Author Archives: Sandra Pesmen

Darn, It’s Valentine Time Again

“Oh, darn, it’s that time of year again,” you think, when you hear Valentine’s day ads all over the media and see joyful hearts covering entire shopping malls, “That’s one more reminder that I’m alone.”

Well, you’re entitled to feel sorry for yourself, but just for a short while. The best defense against any challenge, including widowhood, is a good offense. Don’t let your life be consumed by grief over a situation you can’t control.

Because there are some things you DO still control.

Instead of falling victim to that justified depression (and possibly anger at your situation), get up and start putting one foot in front of the other.

The first stop might be a walk in the memorial park where your loved one rests. Most become exquisite winter wonderlands amidst all this snow, and a handful of bright flowers placed beside his marker will brighten your heart as well as the scene.

If he was cremated, with ashes scattered, visit that place where he asked to be remembered.

And remember you are never alone if you keep special memories alive. In that vein, contact family members and friends who also remember good times with him and plan to see each other Wednesday. You can meet for a meal, or a drink or afternoon tea.

It’s also nice to get out an old CD you enjoyed together, watch it with a glass of wine. If you are lucky enough to have children or grandchildren nearby, invite them to join you–and bake some cupcakes for them.

The only thing that reminds us more of happy yesterdays is smelling something delicious in the oven.

In other words, don’t fall victim to sorrowful thoughts when you can at least minimize them with good ones.
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Plan D at Your Service

As I sat down at my late husband’s desk to begin gathering the information too give to our CPA for Income Tax preparation, I discovered I didn’t have the total amount I paid in 2016 for Plan D RX coverage.

After a moment of panic I realized I carry a card in my wallet with the customer service number of my Plan D carrier and my ID number. I called, was answered immediately and after I identified myself properly, the agent said she would send that year-end information to me immediately. In addition she checked a box on my policy in the computer directing that it be sent to me at the end of very year in the future.

She also noted that not many people know about this service.

But now YOU do.
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‘Ragtime’, A Time Worth Exploring

The musical “Ragtime” opened at the Marriott Theater in nearby Lincolnshire, IL recently, and one of my friends found it very disappointing.

“It was three hours long and I was just plain bored,”she said. “I thought it would be about Jazz in America, but it was stories about a bunch of people at the turn of the century and I lost track of who was who, and it was all song with no dialog, which confused me” she complained.

Paraphrasing Pogo, she might have looked into a mirror and seen her enemy.

This play was a huge success on Broadway, where it captured rave reviews and several Tony Awards. It’s based on “Ragtime” the widely acclaimed historical novel by E.L.Doctorow that was also a successful film starring James Cagney, among other famous stars.

I recently read this remarkable work about three separate families, of different income levels, including immigrants new to America, during the period between 1902 and 1912. Aside from being exquisitely written, it casts light on the people living in Brooklyn and New York at the time, as well as their circumstances, feelings and depth of character. I can think of no better vehicle for transition to the musical stage.

Ah, but my friend who made the comment also made a major error for any theater goer: NEVER ENTER THE DOORS UNTIL YOU HAVE DONE HOMEWORK ABOUT THE PRODUCTION YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE.

As many of us learned at “Hamilton,” you may completely miss what’s going on if you haven’t educated yourself beforehand.

Before you buy the tickets, go to the library or the Internet and find out what the production is about, what the story line and the playwright’s intention are, as well as who the characters really are and what parts of society they represent.

If it’s making its premier,with no history to research, you WILL have to put some faith in the theater, its past work, and the artistic director’s taste. But even in those cases, the theater usually can provide a brief summary of the play and something about it’s author if you ask.

I’m going to buy a ticket to this one.
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Funny Thoughts

I went to the theater with one of my wittier friends last night and as we waited in the lobby for the doors to open, she noticed that almost every woman there was wearing one of the suddenly popular, and usually unflattering, quilted goose down jackets.

“Hmmm,” she murmured, ” It looks like a room full of Michelin tires.”

This is the same woman who confessed she keeps misplacing her mobile phone and has to call herself from the landline several times a day.

“Yesterday when I was talking to my daughter, I suddenly thought I lost it again.” she said, ” and my daughter said ‘No, Mom. You’re talking on it.’ ”

Sound familiar?
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Scaling back weight

First thought in the morning:
I have to go for my annual physical today and I’d like that guy who weighed the president to weigh me.

Second thought: I must report that last Saturday at 12:30 p.m., as the Women’s March began in Chicago’s Grant Park, I grabbed the flag from my porch, flung it over my shoulder, and marched throughout the neighborhood to show my solidarity with women, the civil rights movement, our constitution which, I believe is in great peril, and all else the current administration is trampling on.

I marched alone, as I did last year, because I couldn’t travel downtown, and once again, neighbors waved, and truck drivers honked horns. I felt encouraged that freedom will ring again after the next elections–and I resolved to work with my congressional district to help get out the vote.

And so I beg you: Please help preserve our fragile democracy. Regardless of your views or your party—please VOTE in every election and work too help others (whose opportunities to vote may have been hampered by gerrymandering) vote too.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to pick up a flag and march around your town to encourage neighbors to participate in Americans.

(And that hike around the block also may help when you have to step on the scales.)

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Ready, Set, GO ! Take That Trip

Many senior widows stop traveling because they can’t face the obstacles.

Don’t let that stop you from enjoying trips to visit friends and family in other cities (with better climates.)

Here are some solutions to a few travel issues:

  1. Can’t get around the airport, through security, and to the gate? Tell your airline, and they’ll meet you at the front door with a wheelchair and whisk you through security quickly, take you to the gate, help you board with the FIRST group, and take you to your seat. They’ll arrange to have a chair meet you at arrival too, and do the same to your exit.
  2. If you have to  race across the terminal to another gate during a stopover–and haven’t won any marathon’s lately– do not panic. Airports have open motor carts and will stop when you wave them down and take you wherever you must be, quickly and easily. There’s no charge but it’s an independent company so a tip of $1 or $2 is nice.
  3. If you should have to lift a carry on bag or heavy coat to the overhead bin and can’t manage it, look around for a strong man/woman and ask for help. I play the widow card, “Would you please help a senior widow?” and have never been refused.
  4. Afraid of being hungry ? Bring a hard cooked egg  to eat with the biscuit or nuts airlines still provide. Order tomato or fruit juice from the free beverage cart and you should make it to landing. They also offer free Bloody Mary Mix, which is a nice substitute for the real thing.
  5. If it’s too close in the crowded seat when that guy in front of you tips his chair back, do not be shy. Tap him or her on the shoulder, and say, “Please put your seat up. You are squashing me back here.” He/she won’t like that–or you–but we don’t care. You are not in a “Most Popular Flier” contest, and that also works for me. If you get an argument, call the flight attendant and ask for a decision, or to be moved.
  6. Invest in lightweight luggage with wheels  just in case you have to lug it somewhere.
  7. And  you don’t have to be bored. Most people sitting next to you will chat, even if it’s just to complain. Encourage them.

So get moving. For as that famous anonymous quote warned:

“You only pass this way once. Any fun you can have, any good you can do–have and do now, for you only pass this way once.”

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Time for that “Talk” with Your Family

Home Instead, a national company providing senior care, has a new program called The 40/70 Rule: Having that “Talk” with Your Children.

It refers to sitting down with the kids (and perhaps a financial adviser) when you are about 70 and they are around 40 and helping them face that uncomfortable end of life issue.

I know, the kids get hysterical when you even suggest you may die someday—though you’re falling apart right before their very eyes. Despite obvious fading of your hearing, sight, digestive system, hair, beautiful skin and everything else, most children try to deny they will someday lose their parents.

Well, it’s time to make them face that fact anyway. If you haven’t done so before, start the project by talking with an attorney, accountant, financial adviser or all three, and make sure YOU understand what and where your assets are, how much they are worth and what you want to do with them.

Then, working with those professionals, prepare a will and any other documents they suggest.

Maynard Grossman, executive director of Shalom Memorial Park suggests you also may want to consider your final arrangements for a memorial service, burial or cremation. Talk with a funeral director and possibly pre-pay that plan, so your children won’t have to do it when they are grieving over your departure.

Now you’re ready to call a family meeting. (Sunday brunch with a tray from your local deli helps.)

I’ve done this. Actually, I’ve done it several times. I can’t seem to shut up about my final exit because I want my family to think of it as my last hurrah, a farewell with love and gifts for them.

Also, I believe the more we talk about difficult subjects the more comfortable we become with them. As a wise rabbi told us, “We all go on living in spirit as long as those who love us keep remembering and talking about us.”

So plan that meeting with the kids now, so they’ll remember and keep talking about your wisdom in doing so long after you’re gone.

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Never Lonely if You Have a Book

Since my mother and her sister both were librarians, I grew up hearing, “If you have a book, you’ll always have a friend.”

So on long summer days, when we finished running across the garden sprinkler and it was too hot to jump rope or ride bikes–and we whined, “I have nothing to do,” the response always was, “Go read a book.”

Reading is a habit that’s a blessing when it becomes an addiction. And many of us who are afflicted always kept a book in the car, in the living room and next to our beds, so we could always steal a few minutes to read. We also lugged a bunch of paperbacks in our luggage when we took a trip.

THEN CAME THE ELECTRONIC READERS!!!!!How blessed I felt when my local library joined the free Media Mall and Cloud services that provide free electronic books as well as paperbacks and hard covers.

I went to a library meeting offering information about how to use the malls and ereaders, and now enjoy taking my reader everywhere inside my purse.

But now there’s another new, wonderful addition to this treasure trove of books.

WWW.bookbub.com  is a site that sends email lists of new and old electronic books as bargains  you may order free, or for $1.99 or $2.99, from Amazon on the day you receive an email from it.  It’s much like Groupon.

If you stop in and sign up for the emails, I, and the dearly departed librarians in my family, promise you will always have a friend.

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Doesn’t Matter What You Call It

There’s a fool in the White House running around shouting “Merry Christmas” like he invented the greeting–or better yet,  saved it from total disappearance.

But the truth is that people who love Christmas have been saying it without a blip for years, as have many more who love the people who love Christmas and want them to enjoy it.

Ditto for “Happy Hanukkah!” Those who celebrate that holiday always say the greeting to each other, and enjoy hearing it from others who don’t participate in it, but are extending good wishes to them during that holiday season.

So what’s the big fuss about? Simply put, “Merry Christmas” has become one more mean tool used by this administration to set Americans against one another.

So shout “Merry Xmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” “Happy Kwanza” and any other greeting  you may want to apply to the holiday season. There’s nothing wrong with “Happy Holidays” either and you still have time for “Happy New Year.”

Then Washington will stop this nonsense and start working  on the real problems facing our divided nation and its beleaguered constitution.

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Get that Doggie in the Window

If you’ve been a dog-lover over the years, and now your last sweet animal has gone, you may be thinking, as I often do, that it would be lovely to have a furry pal to guard your feet in bed again, or wait patiently at the door for  your return, so he/she can do the famous welcome dance and lick your face.

But, again like me, you may think you’re too old to buy or rescue a dog because you’re afraid it will outlive you–and what will happen then?

My friend threw those worries to the wind, drove to his local Humane Society section in PetSmart and fell in love with a silly little Tibetan Terrier named Jax that had been turned in because the former owner claimed he bared his teeth and growled at her nephew.

After wondering what that nephew did to the pup, my friend took the little fellow home and the two have had a mutual, devoted love affair ever since. (Granted, Jax may bare his teeth and growl at anyone who tries to harm his new master. Otherwise, not at all)

To solve the problem of what will happen if my friend, now 87, should die before Jax, 4, this new owner arranged to have The Humane Society included in his will, with a stipulation and donation to guarantee Jax will be taken care of in a foster home until his next forever home is found.

It would be so sad, and so unnecessary, if other dear companions like Jax weren’t adopted because potential owners have unfounded fears about the future.

If you want a pet, get one.   You can always make provisions for its future too.

Meanwhile, there will be all that love comin’ atcha!

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