Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is One Box of Worry Dolls Ever Enough?

I have to admit that by nature I am a worrier.

When I became a mother, my worrying increased by at least three fold.

My family has now grown to include two daughters-in-law, a son-in-law and my five precious grandchildren.  So you do the math.  Let's see that's worry times 11?

No, No, wait a minute, how can I forget Ross, and Rico?  Right now Ross is doing okay.  But Rico has a raging ear infection.

I went to visit my Aunt Sue yesterday. She is 86 years old and is my mother's sister.   My mother died a year and a half ago at age 86.   Aunt Sue is not doing well.  Boy, she looks so much like my mother.   She is having trouble walking.  She lives with her son and his family.  Her bedroom is upstairs.  It was heartbreaking to watch as her grandson helped her up the stairs.   She had to stop every few steps to rest.
I worry about Aunt Sue.   I wish they would move her to a downstairs bedroom.

Two weeks ago Joe got the results of a CT scan and MRI.  The cancer is stable.  It has not grown and there are no new growths.   That's good news for Stage IV incurable Colon Cancer.

Tuesday night, Joe was awakened by a pain in his side.  He could not get comfortable.  He mentioned it to his Doctor yesterday when he went for his every other Wednesday Chemo treatment.  The doctor sent him for an x-ray.   He will get the results today.

I am worried about Joe, always.  I hope he answers my e-mail soon to let me know how he is doing today.

Perhaps I should order this worry beads bracelet.

Or maybe this box of Worry dolls would help.
Maybe I should order a couple of those.  I don't think one would be enough.

Tomorrow is my birthday.

Jen, Derek, Bella and Ryan are coming down to visit.  We are going to go to the beach.   

The day is beautiful, not a cloud in the sky. 

I will build castles in the sand and chase waves with the kids.  

I'm sure there will be plenty of time for worrying later.


I hope we get a parking space.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I, nor anyone else who knows me, would ever describe me as a harum-scarum
 type of person.  In fact I'm not sure that I or anyone else I know would even know what harum-scarum means and be able to use it in a sentence.  Speaking for myself, I would not have known that it was even a real word, had it not been week 8 of the ABC meme that I am participating in; which means today's letter is H; which also means that I looked in the dictionary under H's to find an unusual word that I liked the sound of.

So getting back to me not being a harum-scarum person.  I would describe myself more of a keeping my feet safely on the ground type of person.

Obviously you would never find me standing in line waiting to get on one of these things:

I have never seen, nor do I want to see Halloween's 1-10.   Nope, not a big fan of Nightmare on Elm street and wouldn't know Freddie Krueger if I ran into him in a dark ally....I have to stop, I am scaring myself.

Well except for that one time...
     I was barely 20 years old and in the throws of a new relationship.  I was sitting outside waiting for him to pull up in his red Corvette convertible.   This was to be our fourth date.

While I was waiting, my cool friend, who lived across the street from me, was riding up and down the street on her motorcycle.   

Now before I continue, I have to explain something about my relationship with Cool girl.   The very few times I behaved in a harum-scarum manner was when I was with Cool girl.   I am not entirely blaming her, but there was just something about the combination of the two of us that screamed HARUM_SCARUM!

Getting back to Date Four and Corvette Guy.  

So, as I watched Cool girl on the bike, a bright idea was formulating in the tiny part of my brain that would even entertain such harum-scarum thoughts.
"Wouldn't it be cool if when Corvette Guy pulled up he would see me riding up the street on a Harley" 
   Okay maybe it was more of a Suzuki 50CC like this:
Anyway, I walked over to Cool girl and mentioned how cool she looked riding "that thing".  Cool girl says, "Why don't you try it?  It's easy, here's the break, here's the shifter, here's the gas."  
Oh, I thought, yea that does sound easy.  Completely forgetting that I didn't even know how to drive a stick shift car.

The street we lived on had an intersection at either end.  The intersecting street at one end was a quiet little block. The intersecting street at the other end was a busy highway.

So, harum-scarum, without a helmet, I climbed on the bike and took off down the street towards the busy highway.  Halfway down the road, I saw cars whizzing by on the highway, and I panicked.   I forgot which was the gas handle and which was the break, and where that shifter thing was.  The bike skidded and both the bike and I slid into the curb right before the end of the street. 

Whew, I'll never do that again...not so fast, here comes Cool girl running down the street towards me.
She says to me, "Don't you want to try that again?  I'll get on the back with you this time."  

Wow, what a great harum-scarum cool idea, I thought.  So I climbed back on and she hopped on the back.  We took off in the other direction towards the quiet little street.  As I  approached the stop sign, I again panicked and couldn't stop the bike.  I heard Cool girl yelling, "Stop! Stop!  There's a car coming!"  
But I couldn't stop. 
I crashed into the car, the bike slid out from under me and I hit the pavement.  Sharon flew up in the air and landed on her leg.  

It's true, you know what they say about tragic events seeming to happen in slow motion.  I can still picture the young man who had just gotten his license getting out of the car looking so scared.  I can still hear myself screaming for help for my friend Sharon.   I can still see my parents along with what seemed to be a crowd of people running towards Sharon and I.  

Sharon and I were taken to the emergency room in separate ambulances.  

I was banged up pretty badly.  But they were minor injuries.  

Sharon's leg was badly damaged.  She had to have several surgeries over the next few years.   She never fully recovered and I am sure probably still walks with a limp. 

My harum-scarum behavior certainly had somber and severe consequences.  

Due to time, distance and circumstances, I have not had contact with Sharon in over 35 years. 

Corvette Guy, came to the hospital emergency room to see how I was doing.  I wanted him to take me home in the Corvette, but my father gently, okay not so gently, said NO!

When I think back to the time before that incident, I actually do remember standing in line for this ride:

I do remember how it felt to be wonderfully frightened by this masterpiece.

   Yes, that very traumatic event had its lasting effects on me and may have curbed my harum-scarum behavior, but...then there was that one other time...

For more H posts look  here


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hugs for Brady and Sophia

In less than one year two close friends of my 39 year old daughter, Jen, have lost their precious toddler children to cancer.

Sherrie and Jen were toddlers themselves together.  Sherrie's mom and I would walk together pushing Sherrie and Jen in their strollers.

In July of 2010, Sherrie and Mike buried their son Brady after a long hard battle with cancer.  Here is an excerpt from a post on Jen's Facebook page:

 Dear Friends: I will be participating in the 2011 A Walk In The Park event at Six Flags supporting Children's Miracle Network Hospitals®. We are walking in memory of our friend Brady Wells. Brady was born on 8/21/2008, and on October 12, 2009 he was diagnosed with Non-differentiated Acute Leukemia. He had gone through 6 rounds of chemotherapy and 1 peripheral blood stem cell transplant. 72 days after Brady's successful transplant, he relapsed. On July 30, 2010 Brady passed away in his loving Mother's arms. 
Last night Jen called to tell me that her room mate from college, Nicole and her husband Juan's daughter Sophia had passed away.  Sophia had just turned three years old.   At six months she was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma.   That little girl also spent most of her life in hospitals and in treatment.

Jen received this e-mail from Juan:
To My Family and Friends,
I’m writing with a heavy heart having to make funeral arrangements for my baby. Due to her diagnoses at 6months old insurance companies would not give us coverage. As you can image the financial burden of her care in the past three years has been enormous, we have to reach out to our friends and family for assistance in her burial costs. Please Email or text me back if you can contribute, that would be a huge burden lifter. 

It's obvious that these young families have gone through unimaginable heart wrenching emotional pain.  For them to have to worry about where the money for a funeral is going to come from is criminal and seriously unjust.

Can we blame the greedy insurance companies?

Or perhaps the system is broken at the level of our elected officials whose goal and focus seems to be to get re-elected.  Should the blame be placed on them for spending more time finger pointing and name calling rather than getting the work done?  I'm sure none of them will ever have to worry about how they will pay for funeral expenses for a loved one.

At a time like this there are so many questions.  The biggest is WHY?

Unfortunately, at this point, there seems to be more questions and not enough answers.

Sherrie and Mike have started a foundation called Hugs for Brady. They did not wait for someone else to find the answers.  They have poured their hearts and souls into helping other families who are struggling with the obscene tragedy of Pediatric Cancer.

If you can, please take a moment to check out their story.  It probably will make you hug your little one today.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Outside A Long Ago Bedroom Window

The first 9 years of my life I lived in the town of Nutley in New Jersey.

Other famous people :) who also lived there include these two: 

In the late 1940's and mid 1950's row houses were constructed to provide homes for the growing population of the Baby Boom generation.  

This was what they looked like:

That was our house.  That's my little brother on the porch.  I think I remember that there were two bedrooms in each place.   I shared a room with my sister and brother.

In January of 1956 we moved to Edison, NJ.
Another famous person who also lived there was her:

We moved into this brand new house:

It had three bedrooms.  My sister and I shared a room and my brother got his own room.  

In 1959, 1960, and 1961, my mother and father had three more children.  

So then my sister and I shared our bedroom with our two little sisters.  We slept in bunk beds.  I had the top bunk.

My brother shared his room with our new little brother.

Our bedrooms were in the back of the house. I could sit on my top bunk and look out of a window.  
When I looked out of my bedroom window I saw a split rail fence which bordered our property.  A few pear trees lined the fence.   There were three holly trees right in the center of the yard.   We would cut the branches of green holly with red berries and bring them in to decorate at Christmas time.  A big old crab apple tree sat in one corner of the yard.  That tree was very messy.  In the spring time my mother's favorite pussy willow tree bloomed along with the bright yellow forsythia. 

I vividly remember one particular snowy morning.   I was sitting on my bed with a pencil and paper drawing the wintery scene.   I recall the snow caps on the fence and the red berries on the holly trees. 

Do you remember what your view was from your childhood bedroom window?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gobbledegook and Gibberish

Monday's ABC Meme - The Letter G

When my daughter was about 14 she learned a secret way to communicate with her friends.  The "language" is called Gibberish.

Webster defines gibberish as:  "unintelligible or meaningless language".

I first heard her speak this way when I  eavesdropped accidentally overheard a phone conversation she was having with her friend.  It was obvious to me that what she was saying was neither unintelligible or meaningless to her friend.

I quickly figured out that she and her friends would speak Gibberish to each other when they wanted to have a private conversation in public.  Or to be more precise, when they didn't want me to know what they were talking about.   Okay, maybe I was taking it personally, but I don't think so.

It was amazing how fast she could speak this gibberish.  I could not for the life of me figure out the code. I'm sure this was much to her delight.

Ahh, but that was before the Internet,  WikiHow and YouTube.
Today, she would not have been able to get away with such gobbledegook.   Or would she?

As I started to do the research on this subject, I found out that there are many versions of Gibberish.  Each are slightly different and each are as confusing to me now as it was then.

Jen is a mother of two now.  I imagine what she might worry about is much scarier than wondering what some secret language called gibberish is all about.

Twenty-five years ago I didn't have to worry about online predators, how much information she was or should be sharing on Facebook,  making sure that when she Tweeted she was not revealing her location,  or if what she was texting was appropriate.

As far as I know Jen and her friends don't speak Gibberish much anymore.   Or at least she has not spoken it in front of me in a long time.

I suppose  having our relationship develop from parent/child to adult/adult may have something to do with that.

I thought I would be clever here and end this with a special private gibberish note to Jen.

But for the life of me I still can't figure out the code, no matter which version of Gibberish it is.

ickclay erhay orfay ormay ABC ostspay.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Inner Child

I'd give all wealth that years have piled,
The slow result of Life's decay,
To be once more a little child
For one bright summer day.
~Lewis Carroll, "Solitude"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Foolishly Fantasizing about Fame & Fortune

Monday's ABC meme.  Number 6.  The Letter F.

I decided that I would be a little frivolous with this post and foolishly fantasize about being famous.

I had a hard time, though, deciding what I would like to be world famous for.  Given the fact that I am a very shy person and somewhat of an introvert, I suppose that I would have to be reclusively famous or at least anonymously famous.

I thought about what it would be like to be famous for creating fabulous knitting designs.    My most famous design would rival that of  Kate Gilbert's Cloptis or Jared Flood's Noro Striped Scarf.     But, considering the fact that sometimes I have trouble  following a pattern written by a real life fabulous designer, I don't think I can stretch my imagination that far.

I think  Miriam Tegels still holds the record for being the fastest knitter in the world.  Apparently, in order to compete I would probably have to learn to knit continental...not gonna happen.

Maybe I could be famous for having the most followers on Twitter.  Of course I would have to top Lady GaGa's ten million to get the top spot.   But why would that many people want to follow me? I can't sing and I'm pretty old...too old to go topless (shudder) or wear a thong while I pound the ivories.  No, another one that I can't even imagine.

Climbing Mt. Everest has been done done and done.   Anyway I haven't been to Curves lately, so I'm kinda outa shape.

I have written two children's books.   Lynda Goldstein Famous Children's Book Author.  I am famous among the members of my family to whom I have given free copies of my books.  I don't think that would not qualify me for fame or fortune, though.

Maybe infamous would be the better route to go.   I remember watching  a documentary about the life of  80 year old male bank robber.  He would walk into a bank, without a weapon and pass a note to the teller.  The note would say something like, "This is a bank robbery..."  The teller would hand over the money and the guy would just walk out of the bank.

I could recruit Ross to be the get-a-way driver. Well he always drives anyway.   No, too dangerous.  My anxiety level raises just thinking about a Bonnie and Clyde ending.

Perhaps I could be a Real Housewife.   I wonder if anyone would be grabbed by this promo:

Coming up next on the Real Housewives of "The Four Seasons at Mirage Active Adult Community"...

Watch as Lynda Grace (the bitchy one) grabs Maggie May (the sweet one) and pulls her up and out of a lounge chair by the pool.   "Hey, I had my towel on that, you  Bleepity Bleep, Bleep!!  Now get outa my chair!"   
Wow!  It felt pretty good to picture that one.  I don't think it would get the Neilson Ratings, though.

Well I guess I could go on and on and list an infinite number of possibilities.
But the more I think about it the more I realize that I am pretty content to be reclusively and  anonymously known to the 13 people who do apparently follow and maybe sometimes even read my blog.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Living With It?

Something I am struggling with is figuring out how to live with my son's cancer.  Wow, that's the first time I was able to articulate that.    Until right this very minute I could not identify the struggle.

Two things I know.  First, I know that most of the time I am in an uneasy state.  Second, I know this unease is connected to my son's cancer.

There are times when the feeling of uneasiness is simmering low inside. Going about the tasks of my daily routine is usually enough of a distraction and I am able to cope.  

I have other days when the uneasiness is continually percolating.  It's on those days that I find the distractions have to be somewhat stronger.  Knitting or reading can usually help.  If that doesn't work, then a visit with my children and grandchildren always makes it better. (Jen, I'm not just saying that cause I know you sometimes read my blogs, really I'm not .)

Of course, my strength, my rock is Ross.  He is always there to listen with hugs.  And if that doesn't work,  he will whisk me away to the beach.  (Ross, I'm not saying that just because I know you read my blog every day, really I'm not.)

Since his diagnosis I have been trying to identify this struggle.  I feel as though I am trying to punch my way out of a paper bag.  It should be easy, right?

My son has cancer.  Isn't it normal to feel uneasy?  Isn't it normal to worry?  Aren't feelings of depression, frustration, anger and anxiety normal?

I play back the day that he was rushed to the hospital over and over in my mind.  I re-write the script.  My ending would be a happy one.  The doctor would come into the waiting room after my son's surgery and tell us that he had an attack of appendicitis and that he was going to be just fine.  Isn't it normal to do that?

Joe and Anne seem to have learned to live with his cancer.  My son has a calmness and serenity about him.   I imagine an appreciation for life, for his baby son, for his wife, for feeling well enough right now to live a somewhat normal life is how he lives with his cancer.

I only imagine that is the way he feels because I have not found a way to talk to him about this.  When we are together, we I ignore the elephant in the room.  We I pretend that everything is just fine. I think I do this because I don't want my time with him to be about the cancer.  I want to spend the time listening to him tell me about Domani's first tooth, or him telling me what it felt like to take his 7 month old son to his first baseball game. Or "how bout those Mets, huh Joe?"

I know that Joe did not have an attack of appendicitis on January 20, 2010. I know that what he does have is incurable stage IV colon cancer.

I know that I may never be able to live with my son's cancer the way that he does.

But what I have learned today by writing this blog is that I am living with it, in my own way.  The way that perhaps any mother probably would.

It has been one week since I have seen or talked to Joe.   I have to give him a call today to find out if Domani has taken his first step yet.  


Monday, June 6, 2011

E is for Emotional Estate Sales

It is the Fifth Monday in our ABC meme.  So it must be the letter E

One of the first estate sales Ross and I attended turned out to be a very emotional one for me.

Years ago, on weekends, Ross and I would jump in the car and take winding back roads to where ever they would lead us.  This was, of course, before we had the "lady" in the car with us, telling us "prepare to turn right..."

One hot sunny Saturday in 1998, yes, I believe it was July (okay maybe I don't quite remember it as  specifically as that), we wound up in a typical New Jersey suburban neighborhood.   As we were riding down one of the streets, we noticed one of the houses had many cars parked in front. People were waiting in line to go into the house and carrying items as they came out.    

We slowed down and saw the Estate Sale sign out in front of the house.  We decided to stop and check it out.    As we walked up to the front door, I was struck by how much this 1950's ranch style house looked like the one I lived in when I was growing up.
It gave me an eerie feeling.

Once we got inside, the strange vibe I was experiencing became stronger.   Ross went his way and I went mine.  

I wandered into one of the bedrooms.  There was a full size bed with an ornate mahogany head board.  The bed looked like it had been hastily made.  The covers were carelessly thrown over the mattress.

A pair of 1940's mahogany night stands were on either side of the bed.   A lovely old fashioned bedside carafe and glass sat on top of a stained crocheted pineapple doily.

A golden compact, brush, and comb set sat on the other stand.  There were remnants of a light shade of face powder covering the top of the stand.

A matching mahogany dresser sat against the wall across from the bed.   Once carefully ironed hankies, hand embroidered doilies and night gowns were now jumbled up and hanging over the edges of the drawers.

A faded needlepoint upholstered victorian style rocker sat in the corner of the room, under the window.  Next to the chair was a walker.  

The closet was full of women's clothing.   Judging by the sizes of the dresses, coats and shoes, and shade of powder, I started to  picture what this woman may have looked like.

Other people walked in and out of the room.   One woman was going through a stack of linens which were piled on the floor.  Another woman was pushing the hanging clothes across the pole in the closet as if she were bargain hunting at T.J. Max.  

The room looked very similar to a bedroom that my Grandmother may have slept in.  I imagined that this Grandmother was now living and being cared for by her children.  I began to feel very sad.

The next room I went into looked like it was the master bedroom.  Men's and women's clothing were hanging in the closet.  The room was quite a mess.  It was obvious that many people had been in and out of the room.   A SOLD sign hung on one of the dressers.

I left that room and went into the next bedroom.  There were a pair of twin beds with maple headboards.
Each bed was covered with a pink chenille bed spread.

A lovely old wicker dressing table, painted lavender, sat against the wall under the window.   The girls must have used this as a desk, I thought.

As in the other rooms , the matching dresser was full of clothes.  Summer shorts, tops, and pj's, once neatly folded, were now strewn sloppily in and out of the drawers.

The closet held pretty summer sun dresses.  There were little white sandals and pink flip flops on the floor of the closet.

This easily could have been the room that my sister and I once shared.

The house became very claustrophobic for me.   I felt like I needed some fresh air.   I pushed my way through a crowd of people looking for Ross.   I found him rooting through some old tools in the basement.    A basement quite like the one in my old house.

I told Ross that we had to leave immediately.

In 1990 my father died.  My mother did not find out how bad their financial situation was until after my father passed away.  The house was in foreclosure.  The bank gave her one month to vacate.   One of the hardest things that I and my bothers and sisters had to do was help my Mom clean out the house.

Back then, foreclosure was not a common circumstance and was quite shameful.  Especially for my mother's generation.

I knew that the owners of this house must have had to leave under similar circumstances.

Ross and I have attended many estate sales since that first one.
I am still amazed by the behavior of some of the people who also attend these sales.  I have seen some people almost come to blows fighting over some little trinket.

I am still struck by what little value is placed on the once treasured belongings of grandparents and parents.  

 "My mother made these," the woman holding the garage sale told me.  She was referring to a big box of hand made Christmas ornaments.   "She would make a different one every year to hang on her tree," she said.

They were beautifully made.  Each one was carefully and individually wrapped in tissue.
I thought about how much time and effort went into each one.

I bought the whole box for $5.00.  Each year I bring out the box and hang the ornaments on my tree.  I feel as though I am paying respect to the memory of this crafty lady.



Saturday, June 4, 2011

Staying in the Moment on a Picture Perfect Day

Every little once in a while I am reminded how true it is that life is made of up of moments.

What I am trying to learn to do, is stay present in those moments and just be with them.

Yesterday, I experienced a pretty darn near perfect day.  Jen, Ryan, Ross and I spent the afternoon at the beach.

Weather wise, perfection.  The sky was a cloudless brilliant blue.  The sun was warm, and the breeze was gentle.

The sand was soft and white.  The ocean was calm and the water was a bluish green Caribbean color.  The waves were softly lapping and licking the beach.

There were only a handful of people on the beach, which made it feel like our own private beach.

As I sat down in my sand chair and began to dig my toes into the sand,  I sensed any tension I might have been felling begin to melt away.

Looking over at Jen and Ross,  I noticed the calmness in their faces.

When I agreed to take Ryan down by the water to fill up his pail,  I suddenly found myself laughing and running with him as he yelled,  "Come on Grandma, run, put your feet in the water, come on Grandma, come on."

I took lots of pictures.  As I was taking the pictures, I was thinking about how they would fit into the blog I was going to write the next day about this picture perfect day.  Was I really present at that moment?  Maybe not.

But as I am sitting here writing and reflecting back on the day, I realized that yes, at moments,  I  was actually present and at moments I  was actually just being.  

I mean how else would I have been able to recall all of the feelings of joy about that picture perfect day.

Okay, well maybe these pictures might have helped a little.