April 14, 2014 in Features

Easter, music, parent care prompt reader responses

 
Write it out

The Spokesman-Review wants to hear from you, baby boomers.

Please write about this topic: Do you smoke marijuana?

Did you quit when the children arrived? Are you considering taking it up again now that the nest is empty? Now that you’ve retired? Did you never stop? How has pot changed since your younger days? Stigmas?

Keep essays between 200 and 400 words.

Email them to ericac@spokesman.com. Include a daytime phone number for verification.

After a tough week, writing about her childhood Easter memories in the 1960s perked up Spokane baby boomer Chris Kaufman.

Kaufman submitted the Easter essay in answer to our occasional Write It Out prompt, which she said triggered “these most treasured memories.”

Another prompt about influential music got Barb Beck thinking about the soundtrack of her life, which inspired the Colbert woman to write about three songs familiar to most boomers.

Lucy Jeanne of Deer Park wrote about her father’s vascular dementia and her struggles, from taking away his checkbook to his car keys, after answering a prompt about the hardships and rewards for boomers caring for aging parents.

Baskets, candy, Italian brunch made Easter special

Easter has always been my favorite holiday – undoubtedly because of the wonderful Easter memories from my childhood. First thing on Easter morning we would search for our Easter baskets which were usually hidden on either the front porch or inside the front closet. (I don’t know how the Easter bunny made it in the closet, but when it was raining outside, somehow he did. I, of course, now know it was Dad.)

Inside those pretty, old-fashioned straw baskets would be yellow marshmallow Peeps, chocolate eggs, brightly colored sugar eggs and all of our other favorite candies! The baskets would be decorated (by Mom) with pretty, bright bows and a fuzzy little chick tied to the straw handle.

But the best part of Easter was brunch at my grandparents’ house. I could hardly wait for Mass to get over so that we could get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Often I would get a new Easter outfit – complete with dress, coat, shoes, purse, hat and gloves – the whole bit because family pictures would be taken every year.

My grandparents (who were 100 percent Italian) would make the most wonderful brunch, which included a gigantic pepperoni omelet (which Gramps would flip without breaking) and Grandma’s famous citrus Easter bread. And to top it all off, after brunch I would get a metal sprinkling can (and my brothers a metal pail and shovel) filled with more candy and a stuffed toy rabbit. I still wonder to this day… “What ever happened to my pink-and-orange-polka dot bunny?”

– Chris Kaufman, Spokane

Songs stir happy memories – and not so happy ones

First the song which has influenced my life is “Make It With You” by Bread. The night my husband asked me to marry him, we had been to Ratzkellers Bar in Coeur d’Alene. It was about closing time and the last song they played was this particular song, and he actually danced with me. The words just tell our life story and our relationship so clearly. We will celebrate 44 years together in September.

The song that brings me back to a special place is “Walk Don’t Run” by the Ventures. When I was in high school, whenever we had a student assembly, the sophomore seating area was in the balcony. There was a Senior Boy Band who always played the Ventures songs and other instrumentals. (I actually had a crush on the drummer.) Every time I hear that song, I am transported back to that time.

The song I still don’t like and cringe when I hear it is “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye. An old boyfriend loved that song. I will not say any more.

– Barb Beck, Colbert

Caring for father presents challenges, changes plans

My retirement dream was: happily married, gardening, traveling. But not long after the divorce and then my mother’s death, I began to notice some troubling signs.

My father, then 85, a sociology professor emeritus, author of three books and a prudent financial planner, was spending most of his days at the dining room table writing checks. Sorting stacks of junk mail, he’d choose “charities” and various causes to support with $10 to $35 donations, by the hundreds.

A little online research showed that most of them were considered scams, preying on kind and trusting people like him who wanted to share.

Alarmed, I began going through his financial records and found that his “charitable contributions” were averaging almost $20,000 per year. I made a chart with the rating for each organization (over 200), and the amount he had given to scams. Nothing changed. He was their ideal prospect – swayed by the emotional appeal of talented copy writers.

Then came the blood clot and MRI. The report listed a series of nine minor strokes and showed that part of his brain was atrophied. The diagnosis: vascular dementia. Although he was still moving and functioning normally, his doctor said it would be an unpredictable descent into mental oblivion.

I continued to let him drive for simple errands around Deer Park until one afternoon when he didn’t come home. Four eternal hours later, I was grabbing him into my arms, sobbing. He was in the back of a police car, in Newport, 30 miles north of Deer Park after a few “wrong turns” on his way home from Yoke’s. Luckily I kept a card of emergency phone numbers in his car.

The endless talks about no more driving were agonizing for both of us. He forgot the next day. So I showed him the police report, again. As the disease has progressed, there are always new topics for endless talks: changing Depends, going to bed, taking a shower.

Although satisfying to keep my father comfortable at home, caretaking has been a major challenge. Almost daily I’m forced to re-examine my own moral issues about role reversal, personal boundaries, compassion and what I would want for myself. It’s also lonely.

I’m most grateful for random moments that others miss: “Daddy, you can’t wear a torn shirt to the doctor’s office!”

“That’s so he’ll feel sorry for me and not charge so much.”

Lucy Jeanne, Deer Park


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