Posts Tagged ‘Sisters’

… along with more balloons.

And we were too, flying into Manhattan for a sisterly visit. The City was pretty in a late winter way. It seems there are less people walking about, maybe it’s because we were on the West side? The wind was crisp and bitingly cold, the sun peeked through now and then. I walked into a small market to buy black and white cookies for Kay, and a young woman looked straight at me – which is never done in NYC if you can help it – and said.

“Is that a Rachel Comey?” And so we struck up a small conversation.

“Yes,” I said referring to the designer of my colorful long puffy coat, “and I bought it at Target last year for $50!”

She proceeded to tell me exactly what Comey clothes she scored at Target. These short, pleasant conversations with strangers are some of the moments I’ve missed the past few years. I suppose wearing a mask makes small talk unlikely. Still, I’ve grown accustomed to random women shouting compliments at me, “I love your coat!” almost every time I wear it. It’s a hard coat to miss, its wild/pink/magenta/navy/persimmon abstract design shouts LOOK AT ME. And this young woman made my day.

She had no idea my sister fell off a footstool and broke her hip, or why I was standing in that market, or that Bob and I were In the middle of an emotional week visiting Morningside’s acute care rehab. For a split second, I almost felt “hip!”

We took most of the NY family out to dinner one night – Lynn, her daughter and a great cousin or is it nephew Kris and niece Annie, who is married to Bart, a Physical Medicine and Rehab Pain doctor. Bart is also French and he and Annie have been instrumental in cheering Kay on her road to recovery. It was a delicious night with the two doctors comparing notes, and finding out that Annie is pursuing her private pilot license! Bob won’t be the only pilot in the family.

Did you happen to see Rihanna floating above the Super Bowl Sunday night? A friend said she thought the halftime show was ageist because you had to be under 40 to appreciate it. I wasn’t that fond of all the white-clad dancers, they reminded me of the Groom’s spacesuit stint in Covid PPE. Riri’s red pleather outfit was an unusual way to announce her pregnancy, and I’ve got to give her credit, her performance was spectacular. Not sure I’d allow myself to be hoisted singing and dancing above the crowds while with child. Wait, I’m sure the answer would be no. Thanks.

Heck I wouldn’t go up in a hot air balloon when the Bride was a newborn!

I did go floating above the Shenandoah Valley with Bob in a hot air balloon after moving to VA. I figured the kids were grown and could take care of themselves. It was exhilarating watching the cows try to hide from our huge, noisy, menacing presence in the sky; until I realized we were at the mercy of the wind. The balloon pilot could take us up and down, but we had to be on the lookout for a big green field or meadow in order to land.

And I had to be OK with that, with not knowing. In a sense, this aging business puts us all at the mercy of the wind. I can only hope it will stay at Kay’s back, pushing her recovery forward, until we both land on our feet.

Have a very Happy Valentine’s Day if you celebrate!? This is the only pic I could find of the coat, please excuse the close-up.

Read Full Post »

Every morning I languish a little in bed. I listen to the birds who are calling for Spring. I listen to Bob making coffee in the kitchen. I try to remember yesterday’s Wordle. Then I stretch, just a little, like Ms Bean would do after getting up from her comfy bed. I take note of my pain – my neck is blessedly quiet, how is the right hip, how far can I bend the knees? I expected that my bones would ache in the morning with age, and improve as I moved through the day. Instead, it’s the opposite. My body is at its best when I awake, and as the day wears on, the osteoarthritis kicks in.

Lately though, my first thought is about my sister.

My sister Kay is the oldest one of us still living. The glamorous, Lipstick Feminist Stewardess of the 50s and early 60s. My sister, who at 15 carried me to my foster parents after our Year of Living Dangerously, and left me in Victory Gardens, never to forget me. The working, single mom on the Upper East Side of New York who was a template for Holly Golightly. Audrey Hepburn’s character and Kay both survived a traumatic childhood, and navigated rocky romantic relationships. I always looked up to her; I envied her ability to draw and paint like a Dutch Master. She had a way of being in the world that was easy and full of confidence. Kay is an artist and charismatic still, and only slightly directive like a big sister.

Last week Kay took it upon herself to clean the top of the refrigerator. You may ask why would an 88 year old decide to climb a step stool? I know I did. I’m also pretty sure I’ve never cleaned the top of my refrigerator. .. ever. That being said, she fell and broke her other hip. The good hip. Her surgery was just four days ago and her daughter, with help from local family members, is helping to manage her transition to acute care rehab. Living alone, for most us, will prove too hard eventually. We Boomers need to plan for continuing care long before we need it, before a medical crisis. I guess it’s just too hard to look our mortality in the face.

About three years ago, Kay told us that her hospital was starting a new Geriatric program for its medical students. Maybe it was a response to the pandemic, but my sister was asked if she’d like to participate. My brother Dr Jim and I encouraged her, and since she had already mastered Zoom for our Sunday sibling sessions, we thought she’d enjoy chatting with a young person. And of course, she loved it! So much so, that Kay has now met the young medical student, Esha’s, friends and gone out to dinner with her a number of times. And although this is the season for exploring residency programs all over the country, thankfully Esha has been at her bedside and helping us connect with her orthopedic team.

I remember my stylish sister: having cherries jubilee set ablaze at the Rainbow Room; walking to the Metropolitan Museum and the Whitney and the Guggenheim; my niece’s wedding at the Convent of the Sacred Heart; going to the Big Apple Circus in Lincoln Center; walking to the Madison Deli for our favorite sandwiches; meeting Dr Jim at an outdoor cafe when he returned from Vietnam. I was drinking Grand Marnier and the smell of oranges always brings me back to that moment, waiting with my sister.

Bob has started up the elliptical. And Ms Bean is roaming around the house wondering if it’s time for a walk. Our senior pup is deaf and mostly blind, but she can still smell like a trooper and insists on her daily walks around the neighborhood. Wouldn’t you if you had 100 million sense receptors in your nose? I’ve heard her slow sniffing is like reading the gossip column every day. Still, in January, I find myself wishing that Bean would get on with it. After all, walking is a big part of my recovery.

The Bride has loaned me a book by Katherine May, “Wintering: the Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times.”

“By winter, she means not just the cold season, but “a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider.” In Wintering, May writes beautifully of her own recent bout with a personal winter, a period when she felt low and overwhelmed, out of sorts and “out of sync with everyday life.” 


I guess my winter started early last year, in the midst of summer actually. I was told by multiple doctors to, “shut it down.” No traipsing off to Italy. No more walking! I had to rely on Bob for everything and he was my rock. And now that the pelvis has healed, I must be “careful” for the next few months and build back my strength. I’ve graduated from water PT to land PT.

Yesterday I asked Bob to deliver some of my homemade soup to a neighbor who is experiencing her own winter, caring for her husband. We are, all of us, buffeted by seasons of joy and sorrow. My sister is strong, and smart and willing to walk again. I’m beginning to see the signs of Spring.

Read Full Post »

Hello Baby Brother

Hello Baby Brother

I’m in the land of Music again, only this time it’s been a whirlwind, fast trip. The Love Bug was a beautiful Ballerina for Halloween; more White Swan less Black Swan. And then the very next day we were surprised to welcome her baby brother to the world, three weeks early! The family is home and doing fine, and soon we’ll have a Bris to celebrate his passage into the Tribe.

The problem is, this passionate progressive didn’t get a chance to vote! I hate to admit it but I was not prepared to vote early this year, and not prepared to be out-of-town either! And now I feel really bad – what if Warner loses by ONE vote??? http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Mark-Warner-Ed-Gillespie-Virginia-Senate-Race–281500861.html

What can you do, especially since no one under the age of 35 has old-fashioned TV service anymore, and I don’t have WiFi in my place. I just logged on at the Bride and Groom’s house to blog and read the results of the election online. UGH Too close to call is too close to home for me. But now that the GOP has control of the House AND the Senate, the prognosis for the next two years seems downright spooky! “Republicans Seize the Senate; Gaining Full Control of Congress” – notice they didn’t just capture the Senate, they seized it!! http://edition.cnn.com/2014/11/04/politics/election-day-story/index.html

What is wrong with that picture?! What’s right in Nashville is our little family of four and they have plenty of support in this musical community. Big Sister is back at pre-school, Dada (the Groom) took her to the Library today to see a puppet show, and friends have delivered food and recycled baby boy clothes already. Dada had just finished his on-call rotation in the Medical ICU, and Mama had a beautiful VBAC labor experience with her midwife and husband close-by, while I was driving fast to get here. Baby boy beat me by about half an hour!!

Welcome to the World!

Read Full Post »

I found out yesterday that my half-sister Shirley died. My sister Kay called to tell me. It was peaceful enough, she died in her sleep after refusing to be hospitalized for “low sodium.” I asked Bob what that means, and he said basically your system is shutting down. I have absolutely no memories of Shirley; she was 24 years older, she was having a baby at the same time I was born which I guess happened frequently back then. So, just as soon as I was born I became an aunt. She was out of the house long before our Year of Living Dangerously.

Shirley was the Flapper’s first child. The product of a dare, yes my mother married Shirley’s father on a dare. They met at a wedding in PA, and got along so well their friends dared them to get married. She was 16 years old, and I assume that kind of thing happened all the time too – the getting married at 16 part. Gi Closeup 20130505 Web

Before the Flapper’s first husband died, she had a son, Brian. At 21 she was widowed with 2 children. At first I thought their father died in the Great War, later I learned he died of a ruptured appendix, before penicillin was discovered. The Flapper moved to NYC with her sister in order to work, and left her children with their grandmother, my Nana.

And this is when the troubles started with Shirley. After awhile my beautiful mother moved back to PA and caught the eye of a young pharmacist at her street car stop. Enter my father, who promptly married her and insisted on adopting her 2 children…although maybe he didn’t since they never took his name. He raised them just like his own – the 4 who followed, Kay, Mike, Jimmy and then me. I told you this is all third hand knowledge.

The family folk tale is that Shirley never forgave the Flapper for taking her away from Nana, the woman she loved and considered her true mother. Certainly holding a grudge was a time honored tradition in our family. The result of this grudge fest is the eternal rift between Mother and Shirley. Show me a family that hasn’t experienced years of ‘not talking’ between relatives; still this mother/daughter feud was stellar in its length and complexity.

Recently I found out that Shirley contracted TB as a young, new mother. She was sent away to a sanitorium and her baby boy, the one who is my nephew, came to live with the Flapper after her accident. It was while looking through old pictures with Kay that I wondered who the baby was, the one who wasn’t me. The Flapper never told me – which is telling in itself – that after giving me up to foster care, while she was still in the hospital, she ended up caring for my nephew at home. Even Kay has no explanation for how this happened.

I was always told that I was never taken from my foster parents, Nell and Jim, because Mother was afraid of losing another daughter to a grudge fest. I have to think, considering our level of poverty, that we were lucky in avoiding placement in an orphanage, all of us. So maybe it was just the Flapper’s pride, which was fierce, that kept her from placing her first grandson in an orphanage. And even though she was bed-bound, crippled by that drunk driver, she would fight to keep him. Kay was 15, so she not only helped Mother with her physical rehab, she helped care for her younger brothers and her nephew. Without Kay, the middle of this family would not hold.

In this picture Shirley is on the far left, and Kay is on the far right standing. I wasn’t born yet.

Lynn Siblings 20130505 Web

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: