Jericho

In the Book of Joshua, the Israelites destroy the walls of Jericho by walking around it with the Ark of the Covenant for seven days, once per day for the first six and seven for last, blowing the Shofar (rams’ horn) and shouting to make the walls fall down (Joshua 6:14-15).  [Courtesy of Wikipedia].

Well, I wasn’t so lucky.  Or maybe that Jericho was an easy mark.  Jericho, Long Island ain’t no biblical anything.

I was cleaning out a storage room of deceased family friends (don’t ask), in central Long Island.

SIDEBAR:  There is a reason why their remaining worldly possessions are house in mid-Long Island.  That is for another blog (maybe not; too boring even for this blog).

Almost all of the valuables have been sold; I must go through the rest to make sure that there are no undiscovered valuables wrapped together with the bed frame.

[NYCFOB: I could not even ask your help until I gain control of the contents.]

Yes, I am insane to take such a curatorial tact with this stuff.  But they were a very special and wonderful couple, deserving of love and care even with the disposal of the detritus of their lives.

BUT THEN I HAD TO GO TO JERICHO, LONG ISLAND. A decidedly, non-biblical place.

WHYYYYYY?

The nearest Good Will drop-off was along the Jericho Turnpike.

The Jericho Turnpike.

The Jericho Turnpike?

The Jericho Turnpike was a thing a folklore, where 1970s radio advertisements told you to go to get the best deal on 8-Track tapes and Betamaxes and shag carpets [yes, yes, we are THAT old].  It WAS the place for all things advertised on the summer Top 40s radio shows.  Casey Kasem was the king of Pop and the Jericho Turnpike.

Still, still, while I am not “Legally Blonde,” I am the quintessential “Parochial Manhattanite“.

As a proud and parochial Manhattanite, I go through life without owning a car, without thinking before hailing a cab and without wondering that I am lucky that everything I want is within three blocks (or it must be delivered).

So, the CITY GIRL INVADES THE MID-ISLAND.

There couldn’t be a better horror story.

There should have been a travel advisory.

And, my rented minivan (which takes TWO parking spaces on a Manhattan street) didn’t have GPS.

AND, NO, GOOD WILL DOES NOT PICK UP EVEN IF YOU ARE UNLOADING APPLIANCES, FURNITURE, CLOTHES, ETC. IN BULK.

SO I GO TO HEMPSTEAD, ON THE JERICHO TURNPIKE (so why is it called Hempstead and not Jericho?)

And I have to look for the Sleepy’s across from something else and turn off into the mall to get to the Good Will place. [The people there seemed to be out of the good will stuff.  Just sayin’.]

Did the customer service guy ever hear of map coordinates like, say, 56th Street between First and Second Avenues???  NAAAAHHHHHH.

And, so, I have to turn off at Sleepy’s.

As if I know where the Sleepy’s IS.

As if I have GPS.

As if I could tell the difference between the Sleepy’s and the OTHER bed store across the way.

Ok, I unload all of the stuff, valuable to someone but unsaleable in the conventional sense.  Then, back to the storage room to get the rest of the items that can garner some money for the estate.

Except, I am stuck in Jericho.  Prisoner of a Biblical tale.  Without the Ark.  Without a Shofar.  Just a lot of traffic and malls.

Joshua, Joshua, Joshua!!! where are you?  Didn’t the Israelites conquered Jericho?

Then I remembered that I believe that the Bible is a written collection of oral history and legend.

OOOPS.  Bad time to be a Conservative-yet-Reconstructionist Jew

Ain’t Biblical justice a b*tch.

 

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 and Loss

I often think I am special (ok ok ok, “NO SHIT,” says the Greek chorus).

But this weekend was a reality check for the things that humans share — love and loss (and, a little gossip, but for another blog).

On Friday night, in synagogue, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.  My mom is dead and her name would be read among the so many dead.  Nothing special.  But Mom is special. 

And then SOB pointed out that Anne, who lost her mother one year ago, was there.  That wound is so fresh.  And her mom was special (indeed, she was an incredible person).

I discommoded some random individual as I made my way to Anne’s pew.  I reintroduced myself and we embraced.  I beckoned SOB, who didn’t want to start a commotion (tish, tosh) and pulled up the velvet rope to let her in through the main aisle of the sanctuary.  The usher glared at me.  I motioned “as if I care!”

SIDEBAR:  I later apologized to the usher and explained that we had all lost our mothers and this was their Yahrzeits.  She asked the names of our mothers and when I told her, she said, “I would break any rule for them.”  I decided I loved this usher like family.

It was perfect timing.  It was time to sing Sholom Aleichem, which involves joining hands and swaying in the Kumbaya sort of way.  I am glad that Anne and SOB were together in that moment.

SOB’s tears were more than I could handle during the service.  I think SOB was crying for many things, especially that Mom was not there to comfort her in the scariest moments of her life. I did not cry during the service; I cried before.  My eyes were on Dad and SOB.  Dad was happy for the company and the service.

SOB has a gentle spirit.  She wishes Mom were here; I am unforgiving.  I am mad at Mom for not being here, when her children are facing problems that no one can kiss away.

But, as the evening went on, I was humbled so many times.

First, the Yahrzeit list was filled with friends of Mom and Dad.  Sam Brodsky was also on the list.

Second, Mickie and Carolyn were there because Mickie lost his sister.

SIDEBAR: Mom, I refer to Mickie and Carolyn by their first names ONLY for anonymity, so Mom, please don’t send a lightning bolt down because I did not call them Mr. and Mrs. B—–.  I swear I was polite when talking to them. Just like you taught us.

Third, when we got home, Mimi called because it was Mom’s Yahrzeit and her husband Danny’s first Yahrzeit.  I had to prep Dad for the phone call so he would say the right things.

People remembered Mom; SOB and I were happy to hear them talk about her. But there are so many others to remember, so many people whom we loved and so many we never knew. 

And my pain and loss continue to feel acute and extraordinary, but — forgive the oxymoron — it is not different from the pain and loss that others feel.

Yes, I have learned that.  Finally, after all of these years.

Oh, no!! Another “Dear Mom”

Ok, snuggle in for some navel gazing.  If you hold your iPad low enough you can gaze at yours while you read about mine.

Dear Mom:

Tomorrow at 4:23pm, it will be 11 years since you died.

I have learned so much since then.

I have learned that your life was cut too short for your family, but it was long enough when compared to younger lives lost.  Your mission was unfinished but close enough; others never got to start theirs or, if started, they may only receive posthumous accolades.

You had a good life; you said so before you died.  You had more life in those years than many who outlived you.  And as Cousin Ricky said, life is not linear.

Still, I need you even more now than when you died.

Because life is so complicated.

And no one can replace you.

Still, I do have some perspective, I guess.

POB says I should be a type of doula — you know the person who is like a baby nurse but doesn’t let you get sleep or really do anything other than coach you through it.

She says I should be a death/illness doula.

Because I have life experience.  I know how to make it in and out of a funeral home in less than two hours, including buying the coffin and burial plot(s).  I know when to tell a mourner to stop eating during shiva because she/he will forever associate the dearly departed with weight gain.  I know when someone is making a stupid decision and I won’t hold back. I have called a bad situation “toxic” and started decontamination procedures.  And I have kept the scary relatives at bay while the mourners are composing themselves.

So, your death, and Cousin Ricky’s and Aunt Betty’s and AROB’s and ULOB’s and Dad’s brain injury, gave me strength to handle bad situations.  Not all of them.  I still turn away sometimes.

In 11 years, so much has changed.   Your grandsons are young men.  Your children are middle-aged.  Your husband is, well, less than he was.

And yet so much is still the same:  Part of me still wonders why my mother was taken away.  And parts of SOB and BOB wonder the same.

I love you, Mom.

~ Blogger

The Family of Your Family Are Your Friends

Tonight was ULOB’s tribute at Dance Manhattan, where he was a teacher and a mentor and a dancer.

We had never met ULOB’s other family — members of the dance world.  He had kept his life very compartmentalized.  A survival instinct he learned from his refugee parents.  My mother, his sister, shed some of that armor because of Dad, the happiness of her life and, I hope, her children.  But back to the mystery that is ULOB.

His dance studio wanted to pay tribute to him.  He was beloved.  But little known.  In fact, no one knew he had family or that he was a tap dancer, a ballet dancer, a Broadway dancer, a choreographer (even for the Playboy Club, Gloria Steinem forgive us) or a director, producer and writer of “Me and My Shadow” about the legendary Billy Rose.

One of the dancers said to me, “He was so giving and generous on the dance floor and so in tune with his partner, in a way that very few dancers are.  But he was not someone who chit-chatted about life and family.  That was separate.”

None knew that he was in an early production of Carousel:

Scan 16

No one knew about AROB or POULOB.  Or us.  We were as shocked at the outpouring of love in that dance studio as they were that there was family to celebrate his life and host the tribute.  Pictures of the room before it filled up:

photo 2

photo 1His age, his background, his training were all mysteries to the present day dancers.  They didn’t know his stellar credentials, his serious training, his unrecognized talent.  They knew him simply as Larry, an aging, endearing, dancer who must be have been something in his prime.

SOB and I arranged for the refreshments (wine and food) but one thing that was done solely by the studio was:

photo 3SOB and I were teary-eyed.

Who knew that others missed ULOB?  During the two-hour reception, so many told us how much he touched their lives.

The studio kept him on as an instructor until he was beyond his capabilities to teach.  But for most of his life he taught, and he learned from, his students.

He was a private man and no one will write a column in the New York Times Magazine about the life he lived.

But they should.  And they should remember him like this:

Scan 16With wild applause as he exits stage left.

Post Script

Yesterday, we sifted through ULOB’s apartment for momentos.  And lasting evidence of his life on earth. 

He has no children; his DNA doesn’t survive.  He once said to Mom, in response to her question, “Don’t you want children?”

“I have yours.”

We, his nieces and nephew, need to preserve the memory of his life.

He was a dancer, a writer, a painter and a playwright.  He said he never worked a day in his life, because he loved what he did and he would have done it for free.

We were kids and he was a giant.  Fun, hip and he adored us.  And we adored him.

And then we grew up and our worlds expanded and his contracted.  And then the old days kept us together.  But not new days.

ULOB came to my office a few months ago.  He wanted me to have his memoirs.  He looked around and was amazed at my office and the law firm.

He was proud of “the kids” as SOB, BOB and I were called so long ago.  He had never said that to me before.  I don’t know if he ever said that to my siblings.

“Baby, you deserve everything in the world,” he said in his showman way.

There we were — a seemingly penniless old dancer and seemingly successful lawyer — being proud of each other even though we made opposite choices in life.

He spent a lot of time with us after AROB died, but, ultimately, her death and his realization that he was no longer self-sufficient were too over-whelming for him to continue for long.

When we left his apartment, arms filled with his writings and pictures, I imagined him in his youth, exiting the stage to wild applause.

A mash-up of pictures through the years.  http://40andoverblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Uncle-Larry-Mobile.m4v

Oh, the relationships we find in this City

Unfortunately, our family has frequent flyer miles at a particular funeral home.  We all hope that it will be a while until we need these services again.

ULOB was buried on Friday.  Yesterday, I received a call on my cell phone from an unrecognizable phone number.  Usually, this is not a good sign.

It was Frank, the man who assisted us in the recent burials of AROB and ULOB.

SIDEBAR:  Uh oh, I thought.  And, then, I thought, is the Grim Reaper REALLY “phoning it in”?

Frank called to make sure that we were happy with the funeral home’s services.  He also wanted me to know that he was dropping a customer satisfaction survey in the mail to me and that he is available when we were ready to deal with the headstones and any other internment needs.  Really?

I know, you are all thinking of the personal relationship I have with MiniStorage (see http://40andoverblog.com/?p=5153 and http://40andoverblog.com/?p=5168).  Well, there is another relationship I didn’t mention…..

With Disaster Masters.  When it looked like ULOB might be able to get out of the hospital and want to go home, SOB and I met with a consultant who prepares homes of elderly people for assisted care.  He has a whole shtick, he visits the house, takes pictures, gives an assessment, and tells you what he can do and what he can’t do.

“‘Clean’ is a bad word. This place will never be clean.  You see that yellow on the ceiling?  That’s from 60 years of smoking.  We are going to try to make this place habitable.  Let me state even more narrowly:  habitable so the home health attendant doesn’t do the ‘I quit dance’!!!”

And then Mr. Disaster Master demonstrated — spinning around with hands flailing in the air.

ULOB was off the respirator and possibly leaving ICU and I was so scared that he would be discharged before we had time to sanitize the place.  Mr. Disaster Master wasn’t in a rush — probably because he has seen this before so many times.  At first he only wanted to speak to me because I had power of attorney, but when I wanted him to make the place habitable whether or not ULOB ever came home, he only wanted to speak to SOB, because as a doctor, she understood the vagaries of life and post-trauma health.

I congratulated him on figuring out who was going to be his ally.  And I told him that, nevertheless, I wanted a plan after the weekend (I had given him a downpayment).

I sent him a reminder email over that weekend, to which he responded:

“[Blogger]:

I need to learn how [ULOB] is doing physically and mentally.  These issues often change people.   Can he do the stairs after this trauma?  The PT and OT people should be TOLD that he lives in a tall 4 flight walkup when he gets into rehab.  These places generally only give one hour a day and ½ of that is billing time.  We want to assure that he is well up to speed. If not, then we may be looking at a downsizing move for him.  When I understand exactly what the deliverable is I will then be able to provide the right solution.  Till then we just play the what-if game and that is a waste of time for all of us.

Best, [Mr. Disaster Master]”

This guy sounds like an infomercial spokeman but, whoa, he could read a situation.

  • Anxious nieces.
  • A disgusting home.
  • A dying uncle who would, assuming that he survived the hospital stay, would surely die if he couldn’t go home to his disgusting home.

He knew so much about us — SOB, ULOB and me — in that hour that we were in ULOB’s apartment that it was eerie.

I really believe that he knew that ULOB could never go home again and he didn’t want to prey upon my willingness to throw money at the situation on the off-chance that ULOB pulled out a miracle.  It was frustrating in the beginning to feel that he wasn’t in a hurry, but he said it was because he knew his business.  And I believe that.  And he just didn’t think that his services would be needed after all.

Ron Alford (ron@theplan.com) is the one to call when needs like these arise.

He is a good man in rough city who helps people during heart-wrenching times.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom:

A lot has happened in these past four weeks.

SOS went to sleep-away.  The camp owners post daily pictures of the campers on a private website.  SOB looks everyday for pictures of SOS. She lives vicariously through SOS’s summer (as do I).

I have learned so much from you, Mom.  Total control without any fingerprint evidence.  My camp “boyfriend” one summer has a son who is a C.I.T. at the camp.  And he was in SOS’s bunk!  Another old time camper sent all her kids and her son is now also a CIT. And SOS knows exactly how to get to Pearl’s house if he was having a really hard time.

Spies in position? Check. 

Camper happy and yet unaware of the mini-cam and walkie-talkies?  Check. 

A mother calmed?  Yeah, no so much.  But better than I would have been.

A dear friend sends her daughter. And funnily enough, guess who SOS was sweet on? I smiled such a big smile when I received a text from my friend about their budding flirtation.

A mother happy?  Hell, yeah. 

Knowing the family of your son’s romantic interest? PRICELESS. 

And a legacy at camp?  Get the wedding planners.

SIDEBAR: SOS’s “intended one” from age 7 and her family are beloved in our family.  I am hopeful they will find their way back to each other or find wonderful partners (like my friend’s young daughter).

And the young girl was staying only half the summer and was leaving that day.  SOS hugged her good-bye and shook hands with her mom.  The most adorable sight ever.

SOS looked happy and connected when we saw him at visiting day.  He was glad to see us, but wanted to make sure we would not kidnap him to New York at half-season!!

SIDEBAR:  I miss him so much, but there was no way that I would bring him back for the shit show that was in full swing in New York City.

In proud Blogger family tradition, I did post a story about a tragedy at a different camp for the camp owners to see.  But, possibly thanks to modern medicine, I watched calmly as SOS went on a sail boat, intentionally tipped it over and then didn’t surface for a few seconds.  I took a series of pictures in real-time so SOB could freak out.  SOS was fine and safe at all times.

Do I hear you say something, Mom?  Could you speak a little louder?  OKOKOKOK, not THAT loud.  Oh, OF COURSE, he had a life preserver around his neck.  In fact he had to expend real effort to stay submerged with that thing on.  Just to test the strength of my heart valves.  Since I didn’t keel over, I guess I have good constitution.

We watched him swim and do other stuff and he seemed comfortable in his skin.  He was so happy to be in the beautiful place where you and Dad sent us for so many summers.

SOS spoke to SOB and Dad.  He was so happy to hear their voices.

And then he wanted us to hug him and kiss and reassure him that his reentry into the real world would be ok.  And then he wanted us to leave.  And I was glad for that because a kid at camp who is having fun should want his parents to leave after a while.

And as a parent, I am grateful for the right choice made.

SOB and I talked shortly after visiting day ended.  ULOB wasn’t doing so well.  We left that night to get back to the City.

Dad wanted to make sure that we did not tell him that ULOB, FOPOB and Dad are failing in different degrees.  He didn’t want SOS’s mind cluttered up with what was happening at home.  See, Mom, through the haze, Dad is still there.

Back to ULOB.  You know the story, Mom.  I made a deathbed promise to Grandpa to take care of ULOB.  And then I made the same deathbed promise to you.  Promises to keep.

But in those hours when his death was imminent, it wasn’t about those promises.  It was about ULOB and easing — in whatever way SOB and I could — his passage from life to death.

We were, in the end, taking care of a hero of our youth, in his less-than-heroic condition.  Giving back to someone who gave us so much, so long ago.  Someone who shaped our lives and senses of humor.

The funeral went as well as possible.  POULOB joined Dad, SOB and me.  ULOB thought of growing old and death as such indignities that we couldn’t let his dance-world friends see his coffin.  Everyone needs to think he is still dancing the Argentine tango someplace else.  ULOB would have wanted it that way.  We are having a memorial service soon for him where he taught dance.

SOB and I led a good service at the graveside.  BOB sent a wonderful remembrance, which we read.

SIDEBAR:  On the way up, from my conversation with POULOB, I got the distinct impression that ULOB didn’t think of SOS as his great-nephew.  It really flipped me out.  But I kept it inside.  I can’t go into it here, when that feeling is raw, but the things he said on our Saturday afternoons together recently suggests that that might be true.  But I need to think more about this and factor in all the times over the last 12 years he was in our home and try to come to peace with this.

After the funeral, I had to go to the office and could not stay for lunch.  SOB produced the money she had from ULOB’s wallet and suggested that ULOB would take everyone out to lunch — to a diner, of course.

SIDEBAR: I made a mental note that that money was in his urine-soaked wallet when SOB found him almost dead.

I asked POULOB if ULOB had listened to my advice and taken her to a nice (non-diner) dinner.  She said he had and swallowed hard before paying.  Well, then, he would certainly want to take his family out for lunch after his funeral.  I agreed with SOB.  ULOB should take everyone to lunch.

SOB had a lovely shiva on Saturday night.  It was hard on POULOB because there were so many pictures of ULOB and AROB together.  I tried to console POULOB but it was a fact of their lives.  AROB is our family.

So, Mom, another end.  All of your kids needed to talk to you about it.  ULOB is the last of those who knew you since childhood.  We took care of ULOB — for you, for him and for us.

A door is closed.  A library is lost.

 

 

ULOB, Part II

SIDEBAR:  Visiting day at camp with SOS was great.  More about that later.

On Saturday evening, I spoke with SOB about ULOB’s status.  It was critical enough to get in the car at 6pm, after a long (and wonderful) day with SOS at camp, to drive 5 hours home to New York City.

End of life can be harsh, unforgiving and terrifying.

Today, I met SOB at the hospital at 10am-ish.  I had packed my gym clothes, planned to stop by the office, see Dad and get ready for a Sunday late afternoon wedding.

But ULOB didn’t look so good.  I felt a foreboding aura.

Life in the hospital continues to move along, no matter whose heart is still beating.  At 10:30am, in his room, the intercom interrupted my panic.  “Mildred, please call the nurse’s station.  Mildred, please call the nurse’s station.”  

After SOB called POULOB to say that things were looking grim, I decided to walk around the corridors of the hospital, for “fresh” air.  A disturbed woman was walking around and I thought I could help her by pointing her to the other side of the floor — the Addiction Unit.

SIDEBAR:  I later learned that what I surmised was a drug issue was actually the absence-of-psyhotropic-drugs issue.

She found her former girlfriend’s room.  But the putative father of the former girlfriend’s baby was there as well.  Apparently, the disturbed woman had put her former giirlfriend in the hospital.  Upon seeing the boyfriend/ex-boyfriend, the woman grabbed a mop as a weapon.  When that weapon was taken away, she reached for a glass vase and threw it at the former girlfriend.  And then another.  SOB was within range and I could not get to her — there was a battle line between us.  Security, the cops, crazy calls from the jilted woman threatening to kill the ex-girlfriend patient followed.  “She’s coming back.  She ain’t stupid.  She’s psychotic.  Why you think I broke up with her!”

And, in a room in the midst of a war zone, lay my uncle not so gently dying of complications from a fall.  His lungs were full of fluid and no antibiotic was helping.  He was not lucid.

12:00 noon:  “Mildred, please call the nurse’s station.   Mildred, please call the nurse’s station.”  

SIDEBAR:  Who is Mildred and why is she MIA?  And why did her parents name her that?

ULOB’s breathing became increasing labored.  Sometimes he looked like he was in sheer terror and I told him to squeeze my hand, and he squeezed so hard that I felt faint.

Other times, I think he was in a different time and place.  At one point, I said, “Am I Elsie?” referring to my mother, his sister.  He nodded and calmed a bit.  He had happy memories with Mom.

But mostly there was desperation at not being able to catch his breath.  Regardless of the oxygen in his nose and the medicines coursing through his veins, ULOB couldn’t swallow, couldn’t breathe easily and couldn’t shake the pneumonia that developed in his lungs.  He was in a death spiral.

1:00pm:  “Mildred, please call the nurse’s station.   Mildred, please call the nurse’s station.”  

Mildred, for G-d’s sake, please answer the page or quit.  You have been AWOL for hours!!!

POULOB arrived in the time it took for my to drive from the middle of Cape Cod to Stamford, Connecticut.  (3 hours.)

ULOB perked up when POULOB came.  POULOB didn’t want to understand the severity of the situation.  She wanted to know what to tell his friends when she went dancing tonight, as ULOB and POULOB often did.

SOB, POULOB and I took turns holding his hands and reassuring him.

3:30pm: The ex-girlfriend patient was at the nurse’s station retelling the story to anyone who wanted to hear what happened.  Needless to say, many patients in hospital garb with open flaps were in the hallway to hear the story that proves life is a carnival (i.e., a freak show).

5:00pm:  “Mildred, please call the nurse’s station.   Mildred, please call the nurse’s station.”  

Really, Millie?

5:30pm:  ULOB had some chivalry left in him.  He didn’t fall of the cliff, as it were, until POULOB left.

SOB and I held his hands and whispered gently in his ears that we loved him and he was safe as his breathing got shallower, and as he got less agitated, thanks to modern medicine.

6:00pm:  “Shia, wakey, wakey!!”  ULOB’s roommate was asleep for too long and needed some exercise.  Earlier, another inmate had come by, looking to be amused by the man who talks to himself.  But Shia was sleepy, sleepy.

Note to self: if there are no private rooms, go to a different hospital.

In the cacophony of the world, ULOB’s breathing got slower and the blueness of death was in his fingers.

Slowly, gently, quietly, ULOB left this world living life on his terms, except for these last ten days.

Time of death: 7:15pm.

Rest in peace, Uncle Larry.

Seinfeld and the Gang — Part 3: The Love Hangover

Every generation has its sci-fi flick about hell having no fury like an artificially intelligent computer scorned.

And, because I am partial to women, my own personal horror flick would probably have a robot/computer who looks like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (www.imdb.com/title/tt0093010/).

NOTE TO ALL:  I really do not spend much time thinking about this.  Really.  No, really!!

All I can say is welcome to our new family relationship with mini storage.  On Saturday, both my cousin and I engaged (grudgingly) in the ceremonial coma-signing of more paper than anyone could imagine for less than 100 square feet of real estate (even in New York).  On Tuesday (today), we were both sent TWO questionnaires about the quality of service and attention and our overall experience when renting the storage space.  I guess the computer really wants to feel the love.  Whoa.

SIBEBAR:  Maybe, my cousin, who is straight, would agree on my choice of Glenn Close.  Note to self: ask cousin about his ideal pyscho stalker.  P.S.: try not to freak him out by the question.

We exchanged ooked-out emails about the incredible attention paid to our mere rental, albeit on the NEW 9th floor of the facility.

SIDEBAR:  I am thinking about the movie adaptation:  trapped with the devil on a non-existent floor of an apartment building . . . maybe a twist on Rosemary’s Baby?  Paging Mia Farrow (even if you looked like a pre-adolescent boy in that movie and really DID marry Woody Allen).

I told my cousin that maybe he should have thought to send flowers and candy, because they know where we live.  He did not respond to that email.

SIDEBAR:  I am thinking that I don’t have to worry about whether or not I will freak him out.  I already have.

But, hey, I am still not as scary as a computer in need of love and affection.