
We’ve lost family and friends
But we’ve made the choice not to forget
their lives and tragic ends
Though we’ve had our share of troubles,
we have put them all aside
As a Nation grieves we find ourselves
defending them with pride

We’re a nation of survivors
with one heart we share a tear
But we live to serve the memory,
not giving into fear
Though they try to take security
with the things they’ve done and said
All their acts of inhumanity bring unity instead

So we stand here as a family.
One Heart, One Soul, One Voice
We are challenged by this moment,
and united here by choice.
Here are a few of the photos from my

                      The skyline before the terrorist attack.       


         The second of two blasts to the World Trade Center


                                    The endless search for victims.




     Police and firefighters tirelessly risk their lives for days.


                                     No American life is untouched.

                     We became a nation united in prayer.


                        The terrorists couldn't destroy

   our American spirit.  It lives on.  In every heart.

                      Young and old.  Far and near. 

                          They didn't understand...

                                We're AMERICANS!


                   God Bless America!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Letter to my Mother

Dear Mom,
Even though you've been gone for more than three years now, I still find myself getting the urge to call you on the phone once in a while.

Then I remember.

I can't tell you how many times I wish that we could just sit down and have a cup of coffee.  You were always such a great listener.  The numerous tragedies, catastrophes and crisises that you faced in your life put you in a position where you always 'understood'.  You never forced any advice on us, or seemed to be shocked at whatever 'situation' we found ourselves in.  And you were always supportive.  For some reason you had the uncanny ability to see the bright side of things, even at our darkest moments.  Sadly, there were few that we didn't share with you.

But now, dealing with my latest 'difficulties' with my own daughters, I think I suddenly know you better than I did then.  Raising kids is never easy and I think it's even harder when they're grown.  You can't ground them or take away their allowances when they misbehave.  And the problems that they face, are... exasperating at times.

I thought that our situations didn't affect you much.  That once we poured our hearts out to you, we'd talk, and everyone would feel better and go on.  It never occurred to me that you would spend one sleepless night over it.  Or agonize over our pain.  Worry what would happen.  Many times I'd see you 'just relaxing with a good book' after such talks, and that seemed to assure me you were unaffected.  I thought your calm demeanor indicated that, although you wished us the best, it was, afterall, our lives, and in the end, we stood alone.  I'd see you enjoying a TV show, drinking a glass of brandy.  How carefree I thought you were!  I'd laugh.  Brandy.  Who drinks that?  Especially a poor person whose last dollar would go to whoever needed it at the time.  I remember resenting it at times.  Did it not occur to me that that was your only means of escape?  Would I not be satisfied until I saw you rocking back and forth weaving baskets in an asylum?

We'd blissfully close our eyes to your needs.  "Mom's happy.  She doesn't need much.  Give her a cigarette, a good book and a glass of  brandy and she's just fine."  We never considered that you might long for more than that.  Your own place, quiet and peaceful.  We thought you enjoyed living with Steve and helping him out with his bills.  Traveling the world.  You were a widow.  Why would you want to travel without Daddy?  Your own car.  You didn't need one; there was always someone who could take you wherever you needed to go.  To the doctor's.  As if you'd ever desired to go anywhere else.

And we never hesitated to pour our hearts out to you.  We were all 'me people'.  Did we never stop to think that on any given day, there were six others brothers and sisters doing the same thing?  How much could you take?  And it's not like we only had minor problems.  God knows you could have written a book.  Who did you have to turn to?  Both of your parents were gone for most of those years.  And all of us were too caught up in out own lives to give you any support. 

I'm sorry, Mom.  I know that you had dreams.  Ones that went to the wayside after you gave birth to seven kids.  Instead, you instilled those dreams in us.  Told us time and time again to get out there and try.  Nothing was impossible, you said.  Quite a hefty bit of optimism considering your circumstances.  I know that many a night you and Daddy went hungry so that we could eat.  There just wasn't enough to go around.  I'm sorry that you never had any nice clothes.  That the only place you ever go to see except Philadelphia was Bermuda.  A one week cruise where you spent most of it in bed because you were seasick and then got a migraine headache.  I'm sorry that you never got to have one of your stories published.  Youwere a great writer, Mom.  I'm sorry that I didn't realize how much Daddy's death broke your heart, and how much you missed him the next fifteen years, until you joined him.  I remember you telling me when I was a little girl that when you were old you were going to have a face lift if you were wrinkled.  That was a pretty bold dream for those days.  Only movie stars did such things.  But you never did get that facelift, Mom.  Never got anything for yourself.

But up until now, all I remembered where the times that you weren't there.  The lousy few times that you were busy caring for all the kids that came after me, while I looked out at the audience for your face during a school play.  I thought only of my own disappointment.  How could you come when you were needed at home?  I didn't even stop to consider the fact that you too, wished you could be there.  I never saw your suffering.

We gave up on you, Mom.  We let ourselves believe that it was always too late for you.  That your only means of success and fulfillment came from hoping that we would someday do all the things that you had wanted to do, but never got the chance.

Thank you, Mom, for never throwing in the towel and giving up on us.  Never.  For always seeing the good in us, even when we couldn't see it ourselves.  For all the sacrifices you made throughout your life for us.  For making a big deal out of even the smallest achievement.  For always being patient and having the appearance of understanding, even though I'm sure you must have wanted to throttle us many times.

I'll never be able to be the Mother that you were.  You were a very special person, Mom.  I'm sorry I didn't see it before this.

I miss you. 

I think this weekend I'm going to curl up with a good book and a glass of brandy.