Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Not-So-Bright Idea

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 Am I the only one who has noticed  this cruel coincidence?

 The legislation mandating those awful CFL light bulbs has gone into effect precisely at the moment that, in order to see anything, us middle-aged folks are relying on  a pair of 1.50+ polka dot readers from Walgreens…. worn of course, in combination with bright light!

 I no longer bother to examine my face in my bathroom mirror. I merely check to see that my head is attached, and my Crest Spin Brush Pro is in the correct orifice. I rely on my illuminated magnifying mirror for the application of everything from moisturizer right through to that final coat of mascara. This is the process known as “putting on my face” as my Mother used to call it.  Finally, I understand what she was referring to, as I am all but face-less when I look in the bathroom or entry hall mirror.

I really wish the CFL manufacturers would quit trying to convince me that their 14 -watt CFL bulb emits the same light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. It simply does not! My reading glasses and I are calling you out on your big fat lie.

I HATE these bulbs. Not only because they are NOT BRIGHT ENOUGH for my middle-aged vision, but also because of the aura they give a home. I admit I am a homebody. I am a nester. I like candles burning all the time. I want a fire on chilly days. I prefer lamps to overhead lights. I like all the things that give warmth to a home. The CFL bulbs provide all the decorating warmth of a gas station convenience store.

My walls all have color. Very carefully chosen color. CFL bulbs affect all my perfect paint picks. This is not a frivolous concern. Countless psychological studies have been done on the effects of color. How could the Interior Designers of America allow this to happen? Decorators all over the country choose paint colors for a room based on how they translate in natural light, throughout the day. CFL bulbs will change the look of paint on walls, as well as the entire aesthetic of a room.

I’m not sure the folks behind this legislation have fully considered the repercussions of screwing in one of these bulbs. I’m not getting political. I know there is all sorts of speculation as to how & why this legislation was pushed through. I understand the bulbs are expected to improve, but they just are not there yet.

Currently, I have my own version of an eternal flame burning in the family room. I put a CFL bulb in an accent lamp. It is the only CFL bulb in the house.  It gives off a hue reminiscent of a mosquito zapper. I am simultaneously providing a beacon during my sleepless mid-life nights, and thwarting any would-be burglars with an eerie Scully & Mulder glow.

I HATE this bulb, but I am stubborn. I refuse to turn it off…ever. This is a standoff. I have thrown down the gauntlet. I’m going to find out if this thing really lasts decades as the packaging claims.

Which leads me to a bigger question. Who needs a bulb that lasts 40 or 50 years? I am all for saving Mother Earth…however if I have to start reading in the dark, I’m not sure I’ll have any eyesight left to gaze at her beauty.

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Sweetie Pie

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This weekend marks what would have been the occasion of my parents’ 61st wedding anniversary.

My parents missed out on celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary  as many of my friends’ parents have been blessed to do this year. Their 34th anniversary was actually the last one they celebrated together because my Dad, Art died in 1986.

My Mother is 82. This smart, funny, and oh, so wise woman now lives in a care facility due to rapidly progressing dementia. Her short-term memory is completely gone. Confusion is pretty constant. Sometimes she is frustrated with her  “remember-er” that doesn’t quite work right.  Her life events are in a jumbled order. Overall, she is content and pleasant despite things being foggy for her.

One thing she remembers very clearly, however, is being madly in love with Art. She has a large framed photo of him, the love of her life, her Sweetie Pie. She hugs the photo and remarks about how crazy she was about him. She loved him with a heart and a half, she says.

I love to hear the story of how she met the love of her life. The thing about her dementia is, I can ask her the same questions every day, and it is like the first time she has heard them. She never tires of telling the story:

She was working as a nurse at a Catholic Hospital. She was from the  South Side, a Presbyterian not Catholic. Her fellow nurses were graduates of the Catholic High School. One day, she overheard them talking about a tonsillectomy patient they knew. Obviously, this was long before the existence of HIPPA. Surely, they must have been talking about how handsome he was, because she immediately went into the patient’s room and introduced herself. She liked him right away.

Eventually, he asked for her number. How confident he must have been, asking for her number while lying there wearing a hospital gown! Once discharged, he called her and asked for a date. Her mother thought this was inappropriate and told her she couldn’t go. After all, she was dating a fellow named Ned. Ned drove a convertible and happened to be a fantastic dancer, my Mother remembers.

A week later, Art was readmitted to the hospital with complications. Mom was “floating” – working where needed in the hospital.  As fate would have it, she was assigned to the floor he was admitted to, and was his nurse. This time, he went home and told his mother he’d met the cutest little nurse with the prettiest brown eyes. My mother went home and broke it off with poor Ned.  Art again asked her out, and this time she said yes.

I continue to ask, “What happened next, Mom?”

She recounts the events of 1950 in vivid detail:

Their first date was a picnic.

He was romantic.

She met his parents, Bill & Georgia.

They lived on Crescent

His brother Don was really young, only 10.

“What happened next, Mom?”

Lately, she replies, “Well, we went our separate ways. We never married or had children or anything. Boy, I sure would like to see him again!”

WOW! So in my Mother’s mind, Art is the one who got away!

In reality, the first weekend they went out, they knew they would marry, and he proposed just 2 weeks after their first date. She joined the Catholic Church and in 1951, they married.

They enjoyed 34 happy years together. Believe me, when I say, my parents were happy together.  They really never argued. Oh, to be sure, he pissed her off occasionally, especially if he messed with her cooking. He was known to sneak lemon flavoring into any baking recipe and added way too much black pepper to anything anyone was cooking. Funny, though, I don’t recall him ever being even the least bit miffed at her.

She has no memory of Art being the father of her five children. This is confounding to me, because at least for now, she still knows all her children and their spouses by name, as well as her grandchildren and their spouses, for that matter. Dementia is a puzzle.

You might think it would be sad to realize that she has no memory of her life with my Dad, or the fact that she has no memory of who our Father is. However, I’m a glass-half-full-silver-lining-look-at-the-bright-side-kind-of-girl. So for me, the fact that this huge chunk of her life has completely disappeared from her memory is not entirely sad. I have found an upside.

The beauty of dementia is that for my mother, the pain has all disappeared. The sudden and tragic loss of my Dad at the age of 54, is forgotten. This event that shook and forever changed our family doesn’t exist for her. The loneliness of being the “first” widow isn’t even a distant memory.  She doesn’t reflect on missing out on the joy of retirement with my Dad. For her there is no bitter, only sweet.

Many long-married couples have to make an effort to keep the so-called magic alive. Even some young couples struggle to remember the spark that originally ignited their courtship. Not so for my Mother.  All she has is the memory of the spark, the romance and of course, the love.  While she may not know today is her 61st wedding anniversary, or be able to remember it, no matter how many times she is told; she is a living example of the POWER of love. As cliché as it may sound, when all is said and done, really, all that remains is the love.  We know love never dies. Through my mother, I have learned it will NOT be forgotten.

“Did you ever meet him, the big guy?” She asks.

I tell her that I did meet him, and I do remember him.  And then, as I tell her I really do think she will see the love of her life again one day…selfishly, I silently hope it is not too terribly soon.