Author Archives: Sandra Pesmen

Anita Hill Revisited????????? has managed to avoid politics in these past ten years, but what is happening now is not about politics, and , many believe, it’s crossed the red line of human empathy.

In an effort to show responses from our readerrs, here’s an email from a 60-year-old woman who has been an oby-gyn more than 30 years. We will welcome, and publish, your responses too:

“The Blasey-Kavanaugh kerfuffle: I am seeing red–Anita Hill deja vu. Hillary deja-vu. Remember him stalking behind her at the debate? If it weren’t for all the people keeping the faith in liberal democracy, I think I would self-immolate. Spontaneous combustion. All these self-deluding ignorant creeps who think Blasey is lying, or “mis-remembering” what was, in essence, an attempted gang-rape need to imagine their teenage daughters in that situation. And realize that No, she would not tell Mom or Dad or the police about it because she escaped and she’s too young to realize that the perps walking free will attack someone else who might not be so lucky.
Sorry for the rant.?

We aren’ts sorry. We welcome all rants and await yours.

Nussbaum Hits Homer in ‘Curve of Departure’

I saw the remarkable 94-year-old Mike Nussbaum, leave his adoring audience spellbound once again, as he took on the role of patriarch of a troubled family.

The characters explored several unconventional issues in “Curve of Departure,” a delicate, often comic, drama, by Rachel Bonds, now playing in the Northlight Theater in Skokie, IL.

The characters had come to New Mexico for the funeral of Nussbaum’s character’s son, but while in the motel room, awaiting the funeral they discuss the interracial homosexual relationship of Nussbaum’s character’s grandson, and whether or not his former daughter-in-law—who very much adores him – should quit her career and care for him as he becomes more and more frail.

It was a lot of ground to cover in 90 minutes with no intermission, but , as has been said of other great actors, I would willingly sit in awe while watching Nussbaum read the Yellow Pages on stage.

Of special interest to those in my senior group, was the patriarch’s argument that he believes that when he is ready he should be allowed to end his own life.

The family goes bonkers, giving all the sensible reasons why he should not. To which Nussbaum ,in his usual great form, gives his argument, ending with, “It is my right!!!!”

I’m not going to ssay it’s his right—or he’s wrong. That’s up to the individual.

But I do say that if this thought provoking little play comes to a theater near you—go see it. And if Nussbaum is ever in your area, don’t miss him either. Even if he’s just reading the Yellow Pages.

Don’t Play ‘Victim Card’

I know that if you’re a recent widow, there’s a strong temptation to play “the victim” and talk about it. And for a while that’s necessary and more than acceptable. .

Unfortunately, others don’t want to keep hearing about it and such tales don’t make scintillating dinner table talk. All it will do is deprive you of future invitations. Who needs to be depressed?

Also, even though the situation is new to you, it’s not unique. Every other widow has a sad tale to tell too, some even sadder than yours.

I admit that when I get on a plane and can’t lift my bag to the overhead bin, I always tap a larger person on the arm and jokingly ask, “Will you please help this old widow lady?” I usually get a few smiles back, and the bags always land in the bin.

There’s enough going on in the world, and probably in your extended family, that can become very interesting party talk.

Use that instead.

And it’s always okay to show off pix of your kids and grand kids, because even if yours bore the audience, that will invite them to show off theirs.


Atonement Thoughts

And so we approach Yom Kippur, the day tJewish people fast, recall all their sins of the past year, and atone for them. That done, they hope to approach the new year with a clean slate–and a sincere desire to do better.

It’s not so different from making a Catholic Confession, or the many other ways all religions help members try and catch their maker’s ear with the hope of another chance to find grace.

If you have no affiliation, I believe your God is everywhere, most of all in your own heart and mind, and you can find solace wherever you are, saying whatever you feel to him or her.

For of course the ultimate goal in asking for forgiveness (and getting it) from yourself.

It’s also a good time to walk through the memorial park where your loved ones rest and sit down on a bench for a visit.

I recently saw this on my Facebook Page:

“Slow down and enjoy the journey. 2018 reminded me that when it is our time to leave this body no one can stop it. We have one life to live. The material things we invest in are left behind only to be discarded….”

I always believed the message I heard at the funeral of a loved one: “There is some discussion about whether there is Heaven and Hell. Some believe your spirit’s afterlife lies in the way you are remembered by your loved ones. If they often recall you with stories about love and joy, you’ve pretty much got it made.

Try doing that for your loved ones who are gone, and leave enough good memories for the kids to do that for you.

Time to Visit Loved Ones’ Graves

There’s a time to live, a time to die, and special times to visit the final resting places of those we love.

Jewish custom specifies that time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

In keeping with that tradition, Shalom Memorial Park and and Funeral Home will hold it’s 60th annual Kever Avot Memorial service at 10 a.m. Sunday Sept. 16, in the chapel on the grounds of Shalom Memorial Park, 1700 W. Rand Road , Arlington Heights.

After the service, you may visit your loved ones’ graves.

Scams Still There–Aimed AT US!

No matter how we try to protect ourselves, scams still happen, and many are aimed at elderly widows.

My friend Barbara is a case in point.

“I’m so ashamed. I was scammed today,” she said. “Luckily I caught on before I gave them my credit card information.”

She was working on her computer when a box came up flashing lights and blaring, “Alert! You have a malware virus! Call this number right away before your computer is destroyed.”

It had a Microsoft type logo so she thought it was official and called. A man with an Indian accent answered, and almost told her she had to buy a $300 program to have them clean it out and install a protection program.

That’s when she caught on and quickly ended the conversation.

“I already have a Norton protection system, and I wasn’t going to buy anything from him, but I was terrified that I had let him into my computer where he could get into my banks and other important site” she said.

Her son assured her that her personal sites are safe since she didn’t give any information, and she called the bank to alert them, and they too assured her that her accounts are safe.

Big lesson learned!###

A Burglar? Not Exactly

When I made plans to go on vacation last month, I alerted my neighbor and asked her to watch the house in case of fire,flood or any other disaster.

She took me seriously. I forgot to go back the next day and tell her my son called moments before I left, to say he’d be dropping into our home on his way from his home in Colorado to a meeting in Ohio–and would stay here overnight.

Unfortunately, my neighbor saw his rented car in the driveway but didn’t recognize my son. When she saw the light on on in his bedroom, she called police.

They arrived moments later, with red lights flashing and guns at the ready. My son opened the door, explained who he was, and showed ID.

Then he had the presence of mind to point to a family photo on the table–with his face in the front row.

Whew! What that tells us is that my local police does a great job of watching over me.l But it’s still smart to keep a family photo in a prominent place in the house.

Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers

It’s happening more and more often among my widowed friends: we lose things.

But the “win” comes when we find them again, which usually happens rather quickly.

Part of the reason is the large purses most of us carry, filled with everything we deem important: medicines, makeup, money, checkbook, credit cards, tissue, keys, photos of everyone in the family (many, many photos, ready to pull out and show to anyone who will look) and our Smartphones and Ipads.

They’re hard to lift, and clutched anxiously to our breasts most of the time.

Last Saturday a small group of neighbors gathered at a nearby restaurant for supper and when the check arrived, Renee reached for her purse and began searching for one of the several silk, zippered bags it contains. The one she was searching for holds her medical and credit cards—and it was gone!

She actually cried, and we were all upset,because we could definitely identify with her dilemma. I even confess to having occasional nightmares about losing my purse or my wallet and am abnormally grateful when I wake up and realize it wasn’t real.

We grabbed our phones to call there theater where we had just seen a film, but one man was smart enough to ask for the keys to my car because I had driven Renee to the restaurant. While we were all still wailing in the booth, he returned holding the black silk bag, credit cards intact, that had been resting on the floor of the front seat. Renee had forgotten to zip the large purse when she got in.

There was more here than just losing a bag. I have read that if you have suffered a traumatic loss of some kind, even in childhood, the feeling of tragic loss will reoccur whenever you lose something, even many years later.

In the case of widows, we have all lost someone very, very important to us. And if, as in Renee’s case, yours has been a long, loving marriage, that feeling of desperation is even greater.

But so is the “win” when you retrieve it.


Don’t Dessert Old Friends

We’re all so busy, it’s really easy to ignore friends who need a little extra “TLC”, and I was guilty.

I met Betty in college and continued to see and love her throughout our lives, eventually adding our husbands and children to our warm circle of friendship. She was the smartest, wittiest and most fun-loving girl I ever knew, and there were so many parallels in our lives until recently, that we enjoyed being together. Her marriage was a fine one, to a man equally intelligent, and together they traveled the world and were successful in their careers while rearing two remarkable children.

But when her husband died six years ago, Betty underwent a drastic change, becoming abnormally anxious and depressed. It became worse with each year and she stopped driving, going anywhere, or calling anyone. I noticed she became forgetful, more terrified of everything, including losing hr keys or medications, so she carried them with her in a huge purse, that must have weighed 30 pounds, everywhere she went. She also began using a four- pronged cane, though no doctor ever suggested it, “Because I’m terrified of falling.”

She became terrified of everything, and it was too much for me to watch. I stopped calling, and she never did. Last week I realized she hadn’t called me, and I missed talking to her. When I called she was lying on the loveseat in her kitchen trying to watch a program on a new TV set she hasn’t learned to operate. I felt ashamed when I heard the happiness in her voice when she heard mine. Excitedly she agreed to meet for lunch and we made arrangements for me to pick her up.

I walked through her unlocked door (“Oh, I kept forgetting my keys so I stopped ever locking the door,” she said, showing no concern for the fact that she lives alone in a small ranch house in a town where most people lock their doors AND install burglar alarms.

The house was in as much distress as Betty was, with unopened mail strewn across the couch and overflowing onto the living room carpet. The kitchen sink and table were covered with dishes and, and blankets, books and DVD tapes crowded her on the loveseat.

She hadn’t been to the beauty salon in weeks, she said, and this formerly fastidious Fashionista was wearing a long sleeve velour brown sweater and dark brown polyester pants with pills all over them on a day registering 9 0 degree heat. To stop her dismay over the condition of her once beautifully coiffed hair, I suggested she put on a hat and she did as we trooped out to my car. Now she was using two four-pronged canes and still hadn’t ever fallen.

We had lunch and for two hours she was her old self, retelling funny anecdotes of our years gone by together.

But then I took her home with a heavy heart.

I’m sure her children have tried to intervene but Betty is a very stubborn woman who will smile and agree, then do as she likes. I’m debating about how much intervention I can provide too.

I won’t dessert her again. I am keeping close and will try to encourage her children to bring in professionals to help.

What are YOU doing for old friends in this situation? It’s happening to so many.

See You At the Voting Booth

Regardless of which party you believe in, it’s important to get to the polls and vote for its representatives in November.

I realized that before the last election, and signed up to become an election judge. It seemed the least I could done for this country that has been so generous in all ways to four generations of our family.

I took training and worked in the polls fro 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election day. I felt somewhat intimidated by my lack of experience and skills, because the last time I did that, so many years ago, everything was on paper and simply distributed and collected. Now it is complicated and computerized. Being somewhat older than my fellows at the Polling Place, and somewhat slower with responses because of eyesight issues, I was afraid I wouldn’t be asked back ( A hard pill to swallow for someone who was voted Most Popular Girl in her high school graduating class!)

But lo and behold we are our own worst enemies, seeing problems and prejudice where none exists. It seems no one else dismissed my work, and I was invited to return for the next election as a judge in either a polling place or a nursing home.

I was delighted to have that choice for the first time. A nursing home will be the perfect place to exercise my election judge talent, since everything in such a setting moves slower, including the people and some election judges.

God bless America for setting up polling places in senior residences!
See you at the polls!