Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Valentine's Day Like No Other

One of the best things about living in the southern part of New Jersey is that we can fill up the gas tank, hit the road and be in my home town of Philadelphia in 30 minutes, at the beaches and casinos of the Jersey shore in 60 minutes, in New York City in 90 minutes, and in our nation's capital in three hours.

However, when it came to planning a Valentine's weekend getaway, my husband Bob and I were stumped.  We had the choice of all of the great places listed above...but we've been to every single one of them, over and over and over again.

We wanted to escape the cold and mundane that had defined our winter. We wanted something new. Something different. Something romantic. Something fun. Something within a few hours drive from home.

The weekend held an extra incentive for us to get away.  Our 17-year old daughter Melissa would be boarding a plane to Atlanta for a leadership conference sponsored by the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO).  We could pack our bags in search of adventure without having to worry about leaving her home alone.

But where to go?  Where to go?

Bob, an American history buff, had long sought to take a vacation visiting civil war battles sites (yawn).  But this time, unless we wanted to brave arctic tempertures, touring historic outdoor battlefields would have to wait until the warmer months.

So where to go, where to go?

A quick google search revealed an indoor civil war museum about two hours away in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania (yawn). Not romantic. Not really fun.  But it did count as something different, within a few hours drive from home.  We booked a hotel near the museum, made dinner reservations, and looked forward to a getaway, no matter how potentially boring it might be.

Come Valentine's morning, I jumped out of bed in preparation for our mini "vacation".  An hour later, with my hair curled to perfection and my suitcase packed, I gently encouraged my sleepy honey to rise from his slumber.  He sat up, put his feet on the floor, and attempted to lift his body into a standing position, only to fall back onto the bed.

He tried to stand up once more, only to have the same thing happen again.

"I feel dizzy and nauseous," he said in response to my look of concern.

"Give it a few minutes," I replied. "Maybe you're just groggy."

My advice proved useless, as an attempt to walk across the bedroom nearly caused him to fall flat on his face.

I made him some toast, hoping beyond hope it would be the miracle he needed to get past the nausea and start packing for our trip.

"Lisa, I am really sorry but there is no way I can go away feeling like this," he said.

"It's ok," I lied, trying to hide my disappointment.  "We can go another time."

Sigh.

One of the best hair days I ever had would be wasted on another cold, mundane weekend at home.

I changed out of my "going away" outfit, put on comfy sweats, then poured myself a bowl of cereal while Bob tried to sleep off his sickness.

An entire day with no plans stretched out before me.

A Valentine's Day with no plans.

What to do?  What to do?

I decided to use the gift of unexpected time to work on a scrapbook I was making for a friend's birthday.  As I dove into the ardous task of scouring through 2,479 photo albums, the realization hit me.  Here I was, sitting on the living room floor, knee deep in photos, while my poor husband lay upstairs in bed, sick as a dog.

Ok, so we wouldn't be spending Valentine's Day learning about the Civil War. We wouldn't be going to the hotel, or eating at a great restaurant.  But certainly, we could still be together!

I picked up as many photo albums as I could carry, heaved them upstairs to my bedroom, and plopped down next to Bob.  Together, we looked at picture after picture, the images taking us back to first days of school, vacations, holidays, and birthdays.

As the hours passed by, we watched TV.  We laughed.  We cuddled.  We hugged.

And slowly but surely, he started to feel better.

By the end of the day, I no longer longed to get away.

By the end of the day, life no longer seemed quite so mundane.

I had the love of my life, right next to me in bed.

It was a Valentine's Day like no other.

It was the best Valentine's ever!

My Bob...the best Valentine ever!


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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jessica, You Were My First

I entered the maternity unit on the evening of June 30, 1997, ready to push out the bowling ball-like bulge that had me wearing my hubby's clothes for the better part of two months.  That "bulge" had been pretty darn tootin' comfy all tucked up in my tummy.  Her arrival date had come and gone, and now, a week later, the OB/GYN felt it best to fill me with drugs that would entice my little cherub to enter the world.

Being "induced" should have rapidly set the childbirth wheels in motion, however, the evening and overnight hours passed without incident.  There should have been something going on.  Some type of action. Some indication that this appendage wanted to exit my body.

Nope.

No dice.

The baby had not budged, and the tiny opening that was somehow going to play host to her GIANT head did not grow any bigger.

So the doctor gave me more "induction" drugs....and we waited.

In the mid-morning hours, my husband Bob arrived with our  daughter Jessica in tow.  Although the age difference between Jessica and my soon-to-arrive baby daughter would be 21 years, she couldn't wait to become a big sister.

Jessica had come with the package. A wonderful bonus that transformed me into an insta-mom of a teen the moment I said "I do."  Sure, there were some rough patches in the beginning.  I had deluded myself into thinking we'd be the very best of friends.  But the "Keep Out" sign on her bedroom door, complete with a photo of a doberman pincher, brought me back to reality.

Thanks to our mutual love for her father, unending patience, and a willingness to make it work, the walls of skepticism started to melt away as Jessica realized that her new step-mom had become an ally and friend....not a foe.

Eventually, we did become the best of friends....and so much more.  That's why I so desperately wanted her there when her little sister Melissa finally decided to come out and play!

By 11 am the morning of July 1, 1997, the drugs had started to take effect.  Mild cramping that started in my lower back made its way 'round front to evolve into full blown contractions. My doctor suggested a medication that would take the edge off  and make me a bit drowsy, an offer I readily accepted.  As the nurse injected the welcoming drugs into the IV, the effect was instantaneous.

Within seconds, I fell into a deep, pain-free slumber.  But before succumbing to the effects of the drugs, I looked at my husband and daughter, worry sketched across their anxious faces, and uttered these now infamous words...........................

"Jessica, you were my first."

Despite the contractions and despite the drugs, I wanted the daughter who had "come with the package" to understand that even though another offspring would be entering our lives....she still mattered and I still loved her because, after all....she was my first.

 Melissa, the baby that arrived on July 1, 1997,  is now a junior in high school, plays in a band, sings in the school chorus, and is on the board of a local youth group. Jessica and her husband Brian live in Washington, DC.  She is an executive with a national union, fighting for workers' rights.

During a recent call with Jessica I tried to no avail to give her advice that would help ease the pervasive nausea that has become a permanent fixture for the past 12 weeks.

Yes, that's right. Jessica is pregnant!

And even though her baby bump is still barely discernible, Bob and I simply Can. Not. Wait.

You see, I never knew Jessica as a baby.  By the time Bob and I went on our first date (chinese food and ice cream), Jessica had been out of diapers for 15 years.  I had pictures, of course.  Treasured images of a toddler with dimpled cheeks and banana curls stared at me from pages of faded photo albums.

Bob and his precious toddler Jessica!
Bob raised that precious toddler on his own, and thanks to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends, she never lacked for love.  

Her child will not either!

Melissa, Bob, and I are ready, our hearts full of affection. We are ready to share our love with a beautiful child, ready to embrace this extraordinary new chapter in our lives.

Jessica, I know you and Brian will be wonderful parents.  However, please allow me to share with you words of wisdom from a neurotic, over-protective mom who somehow managed to get Melissa to the age of 17 emotionally unscathed (At least I think so!)

Trust your instincts.

I will say it again.

Trust your instincts.

There are no scientific studies to back me up, but know this.  There is nothing, NOTHING stronger than a mother's instincts.  You'll know if your baby's tears necessitate a doctor's visit, or if a loving embrace will do just fine.  You'll know if the baby is hungry, thirsty, gassy, tired, or if the baby just needs some affection.

It is ok to dry your baby's tears, to jump every time your baby cries.  There is no such thing as too much affection.  There is no such thing as too much love.

For, before you know it, the baby will be boarding the bus for kindergarten. The baby will be stressing over the 5th grade science fair.  The baby will be smiling for a driver's license photo. The baby will be going off to college.....

So hold on to every precious moment.

And all I ask is that you let me shower my grandchild with the warm hugs and kisses I never got to give to the little toddler with banana curls.

I promise I will love that baby as much as I love you, for after all....you were my first!

Me with my daughter Jessica....my first!
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Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Worst Typo...EVER!

One of the advantages of having a new baby is getting to stay home from work for a while.

One of the disadvantages of having a new baby is….having to stay home from work for a while.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I fell in love with my little cherub (who is now 17) the instant I held her in my arms.  However, after several months of wiping up drool and poo, my longing for adult interaction as well as the need to pay the bills led me to the classifieds to look for a job.

As luck would have it, a local community hospital had an opening for a part-time public relations specialist - and my experience seemed a textbook fit.  What’s more, the hours were perfect!   Spend Monday at home cleaning my daughter's poo - work on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday - go back to drool and poo on Friday!

With determination, I squeezed my swollen, post-pregnancy pounds into my best pre-pregnancy suit, wowed them with my charm and…I got the job!

Several weeks into my tenure, my co-worker Alice* came running out of her office, bursting with news.  Seems that our tiny hospital had secured the exclusive rights to place a full page advertisement on the back cover of the local yellow pages phone directory.

Popular in the Paleolithic Era, yellow pages directories were used as a primitive means of looking up the phone number of a person or a business.  During this era, nearly everyone relied on the yellow pages. Residents kept this four-inch thick book within arm's reach, ready to look up the number for their daughter's soccer coach or to order a large pizza with pepperoni.  Sure, it would cost a small fortune, but if our hospital had a full color ad on the back cover, that meant that just about everyone in the county would have the number of our physician referral service within arm's reach!


So Alice and the Public Relations Department Director Shirley* got to work designing the best possible ad the yellow pages had ever known.  An ad that would surpass all ads.  They even brought in the expertise of an advertising agency. They agonized for hours and hours over the ad design. Should the font be smaller? Should the logo be bigger? Should the photo be changed? Should the background be blue? Should the background be red?  Should the headline be on the left? Should the headline be on the right? Should the headline be centered?

I stayed out of their way, letting the women who had far more experience make these important decisions.  

Finally, a seemingly perfect ad made it's way out of the hospital and into the hands of the representative from the yellow pages directory.  

End of story.  Or so I thought.

Three months later, all the residents in the county received their coveted copy of the yellow pages directory. That's when the proverbial "poo" hit the fan.

I walked into Shirley's office, and saw, to my surprise, that this woman who I greatly admired was sitting at her desk....crying.

Yes, crying!

Fearing for the safety of her husband or children, I cautiously asked her what had happened.

"Lisa, if this wasn't so tragic it would actually be funny," she replied, leaving me more curious than ever.

I waited for her to share more.

"There was a typo in the yellow pages ad," she said, bowing her head in shame.  "The phone number is wrong."

Oh no!

Seems that, while my co-workers had painstakingly anguished over the logo and the font, nobody had bothered to check something as mundane as the accuracy of the phone number!

But wait.  It got worse.

Not only did we publish the wrong phone number on the back page of the yellow pages directory that was mailed to thousands upon thousands of people, we published the phone number of......

A phone sex hotline!

So when 75-year old Ralph Jenkinson called to find a doctor who could treat his cardiac arrhythmia, he was greeted on the other end of the line by "Destiny Bambi" who offered to show him just how irregular his heart could beat!

Convinced they would be fired by the end of the week, Shirley and Alice struggled to no avail to contain the story.  Despite their efforts, somehow the local newspapers caught wind of our teensie weensie typo, which resulted in headlines like the following:

Hospital Publishes Sexy Hotline

MD Callers Get Phone Sex Instead

Parents Furious at Hospital for Sex Hotline

Not merely content to shame the hospital for this innocent error, the newspapers decided to include the now infamous phone number in all of their articles, giving county residents who by some small chance had not seen the phone directory, a sure fire way to have a friendly chat with Ms. Bambi.

Being the newest member of the Public Relations Department, responding to the continuous, incessant calls from individuals who wanted to let us know about the error fell on my shoulders.  Some were polite, some were comical, while other were downright mean, accusing me of personally corrupting their teenage children who had, of course, dialed the number.  

Shirley managed to negotiate a deal with the owner of the phone sex hotline. They sold the rights to the number to the hospital, and within a week, callers looking for lust were out of luck, as the number now connected directly to the hospital's physician referral service.

Shirley and Alice did not lose their jobs, and the c-suite executives (all men) had a good, hearty laugh over the incident.  Last I heard they had hired Ms. Bambi to work in - you guessed it - Public Relations! 
(Just kidding)

*I changed the names in this story to protect privacy because even though this incident happened 17 years ago, Shirley and Alice would not be very happy if I revealed their true identity.


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Sunday, December 28, 2014

The New Car

The mileage police were hot on our trail.  For months now, we knew we were getting dangerously close to going over the 12,000 miles-per-year limit that came with the lease of our 2012 Toyota Camry.

But we didn't care.

We drove that car from New Jersey to Tennessee.

We drove that car from New Jersey to North Carolina.

We drove that car from New Jersey to Philadelphia and New York and Washington, DC.

We drove that car everywhere.

And finally, we crossed the line.  The point of no return.  The danger zone.

We (egads!) surpassed our allotted miles...with eight months still left to go on the lease!

We knew we could only evade the mileage police for so long before we would have to pay. The time had come to evaluate our options:
1. Ground the car until the lease expired and use my husband Bob's car, a 2005 Mercury with over 100,000 miles to its name.
2. Keep on driving, throw caution to the wind, and pay the mileage fees when the lease expired.
3. Go to the dealership and play "Let's Make a Deal" in the hopes of returning the car early and driving away with a newer model.

We chose option 3.

Upon arrival at the dealership, we were greeted by a red-haired, blue eyed, muscular young man in his late 20s whose sexy accent nearly put me into a hypnotic state that would have resulted in the purchase of every car in the show room.  Fortunately, reality came back to me in the form of my much more sensible hubby, who reminded me to play it cool, don't show too much emotion when taking a test drive, and let him do the negotiating.

Turns out Mr. Red Head hailed from South Africa, which turned out to be quite the conversation starter as I posed question after question about his homeland.  He responded with humor and smiles (I know....I know...of course he responded with smiles, he did want to sell us a car after all!)

Mr. Red Head escorted us to a cobolt grey 2015 Camry, which from the outside, seemed to mirror the 2012 version we were attempting to trade in.   The inside, however, not so much.

"Wow, you can see the outside temperature on the dashboard!" I exclaimed with glee.

"How many miles to the gallon does it get?" asked Bob

"Wow, you can program up to 36 radio stations!" I exclaimed with glee.

"Does it have four wheel drive?" asked Bob.

"Wow, it's got a hands-free phone system!" I exclaimed with glee.

"What's the horse power on this thing? asked Bob.

"Wow, I want this car!!" I exclaimed with glee.

"What's it gonna cost?" asked Bob, thus initiating phase two of the car-buying process....

THE NEGOTIATIONS. (Cue twilight zone music)

Mr. Red Head sat us down at a desk, offered up some cookies and coffee, and started punching the numbers. Now, had I been soley responsible for phase two of the car buying process, the negotiations would have gone something like this:

Mr. Red Head: "Well Lisa, here's what I can do for you.  I'll make you a great deal. You only have to pay $9,473 per month, plus your entire wardrobe, your home, all of your furniture, and your first-born.

Me: "I'LL TAKE IT!"

Fortunately, this is where Bob's expertise came into play, so the neotiations went something like this:

Mr. Red Head: "Well Bob, I can give you this car for the incredibly low payment of one dime per month, plus we'll throw in a free oil change every six months."

Bob: "Make it a nickel or we walk!"

And so on it went.  As my Bob played hardball with Mr. Red Head, the sun sank lower and lower on the horizon.  Finally, we all came to a mutual agreement!  Mr. Red Head even threw in two free diet cokes that I demanded, using my powerful negotiating skills!

But wait.

We had to sign our name on 3,276 pieces of legal documents. Then they had to call the bank, and the insurance company, and the credit bureau, and the leasing company, and the secretary of transportation, and the President of the United States....

Finally...we were escorted in to see the finance manager, fully prepared to use a credit card for the down payment, only to learn that they refused to accept anything but cash or check.

Oh no!

We had left our check book at home.

Would this tragic turn of events bring the negotiations to a screeching halt!

NO!

Mr. Finance Manager came up with an ingenious plan. He proposed that I stay at the dealership and sign my name to the remaining 274 documents, while Mr. Red Head drive Bob to our home, where Bob would hand over a check for the down payment.

Crisis averted!

By now the sun had truly disappeared, and the staff of the dealership had all but gone home.  Mr. Finance Manager walked me outside to my new car, which sat parked next to my old car....a car I no longer owner, but still bore the marks of the two years we had spent together.

Alone, cold, and in the dark, I began the arduous task of transferring all of the accumulated stuff from my old car into the new, including:

-A dirty towel used for ridding the windows of the dew and frost that forms in the overnight hours.
-A 2014 road map of every state in the country, along with individual maps of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.
-Discarded envelopes that once held hated bills.
-Newspaper circulars boasting of coupons long expired.
-A broken ice scraper.
-A musty old blanket that became the saving grace for my 17-year old daughter Melissa when her menopausal mother blasted the air conditioner in the middle of January
-A brochure from Gatlinburg, TN, where we had taken Melissa, and my dear friend Angelica's teenage boys Chris and Brandon on vacation the previous summer.
-A GPS Unit
-A note pad
-A CD featuring a recording of one of Melissa's original songs

Anxious to get out of the cold and on my way, I hastily threw everything in the front seat of the new car.  I expected to be thrilled, but meloncholy took hold.  The pile on the passenger seat was just a bunch of stuff, wasn't it?  The old car sitting there, alone and abandoned on the lot was just a pile of metal, wasn't it?

Or was it?

My old car, along with two year's worth of junk that had littered the interior, had represented something more to me.  That car was where Melissa first got behind the wheel and pressed on the gas pedal, nearly crashing through the garage.  That car took us to my step-daughter Jessica's wedding to her husband Brian.  That car traversed back roads and highways, enroute to visits with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. That car helped us enjoy some spectacular vacations.  That car set the scene for some major arguements, most involving Bob's unwillingness to listen to my driving directives.  That car played host to laughter and, yes, even some tears.

That car had been a part of our family.

New memories would come, I knew.  But for now, I simply drove out of the dealership parking lot, pushed the meloncholy aside, turned onto the open road, and continued on my way home.

Behind the wheel of my new car!

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tooth Aches and Chocolate Pudding

Yesterday my husband Bob arrived home following his weekly pilgrimage to the supermarket.  As I dutifully helped him unpack, I pulled out not one, not two, not three, not four,  but at least 12, yes, 12 containers of chocolate pudding from the depths of the plastic bags.

At this point,  I turned to my husband and exclaimed in exasperation:

"WHY DID YOU BUY SO MUCH CHOCOLATE PUDDING?"

Sigh.

The poor thing did not deserve my wrath.

He had only been following instructions.

As the "survivor" of recent dental surgery, I had requested chocolate pudding, one of the few foods that could safely by-pass my swollen gums.

I just didn't expect 12 containers of said chocolate pudding.

Allow me to explain!

About 4 weeks ago as a lay in bed, eager to welcome the dreams that would carry me through the overnight hours, a sudden, incidious throbbing in one of my upper front teeth jolted me out of my impending slumber.

Clad comfortably in my cozy comforter, I weighed my options:
   1. Ignore it. It's nothing. It will go away.
   2. Take Motrin.
   3. Call the dentist first thing in the morning because it could be a very serious issue that needs urgent attention!!!

Guess which option I chose.

That's right.

Option number 1.  Until 45 minutes later when I decided to re-evaluate my original choice.

Time for option number 2.

And so on it went, for several days.  The pain was not nearly bad enough to force me to (egads) voluntarily schedule an appointment with the dentist!  That would be preposterous!

In the meantime, drug stores in southern New Jersey experienced an alarming shortage of pain medication as your's truly popped pill after pill, hoping the throbbing would subside.

Alas, t'was not meant to be.

With reluctance, I finally found myself sitting in the dreaded "chair" as Dr. Dentist poked and prodded, expressed sighs of concern, and then jabbed me with a shot of novacain.

"You need a root canal," he said, matter-of-factly.

Wait. WHAT?

I need time to digest this information!

I need time to prepare!
I need time to panic! To worry! To fret! To scream!

Too late!

The root canal had already commenced.

A few hours later I found myself at the dinner table, barely able to swallow mashed potatoes.

The pain would eventually subside, my dentist had assured.  In two week's time, as I was told,  the temporary crown that kept my smile intact would be replaced with a permanent model....and I'd be good as new and pain free!

Alas, t'was not meant to be.

Post root canal day one  - throbbing pain.
Post root canal day two  - throbbing pain.
Post root canal day three, four, five, six, seven.....you guessed it, throbbing pain.

Back to the dentist, who poked and prodded, changed my medication and sent me on my way.

Fast forward one week.

Once again, stuck in the dreaded "chair", Dr. Dentist assured me that the insertion of the permanent crown would leave me good as new and pain free.

My dentist lies.

Fast forward another week.

I found myself stuck in the dreaded "chair" of a dental specialist called an endodontist who examined my xrays with the deepest of frowns and threw his hands in the air in resignation.

Watching a specialists use this type of body language did not induce confidence in the quaking, quivering patient.....me!

"You have a fractured root," he said with a tone of seriousness that led me to believe I might not survive long enough to even call Bob and tell him what was going on.  "The tooth has to come out."

"So, what are my options," I tentatively asked.

"I could pull the tooth right now, but because it's Friday, I couldn't refer you to someone to make a temporary crown until Monday. You'd have to go the weekend without a tooth."


I weighed my options:

1. Go to my company's holiday party sans my front tooth.  My company's fancy holiday party, with cocktail dresses, dinner, and dancing!
2. Raid every drug store within a 10 mile radius for enough Motrin to get me through 'till tooth-pullin' day.

Fast forward yet another week.

I chased down my bowl of cereal with two valium and floated to the car on the arm of my "oh so patient" hubby.  Upon arrival at yet another dental specialist, this one called a periodontist (the tooth-pullin' dude), the friendly office manager explained to Bob and me about insurance coverage and payment plans for my dental implant.

Insurance coverage - 0 percent
Responsible by patient - Everything

Through the fog of the drug-induced haze that had set up residence in my brain, I dutifully signed on the dotted lines, giving away my first-born giving Dr. Tooth-Pullin' Dude permission to charge my credit card the $1,975,262 it would take to restore my smile, leave me good as new, and pain free.

While Bob went home to look for hidden treasure to cover the cost of my procedure, I floated to yet another dreaded "chair", where I readily accepted the offer of nitrous oxide, allowing me to observe the drilling, pulling, grinding, and sawing from some distant, far away planet.

Two hours later (or several days, I really couldn't tell) Bob picked me up and took me to my original dentist, who inserted a temporary crown to cover the grand canyon size hole in my smile.  Then Bob took me home, made sure I took all of my meds and put me to bed, where I stayed for several hours (or several days, I really couldn't tell).

Since that fateful day, my sweet Bob has catered to my every whim, wanting nothing more than to rid me of my post-op pain.  And how do I respond to this wonderful man? I yell at him for buying too much pudding.  I felt so badly, he didn't deserve my anger.

Bob, thank you for putting up with me. I am so lucky to have you in my life, and I love you more than anything.

I'm feeling a bit better now, and even a little bit hungry.

I think I'll have some pudding!

Bob and me at my company holiday party at the Camden Aquarium in Camden, NJ You'll see my teeth are still intact!
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Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Missing iPhone

(I originally posted this blog nearly three years ago under the title "The Kindness of Strangers". I am happy to share it again, with some minor edits)

They say that opposites attract, and when it comes to my husband Bob, that old adage certainly rings true.  He loves to watch zombie movies, while I choose romantic comedies.  He enjoys the independence of working from home, while I thrive on human interaction.  His first stop in the book store is the History or Biography section, while I’m content to read Harry Potter for the millionth time.  He is a horrible driver, while I am….well, let’s just say I think my skills behind the wheel are perfectly fine.  

My husband begs to differ.

Bob considers himself a “good”, bad driver, while referring to me as a “bad”, good driver.  I follow the rules at all times.  He decides when and where rules might apply.  I think he’s too aggressive, he things I’m too cautious.  It doesn’t matter if we are driving to the corner store or across several state lines, Bob refuses to sit in the passenger seat when I am behind the wheel unless he is bleeding from every orifice or has slipped into a coma.  That’s why I found it incredibly surprising when, on the way home from a family visit in upstate New York, Bob pulled over and actually asked me to drive.

I settled comfortably into the seat, readjusted the mirrors, and we continued happily down the New York State Thruway.  My daughter Melissa, 14 at the time, sat curled under a blanket in the back, her iPod placed securely on her lap, earphones blocking her parents' mindless chatter.  Bob watched the road for a few minutes, cautiously making sure that his decision to relinquish the wheel would not result in an untimely death for all three of us.   Eventually, he succumbed to exhaustion and drifted off to sleep.

Ahh…..serenity.

I would have gladly steered the car all the way through New York, onto the New Jersey turnpike and into our welcoming driveway, had my bladder not had other plans.  So after about two hours, I turned off the highway into a rest stop, found a place to park, and shut off the engine.

Bob’s snores began to cease as he sensed that the car had come to a stop.  He sat up and prepared to open the door when I noticed that the strap from my pocketbook, which I had carelessly tossed onto the passenger seat floor, had somehow wrapped itself around his ankle.

In the magic of movies, emotional, heart-stopping moments are played out in slow motion so the viewer understands the full dramatic impact of the unfolding scene. In this instance, movie magic special effects were not necessary while I watched, in mind numbing slow motion, as my husband, unaware of the strap that anchored him to the car, fell tragically to the ground.

Melissa, who had exited the car on the driver’s side, did not bear witness to the accident.  I called out to her, struggling to get my seat belt off so I could jump out and rescue my husband.  

“MELISSA, DADDY FELL!” I screamed, making no effort to hide my panic.

I imagined him lying broken on the ground, bleeding, crying out for help.  I imagined my family spending the rest of the day, and perhaps more, in the local emergency room.  I imagined the absolute, very, very worst…..and in the few seconds it took to break free from the seat belt and run around to the other side of the car, I imagined living the rest of my life without him.   

Devastation, panic, horror, and unbridled fear all gripped my heart as I realized just how much I loved this man. 

I rushed to the other side of the car, only to find that a stranger had reached my husband first, an older woman who had kindly extended her hand to help him to his feet.  He assured me all was well, no bumps, bruises, or broken bones.  Perhaps a bit of damage to his ego, but thankfully, nothing more.  He brushed himself off and together, the three of us walked into the rest stop, Melissa shaking her head in embarrassment, convinced that her parents overreacted at the stupidest things.

We took care of business and wearily made our way back to the car.  Suddenly, Bob reached for his shirt pocket, where he always keeps his iPhone.  

It had disappeared.

We deduced the iPhone must have escaped the confines of the shirt pocket when he fell, and a search of the grounds immediately ensued.  The three of us combed the parking lot on hands and knees to no avail.  The iPhone, the expensive iPhone, complete with internet access, email contacts, and a host of apps, could not be found.

Although disappointed, we took stock of the situation.  Bob had survived unscathed from a scary fall.  His health was all the mattered, the iPhone could be replaced.

As we got back in the car, I glanced at the vehicle parked behind us.  There, positioned in the center of the windshield, sat an iPhone, which, upon closer examination, proved indeed, to belong to Bob.  Seems that someone had discovered the missing iPhone and placed it on the windshield, assuming it had been returned to its owner.

We climbed back into the car.

Bob took his rightful spot behind his wheel.

The iPhone took its rightful spot in Bob's pocket.

And we continued on our way home.

My husband Bob and me! Thankfully, his scary fall only resulted in a bruised ego, nothing more!


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Sunday, November 16, 2014

My daughter Melissa (now 17) and I were reminiscing about this post, which first appeared in February, 2012. I am pleased to share it again!

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk on Monday

Take a typical carton of orange juice and leave it alone for at least 24 hours and you know what happens?  Thanks to the laws of gravity, the pulp sinks down and settles at the bottom.  That’s why every time my 14-year old daughter Melissa picks up a container of orange juice, she shakes it before pouring.

A creature of habit, Melissa has taken to shaking containers before opening no matter what liquid may lurk inside… milk, iced tea, fruit juice, it doesn’t matter. 

So why I am sharing this seemingly mundane information about my daughter?  Well, Melissa’s “shaking” habit sets the stage for our story, which begins innocently enough on a Monday morning.

The members of my household certainly don't embrace Monday mornings with glee. However, we do feel a bit more energized after a relaxing weekend, and we’re ready to tackle the challenges the week has to bring.  (This positive attitude is usually shattered by Tuesday, mind you.)

On Sunday night, lunches are made, clothes are ironed, and bedtime comes a bit earlier.  In the morning following my alarm clock's prodding, I throw off the warm covers, walk down the hall, enter Melissa's bedroom, and convince her to get out of bed.  Some mornings are quite productive, while others find her still fussing with her hair as the school bus makes its steady approach to our house. 

On a recent Monday morning, my daughter, determined to be on time, had awakened without protest, spent a limited amount of effort on her hair, and went down stairs for breakfast a staggering 20 minutes before her scheduled departure.  Looking forward to eating a leisurely meal, she happily poured a bowl of cereal.

My morning also went according to plan.  I had showered and dressed, and now stood in the bathroom, blow dryer in hand, trying to coax a curl out of my poker straight hair. 

Suddenly, a spine chilling scream rent the air, followed by the sounds of teenage feet pounding up the stairs!

Melissa burst into the bathroom, covered from head to toe in a silky white substance.


This photo is not Melissa! Had I taken a picture of her at the time, I'm quite sure
my life would have come to an abrupt end!

“SOMEBODY FORGOT TO TIGHTEN THE LID ON THE MILK!”

As I stared at my milk-covered Melissa, I opted not to remind her that she is the only person in the house who drinks the organic milk.  No need to hire a private detective to determine who had committed the crime of forgetting to tighten the lid.  

Instead, I surveyed the situation, thinking about the best way to remove every drop of milk in the five minutes that remained before the bus arrived, and trying, trying oh so hard with every ounce of my being, not to laugh!

I knew that if my mouth twisted upwards to indicate even the slightest smile, I might lose all of my limbs.

Ok, I needed to focus. Drawing on my powers of deduction, I concluded that the incident had a horrible, tragic effect on:

1. Her hair
2. Her fake Ugg boots (I will not spend $150 on boots when the fakes work just as well)
3. Did I mention her hair?

Priorities! 

We tackled the hair first.  I grabbed the blow dryer while she maneuvered the brush, and together we rid each strand of milk.  Panicked, she yelled and whined and fretted and cursed.  By this point, I promised to drive her to school since the bus had come and gone.  

Next challenge - the boots.  

Despite my best efforts, my rigorous scrubbing was met with no success.

Melissa had to choose between covering her feet with milk-stained boots or (egads!) sneakers. Either choice resulted in a middle-school fashion paux pas.  (She chose the sneakers)

By the time we climbed into the car, the evidence of the breakfast fiasco had all been wiped clean, and the foul mood that now gripped my offspring remained the only remnant of our eventful morning. 

Later that day, as we busied ourselves with the choreography of dinner, I observed my now calm, happy child. 

“Melissa,” I said quite timidly as I set the forks and knives on the table, “you have to admit, the incident this morning really was funny.”

“I actually got a lot of compliments on my hair today,” she said, laughing at the irony.  

The remainder of the week passed by without incident, with the exception of the extra effort made on both our parts to get out of bed and ready on time, lest another shaken container ruin another pair of fake Ugg boots.

The story will become one for the record books, not so much because of the humor, although that reason does rank quite high.  It will forever stay in my memory because when a carton of milk decided to let loose on my child, she ran up the stairs to that one person in the world who would have the answers.

She ran to the one person who would stay calm

She ran to the one person who would clean her up.

She ran to the one person who would make things right.  

She ran up the stairs…. to me.

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