Almost 24 years ago when our son was born, my friend Mary, who had been my matron of honor, looked at our infant and commented, “Bill will never be able to deny this child is his.”

I had given birth to a miniature physical replica of my husband even to a cleft in the chin I was not aware my bearded husband had.

Over the years there have been instances when Son exhibited behaviors obviously learned from his mother. I laughed the first time he talked to grandma on the hard-wired-to-the-wall phone while he passed back and forth – exactly the way I talked on the phone.

Another incident that caused me pause was seeing my pre-schooler straighten the stripes of a bath towel draping a wet picnic table bench. “Oh, son! Don’t get that from me.”

Today another sign of our connection – granted it has been a hectic week. On Monday, leaving for work at 4 p.m. was the fifth time I’d left the house that day. It wasn’t the last time I left the house.

Wednesday was a flip flop of Monday. I left the house once but made six stops throughout Dayton, Springfield and Urbana.

For the Fourth, we drove more than 3 hours to spend the afternoon with my family to get back in the car for another 3 hours. It was a good visit, but we were all exhausted.

Husband and I were able to nap this afternoon. Son worked a full day.

I picked him up at the end of his shift, but had him drive home. Shortly after getting home, he came to me for the car keys. I didn’t have them.

A few years ago, I had so many instances of calling Husband to get me into a vehicle that I finally put reminder labels on the steering wheel and door.

It only took about 15 minutes to locate the missing keys today. After checking his pockets, the dining room table, the bathroom, the kitchen, and the front porch he located them safe and sound in the ignition of the locked car.

After the busyness of this week, I’m happy to stay home, reading and writing until Husband gets off work so he can once again get keys out of the locked car that I drive.

Yep! He’s my son, too.

A couple of times recently I’ve come across a reference to “baby brain”. The connotation was that a woman who is about to have a baby or having just had a baby can not think properly – probably because of the reassignment and abundance free-range hormones.

Despite being a century past menopause, I’ve been experiencing my own version of “baby brain” the last two weeks. My excuse? I’ve referred to my muddled mind as “booksale brain”.

The library book sale was last week. During that week, I leave the house by 7 a.m. My return usually is at least 12 hours later. There were several instances where I explained my new malady, also acknowledging where I stole the reference. 

Sometimes “book sale brain” caused me to forget the word I needed to finish a thought. Other times it was the diagnosis was because I couldn’t remember where or how something was done previously.

The sale ended on Saturday. Sunday was a good recovery day – I had to rewind a show I had recorded at least 4 times because I kept falling asleep while trying to watch it.

Monday proved that my recovery was not complete.

I was leaving the house for two purposes. To take Son to work and then to return the big yellow rental signs that were on the library property to announce the sale to drivers-by.

I grabbed two sets of keys as I left the house with Son. The older white van would be used to transport the signs, but the newer gold van had the letters for the signs in it.

I used the electronic fob to open the gold van and asked Son to get the boxes of letters. He did and then walked to the other van and waited for me to unlock it so he could get in.

Despite being only one year older than the gold van, the white van uses ancient technology. I had to use a key to unlock my door and then presented with the problem of a Son standing on the other side with his hands full and how I could unlock the door, all I could think of since I didn’t have a fob. I walked around to the other side and used the key to unlock the slider.

Astonished, Son asked, “Why didn’t you just flip the lock switch (of the electronic lock)?”

Embarrassed and flustered, all I could answer was, “Because I still have book sale brain.”

I wasn’t happy with that answer, but he seemed to be.

Graduation was yesterday for the University where I work in the library. The last two weeks of the semester have meant the only familiar faces in the library have been my co-workers. All the students have appeared to be new – never before brightening the rooms of the library. Many of these students also seem to have no idea how a library works or what resources it has. All definitely waited until the last possible minute to get the assignment done.

“How late is the library open tonight?” It’s posted on each door both on the outside and inside the library, as well on the circulation computers.

“Do you have scholarly journals?”

“Where would I find a book about Hitler?”

“Will you fax a document to me so I can send it by e-mail?” (We are still scratching our heads about that one.)

At least at the end of this term I haven’t had to show any seniors how to use the copy machine.

One student of particular note this past week jammed one of our two copy machines just as the shift was changing. While I worked to find all the of the multiple jams, the impatient student attempted to get the second printer to do the work. It reacted in a similar fashion to the first, so the student got the other librarian to unjam the second printer.

When the student saw that I was leaving she commented, “I’ll bet you’re looking forward to going home.”

A few minutes later I stunned her when I made a comment to my relieving co-worker about a job I didn’t get finished.

The student was surprised that we actually had tasks to perform. Evidently she thought we were just there to help the students. “What do you have to do?”

I don’t know why I was so surprised to hear this type of comment from a student. As many jobs as I’ve had in my life, seldom does someone on the outside realize all that goes on on the other side of the time clock.

One of my small jobs is counting the number people in the library once an hour on the half hour. Twice in the past two weeks, I’ve looked for John Belushi or other Animal House characters lurking in the stacks.

The first time was because of the piles and wads of paper I found on the floor, the shelving, the tables, and the computers. Since I discovered this on my first check, I had to tease the day-librarians the next day about “what kind of library are you running here?” since there obviously had been a paper fight.

The second time there was a puddles of water on the floor near the computers. I was so surprised someone would have just left that, I said out loud, “Is that water on the floor?”

A student at one of the computers said, “Yeah! My buddy spilled it.”

“Then why didn’t he clean it up?” Oops! Did I say that out loud?

I guess a twenty-something agile and limber student doesn’t think about that the same way  as an arthritic, overweight women who uses a cane.

Imagine that!

 

The yo-yoing temperatures have had some questioning whether it is truly spring or not.

I have seen or experienced proof that spring has actually arrived.

The daffodils are standing at full attention. The forsythia is well on its way to being fivesythia.

There was a fly in my van last week.

Two Canada geese have adopted the university library as their personal property. I think they have been trying to hatch it.

The robins have returned and are presenting harmony with the cardinals and sparrows.

Most obvious spring forensic? My husband of twenty-five and a half years was confused by the voice that answered his phone call to home this morning.

I answered the phone and heard, “Do you have to work today?”

“Yeah,” I answered, baffled by his question.

“Oh, I though you were Son!”

My allergy produced basso profundo has returned.

Yep! It’s spring.

Sometime in late 2008 or early 2009, I discovered a podcast called Books on the Nightstand. I subscribed and quickly became hooked by the discussion about books that the two hosts, Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness conducted.

The podcasts first episode was in March, 2008. Originally the podcasts were every two weeks, but, due to popular demand, by July, 2009 the podcast became a weekly must-hear-podcast.

Michael and Ann also promoted discussion on Good Reads where many BOTNS devotee left messages about books. An obvious comaraderie developed between the listeners and the hosts and amongst the listeners, too. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of us could meet somewhere.

In June, 2010, Ann and Michael, prodded by their audience, announced a book retreat in Manchester, Vermont for the following April. I was so grateful, then, that they announced 10 months ahead. I would have time to save the money.

I invited a local friend to accompany me. She too was thankful for the long notice.

On Thursday April 7, Ruth and I left our small town in a rental car (the punch line ended up being, “how many Ohio does it take to operate the windshield wipers in New York state?). We arrived after the festivities started in our Inn.

About 75 listeners, 9 authors, a number of publishing professionals and two nervous hosts took over the Inn at Manchester and two other bed and breakfasts for an experience that someone (not I) “Booktopia”.

The experience kept me emotionally high for months. Remembrances of books, new friends, the marvelous sheets at the Inn (rumors had circulated prior to the experience), the marvelous independent book store, for some that it was an outlet town, and the meals (oh, Frank’s pancakes!) almost kept us content until take two.

Another April, another Booktopia. But, also, two more opportunities, June in Oxford, Mississippi (and I thought I didn’t do heat) and then Santa Cruz, California last October (where the earth literally moved).

Each time, I met old friends (some had been the cyber variety), made new ones and hardly slept. I didn’t want to miss anything. A different friend accompanied me to Mississippi and now she has the Booktopia bug.

This week, she, Anne, and I are going to infect another friend, Deeann. The trip to Vermont starts Wednesday.

The Booktopians have been filling the Vermont Booktopia thread with comments about arrivals, the sheets at the Inn at Manchester, which author sessions they will be going to, the sheets, Frank’s cooking, the sheets, and how many of the books of the presenting authors have been read. Oh, yes, and the sheets!

My stomach ached earlier today. It truly brought a smile to my face as I remembered that every year for at least three years, I would end up in the doctor’s office just before school started because of a stomach ache. I would so excited (in a good way) about going to school I telegraphed my enthusiasm to my stomach. School is starting on Thursday.

I’ve been counting down, making Ann and Michael nervous, since day 10 by putting book covers on my Facebook page with the appropriate number of days to go in the title (yesterday’s was The Six Wives of Henry the VIII).  (And, Ann and Michael, I thought of it days before I started doing it, so I was very kind to you.)

Tonight, I also changed my Facebook photo to one that was taken last year in Vermont. I quickly received several comments from fellow Booktopians, so I shared my stomach story. I quickly received a reply from Dawn, who prescribed, “Read two books, and call us in the morning!”

How can I not love this whole experience!

Not only did the temperatures warm enough to give me the tease of summer, but I saw two more indicators that we will soon be shedding winter coats if not jackets. First was a restored 1965 Chevy pickup truck complete with historical plates. Most vintage vehicles hibernate to avoid the potentially deadly combination of snow and road salt.

The second sign proved there are optimists. Dueling garage sales, advertised in the newspaper, meant someone believed the weather forecasters much earlier in the week than even me and my rose-colored glasses.

I noticed the garage sales en route to a series of medical tests, including a mammogram. As anyone who has one will likely testify, there is nothing pleasant about having a body part squeezed into a clamp with one’s body in an unnatural position. I also have been having “issues” with my right arm for which I started physical therapy this week.

I wasn’t dreading the mammogram, I just figured letting the attending medical personnel know my needs and everything would be o.k. As it turned out, the pinching machine was more pleasant than the humans who ran the machines.

The mammogram technician started barking orders before I could explain that I would do what she wanted if she told me ahead of time and gave me the time to get myself in position. That didn’t seem to go over well since I soon felt that I was being pushed and prodded into place before words were spoken about lifting an arm, bending the back, moving my chin, etc., etc., etc.

The experience continued with the X-Ray technician. Push, prod, probe, poke. Pass on to next tester.

Finally, a human being with a smile on her face and a demeanor that restored my humanness, the ultrasound technician. She tried to slowly and painlessly remove a bandage someone else placed in my armpit over a suspicious spot. Originally it felt as if she was trying to pull hairs. I didn’t know there was a bandage there and told her to just do it quickly.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

The only disappointment to this final test was when I asked her, “Is it a boy or a girl?” I was rewarded with a chuckle, but when asked, she admitted that I wasn’t the first to ask that question. She did admit the previous jokesters were usually male. (Oh, and she told me it was twins – one of each.)

I received good news before I left the facility. Good enough to put the spring into my step.

Image

Eleven Years ago today, my dad died (seated on the right with me on his lap). I refuse to say, “I lost my dad.” I know exactly where he is. His death was unexpected and shocked my entire family.

An eleven year anniversary isn’t unusually memorable or remarkable, but I noticed that the calendar matches exactly for 2002. March 20 was a Wednesday then, as it is now. Dad’s funeral was on March 25 which, like this year, was a Monday. Most notably, the Sunday after dad’s burial was Easter, like this year.

It was shortly after dad died that I first entered the Erma Bombeck Writing Contest (she was born on my dad’s first birthday). That first time I entered the human interest division rather than the humor division. Naively, I submitted what I felt would be the obvious winning entry. Evidently the judges didn’t agree.

I’ve continued to enter the Erma Bombeck Writing Contest and even won an honorable mention one year. I wrote a column in the Springfield News Sun for almost five years, but the first submission will always be special to me because it is a tribute to my dad.

I share the piece again for some, for others this will be a first:

Communion and Confirmation

     My family congregated around my father.  We had just been presented with the most formidable decision of our lives.  How would we ever reach consensus?  My mantra developed from previous gatherings where our diversification was evident: “I’ll bet none of us would eat a bologna sandwich the same way.”

There were no special orders in my mother’s kitchen.  Bologna, costing only 59 cents per pound, was efficiently folded into bread-and-butter menus.  Mom prepared sandwiches as if on assembly line.  White bread spread with oleo was the foundation for the meat and condiments.

None of us would use margarine or butter now.  White bread isn’t in my culinary repertoire.  Cathy drowned things in catsup.  Mustard was anathema to Jack.  Bob welcomes variations of breads and condiments.  Sue hasn’t even said the word “bologna” since leaving home.  The parental role seemed to be lost in this rumination.

It never seemed odd that each chose different professions.  After 30 years in the business world, my calling became teaching students with Learning Disabilities in a suburban school. Cath taught for over 25 years at the parochial school we had attended.  Bob transitioned from Bank Manager to Loan Originator after a “down-sizing”.  Sue was a Systems Analyst.  After graduating with a degree in Engineering Technology, Jack opened an auto salvage yard.

My bologna logic demanded that our dietary requests remain constant though other parts of our lives had not.  The nuances of our personalities affected even our religion.  Two retained the Catholicism of our upbringing.  My spiritual road detoured through Methodism and made a stop in the Lutheran Church.  The youngest two appeared to have no church affiliation, though one’s marriage vows were exchanged before a Baptist minister.

Now the five of us, with our mother, encompassed the rudder of our family.  My laconic father, whom I often compared to the mighty oak because of his stature, had been felled by a cerebral “accident”.  His 6 foot 4 inch frame was stretched diagonally across the hospital bed so his feet wouldn’t hang over the edge.  He was still bleeding into his brain while he was hooked to a myriad of machines.  The doctors informed us my dad had no brain activity.  We were gathered to decide my father’s fate.

What I might have previously considered an inconceivable solution came to me very quickly.  This would not be my father’s concept of living.  Surprisingly, the rest of the family had the same insight.  We were unified in our decision.  As he had once given us wings, we had to let dad go.

The differences were inconsequential.  Our hearts were the same.  That core would nourish us longer than any bologna sandwich.

Godspeed, Dad!

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