THE GOLDEN BOY

THE GOLDEN BOY

When he was young, he would tag after his big brother to a vacant field, where the neighborhood boys played softball. A towhead, he always seemed to end up playing outfield. Inevitably a long drive would head to the outer reaches of the park, and he would race after it. That is until he suddenly vanished.

Face it! It wasn’t the best ballpark in the world, and the “outfield” was a composite of high grass and deep holes. The last anyone would see of the young boy as he raced after the fly ball, arms outstretched, was his blond hair literally disappearing from view. It was no accident he played outfield. Yes, it was tough being the younger brother.

Years later, as Ted told this tale of his brother’s softball prowess, he bestowed upon him the moniker, “Golden Boy.” It stuck.

Good things happen to those who wait. As he was about to enter his teens, along came a younger sister and the Golden Boy began to nurture a side to his personality he had never displayed before. Now, he was the oldest and teasing his younger sister was his right of passage. While at the movies watching “The Wizard of Oz, he pestered her, pretending he was a winged monkey ready to fly her away. The theater was filled with a child’s voice yelling, “Stop it Harlley!” He enlisted a pal to pull dollars off our “money growing” elm tree. Do you have any idea how disappointing it was to find out that was not true? I’m still suffering.

Our lives were woven together loosely as many years were spent apart. During the 1950’s and early 1960’s, he was at Cornell, followed by graduate school at Purdue. I was in high school, then college and later working in downtown Chicago.

However, our lives intersected again in 1968. We both moved to California, he was up in Berkeley, and I was down in Palo Alto. While there, we visited often. Sometimes we went sailing in San Francisco Bay, on other occasions we enjoyed the pool at my apartment, and of course, there were visits to the wine country. We relished the freer culture that was northern California. Even after he moved back to Purdue, we managed to meet up for the Rose Bowl game in Pasadena.

We’ve had many adventures over the years – living both near and far apart — but we’ve always remained close. It’s been a long road from childhood to today. There have been wonderful happy times, and as life would have it, there were times of sorrow as well. Through it all, we’ve been each other’s support and may not have physically carried one another, but we did indeed lift one another emotionally.

With our long journey in mind, I’m reminded of Bob Russell’s lyrics.

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRO’

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Aside

Au Revoir Clouseau

Five years ago, my neighbor came over, asking if I could help her.  She had a kitten that had literally been blown under her vehicle by a passing car.  She didn’t know what to feed him, had no litter, and no place to leave him when she went to work.  I explained I was unable to take him, and as you might guess that lasted all of about 2 minutes.  There he was — all one pound of him and that bewitching little face.

Compared to the other cats in the family he was small, but in his mind, he was also mighty.  His first toy was a turtle.  He amused himself swatting it a couple of times, then picked it up in his mouth and shook it emitting a deep growl.  He was surprised by my laughter, but the sight of him waving a toy turtle that was as big as his head while growling was hysterical.

His antics reminded me of the games played by Kato and Clouseau in the “Pink Panther,” hence his name.  In my house there were many Katos, none of whom wished to play the game.  In spite of their feelings, he would race across the room, jump on furniture, then fly through the air front paws outstretched landing on his prey.  He loved it.

The Vulture Pose

Monsieur Clouseau’s language preference was French.  He did not adhere to the Henry Higgins opinion, that “the French don’t care what you say, as long as you pronounce it correctly.”  Perhaps that is because his English pronunciation was so horrible (he literally murdered the word “room.”)

Clouseau would start his day with his sun salutation, then go up on the roof to “cat-scan” the neighborhood.  A devotee of yoga, he invented a new pose which he called the “vulture pose.”

As my boy grew in stature, he also became quite the man about town.  The stories of Clouseau are legend.  He actually enjoyed visiting the veterinary clinic when I was traveling.  Of course, he insisted on having full run of the place meowing loudly so he’d be freed from his cage. He made friends with neighborhood kitties, and when he met his girlfriend, Gabrielle, he begged his mom, “Puis-je la garder s’il vous plait maman?” (may I keep her please mama).

A few weeks ago Clouseau became ill, and we discovered he was acutely anemic.  My vet recommended that he go to an emergency veterinary hospital. Of course, Clouseau demonstrated his witchcraft at the new place.  He attempted to steal food from the dog in the next cage and demanded attention all the time.  After some treatment, it was determined he could come home, but the prognosis was devastating and by Saturday, February 10 any hope of more time was dashed.

Clouseau loved being outside, climbing on the roof, sleeping on the hood my car.  We spent his last hours in the backyard while we waited for the vet to arrive, and end his pain.  As he drifted off, I whispered in his ear, “Bonne nuit mon gentil garcon, mon petit bonhomme.  Je t’aime mon cher Clouseau.”

 

 

A Rose By Any Other Name…

A Rose By Any Other Name…

As many of my readers know, I have six kitties. Three are about 18 years old, which in human years makes them much older than I. The remaining three are under five.

I take after my dad, who loved animals. He would have had several pets if possible.  My mother, on the other hand, felt one pet in the family was more than sufficient.

The latest addition to my lair is a fellow I call Teddy.  He’s named after my eldest brother.  Ted and I have a history of dubbing our pets with familial monikers.  It started with his naming his pug dog Bonnie after our mom. Mother was annoyed.

Over the years, I’ve had dogs and cats.  Mother liked them but became critical of the number of cats living at my address.  I recall several years ago, just before a visit from mom, a new cat appeared on the scene.  I knew she would have an opinion about the newcomer.

Mom arrived, walked into the kitchen and spied the foreigner lying on the floor.  As I recall, the ensuing dialogue went something like this:

Mom: “What’s this?”

Me: “A cat.”

Mom: “You know what I mean, what’s it doing here?”

Me: “He lives here.”

Mom: (deep sigh) “Sharon, why do you have another cat?”

Me: “It isn’t something I planned.  He appeared and took up residence.  I couldn’t arbitrarily dismiss a fellow who is named after your father, and looks quite a bit like your husband.”

Mother often said I gave human qualities to pets, but naming him Fred and noticing a resemblance between the cat and Wally was genius!

At the conclusion of her visit, mom said, “You know he does look a little like Wally.  She never questioned Fred’s presence again.

While everyone referred to my brother as Ted, his birth certificate specified his given name was Raymond.  Ted would appreciate this little fellow dubbed Teddy, although I guess he could argue that I didn’t name Teddy after him!

Teddy is a big, long-haired, grey, creature.  His favorite things are eating, racing through the house with wild abandon, playing with the other kitties, trying to operate my computer, and sleeping on my bed.

The other day I said to him, “You’re just a big Teddy Bear.” That’s when I noticed his resemblance to a Koala “Bear.”

Let me show you:

 

On the left, we have a Koala Bear and on the right is my Teddy.  For all of you who like to point out differences, I grant you the Koala has a big black nose, and Teddy’s smaller nose has a white spot; Mr. Koala has round eyes, and Teddy’s are oval; the Koala has rounded ears, Teddy’s are pointed; Teddy has exceptional whiskers and, the Koala doesn’t.  But look at the massive amount of fur coming out of their ears!  They each have a white bib and both are grey!  Perhaps in a former life, Teddy was a Koala, or maybe he’s a Koala in drag!
Then there is the fact that a Koala is, in fact, not a bear but a marsupial. There was a marsupial lion that existed in Australia in the Pleistocene age. It allegedly looked like a lion, had incisors like a lion, but is not part of the cat family.

So there you have it. Teddy is named after my brother — only he isn’t.  He looks something like a Koala Bear, but he isn’t one.  Some might say Teddy looks like a marsupial lion, but they haven’t been around for thousands of years so who knows?  I’ve yet to hear him say “G’day” as he enters a room — so much for an Australian accent.

To paraphrase Mr. Shakespeare, “Teddy by any other name would be as sweet.”

Time to Remember

Time to Remember

In 1960, an off-Broadway musical took New York by storm. It was “The Fantasticks.” As I sat pondering what to write in my holiday epistle, I recalled one of the songs from the show, “Try To Remember.” The lyrics close with these words, “Deep in December it’s time to remember and follow.” As 2017 comes to a close, it’s time to remember the events that stand out in my memory.

At the end of 2016, I saw Shonda Rhimes’ Ted Talk, about her “Year of Yes.” I was so inspired I purchased her book.  Upon reading it, I decided if Shonda could have a year where she moved out of her comfort zone and expanded her horizons, then surely I can.  After going to two Vision Board parties, I graphically illustrated my aspirations for the future.  Once completed, the idea is to put the Board in a place where it can frequently be viewed.  Keeping your dreams in the forefront, helps you realize them.  This is my VB.

I didn’t expect that in January I would have another heart event.  I thought I was doing so well with my recovery process and then two more stents.  The staff at Miami Cardiovascular Institute can attest to my tears and depression.  The allure of my Year of Yes didn’t look too promising.  However, as is often the case, disappointment can lead to the opening of unexpected doors.  Imagine my surprise when my HeartSister Annie asked, “Would you consider becoming a Community Educator in WomenHeart.”  My Year of Yes was about to begin.

I was accepted as a trainee in the WomenHeart 2017 Science and Leadership Symposium at Mayo Clinic.  Fifty-seven other women and I graduated in October, becoming WomenHeart Champions.  One could say, to be a member of this select group is somewhat like a good news / bad news story.  The good news is this is a family of dynamic women who support, educate and advocate for other women who have or are at risk for getting heart disease.  The bad news is having heart disease is a requirement— not the sort of thing one desires.  The symposium was unforgettable on so many levels.  It was informative and entertaining, exhausting yet energizing, and always heart-warming.

Creativity plays an essential role in my Vision Board. I determined it was time to recreate my website, sharondipitousmoments.com.  Initially, there were only two pages (the blog posts and a bio).  The blog consisted of various commentaries, but now, I was interested in including more thoughts on Health & Wellness — including my journey with heart disease.  There is also a nod to Toastmasters and copies of speeches I have given. A menu now points to categories, so the feeling is less random, and it’s easier to navigate.  The look has changed materially and thanks to my sister-in-law, a professional photographer, I’ve added my picture.

For everyone not living in Florida, we did survive Irma.  The Keys had significant damage, but Miami was, for the most part, spared.  Many trees were down taking power lines with them. Fortunately, where I live, power lines are underground. As a result, I was without electricity for only 24 hours.

Oh yes, there is still a menagerie here — 24 padded paws reside at my house.  The kitties rule…I’m just here to feed and care for them.  Anyone who has a cat will understand.

Looking at my Vision Board at year-end, I see things I didn’t accomplish, but I’m surprised at how much I did achieve.  I’m ready to start a new board with dreams for the future after the first of the year.   Hey, that’s a great reason to have a party! Anyone interested?

I have such a profound feeling of gratitude for my family and friends and my work with WomenHeart.  I hope this finds you well and that you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Healthy 2018.

Love from,

Gatsby, Scarlett, Daisy, Clouseau, Gabrielle, Teddy

and of course, Me.

 

 

 

 

 

GONE WITH THE WIND

GONE WITH THE WIND

Eighteen years ago some children came running to my house announcing they had found some kittens.  There was a white kitty, an orange tabby, a tuxedo boy, a tortoise-shell girl and a beige female.  The kids quickly told me the mommy was dead.  Thinking back, I have no idea how true that was.  They were all about 4 – 5 weeks old.  After a couple of weeks of care and feeding, I found homes for 2 of them.  The remaining 3  (orange tabby female, male tuxedo cat, and tortoise-shell female) needed names.  I was in a literary frame of mind and the 2 girls were named Melanie and Katie Scarlett (GWTW).  I actually considered naming the tuxedo cat Rhett Butler, but it just didn’t fit his personality. The runt of the litter when he arrived, he appeared to have dreams of becoming larger than life.  As a result he became my Great Gatsby.

Melanie was the family “greeter.”  She figured anyone entering our abode was there to see her.  She would attempt to ingratiate herself to any new comer — never thinking they might be allergic to her.  “To me?  Never.”

Originally she was a rather quiet girl, but in more recent years found her voice.  This often came out in anger.  If I tried to arise and she was on my lap I heard, “MEOW….MEOW.”   She also informed me that what I considered my side of the bed, was actually hers. with a very loud, “MEOWWWWWWW!”

Mellie (her preferred nickname) started loosing weight about a week ago.  Her usual zest for eating was different,   and then all of a sudden her tummy was distended.  I was sure she wasn’t pregnant.  Aside from being neutered, she’s 18 years old (93 in human years).  We were off to the vet.  After an x-ray and exam, he said, “It doesn’t look good.”  He suggested I take her home and “just love her.”  It’s amazing how quickly she deteriorated and on April 22 she breathed her last.

There is a down side to having pets.  They give unconditional love, and are wonderful companions.  However their life span in human years is predictably shorter than ours.  For now, I find an emptiness I didn’t have only 72 hours ago.  And, my little girl, has quite literally gone with the wind.  Sleep tight Mel.

MELANIE

TWO WOMEN

TWO WOMEN

I had a birthday last week and it brought to mind 2 important women in my life.  The first was my mother.  The second was my mom.

“Huh?” you say.  “I thought you said 2 women.”

I was born in a very conservative Midwest.   At that time, a stigma existed with regard to pregnancy without benefit of marriage.  Judgment and criticism had not evolved much beyond the puritanical beliefs noted in “The Scarlet Letter.”

My mother, Florence, was a self-reliant woman who supported 2 young children from a previous marriage.  There was no place to hide, when she found herself pregnant.

A relative and close friend, Bonnie, approached her regarding her pregnancy.  What could she do to help?  After some conversation, Bonnie had a suggestion.  She said, “I’ve always wanted a girl and I can’t have more children.  If you have a girl, would you consider letting us adopt her?”

I don’t know how long the 2 considered this proposal before they agreed.  And, that is how my “mom” came into the picture.

I grew up in a family of 4 — my mom, dad and 2 older brothers.  I can’t believe how incredibly lucky I was.  Despite a large age difference between my brothers and I, we’ve always been incredibly close.  My parents were encouraging and supportive of my efforts.  I never questioned the love that surrounded me.  From the beginning, I knew I was adopted, but never knew the circumstances.  Nor did I have a clue Aunt Flo was actually my birth mother.  She did not want me to know and that fact remained undisclosed until her death when I was 18.

My mother gave me life.  My personality is a lot like hers, as is my independent nature.  In many ways I think, as strong as I am, she was so much stronger.  I’ve often wondered how difficult it would be to see your child and never be able to acknowledge it.

My mom brought me into a fantastic loving family.  She was a great parent and as we grew older became my best friend.   She introduced me to theater, opera, and writing — things I still love.  Who I am today is largely due to her.

Many years ago 2 women set forth a plan for my future.  What they decided has affected every aspect of who I am.  There are no words to adequately express my love for them both.

 

Buona Notte Bella Mia

Buona Notte Bella Mia

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Many years ago, during a visit, my mother looked at a furry object on the floor and said, “What’s this?” Mother had a problem with my pride of kitties — and she realized this was an addition.  I responded, “it’s a cat.”  She rolled her eyes, as she said, “I can see that, but why?”

I sighed as I replied, “His name is Fred and before you get upset about another cat, how could I get rid of a cat that’s named after your father and looks like your husband.”  She shook her head and walked away. Before the end of the visit, mom acknowledged, “You know, he does look like Wally.”

Many years later, my neighbor knocked at the door and asked me about 2 kittens in front of my house. One had Siamese markings the other was a little Calico.  I explained they were not mine and he said, “we were concerned because we don’t want our dog to get them,”  which explains 2 additions to my pride.  That was more than 16 years ago.

The Calico had 2 adorable features —  a little triangle marking on her nose, and she’s the first cat I’ve seen that had not just green, but green/hazel eyes.  They reminded me of mom’s eyes.   At her arrival, most of my kitties had taken on the names of characters in Gone With The Wind.  This little girl became Belle or sometimes because she was so pretty, (and I am Italian after all) Bella.  Hmmm and mom was a belle as well.  She was Bonnibell and my little girl was of course a “bonnie” little Belle.  I can imagine mom rolling her eyes at that one.

Belle is going on 17 years of age.  According to a calculator I googled, the completion of 2 years in a cat’s life is  equivalent to 25 years for us, then the difference drops significantly. But no matter how you figure it my little girl is older than I!

It’s become apparent in the last few weeks that my Belle was not feeling well.  She’s been a great little girl, a wonderful companion, and I love her more than words can describe.   After discussions with my veterinarian I had to acknowledge, it was time to let her go in peace.

Today I was with her at the doctors office.  Saying goodbye is difficult, so as she drifted off, I whispered quietly ….

 Buona notte Bella mia

Ciao bella mi amore