Uh, oh, another “Dear Mom” blog

Dear Mom:

I know you are watching the events as they unfold down here on Earth.  Dad is remarkable in the ability of his body to heal so quickly — and just days shy of his 92nd birthday.  Ok, the mind is another thing.  That is a bit of a mixed bag.

Dad’s week has been packed with life and all of its emotions, from heart-breaking to uplifting, from triumph to quiet desperation, from funny to painful indignity.  And we, the kids, whether in person or on the telephone, have been on the ride along with him.

We went from feelings of sheer terror in taking Dad for a walk around the block (would he fall?) to POB’s dancing with Dad in the house to the sublime — a soft shoe routine in the supermarket, he with his cane (and his home aide ready to catch him) and I with a new mop that we desperately needed.  But later he couldn’t get up from the table without help and was dizzy, so he needed a long recuperative nap.  So, we will do soft shoe when we can, but we aren’t ready to go on the road. We do what he can do and no more.

We spent days going through pictures, reminding him of the family.  He is getting really good at this.  He remembers you, without any sort of coaxing.  One of his home aides told me that Dad talks about you and how he is still married to you and still in love with you, no matter that you died 10 years ago.  He told her the secret — that you appear somewhere in all his paintings.  He knows your spirit lives in the house.  And, of course, your portrait remains as evidence that this is your home.

In a weird way, I think that the home aides are a blessing.  Dad can talk to them all day.  Now I realize what life has been like for Dad these last few years.  If Dad can’t go to the studio to sculpt (he hasn’t been able to for a few months) and he isn’t with us on the weekends, the days between are deafening silent and slow.  I wanted to cry for his loneliness.  But now he sings for his home aides, offers them a cocktail (which they refuse) and the house has noise.

But there are hard moments.  Moments filled with the indignity of aging and a child having to care for a parent as if he were a baby.  And, when he is discombobulated, the air seems to fill with a toxin that hurts my lungs.  There are also less profound crises, like the day there were no bananas for breakfast and Dad was not strong enough to go to the store or be left alone.  Imagine, a reasonably successful New York lawyer unable to answer client emails because she has to bring bananas for breakfast.  Still, he asked, “how much a pound did you pay?”  “Before or after I add in the cost of the cab to hand deliver these to you, Dad?”

At least today, there was levity amidst the crazy talk.  Aunt Glue and Cousins J and K came to visit.  Aunt Glue and Dad were both a little off, but they enjoyed their conversation.  The rest of us didn’t quite understand the conversation, but I tried to let go of reality and roll with it.  Cousin J tried to correct Aunt Glue’s somewhat vague statement, and I asked her, “at this table, what does it matter?”

Aunt Glue and Dad, the remnants of our greatest generation, stronger in body than in mind, gained fortitude and joy from each other’s presence.  Aunt Glue is the only one alive who knows to call Dad by his original, Yiddish, name, Nachum.  “So, Nachy”, she said, “tell me all.”  I wanted to live in that moment because she has said that in the same way for as long as I have been alive (and longer), when they were strong and infallible and blazing the frontier.  When Dad was Dad and you were alive.

At least Dad has you, always.  As do we, your children.  But, in these moments, I wonder why I had to grow up.  I love you, Mom.  And I love Dad, come what may.

Love, Blogger




a new Midrash

So, a person explains this situation to the rabbis:  a father, who is recovering from a brain injury, and his daughter are holding hands listening to live streaming of Kol Nidrei services from the computer in the father’s home office, drinking scotch (a make-believe drink for the recovering father) and having hors d’oeuvres.  The father and daughter especially say the Sheheḥeyanu together as well as chant Kol Nidrei.  The father eats as the daughter watches.  The father’s other children call to make sure all is ok.

So the daughter asks the rabbis, what is the Jewish justification for breaking seemingly ALL the laws of Yom Kippur?  The rabbis are puzzled.

The daughter wonders how they are rabbis.  “Honor thy father and thy mother” is a commandment and code of conduct that pre-dated the fasting and the entire concept of Kol Nidrei.

Honor thy father and thy mother.

Because sometimes the rules have to be broken to observe the highest commandments.

G-d bless Dad and lay the blasphemy on me.

Things I learned today (and Phoenix was awesome)

I learned why the health care debate is bullshit.  It is sterile and removed from reality.

When a family member is ill and you cannot care for him or her, you must rely on strangers.  Strangers are not always reliable; not because they don’t want to do their jobs but because there are so many in need that your loved one is not necessarily the first on the list.

So, health care is flawed.  It is a morass.  It is frustrating.  It isn’t the well-intentioned attendant’s fault; it isn’t the overwhelmed agency’s fault; it isn’t the government’s fault.  (Sure there are bad people out there, but let’s discount that factor for a moment.)  Illness is at fault.  It is a problem that we are not all health care professionals who can leave our jobs to care for our loved ones.   Forget Federal Medical Leave Act during bad economic times.  Most people are too scared that there will be some other pretext for the employer to fire them.

When you delegate, you lose control of the outcome.  That is why there was poison in toothpaste imported from China.  That is why we throw away electronics when they stop working because it is cheaper to buy new than to fix the old.

People don’t fit into an economic model.  There is value in keeping people healthy; there is joy in adding quality to the waning years.  There is pain when science keeps the body going after the mind and soul have left.

I have lived the cushy private system for only a few days and it is hell.  When a patient can’t help him or herself, then it doesn’t matter who is providing the service.  If you are lucky, you can telecommute and keep an eye on the situation and reassure your loved one, with your words, hell, with just your presence.  But most people are not so lucky.

So, don’t talk to me about vouchers or Medicare or the Great Solution.  When your family member is in need, there are no good answers.


Dad remembered my name today.  He was true to his word last night.  He also remembered a host of other crazy facts and information.  We all thought he earned that scotch tonight with his hors d’oeuvres.  (Ok, let’s be honest, club soda with a splash of the good stuff.)  Clap if you agree.  (Yes, we hear you.  Thanks.)

Don’t bet against Phoenix.  He is roaring from the ashes.

Phoenix rises, then stumbles. Repeat.

Take anti-nausea pills before reading.  It is a little like being a castaway at sea.

Dad came home yesterday afternoon.  He was relieved to be home.  There is an amazing “muscle memory” about being home.  He knew how to motor around the house to find the things he wanted even though he was wobbly on his feet and could not put the words together to talk to us.  Also, we ordered a wheelchair, a walker and a cane because we didn’t know his needs.

Shortly after he got home, he wanted very much to call the United Jewish Appeal but the reason made no sense.  And it was the Sabbath.  His frustration was rising and logic wasn’t working.  So I dialed POB’s cell and I said (actually, I was desperately directing her), “Dad needs to speak to the UJA, so pretend.”  I passed the phone to Dad, and turned up the volume so SOB and I could hear.  “Hello, Mr. [DOB], this is “Rachel” from the UJA.  Thank you for your pledge . . . .”  She went on until Dad said, “ok, thank you very much.” Dad was satisfied and almost looked as if he would nap . . .  Nah, no luck.

Sidebar:  POB should be nominated for an Academy Award, since she performed while on a crowded bus with SOS, who was quite confused.  (She told him that we were testing his phone skills and SOS loved the cloak and dagger of it.)

SOS was scared to see Grandpa injured.  We were all scared of the future.  BOB was busy cleaning out all of his junk mail and organizing recent files.  Man on a mission. We all found ways to soothe our individual terror at our new reality.

When SOS, POB and HOSOB arrived, we all gathered around and went through recent pictures to jog his memory.  SOB and I had previously gone out shopping and HOSOB brought some liquid relaxation (wine).  By this point, it was “cocktails and hors d’oeuvres” hour because that is the way one does things in Dad’s house.  Since he wasn’t so steady on his feet, we pretended to give him a “scotch” but it was club soda.  The upside of a little dementia — he thought it was scotch.

Cousin Gentle arrived later on.  By the time we ate dinner, he knew that he was surrounded by family, and very happily so, but only remembered the names of the eldest, Cousin Gentle, and the youngest, SOS.  Also, his evening attendant ate with us, so we could weave her into the fabric of the day (and she is lovely in any event).  BOB stayed until today, so at around 9:30, the rest could leave for much deserved rest.

Sidebar:  At this stage, rest is elusive.  Sleep is a non-starter.

The night was long and difficult according to BOB. And BOB looked like he hadn’t slept.

By morning, Dad was better, but still inconsistent in strength, gait and comprehension.  Dad was using the walker and BOB was playing in the wheelchair.  BOB challenged Dad to a race.  It was actually very funny to watch them go back and forth.  A little insanity amid pervasive insanity is very healing.  And it demonstrated that Dad’s personality is intact.  It is his memory that needs work.

He started to nod off after lunch and had a long nap. SOB and I went out to get supplies and some fresh air because we were either trying to keep Dad engaged or listen for any sign of a problem while he slept.  We saw this in the drug store and thought it captured our feelings — we just wanted to SCREAM out of fear, frustration, lack of control, uncertainty of the future, you name it:

And, then.  And, then.  Good ol’ Phoenix.

He woke up able to walk without any support but the real proof that Dad was Phoenix rising was that he did not go for the fake scotch at cocktail hour.  I had to put a little scotch in the club soda so there was a faint smell of liquor.  Dad was still not happy but mollified somewhat.

POB and SOS came over for a surprise visit at dinner because SOS wanted to see Grandpa and he was sad that SOB and I might be lonely and scared “alone” with Dad.

Sidebar:  I can take no credit for the soulfulness, generosity and sense of family that is in my son’s heart.  POB is responsible.

POB was talking to Dad and he had some good recall of random things.  And, he was even grousing about the fake cocktail.  I overheard this, and I said, “Dad, you have to earn that cocktail!!  Get strong, get steady, get your memory back!!”  Everyone laughed.  My father saluted me.  He knows his kids are his bosses — his essential personality shining through.

It was time for him to go to sleep. The attendant was going to help him wash up.

I kissed him and said, “Goodnight, Daddy, I love you.”

“Goodnight, my darling, I love you.”

“Can you tell me my name?”

He hesitated.  “Maybe tomorrow.”

“Ok, Daddy, maybe tomorrow.”

Maybe, tomorrow. 

In a flash

It is day three of the second worst ordeal of my life.  The first was the death of my mother.

On Monday, Dad came to Rosh HaShanah luncheon — cheery as always, gracious as always, happy to be with family, as always.  Lest you think he was an angel on earth, he did hold forth as to matters of politics, HOSOB’s painting, or poorly behaved people in his congregation.  He doesn’t say anything in a catty way; as to the latter category, he merely sees their inadequacies as explanation of their behavior.

As the lunch wound down, we all said our goodbyes.  We all kissed and hugged Dad and wished him a happy and healthy new year.  He wished us the same with a force that can only come from a parent to child.  It was not unusual.  No portents of the coming events.

SOB and I often talk about that one day when Dad is late to a dinner or doesn’t pick up the phone.  That one day when Dad leaves us.  We always wanted it to be quick and painless – a coda for a life well-lived and a fortunate man who shared his good fortune with others.

We were not prepared for a call that Dad collapsed in the street (on his way to a doctor’s appointment) and had a huge contusion on his head and some bleeding into his brain.  SOB and I rushed to the hospital.  As the day wore on, the confusion seemed more pronounced and settled.  He knows us but he doesn’t really except that he is calm with us and he trusts us.  So, there is some comprehension through the haze.  And his essential personality is intact.  He is a lovely man and the nurses are happy to take care of someone who says please and thank you and generally grateful for the help.

Dad is in ICU and there is a kids’ playroom, so the nurse gave us a ball to throw with him that first day.

Final score:  Reflexes: 90%;  Cognition: 0%; His humanity: 100%.

For day two, he mostly slept, with notable interruptions of bursts of songs from the Big Band years.  The nurses love it but, then again, they haven’t heard Dad’s limited set for as many years as we have.  Late that night he got confused and fell.

Day three started with physical therapy.  He can walk, with assistance.  He had a vague sense of POB and me.   He quickly fell back to asleep.  He slept through an echo-cardiogram (which looked good even to a non-doctor).  He had another round of physical therapy.  He walked fast and steady.  And he did call SOB by name (no, he does not call his eldest daughter “SOB”).  I hope the anti-seizure medication will wear off because it is adding to his confusion.  He seems to remember us by name now.  A few minutes have passed.  Ok, not so much any more. Reflexes: 30%; Cognition: 0.5%; His humanity: steady at 100%.

But wait there is more.  Today, the Kumbaya Guitar Lady/The Singing Nun came by because she heard that Dad likes to sing.  Fortunately, he slept through it.  We, however, could not.

While Dad slept, we spoke with nursing services and got things in order for Dad.

Then I called his long term care carrier.  After one hour of terrible telephone music, only interrupted by being transferred from claims to intake to woman from hell, I learned that long term care kicks in after 100 days of 24/7 care diagnosis.

“So, if Dad is still alive, we’ll talk,” I said.

“Oh, no, someone will contact you in 5 business days to go over everything we just went over.”

“But we just went over everything, didn’t we? And what if I am unavailable when the  call comes?”

“No problem, m’am, you can schedule the call.”

OK, I thought, let’s schedule a call for a hypothetical need that 3.5 months from now and they won’t pay the full freight. “Great, mornings are best for me —“

“Oh, no, m’am,” she interrupted, “you can’t schedule with ME.  When you missed the first call, you can call back to reschedule.  But we promise that we will make the first call within 5 business days.”

Oh, great.  “Take your time, really,” I said.

It was 5 pm on a Friday and the private nurse service hasn’t called.  So I called the service.

“Your call is important to us so please continue to hold, or if you would like, leave a message and we will return the call in 30 minutes.”

Really?  Nah.  So, I wait on the line.   After hearing those words not less than 9 times, I have imagined that the recording said, “if you are a patient and have died while waiting for us to answer, please accept our condolences.”  Actually, they were lovely when I finally reached a human.

So now we need to have someone manage the care that Dad needs.  A house manager, as it were.  We can sit with him and talk to him and feed him, but fill out the forms?  Are you kidding me?

So, SOB, POB and I chat while Dad is sleeping.  We discuss that HOSOB should bring the painting that Dad critiques and tell Dad that he won’t change the size of the car in the street scene.  Just get it off his chest.  Or maybe HOSOB can tell Dad about the dangers of fracking, because while we agree with him, we don’t need the details.  At least not now, when we can only focus on Dad and, possibly, showering and brushing our teeth.

BOB arrived and we sat with Dad through dinner and for a while afterward.  Dad was awake but confused.  BOB got to do the manly things that we girls hesitate to do so as to give Dad some privacy and dignity.

Sidebar:  BOB asked Dad if he was sleeping well in the hospital, and Dad nodded yes.  This surprised BOB because unfortunately he has been hospitalized a few times and can never get a good night’s sleep.  SOB offered matter-of-factly, “sleeping well in a hospital requires a brain injury”.  We say the craziest things when we have to wear hair-nets and sterilized robes, while sitting on in our Dad’s room in the ICU Burn unit because there are no beds in regular ICU.  All these plastic surgeons running around and my father is in bad shape and I have to stop from thinking, “should I ask someone about my droopy eyelids?”

So, what have we learned today: brain bleeds are bad but if you have one you can sleep soundly in a hospital and everyone looks ugly in hair-nets.  Was this knowledge really necessary? Nooooooooooooooooo.

I always worried how Dad would die.  But I never worried that there would be anything left unsaid.  I am lucky that way.


It is the year 5773 in the Hebrew calendar.  A new year.  Jews commemorate the birthday of the world (and start a 10-day introspection period culminating in Yom Kippur, the day of atonement).  We don’t sing happy birthday to the world and there is no cake.  I don’t think G-d eats cake.  And it would have to be accessible to all, so it would be gluten-free, sustainably made and of recycled left-overs of other birthday cakes.  But sitting in synagogue makes me pretty hungry, so I would have had a piece of the cake with a cup of some tea.  Well, now that I think of it, maybe I would pass on this cake.

For Jews, the world was born on the 6th day of creation and, soon after, G-d rested.  Let’s be honest, this is true for some Jews because, as Jews, we are genetically coded to be contrarians.  If you say tomayto, I’ll say tomahto.  And not only that, I will tell you that the Torah supports me.  It is not a Jewish holiday if there are not at least ten opposing views and interpretations.

But I digress.

During these days of awe and atonement, we celebrate the cycles of life and the blessings of the prior year.  And we pray for our lives.  Just in case that isn’t too big of a task, we also try to re-set our internal compasses for the coming year: do justly, love mercy and walk humbly.  It is hard to do in our crazy, fast-paced, instant-gratification world.

No year is ever the same as before or after.  I am a different person every year, shaped by my growth and my failings.  And the future always seems to hold different promises and lurking tests.  And life comes at you.  You just have to be ready for it.  I believe that every event offers a prism of paths a person can take.  The question is which is the best action to take, or is it inaction?  And the event isn’t always about you, but your action or inaction helps define and redefine your character.

And there are temptations and tests.  We all give in to temptation (did I need that extra glass of wine?) and we don’t always step up to the tests of our humanity and our sense of fundamental fairness (the person begging in the street).  Sometimes we take the easy way out, sometimes we indulge in pleasures to excess and sometimes we forget to notice that a friend needs help.

So, this year, as I have done for some many years before, I am looking to the New Year as a chance to discard the ruts of last year, to navigate the world as best I can with limited indulgences and maximum humanity.  And forgiveness for my frailties and those of others.

Yes, I have dumbed-down my expectations of me for these holy days.  Mostly, I just hope that I have the fortitude in the coming year to navigate the crises that lurk and protect POB and SOS and their happiness and security.  And for the happiness, health and life for those whom I love — my dear family of origin, my friends and my friends-who-are-family.  If they are ok, then I can fend for myself.

May it be a sweet, healthy and prosperous new year for all.

More on the Basic Foundations

Our camp alma mater starts with “[t]he basic foundations of Wingate are expressed in what we advocate: be kind to others, know oneself, value knowledge and strive to create….”

Today I tried to live up to the first principle: be kind to others.

First a little back story that Wingaters know because I posted on our super-secret-decoder-ring-required Facebook page (with some edits):

Last night, I hopped the bus from the gym to home. It was 9:15pm. There was a confused elderly lady on the bus who was talking to the bus driver.  The bus driver was impatient and short with this woman and dismissed her with, “switch buses at 110th Street for the M4”.  OK, great.  Really helpful, Ms. Bus Driver.

The old woman, Joan (as I later learned), seemed concerned that she would navigate this transfer successfully.  She kept asking others on the bus, “is this 110th?”.  So, I piped up that I was getting off at her stop (not true) and would help her make the transfer.

I couldn’t bare the thought of a confused person with limited night vision trying to find the bus stop around the corner from where the bus driver let us off.

I thought this woman could have been my mother if she were still alive.  She is, in fact, the mother of two (as I later learned). But, all that matters is that she is a person in the world whose mind and body were failing and who needed a helping hand.

I waited with her until the bus came because she wouldn’t let me pay for a cab. I think she wanted the company.  As we chatted, she told me about her life, her late husband, her children.  She was a school administrator at Trinity School in New York City.  She told me her name and where she lived.  She kept repeating her phone number so I could call her.  She gave me, as a stranger, too much information for her own safety.  But her loneliness made my heart ache, so when she asked for my business card, I gave it to her.

I tracked down one of Joan’s children on the Internet and called him this morning to tell him that his mother was traveling late last night, and she was confused, lost and alone. He is aware of the problem but “she won’t listen”. He said, short of committing her, there was nothing he could do. I tried to develop a rapport by talking about my elderly and lonely dad and how we kids navigate this situation.  He sighed and hmmm’ed.  I said she seemed very lonely and I asked her when he last saw her. He said FIVE years and that should just show me how stubborn she was and how he HAD to throw in the towel. Really? Painful? yes. Give up? No. Inexcusable.

His sister is supposed to take care of things now. She is at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore (Joan told me). I don’t know her married name and he wouldn’t tell me. I told him about services in Joan’s area.  I asked him to please tell his sister what happened.

I know he will do nothing. But she has my business card so she may call.  If she remembers who I am.

I shared this with my Wingate camp friends.  One commented, “Do parents give up on children? No.  Children shouldn’t give up on them.”  Another said, “I know very good geriatricians and helpers in her area.  I can give you names.”  SOB offered names for a psychological evaluation at a local hospital.  Others chimed in their support.

It was hard to hear the sadness in Joan’s voice, experience the forgetfulness of Joan’s mind and see the fear in Joan’s eyes.  It is scary to think that Joan might call me and draw me into her world.  Extending a helping hand is harder than writing a check.  It can getting messy, frustrating and time-consuming.

The basic foundations of Wingate are guiding principles for living a purposeful and enriched life, not an easy life.  Step 1: Be kind to others.

Wonder and Awe

Life is complicated.  The carousel of time often feels like a gerbil’s exercise wheel.

Now that we are adults, we are mostly surrounded by colleagues, other parents, strangers (and just plain strange people), and family.  But not friends.  (And while colleagues, life partners and family can be friends, it isn’t ever simple.)  And, while we may love our lives, our families and our work, “carefree” does not describe any activity that comes to mind.

I think we all go through periods when our self-esteem and our souls feel depleted.  If you are lucky, there is a special place you can go (either in your mind or with your body) for solace, resolve and validation.  And, if you are really, really, lucky, this place is there even if you forget about it for decades.

I am one of these really, really, lucky people.  This weekend, 49 similarly blessed women and I returned to Camp Wingate (and still others were carried to Yarmouth in our hearts and memories).

Once I drove past the camp sign, I was transported to another place and time, where the days were about friendship, nature and self-discovery.

No one could pretend that 30 or more years had not passed and no one tried (ok, I lunged for a ball on the tennis court that will put me in traction, but I digress).

We came to see each other and breathe in the memories of summers as young girls and blossoming women.  And to visit our special place, where we could do anything and be anything.

It is amazing how good the air smelled (still).  How gross the bathrooms are (still).  How thin the mattresses are (still).  How stiff we were in the mornings (now, not then).  How early we wanted to go to sleep (wow, full circle, huh?) but powered through to maximize time with each other.  How the tennis courts got bigger (ok, we just can’t run down those balls any more) and Elisha’s Pond got smaller (“lake” was never really an appropriate word).  How wonderful to catch up while making friendship bracelets in the art studio or playing tennis with wood racquets.

And the comfort that still, among the many unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable, mysteries of the universe, are:

  • How did Pearl know and remember every bad (and good) thing each of us did each summer?
  • What were we thinking when we used to walk on the rail road tracks to L’il Peach to buy candy?  It was an active train route!!! 
  • How did Pearl survive our childhoods?   How did we?
  • And why did she keep letting us come back?

But wait, there are a few more:  Where else in the world could I be considered part of an awesome DJ trio for compiling and playing summer pop songs of the 1960s-80s?  Where else could I dance with childlike abandon with my childhood friends and without regard to any rhythmic sequence?  Where else could 40-, 50- and 60-year olds (promise me no one was in her 30s) could have endless hours of fun singing these songs into hair brushes and flashlights and strumming on tennis racquets?

Wingate helped lay the foundations that made us strong, kind, purposeful people.   At campfire, even the words to the Circle Game or Anticipation weren’t so scary because here we were, decades later, standing with the friends of our youth and feeling enveloped by love, and realizing that the goodbyes said decades ago don’t always have to be permanent.

My spirit is revived, my mind is peaceful, my soul is nourished and I left an even bigger piece of my heart at Camp Wingate.

Ramblings from our week on vacation

This year, as in years past, we rented a house near the beach with a pool.  I like having a pool because there are no currents, rip tides or undertows.  With a pool, I don’t have to watch my loved ones drift helplessly away in a strong undertow as I try to swim against the tide to rescue them.  I can just jump into a finite pool of water and drag them to safety.  And this year, it was a salt-water pool (it still has chlorine, but less).

Still, for me, the ocean and its sounds are a lullaby to my sometimes sad and tired soul,  Except, of course, when SOS is swimming in it.  Then, it becomes this mercurial power, able to allow young children to frolic one moment, and drag them out of reach in a fit of anger the next.  I never thought of the sea this way until I became a mom. Then, I remember what a lunatic MOB was about the ocean and her children.  And I know whence the neurosis (psychosis) comes.

Back story: MOB wrote letters to our camp director every summer, complete with clippings, about tragedies that happened at summer camps.  To be fair, lifeguards had to rescue my sister from an powerful undertow while on a camp beach trip in the early 70s.

These letters started as the neurotic rantings of a crazed mom (can’t you do something about the waves at the beach? Tuna fish sandwiches are unsafe if left unrefrigerated for even a MINUTE).

But over twelve years and three Blogger family children having survived camp, they morphed into amusing missives that the camp director enjoyed getting by hand delivery on visiting day.

But those letters did cause tense moments for me.  On visiting days, I was not allowed near water, even a puddle.  I was allowed to play tennis, volleyball and do arts and crafts.  No softball (MOB sent clippings of kids dying from getting smacked in the head by a baseball or softball), no water sports, or anything else that might cause MOB to write a SECOND letter in one summer.

Yet, one visiting, the only option for the first activity was “tippy canoe” (where we canoed out to the middle of the lake, tipped the canoe over and then swam under the canoe to breathe in the air pocket that was created).  In front of the entire camp, the camp director, bellowed, “[Blogger], are you SURE your mother is not coming until the second activity?”  When I nodded yes, she continued, looking at the counselors, “This young lady needs at least two more life preservers than necessary because if her mother is early . . . . ” She trailed off as if everyone knew that the consequences would be the end of life as we know it.

Now, back to the present:

SOS loves the ocean and we let him frolic, but under watchful eyes looking for the slightest change in the tides.  And he ate some serious sand when he wiped out on his boogie-board a few times. He can get scraped up and bruised, even have a lot of water up his nose.  He just cannot drown.

But, thank G-d, he is perfectly happy in a pool.  And I love cement-enclosed, stagnant water (West Nile virus, be damned!), although I actually check the filtration system daily to make sure the water is cleaned.  Call me crazy, because everyone else does.

So, we do a little bit of both, pool and ocean.  And he doesn’t need to know the fear behind these watchful, loving eyes. Until he is old enough to read this blog.