Saturday, February 28, 2015

Enthusiasm is Everything

Across from me on the metro this morning, a boy, a girl and their mom.  The girl was swinging her feet up and down. The boy was turning and looking all around excitedly, asking his mom about the stops. I mentioned to the mom how exciting the metro ride was for her kids.  She said they are on their way to see a dinosaur show - a musical.  I asked the kids how old they were and the boy said
"We're 4 and 1/2 CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!"

Monday, September 8, 2014

Millie Pops - Sweet Success!!!

Our very own Amelia Semprebon, owner and CEO of Millie Pops, is a senior this year.  She won first place in the DC region for her business plan and will be advancing to nationals on October 9 in California. 
In the meantime, she is competing for first place in the elevator pitch competition where she could win $2,500. She needs your vote every day!  Share on facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat, tumblr, or any and all social media you use.  
You have to register the first time then you can vote every day!
Here is the link:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cheesecake - The Devil's Bargain

For an office lunch celebrating International Cheesecake Day. Poetry and prose contest included.

The Devil's Bargain

Is it a conspiracy
Of some mischievous devils
That cheesecake molecules
Bind together just so…
Egg + Cream Cheese + Sugar = Deliciousness

And no one had to die for this?

Take just one bite,
One cool, smooth,
Sweet and delightful
Blame it on Eve.
She promised
No repercussions.

DHartman, SDrewes

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sandwich Generation Ramblings

Recently, I’ve been stuck on the analogy of the sandwich generation.  The past few years, one slice of bread creating the sandwich was my mom.  She died a few weeks ago, so now I am left with the other slice, my kids.  One is in college, the other has one more year of high school.  After that, its just me without a structure.  The crumbs that remain.   Actually more than crumbs.  But what kind of sandwich am I?  If I was peanut butter, I would stick to the bread, and would be a mess if separated.  Let's not go with peanut butter.  If I were turkey or cheese, perhaps I could start over…How hard is it for people in the sandwich generation to start over?  That is the challenge ahead.

This analogy is not holding up too well right now.  I am feeling untethered, a whole different analogy.

Tomorrow to start some positive activities, to take care of me, I am going to join a gym.   If my dog actually walked when I walk him, instead of sniffing every blade of grass and contemplating it's history of smells, I might not need a gym.   But I digress...

Hopefully my ability to focus will return.  For now, its ramblings on sandwiches and loss, and of course, my dog.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Plan is to Live Forever

“My plan is to live forever.”  That was my mother’s end of life plan.
In the last week, that plan was derailed.  Mom felt sick on Wednesday and passed away Saturday morning.  

As a somewhat rational person, I knew that she would die at some point but emotionally, I felt she would live forever.  I couldn’t imagine losing her.  It has been a week and I still have trouble accepting that she is gone.

When she was 89, I moved her from New York to Virginia to be closer to my home.  We had made a deal that when her dog died she would consider moving to Virginia.  After spending a small fortune to keep her poor 14-year-old quite overweight Corgi alive, the time came when there was nothing more we could do to save poor Annabelle. 

Now my mom had new terms:  “I will only move if the baby grand piano and antique brass bed come with me.”  So the baby grand and the bed she had searched for “all of her life” moved to Virginia.  The piano that she no longer played due to arthritis, and the bed that was too high for her to easily manage.  The bed that later became a haven for bed bugs.  More on that another time…

I moved her into in a fancy senior living building a mile away from my house.  First in an “Independent Living” apartment, and then in “Assisted Living.”  With aging comes a new vocabulary, one filled with new medical terms to describe the causes of our aches and pains.  Monthly bills for rent would include the generic “services” charge, and in assisted living, the bills would vary depending upon the level of care she needed.  Other options to consider included the “Memory Neighborhood” for those who are “cognitively impaired.” 

I was very preoccupied with her needs and with planning for the future.  The rational me made an appointment for us with an elder care attorney, so my mom’s paperwork would be current and correct under Virginia law, and included a trust, durable power of attorney, and medical power of attorney. The emotional me was nervous about the appointment.  Particularly in hindsight, since my mom had no plans to die, it was bound to make her nervous to discuss this paperwork.  Fortunately the elder care attorney was wonderful at explaining everything to mom.

I was preoccupied with her daily needs.  Was she out of her favorite iced tea or cinnamon crumb cake? Did she need distilled water for the oxygen machine?  Was it time to order new meds, or see different doctors?  We went through a series of private aides until we found ones who were guardian angels in disguise.

I was preoccupied with keeping her happy and entertained.  During our weekend outings, we went to consignment shops to hunt for treasures. We would also have “beauty days” and have appointments to get our hair done together.  I took my mom for her first “mani-pedi” experience.  Sometimes we have lunch at the local bagel shop, but it wasn’t as good as the one we loved back in Eastchester, New York.

After the first year, as mom got weaker and the weather colder, I felt the need to find other activities to keep mom happy.  I dug through boxes and found family photos, quickly creating a photo album of her growing up.  I also made one about her 30-year teaching career.  She enjoyed the albums and showed them to her private aides and the folks who worked on the assisted living floor. 

 I often visited my mom with some of the jewelry she’s collected over her lifetime.  She had come to expect me to bring something for “show and tell.”  Since we didn’t keep valuables in her apartment, I would take some things from the safe deposit box, then return them and get others.

Each ring, necklace, or pair of earrings brought back memories: where she got it from; the price; its age, type of stone.  One of her favorite pieces is a “charm necklace” where she had the jeweler attach all of her charms that move.   A piano that opens and closes, a cuckoo clock with a little bird that pops out are just two examples.  Every charm represented a part of her life-story, a period of her jewelry collection.  Some of these collecting periods featured snakes, musical instruments and insect jewelry.

When I complemented her choice of a particular ring or bracelet, telling her it was beautiful, she would say “Of course its beautiful, I wouldn’t have it if it wasn't beautiful.”
Two weeks ago we had to go to a notary to witness our signatures on a form. 
She was barely able to write her name on the line. The notary assured her she was doing well, because some people can only manage an “X.” My mom smiled and nodded. 

Then, out of the blue, my mom asked ‘Where do I fit in this world?” while the notary was stamping the document.  Not knowing exactly what to say, I said “You fit right here.”

Recently, while looking at her jewelry together she said, “I don’t want to die, I have so many lovely things.” 

Every little thing, a thing of beauty.   Focusing on her lovely things kept the sparkle in her eyes…

March 1, 2014

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The crib and the hospital bed

Our world begins in a crib
and ends
in a hospital bed.
In the crib we start to move.
Sit-up, pull-up, stand-up,
Shout for attention.
Learn to grab things.

In the end, the hospital bed moves for us,
Raised or lowered for our comfort
Or for the ease of our caregivers.
There’s a buzzer to press for help.
And all that is left is waiting
And letting go.