Life with Father, episode 16

At the Passover Seder, brisket is served, because:

  1. the majority of the attendees are, well, carnivor-tarians;
  2. we have delicious things for the vegetarians, vegans and those gluten-free; and
  3. G-d did not deliver us from Egypt to eat turkey.

Dad likes a thinly sliced and lean brisket.  I like thick slices of the marbled cut, so it is moist but not fatty.

SIDEBAR: Also? I cannot cut brisket in thin slices.  I suck at it.

Dad is quite forgetful nowadays, he is capable of moments of startling clarity.   Especially concerning the cut and the slicing of the brisket.

In the run up to the Seder, Dad instructed me any number of times about how my slicing is too thick (dare he say, in-elegant? (yes, yes, he dared)) and that the meat was not lean enough.

SIDEBAR:  Tell it to the poor grass fed cow who guest-starred at dinner.

When it came to the stressful moment when I had to cut the brisket, my hands were shaking.  And, as the meat crumbled under my slicing, I was almost in tears that Dad would notice the disastrous cutting of the brisket more than anything else about Seder.

Seder seemed to go well.  Dad ate his fill and was in a good, if disconnected, mood.

I spoke to him this afternoon.  As he complimented me on my leading of the discussion about the Exodus from Egypt, he also mentioned the “crazy style of food” at Seder.

My heart sank.  I couldn’t hold it in.

“Daddy, I am so sorry about the crumbly brisket and the thick slices.  I just can’t cut it the way you do!”

“Well, darling, why didn’t you ask me to cut the brisket?  I would have been happy to.”

UH OH. It is a delicate balance: elegant brisket or a deranged old man with a knife.  I know, it is a toss up.  

“Dad, let’s discuss this next year, ok?”

“Ok, darling, but it will look and taste a lot better . . . .”

And so we add another prayer to our Seder:

Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’alom, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitsivanu al slicing of the brisket.

Blessed is G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, Who hallows our lives through commandments and Who has commanded us regarding the slicing of the brisket.

Happy holidays.

 

What’s in Your Wallet?

On Friday, I found a wallet on a New York City bus.  Money still in it.  Driver’s license. VISA card. Debit card.  Picture of Jesus.

I called the VISA card company and reported the now-found, but previously lost, wallet.  And I gave my name and number so that man could call me and we could arrange to meet so I could give him back his wallet.

This man has an out-of-state driver’s license  — and I don’t mean New Jersey.  The state was clear across the country.  What if he cannot get home because he has no ID with which to board the plane?  I felt bad for this man I did not know as I imagined how unnerved he must be not to have the contents of his wallet.

After a few hours of not hearing from the man, I started to go through his wallet more fully.  It felt ooky.  His wallet told a confusing story.  Why two NYC metro cards? Why so many New York-related business cards?  They were not new cards; they had frayed edges.  And a New York State health insurance card.

At least it was clear that the resolution would NOT be sending the wallet to the address listed on his driver’s license.

All of the detective shows started rushing through my head, complete with Law and Order music. Except this was nothing so dramatic.  I was not searching for a missing person, just a person who was missing his wallet.

Next course of action?  Social media.  That scourge and blessing.

I found him.  He does, in fact, live in New York.  I sent messages to him through various social media outlets.

On Saturday, he responded and we talked. I told him I also called the debit card company to report the lost card and there was still money in the wallet.  He seemed happy and relieved.

We arranged to meet on Sunday.  He brought his wife, and two kids with him, so they could all thank me.  He was in his early thirties and she was younger.  I was introduced to his son as the “person that Mommy and Daddy had prayed for” and the wife was grateful to God that I used my “lawyer mind” to figure out how to find them.  (She had asked my profession.)

“So, you aren’t from around here, are you?”  I asked with a smile on my face.

“We are not.  We did not think that we would ever get the wallet back, here in New York City.”

Oy.  Oy.  Oy.

“Well, as someone born and raised here, I think you will find as many good and kind people here as anywhere else.”

SILENCE.  Did they want this to be Sodom or Gommorrah?  And raise kids here?

“How can we thank you?”

“You seem like a lovely family and kind people.  That is thanks enough.  All the best to you.”  And I shook their hands and we parted.

Back into our separate worlds.  Because strangers don’t have to become friends.  And not every chance meeting needs to be a religious and cultural enrichment moment.  We, strangers and friends, just have to watch out for each other sometimes.

Social Security

Contrary to what our “rugged individualists” and Tea Partiers say, relying on social security is a little like being on death row.  You just never know when the Great Machine will stop payments and you will die in the streets.  Ok, it IS different.  On death row, the Great Machine actually kills you.

I had to go to the Social Security Administration the other day to get a replacement 1099 for ULOB.  I walked in, without an appointment, and was stunned by the stench, the number of humans and the number of crippling ailments in this vast room.  I immediately thought that this could be in a scene in the streets of Calcutta or Mumbai.

I spoke to the security guard, who told me I was in luck!  For replacement 1099s I got to go a different floor, to a quieter room.  As I got onto the elevator, I held the door for two people who could not stand up straight or walk without assistance.  They were indigent, in bad health, and had atrophied limbs.

I got off at my floor and walked into a room with upbeat and helpful security guards and less people.  Still the intermittent, pungent wafts of air made me want to faint.  There, as I soon understood, slightly demented people sat waiting for information.  Some, frankly, had no where to go and wanted to ask hypothetical questions, which were met by screams from the Social Security Administration staff who stood behind bullet-proof glass.  Although doctors and hospitals cannot give out medical information without violating a myriad of laws, everything is OUT LOUD and PROUD at the SSA office.  Or, OUT LOUD, anyway.

After many hours, it was finally my turn and I presented my uncle’s death certificate, my letters of administration and my driver’s license and asked for a 1099 for his social security income so I could finish his final tax returns.  The lady behind the bullet proof glass looked at me, looked at my papers, looked at me, did stuff on her computer, looked at me and then got up.  Uh oh, I thought.  But she walked over to the printer, brought back a piece of paper, stamped it and said, “here you go.”

It was the 1099!!!  I thanked her for a most enjoyable experience with government.  I even thanked the nice security guard.

I told this story tonight to someone who is an advocate for the indigent and the sick.  What was a funny story became less so because all of a sudden I realized that I sailed through the morass (relatively) quickly, but there are some people who are stuck in that vortex, deserving of aid but without the right paperwork necessary for the vast governmental program.

Yet without social security, even more indigent and tragically maimed people would be on the streets.  And our cities would be indistinguishable from Calcutta or Mumbai.  And then all of America would see what our nation would look like without social security.  And then we wouldn’t think of our nation as the nation of the able-bodied and young and fearless.

We would know that social security is to protect our most vulnerable, our tragically ill, as well as our seniors.

When I looked at the mass of humanity in that first room I entered (and even in the smaller room), I knew these people cannot be hired, cannot be trained and cannot survive without our society’s help. They are not lazy.  They are just, sadly, not competent.  Even to help themselves get the social security benefits they need to survive.

No one would trade places with these people.  They are not laughing, collecting money off of our hard work and living the high life.

If you believe that every life is valuable (and not just at conception), then you need to believe in social security for those who are physically or mentally or educationally unable to work and support themselves.  Because they are part of us and the American Dream — while some achieve great things (and even fortunes), all our citizens deserve at least an opportunity to live in a clean home with enough food.

This started out in my mind as a funny story of the privileged New Yorker enduring the vagaries of government sponsored programs solely for the purpose of paying taxes on ULOB’s social security benefits.

It turned into a lesson about all the politically invisible people in our society who need us.

Let us not turn away from them.

The Future is Bright

I am executrix/administrator/trustee/attorney-in-fact for quite a few in the elder generation, whether alive and dead or, frankly, somewhere in between.

When ULOB died, he had no will.  So his only heirs at law were those immediate blood relations who survived him — SOB, BOB and me.   The word, “heir,” has a connotation that one sits back and someone unknown official throws money and jewels at such lucky heir.

Now, back to reality.  There was an apartment to clean out, assets to be gathered, debts to be paid and tax returns to be filed.  And that means that at least one person has to step up and seek appointment by the surrogate’s court as administrator.  Translation:  At least one of SOB, BOB and me.

I drew the short straw.  I don’t actually think we had a contest.  I think SOB and BOB met when I was in the bathroom and decided that I was in charge.  At least they apologized.

And so, I became the court-appointed administrator for ULOB.  The gathering of assets and paying of debts were not difficult.  Figuring out the fate of the annuities that named the two women of his life — AROB and POULOB — as joint beneficiaries, was harder.

SIDEBAR:  All I can say that if AROB and POULOB had both survived ULOB and I had to divide these annuities between the two — well, I would not think so kindly of ULOB.  AROB (z”l) made life less uncomfortable by predeceasing ULOB.

And then, there are three tax returns — one for the year in which ULOB died, one of ULOB’s estate and one that I have to file as the fiduciary of his estate.  Every one of these measures different periods and sometimes counts the same money.  “Whatever,” the three of us say, it isn’t going to bring ULOB back to life so we pay unto Caesar that which the Tax Code says.

Except we didn’t know much about ULOB’s finances.  I chose to continue using ULOB’s long time accountant to make sure we covered everything.  Continuity is important in these matters,  And, because ULOB’s accountant was probably older than ULOB, I also have a lawyer overseeing things.

I sent the stuff off to ULOB’s accountant and hadn’t heard in weeks.  I emailed the lawyer, wondering if perhaps the elder CPA had  . . . .  Luckily, he emailed me that day.  “I am missing social security and pension information.  Can’t do returns without them.  Also need 1099s through date of death.”

SIDEBAR:  ULOB never had very steady work, so who knew he had a [as it turned out, miniscule] pension?  And because I am also consumed with Dad’s taxes, I forgot about the 1099 for social security.  That was my oversight.

Aaargh.  The latter request was easy.  But what pension?  And the Social Security Administration?  The mail had stopped coming long ago.  Oy Oy Oy Oy.

KILL ME NOW.  I WILL MAKE IT EASY AND LIE IN THE MIDDLE OF SIXTH AVENUE.

I looked in ULOB’s decrepit files and figured out the pension source.  But I had to email my siblings.

From: [Blogger]
To: [SOB]; [BOB]
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:23:25 -0400
Subject: [ULOB]

 

So, I learned that [ULOB] got a pension from the Equity League.  Trying to get a 1099.  Also, on the phone with Social Security Administration for a 1099.  I am never being anyone’s executor again ever. [emphasis added]

 

I thought that was a clear statement of my intentions and future wishes.  In retrospect, I should have had a court “so-order” it.

Actually getting the 1099s were time consuming but not difficult (but absolutely bloggable –especially at the SSA office — at another time).  [P.S.: if anyone needs a guide through the morass, just call or email me.]

In four hours, I got both replacement 1099s.  In triumph, I sent an email to my siblings:

 

Got’em

[Blogger]

Sent:

Thursday, March 27, 2014 12:51 PM

To:

[SOB]; [BOB]

Went to the Equity League pension office AND the social security administration and got both missing 1099s!!!!!  I am basking the glory of a productive day.  (although not so productive from a career perspective.)

 

 

But still I do not want any more responsibilities, especially since managing the world of Dad (may he live to 120) is a constant project.  And then SOB, ever the protective older sister, sends me a reply email, gently quieting my fears about the future, all the while adding an additional burden:

[Blogger], Thank you for managing all Dad’s finances and [ULOB]‘s will and finances.

I’m sorry but  I listed you as my executor, but don’t worry as we will both be demented and incompetent so you will be excused from the task. [emphasis added]

 

Love,

[SOB]

After a moment of shaking my fist at the screen, I laughed out loud.  SOB always brings me back to the proper perspective.  We will both be in our 90s (G-d willing) and then . . . who cares?  I will be executor.  No problem, SOB.  Bring it on.

The future is, indeed, bright and carefree, after all.

 

Life as told by a snail’s shell

fossil spiral snail stone real ancient petrified shell -

I have listened to a lot of people these last months, because I needed guidance through the morass of life.

Many friends recently have expressed regret about not having visited so-and-so and spent more time with great aunt [fill in the blank].

I have lived almost two years in the eye of family death and destruction, some of which I have not shared on the blog out of respect for others.

In the last few months I haven’t had so much to blog — I have been so overcome by illness, loss and regret.

I have come to a conclusion.

And the snail shell is the guide. 

See how it moves out from a tight center and gets larger?

The ones we hold very close are at the center.  If everything is all right with them, then we move on out along the spiral to others or adventures  — we become expansive and welcoming.  We reach out and explore. We are intrepid.

But, like a snail, if we or those who are close are threatened, we recede to the recesses of our shell.

We, humans, prioritize expenses, resources and goals.  And that affects the people in our lives — those immediate and far flung. There is no shame in that.  But there are regrets.

Sometimes we prioritize out of selfishness, fear, worry, competing needs, inability to cope. Name the issue or “ism”.  At some point, I think we mature toward a more stable and responsible and loving set of criteria for the core and then the outer spokes of the snail’s — or, rather, our — shell.

So, AROB’s nephew needs to be ok with not visiting with ULOB in the few months before he died following AROB’s death. CLSFOB needs to be ok with not visiting her childhood neighbor in the years before he died. Both had loving families, watching over them.

And I have to be ok with so many, many, things I didn’t do in my life when it mattered most.

There is a life lesson that sticks with me from 2007.  My beloved cousin, Ricky (z”l), knew he had little time left.  But he believed that he had enough time to reach out to, and settle issues with, those whom I would view as on the outer spokes of his life.  Time is not something we can control.  He ran out of it — time — and had to skip over people who were meaningful to him and whom felt his impending loss acutely, when saying his final goodbyes.

My cousin was unique in so many loving (ok, and controlling) ways, that he was true to the person he was, in reaching out to those “outer spoke people”.  Over the course of time, “his way” gave comfort to those, like me, who didn’t enough time to say, “I love you and, if we are lucky, we will all be on the same rung of hell together.”

SIDEBAR:  Because who, really WHO, makes it to Heaven? And, for what, a tuna on rye because G-d and you are the only ones who made it?  SOB says she doesn’t want to go to Heaven because she will miss me.  So, HOSOB and she have made that eternal sacrifice to go to Hell.  SOB will follow me, and well, HOSOB will follow her.  HOSOB is such a wonderful human that he may, in due course, get promoted to Heaven and have to live off of tuna sandwiches.   Poor, poor, man.  And then SOB will be really pissed at me for keeping her in Hell.  I will let her go, but she lied to get into Hell, which is a problem for Heaven, so you see the eternal issues that could go on if there is an afterlife.  I am really hoping that Mom (z”l) has serious yechas (Yiddish for influence) in the hereafter.  Otherwise . .  . . well, I will be in the worst shit because I actually will be in Hell and there ain’t no getting lower.

But that is where my cousin and I are different.  I need to start from the core and travel outward because life can be cut short — as his was.  He remains a force in my life — a measuring stick for my accomplishments and failings — but I have come to some different conclusions.

Because I am getting older, too.

I am starting to understand that, if you have young children and an aging elder generation and a stagnant economy, life is about running from responsibility to tragedy to work and back again.  If, you are lucky, you have the time to spend with people outside of your core group and grow from the experience.

So, if you don’t have time — or simply don’t have the physical or psychic energy — to visit with those on the outer rung of the shell, forgive yourself.  If it were your responsibility, these people would be in the inner part of your shell.  The hard and important truth is that these kind people who helped along the way in life were not in your inner shell when they were sick and dying.  Maybe ten years earlier.  But not now.

Mourn these people, because you loved them and they touched your lives in meaningful ways — even if only for a short time, a long time ago.  But not because you should have been more attentive.  They may never have expected that from you.  Or have been comfortable with your seeing them in diminished capacity.

Forgive yourself.  And focus on the core people and move outward from there.

SIDEBAR:  And, if your core group is 50 or more (counting Wingate), you will get in shape just by running.  But you will have a smile on your face.

Big Game

Yesterday was game day.  The big one.  The game that unites more Americans in a single activity at the same time than any other event at any other time:

THE SUPER BOWL.

SOS was very excited.  I found this odd because SOS is not so much a player as he is a (more-than-slightly reserved) spectator.  Let’s be honest, his favorite sport is rigorous reading of incredibly sophisticated tomes.

On Saturday, I asked SOS why he was so interested in the Super Bowl.

“I am interested in all cultural phenomena, [Blogger]!”

Well, all right, then.  While I loved to play sports, I am a pop-culture moron.  He will be far better equipped for the real world.

As late as Saturday, we were non-committal as to which team to support.  The Sea Hawks are from Seattle and we have family in the Northwest Territories.  But, Peyton Manning is Eli’s brother and Eli is our home town-ish QB.

Two things tipped the balance in favor of the Sea Hawks: our Washington and Oregon family were in town and we saw the first play of the game which was a disaster.

By 6:35pm on Sunday, we were firmly in the Sea Hawks’ camp.

SOS brought out a football to hold during the game.  And, I thought, there are things that all boys do.  It is on the Y chromosome, along with smelly feet and spank magazines.

We started to throw the ball around the living room and we “ran the ball in” and tackled each other during some commercials and some play time.  All the time, I was scared that his brains will spill out of his head in a bad fall.  Nothing more than a few scratches and bruises — on me.

(That boy can tackle.  OUCH.)

I had to throw a red penalty schmatah [Yiddish for rag] on our field.  And I stood up and declared:

“TOTALLY offensive and painful jab to a mother’s breast.  10 yard penalty.  3rd down.  Time-out, [Blogger].”

Then we giggled.

“[Blogger], you are the dad I will never had. But you are also my mom which is a bonus.”

I got misty-eyed and proud.  And that is probably politically incorrect, but I don’t really give a damn.

In a split-second, as if to remind me that we are not the family in a Lifetime made-for-TV movie, he announced:

“The Sea Hawks are winning by so much that it is boring.  I am going to catch some Downton Abbey until bed.  Tell me if anything exciting happens.”

He scurried off into another room to watch a drawing room soap opera already in progress.

But he left the football with me.  Thanks, bud.

Another lesson learned

In order to understand this blog, you need to look at http://40andoverblog.com/?p=5720 for the back story. Suffice it to say that I avoided replacing one of Dad’s aides for one year because I didn’t think that personality issues should decide whether a person has a job.  Especially in this economy.  But there were other issues.  And when push came to shove, I had to choose Dad’s comfort above all.

We committed to pay for her kids’ immigration processes.  We overlooked so much.  But with a heavy heart, I made a decision after one year of wishing the problem away.

Not too long after the agency promised me that the aide would be re-assigned, I received this text from the aide:

“Seasons greetings to you and your family.IT was my pleasure working with you dad for over ayear.I am sure you had a wonder ful xmas with your family. I do not have money, or know anyone of influence that can take a persons job and by doing so take bread out of their family’s mouth, what I do have is my truth, honesty,and integrity. I have endured seven(7) months bulling, harassment and spitefullness at the hands of [the aide whom Dad adores]. Anyway goodluck with the Wolf in sheep clothing Re [aide whom Dad adores]. WITH time you will see the truth.All the best to you and family.with love [fired aide]“

It is over a month since I received this email and it remains a dagger in my heart.

What I did was right but not fair or moral to everyone.  And I have to be good with that.

There, but for the grace of G-d, go I

About a week ago, SOS asked me, “why don’t we give to people who ask for money on the street?”

Oh, no, time for a lesson in cynicism.

“Well, buddy, we don’t know if they really need money and, if they do, are they using the money to buy drugs or food?  I used to give to everyone and then I realized the hard lesson that some people are not being truthful.”

My answer did not sit well with me at all.  I kept thinking that children will heal the world unless their parents interfere and fill their minds with cynicism.

We were doing errands yesterday.

“Hey, bud.  Remember the conversation that we had about giving to people on the streets?  Well, I want to talk more about it.  We give to charities that help these people.  We are willing to pay more in taxes for social programs and we go door to door to help get out the vote for people who will institute these programs.  But it doesn’t mean that a particular person will be helped, just that we will make inroads in resolving the problem.”

“Ok,” was SOS’s non-committal answer.

Sometimes, kids ask those questions that make you think about all the juicy rationalizations that make your life livable with a more-or-less clear conscience.

And my easy, arm chair liberal answers didn’t sit well with me either.

I should have said, “I don’t have time to get down and dirty with strangers.  I can’t get involved and take on every person’s broken life.  And Darwin is right.”

There.  I said it. (to you and not to my son)

Last night, I could not sleep.  As crazy as it sounds, I kept thinking about Rabbi Hillel: if I am only for myself, who will be for me?

Being homeless is my number 1 neurotic fear.  And yet I told my son that it was ok to look away when you see the homeless.

During my sleepless night, all the things that I should have done, shouldn’t have done, did, and didn’t do, haunted me.

Tonight, the three of us had an early sushi dinner. We picked the closest Japanese restaurant because it is beyond cold outside.

We were on our way back from eating lots of sushi and dropping a lot of money on dinner.

As we crossed onto our block, I saw a mother with an elementary school-aged child taking recyclables out of the trash cans.  They had a cart like the homeless.  To be honest, I have never seen homeless Asians.  It was 7pm and that child should be home.

I told POB and SOS to go ahead up to the house.  I had to go back.  I needed to make sure the girl had a warm coat, gloves and a hat (she did) and that they weren’t going to spend the night outside.  I went over to the mother, “do you have a place to stay tonight?”  She didn’t understand and was a little afraid.  I must have been very earnest in my question.  “Do you have a place to stay tonight?”  I repeated.  I would have given them money for the night, if only because it would mean strength to fight another day and rest for a child before a school day.

Pause.  She smiled.  “Yes. Yes. Yes.  We have a home.  Thank you.  Happy new year!!”

I smiled and walked away.  And I wondered, was she telling me the truth or protecting her pride?

I won’t ever know.

What I do know is that my child pushed me to be more than I was yesterday.

God bless the child.

Temple of Treyf

BOB came for a visit this weekend.  Dad and SOS were beyond excited.  SOB and I were consumed by logistics (but happy).

I was running late on Friday so I asked BOB (who, contrary to apocryphal legend, was, in fact, born and raised in NYC) to take care of ordering dinner.

I walked into Dad’s house, even later than I estimated.  All gathered were waiting for me to make decisions about the dinner menu.  Clearly, I have made life too easy on those assembled.

“[BOB] and [SOS], go and figure out what we are eating from this menu!”

SIDEBARI rummaged through the menus and handed one to BOB. Seriously, I could have phoned this in.

SIDEBAR:  Cuisine? You need to ask?  Chinese, of course.  After all, it is the Sabbath and we are Jews.

After two or three calls to the take-out place, I learned that BOB was a little rusty about ordering etiquette in NYC.  Nevertheless, as soon as he hung up from the last correction, the deliveryman showed up at Dad’s door.

SIDEBAR:  More proof for my hypothesis that someone stirs the wok on the back of the delivery bicycle and, no matter what we order, we get whatever the mobile kitchen whips up.

Let’s just say that this was not our usual selection.  It had a Texas flair.  We were about to eat HOG HEAVEN.  Because pigs died for our meal.

Earlier, BOB was bemoaning WOBOB’s fixation on having a pet pig.  I almost thought BOB’s aversion to a pet pig had something to do with his cultural heritage.  The dinner menu was proof otherwise.

Then, I had sympathy not for BOB, but for the potential pet pig.  Poor pig, thinking that if the family will eat his/her relatives, that the pet pig might be next.

As I have aged (and as life has steamrolled over me) I have become less doctrinaire about most things.  Still, not eating pork or other treyf wasn’t born of religious conviction.

SIDEBAR: treyf means unclean.  It is often used to refer to non-kosher food.

I don’t digest dairy well; I am allergic to most seafood; and Mom and Dad didn’t serve pork in the house.  The last time I remember eating spareribs was before BOB’s Bar Mitzvah, in 1974.

Nevertheless, I was shocked initially at BOB’s order: pork dumplings, spareribs, pork fried rice.  Every vegetable dish had meat in it.  “Part vegetarian” is now a new dish classification in our family.

And, remembering how Grandma ate from kosher plates with her own kosher food even in her beloved daughter’s home made me a little queasy.

Secretly, I have had a yen for spareribs for about 10 years.  I was inwardly delighted at being so close to the forbidden fruit and knowing we were so far away from Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) that, well, what the hell?

And, bonding with BOB over a sparerib and breaking any number of taboos in my parents’ house were gifts. And, when Dad is the way he is, and Mom is dead, and loved ones in our generation are facing down mortality, eating pork seemed so unimportant, especially in exchange for a shared moment with my big brother.

And we haven’t even discussed what was on the pizzas for Saturday night dinner.  I couldn’t even try it.

Let’s just say, BOB likes him some pork products.

BOB is a loving guy and, I have determined after this weekend, that while he wants to make his family happy, he is just concerned that a pet pig wouldn’t be safe with him.

After eating with him this weekend, I respect that.

 

Just what the doctor ordered

Today is a very snowy day in New York, as it is elsewhere across the country.

After helping my share of elderly up and down the subway stairs –

Sidebar:  REALLY?  Old or infirm navigating the subway stairs that are treacherous for me, an able-bodied (although middle-aged) person?  I thought that’s why we have buses — for the very young and the very old.  I will have to email Mayor DiBlasio.

– I was relieved that Dad was home and safe without any need to go out in this horrible weather.   And, if he needed something, like medicine, his aide would call SOB or me.

I figured today was a slow day for Dad, being cooped up and all, so I called him earlier than my usual 5pm-cocktail hour time slot.

“Hi, Dad, it is [Blogger]”

“[Blogger] sweetheart!! How are you?”

“I am great, Dad.  Some snow, huh?”

Sidebar:  Sometimes, after I have seen Dad for two out of three days’ running, I have to dig deep for conversation.  And, I say things that I never thought I would ever utter: “cold enough for you?” or other, similarly insipid statements-turned-questions.  But, since Dad is not a sportsman, I have never uttered, “how about those Mets?”  G-d bless you, Daddy, for saving my soul and my sanity.

“Oh, yes.  It is crazy out there.  We went out early today.  [Pause. A little background commotion follows.]  Wait, darling, [health aide] wants to talk to you.”

“Hi, [health aide].  Everything ok?”

“We went out before the snow accumulated.  It was safe.  Here is your father.”

Sidebar: Not even a hello?

“So, Dad, where did you go?”

“Well, we were checking our provisions, and it was determined that I was running low on scotch.  And we needed to get more.  So we went up to [a store that is 1.5 miles away] because I like the prices.”

Sidebar:  Since my father now buys wine in a drug store, I am a little afraid of the low-cost scotch that might be going into his system.  But what impressed me was that, clearly, a panel of experts exists in his house to make these medical determinations.  No wonder his health aide felt the need to make sure that I knew there was no ice or snow accumulation because they trekked out in treacherous weather for scotch.

“Dad, would you put [health aide] back on the phone?”

“Yes?” she answered with some trepidation.

“We trust you implicitly so we know Dad is safe.  And, you had to get his medicine.  Because medicine is medicine, no matter who prescribes it.  Would you put Dad back on?”

Dad comes back on.

“Okay, Daddy, enjoy the rest of the day.  I love you and, remember, drink the scotch only as prescribed.”