Friday, February 19, 2010

Dear AARP:

I’m certain that this is not the first letter of this kind that you have received, but I sincerely hope it is not the last!

I received membership materials from you today. I have to tell you that as I approached “middle age,” I actually looked forward to joining AARP. My parents were both members and I was grateful that they had an advocate…since it seems our society has been, more and more, turning its back on the elderly and focusing on the young (who unfortunately are looking less and less likely to live up to their potential – I can say this with all honesty because I work in “higher education,” and I’m constantly amazed at the illiterate and unlearned students we have here at my university).

However, now that I qualify for membership in AARP, I see that the organization has changed. It is no longer an advocate for the elderly. It has become a rubber-stamp for the dangerously progressive and radical administration that is currently in power (no pun intended on the word “power,” since they have proven in little over a year to be hell-bent on grabbing as much power as they possibly can as quickly as they can…and it looks like AARP is whole-heartedly supporting them).

Your so-called “membership benefit” of a spokesperson for my rights in Washington is such a falsehood that it makes my blood boil. Your avowed endorsement of the proposed legislative efforts to force universal healthcare on this country is a knife in the back of the very segment of society whose interests you claim to represent. The fact that, if passed, such a bill will institute massive cuts in Medicare does not seem to concern you, although it is of deep concern to your membership and other elder citizens who intelligently refuse membership. I suspect that your lack of concern about Medicare stems from the fact that you are in the insurance business yourself, and your support of the gutting of Medicare smacks of the basest, most avaricious self-serving motivation.

Shame on you for betraying your constituency in favor of your own selfish interests. I hope and pray that every one of your members will wake up, resign, and tell your officials to take a flying leap. I’m doing so…right now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Little More of the Magic Gone

I was stunned by the announcement that Dick Cook was stepping down as head of Disney Studios. And of course, it's looking more and more like he was ousted, rather than leaving on his own.

At the 2007 POTC Marathon Event at the El Capitan Theater, in Hollywood, I saw Mr. Cook standing in the lobby as we were leaving. I went up to him, introduced myself and thanked him for staging the event. (Because we all had an absolute ball attending.) He was warm and gracious, and so kind. I indicated how much I love the POTC franchise (it was kinda obvious, since I was dressed in a frock coat, pirate boots, frilly shirt and hat with a huge ostrich feather...LOL). He told me, at that time, that Disney was planning a fourth POTC movie (which warmed that little ol' pirate heart of mine).

Now this was a real big-wig in the entertainment industry. Big Chief (as Cannibal Jack Sparrow would say) of a major motion picture studio...talking to one of the "little people," and doing it with grace and charm, making this little person feel pretty danged special.

A year later I wrote a letter to him, because we were having difficulties obtaining a print of the first Pirate movie for a fundraiser. Within a day or two of his office receiving the letter, one of his Vice Presidents emailed me to follow up. Now that, folks, is class...and a level of customer service par excellence.

This is a regular guy from Bakersfield, who started at Disney by working as an operator on a Disneyland ride when he was 21. Talk about your rags-to-riches, living-the-American-Dream story. After 38 years with the same company, can you imagine the instituional memory and the loyalty that left Disney with him?

Just the loss of a little bit more of the magic that made Disney special.

And it's too bad. When I first went to Disneyland the magic was so there. Today, a lot of it is glitz and glam...and all of it available for way over value. You can deck yourself out in Tinkerbelle undies, sport a POTC ring on your finger (which I do, by the way), outfit your bedroom in Little Mermaid or Hannah Montana, put Cars hubcaps on your vehicle...but you'll beggar yourself doing it, because Disney merchandise ain't cheap...the "magic" costs nowadays.

There's nothing wrong with capitalism, the entrepeneurial spirit...if the market will bear it, so be it. But Walt welcomed the world to Disneyland to experience "The Happiest Place on Earth, not "The Most Expensive, Over-Priced Place on Earth." Dick still had that "happiest place" mentality...unfortunately the button-down, preppie, cold and calculating Robert Iger (now CEO of all things Mouse) does not. He could care less about the joyful smiles on kiddie's faces, he wants to see KA-CHING big numbers on the bottom line.

Good-by, Mr. Cook. You're a class act and a gentleman. You will find other ways to serve entertainment, and find places to share the magic. And we'll be waiting...

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Don't Consider Toolbelts Fashion Accessories!

As my Dad has become older and more frail and feeble, I've had to do lots of things around the house that I've never done before. (Okay, yes, I'm spoiled...but I've never been much of a do-it-yourselfer.)

And, of course, there are always things to do when you own a five-bedroom house.

So last week I took three days off work and tried to play a little catch up. There was critical yard/garden stuff to do. So I took a trip to Lowe's. Fortunately I ran into an older man (a customer) who kind of steered me in the right direction as far as the type of product I needed. I spent an obscene amount of money, but got lawn fertilizer/weed killer; black plastic meshing (I'm covering the rose bed...NO MORE WEEDS THERE!); a couple of pony packs of annuals (the only problem with that is that you have to PLANT THEM); some potting soil to enhance the flower beds where I'm putting the petunias and marigolds; and some extra-duty, super-duper maximum Round-Up. (I cannot BELIEVE how much this stuff costs!) The Round-Up went on the garden spot/giant dandelion jungle. In early April I'd had overly optimistic visions of a few rows of beets, tomatoes and a zucchini plant...but as I can't take care of everything that needs doing NOW, a garden was just really out of the question and I gave that idea up quickly.

I had to return the next day because I'd forgotten to get the part I needed to fix my leaky toilet. (I still can't believe I figured it out myself.) There is something akin to being lost in the howling wilderness when, as a somewhat helpless female, you find yourself standing, slack-jawed in the plumbing aisle...your gaze wandering cluelessly over shelves of THINGS that you have no idea the purpose of. I took a chance, after picking several items up and putting them back, on a flapper valve that said it fit most 1.6 gal. toilets. I got it home and actually was able to install it...and finally blessed peace in my more constant trickling sounds and "flush surges."

The lawns got mowed and fertilized, the garden and canal bank got Round-Upped, I even managed to wrestle Dad's sliding shower doors out of their channels and a new shower rod and curtain put up and a hand-held shower held installed. (Whew...I am Woman, Watch me Plumb!)

There remained one more little project, and that was to pull co-ax cable up to Dad's bedroom, so he can have a TV in his room. He's spent the last seven weeks mostly in bed because of back having a little entertainment would certainly help his emotional well-being.

A neighbor came over, we looked at things, he suggested a place to drill the hole (we were just going to bulldoze through the ceiling of the spare room, up into Dad's bedroom...rather than trying (and probably FAILING) to pull the cable through the walls. Larry, the Cable Guy I am NOT.) But the neighbor never came back. And after three or four weeks I just determined to do that danged thing myself. I went to Radio Shack and bought a splitter and 50 feet of cable. (Probably just should have bought half of that...but better safe than sorry.) I got Dad to check his drill (yes, working) and I found the largest (but not the longest) drill bit he had. (It would never have gone through floor and ceiling...but what do I know from house construction??)

I was all ready to go ahead, when, for several days, things (and people) kept popping up and de-railing the plans. Finally another neighbor sent two of her sons over last night to do it. Bless their hearts, they did as good a job as they could, considering we were just drilling holes promiscuously through walls and ceilings.) They informed me (and I knew this if I'd just taken the time to survey things and use my feeble brain) that where I'd originally planned to drill was where the heating duct in Dad's room was. If I had just charged ahead (on this heady wave of DIY success I was riding) I would have drilled right into that. Sheesh.

I think that, in hindsight, my recent successes were due to blind luck rather than a growing ability to take things into my own hands. The fact that the cable now sticks up through the bedroom floor/carpet two and a half feet out from the wall (fortunately right under the chest of drawers) just proves to me how little I know...and how hard it is for me to think in the do-it-yourself-but-for-heck-sake-do-it-right mode.

As these opportunities come more and more I think I'd better invest in some research, some home improvement manuals and a LOT of prayer...

Thursday, March 26, 2009


One of my great passions is card-making. It used to be rubber stamping…but it’s not just about the rubber anymore. I’ve never been what you would call a “crafty person.” When we had homemaking nights at Relief Society I was usually the one who had to have the homemaking leader or the craft demonstrator tutor me one-on-one throughout the whole process. (Perhaps it’s a mental-block thing, maybe someone in my past told me I wasn’t creative or artistic.) And I never had a skill (like knitting or crocheting) or a hobby (like tole painting or cake decorating) that I could share with and teach the sisters.

I went on a cruise in 2002 to Mexico – it was only four days, so stop drooling. I went with my dearest friend, Kay; my best friend from California, Vicki; Vicki’s sister, Robin; Vicki’s good friend, Randi (who worked in a scrapbook store); and Randi’s friend, Cara. What the other four did…every free minute of the cruise…was scrapbook. They brought dozens of big rubber totes FULL of paper and scissors and embellishments and ribbon on board…!!! (The cruise line said you could bring as much luggage as you wanted, as long as it stayed in your cabin – they were fortunate that the ship let them use the “card room” and leave all their supplies there…otherwise we would all have been sleeping on top of tote boxes!)

The last day of the cruise was our “day at sea.” I had planned to do nothing but lay out on the fantail of the ship, basking in the sun while the deep blue sea slid by, rousing occasionally to ask Raoul, the pool boy, to bring me a virgin colada. Nature, however, conspired against me. It was overcast and foggy and drizzly – totally miserable, with about 20-foot swells. (But at least we had beautiful weather our first day on Catalina.)

So our last day on the ship Vicki and Robin and Randi and Cara scrapped their little hearts out, while Kay and I SPENT our little hearts out at all the duty free shops on board. Late in the afternoon we visited the scrappers. Randi suggested making cards for our waiter and assistant waiter (who had been with us the whole cruise). She took a piece of cardstock, folded it; took a rubber stamp, inked it and tap-tap-tap – presto! an intricate design all over the card; then another, ink, tap-tap; more color on the card; snipped a length of ribbon, tied a bow…and voilá ! A perfectly cute little card.

I was stunned.

I thought, “I can do that!” It took no drawing skills or advanced artistic ability. The stamp did all the work. I got pretty excited. So when I returned home I immediately went out and spent a couple hundred dollars on stamps and inks and paper. This was a bit premature, to say the least…and I’ve always cautioned beginners, who’ve never stamped or made cards to take it easy, to look in some magazines or on-line projects to see what they like, to borrow things from others to experiment…I discovered I hated the fact that it was SO difficult to match the colors of the paper to the colors of the inks I had. Stampin Up© was the answer to that dilemma, because all their papers and inks are color-coordinated…and I have progressed to where I can utilize various color combinations, so I’m not limited much anymore (it doesn’t hurt that I now have a store-sized inventory of papers, patterned papers, decorative scissors, embellishments, stamps and ink pads! Oh, and did I mention I’m the Button & Ribbon Queen of Orem, Utah??)

I was pumped. I settled in to make my first card. It was a sympathy card for a neighbor, who’d lost her brother. It was gonna be great – a beautiful, hand-made card that would impress everyone who saw it.


I discovered (again) that there were some things that were absolutely critical to card-making.

First, you have to have the right tools. Second, you have to have the right tools HANDY. (It took me about three hours to get everything rounded up – the ruler was upstairs in the desk in the kitchen, the scissors were with the sewing stuff in the office, the gel pens were behind me…no they weren’t, they must be at the church in the Primary closet – which necessitated a visit to the bishop’s house to retrieve the keys, a drive over, a hurried search through shelves and boxes…okay they WEREN’T at the church, then a drive home, another search in the basement/craft room…where I discovered them under a pile of laundry that needed folding.

Okay third, you have to have PRACTICED stamping before you can produce a decent-looking card. You also have to practice CUTTING the cardstock to the size you need, and LAYERING the paper so that it looks even. You have to practice TYING BOWS (I’m still severely bow-challenged). The final result, after hours of frustration, was a card that I wouldn’t give to a sight-impaired enemy. *sigh*

I was despondent and tired and irritated. What on earth had I spent all that money for??? I was hopeless.

But I persevered. I practiced. I tried things, I experimented with buttons and ribbons, with different color combinations. My early attempts were kind of sad. I’ve kept them as reminders. Eventually I started turning out finished products that people thought were cute. And I’ve kept it up. I used my Stampin Up© catalogs as inspiration, I subscribed to paper crafting/card making magazines, I surfed the internet for project ideas. I get SO excited now when I hear of or see a new technique or new project idea. I have to immediately try it out.

My only disappointment is my failure to interest my ward. I offered to teach card-making for a pre-Christmas homemaking night. I spent WEEKS cutting cardstock, I spent money on new Christmas-themed stamps because I didn’t think I had enough, I bought ribbon and embellishments and drafted card layout ideas. I then packed everything up and hauled it over to the church and set it all out. Unfortunately we had a lesson on budgeting before the work-portion of the meeting…and it went SO over time that we had about twenty minutes left…and I had all of three people come to make cards at my station.

I compare that to my offer to do a card-making class at Vicki’s ward (IN CALIFORNIA) in November of 2003, where I packed all my stuff up (again), but this time it was a fifteen-hour drive instead of five minutes. We had about thirty ladies and everyone had a ball…lots of gorgeous cards made, and everyone went home happy. It was actually a terrific visit, I stayed with Vicki, and we set up tables in her living room and spent most of the week either watching Johnny Depp movies or card-making. (You can’t get much better than that!)

The next November, Vicki’s daughter, Andria, asked me to come to HER ward – here in Orem – and teach another card-making class. It wasn’t quite the success of the California class…but we had about fifteen-twenty ladies and they also had a great time and produced some terrific cards. I’ve since taught a class at a brown-bag lunch at work, with about twelve people in attendance…who all had a great time and made some cute cards; and I’ve tutored friends and taught the basics to them…everyone has always seemed to have a good time and enjoyed themselves. But my neighbors? Not so much.

(A prophet has no honor in his own country, I guess.)

Oh well. It won’t stop me from enjoying my hobby (or spending money on it! I nearly own founder’s stock in Archivers!) I’ll keep on stampin’ and paper-crafting, it’s a creative release and helps keep me sane. (Just wish it would make me wealthy!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Cult of Celebrity

As anyone who knows me can attest, I am crazy about Johnny Depp. (To say that what I am is "obsessed" would be under-stating it somewhat.) But I am not crazy because of Johnny Depp. And there is, I think, a big difference. (The fact that my 91-year-old widowed father has often given tours of my basement craft room – also known as “The Depp Shrine” should not have any bearing on my feelings on wacked-out fans, okay?)

I really don’t know what it is about our culture, our society, that we are celebrity-crazy. I think of all those sighing women, swooning over the young Frank Sinatra; or the shrieking frenzy of Beatlemania; or the celeb stalkers, who really are VERY scary…and obviously not all there.

I’ve seen Johnny in person twice now. The first time was at the Disneyland Premiere for POTC: Dead Man’s Chest. Unfortunately it was all-too-brief…as he was being whisked past our location by his “handlers” because he’d spent too much time at the beginning of the line of fans and the movie was about to start. (DANG IT!!) The second opportunity (at the Disneyland Premiere of POTC: At World’s End) was “much more bettah”…because One, we were sitting most of the day on bleachers (the front row – what a coup!), and Two, he came over to us and signed autographs.

I actually got to touch him…whoa. (But did I get an autograph??? NO. I was too busy snuffling away, eyes leaking, and babbling, “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” like a fourteen-year-old with a crush on Zac Efron…sheesh.) I don’t even remember the moment. I do remember vividly his approach, what he was wearing, the look on his face as he greeted fans. I remember seeing his arm, I remember the feel of it….*INSERT A BLANK SPACE IN TIME*…and then I remember him moving past our location, further along down the line of bleachers. ACKK!!! I blew it!!!

My friend, who was sitting next to me, told me that he’d looked down at my arm (which had a temporary Jack Sparrow tattoo on it – I told you I was obsessed!) and did a double-take and said, “wow” or “whoa” or something like that, with a huge smile on his face. I remember NOTHING…NOTHING of that moment. What a total doofus…

(Oh, and the photo? That was the moment right after my moment...)

Anyway, I’ve gotten a little off-track…but it’s just a small example of the insanity which is fandom.

I know a person who sends cards and letters to actors…evidently LOTS of actors. Who follows any sensational story and somehow mentally or emotionally inserts herself into the frenzy. Kidnappings, celebrity deaths, marriages between stars, personal appearances…it’s a little disconcerting to hear her latest “involvement” with whoever happens to be in the media spotlight at the moment.

I also know a person who, through her good intentioned works for charitable organizations, came into contact with an actor. He wasn’t particularly famous when she first “met” with him (on-line, through his website), but he had appeared in a popular TV series and had a bit part in a very successful movie, which turned into a mega-hit franchise. Through her, our little group was lucky enough to meet him in person, and do a little fundraising for his charity. He’s a nice guy and it was our pleasure to spend time with him and help his foundation.

But I’ve watched this woman change over the past three years as her relationship with the actor has continued. I suspect that she is hoping that through her connections with him she will someday get to meet Someone Else (for a hint see above).

I’ve heard that money changes people. Someone who inherits a fortune, or wins a fabulous multi-million dollar lottery, ends up not the same person he or she was before the windfall. I’ve decided that this is also true in some cases with celebrity “hounds,” as I call them. This woman’s dogged pursuit of her goal has absolutely changed her…and sadly, not for the better. She has walked over, cast aside and hurt people that loved her. She’s become vicious and manipulative and vindictive. She is not the person she used to be (or, even worse, she hid what she actually was under the layer of warmth and generosity that we all saw and believed was her true nature). It’s all very sad and disappointing.

Am I crazy about Johnny? Yes, of course. I admire him as a person, as a father, and as a consummate actor. I think he’s incredibly intelligent and respect the fact that he’s a self-taught intellectual, who rose above rough circumstances and his own self-destructive habits to become what he is today. What I am not, though, is crazy because of him. I don’t spend hours plotting how to get close to his associates, or try to make “connections” with anyone who ever knew him or had contact with him. I don’t follow him around to every premiere or every fundraiser or every film festival. And I haven’t, nor do I ever intend to, purchase a ticket to Plan de la Tour, France and stake out his villa. I’m content that I have, in just six years, achieved what one of my co-workers termed “the Mt. Everest of Johnny Depp-dom” by having a brief, euphoric encounter with him, and will be content to watch his movies and enjoy his celebrity from a distance.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I've Had it Up to HERE With Diversity!!

From August 2007...

Now, before you run for the telephone to call the ACLU...I wasn't referring to "ethnic diversity," or the "melting pot" that America has become (along with Canada, England, France, and a host of other countries).

No...I am talking about the daily deluge of decisions....the profusion of preferences...the superfluity of selections...TOO MANY CHOICES!!!!!

This concept hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday at the grocery store. Now normally I purchase my pantyhose in a clothing store, but since that requires a trip to the clothing store and requires a bit more money than the "discount" brands, I decided to pick some up along with the ground beef, veggies, cat food, and the rest of the list. First I had to find them. This wasn't as easy as it sounds. (I never did figure out where they keep the Wet Ones...but that's another story.) I finally located the pantyhose.

Now I haven't bought pantyhose in a grocery store for donkey's years but it used to be a fairly straight-forward process. Suntan (or tan - never nude or beige!), Queen sized (yes, I'm still a "Q" but on my way toward "Regular"), reinforced toe.

Simple, easy to remember...right? Wrong. There were "silky sheer," " all-day energizing," "control top," "sheer to the waist," "nude toe" in every combination possible. Unfortunately, amid this veritable plethora of choices I could not, for the life of me, find SUNTAN REINFORCED TOE IN SIZE "Q"...!!!

I literally stood in front of the display for fifteen minutes. It didn't help that the store employees didn't keep things neat and tidy, there seemed to be no rhyme nor reason to how they were placed...or else customers spent lots of quality time re-arranging things. (I actually suspect it's both.)

I finally found two pair that worked, and tossed them into the shopping cart. But it got me thinking. I've asserted for years that MacDonalds has really blown it. I used to like MacDonalds. MacDonalds was easy. Hamburger. Cheeseburger. Filet-O-Fish. Fries. Cokes. Milkshakes. Apple Pie. Simple. Easy to remember.

Now they've got salads, parfaits, chicken, riblets, Quarter Pounders, Big Macs, chicken MacNuggets....and don't even get me started on breakfast.

Oh yes, it sounds wonderful on the surface. So many choices. You can eat there every day, every meal, for a month and probably never have the exact same meal twice. But what they've sacrificed is speed and quality. (Okay, they were never considered a four-star eating establishment...but you see where I'm going with this, don't you?)

The phrase "Jack of all trades, master at none" springs to mind. It's trite, perhaps well-worn. But it's well-worn because it works and it's true.

And you can say the same thing for Burger King and Wendy's and any other formerly "fast food" restaurant you want. Same thing.

When I was a little girl there used to be three channels. (Only THREE, you gasp?) Yep. ABC, NBC and CBS. Now they have at least three hundred (I can't get them all because I can't afford the deluxe ComCast package.) But even so, I do have access to at least a hundred. And how many times a month do I surf through the channels, using the handy little on-line guide and discover...there's nothing on TV??? Too many times to count, sadly.

It seems today, that when we diversify too much, we lose the focus that creates the quality.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Easy Way Out

Okay, I've been experiencing Blogger's Block. I get these great ideas...but never when I can even jot down the thought, much less outline something. So, as a total cop-out, I'm copying some older blogs from a certain "social networking" site... they're actually pretty good if I do say so myself.

From January 2006:

Dads & Daughters

I'm 54 and I live at home. Now before anyone gets that look on their face and their mind starts wandering down all sorts of snide and condescending paths, I will clarify. I am living with (and trying to care for) my elderly father, who is 88.

Through the years, Dad and I have had our moments. He was pretty cool when I was very little (he tried taking flying lessons which came to an abrupt halt when his pilot/instructor landed (nose down) in a field outside of town. After that Mom kind of laid down the law). And for a short while he owned a motorcycle, which I used to crawl all over (and consequently was always burning my bare little legs on the engine casing - it had that kind of edgy-striped metal covering, and most of the summer my inner thighs looked like grilled salmon steaks). He was pretty good to my brother and me, he was endlessly patient about setting up the little swimming pool in the backyard and filling it with water, he would walk me around the neighborhood helping me look for the bike that I’d left somewhere, while in the unfocused throes of play, he bought us ice cream cones and let us have cats, parakeets, horned toads, frogs and a tarantula (that was NOT my choice, by the way!).

He worked hard and was in sales, so he was gone a lot, which was hard on Mom. And he never really enjoyed good health. His appendix ruptured when he was 13, giving him a nasty case of peritonitis and nearly killing him, and providing a three-month stay in the hospital (and rural Idaho hospitals in the 30's resembled Frankenstein’s laboratory more than hospitals). And in the Army Air Corps overseas in WWII he contracted malaria which, I understand, never really goes away. He had stomach surgery in '65 (that was when butchers..oops...surgeons hacked large chunks out of your digestive tract for ulcers, instead of changing your diet and working on reducing stress). So there were lots of planned trips that were cancelled at the last moment because Dad got sick. I got used to that (never liked it much, but became resigned to it eventually. I mean, the man couldn’t really help it, could he?).

But the "Daddy-and-His-Little-Princess" relationship changed, seemingly overnight, when the "princess" went into puberty and got a best friend who decided to try every drug (and every boy) within a 200 mile radius. She got me to do things I never, ever thought I would find myself doing, and she made it seem either very logical, or like the most fun we would ever have in our young, and soon-to-be-ended-by-infanticide lives.

So, suddenly the daddy-daughter relationship become, to say the least, adversarial. And not very fun. I confess I did what I could to push the edge of the envelope, he did what he could to control it. You know those true-life adventure movies that Disney was so fond of producing? The bighorn sheep that would back up three or four hundred yards, put their heads down and then charge each other? Remember that huge *THWACK* reverberating down the scenic mountainside when they came together, butting heads? Well, that just about describes every confrontation with my Dad during my teenaged years (and, in effect, the entire decade of the Sixties).

We managed to get through it somehow (amazingly enough), because things weren't much better in college, where I was your typical Gifted Underachiever. School was great - lots of fun. Dorms? More fun. Class? Well, that wasn't so fun, especially when one is stupid enough to schedule morning classes but decides to do most of one's "living" between 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. The administration was nice, friendly, helpful. They really did their best to work with me, and they gave me several second chances - but to no avail. I'd not learned to study, nor did I possess an ounce of self-discipline, and administrations, unlike fathers, do not have an unlimited supply of patience. And so I was politely told to leave. Which was rather awkward because I was, at the time, working full-time for the university. They thought about it and allowed me to stay at my job, where I made almost enough money to pay the rent and buy gas for my car.

My Dad couldn't fathom that I'd blown my opportunity at an education. My mother taught elementary school. Her favorite pastime was taking classes (even if it meant driving fifty miles to the nearest college.) My Dad never had an opportunity past high school because he got his secondary education from Uncle Sam in the South Pacific. Education was very important to both of them. It was a pity that their children (neither of them) did not feel the same.

Eventually my Dad and I came full circle to that fairly comfortable and accepting place that most grown children and their parents exist in. A lot of it occurred because Dad's health did not improve. After two heart attacks he ended up having quintuple by-pass surgery, and somehow his mortality became quite important to me, and I overlooked a lot of what I thought were his lesser qualities. I spent a lot of time in hospitals, holding his hand, supporting my Mom and logged a lot of miles (both air and land) traveling from my life back home to be with them at such times. And I suppose, during those vigils, there was that little glimpse at what eventually would come to pass when he became unable to care for himself at the end of his life. (He's not quite there yet, thank goodness.)

I have grown more patient (mostly).

When my mother passed away eight years ago, I was left to take over with Dad. The first couple of years were actually easier, because he was so sad and lost, and so was I. We were kinder to each other, more considerate, more giving - trying to ease each other's grief a little. My impatience does surface now and then, because honestly! He is, after all a man, and age seems to exacerbate that condition exponentially - in fact, it is almost as though a reversal has occurred. I now feel like I'm living with, and running herd on, a child. And never having been "blessed" with a husband and children, the experience is not one that I'm enjoying overmuch. But you do what you have to do. I remember all the times that he was there for me, when I needed guidance, counsel (or money) desperately. How can I do less for him, now that he needs me?