Category Archives: Nostalgia

Words With Friends

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words with friends

Warning:  This post is contains words I find annoying, disturbing and/or disgusting.  If you are offended by language, this post is not for you!

 

 

 

 

It began with the constant use of the F word during the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Once I tuned into it, I heard it everywhere and bristled each time.

Female.”

Hearing “female candidate” I envisioned a cartoon uterus in a pantsuit and sensible heels, a stylish scarf fashioned out of her fallopian tubes, and her ovaries tucked safely in her pockets.

Ridiculous, I know. But,  “male candidate” wasn’t used with the same frequency, if at all.

“Female” is clinical.

Unless you’re employed in the field of animal husbandry, issuing an A.P.B. for an alleged perpetrator, transporting a patient, or working in the coroner’s office – skip the word female. It refers to genitalia.

I prefer “woman” as it encompasses the entirety of a human being.

While I was busy cringing at the F word, the tape of Trump using the P word surfaced.

Ick. Ick. Ick.

For the love of hoo-hoo’s, vajayjays and vajeens everywhere, wasn’t that word left back in the junior high boys’ locker room?

Guess not.

The misogynistic and absurd bragging (among other things) spurred a protest of the new U.S. President. On January 21, 2017,  200,000 women gathered in D.C.  sporting their functional, yet cleverly named pink Pussy hats.

Meow. I get it –  giving the word a different kind of power. Even with those darling little ears on top – I preferred kitty cat hats.

The cringe factor of these words brought to mind a recent girls’ trip where our mutual dislike of “moist” resulted in a conversation about all sorts of awful words.

Just the mere reference to something unappealing like “pustule,” “seeping,” “oozing,” and “ointment” causes cringey feelings. No visual aid necessary.

One friend hates the word “pimple,” and her husband hates the word, “fester.” It’s no wonder these perfectly suited soul mates have enjoyed nearly 30 years of wedded bliss!

Another friend confessed that any labia reference, either major or minor – made her uncomfortable.

We all agreed “scrotum” hits the ears wrong every time.

Coincidentally, one friend was on a run of making her own almond milk and almond hummus. She shared how her teenagers groaned in protest every time she referenced the necessary tool which is key to the process: a “nut bag.”

35 years ago, this same friend was a horrified teenager when her mother signaled the end of a day of shopping by announcing in a department store, “Well, it’s time to go, I’ve shot my wad!” 

Another friend mentioned the word “grundle.” I admit, I had to Google it. It sounded like something out of a Harry Potter novel. Nope. Lemme just say….T’aint what it is.

Of course “smegma” (just for you Madge), “girth” and “lube” are all included on the the repeat offender list. I apologize for typing those.

Some words sound worse than their actual definition, like “chickpea,” “uranus” and “penal” for instance. “Clematis” clearly sounds like a lady part and not a lovely flowering vine.

Personally, I hate the terrible imagery that comes to mind when I hear “blow-out,” and “brain-fart.

While we’re on the subject – I propose we nix the crass “anal-retentive” or “anal” in favor of the more genteel “particular.

It isn’t only anatomical terms and descriptors of unpleasant things that are bothersome.

Mothers can all agree on a mutual disdain for “not me” and “sucks.”

Men are bugged by a words of a different sort.

They seem to have a strong dislike for the apathetic “whatever” and the snippish “fine.” They also lose patience with the incorrect use of “literally,” the often used, but nonexistent “irregardless,” and the redundant “very unique.”

Just mention corporate conference call speak and watch the eyes roll:

We don’t need to think outside the boxregroup, or tag up later. Please, just table it ALL. At the end of the day, we’ve had enough of moving forward. We have fully penetrated and are saturated with equitable outcomessolutions-based everything, and win-win situations.

Yep, there definitely seems to be a “disconnect” here

Words can be so terribly overused that they lose their meaning. Have you noticed practically everything is described as “amazing” on a daily basis. Hey, I realize my generation did the same thing to “awesome,” but we used it more comically, and less earnestly.

The moment I heard a lovely wedding gown described as “badass,” I knew the word had lost its impact. Remember when that only applied to bikers, rockers, and the military?

I realize decorum and manners have waned in favor of an air of familiarity in our increasingly casual society.

This is never more evident than when a server or clerk addresses a group of women as “you guys” or even in Southern California as “dudes.”

Look, I’m not expecting to hear “Madames.”

“Ladies” or at the very least, “folks” would be a refreshing return to the service standards I was taught.

Do you think I’m too easily offended, or being a ball buster?

OUCH!

I don’t even have a pair, and that really makes me wince!

 

 

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Manic Mondays & Fashion Faux Pas

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Manic Monday wasn’t just a 1985 hit for The Bangles.

It’s a real thing. It occurs after the weekend knocks us out of the groove. As we try to slog through the early Monday morning routine, the result can be chaos:  Forgotten gym clothes, lunch money, homework, and signed permission slips. No gas in the car.

A niece of mine was only 4 years old when Manic Monday was in the Top 40. She mistakenly thought Susanna Hoffs was singing, “Just another man naked Monday” Understandable, innocent and adorable.

Thankfully, nudity hasn’t been an issue for for me, but a Manic Monday can result in a fashion faux pas or wardrobe malfunction.

One lovely Spring morning, I wore a brand new purple cardigan embellished with a ruffle down the front. I felt so smartly dressed all day.  I returned home and pulled in the garage. As I removed my seatbelt, it caught the edge of something. What is that? I thought.

I realized my new sweater still had the size tape running along the front. I ran to a mirror, and took in the full view. From just below my left shoulder, it went over my left breast right down to my stomach. A string of evenly spaced scarlet L’s, .

I mentally reviewed my day, the five sales appointments, all the customers I had spoken with. No one had mentioned a word. I’m pretty sure I would have preferred someone seeing something and saying something. Or would I?

A friend went line dancing at a cowboy bar in brand new jeans. She was feelin’ like a fine filly… until her dance pardner spotted the Size 8   8    8    8   8  tape running the length of her thigh – and ripped it right off her leg. In the middle of the dance floor. He twirled it above his head, lasso-style. Clearly, a do-si-don’t.

What could be worse than forgetting to remove the size tag from new duds? I’ll tell you what.

Polka dot blouse. Nude pumps with a bow. I was channeling my inner Chanel. However since I’m more Costco than Coco, rather than the Chanel Boutique, my blouse was from Old Navy.  Again after a full day of appointments, I arrived home to discover I had violated Coco’s cardinal rule: I was over-accessorized. I failed to remove one item.  I should have kept the  pearls, and ditched the price tag. Seriously, how did I not see or feel this big piece of navy cardboard hanging from the underarm of my featherweight, sheer blouse?

Tag on Blouse

Wardrobe malfunctions are the worst when they occur on the days we want to look our most professional.

It is a proven fact, that I will not spill a drop of coffee out of a to-go cup, until the Monday I wear a white blouse while I am out of town and five minutes from an appointment. Yep, that is the day I will get that dang Starbucks lid/cup combo that mysteriously drips, no matter what you do, or how many napkins you wrap around it.

My friend Pat paired a sharp navy blue suit (skirt and jacket) with navy blue pumps for an important meeting at work. As she sat down in the conference room and crossed her legs, she realized her shoes didn’t match…each other. Not only were the shoes different styles, they were different colors. One was navy blue and the other one was black. One of these things is not like the other!

My sister’s most famous wardrobe malfunction involved shape wear. You can read about it here. She is usually right on trend and sometimes even fashion forward – like the time she was ahead of the “wire-free” bra trend…when one underwire worked its way out of her bra, and like one of those creepy serpent necklaces, snaked its way up her décolletage and right out the top of her sweater.

Photo: Pinterest.com

Photo: Pinterest.com

In regards to her bustline at this point? Again, one of these things was not like the other.

Long before my Mother was officially diagnosed with dementia, she had begun to make uncharacteristic wardrobe and accessory choices. The  colorful, oversized tote she carried to my stepdad’s funeral had gone unnoticed until one of my brothers was shocked to spot it during the service, and asked “Mother….. are you carrying a beach bag?” Everyone within earshot tried to stifle inappropriate giggles. On the bright side, at least her shoes didn’t match her purse.

Men can suffer fashion faux pas, too. Even at funerals.

A family member attended a funeral during the week between Christmas and New Years.  He grabbed his wool coat out of the closet in a rush to get out of the house. The coat felt uncomfortably snug over his suit, but the Polar Vortex prevented him from taking it off. Only when walking into church did he realize he was wearing his wife’s coat. Surely the mourners at Mass must have smiled at the dapper gentleman…..and his festive rhinestone candy cane pin.

Photo Courtesy: vintagevixen etsy.com

Photo Courtesy: vintagevixen
etsy.com

Just last week, Tara Wood of Love Morning Wood, shared a photo on her Facebook page of her OOTD fashion faux pas.

Courtesy of Tara Wood Lovemorningwood.com

Photo courtesy of Tara Wood

She was dressed for a day of running errands. While, I think she is wearing cute rolled up boyfriend jeans, I am positive that is an adhesive nursing pad attached to the bottom of those darling gold sandals. It may look like Tara really stepped in it this time, but mark by word: by next summer this wardrobe malfunction will be reinvented and show up on a clever life hack list:

Travel Life Hack #7 Keep Summer feet clean at the airport by securing (2) adhesive nursing pads on each bare foot before going through TSA checkpoint. Once you get through the body scanner, discard the pads and put your summer kicks back on those clean tootsies!

These goofs are entertaining reminders that we are all just human. Or maybe we’re all trendsetters.

What else would explain brightly colored bra straps exposed, tights worn as pants (without coverage of the critical zone) and the long past its prime…pants on the ground?

Happy Monday!

The 1st Class of 3rd Grade

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How I remember Mr. Talarico

How I remember Mr. Talarico

I don’t remember whom other two 3rd grade teachers were at St. Jude in the early 70’s.

Oh I’m sure they were wonderfully dedicated teachers, but I sort of feel bad for the students who had those teachers and not Sam Talarico, Sr. In my opinion, they really missed out.

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Before becoming a teacher, Mr. Talarico was in the Army and played college football. He is a giant of a man, especially to a 3rd grader. He has equally giant, bear-paw-baseball-mitt-sized hands.

Sam Talarico 1

While his size certainly could have been intimidating enough to instill good conduct in his students, I think they behaved for another reason: they didn’t want to disappoint him.

Many of his former students may recall that on the first day of school, a roll-down map covered the chalkboard. Mr. Talarico rolled up the map, revealing the word “RESPECT” written boldly, not with chalk, but with a chalked-up eraser. That was the rule by which he governed his classroom.

Ironically he didn’t have to demand respect, he easily earned it. He never “talked down” to his students, and perhaps most key – he treated them with mutual respect.

What a well-timed lesson. Kids hit the 3rd grade after the newness and intimidation of 1st grade has worn off,  and then making their 1st Holy Communion in 2nd grade. They are just starting to gain confidence and feel like big stuff. Instilling respect when they may be on the brink of a little sass and attitude is pure brilliance.

While specific memories of that particular year have faded over the past four (going on five) decades, I am able to clearly remember the overall feeling and tone of that classroom. It was an environment of calm and security.

In those days, the faculty consisted mainly of women – nuns and lay teachers.

faculty

Here was a big, handsome guy, teaching small children. Being in Mr. Talarico’s classroom meant having a school day dad; a 2nd Dad for those of us blessed enough to have a Dad at home.

I can only imagine the vital role he played for the students who didn’t have a Dad at home. A man’s man, but still a teddy bear with a gentle nature, he has modeled a life of faith, family, and hard work.

One evening during the fall of ’72, our doorbell rang. My Dad answered it and yelled,  “Annie, look who’s here.”  There stood Mr. Talarico on our front porch. I was stunned. My stomach dropped. Oh no. What had I done that was so horrible that Mr. Talarico had to come to our house and talk to my Dad?

Perhaps I was an anxious 9-year old. His visit had nothing to do with me. Mr. Talarico was campaigning for a seat on the City Council. Door to door. Face to face. On foot. The old-fashioned, grass roots way.

He won. He was now a husband, father, teacher, coach and Councilman. He served on the City Council for 24 years.

I don’t know how he has shared so much of himself with so many people so successfully, or how he has been able to remember so many names and faces – even decades later, as his black hair turned a distinguished gray, and eventually a striking white.

Through the positive power of Facebook, I learned that Mr. Talarico, now in his 80’s is hospitalized. His large family has asked for prayers, and for folks to share their favorite memories of their Father and Grandpa.

Heaven is surely flooded with prayers, and his family may now have some small idea of the number of lives he has not only touched, but shaped: the students he taught, the athletes he coached, and the kids he rooted for, both on and off the field.

For generations of families, he will be forever linked to the memories of St. Jude School and Church, as much as any Priest or Nun.  A tour of our Parish would go something like……There’s the school, church, convent, rectory, oh, and that’s where Mr. Talarico lives. The Talarico home was across the street from the “new” church, and they even had the bell from the “old” church in their front yard.

It all started with that first simple, but important lesson of the year: Respect.

It is a special teacher who is so beloved and fondly remembered by everyone they have ever taught, or even met. That is a job well done and a life well lived.

Thank you Mr. Talarico, and Thank you Talarico family for sharing your Dad and Grandpa with so many kids over his 43-year career.

While he may have taught 3rd grade, Mr. Talarico is 1st class…all the way.

Family Jewels

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Where it all began

Where it all began

I received some disappointing news last week.

In a few short months, a family-owned jewelry store in my hometown is scheduled to close after nearly seven decades in business. With roots in the “old neighborhood,” five generations of my family, from my grandparents to my great nieces, have worn sparkly things and watches purchased at Freeman Jewelers.

First Holy Communion crosses, add-a-bead necklaces, charm bracelets, rings from Dad, Christmas gifts hidden in tree branches, engagement rings, and custom designs and settings have marked Sacraments, life milestones and special occasions.

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My Mother is no longer able to wear the jewelry she once enjoyed so much. As her dementia progressed, she began throwing her jewelry in the trash. Someday it will be worn and enjoyed again by another generation, but for now, it is safely tucked away.

Her jewelry was purchased from this family owned store. The value of this jewelry is not in the precious metals and stones, it is in the memories. The memory of helping Dad select just the right gift. A tiny, wrapped box hidden on a Christmas tree branch. The memory of Mom’s face when she found it, and the delight when she unwrapped it.

For our family, there has never been another place to purchase jewelry. Or get a new watch battery. The Freeman family has been a constant. They are genuine, friendly and ethical. Their merchandise is beautiful and unique. They catered to every budget. While I am happy for the 2nd generation, sibling owners who will now enjoy some well-deserved retirement relaxation and fun; selfishly, I am sad to see them go.

I feel like we have a shared history, and I will miss them and their store.

Where will we shop now?

I’m not interested in Jane Seymour’s Open Hearts Collection, and I definitely won’t ever say  “I went to Jared’s.”

Buying and receiving jewelry will never be the same.

Another family owned business, a lovely home furnishings and decor store also recently closed its doors after 30+ years in my hometown. Apparently,  the trend towards online purchasing, and folks furnishing their homes with cheaper decor, rather than investment pieces, had resulted in declining sales.

How sad.

I hate that this keeps happening, but I understand how it does.

In our pursuit of paying less, we have moved away from buying from the “little guys.”

We’ve been seduced by perceived savings at national chains, big box stores, and on-line retailers.

The falling prices at Walmart are enticing. Personally, I’ve never felt good walking into a Walmart. I find it rather depressing and avoid it. Now Target on the other hand….

We head to Target for household items. Instead of sticking to our list, we suddenly find $150 in “must-have” purchases.  Come on, who hasn’t looked at their bank statement or credit card bill and thought, What the heck did I buy at Target last month?

A 20% store coupon makes us antsy.  We must to get to the mall before our coupon expires.  We can’t miss the chance to  “save.”

I confess, I recently took a spin on the Old Navy merry-go-round.

They were having a sale.  I went shopping. I earned super cash. I spent the super cash. The next day, everything was 30% off. I shopped again. I earned rewards.

Yippee!!!  I was saving SO MUCH MONEY that my Gap Visa bill was……$500. Wait, What? How did THIS happen? I finally got off that ride.

We sit on the couch, shop online,  and with one click enjoy almost instant gratification. They tell us: folks who bought this, also bought….this. So, we toss that in our virtual shopping cart, too.  Amazon Prime. Free shipping. Brown boxes on the porch.

But, are we really saving anything?

Of course not. We’ve been tricked into buying way too much stuff.

Shame on us.

With all these big box bargains and online deals, we are losing more than just our own cash.

Locally owned businesses are the heart and soul of city. Community means people. These business people are more vested in their community than any big chain could ever be.

Losing the family owned businesses in our communities is also leading to the retail homogenization of America.

Every city and town has shopping centers with Kohls, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, Staples, Home Depot, etc. It  is revolving scenery, with only changes in landscape.

We can buy the same stuff in every city.

This is especially evident in department stores.

Macy’s and Bloomingdales INC line will soon have us all looking like these guys:

Some folks thought Star Trek..I think they all bought the INC line.

Some folks thought Star Trek..I think they all bought the INC line.

We are at risk of losing our individual style.

Even worse, communities are losing their individual personality.

What do we often love to stumble upon while traveling?

A charming downtown area. A walkable shopping district. Drinks or dinner followed by checking out the area, on foot. Whether it is a nostalgic or modern vibe, these areas give a destination its personality.

If we purchase a trinket, gadget, Christmas ornament, or article of clothing, it automatically has the memory of the shop where it was purchased and the trip we took, attached to it.

The same can’t be said for items randomly purchased at the mall, or a national chain. It’s just bland stuff.

I’ve had enough bland stuff. I’m hungry for local flavor. I want locally owned businesses to come back…STRONG.

Make a plan to celebrate Small Business Saturday on November 29th.

Stay away from the mall madness and the big chains.

Plot out some locally-owned shops to check out.

Support a hometown artisan and enjoy the added benefit of buying American made.

I bet you’ll find some unexpected treasures.

If shopping isn’t on your agenda, you can still participate.

Start your weekend by grabbing breakfast at a Mom & Pop coffee shop.

Visit your local hardware or paint store while working through your “honey-do” list.

Instead of watching the game at a chain sports bar, grab a beer at a locally-owned joint.

If dining out isn’t in the budget, hit the butcher shop and dine in.

Shop small on November 29th.

And then, make a habit of it.

Locally owned businesses are the precious gems in our community settings.

Let’s do what we can to make sure they continue to SHINE.

shop small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music & Memory

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I’ve witnessed the power of music with my Mom, who has advanced dementia.

On days when making conversation is difficult for her, she may ride quietly in the passenger seat of the car, or read a few signs we pass, or maybe whisper both sides of a conversation with someone I can’t see.

However, if the radio is set between a 40’s station and a light 70’s station, she’ll sing along. She’ll check the display to read the artist and song.

The songs trigger memories and conversation.

“Gosh, if I had a nickel for every time my girlfriends and I danced to this song.”

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name….I always thought their sound was just so pleasing to the ears.”

I know even this small bit of stimulation is good for her, and it is enjoyable to see.

A few months ago, I joined her for a Sunday afternoon of Christmas Carols at the care facility where she lives.

We sat amid a crowd of residents – many with dementia, and sea of walkers and wheelchairs,

Maybe I’ve watched too many Fa-la-la-la-Lifetime and Hallmark movies, but I swear Mike the piano player looked exactly like Kris Kringle in street clothes.

His repertoire included all the classics. He was delightful!

Occasionally, he stopped singing and let the group finish a line of a song.

The residents knew all the lyrics to every song.

I smiled as I looked around the room, and saw the heads bopping back and forth and the toes tapping in rhythm with the music.

No one was restless, agitated, or sitting in a dull, detached state.

The residents were relaxed and engaged with Mike and his performance.

It was fascinating to watch.

Somehow, the music magically melted through the fog of dementia.

I was so moved by what I was witnessing that I got a little teary.

Instead of looking sort of stone-faced as she had the previous day, Mom was animated.

She happily smiled at my phone so I could snap a pic.

Christmas Caroling Lois Anne loves a selfie

Christmas Caroling
Even Lois Anne loves a selfie!

The memory of that afternoon is a treasure.

A few days ago, my friend Terri, emailed me about a news story she had seen featuring Music & Memory – Muncie

This new program was started by a group of freshman at Ball State University. It is affiliated with Music & Memory, a national non-profit 501c3 organization, but the BSU students believe they are the first college-based group.

The mission of Music & Memory – Muncie is to bring iPods with personalized playlists to the elderly, especially those suffering with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

They recognize that personalized music can enhance the quality of life for these nursing home residents with cognitive disorders.

This is a brilliant and beautiful program. I remember the soundtrack of my college years. These college freshman are just beginning to compile theirs. I love their awareness that these older folks had a soundtrack to their lives, too.

By speaking to a resident’s family, they learn what genre and artists the resident likes.

With this simple idea they’re delivering more than just music.

They’re sparking happy memories.

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They share friendship, love and compassion.

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With the use of splitters, the students listen to the music through their own set of headphones.

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Because music sounds best when shared, doesn’t it?

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What an amazing way to enrich and humanize an isolated, nursing home existence.

M&M 2

 

M&M 1

 

When I read about their work and looked at the heartwarming photos, I was again moved to tears.

I was also filled with some Hoosier pride.

These college freshman are a great example of making the world a better place, by beginning in your own “backyard.”

They’re using their time and talents, employing a little bit of technology, but more importantly – a whole lotta heart.

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If this “strikes a chord” with you, like it did with me, and you are interested in supporting this wonderful program, there are a few ways you can help:

  1. Visit their gofundme page and make a quick donation. Super easy and every little bit helps!
  2. Have you or your kids upgraded to a new iPod? Do you have a gently-used iPod (preferably an iPod shuffle) sitting around the house? They’ll take it!
  3. Grab an iTunes gift card the next time you’re at the grocery store. They’re always right there in the checkout area. Then instead of buying Candy Crush lives – boost some more interesting and real lives.

iTunes cards or gently used iPods can be mailed to:

Music and Memory – Muncie
c/o TCOM Dept.
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306 

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I hope you’ll consider helping these remarkable BSU students with their inspirational program.

Visit their website or Facebook page to learn more about their work.

In an email to me, Tyler Sparkman, President of Music & Memory – Muncie wrote:

It has become an absolute joy and life changing experience working with these residents. Not only have we gone in and helped change the lives of the elderly by sharing these personal iPod mixes, but the elderly have also changed our lives! 

Well, that is music to my ears.

Clearly, no matter what genre of music they load on those iPods, these students ROCK!

 

 

The Gift Of The Moment

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IMG_5465Next month, I will be attending the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

This is very cool for me because I have always enjoyed Erma’s writing. It is often heartwarming, always pure comic genius, and timeless. Long before I could relate my personal life experiences to her writing, I thought she was hilarious.

At the age of 50, I have a greater appreciation for her insight and her use of  humor to celebrate the ups, and cope with the downs, of life. Life is short, but some days sure seem long. The ability to see the funny in everyday life is a gift.

Even Erma’s views on the subject of humor were insightful. Some of her more famous quotes about the importance of humor are:

If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.

He who laughs….last.

When humor goes, there goes civilization.

I have a sentimental attachment to her writing, because it reminds me of my Mom. When I was growing up, one of us would often ask the other, “Did you read Erma today?” Together, we laughed about her column, read her books and watched her segments on Good Morning America.

During the summer, we also tuned in at 9:00 a.m. to watch The Phil Donahue Show together. Oh, the education a teen could gain from The Phil Donahue Show back then. It was THE source for information, because he covered all the thought-provoking and juicy topics.

So, Phil and Erma are forever linked together in my mind. Not only because they are former neighbors who had a mutual admiration and affection for each other, but because they were involved in a sort of 1970’s Midwestern love triangle with my mom and me. Nothin’ weird here, this was a triangle of appreciation and adoration.

erma phil diagram

We enjoyed Phil, and we loved Erma. Erma and Phil loved and adored each other.

In light of this, it is especially cool for me that Phil Donahue will be the keynote speaker at the The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

During a visit to my hometown over the holidays, I decided to tell my Mom that I had gotten into the workshop. The former version of my Mom would have been so tickled about this. I knew the current version of my Mom, with advanced dementia, would not fully grasp what I was saying. I also knew she would have absolutely no memory of the conversation, just a minute later.

Despite being the subject of a few blog posts, including Sweetie Pie and She’s Such A Doll; she knows nothing about my blog, and has never read a single post.

So, as silly as it may be, I still wanted to share this news with her, and just enjoy the moment. 

One afternoon I sat in her room, reading the Christmas cards she had received. Some included photos or letters. (For anyone who continues to remember nursing home residents with greeting cards, may God Bless you for this kindness.) We passed the cards, photos, and notes back and forth. She was able to fondly recall at least a small detail about each friend or family member.

She was “tracking” fairly well, so I decided to share my news with her. As we chatted, she was lying on her side, atop her bed, like a teenage girl. Her elbow bent, her head propped up in her hand.

“Mom, do you remember reading Erma Bombeck?”

“Oh GAWD, yes. She’s SO funny!”

“Well, do you remember my friend, Terri?”

“Well, of course. How is she?”

I went on to explain in very simple terms, with no details, that Terri and I would both be attending the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio.

I never even got to the part about Phil Donahue.

My Mom sat up, and said, “Really? You’re kidding?”

Wow! Had I really picked the perfect lucid moment?

Then she said, “We should call Grandma! She loves Erma, too!  She’ll go with us!”

Chatting with dementia, the trickster, is sort of what I imagine doing improvisational comedy is like: you never know which direction your partner will go next. You need to be on your toes, open to anything, think quickly, and just go with it.

We both smiled at the idea.

It was a lovely moment.

I went with it.

“Sure, that’s a great idea, Mom!”

As she slowly counted off on her right hand, she said “That’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 of us.”

Yep. Me, Terri, Mom, Grandma….and Erma gettin’ away for the weekend.

Of course, only three of us are actually alive, and only two of us are registered for the workshop.

Yet in some way, I feel like all five us will in fact be there.

.

Laughter rises out of tragedy when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.

– Erma Bombeck