Thursday, September 1, 2016

My mother's worst day

My mother is 92 actually closer to 93 than 92 and she has Alzheimer's.  She's closing in on the final stage.  She's currently living at home but doesn't realize it.  She often says she wants to go home which is heartbreaking since I've gone to great lengths to keep her in her home. It is now apparent that is no longer possible.  She fights us when we try to move her because she thinks she's going to fall. She screams and then cries like a baby out of sheer fear.  It's heartbreaking and the worst is sometimes it becomes apparent that she knows she's in this out of body experience that isn't a reflection of who she is.  On top of that she's actually trapped in a sub basement.  It's been dolled up with new carpeting and it looks nice but she is really trapped in this 20 x 12 space.  Recently it became apparent she could no longer manage the 7 stairs that would take her to a different level with better views but no bathroom.  It did allow her to escape that space and to enjoy the outdoors. Now the highlight of her life is looking  out the below ground-level windows  at  the garden she created.  It's my mother's masterpiece.  Growing up she was a stay at home mother, overwhelmed raising her kids.  She showed no creative ambition that we saw growing up. But quietly and in her own way she started to create this magnificent garden.   Now, with her current view,  she sees one Rose of Sharon bush and some flowers but it's 1/100th of what she created.  She has multiple bird feeders which I've placed close to the windows  and its been fun watching the birds flock to  the feeder, although the damn chipmunks eat the feed and chase away the birds. They  are the bane of my existence. At  least she is  engaged with the  birds that now frequent the feeder.  I've realized that something so simple can make you happy and it does it for both of us. 

That's background, now to the worst day.  I arranged to have a masseuse come to mom's home to work on her. She has a bad shoulder which interferes with  us being able to move her painlessly.  I know she liked it.  She fell asleep almost instantly--even though getting her on the table was a nightmare.  When the hour was up you could see a peaceful, relaxed expression on her face.  I felt like I won the war in a battle with few victories. Then we had to get her off the table which is no small feat for someone with this hideous disease.  It was a struggle, that expression immediately left her face as we tried to get her off the table.  We got her into a lift chair and she napped but when she woke up she was agitated, angry and confused.  And here is the worst thing, between fighting and screaming at us, she cried  (without tears but with heartfelt emotion) and wagged her finger in our faces.  Tragically there were moments of total clarity...and just as quickly as they appeared they disappeared. She knew someone else had inhabited her body and she didn't like it.  She'd apologize and then went bat shit crazy.  It did me in.  I had no more fight in me.  I wanted to sob but couldn't.  I could tell she felt the same way.  She has no idea why this is happening.  She's fearful most of the time especially since most of the time she has no idea who we are.  I am about to place her in a home and that breaks my heart but the situation at her home is unsafe and unmanageable. This sucks.  And don't think for a minute I don't look at my mother and think there but for the grace of god go I.  And that grace might disappear when I'm in my mid-80.  I'm a realist. I know that today will not be my mother's worst day. I always look at shitty life situations as problems that need to be solved but this life situation involves my mother.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.  There aren't many of those now but one can hope.   

Monday, June 1, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner and me

Senior Adventures in the City 

 Adventures of a Senior Exploring it All 

 Caitlyn Jenner and I share some things in common. Not a kick-ass body, or gold medals, or children that are millionaires nope none of the above but we are from the same generation and we're both standing on the precipice of big change.

  We both came of age in the 60's and now in our 6th decade we're leaving behind what defined us. For me it's my career for her it's about gender. Even I know that comparison's a stretch but stay with me. 

 1. We're both optimistic but don't know what the future holds. 

 2. We both want to make the best of the time that's left and lets face facts more is behind us than ahead. We both wanna make a difference. She's won gold medals and has opened the dialog on being transgender. I've won a few Emmy's and have tried to advance the dialog on important issues like race, gender and so much more (Thank you Phil Donahue). I've always attempted to use TV to make a difference not to tear people apart. 

 3. We're both single and looking for love. I swear if she finds it before me I'm gonna be pissed. 

4. We both hate haircuts. She's going for the long look while it can't be short enough for me. I don't want to spend one more minute looking for the "right" hair product that will keep my hair under control. 

5. I want my life to be an adventure and no one would describe Caitlyn's as anything but. I want to survive and thrive in NYC on a fixed income without being a prisioner in my apartment. (no match there). I want to travel, spend time with friends and family, see plays, and be Auntie Mame to my grandchildren. Caitlyn wants to live life as the woman she's always felt she was meant to be. She doesn't want to hurt any of the K's or other kids but it's her time. And how interesting that the name choice was Caitlyn not Katilyn. 

So you see Caitlyn and I are not so different. Except for her kick ass body and boobs. Her coming out party was today's cover of Vanity Fair shot by Annie Leibovitz. Caitlyn rocked it. I would die to look that good in a red dress! (deeper dive for that pic) 

 Since this is my first Senior adventures in the city blog here's what you can expect. I'm going to share my adventures around NYC and any other city I happen to visit. I will always be looking for deals. Here's my first share: There's a great happy hour at Sotto 13 in the West Village, . You get 2 glasses of wine or specialty cocktails for $13 bucks and delicious pizza's for $10 (the mushroom w/ truffle oil is fantastic). 

 So glasses up and lets toast Caitlyn. Your coming out party was a huge success. My trip by subway, bus and boat to IKEA Brooklyn not so much! 

Friday, October 11, 2013


Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I love the Hinsdale library. When I'm in IL working and spending time with my mother it's my escape. They have great computers and printers and I'm surrounded by books-- what could be better. There's been a cosmic shift at the library. I think a memo went out and I missed it. My quiet refuge has turned into a loud, unrecognizable place. I'm sitting across from a well dressed woman who I think might be a real estate agent. She's popping gum, tossing her larger than life purse from one side to the other. Periodically she calls out to the librarian for help. I think she sees this place as her private office and the librarian as her personal assistant. That would be offensive if it weren't for the fact that the badly dressed librarian is louder than the fake real estate lady. About one hour ago, 2 teenage girls were loudly dropping the F bomb while shouted to each other from two different computer stations. They were on a site on a live chat with guys while talking to others on their cell phones. One patron left in disgust after complaining about the girls. Yesterday a woman who I truly believe had Alzheimer's, singled me out for help. She was very loud and very confused and very sweet. She wanted to send a letter to the NY Times about health care reform, talk about irony, but she didn't have a clue how to use the computer. I did my best to help but it was a mind field of problems. She didn't know her library card number or her password or her email or that password and out of frustration, she finally gave up. I felt bad for her but since you only get 90 min of computer time and I'd used up 20 min with her, I had to cut her loose. It's now 6:40 PM, should be the dinner hour but its hopping at the Hinsdale library. The loud librarian continues her conversations with anyone who will listen. the couple to my right are talking up a storm and the fake real estate agent is still popping her gum and tossing her purse. I think I'm going to join the homeless man in the quiet room.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


SURPRISE I was diagnosed with Breast cancer in May. This may seem an insensitive way to hear this but please understand it's hard to tell dear friends what appears to be scary news. BTW, no one was more surprised than I was since I was the first in my family to get that diagnosis (over-achiever). It's now September and here's a quick catch up on my progress. I had two biopsies, 3 MRI's, a lumpectomy and am now going through radiation treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NY. My breast haven't seen this much action in 15 years. I've been very lucky my tumor was very small. It was undetectable by touch and was discovered during a mammogram. I hadn't had one in four years mainly because no females in my family had breast cancer and I thought the chances of getting it were slim to none. I've learned a lot during this process that I want to share. I hope it's helpful: 1. Get mammograms when you're suppose to even if breast cancer isn't in your family. As you get older life catches up with you. In my case, being over-weight for so many years, smoking in my 20-40's and enjoying cocktails certainly could have contributed. I'm not blaming the victim here but lets be honest sure genetics play a huge part but so does lifestyle especially when the diagnosis comes later in life. 2. Get a second opinion. I did and the treatment plans were very different. I went with what was right for me. My plan involved less radiation and a different surgery. Don't be involved and question, question, question. My daughter went with me. She asked good questions and had a opinion about treatment...she wanted to Angelina Jolie me which wasn't the ultimate pick but I did investigate that as an option. For those of you who haven't had the consultation believe me she went through a very rough procedure. 3. Once the tumor was removed I was told "you're cancer free" what happens next is preventative. I didn't know that. Maybe I'm simple but I didn't know that. I"m having radiation to kill any potential cells that might be standing in wait. I didn't need chemo, I was very, very lucky. I'm really grateful for so much at this point. I have a great support system at home and on the job and good doctors. I don't feel sick although I know this is very serious. My first trip to Sloan Kettering I walked in ready for the fight. I turned the corner to the elevator and saw wheelchairs exited with women who obviously were getting chemo therapy. They too were fighting but their battle was far rougher than mine. Friday, I came out of the radiation room and looked to my left and saw a small child laying on a gurney looking so frail after treatment. There's a young woman in the waiting room that catches my attention anytime we are scheduled at the same time. She looks 15 but could be in her early 20's. She's lost her hair and wears a bandana. She has a beautiful face and is small and delicate of stature. She dresses simply in jeans and wears ballet slipper type shoes with one large jewel on the top. It's the shoes that make me think she's young. I imagine they're the one bright thing she looks at that makes her feel better during treatment. I've imagined her story. I'm waiting for the right time to talk to her if there is a right time. Today a woman came from treatment crying because someone she always visited with in the waiting room had died. The nurse was doing her best to comfort her. It's all of these little glimpse into others lives and treatment that wake me up. This is a bad disease. I want that young girl and that child to have the length of years I've been granted. I won't forget those images. It's heartbreaking to see the young go through this ordeal. It seems fair to take me on-- but so unfair to go after children. So Cancer ....Schmancer, it's just another of life's challenges. If you think this is rough you should work in syndication. That's it for now. BTW, the irony of the picture to the side of this post with me 70 lbs heavier having a cocktail isn't lost on me. I couldn't figure out how to change it. Damn technology.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I've have the honor, and I mean that, of being with my mother as she's faced some tough medical challenges this past year. It's my chance to give back-- a full circle time in my life. It's been an up-hill battle full of setbacks but Virginia Walsh is tough. There’ve been flickers of her old self but it's been rough and this experience has changed all of her "adult" children's lives.

When you have a living parent, no matter what your age, you're still a child. That explains much of the childish behavior surrounding her care and the squabbles over her treatment. I don’t know why I thought we'd agree...the Walsh's never agreed on anything. Inside our adult bodies are the kids we were growing up in the house we all once called home. We've had battles, there’s been name calling, crying, and at times we've almost came to blows. None of it made it better...if anything it hurt each of us in ways I hope will not be irreparable.

My mom says being 86 is like being on death row. "You know you're on borrowed time but you don't know when your number will be called up." Initially, I found that rather pessimistic but I'm starting to reconsider her point of view. Here’s the ugly truth. It's not fun to surrender your freedom or to give up your independence and control to your kids. It sucks to reverse rolls with your children. She's fighting it all the way and that makes it soooo much harder to cope. Today we fought about a shower. She didn't want one....I thought she should have one. She got testy, I got hurt. She was right--I was wrong. She should at least have a say in when she takes a shower. After the fight, she went for a walk, with the help of an aide, up and down the street trying to regain her strength and her independence. As I watched I realized it really didn't matter if she took that shower, what mattered was for that brief walk she was back in control.

My sister likes to get mom all dressed up—she puts on makeup and does her hair. I can barely get her ready for the day… makeup and hairdo’s are the last thing on my mind. But, she likes it….it makes her feel alive. When my sister is fussing over mom’s appearance, she’s not on death row.

My mother and I sleep in the same bed. I don't run there for comfort like I did when I was a child....I'm there to make sure she's safe. I listen to her breathing, I watch her drift into sleep, I hear her wake in the middle of the night but stay quiet so she won't interrupt my sleep. Even now, my mother continues to teach me things about compassion and love.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oprah/ Dr. Oz/ Jay Leno--view from the sidelines

It's premiere week and Oprah's back with a bang and WHITNEY. I couldn't stop watching. Overall it was a very good interview but I could have done without the fawning. It was so obvious Whitney got to Oprah. If you don't believe me check out part 2 --35 min into the show the "I prayed this too" part. If you still don't believe me check out WH's performance 45 min in and watch for the cut-away of Oprah crying and singing . I rest my case. BTW, the stage looked stunning. I have to say, it was dishy and it was great to see Whitney walk down those stairs. Everyone loves a redemption story and Whitney delivered big time. Tomorrow, O plays catch up on the Michael Jackson story--a make good for being away when he died. Can't wait. A friend told me that Wendy Williams was dishing the Oprah interview...sorry I missed that.

Oprah spawn Dr. OZ premiered yesterday. I really like Dr. Oz, but the show was flat. I expected a bigger launch. Shoot for the moon your competition, THE DOCTORS has a head start, a decent audience and "hit status." The show lead with Laura Berman's a great therapist but she's done the errogenous zones 100 times 100 different places not new and a surprise choice for day 1. OMG please don't make American's Doctor (Oprah's tag) do crazy dances. I dont' think it serves him well to look like a would be contestant on Dancing with the stars.

Jay, was nervous. Wouldn't you be nervous if your job was to save the network and change the television landscape? He landed Kanye 1st interview after the VMA's... facebook & twitter were a buzz. In a soft and gentle fashion he asked the perfect question, "what would his mother have thought of his actions?" Knockout! Seinfeld, Oprah via satelite not shabby. Also on the show a cute bit in the car wash that went on too long...must have been a deluxe wash. The Obama remix with Jay was the best comedy bit in my humble opinion. I watched tonight...he's already more relaxed--you can never count out Jay Leno.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I've been out of town for two weeks and today was the day I planned to catch up on stacks of mail and pay bills. Instead I spent the majority of the day watching CNN. I couldn't change the channel because I couldn’t believe what was happening in IRAN or to a young woman identified as Neda.

I watched shocking amateur cell-phone video of Neda covered in blood. A sniper had shot her. All who watched, and there were millions of us, bore witness to the horrific images of her music teacher frantically trying to keep her alive. I am haunted by the image of this girl slipping from life before our very eyes. I have two daughters and my heart hurts for this family. Their pain would be more than I could bear.

I have an image of women in the Middle East that right or wrong is my perception of women in that region. These women are repressed and mere pawns of men that do little to advance their place in the world. They are most often draped from head to toe in black, sometimes with only their eyes showing. What I watching for days on CNN does not match that image. There are so many brave young women risking their lives over there. They are wearing black but their hands hold rocks or their arms are raised in defiance. They march in step with men with whom they share one thing in common; they want to change their future. That was something I never expected to see. It's easy to dismiss these people. It's easy to think they're all nuts or terrorists or enemies of America but if you've been watching TV or following twitter or Facebook you can't think that way anymore. How different are they from us? They want what we be free, to have a voice.

I have such respect for the Iranians but more specifically the women. I respect their courage. They are so young, so hopeful. Their adult lives are just beginning like Neda's should have been. There is a history in Iran of horrible things happening to those who stand up to the government. They disappear; they're picked up and put away for decades or worse they are murdered like Neda. I see in them something that touches my soul. We have common ground. Don't we all want to love, live a full life and be mourned when we die? Neda, who represents so many others, should not have died. She was murdered and we all saw it. We saw her teacher trying to save her. We saw her take her last breath.

My daughter told me this morning she had trouble sleeping last night so she put on the TV; she watched what was going on in IRAN. She saw Neda die and she said she couldn't stop crying. I know exactly how she feels.