Arnie and I gratefully sank into opposite sides of the booth we were shown. Relieved we were somewhere warm, we slipped off our coats. Turning over the menu, Arnie exclaimed with a smile, “What do you know, we’re eligible for the senior discount!”
Our winter birthdays were one month apart. He had turned 55 years old at Thanksgiving. At Christmas, so did I. Up until then, we thought senior discounts started at age 65. This restaurant started them at 55. It was a small perk, but it warmed our hearts on that cold and blustery January day.
Arnie liked to tease me by telling our children that I was much older than he was. After my husband died unexpectedly, four months after he turning 56, I thought to myself as I grappled with grief, “Now I will truly be older than Arnie. What a cruel joke!” Then the years began to roll by as I continued to live and work.
Two years before I retired from being a Certified Nursing Assistant, I had a patient one day who touched my heart. It was an old man who hadn’t received any company during the previous week. Not a single flower or plant had been sent to him. I resolved to spend a little extra time talking with him as he washed, changed gowns and brushed his teeth.
Later, as I charted my activities, I happened to notice that the patient’s age was listed as 63 years of age. That was exactly how old I was at the time. Shocked, I realized I had thought of him as an old man. Soothing my sensibilities, I rationalized, “Surely, we’ve aged at different rates!” Continue reading
The air smelled earthy, spiced by the many plants in various stages of shutting down for winter. Closing the garden door behind me, I stood silent, looking around at the rows and listening to the slow drops of condensation dripping from the plastic hoop building ceiling. The sound of the drops falling to the dusty soil below seemed exaggeratedly loud, “plop!…plop!”
The outer leaves of the most delicate plants were dark and wilted, nipped by Jack Frost the night before. A harder freeze was forecast for the next few nights. It was time to put my garden to bed for the winter.
Although I am a hard-core list maker, I didn’t need to make a list today. I knew what needed to be done first and what needed to be done last. The plants that would freeze when the thermometer lowered to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, needed to be carefully dug up, replanted in pots and taken into the house. Poinsettias grow lush during the summer in my hoop-building garden. If too many of their roots are broken when transplanted, they don’t do well. Continue reading
Although it was Sunday morning, Mom didn’t have chicken roasting in the oven. That was my first clue the day was going to be different. The second clue came by eavesdropping on my teen aged sisters in their bedroom.
Betty said, “I heard Mom ask Rosie if she and Glenn were going to come with us to Rib Mountain on Sunday. Rosie said they would come, and so would Agnes and Jim. Have we ever been there before?”
Mary answered, “I don’t think so. Some of my friends have. They said it was a nice park and they had fun climbing around on the rocks.”
Racing downstairs into the kitchen, I found Mom cutting slices of bread. She had already cut at least two loaves. I excitedly questioned, “Mom! Are we really going to have a picnic on Ribbon Mountain?”
“That’s Rib Mountain,” Mom laughed, “not Ribbon. Yes, we’re having a picnic at the Rib Mountain park.”
I frowned. “Rib?” I had sincerely thought it was Ribbon Mountain! Once in a while when the weather was right and we were on high enough ground, my brother had pointed out the small mountain to me. It appeared to as a faraway mist-covered hill.
I watched as Mom put large chunks of bologna into the meat grinder and began to turn the crank. She opened a jar of dill pickles and put several of them into the grinder, too. When she added mayonnaise to the mixture, I realized what she was doing! Mom was making bologna sandwiches, just like she did last summer when we had a picnic at the Eau Pleine Park. My mouth watered. Ground bologna sandwiches were delicious! Continue reading
My family trooped into church up the right-side aisle, genuflected and filled the entire fourth-from-the-front pew. I reached up to scratch my head, knocking my small curvette hat askew. Mom removed her white gloves and set them down next to her purse before straightening my headgear. I twitched and flounced my short, fluffy, Sunday dress, uncomfortable because my bare legs were sticking to the wooden pew.
A few minutes after the Mass started, I heard someone cough. It was a very strange, wet sound. Somewhere between a gurgle and a bark. From time to time throughout the next hour I heard the sound. Mom didn’t like my turning around to see who was coughing like that. She turned me firmly face-front.
In the car on the way home after church, I asked, “Who was that man in church with the…” I stopped to think what word described it best…“noodley cough?”
All my brothers and sisters laughed. “Noodley?” They questioned in chorus.
In my seven-year-old mind I could picture the cough sounding the way a plate of buttered elbow macaroni looked. Continue reading