It Was Just A Saturday Night

Bay City Rollers at the Uptown Theathre August 27, 1976.

Third row to the left of the stage at The Uptown Theater consisted of only three seats. There were no seats in front of the third row to obstruct the view of the performers.  My brother, who was thirteen years older than I, had offered to take my friend and I to our very first concert. Every generation has a band that young girls swoon over. In 1976, girls across the United States had their hearts stolen by a Scottish band called The Bay City Rollers. Best known for the iconic song S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y  N-I-G-H-T, their faces appeared on the cover of Tiger Beat Magazine for the next couple of years. If you look closely at the picture, there we are-my brother on one end, me in the middle and my friend on the aisle. Fans dressed in plaid shirts and wore  pants with  strips of plaid going down the outer sides of their jeans . Some girls even sported plaid suspenders. My friend and I were so excited to see them that night. We jumped up and down and sang along to every song they played that night. We were very fortunate to make eye to eye contact with different band members as they moved across the stage in front of where we sat.  It was a moment every teenage girl dreams of. When we left that night, we could barely talk for we had worn out our voices and there was a constant ringing in our ears from sitting so close to one of the amplifiers.  As we drove home that night, my brother jokingly said “I must really love you to sit through all that screaming.’   “Thanks Al. I love you too!’ was my response.

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The Bay City Rollers

Front Row (left to right)  -Leslie and Woody    Back Row- Derek, Eric and Ian

 

Literally A Balancing Act

I had just finished working at my computer and was ready to go to bed. As I pulled myself up from my computer chair, the room moved back and forth. Steadying myself,  I regained my balance. I carefully proceeded with my bedtime routine. My body quickly succumbed to slumber. As morning approached, I started to toss restlessly. The bathroom was calling to me. Up I went, but once again that helpless feeling washed over me. I felt as if I  was being tossed about in a dingy on the high seas. Oh this is not good I thought to myself. How would I get through my day?

Eventually, the vertigo subsided and I was able to get through my morning.However, any  quick movements could have sent me into a tailspin. I tried to drink my vanilla chai but experienced excruciating pain in my left ear with each swallow. Oh I know that throbbing pain! Boom, boom, boom was the sound echoing in my ear. That undeniable shooting pain you get when you have an inner ear infection. I knew I needed  to see the doctor.  I dialed and finally reached a receptionist after listening to elevator music for 5 minutes. ” Are there any openings today.” I asked. Not till Monday was the answer. There was no way I could wait 5 days to get in. My pain level was at least an 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.  Luckily, there was a minute clinic close to my home. So I drove over, signed in, and waited an hour to see the physician on duty. Although, I really didn’t  need it, the physician confirmed that I indeed had an inner ear infection not only in my left ear but also in my right. Sinus congestion and inner ear infection had thrown my equilibrium out of whack.  So with one dose of antibiotics in my system, it’s time for me to say goodnight and catch some zzzzz’s.

 

Walking Down “Penny” Lane

“Jingle’ “Jingle’ “Jingle’ went the little silver bell  as the door of the neighborhood corner store swung open. Dimly lit, the narrow little aisles were overflowing with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. In through the door and to the left were the fingerprint laden cases that held the sweet treasures that all the children sought. With a quarter in her hand, she peered into those cases trying to decide what to buy.

“Ready?’ asked the owner of the store. “Yes!” she said. “How much is the Bub’s Daddy?”      “5 cents,” said the owner. “Can I please have a watermelon one? she asked.”Sure! ” said the owner as he put the eight inch long piece of gum into the little brown candy bag. “Anything else,” he asked.  “Can  I please have five Swedish Fish…. Um ….two Tootsie Rolls……a red licorice whip…oh two Flying Saucers, two Now &Laters… One of those candy necklaces…….and three Mary Janes?”  Quickly he placed the candies in the little brown bag. “Twenty-five cents please,” said the owner. She placed her quarter on top of the case and slid it towards the owner. “Thank you! ” said the owner as he handed her the little brown bag. “Jingle jingle jingle” rang the bell on the door as she walked out the store and skipped the block home with her treasure clenched tightly in her hand.

My Idol

 

What was so special about him? Was it his devilish good looks? Or was it his magnetic personality? Could it have been the way he moved or the the way he brought a song to life? Whatever it was about him, this little girl of the 60’s absolutely adored him.  Though I never saw him perform in concert, I faithfully watched all the movies he made and  memorized the songs he sang. His music literally rocked the world and inspired so many that came after him. To me , he was my idol but to everyone else he was the King.

All Shook Up

It was mid-morning. The kids were playing upstairs while I was busy in the basement sorting the laundry. It was just an ordinary run of the mill summer day. At least, that’s what we thought. This loud sound came from the front of our house. It was the same kind of sound you hear when a car crashes but worse. The impact was so great my whole house shook. Running upstairs I half expected to see a car sitting in my living room. Thankfully there was no car. The girls had also come down to see what had happened. We really weren’t sure what caused the impact but slowly we started to notice that a lot of our neighbors had emerged from their houses. We went out to talk with them to see if they knew anything. They had all felt the same terrible impact. It wasn’t till later in the day when the 4 o’clock news came on that we learned what had rocked our neighborhood. A house that was located 3 miles to the east of us had exploded due to a natural gas leak. It was unbelievable to think how much pressure was released to cause the surrounding neighborhoods to shake. Scary stuff for sure. On the bright side , we learned that no one was in that house when it exploded.

 

 

The Sandwich Generation

A poem can be interpreted many different ways. Our own experiences cause us to infer what the poet is actually talking about. Our inferences can be totally wrong if the poet chooses not to reveal the poem’s significance or meaning. Some poems are specifically vague for a reason.  They are meant to make you think. So today, I wish to shine a light on my poem, In the Darkness.

I am a member of the sandwich generation. Maybe you haven’t heard that expression before but simply put you are caught between raising your own family and taking care of elderly parents. For 10 years,  it was an honor and privilege to give back so much what my parents had given me. In reality, however, it was a very stressful point in my life. After giving birth to my second daughter in January of ’94 , I lost my dad to a massive heart attack in April that year. In fact, the children and I had been visiting at my parent’s house on the day it happened. We were having such a nice visit with my mom and dad. My dad was so excited to hold his new granddaughter in his arms. It was getting close to lunch time and I needed to get the girls down for their naps. Giving my  parents hugs and kisses, we said  “I love you” and headed for home which was only 15 minutes away.

By the time we reached our house and walked in the door, there was a panicked message on the answering machine from my mom that something was wrong with my dad. He had been taken to the hospital. I remember turning around with the kids and driving as fast as the law would allow. Out of the car, I bolted holding the 4 year old’s hand in my  one hand, and the baby carrier with the 3 month old in the other. In the emergency room I asked “Where is my dad? Is he going to be ok?” The doctor informed me that my dad , who had just turned 78 in February, was gone and that he didn’t suffer.

I remember feeling as if I was on auto pilot because I had to be strong for my mom and my family. It is amazing the pool from which we draw our strength in times of sadness. So  I pushed down the sadness and did what I had to do. I took over the main caregiver role my dad had held. My mom had been sick for many years prior to my dad’s death. She had been diagnosed with orthostatic hypertension,  a  rare neurological brain disorder. She would pass out with what I would call epileptic-like seizures. Basically, the signal that controlled the opening and closing of her blood vessels ceased to function properly. If my mom stood up the blood would sink to her feet in a matter of a few minutes or less. If she was laying in bed, the blood pressure would rise to a dangerously high point. My mom had to take experimental medicine for years to help her with this illness. Unfortunately, there was no cure and her symptoms would only get worse as she became older.

With my siblings living out of state and myself with small children, it was decided that my mom needed to have someone live in the  house with her. My mom was fiercely independent even though she was ill. The live-in would help her with cleaning, cooking and laundry. They would also make sure she didn’t fall and hurt herself during her spells. I handled everything from taking her to doctor appointments to paying her bills. Doctor appointments were always an adventure. Wheelchair in the back of the van, mom in front seat, caregiver plus two children in carseats in the middle row. I wouldn’t trade those times for anything in the world. They were precious moments. Both my daughters learned respect and  compassion for the elderly during those times.

Fast forward 3 years from the time of my dad’s death, and once again the girls and I head over to my mom’s house to visit and check in with how she is doing. My mom is in bed and her stomach is swollen. I immediately call for an ambulance to take her to the closest emergency room. Sitting in the waiting room, trusting that the doctor  would know what’s wrong, hours slowly ticked by. At last, the doctor emerges. He tells my husband and I that they want to run one more test but they think that my mom is  constipated. I looked at my husband and said ” They don’t know what they are doing in this hospital. I don’t trust them.  We need to get her out of here and to her doctor on the North Side!” So we  drove for an hour to get her to the hospital where her doctor practiced.

My mom’s doctor admitted her and ran some tests. My mom was diagnosed with congestive heart failure not constipation. Her doctor recommended a pace maker. If the surgery went well, it would improve her quality of life. However, it was risky because of her medical condition. If she didn’t have the surgery she would die for sure. During  Thanksgiving week , my mom contemplated what she would do. Either option involved death. If she  went ahead with the surgery there was a chance her quality of life would improve. After much discussion and prayer, she went ahead with the surgery.

I remember waiting to hear from the doctor how the surgery went. Finally, the words came. ” Ah yes the surgery went well,  but she hasn’t woken up,” said the doctor.  Medical jargon is what I hate most in the world.  I had the distinct impression that the doctor wasn’t telling us everything.  I wanted  to see my mom. My older brother,  who was there with me kept pressing  the doctor for answers. “We need  to meet  with you later  to explain everything,” said the doctor.

So  we met with the doctors in a cold, antiseptic room where once again the medical jargon was spewed. “Please be honest with us. What does all this mean?” I said. Then like a freight train running over us ….the words …surgery was a success but when heart was restarted….pressure surged.…affecting her front lobe …had to put on life support  … chance she could still wake up but would be a vegetable. 

My heart felt as if it had been shattered into a million small pieces. My poor mom laying there with all these tubes attached to her body to keep her alive. I will never forget that. This was not what my mother wanted. I told my brothers and sister that I was sure that she had filled out a DNR when my dad and her were considering going into a senior living facility. We just needed to find it.  Legally, the hospital would not take her off until we gave them the DNR.  Eventually, the DNR was found in her house and my mom was finally able to be at peace.  She was 78 years old just like my dad when she passed away.

Now I didn’t have to push down the sadness. I was able to release all my tears of grief that I had been holding back. I had wonderful friends and church family that surrounded me, supported me and covered me with love and kindness.Though my dad has been gone now for 22 years and my mom has been gone for 19 years, they are always with me.

 

 

 

First Year

Within the first year of marriage, couples embark on an adventure, trying to meld each other’s habits into a new daily routine. I am sure, without a doubt, that one such habit centers around the toilet seat. Ok, admit it! Secretly, everyone of you reading this laughed because you know what I am referring to. Yup! You guessed it. Guys being guys leave the toilet seat up just because it’s a guy thing. Wives, on the other hand, are used to just being able to sit down. So imagine the shock and the screams that are emitted during that first year when the unsuspecting wife gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and her bottom goes for a unsuspecting swim. I, personally, lost track that first year. The  response from said  “guilty party” went a little like this-“You should have looked before you sat down!’  My response usually was “It’s the middle of the night. I’m half asleep and I should expect the seat should be right back where it normally belongs.”

Eventually over time, it gets better. He learns to put down the seat and you learn to check before you sit. Although it was never funny at the time it happened, it now makes me laugh.