Author Archives: Sandra Pesmen

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?

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.)


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.”


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.


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.  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.


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.


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!


To Give or Not to Give–and How Much?

A group of us were coming home from a party last weekend when one member of our widows’ group opined that the holidays were taking a woeful toll on her budget.

“My husband and I got into the habit of writing a check for one set amount to each member of our family for every birthdays and for Christmas,” she said. ” But now that he’s gone and I live on a careful budget, the holidays have become too expensive for me. But how do I stop something we’ve done for many years?”

You tell the family members your situation and explain you are making changes and tell them what  you’ve decided to do instead. I’m sure none of them want you to make daily sacrifices in order to hand out gifts you no longer can afford.

One other in our group said she had faced the same situation and told her grown children she was no longer giving money to them on special occasions so she can afford to continue doing so to all the new, younger members of the family.

Another said she had spoken up too, and now gives half as much to everyone as she had doled out previously.

It’s that simple.

True love between parents and children shouldn’t depend upon payment.


Dinner Instead?

How many movies can a widow see?

That’s what I asked myself when my regular theater gang called to set up our usual Saturday night movie and  supper date.

Then I suggested that we skip the movie one week and instead hang out at my place with a nice bottle of wine.

It’s not that my house is such a big deal. But the idea of doing something different for a change was really appealing.

I added a roll of goat cheese topped with jam and parked next to fancy crackers, added little humas with chips and we were off to a grand start. Then I tossed a fancy frozen pizza I picked up at the market the day before and baked while we snacked. One of the guests brought a salad, another bought dessert.

The latter was a nice addition, though I baked raisin/carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting of all sizes and shapes the day before.

It was a delightful evening–one we’ll repeat in each other’s houses often.

And we can always catch that movie another time.


Hear Better–and Live Better

I went to a monthly meeting of the Chicago North Shore chapter of the National Hearing Association today and learned helpful tips on preparing for and buying hearing aids–something I’ve been dealing with for several months.

Two years ago I became aware I wasn’t hearing as well as before and went to a medical doctor specializing in haring loss and his audiologist ( a person who must earn a doctorate in audiology) gave me my first test. She said my loss was mild to moderate and didn’t require aids, but they might add to my quality of life. The physician she worked with told me to check again two years.

Since I wasn’t convinced I should spend between $6,000 to $8,000 out of pocket for aids then, I bought a sound amplifier from Amazon on sale for $24 (from $125.) It worked fine where I needed it in theaters, at lectures, and anywhere else microphone were involved.

But I took the doctor’s advice and went back recently for another test .

My hearing was still mild to moderate and aids still weren’t imperative but I thought they might be considered to improve my life quality.

Again I heard the words “mild to moderate” with the same suggestions as I went to outside dealers for more research. Then someone mentioned Costco, which everyone in the industry knows sells hearing aids for less than half what others charge,  and I went there too.

Today the Hearing Association explained that Costco aids should be fine for anyone with mild to moderate loss, like me, as are those bought mail order from Amazon, Google, or other internetamplifiers, but should be checked by an audiologist to make sure they cause no harm.

Anyone with a more serious loss should see an audiologist for testing and suggestions for aids.

But some other important news came from Guest
Speaker Guest Speaker, U.S.Rep. from IL  9th District Jan Schakowsky, who noted the FDA is now testing hearing aid products that may be available over the counter in about three years.

She added that she is introducing a new bill to make hearing loss care and appliances part of medicare. Though we currently can deduct out of pocket hearing, dental,and  eye expenses she fears this congress is  working to elimate those deductions.

They don’t care about the cost,  because hearing loss, which afflicts about 85% of people over  80, is often caused by aging–which is a disease they seem to think they’ll never catch.

Rep. Schakowky also pointed out  everyone in Congress receives the same free or very inexpensive health care the as the military, and that includes free hearing aids,