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, Jean Maddern Pitrone, 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.