Big Brother

Bill was adopted when his biological mother died two days after he was born almost two months early.  His suddenly single father had a 2-year-old to care for and couldn’t handle a premature infant, so John and Kay, who were friends of the family and childless, asked to adopt him.  Bill always knew he was adopted and that he had an older brother but never knew where he was or even his name.  And then along came Ancestry.

In 2017, I got him a DNA kit for his 68th birthday and eventually he agreed to spit into the vile and sent it off for analysis.  Once it was processed, he learned he was not primarily Polish, as he’d always believed, but Slovakian.  And then the fun really began.

Over the first half of 2018 he began discovering cousins and aunts and uncles and more cousins.  Or so he thought.  One inquiry from Tom, a first-cousin match, resulted in private emails going back and forth and, lo and behold, they weren’t cousins at all, but half-brothers!  And in July, through this connection, Bill discovered his long-lost big brother, Jack.

After many emails between Jack and his wife Terry in Iowa and us here in Arizona, we set a date and a mid-point to get together and on May 13, 2019, Bill and Jack met for the first time in 70 years in Colorado.

They both admitted to being extremely nervous and neither knew what they would say or should say to each other or if they’d get along or even have anything in common.  But once they met face-to-face it didn’t matter anymore.

As Terry and I held our breath and held back tears, Bill and Jack stood face-to-face in the parking lot of the VRBO condo we’d rented for the week.  They stared at each other for a brief moment and Bill whispered, “Hi big brother,” and then they embraced.  They both had tears in their eyes, they never stopped talking for four days, and they’re so much alike it’s scary.

The four of us became family instantly and we can’t wait to get together again.  Maybe next Groundhog Day since Bill and Jack were both born in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania!

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Jack and Bill

 

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Bugs!

We were babysitting our two granddaughters, Olivia, 8 and Morgan 5, for a couple of days before the 4th of July.  Morgan had to make a bathroom trip while we were clearing the table after a successful dinner of Nana’s special meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, and steamed broccoli.  Yes, world, my granddaughters LOVE steamed broccoli! 

Olivia was carefully stacking dishes into the dishwasher as Bill hovered next to her, and I got out the glass cleaner and paper towels for Morgan to use on the glass table top when she returned.  A sudden eardrum shattering scream was followed by the sound of little bare feet running down the hall toward the kitchen.

“Bugs!  Bugs!  Bugs!” shrieked Morgan as she skidded to a stop in front of me, her shorts and undies at half-mast.

“Morgan, stop.  Calm down and tell me what’s wrong,” I said in a soothing voice as I pulled up her clothes.

“Nana, Nana,” she panted, pointing back down the hall.  “It’s bugs.  In the bathroom.  Bugs!”

Needless to say, Morgan has a ‘thing’ about insects.  She is terrified of them.  It could be a tarantula or an ant, her reaction would be the same.  Scream, run, and scream some more.

“Okay, sweetie,” I replied, giving her a hug.  “Show me where you saw the bugs.”

She took my hand and led me to the guest bathroom doorway and pointed across the small room toward the window.  “Right there.  By the window.  And it moved!” she whispered.

I walked into the room and, sure enough, there was a dangerous, evil, grandchild eating beetle that was maybe twice as big as the head of a pin.  As I leaned down to pick it up, Morgan cried out behind me.  “No, Nana, don’t touch it.  It could bite you.”

“Honey, I doubt that very much,” I said as I turned to show her the small black dot sitting in the palm of my hand.  “Do you think it can swim?” I asked.

“Maybe,” she murmured through clenched fists.

“Should we throw it in the toilet to see?”

“Yes” she said, a glimmer of a grin spreading across her perfect little face as I tossed the little critter into the toilet.  “Okay, Morgie, flush it down.”

She gleefully pushed the handle and watched the swirling water take the beetle into its vortex and disappear.

“You’re very brave Nana,” she said after the bug disappeared.

“Well honey, so are you.  Not everyone would go back to a place where they knew there was something waiting that they were afraid of.  But you did.  Plus, you flushed it away.”

“I am brave,” she said with a smile as she took my hand and led me back toward the kitchen.  “And brave gets ice cream, right?”

“Right,” I replied with a grin.  “And brave little girls who wipe off the kitchen table get two scoops!”


The Last Laugh

Mom passed away peacefully in her sleep last night.  Because the stories, and the journey they chronicled, were written lightheartedly, with humor and laughter being the end goal, Bill and I composed, this, Mom’s unofficial obituary to reflect the craziness that passed for our lives during the last 7 years.  Thank you, all my loyal followers, for sharing this time with me and Bill and especially Mom.

Mrs. Elaine… passed quietly into the night on September 5, 2016.  She was married to John the Nazi for 22 not-so-fun-filled years until she decided that he’d gone bad and sent him back to his daughter.

She is survived by her three children, Patty, Jimmy and the one who never calls; by four grandchildren, Patty’s son Ryan and her daughter – whose either Dana or Amber, and Jimmy’s two girls, whose names she can’t remember but they live in Michigan except one of them moved, maybe to Boston or Ohio or someplace where it gets cold and is dangerous so she should not go out alone at night.  She was also a great-grandmother of four.  She didn’t know which kids belong to who, but she knew who they were – the older girl, that other boy, the little wild girl and the new one who might be a girl but is probably a boy.  

She spent her last few years happily perched on her beloved loveseat where she carried on long and fulfilling relationships with Drew Carey, Tom Bergeron and Alex Trebeck.  She’ll miss them.

She will be remembered fondly and thought of often.  Good night Mom.

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12/10/1925 – 9/5/2016


Where Are the Women?

After cleaning the house on Sunday, I was in the shower and Bill was patiently waiting his turn while he sat in the office playing Solitaire on his computer.

As I lathered up, I thought I heard the distinctive sound of the Red Menace coming out of Mom’s bedroom, which meant she was up from her first nap of the day.  I quickly rinsed off as I listened to her motoring down the hall toward the living room and, I presumed, into the Arizona room where I knew she’d be looking for me.

I squirted out a blob of shampoo and prepared to wash my hair, but stopped when I heard her returning up the hall.  I mentally braced myself, waiting for her to bump the door open to see if I was in the bathroom, but instead she stopped just short of the bathroom at the office door.

“Where are the women?” I heard her say to Bill.

“Women?  What women?” he responded.

“You know, the women.  Where’d they go?”

“I don’t know,” he stuttered.  “In the bathroom maybe?”

“What in the world would they both be doing in there?” she asked sharply.

“Taking a shower?” he offered lamely.

“Well that’s just not right,” she huffed.  “I never took a shower with Shirley in my whole life and she’s my sister.  That’s just not right.”

“Okay then,” he replied, still sounding somewhat befuddled, “if they’re not in the bathroom, I don’t know where they are.”

This was met with an abrupt harrumph, followed quickly by her rolling away, back down the hall toward the living room once again.  Thinking that was the end of it, I quickly shampooed my hair, rinsed and turned off the water.

And then I heard the Red Menace returning up the hall.

“Crap,” I muttered to myself.  I grabbed my bath towel, wrapped it snuggly around myself and stepped out of the shower onto the bath rug just as she slammed into the door with the wheelchair.  I stepped quickly out of the way as the door stop slammed into the wall and the door ricocheted back toward the door frame.

“Oh, there you are,” she said brightly, ignoring the paint chips that snowed off the front of the door onto the floor as she backed up.  “I was just coming to tell him that you and Bill went for a walk.”

“Him?” I asked, wiping water out of my eyes.

“You know, him, in there,” she said, indicating the office with a left jerk of her head.  “Anyway, never mind, I guess you didn’t go.”

“Nope.  Just trying to take a shower,” I sighed.

“Okay then, I guess I’m going to lay down for a while,” she replied.

“Didn’t you just get up?”

“Yes, but I was just resting my eyes.  This time I’ll probably rest more than that.”  And with that she performed a perfect U-turn, then hung a left into her bedroom just as Bill poked his head out of the office doorway.

“Is it safe to get in the shower,” he whispered.

“I guess it is, as long as Shirley isn’t in there with you,” I laughed.

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Nuts in a Train Wreck

Lynn is our Atlanta friend and also the guy for whom we do occasional contract work.  The week before the Fourth of July, out of the blue, he sent us a package of Georgia Pecans.  These are cinnamon and sugar coated, toffee glazed, chocolate dipped, made in heaven pecans.  It was a wonderful surprise and Bill especially was looking forward to the UPS delivery, which, according to the email notice, was due the next day.

As I was gathering up Mom’s plate and cup and utensils after dinner that evening, I suddenly heard him utter a mournful, “Oh no!” from the Arizona Room, followed by a plaintive groan.

I poked my head into the doorway, balancing Mom’s dirty dishes and cutlery in one hand and her half-full waste can in the other.  “What’s wrong?  Are you okay?” I asked, staring at him as he sat on the sofa, hunched over his tablet.

“No, not really,” he muttered morosely, shaking his head.

“What happened?” I asked, moderately concerned that he might have erroneously trusted a fart.

“My nuts got in a train wreck.”

Okay, I thought to myself, this could actually be more serious that a renegade fart.  “So… um, does it really hurt?  Should we go to the emergency room?”

“No, no, no.  Not MY nuts.  Lynn’s nuts.”

“Oh?  Well, alrighty then.  So did Lynn go to the emergency room?”

“No,” he said, starting to laugh.  “The pecans he sent.  They were in a train wreck somewhere.”

“Really?  How do you know?”

“I got an email that the delivery would be delayed because of a train derailment.”

“Well that sucks,” I replied sympathetically.  “At least no one got hurt.”

“No one but my nuts,” he exclaimed, starting to pout again.

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Father’s Day Flat

On Father’s Day, when she got up from her morning nap, we were in the office posting and liking and commenting on all the great Father’s Day posts on Facebook.  And, true to form, she proceeded to motor all around the house looking for us.  A minute or two later she rolled up the hallway and stopped at the office door.  “Oh, there you are,” she exclaimed.  “I was afraid you’d gone out and your tires exploded or something.”

Bill looked at me, shrugged, and went back to Facebook.  I looked at Mom for a beat before asking, “And why in the world would you think our tires exploded?”

“Because they said so on the news this morning.  It’s going to get so hot that you shouldn’t drive your car because the tires could explode on the hot roads.  You better stay put today.”

“But it’s only 10:30 in the morning and it’s not supposed to hit 117 until around 4:00,” I replied.  “And we have to run out to the grocery store for dinner stuff so we’ll be leaving soon.”

“Well I think that’s a pretty bad idea.  You shouldn’t take any chances.  Besides,” she continued, “I’d think that if your tires exploded while you were driving it could really hurt your car.”

“Not to mention your body,” Bill responded, dryly.

“Maybe that too,” Mom answered, turning away to motor back into the living room.  “Anyway,” she called over her shoulder, “I think you should just stay home.  I’m pretty sure nothing will explode here.”

“That remains to be seen,” Bill muttered.  “The day’s still young.”

Flat tires


Ducks on the Rocks

“I sent a text to Mel,” Bill announced proudly.

“Oh?  What was it about?” I asked, turning away from my PC.

“The ducks in his yard this morning.”

“Did you get a picture?”

“Nope.  Daisy was going for her walk and Bob used the golf cart today and it scared them away.”

“So they were on the sidewalk?”

“Nope, on the rocks and driveway.  But when she ran by, they bolted.”

“That’s too bad, I’d like to have seen them,” I commented, preparing to turn back to my computer.  “What did you say to Mel?”

“Here, look,” he replied, handing me his phone.

I started reading, then started laughing, as I read the string on his screen.

Saw a couple of ducks on your rocks around 5 am.  Pretty cool.

Ducks?? Rocks???

Yup.  Then Daisy ran by with the golf cart and scared them before I could get a pic.

Ducks?? Golf Cart???

Maybe next time.

Daisy?? Ducks???

“You sent this to…?” I asked once I stopped laughing.

“Mel.”

“Nope, don’t think so,” I said, pointing to the recipient and whipping the tears from my cheeks.  “It looks like it went to Mellon Bank customer service,”

“Oops.  No wonder he seemed confused.”