Thursday, January 23, 2014

Calling it Quits?

One of the big stories in the news this week was that the Captain and Tennille are calling it quits after 39 years of marriage.  Rumor has it that Toni Tennille, 73, filed for divorce against husband and singing-partner Daryl Dragon, 71.

The couple, who are best known for their hits "Muskrat Love" and "Love Will Keep Us Together," married in 1975, which is the same year they released their first album. The couple have continue to record together over the years, and most recently released the album "ICON" in 2013.

As stories about the couple hit the news, media outlets and Facebook were was satiated with comments from
"That's just stupid. Anything that's lasted 39 years is worth working at"  and
"Why? You're old as hell and you've been married for 4 decades. Why divorce now?" and finally, "how sad... I don't get how you give up after 40 years?"

I understand some of these statements because of my own divorce.  After 40 years with one man (36 of them married), I, too, felt those same sentiments.  How can a person give up on so much history?  A history that will never be of growing up together.

Relationships are over by choice only.  The idea that long-term marriages must mean so little that one can still walk away without counseling always baffles me.   Marriage counselors the world over promise that they can heal marriages to be better than ever. 

There have been rumors that the divorce was financially necessary because the Captain has a parkinsons-type neurological disease, and health benefits would be more beneficial if he were single.  Time will tell.

In the meantime, I wish nothing but the best for Tennille and Daryl, unless "some sweet talking girl came along, singing her song........." . 
See?  I still have my sense of humor.  Just hope The Captain and Tennille does, too, because a sense of humor CAN "Keep us Together." 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Humerus is not all that Humorous.

Today was a milestone for me.  I wore my bra for the first time in just over a month (even though I had to snap it first and then put it over my head).  And's not like the 1970s when going bra-less was fashionable.  It's 2013.  And I am a bit older, and let's just say...more down-to-earth?

And yesterday?  I buckled the seatbelt in my car for the 1st time in a month.  And guess what?  I am typing today full-throttle.  With both hands...and all my fingers!  Even Mrs. Hall, my strict old-school typing teacher would be proud.

Why am I marking these, and other, milestones?  You know that saying?  The one that says "she can't chew gum and walk at the same time?"  Well, that was me 5 short weeks ago.

I was meeting the school bus near my daughter's home to pick up two of my grand-daughters.  I had my young grandson with me as we walked just a couple of houses down the court past the homes with well-manicured lawns.  I suddenly felt the heel of my boot wobble and the next thing I knew, I was on my hands and knees.

What the hell?  How did I get here on the street?  I remember grabbing for my sunglasses wondering how they got thrown to the road, when I suddenly felt intense pain in my upper arm between my shoulder and elbow. 

Three of my daughter's neighbors, two who were also waiting for the bus, came to my rescue.  Concerned that I may have hit my head, or something more dreadful may have happened, the ladies prompted me to stand after a few minutes. 

There was absolutely no way I was going to be able to stand.  The pain made the rest of my body sweaty and weak and I felt nauseated.  So there I sat on the cold, hard pavement for 15 minutes until I could muster up the strength and walk back to the house.  By the time I reached the house, I had to lie down again for a few minutes.

A couple of Advil, a quick ice pack, and, against the insistence of my daughter and her neighbor to help, I drove myself to the emergency room of the local hospital.

After a couple of hours and lots of waiting,  x-rays confirmed that I had broken the ball in my shoulder in three places.  I guess I had caught myself on my hand and the force traveled up to my shoulder.  The hospital staff sent me home with a sling that wasn't much better than a scarf tied around my neck, and told me to see an orthopedic doctor in three days.
Three days later with an arm now as black as the asphalt I had fallen on, my sister drove me to Dr. Bones (not his real name).  Dr. Bones, it seems, is quite the funny-man when it comes to me breaking my bones.

After more x-rays, I left with a $350 "shoulder immobilizer" that the technician charged directly to my credit card even before he fitted me.  (It would have been a $700 charge to my insurance company IF my insurance had covered "medical devices")  Side note:  In January Medical Devices will be covered under the new Obama Care health rules.

The first two weeks were quite painful, especially sleeping .  When I laid down to sleep, my arm from the elbow was straight up in the air. And without the use of my right hand, my daily duties have been highly curbed.

Cute Contraption
It's been a month now and every day I see improvement.  Matter of fact, a few nights ago, in a particularly fitful sleep, I unfastened the 5 velcro constraints, and tossed the brace to the floor. 

I am not wearing it any more around the house, but am advised to "fasten-up" if I venture out in crowds.

The month actually passed by quickly.  I had Thanksgiving dinner for 10 at my house...thanks to Boston Market.  And my daughter and son have chipped in with a little grocery shopping, putting up the tree, and some of the other household chores.

And I thank my neighbor for snow removal and trash can retrieval.  Also thanks to another neighbor, my daughter-in-law, and my sister who each brought me a meal during that first week.  And also all those who offered their services, it was truly appreciated.

This was the first and hopefully the last bone I break.  I've nursed others through broken bones...ankles (yes, plural), wrist, collar bone, knee, and broken arms.

And just to be extra careful, next time I am chewing gum, you can bet that I will be sitting down and holdin' on! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

It was the Best of was the Worst of Times...

It was the Best of was the Worst of Times...

This Charles Dickens' line seems to sum up my life of the past 7 years.  These few years or so have been both amazing (birth of my 5 grandchildren) and heartbreaking.  In this short period, I unwillingly became a divorcee after 36 years
Mom and Dad (Anthony & Jean Pitrone)
of marriage, I lost my mother to the debilitating effects of rheumatoid arthritis, and then a few short years later, I lost my dad.

I never expected to go through a messy break-up after 40 years with one man, nor had I envisioned nursing my parents in their senior years. 

I had my sisters to rely on during these difficult times.  If it weren't for them, I don't know how I would have made it through my divorce. 
Nine Pitrone Siblings with their dad
And the care of my parents?  None of us sisters could have remained sane giving the care we did by ourselves, but together, it was manageable for 6 years (my mother for 3 years and immediately following, my dad for another 3 years). 

We had some minor challenges, but we gave the most loving, tender and compassionate care to our parents. 

For those 6 years, it was us siblings who took care of the doctor appointments, medications, shopping, finances, cleaning house, dinners every night (breakfast and lunches, too) and even the all-important recreation (making sure our parents could get out and still experience life, no matter how difficult).  We were fortunate to be able to keep them in their own home.  My dad lived to be 100 and my mom to 87, so I always thought longevity was in my genes...

Joe Pitrone

Then the worst of times struck again.  It's never easy. You expect your parents to go before you, but never a sibling.

My oldest brother Joe was taken ill with a bone marrow disease.  He had his ups and downs during his illness (he had two stem-cell sister Janet was his perfect match), but never in my life had I seen a person accept his fate with such bravery, courage and humor.  Joe has set the bar high for the rest of us.
Joe was a successful business man, a friend to many, and had traveled the world numerous times over, experiencing things that most only dream of.  He lived 3 life-times in his short 70 years.  He also was the definition of patriarch to his large family of 4 girls and 12 grandchildren. 
Typical Joe and Jeanine
As for Joe and Jeanine as a couple?  
They were the best.  They were the perfect model during their 50 year marriage....I know....I know...a lot of that is due to "Saint Jeanine" some would say.  But Joe, too.  He did many little things that many men never think of doing.
I remember many years ago when Joe had all of us (yes, about 20 of us) over for a spaghetti dinner......made by him and him alone.   Even then, as a teenager, I thought, "Wow, Joe cooked?"
He would also re-arrange the furniture in his home by himself!  I thought "What man does that without being asked?" 
Joey hocking tickets at the
Kid Rock Concert we attended

More recently, when Joe and Jeanine were waiting for the finishing touches to be put on the beautiful lake house they were building, I was blessed to have them stay with me for a couple weeks. 

I was going through my own divorce at the time, and they helped me through that, too.  It was during that time I got to know Joe so much better.
One night Joe insisted that I go with them to the movie titled...."Knocked Up." I  didn't really want to go, but I caved in to his insistence. Although the movie was down on the list, way waaay down, of my favorite flicks, Joe showed me that even the most mundane or littlest things could be fun.  I am so thankful that Joe and I bonded during the past 8 years.
Family Boat Trip
And Joe planned the best family trips.  No one will forget when we, yes all 36 of us, ages infant to 76, became "Boat People"  aboard 6 houseboats for a week on the Trent-Severn Waterway in Canada.  Even with the threat of a tornado after sailing off, Joe had his daughter, Jodie, jump in the water to get the fun started.....making sure we all had a good time....and we did!  

If Joe planned the fun times, we'd ALL show up knowing we'd have a good time and the event would be successful.
One particular sweltering hot summer night Joe and I talked until the early hours of the morning on my front porch.  I treasure that night.  We were going to "share" a bottle of wine, but Joe ended up drinking it all! 
Joe and Jeanine with their 4 girls
and our dad on his 100th
I've never seen anyone who could get so much accomplished as my brother.  He never stopped!  Up early and on the go.  I would wear out just watching him!

Joe's larger-than-life personality will always be the guiding-light for his kids and grandkids. 
He had a big influence on them, his brothers and sisters, and everyone with whom he came in contact.
You will be missed brother Joe.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

My Mother and Me - 2005

In my effort to write about Mother’s Day during the month of May, my thoughts ran wildly back to my childhood and all the things my mother did for me.  Then I recalled that only a short while back, I wrote about my mother in one of my previous blogs “Birthday’s Come and Go WhetherWe’re Here or Not."
So I am taking a somewhat different approach this Mother’s Day.

It wasn’t until June of 1975 that I began to realize what being a mother really signifies.  Note that I said I “began to realize” because I feel I am still in the infancy stage of truly understanding what being a mother really means.   
I am learning by closely watching another mother I know.  I watch how she handles her life, and how she is raising her children. Once in a while I get a glimpse of something that looks vaguely familiar (memories from raising my own children) to something that is entirely a new concept to me.

This young mother I know is one. very. strong. smart. lady.  She is the mother of three little ones.  She single-handedly tends to her beautiful home, works full time, and still has the time and energy to show her children the many special moments that will last a lifetime.  Trips with three in tow don’t stop this woman.  She takes on the zoos (yes, plural), museums, waterparks, and train trips to other cities, all on her own.

This mom is the heart and brain of her home.  She routinely holds mother/daughter days with each of her daughters (separately), and mother/son days with her youngest.

She teaches her children the value of hard work and of being charitable.  The kids have had to earn some things they really want, and have learned the meaning of giving.  The oldest has already made three hair donations to “Children with Hair Loss” and she’s only 7!

This mom is also entertaining (family fun night every Monday) taking pleasure in the fun times with her 3 children.

Oh yeah, and to top it off, two of her children have Celiac Disease, so this special mom can never cheat by wizzing through the McDonalds drive-thru on her way home from work, or by picking up a piping-hot pizza as a quick substitute for dinner once in a while. This mom is always packin’ her own bag-of-treats for her kids.

She makes sure the kids have their lunch and snacks, gluten-free (G.F.) of course, and she shows up at school when the kids’ classes are celebrating another student’s birthday (which is often). This mom comes equipped with her own G.F. cupcakes.  She also has been known to carry her own G.F. pizza when the class is having another(?) pizza party. 

This mom gives the best advice on those tough questions from the kids.  I am sure there will be many more toughies, but I know she can handle it with ease, confidence, and tenderness.

In case you haven’t guessed, this special woman whom I am so proud, is my wonderful daughter. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Lori.
Love Mom.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Very First…

It was 1963 when the Dovells released their hit “You Can’t Sit Down.”  It topped the charts at Number 3 that year.

Months later, as I was turning 14, I made a routine visit to my aunt’s house in Livonia with my father.  And there, on her kitchen table, was this record with an orange and yellow label. 

As I nosed in closer to sneak a peek at the single, dumfounded that my aunt would even HAVE a 45 in her house, I caught site of the title of the song.   You Can’t Sit Down,    by the Dovells.

What on earth was my aunt, her adult kids living away from home by this time, doing with this “teenage” record?

Although the Dovells (of Bristol Stomp fame) were not my favorite artists (remember this was the time when the Beatles were on top…and I was definitely a Beatles fan) I coveted this black round piece of vinyl.

Along with great envy, she must have also noticed the quizzical look in my eye.  I am not sure if I asked her why she had this record first, or if she offered to GIVE it to me first.  I was flabbergasted.  Me?  My own 45?

Then she explained that as a bar owner, the jukebox was regularly brought up to date and the old songs were replaced with the newest, latest, greatest hit records.  It was then that she gave me the best present a girl my age would have wanted. 

She offered to give me ALL the records as they were replaced in the jukebox.  And to top it off?  At the time, the jukebox machine didn’t flip the records to play side B!  That means I would be getting TWO copies of every vinyl 45.   Ahh haa….one for me…one to trade!

Over the years I collected hundreds of 45s to play on the family HiFi.  And thanks to my Aunt Mary, I never, ever, had to purchase a single record. 
Although my friends and I always made the weekly trek up Telegraph Road to the corner of West Chicago…the local E.J. Korvette’s department store.  We would spend HOURS on the 2nd floor hanging around their most phenomenal record department. 

If I remember correctly, in 1963/64, I believe that 45s were going for about .49 cent a piece (by the latter years of the 60s, the price had jumped to a whopping .69 cents). 

That was a chunk of change, and at 14, I wasn’t working yet, unless you count the .50 cents an hour I spent babysitting for the neighbor kids, or the .45 cents my mom would pay me to wash and wax the floors (on my hands and knees, mind you).

  Take a listen on the left.
  To this day, when I hear
  You Can’t Sit Down, I vividly  recall the day I received my  very first record.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Here We Grow Again!

Many years ago, well before my 36-year marriage dissolved, I received a polished rock with the inscription: 
The Best Thing a Father can do for his Children is to Love their Mother.

I was given this little souvenir well before the days of the internet, Facebook, cell phones, and instant communication.  I had never heard this quote until I received it as a gift from my then-husband. 

I am NOT, nor ever was, a hopeless romantic, nor did I gush over my present.  I simply set my rock on the base of the dresser lamp in the bedroom, and thought, “Oh, that’s nice.”   I basically forgot about the rock except when I spotted it as I cleaned the dust that accumulated on the dresser (which, in my younger years, was quite often…more than I currently dust).

The rock sat there…just like a rock…and became a permanent fixture on the dresser.  As the years passed (actually a couple decades), I grew to realize the importance of the saying on my rock and began to appreciate it more and more, but remained quietly grateful.   

Finally, many years later, when my son and his wife announced that they were to be expecting their first child, I thought that it would be the perfect time to hand down the rock with the beautiful saying. 
Hopefully, this next generation will catch on more quickly than I, and appreciate the trueness of the message… The Best Thing a Father can do for his Children is to Love their Mother.

My son and his wife are now expecting their 3rd child in late fall. 

That will make grandchild Number 6 for me.  I’ve been so blessed to be involved in my children’s and grandchildren’s lives.  
My 5 grandchildren, ranging in ages 7 to 3, are anxiously anticipating their cousin/sibling, and can’t wait for a “6 cousin sleepover at grandma’s house!”  I can't wait either!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Am I Spotting the Subtle Signs?

Wrinkles may not hurt, but getting older?…Ouch! 
I’ve detected some subtle symptoms creeping in.  I laugh at these sly little signs sneaking up on me, but I wonder how long before they overtake me and I will have to accept that I am actually inching my way to old age.

I’ve been lucky enough to inherit some good genes and I am hoping that I follow suit from my past generations.

Last summer I was at Comerica Park for a Tigers baseball game with my family.  There were 9 of us, including my posse of 5 young grandchildren. 
Sitting in the direct sun on that hot and humid day, we kept cool with a constant mist of cold water in a spray bottle I brought in from home and had sneaked into the stadium.

We were enjoying the game when the ball was hit into the stands. Loooong Goooone! 
The fans went wild and rose to their feet.  We cheered…loud!  A minute later, the crowd quieted and settled back down into their seats.

Without peeking behind me, I took my seat………the next thing I knew, I was sitting on the cement with my knees up at my chin. 
I was bewildered!  “What just happened?” I thought.  For a second, I thought no one had seen me. I felt as if I was in the twilight zone.

You know how close the row in front of you is in those stadiums?  
Must be only 24 inches or so!  
Well I was down there still wondering how I got there, and how was I going to get out of this 2 foot square box-like space. 
Then I heard a familiar voice of my daughter, “Are you OK?”
I must have forgotten that the seat pops up…and evidentially, STAYS up, when you get out of it.  LOL  OK, I can laugh at myself with the best of them! 

But sometimes getting older is a bit frustrating.
It’s not funny when you can’t read those small words printed on a medicine bottle, or when you have a hard time opening a jar in the kitchen.

But, I’m part of the Baby-Boomer Generation.  I am not going to accept this sentence sitting down.  I am going to gracefully fight every step of the way. 
Just remember: do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Past.

It's almost here.  Halloween 2014, but most kids have already been celebrating for a while.  Parties at church, Trunk or Treat, private parties, school celebrations.  By the time Halloween rolls around, the kids have had their costumes and make-up on many times over.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, when I was a bit younger, things were quite different.  Anticipation built during the final days before Halloween.  We weren’t running to the stores looking for costumes.  We’d trot upstairs to the attic and start rummaging through the “old-clothes” bags, pulling out over-sized shirts, pants, scarfs, dresses and old jewelry.  We used our imaginations with the little resources we had. My parents never really got into the excitement.  Matter of fact, it was more of a nuisance to them.  We were on our own to find costumes…and we LIKED it that way!

The boys usually dressed as (and this may not be politically correct) “bums” or hobos. They’d burn a cork and smear the ashes on their faces to make the perfect whiskers, and they’d fashion a "bag" made from a red handkerchief to throw over their shoulders.

And the girls?  They’d don an over-sized white shirt of their dad’s, slip on some black tights, whiten their lips, darken their eyes and they’d become, like, instant beatniks, man.   

Of course, there were still the witches and ghosts, and gypsies, and occasional princesses, super heroes and Draculas, but compared to today’s elaborate costumes, the get-ups in the 50s and 60s were quite simple.

For more than a year or two, I helped dress my young sisters as nuns for Halloween.  The length of a cloth diaper (and we had many) served as the perfect front for their costume, and another formed the back.  A black scarf around their head completed the “sister” look.   And the diaper pins?  They were perfect for holding together our make-shift getups.

I recall one year when I was about 11, I went out as Alice in Wonderland.  I didn’t WANT to, but I HAD to.  We had the costume so I had no choice.  I wore a long blue dress with puffy sleeves.  Thank God it had an apron…a very wrinkled apron…with a glittery scene of the Mad Hatter Tea Party on it.  If it weren’t for that apron, no one would have known who or what I was.  And, take it from me, no kid wants to be asked “and what are you dressed as.”  I remember being embarrassed at that question.  Alice in Wonderland was supposed to be beautiful…and I didn’t feel that way.  Not in my garb.

In the Detroit suburb of Dearborn Heights where I grew up, we didn’t trick or treat...we went BEGGING.

Large packs of kids roamed door to door repeating “HELP THE POOOOOR” (help the poor, my pants are tore, give me some money, I'll buy some more) in our sing-songy voices.  You could hear the chants echoing throughout the close-knit neighborhood. 
Not too many parents walked with their kids in those days.  The older kids took care of their younger siblings, even though the little ones tried desperately to keep up with the older kids as they ran from house to house. 
And we always knew which houses passed out the “GOOD” stuff.  Most of what we got was suckers, wads of bubble gum, MaryJanes (yuck), and small candy bars.  We’d get a penny or two, too.  But once in a while, some of the “GOOD” houses gave out bags of chips, popcorn, and even NICKLES!

The week before Halloween…and especially the night before…Devil’s Night…was always punctuated by acts of mischief.  Mostly ringing doorbells and running, and waxing windows.  I wasn’t allowed to do those things, but I had a friend whose mother would give her soap to “soap windows.”  The mother said that waxing windows was not nice because the wax was hard to remove, but she would give her daughter free-reign when it came to soaping windows.  I never quite understood that one.

I remember making our own decorations.  We kids would draw and color pumpkins on paper, cut them out and hang them in the front window.  Other than a lighted pumpkin that we carved earlier in the day, that was the extent of our Halloween decorating. 

I expect about 150 little buggers “beggers” at my house.  I hope I am one of the “GOOD” houses. I'll passed out chips, Doritos, Fritos and cheese curls.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Ain't Afraid of No Boats...

It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy…or so the song goes.  It’s the time of year when people are deciding how to spend their coveted couple of weeks with their families.  The lake?  A trip cross-country?  Or perhaps a trip a bit closer to home.  Or maybe a “staycation” and take in a few nearby attractions with the family.  Whatever you decide, leave your problems and take in the sights and sounds with your loved ones.   

It was many years ago, that my immediate AND extended family decided to try our first vacation together. Everything fell into place perfectly.   Looking back, it was one of the most enjoyable times we had as a family.  And that trip is still talked about today.

A houseboat trip on the Trent-Severn Waterway near Toronto, Canada, proved to be the most exciting misadventure on which our family has ever embarked.  The Trent-Severn Waterway is one of Canada’s most beautiful and varied inland water routes. 240 miles of protected cruising through 20 lakes, rivers, and canals offering incredible variety.

My family consisted of not only my then-spouse and two young children, but my parents, and 7 of my siblings and their families.  With a total of 36 anxious (mostly non-swimmers) sea-going amateurs ranging from infancy to age 74, it was with some slight trepidation that we ventured out to test our sea-legs.

After piling onto the Egan Marine Houseboats dock, cramming a week's worth of bedding, clothing, and food into our 6 rented floating homes, and a 15 minute lesson on house-boating and water safety from the young tanned instructor, we slowly drifted away from dry land and into open water. 

The first night most of us were rocked to sleep by waves generated from a passing storm, while the other hardy, coffee-drinking sailor-types kept watch 'till dawn.

In the span of 7 days and nights, my entire family had become "professional" boat people.  As in Follow-The-Leader, linked only by our CB radios (there were no cell phones then), our 6 houseboats cruised the waterway on route to our destination - Peterborough, Canada. 

We drifted past historic homes, and maneuvered through scenic parks where eagles were spotted perched high atop the trees.  But the ultimate experience was our approach and entry into the gates of the locks which raised or lowered our boat to the next level so that our trip could continue on the waterway.  It was in the bowels of one particularly deep lock where an enormous water-balloon war erupted.  But we abruptly surrendered when the lockmaster outwitted us and joined in the fracas as he dumped down buckets of water on our heads from his post high above our crafts.

Leisure days were spent tying the vessels together in the middle of the lake and anchoring for swimming, wind surfing, and sunning.  Other days we docked on dry land for a game of volleyball, a camp fire, or to take a break from the on-board barbecues to enjoy the quaint restaurants and shops dotting the landscape.

It was an adventure I highly recommend for family togetherness, and one that will not be forgotten by members of my family - old and young alike.

Plan your family time together.  You won't regret it.