Category Archives: Sisters

Warning. Do not try this at home. Or anywhere else.

Yes, I realize that it’s been a while since I granted you all the benefits of my fake medical expert advice.  Sorry.

It’s just that poop news has been rather crappy lately.  What’s a specialist to do?

So for this post, I’m going to go out on a ledge.  Write what I don’t know.  Venture into a whole ‘nuther area of specialization.  I feel qualified because this area of specialty is in the same, errrr,  ball park.  Geographically speaking.  Certainly based on adolescent conversation, anyway.

You see, I read an article recently that inspired me to post after a pretty long hiatus

Doctors warn women against putting wasp nests in their vaginas

Now I don’t know about you, but this particular insert isn’t one I’ve personally ever considered.  Maybe I’m just weird.

To be fair to the women who have done this mind-bending medical procedure, the procedure does not involve vaginal insertion of a wasp nest that looks like this one, with buzzing wasps going in and out:

Wasp nest.jpg

Image by ABC Wildlife

On the other hand, maybe something buzzing and going in and out is the whole idea behind the procedure.  But I digress.

Actually, the procedure involves ground up wasp eggs called “galls.”

170601-wasp-nest-vagina

This is a Getty Image, copied from the article

These are Oak leaf “galls” in case you want to make your own.

Galls are wasp larvae, left on the bottoms of oak leaves.  They are ground up and inserted into the vagina to tighten it and to cleanse it.  Okay …

As a fake medical expert, I think I  can safely say that this sounds like a particularly shitty idea.

You know, it never occurred to me that there might be a need to warn women to not put wasp nests, even ground up wasp nests, into their vaginas.

Then again, I never thought it would be necessary to tell women to not vote for a man who believed he could grab their vagina because he was famous, either.

My bad.

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Earth Day / Science / Judy

Earth Day.  The Science March (which I sadly can’t attend until Science gets around to curing my damn Crohn’s Disease).  My late sister Judy’s birthday.  So I’m reposting this.  Hey – Jude believed firmly in recycling!

***

She’s been gone now for 17 years, Jude.  Not a day has gone by since that I haven’t wanted to talk with her, laugh with her, or, alternatively because she was my sister, smack her.  There really isn’t a relationship like you have with a sister.  Even long after they are gone.

*****

Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the Anniversary of the very first Earth Day.  Here  is Walter Cronkite’s report on the first Earth Day, 1970:

It would also be my late sister Judy’s 65th birthday.

Whoever made the decision to turn Judy’s birthday into Earth Day chose wisely.  Judy was a born environmentalist and recycler.

On the first Earth Day, Judy was a new, very young mother who believed in saving the planet.  She was the first “environmentalist” I ever knew personally, and well, I thought she was nuts.  There was a recycling bin in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  And this was back when recycling took effort.  She believed in gardens, not garbage, and she made life bloom wherever she was.

I’ve got kids,” she’d say.  “It’s their planet too!”  

But years later, Judy took recycling to a whole different level when she helped people recycle themselves.  In the 1990s, Jude, who was then living in Florida, began working with the Homeless, assisting at shelters.   Then she actively began trying to help homeless vets food, shelter and work — to enable them to jump-start their lives.

When she died in early 2000, the American Legion awarded her honorary membership for her services to homeless vets.  A homeless shelter was named in her  honor.  So she’s still doing good works, my sister is.  That would make her wildly happy.

Jude also gave me the Beatles.  So it is very appropriate that they wrote a song for her.

You see, the night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it was MY turn to choose what we were going to watch.  And we were going to watch the second part of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan on the Wonderful Wide World of Disney.  My four (all older and MUCH cooler) siblings were furious with me.  But I was quite insistent.  You might even say that I threw a Class I temper tantrum over it, but I wouldn’t admit to that.  Hey, I was seven.  And it was my turn to choose.  Fair is fair, especially in a big family with only one TV.

Somehow, Judy talked me out of my turn.  She was always very persuasive.  Thanks Jude.

Hey Jude, Happy Earth Day-Birthday.

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Earth Day/Birthday Redux

You may have seen this before, but I tried to write something new about my sister Judy.  And, well, this piece really just sums up who she was better than anything I’ve come up with since.

She’s been gone now for 16 years.  Not a day has gone by since that I haven’t wanted to talk with her, laugh with her, or, alternatively because she was my sister, smack her.  There really isn’t a relationship like you have with a sister.  Even long after they are gone.

*****

Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the  Anniversary of the very first Earth Day.  Here  is Walter Cronkite’s report on the first Earth Day, 1970:

It would also be my late sister Judy’s 64th birthday.

Whoever made the decision to turn Judy’s birthday into Earth Day chose wisely.  Judy was a born environmentalist and recycler.

On the first Earth Day, Judy was a new, very young mother who believed in saving the planet.  She was the first “environmentalist” I ever knew personally, and well, I thought she was nuts.  There was a recycling bin in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  And this was back when recycling took effort.  She believed in gardens, not garbage, and she made life bloom wherever she was.

I’ve got kids,” she’d say.  “It’s their planet too!”  

But years later, Judy took recycling to a whole different level when she helped people recycle themselves.  In the 1990s, Jude, who was then living in Florida, began working with the Homeless, assisting at shelters.   Then she actively began trying to help homeless vets food, shelter and work — to enable them to jumpstart their lives.

When she died in early 2000, the American Legion awarded her honorary membership for her services to homeless vets.  A homeless shelter was named in her  honor.  So she’s still doing good works, my sister is.  That would make her wildly happy.

Jude also gave me the Beatles.  So it is very appropriate that they wrote a song for her.

You see, the night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it was MY turn to choose what we were going to watch.  And we were going to watch the second part of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan on the Wonderful Wide World of Disney.  My four (all older and MUCH cooler) siblings were furious with me.  But I was quite insistent.  You might even say that I threw a Class I temper tantrum over it, but I wouldn’t admit to that.  But hey, I was seven.  And it was my turn to choose.  Fair is fair, especially in a big family with only one TV.

Somehow, Judy talked me out of my turn.  She was always very persuasive.  Thanks Jude.

Hey Jude, Happy Earth Day-Birthday.

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Customer Service

Today, my son Jacob is taking his very first airplane trip alone.  So of course I woke up wondering if John and I had told him everything he needed to know before hand.

It was a very early morning flight, so he’d arranged to stay with a friend near the airport and take a cab from there.  When I woke up, I immediately checked up on him.  Err, in on him.

He was at the airport in plenty of time, and had even found his gate.  But I could feel his eyes rolling from across the miles when I suggested he sit at the gate and not move until they called his flight.

Because once I made the mistake of not doing that …

***

It was March 31, 1997, and my mother had died the day before. John, Jacob and I picked up my sister Beth who lived not far away, and they dropped the two of us off at National Airport, to take our flight south to Florida to help Dad with the funeral arrangements.  To be there with him.  John and Jacob would follow in a few days.

“The Terminal is under construction, so leave yourselves extra time to get to the gate,” John warned us as he said good-bye.

Yes, National Airport’s Terminal A was a complete mess.  There were barricades everywhere, dust, dirt, grime.  The air was thick with it.

We found the US Airways desk conveniently located just outside of an Au Bon Pain.

Google Image

Google Image

We got some drinks and sat down at a table.  I took a seat facing the US Airways desk, with the information about our flight scrolling across the top.

Like every shy person I’ve ever known when they’re with someone they know, Beth began talking and kept on.  She talked about Mom, about being a kid, told stories that I had heard, and ones I hadn’t.  It was really wonderful, just sitting there.  Neither of us wanted to be going to Florida.   Neither of course, wanted to be motherless, either.

I kept looking at my watch, and at the information desk, which kept displaying information about our flight.  I was just about to go and check, when the display began giving information about another flight.

“Grab your stuff, Beth,” I said over my shoulder as I headed to the desk to find out what was going on.  We hadn’t heard any announcement.  Fortunately, Beth was right behind me.

“Ma’m,” I said to one of the two women at the desk, holding out my boarding pass. “What happened to Flight 183 to Ft. Myers?”

“That flight just pulled away from the terminal.”

NO!!!!!! BRING IT BACK!!!” I shouted, with a voice full of all the pain of my loss, “IT’S FOR MY MOTHER’S FUNERAL!!!!”

I began to sob.  Loudly.  In the empty airport terminal, my sobs echoed off the ceiling.

“Lease,” Beth said, starting to console me, “It’ll be OK.”

I got what we call the “sup-sups” — where you can’t stop crying, and you can’t quite breathe either.  I couldn’t stop.

The clerks looked at one another.  One grabbed the phone, the other grabbed my arm and pulled me.

“The gate is down here,” and she ran with me, my sister right behind us.

The gate was, in fact, a long fucking way away.  Miles, it seemed.  WTF?

We got there just as they had clicked the landing tunnel back into place.  They opened the door and we ran down it to the plane.

US Airways had brought the plane back so I could get to my mother’s funeral.

Google

Google

As Beth and I moved down the aisle, I was still trying to catch my breath, still trying to stop crying.

Heads were turning, as the other passengers were trying to figure out just who we were, and why we were important enough to bring the plane back for.  (And now doubt that if we were so damn important, why were we in coach.”

But another problem emerged.  Someone was in my seat.

There were dozens of seats on the plane.  But in my rather frantic state, I wanted my seat.

“There are lots of seats, Lease,” said Beth.  “Here, we can sit here.  Or here.”

But I made the person move.

Beth sat next to me as I shook and wept the whole trip.  “We nearly missed Mom’s funeral,” I said, again and again.

“It’s OK, Lease,” she’d say, shaking her head.  “We made it.”

***

I never got the names of the two US Airways desk clerks who helped us.  I did write an incredibly nice letter to the company, though, giving times and flight numbers in the hopes that they learned how much their kindness meant to me.

I’ve always been amazed that a big company, which no doubt faces things like this every day, would demonstrate such kindness.

But Beth said they just wanted to shut me up.  And you know, she may have been right.

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Other Useful Technologies

One of my favorite things about blogging, is that often, my bloggin’ buddies often give me the opportunity to tell stories that I don’t have the opportunity to tell.

Like this one.

Now you know that I had a wonderful childhood. As the youngest of five, somehow, I never felt unwanted, no matter what was going on. Except once.*

As I entered the kitchen, I noticed that my mom and two sisters, Beth and Judy, were sitting at the kitchen table, discussing anatomy.  Female anatomy to be precise..  They were discussing “holes.”  Their holes.

This might be a good time for guys to switch to another blog.

Yes, Mom, Beth and Judy were sitting at the kitchen table talking about their holes. Both of their holes.  The TWO holes in their nether regions.

I was 7 years old, and very confused.

“But …” I started saying …

They didn’t want to listen.  They continued talking, ignoring me.

Panic started to rise in me.

“But … but … listen  to me!!!” I finally practically shouted.

They all turned to me and Beth said, “OK, Lease.  What do you want to say.”

I looked around the table and said softly, in fear:

I have three holes!  There’s the one I pee through, the one I poop through, and one in the middle that doesn’t do anything.  Don’t you guys have three?”  Panic was building in me as I realized that the three of them just continued to looked at me.  Judy rolled her eyes.  She smirked.

“Nope.  You’re just weird, Lease,” said Judy.

They all looked at me, blankly, until finally I left, taking my incomprehensible extra hole with me.  And let me tell you that I was baffled about that opening for years.

For more than 50 years, I’ve wondered what that conversation was actually about. Over the years, I asked many times, but since the incident didn’t scar any of them for life, so they’d long since forgotten.

Now what does this story have to do with blogging and blogging buddies?

Well only yesterday my buddy Alice, of Coffee and a Blank Page commented on my blog piece, Tush Technologies  and linked to an article more or less on this subject. Well, on the subject of vaginas, anyhow.  Weird technological things about hoo-hahs to be exact.

‘Smart’ menstrual cup sends texts about your flow

Now I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a “menstrual cup” either.  Apparently I haven’t changed much since I was 7.  These new (to the extent anything used for Eve’s Curse can be considered “new”), more environmentally friendly collection devices.  You can shove a cup into your box at the requisite time and, well, fill er up!

But according to the article that Alice sent me, there were draw backs with the cups.  I’m sure you saw the problem leaking through, didn’t you.

Well, there was a problem Until Now.  Because there is now smart, ummm, cootch, technology to keep that cup from runneth-ing over. 


If I’m reading the article right, it will tell your smart phone when you need to, umm, dump.

Ain’t technology grand?

I don’t know exactly why, but this article made me think of something from another  bloggin’ buddy, Father Kaine of The Last of the Milleniums.

 

* OK, I will admit I didn’t feel completely welcome that time when I was pushing into my newly married sister Beth’s bedroom when she’d pulled the bookcase in front of the door, either.

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An Ordinary Tuesday

There was no reason to panic, just because Dad had disappeared shortly before he was supposed to “walk me down the aisle.”

“Find Beth,” I said to Mom, who was there in the church’s multifunction room that was functioning as the bride’s dressing room.

Beth had been my problem solver for nearly three decades by the time I was getting married. And she’d never let me down.  Beth could calm the crazies in me better than anybody I’ve ever known.  Just knowing she was around, made everything OK.

And if you had a splinter or a cut or any injury at all?  Go to Beth.  That was true long before she became a nurse who treated premature babies.  If ever there was someone with nursing in their DNA, it was Beth.

Surely Beth could find Dad, who’d gone for a walk, and get the keys to the car from him.  Because, while I’d gotten my wedding dress out of the car, everything else I expected to wear, beginning with my underwear, was locked in the trunk.  And the keys were in absent Dad’s pocket.

Fast forward to 2009.  July 4th was just days away, John, Jacob and I were in Maine, and I was in a panic.  My eldest brother, Bob, had just been taken to the hospital.

For a decade approaching holidays had terrified me.  I suffered from “heortophobia”the fear of holidays.   Well, my heortophobia had a twist:  It wasn’t simply a fear of holidays.  Nope.  For me, it was a perfectly logical terror of illness at holidays.  Someone else’s illness.  Because If anybody I cared about had so much as a sniffle, well, they were gonna die.

As you may have heard 4,327 times, my family members have a nasty habit of dying on holidays.  They’ve hit the all big ones — In order of occurrence:  Thanksgiving.  Easter.  My birthday.  Christmas.  Ho ho ho!

So when Bob ended up in the hospital with Independence Day approaching, well, I knew Bob was toast.  The odds, and likely the Gods, were against him.

“He’s not that sick, Lease.”  Beth said.   “You’ve been sicker and survived.”  She’d contacted his doctors, figured out what was wrong, and called to reassure me.  Beth, a nurse, knew this sort of thing. But as a fake medical expert with then six years’ experience, I was learning more and more –enough to make me fear everything, actually .  So naturally, I wasn’t so sure.

“Beth,” I said, through slightly clenched teeth. “It doesn’t matter how serious his illness is.  It’s the dateA HOLIDAY IS COMING.  He’s going to die!”

As the eldest in the family, Beth had been able to calm me down my whole life long.  She didn’t fail this time, either.

“Nobody is going to be able to trump Dad dying on Christmas,” she said, matter-of-factly.  “The Holiday Death Sweepstakes is over, Lease.  Fourth of July?  Pffttt.  Independence Day isn’t even a contender!”

“I HATE holidays,” I moaned, panic starting up again.

“Lease, I’m gonna make you two promises.”  Beth had always kept her promises. “First, Bob will be fine.”

“Mmmm,” I replied, not believing it for a minute.  Still, I started to calm down.

“Second:  When I go, it’ll be on an ordinary Tuesday,” Beth laughed.  “I cross my heart and hope to die, Lease, I will not die on a holiday.  I mean it.  I couldn’t do that to you,” she laughed still harder. At me, not with me.  Had she been nearby, I might have smacked her for ridiculing me.  Hard.

Bob, whose illness wasn’t all that serious, was released before the holiday; his sentence commuted.  I breathed a sigh of relief, let me tell you.

Google Image, Natch

Google Image, Natch

But not for long.

On a Sunday, just over a month later, I called Beth.  We talked nearly every day.  Beth had had a pretty severe stroke two years previously. It affected her kidneys; she had been on dialysis for about two years.  Things hadn’t been going well, and she was more and more discouraged, depressed and disheartened.  More importantly, he hadn’t been feeling well in the last couple of days.

Still, I was surprised when her phone was answered by one of her sons.

“Mom’s in the hospital,” Chris told me.

It was a Sunday, though.  In August.  No holidays in sight.  So while I worried, there was no need to panic right?  Chris promised that he and his brother would keep me informed.

Late Monday morning, Dave, Beth’s eldest son, called me in tears.

“They don’t know if Mom’s gonna make it.”

I rushed home, packed a few things, and got into the car, and headed to Cleveland.

The weather was horrible.  Storms raged — the rain so heavy that I could barely see.  Traffic rushed by or crept along.  Trucks on the Pennsylvania Turnpike flew by at terrifying speeds when traffic moved.  But mostly, the highway was at a standstill, the rain not letting up.  I couldn’t get to Beth, and I couldn’t see to drive.

How much of my impaired visibility was due to my constant tears, and how much to the pouring rain, well, I didn’t know.

Dave called me again in the early evening to let me know that Beth was in a coma; they thought she would make it for another day or so.

So, exhausted I pulled onto an exit just above Pittsburgh, and into the first motel I found, where I collapsed into bed.

Beth’s doctor called me a few hours later.  Beth had taken a turn for the worse.  If I wanted to see her, to be with her, I’d better get back on the road.

I made it in time for Beth to personally deliver that second promise.  She died on an ordinary Tuesday, August 11, six years ago.

With her passing, Beth brought me an unexpected cure of my heortophobia, and even let me laugh at the bizarre trend she ended.

And on the way back?  The weather was clear.  The Pennsylvania Turnpike twists and turns through the mountains.  With each curve I rounded as I drove home, there was a rainbow.  Rainbow after rainbow.  I knew, seeing those colors in the sky, behind every turn, that Beth was comforting me still.

I miss you, Beth.  Oh, and I was the one who spilled nail polish remover on your new dresser in 1967.  Sorry about that.

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