SHARE YOUR WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 11-4-19
QUESTIONS:
What is the meaning of true love?

I don’t know, but I think you know it when you find it. I could not possibly provide a definition. It’s different for everyone and even for a bonded couple, they will both give different definitions of “true love.” The one thing that seems to be true is bonding and loyalty … and sticking with it.

If you’ve got “a good one,” you will also have to put up with bad habits as well as love and the good stuff. You’ll find yourself say you’re sorry even if you’re not while remembering that your mate is doing the same for you. We all have to put up with stuff. No one is “made” for someone else. Some of us are barely made to be ourselves, much less for someone else.

I suspect it’s why second marriages are often more successful than first ones. We’ve gotten old enough to learn that it is never perfect, but if you learn to let things go, it can get pretty close.

Do acts of kindness have a motive? 

I suppose it depends on the individuals. Maybe some do, others probably don’t. I tend to be pretty generous when I can. But I may call in a favor because I need help and this is the person I think knows how to help.

If we live in a civilized world why do we see so many distinctions between rich and poor?

Because we have some really awful governments and far, far too many greedy corporations!

Do we love ourselves more in the virtual world than in the real world?

I don’t know what that means.

Our house on the square

Are you grateful?

For being alive and having a husband and friends I love. Dogs I love and a day and a comfortable place to sleep. There are many things about which I am a bit appalled, but on a personal level, we do okay.

Most of the time.

LONG DISTANCE LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I used to have a vibrant and full social life with lots of lunch dates with women and dinners with couples. There were trips to museums and shows with friends, dinner parties at people’s homes, meetings with fellow volunteers and ‘play dates’ with our children.

This sounds normal, but it assumes that your friends actually live near you. That was the case when I was younger – not so much anymore. Now I’m removed from most of my friends – separated by geography. My closest friend moved from the next town to Virginia many years ago. Another close friend moved to Florida. Two other couples moved to LA and Portland, Oregon, respectively.

Several good friends live in New York City which is driveable, but very inconvenient. We often spend over two hours in the car one way and have to pay $30 or more to park our car when we get there. Two other friends live in Massachusetts, a two and a half hour drive, which is not taken often.

Other nearby friends have drifted away over the years, like the parents of my kids’ friends who were apparently only convenience or proximity friends. Add to this the fact that my wonderful daughter has lived in LA for almost ten years!

The upshot of all this is that my connection with the people I love is more electronic these days than face to face. I have had to adjust to a life of texts and emails and the occasional phone call. I actually make ‘dates’ with one friend to have a long phone conversation every few weeks to stay caught up and to just chat.

My daughter and I have long phone conversations about everything but she hates the phone so this doesn’t happen as often as I would like. I love talking on the phone so staying in touch by phone satisfies my desire for connection.

It seems that my everyday contact is more and more through texts and emails, which are good for some things but not for others. It’s great to be able to share a cute photo of my dogs or show off the new lamp, or dress I just bought. My daughter has sent me selfies from the dressing room of a store to help her pick which outfit to buy. That is great. So is sending quick news flashes about insignificant happenings.

It falls short, however, when complex things are going on in your life or when there’s an emotional issue that requires more than a few lines to explain. Sometimes you just need a reassuring voice in your ear. On the other hand, sometimes a few lines of moral support from a distant friend can be very meaningful and helpful. Not quite a hug, but not all that bad.

My intimate conversations are mostly done by phone now. I have a few close friends nearby but they are not retired yet and have very busy lives. So finding time to sit and talk isn’t always easy, even when we live down the road.

I’ve gotten used to this situation and can feel satisfied after a good phone talk in lieu of an in-person interaction. I don’t love Face time or Skype. I don’t feel seeing a small, usually distorted photo of my friend on a small screen, really adds anything to the conversation.

My son has also moved one and a half hours away so we talk on the phone every day and text a lot – mostly jokes and memes and quick updates. I still feel very close to him, which may be easier because I get to see him every few weeks.

These in-person visits add to the relationship because they give us time to just hang out together. I’ve realized how important that is. I’m closer to my boat friends because we spend lots of time sitting on each other’s boats, talking laughing, drinking or just reading together. It’s this unstructured time I miss most when I have to rely on my cell phone for personal contact.

My future holds more texts, emails and ‘phone dates’ and less in-person contact as more friends retire and move away. I’ve coped so far, so I guess I’ll just get to love my phone more as my main contact with the outside world.

A TAP ON THE SHOULDER

When Hope Pays a Visit, Rich Paschall

Bill woke with the Florida sun proclaiming the new day, as he did on most days. He did not set an alarm clock, it was against his retirement protocol. Instead, he waited for the room to brighten with the energy of a new morning.

A new morning

A new morning

As he wandered through his house, getting ready to meet the world, Bill thought of what he would do that Friday. It seems he had been on a futile mission all week. Nevertheless, he would try again, and give it just one more chance. It felt like the least he could do for his friend.

Bill’s morning routine could not exactly be described as a routine.  Rather it was haphazard at best. He went to the washroom. He went to the closet. He went to the kitchen to start coffee. He went back to the washroom to shave. He looked again in the closet for what to wear and he went back to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. It took him over an hour to get ready to start the day, but that was Bill’s retirement plan. In other words, there was no plan.

His neighbor Harold, on the other hand, always had a plan. His time seemed to be allocated to the minute. While Bill liked Harold, he was not fond of the rigid lifestyle. That was no way to retire, Bill thought. Of course, it all did not matter now.

At the beginning of the week, Harold was found lying on his screened in patio and carted off to the local hospital, just a short distance away. It was not unusual for the Emergency Medical Technicians to pick up old timers in this part of Sarasota County, but it was still a shock to the few who knew Harold. Bill was one of those few.

Although a daily purpose was never part of Bill’s retirement goals, he nonetheless scheduled himself into a visit to the county hospital every day in a vain attempt to learn something, anything, about Harold’s condition. He was not immediate family and he was not named on any medical documents, since Harold, Planner Supreme, had no plan for this life-altering event. So Bill had learned nothing all week-long. Still, he could not settle his mind over the thought of Harold just falling over on his patio. So he kept trying to get a medical update.

When coffee was gone and toast was eaten, Bill was ready to make the trip to the county hospital. He stepped out into the Florida sun to find the day was already hot and humid.  Neighbor Mabel Crockett, would tell anyone who would listen that “the air was so think you could cut it with a knife.”  And so it was exactly that.

Bill hopped into his car in the driveway of his townhouse and hoped that the air conditioner would be at work right away. He was a bit disappointed at that, but he did not have far to go.

He arrived at the parking lot that was just two dollars for patients and visitors for four hours. “Don’t forget to have your ticket validated,” the guard warned Bill. If he forgot, the charge was double. Bill did not seem to care too much about that.

He entered by the Emergency Room and walked past the Trauma Triage and down the hall to the main lobby area. There he walked right up to the same receptionist who greeted him every day that week.

“Yes?” the elderly receptionist said with a sigh. She recalled Bill immediately and was prepared to go through the routine again.

“I am here to see my friend Harold. He came in through Emergency on Monday.”

“I know,” she said with a tired sound. It is the same sound that came with all of the disappointing statements she must give to visitors. “I’m sorry,” she continued. “Your friend is in intensive care. I can not give out information to anyone but immediate family.”

Bill started with his usual response, “But I might be…”

“I know, sir, and I am very sorry. It is the regulation and there is nothing else I can say,” the grey haired woman proclaimed with a heavy dose of sadness.

They stared at each other for a moment when Bill finally conceded. “I understand,” he said with a bit of a choked up sound. He could understand the rule, just not the dogmatic enforcement in this circumstance.

Bill started back down the hall toward the exit by the Emergency room. He passed pictures of important donors, including the Ringling Family of Circus fame. There were also paintings of peaceful ocean scenes that would seem to go with the best rooms at a Holiday Inn. Bill noticed none of it all week-long.  He just knew how long the walk would take to the exit.

As he got half way down the hall, Bill felt a tap on his shoulder.  “Excuse me,” a voice announced. “Excuse me, sir.”

Bill turned around to find the elderly receptionist right behind him.  She seemed a bit out of breath, probably from her pursuit of Bill.

“I am not supposed to say anything,” she said softly, as if she was telling a big secret, “but what are they going to do?  Fire me?  I am a volunteer.” At that, Bill saw her first smile of the week.

“Your friend is doing better,” she stated, “And they should move him out of Intensive Care soon, maybe tomorrow.”

Bill grabbed the old woman and gave her a big hug. Tears formed in his eyes as he told the receptionist, “Thank you so much!”  This was followed by another big hug.

So Bill thanked some woman he didn’t know for some news about a neighbor he hardly knew. The news itself really wasn’t anything at all, but it made Bill’s day complete.

Note: The next “Harold story” appears Friday.
Previously:  “Missing Monday,” “Sunshine, Spring Training and Survival,” “Wednesday Wondering,” “Waiting For The Story To Continue.”

WAITING FOR THE STORY TO CONTINUE

When Words Lost Meaning, Rich Paschall

If there was anything Harry did not need, it was more disappointment.  He’d had a lifetime of disappointments, but it seemed he was in for another.  Mistreated and mislabeled, he was now also abandoned.  Unintentionally abandoned, but for Harry, alone was alone.

Harry came into the world with great hope.  His mother picked out for her new-born the name of the most famous boy in the world.  The little child was named after the boy wizard of book and movie fame, Harry Potter.  She thought he even looked a little like the drawings of Harry on the book covers.

As he grew, little Harry had trouble learning.  He never developed good reading skills.  He often baffled his mother, telling her the letters moved, and words did not make sense when put together.  Eventually, his mother told him he was stupid, and accused him of not trying.  Just to confuse the issue, she followed that by telling him he was bright (which was true) and could read if he wanted to read. Which was not true. The further behind he fell in school, the more labels he acquired. But no one gave him the right label: “Dyslexic.”

The lad withdrew. He began hiding in the last place anyone would look for him. The library.

And so, a boy who could not read looked at the books in the comfortable Florida Public Library and waited. Maybe someone would come and read to him. Someone who would explain the stories.  It was hard to find anybody to do this until he spotted Harold looking at the Harry Potter books.  Little Harry decided that Harold was his new friend.

Library Road

Harold had been going to the library every Tuesday and Thursday to read books on engineering and machinery.  Sometimes Harold considered histories, but one day he strayed from his usual plan to look at the books about which he’d heard so much. The Harry Potter series.

When Harry, the boy with the reading problem, spied Harold in the “fantasy aisle,” he instantly knew he’d found someone to read to him. Since Harry had become rather withdrawn in recent months, he began the relationship by staring at Harold and the first Harry Potter book.

The librarian’s assistant misinterpreted Harold’s attempts to send little Harry away. She thought Harry and Harold were together. So she opened the usually shuttered reading room, making it possible for Harold to read aloud to the boy.

Harold read to the boy that first day but had no intention of continuing.  Nevertheless, it turned into a regular Tuesday and Thursday affair.

Harry knew old Harold was not a great storyteller.  He was obviously uncomfortable reading out loud.  But little Harry liked Harold’s awkward attempts at it. And Harry was learning. It seems Harold was keeping an eye on little Harry and when he could see the boy did not understand something he read, he would stop to explain it.

Sometimes the boy would be emboldened to ask questions.  Even though the boy with the little wizard face was not yet learning to read, he was building his vocabulary.

Then one Tuesday there was no Harold at the library. Harry waited rather impatiently, but his new friend never showed up. The boy roamed the lobby, then just stood there staring off into space, as if he was lost. It was a sad sight. Thursday brought the same scenario. When the little boy looked as if he was going to cry, the Librarian stepped in.

“What seems to be the problem, young man?” she asked Harry in a businesslike tone.

“He’s not here,” Harry said loudly, and tears rolled down his face.

“Shh.  This is a library.  Now, explain to me. Who is missing?”

Harry tried to explain, but was so upset he couldn’t.  Seeing this, the librarian’s assistant rushed over to help.  When she finished telling what she knew, the three stood there staring at one another.  Harry remained dejected.

At last, the assistant suggested, “Maybe your friend is ill and can’t come. I’m sure he’d be here if he could be.” Of course, she had no idea how accurate she was.

“But he’s supposed to read to me today,” Harry whimpered.

“I know,” the helpful assistant said, “but he can’t come if he’s sick.  You know how your mother makes you stay home if you’re not feeling well, right?”

The boy didn’t know. His mother ignored him when he was sick, figuring it was a ploy to stay home from school.  The boy looked at the Librarian and her assistant, his face full of sadness and mistrust. So the assistant went on.

“I’m sure your friend will be back to read for you very soon.” Of course, she had no way of knowing when, or if, Harold would be back to read.

Even while the three stood in the Library lobby wondering,  a doctor stood at the foot Harold’s bed in the hospital’s Intensive Care unit reading his chart.  This Thursday, Harold could not read, talk, or explain anything to anyone.

Note: The next “Harold story” appears next week.
Previously:  “Missing Monday,” “Sunshine, Spring Training and Survival,” “Wednesday Wondering.”

THE PROMISE OF LOVE

The Reality, by Rich Paschall

When George made his visit to South America to meet the handsome young man,  Jon noticed their large age difference. He decided it did not matter if George would help him.  After all, this could be a way out of his situation in the poor suburb of the large South American city. So late each night he would steal the WiFi signal from a neighbor in the apartment next door and talk with George. This way he kept him close to his heart.

South American city

Jon was tired of being poor. He was sad he could not buy nice clothes and jewelry.  He was unhappy with his dismal living conditions. He was heartbroken he could not help his mother with her expenses.  He just wanted to get out.

Since his time in an acrobatic troupe did not result in much money, Jon took one job, then another.  Nothing satisfied him as he always worked long hours for little money.  He could not spend much time at the gym.  He could not enjoy the nightlife of the nearby city.

“Help me, George,” Jon pleaded one night.  “I want to keep going to the gym.  I want to have enough food to eat.  Please send me a little money.”  Jon’s stories may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but he was certainly very poor.  He was determined to tell George whatever seemed to convince him to send some money.

“OK, Jon.  I will send you something on payday.  Do not worry.” The periodic investment in the handsome Hispanic man seemed to bind them together, as least George thought so.

Jon also thought they were bound together, not just by a few US Dollars, but also by his constant declarations of friendship and love.

When a few months had passed since George’s impulsive visit, Jon wondered if the time was right to push his plan further along.  One warm night, Jon stood on the roof of his building and looked down on the poor buildings below, with their cheap block constructions, and old metal roofs.  It was a depressing site.

poor suburb

The bright lights of the city in the distance were a reminder he had not achieved his goal.  He could wait no longer. This was the night for action. He called George.

“We should get married, George,” Jon declared with confidence.

“What?” George said in a surprised voice that shook Jon a little.

“You should come here to marry me and we can live together in America.”  Jon waited for a reply, but there was nothing for a long minute.  Then George said Jon only wanted a way to come to America.  He did not actually want George.

The response upset Jon.  As he lay in bed in his tiny apartment, he decided he must not lose George now, after all the time he invested.  So he spent weeks declaring his love and asking for marriage without success.  George said he had no other boyfriend, so Jon did not understand why they could not be married.

When Jon felt the situation lasted too long he said to George, “You must tell me if we are boyfriends or no.  If you will not marry me, I must find another boyfriend.”

The conversation that followed last a long time, and after Jon insisted over and over he would be a good roommate and stay “as long as God wills,” George finally agreed.

Jon immediately researched what they needed to do to get married.  George gathered the documents Jon requested and sent them express.  The papers were filed and the waiting game began.  Almost the entire summer went by before Jon got the marriage license.

George came as promised. The wedding was held with only one friend of Jon’s in attendance to take pictures, and a translator for George to know what was happening.  When the ceremony was done, George, Jon and his friend Vanessa all went into the city to celebrate.  After just two married nights together, George was gone.

return to airport

The long process of getting a visa began.  Jon could not believe the complexity of the procedure or the number of documents he had to send to George.

“I have to get certified translations into English, Jon.  Then I will submit all.  You must be patient.”  It was hard to be patient, but George sent a little money every month and Jon could buy the food he wanted.

When the process had gone from Immigration, to the State Department, to the American embassy in Jon’s country, the nervous young man met with his good friend, Vanessa.

Jon told her everything that had transpired and they seemed to be getting near a decision.

“And you will leave here to go to this strange place you have told to me?” Vanessa said.

“Yes, of course,” Jon said.  He could see the disappointment in Vanessa’s eyes.  He could not tell if this was because he might leave his close friend or because he would leave his country for a foreign land.

“Are you crazy?  You are with him only a few days and for that you would leave us?” she asked.

“But we are working on this for a year now.  It will be my chance for a better life,” Jon said, but Vanessa replied with a look of doubt. After a short silence, she asked the important question.

“Do you think you will stay with this gringo once you get to America and meet other people?”

Jon’s eyes narrowed as he gave the matter serious thought.  He placed his right hand over his mouth and rubbed the left side of his face with his fingertips.  After almost a minute, he removed the hand from his face, smiled a little and said, “No.  Of course not.”

Then Vanessa laughed, but only a little.


Previously, in order:
I LOVE YOU (No You Don’t)
A SOUTH AMERICAN LOVE, A Romantic Player
A SOUTH AMERICAN PROPOSAL, The Deal

THE BIRTHDAY GIRL – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I write a lot of pieces about celebrities I’ve met in my professional life. They are fun to remember and share. Sometimes it feels like name dropping or playing a broken record if the story is written too frequently. Friends and acquaintances assure me there’s an audience for these stories and I should continue to share the memories.

Today’s piece is about the most important person in my life.  We’ve been friends for more than half a century.  We’ve been married for 28 years.  We share some of the most bizarre stories you’re likely to hear.

By the Mumford – Photo: Garry Armstrong

You know her well.  My Wife, Marilyn.  She is, among other things, the SERENDIPITY lady. Today is Marilyn’s birthday. I hope many of Marilyn’s SERENDIPITY friends, mates and fellow bloggers are celebrating her day.  She has opened windows on the world for countless people around the world with her pieces.

Marilyn writes voraciously, about all things great and small. Marilyn is passionate about our world and those who live on our planet. I sometimes fear that Marilyn’s passion for making things right will make her head explode.  She’s always been that way since we first met as college kids and were bent on changing the world.  That world, the 60’s and all its turbulence, needed change. Decades later, I’m not sure if we’ve left any imprints on our journey through life. The one constant in our lives is Marilyn’s determination to “out” the idiots, pretenders and felons of all persuasion who strive to pollute our quality of life.

It’s a tall order. Perhaps a mission impossible. But Marilyn is driven to make our collective lives better.  Her sword is the pen, her computer keyboard. I watch her work relentlessly, every day, morning through night, her face focused on subject matter of yet another blog.  Marilyn never seems to tire even when her body is sending obvious signals to slow down.  I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. Marilyn doesn’t suffer fools. Yes, she’s been my rock for all these years.  Go figure.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Marilyn always makes sure that the birthdays of family and friends are remembered, celebrated in some way. Not the easy “Hallmark” way that takes little effort or imagination.  Marilyn is always thoughtful.  It’s a quality that I’ve found very unique in my professional and personal life.

Our celebration of Marilyn’s birthday pales in comparison with how mine is recognized.  Hopefully, we’ll go out for dinner and Marilyn won’t have to cook yet another dinner.  Her birthday card hasn’t arrived.  Thanks very much, U.S. Postal Service.  No, I haven’t forgotten! I know Marilyn is disappointed.  We DID have a visit from her son Owen and his friend, Dave, who have been the bright lights on Marilyn’s day. They brought a basket of Shrimp, realizing we don’t eat cake or sweets in our golden years.  I think their visit lifted Marilyn’s spirits. I’m grateful.

I’m beyond grateful to have Marilyn in my life. I leave a lot to be desired as the spouse who is admired by the public which only knows his media image. Marilyn has worked hard to make our marriage succeed when I’ve been engulfed in my own selfish pursuits.

I think we were lucky to find each other again after having gone down different roads for many years.

I can easily say the 28 years of marriage have been the best years of my life.

Happy Birthday, Mi Amor.

WHY SOME FRIENDSHIPS DON’T LAST – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Why do some people become ‘old friends’ and others drop by the wayside? Why do some people stick with you over decades while others drift away? I’ve been thinking about this as I ponder the long list of people who have dropped out of my life after often long runs as top-tier friends.

I believe that most people start out as situational friends. You meet and become friends because you’re sharing an activity or a stage of life. Examples are people you work with and parents whose kids go to school with and/or are friends with your kids. Also, people you meet through hobbies, like at a golf or tennis club, a knitting circle, a book club, etc.What makes some of those friendships ‘take’ and become permanent? I have no idea. Many friendships seem to end when the shared activity stops – you change jobs, your kids graduate or find new friends, you leave the club, whatever. I’ve had so many friends like this it blows my mind. I’ve often wondered why we lost touch. Why was it that that particular person or couple slipped away? We were so close!

But some friends do stay with you and ripen into wonderful ‘old friends’. I’ve never been able to tell which friendships will last and which won’t. In the mid-late 1980’s I was redecorating my house from top to bottom. I spent two years working closely with my decorator and we became friends. At around the same time, my daughter became friends with a girl in her kindergarten class and I became friends with her Mom (and Dad as well – we also socialized as couples). Those friendships lasted all the way through high school – 12 years.

Who am I still close with 30 years later? The decorator. The Mom still lives five minutes away from me and we haven’t even talked in years and years. The decorator moved out-of-state over 10 years ago but we’re still the dearest of friends.

For many years, Tom and I had a group of friends who shared a dock with us at the marina where our boat lives. We were crazy close. We traveled together with our boats, partied all summer and had get-togethers during the winter. Gradually, boats left the marina, people moved away and most of them disappeared from our lives. Only one friend remains out of at least six-eight couples. I was heartbroken that the ‘gang’ dispersed into the ether.

I think that friendships like these end primarily because of some combination of laziness and busyness. When you no longer share that situational ‘bond’, you’re no longer thrown together a lot. So you have to make more of an effort to see each other. Obviously, if you haven’t developed a strong emotional connection that transcends your ‘situation’, that isn’t going to happen.

Also, people are very busy. Between work, family and other friends, time is always at a premium. If you’re not at the top of someone’s ‘priority list’ you lose out. The common ‘bond’ was often what got you to the top of the list before. Now, unless you have that deep personal bond or you forge a new bond that shoots you to the front of the line – you’re toast. You just don’t fit into the new reality of your former friends’ lives.

I have to admit. I’m hypersensitive. I take it at least a little bit personally whenever someone drops out of my life. But I don’t lose sleep over it anymore. I’ve learned that making and keeping friends has as much to do with timing as anything else. Just like with romantic relationships. Some things are just not meant to be.

Fortunately for me, many wonderful friendships have blossomed and lasted and enrich my life today. Many of these friends now live all over the country as well as in the UK and Europe. But distance has not lessened our connection. Some things ARE meant to be.

LIVING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Carrie Fisher was Bi-polar. To her credit, she talked about her condition openly and honestly. She brought attention to the disorder and tried to reduce the stigma associated with this, as well as other, mental illnesses. It’s sad that we need celebrities with diseases to increase public awareness about their given malady. But mental illnesses are inherently hard to diagnose, treat and talk about. So as long as people get educated about them, I guess it doesn’t matter how or why.

Carrie Fisher

I have an unwanted and involuntary expertise in Bi-Polar Disorder. Both my ex-husband and my son had/have the disease (my ex is deceased). Each of them manifested the condition differently – my ex was mostly manic and my son was mostly depressed. One of the most difficult aspects of this disorder is the fact that it can look so different in different people. This makes it much harder to diagnose because there is no one size fits all set of symptoms to identify.

This makes it harder on the families too, who don’t always get the support they need from the medical community. It also makes it easier for the Bi-polar person to deny that they have an identifiable syndrome that requires treatment. This denial is very common in Bi-Polar Disease. Also common is the refusal to stay on medication. These factors just add to the difficulties and pain of the family members.

The families of Bi-polar sufferers feel different from other families. We know that other families’ lives are not fraught with the unpredictability, volatility and often violence (emotional if not physical) that ours are. We seem to be the only ones living on a roller coaster. We feel inferior, ashamed and isolated. Family members, me included, try to ‘cover up’ the problem and cover for the often inappropriate behavior of the bi-polar loved one. I made countless excuses for the actions and absences of my ex. My daughter tried to avoid the issue altogether by going to friends’ houses and never having friends come to ours when Daddy was ‘off’ or ‘acting up’.

When you live with a bi-polar person, you wonder what’s wrong with you that you live like this. You wonder why you aren’t like other people. Your ego and self- esteem suffer. This is particularly devastating for kids. My kids are in their 30’s and are still dealing with these issues. They are moving on from some questionable relationship choices they made in the past because of their lingering psychological demons.

On the other hand, denial and defending are also big parts of life with a B-polar person. While married to my ex, after one of his particularly bad manic episodes, I was advised by psychiatrists to go to a program for abused spouses. I thought that they were crazy. I was in therapy already and I was clearly not in that pathetic category! That label did not apply to me! Of course I didn’t go. I often wonder what would have been different in my life if I had received the support and empowerment I needed at that point in time. I now realize that the whole family needs support and treatment specifically designed to deal with the mentally ill family member. My individual therapy was not enough.

Today, there are claims that too many people are being labeled ADHD or Bi-Polar; that it’s become a psychiatric fad to assign mental illness labels to people and ply them with drugs. To me, it’s better to spread a wide net to catch all the people with serious issues and get them the treatment they need. You’re not going to be misdiagnosed if your behavior is perfectly within the range of normal. Something is going on if a doctor thinks you might be Bi-polar! If it’s not manic depression, then it certainly is something else that needs attention and possibly medication! Sometimes the only way to come up with an effective treatment is by experimenting.

I became very pro-active psychiatrically. My daughter started to have panic attacks at age eleven and I got her on medication immediately. She is grateful to me that she never had to go through the torture of years of horrible anxiety symptoms. She would not have been able to function effectively through school and in jobs without her anxiety meds.

I couldn’t get my ex to stay on meds and get a stable life. But at least I got my daughter on medication early so she had fewer issues getting through life than she would have without my early intervention. At least I have one psychiatric success story to brag about!

SUSPICIOUS? ABSOLUTELY! THEY ARE ALL FULL OF GERMS!

VALID SUSPICIONS


Garry and I don’t go anywhere and it isn’t because of the weather.

It’s the flu. The stomach flu. The lung and chest and sinus variations on a theme of flu. Go to the doctor? DOCTOR? That’s where all the sick people go! Grocery store? Pharmacy? That’s where the rest of the sick people go.

I swear to you … every time I go anywhere, I come home sick. And so does Garry. Then we give it back and forth to each other for the rest of the winter. Sometime in April, we start to feel better and this isn’t because we got old.

We have been doing this “togetherness” act for a very long time. When Garry was a working reporter, he got everything. If anyone anywhere sneezed or coughed, he came home with it. He still had to go to work because Channel 7 didn’t believe in illness. Sick? So? Unless you were in the hospital on life support, you were expected to be at work.

My work was nominally less grueling, but not much. I inevitably worked solo, so if I didn’t show up, the job just waited. There was only so long I could let it go before I had to drag myself into the office. No one else could do what I did. There are some disadvantages to working alone and that is definitely a big one.

I’m tired of being a little bit sick, a little bit sicker, or finally getting better only to discover Garry is down with something I am absolutely sure I will get in three to five days. If there is an answer to this problem, let me know what it is. Other than living in a bubble, of course.

It isn’t really that I love warm weather. It’s that warm weather means less disease stalking the valley. I can usually count on not being sick from early May through late October. By Thanksgiving, all bets are off.

How are you doing these days?

A VISIT WITH MY BFF – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My all-time BFF is my daughter, Sarah. I’m unlucky in that she lives in LA, 3000 miles away from me. Yet I’m also lucky because for 3 to 4 weeks every year, we get to live together, like roommates on holiday.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to spend day after day just hanging out with Sarah. Some days, on this trip, we went to visit family and old friends. Some days we went shopping. But most days, we just stayed home and played with the dogs, and each other. I’m so grateful to have such a delightful, caring and compassionate, intelligent, intellectually curious and interesting, funny, responsible and loyal daughter. It gives me great pride to feel that I played a part in creating this amazing person.

Sarah and me this Xmas

The past two visits, Sarah has been on an organizing binge in the attic. She is the family historian and genealogist. On the last visit, she went through bags and boxes of old photos and we organized them into chronological folders. This visit, we went through the family memorabilia that I had saved, from the early 1900’s down to the recent past. We found some awesome treasures.

Sarah’s containers of old photos and memorabilia

We found a telegram congratulating my grandparents on their 1915 wedding! We found postcards from my mom’s 1936 honeymoon when she visited the family remaining in Russia. All of these Russian family members were all killed by the Nazis just a few years later. We found the 1946 Valentine’s card my mom received from her first husband, A.O. – the morning after he died of a massive heart attack. Enclosed in the card was a photo of him, which mom received while his body was still at the funeral home.

My diary from fifth grade in 1960

We also found letters between my mom and me when I was a teenager and was away from home. One letter from my mom gave me advice about how to deal with some of my fears and anxieties. Sarah was shocked because both the advice and the issues they addressed equally apply to Sarah today. Sarah didn’t realize how similar she is to the youthful version of me. So reading this letter was like getting a heart to heart talk with her grandmother, 16 years after her death. It was very moving for Sarah.

Sarah is also the one who encouraged me to write down all of the family stories that she had grown up hearing. She relishes these stories and actually reminded me of ones that I had forgotten. They have made up the bulk of my blogs for the past year or so. I have taken these 250 pages of personal blogs and arranged them in rough chronological order as a family history. I’m making copies to give to both my children so they have a prose record of their lives and of the familiar anecdotes from their ancestors’ lives.

Folder for my Family History in Blogs that I am making for my family

Even when we’re not working together on family projects, Sarah and I never run out of things to talk about. We talk about politics, history, books, television and movies, mutual acquaintances, hopes and dreams and emotional baggage. We talk a lot about her childhood and about her father, who died in 2005. We understand each other on a deep and unique level that comes from sharing an intimate past. We can support each other in ways that other, non family members can’t. We try to motivate each other by gently pushing the right buttons. We tacitly acknowledge how difficult change, even moving forward, can be.

Sarah with Remy last August

One of our shared interests is television. In fact, Sarah majored in Film and Television in college. So we watch a lot of TV and movies when we’re together. On this visit, we blitzed through “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and the second season of “The Crown”. We loved them both. Stories about other strong women resonate with us.

As usual, we laughed a lot. We’ve always had fun together, even when Sarah was little. We find each other endlessly amusing. We tend to see things in the same, often quirky way and often express things with a humorous twist. Tom fits perfectly with our humor profile, so we immensely enjoy our time together.

One of my favorite photos of Sarah from a few years ago

This may be unusual for mothers and daughters, but Sarah and I rarely argue – about anything other than ideas and intellectual opinions. There is no tension or undercurrent of negativity. We are genuinely relaxed and comfortable with each other. We have had periods of strain in the past, but never much and not for years.

We are also roughly the same size. So every year, Sarah goes ‘shopping’ in my closet. This time, she found enough clothes to fill the extra duffel bag she brought with her. This is the year I finally gave up on the idea that I’m ever going to wear all those nice dresses that have gone untouched for so long. On a previous visit, Sarah fell in love with my fur-lined Ugg slippers. I didn’t want to part with them, but I did. I bought myself a new pair.

This year I didn’t part with anything I still wanted to wear. So it was a win-win.

Sarah and me in 2014

The down side of these glorious, intense visits, is they end.

When Sarah leaves after two weeks of 24/7 immersion, it’s like the air is sucked out of my world. It takes me days to readjust to my life without her.

I remind myself that even if Sarah lived nearby, we would rarely, if ever, get to spend this much concentrated time together, uninterrupted by work, family or the rest of life. These two-week periods are a precious gift that supersedes the real world. It adds something special to my life which I cherish with all my heart and soul.

I AM HOME – By Rich Paschall

A piece of home alone fiction by Rich Paschall


The alarm went off at 6 am as usual.  Instead of hitting the snooze bar, George turned off the alarm and got up.  It was Wednesday, trash collection day in the small Florida town.  He no longer had Ethel to push him out of bed so he had to muster the resolve to get up and take care of the chores.  Jack, the faithful terrier, got up as well and was running around George’s feet as he tried to go through his morning routine.  Terriers do not lack morning energy.

96-Rockers-NK

After he got dressed and made his way to the kitchen, he started the coffee.  Ethel used to take care of this while George took care of the hyper active dog, but his wife of 40 years was gone now.  George had to make his own coffee.  George had to do all the chores.  George had to eat his meals alone.  This is not the retirement George had envisioned.

A little over two years earlier, George retired and moved from a big Midwestern city to a small town in a warm climate.  This was the retirement George always wanted.  He was no longer going to cut the grass.  There was an association for that.  He was not going to do major repairs because there was an association for that too.  And he certainly was never going to shovel snow again.  Before he moved south, he sold his snow blower, gave away his shovels and winter coats and vowed never to return north in the winter, if at all.

As the coffee was brewing, George set down a fresh bowl of water for a disinterested terrier.  Then he went to the kitchen door that led into the garage.  As he started down the two steps to garage level, he reached for the button that opened the garage door.  At that Jack came racing out the kitchen door and when the garage door was open just enough, he ran under it and onto the front lawn.  There he ran around in a circle for a couple of minutes before looking to see what George was doing.

George was busy dragging the plastic trash can down the driveway to the street where he parked it right next to his old-fashioned mail box.  After that he walked back to get the recycle bins.  One bin held old newspapers and magazines and the other had some cans and bottles.  He put one on top of the other and then maneuvered them on to a two-wheel “hand truck.”  They were too low and too heavy for George to drag down the drive way.  When this task was complete, George went back inside to get his American flag, which he promptly took down to the post that held his mail box.  On the side of the post he had affixed a flag pole holder so his flag could be seen as he came down the street.  George would never admit that it was a reminder of where his driveway began so he could find it easily when he returned from a drive, but that is why it was there.

“Come on, Jack,” George called and the dog raced half way to George and stopped.  It was a game and Jack expected George to play.  George was well aware of this game, every time George would move, the dog would race around in a circle and stop.  There he would wait for George to make another move and the race was on again.  George was too old for the game today and went into the garage and headed toward the kitchen door.  Jack watched carefully from the driveway.  When George hit the button to close the garage door, Jack raced inside.

On their return to the pale yellow kitchen, George put down a bowl of food for Jack.  Then he fixed some toast and took that, a cup of coffee and a newspaper he collected from the front porch and went to sit on the screened-in patio.  Jack came and laid down at his feet.  George liked reading the local news each morning.  Everything about small town America seemed exciting to him.  He read about civic improvements, about events at the library and about meetings at the town hall.  He read about the plans for the upcoming year and even the New Year’s party at a local hall.  George survived Christmas on his own and guessed he would not even be up at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Without dear Ethel, he had no desire to stay up late.  While ringing in the New Year at a party might help bring back fond memories, they would also recall his dear wife who was gone too soon.  He was not sure he could bear that.

When the news had been devoured, George got up slowly and took his plate and coffee cup to the kitchen sink and placed them there.  He looked all around the room and could not decide on another thing to do so he thought he would go lay down awhile.  It was 10 am.  At that moment, the phone rang.

“Hello,” George said with a hint of surprise that anyone would call him.

“Hello George,” Ethel said softly.

Soon after George and Ethel moved to Florida, Ethel’s father had passed away.  He left her the big family house in rural Iowa.  It was the sort of house Ethel always wanted.  It had a big front porch where she could rock away the summer hours in her own rocking chair and a nice fireplace where she could get warm and read good books all winter.  George had no idea this is what Ethel had wanted for years, just as she had no idea he would take them to Florida on his retirement.  When she got the big Iowa house she announced to George she was moving there without him, and soon thereafter she was gone along with virtually every personal effect she could take.

Once every few months she called to see if George was OK, nothing more.

“Please come home, Ethel,” George said with a heavy dose of sadness in his voice.

“I am home,” she said and quietly hung up the phone.

HAROLD AND THE TINY WIZARD

A Library Lesson, Part 2, Richard Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Imagine Harold, Master of Time Manipulation, Lord of the Library and Sultan of the Schedule, being knocked off course by a tiny Harry Potter wannabe, but there he was.  The assistant librarian left him standing in the middle of the Children’s Library with a pint-sized wizard-in-training, hoping to hear the exploits of a “real” boy wizard, Harry Potter.  Harold did not know how to handle the situation.

When Harold retired from his job as a mechanical engineer at a large Midwestern manufacturing facility, he foresaw days of peaceful plans with little interference from other humans.  People would be worked into the schedule as time allowed.  But his retirement proved difficult to control and plans were more like wishes than regular schedules.  Harold, however, was not easily dissuaded from keeping his schedule in tact.

“Can you read that story?” the little boy named after Harry Potter asked.

“Well, of course I can read it,” Harold answered.  “I am sure you can read it too.”  The little boy shook his head.  “A few of the words might be difficult, but the librarian or your parents can help you with those words.”  The boy shook his head again.

“I can’t read,” the boy said.  He looked at Harold with sad eyes that would have melted anyone without the strong constitution of the Midwest planner.

“I am sure a boy your size can read just fine,” Harold declared.  The little one shook his head some more.  “What is this word?” Harold said pointing to the word “Harry” on the cover of the book.

“Harry,” declared little Harry.

“And this word,” Harold said as he pointed toward “Potter.”

“Potter,” the tiny wizard said.

“See,” Harold said, “you can read. What about this big word?”  Harold pointed to “Sorcerer’s” and at that the little one started to cry.

“I don’t know,” Harry whimpered, leaving Harold with the most awkward feeling.

“Well it is nothing to cry about,” Harold tried to explain.  “The bigger words will come to you.” Harry shook his head.

“I know ‘Harry’ because it is my name and ‘Potter’ too, but the others make no sense.  They are all mixed up.”

“Mixed up?” Harold asked.

“Yes, it is because I am stupid,” Harry said.  “I have that thing and my mother says I am stupid.”

“What thing?” Harold wanted to know.

“I don’t know,” little Harry cried.  “Dish something!”

Harold had to think about this.  He was convinced a boy that age should be able to read, and he could not imagine what his problem might be.  My analytical mind went to work until he finally said to the boy, “Dyslexia?”

“I don’t know,” the boy shouted.  After a moment he added more quietly, “maybe.”

“I see,” Harold said, but he didn’t really see at all.  Harold had no experience with children and especially one with a special need.  So the two boys stared at one another waiting for the next comment.

Finally, Harry said, “My mother drops me here all the time and tells me to read until I get it, but I don’t get it.”  A tear rolled down Harry’s round little face.  If anything could be said of this moment in Harold’s life, it might be that Harold never felt so uncomfortable.  So Harold sat in the big chair, and Harry sat in the little chair of the underused Children’s library in the Florida town, both waiting to move on to the story of a real boy wizard.

“Well, little one, haven’t you seen the movie?”  Harold asked.  Harry nodded.

“Then you don’t need the book,” Harold said.

“But I want to know what the book says,” Harry insisted.

Children's Library LogoHarold stared at the boy a long time.  The little one had an angelic face and big eyes and a curious nature.  He could not read but  he wanted to know what was in books, and particularly “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”  Actually, they both wanted to know what was in the book, but Harold could not imagine starting over.  He had already completed the opening chapters and reading out loud was so…SLOW!  After considerable thought Harold finally said, “OK, I will read to you until it is time to leave, but that’s all I can do.  I don’t think we will get very far.”

“OK,” the boy agreed and waited for the story to begin.

“Chapter One,” Harold started, “The Boy Who Lived.”  From there Harold read on until his watch sounded an alarm at 5 minutes to five.  At that he closed the book and announced “It is time for me to go.”

“Ok,” the boy said.  “Can we finish tomorrow?”

“No,” Harold said.  “I have plans tomorrow and the book is too long to finish anyway.”

“The next day?” Harry asked.

“No,” Harold insisted.  “I will not be back before Tuesday.”

“Ok,” Harry agreed.

This set Harold into a bit of a panic, “I mean, I am not sure about that. Maybe someone else can read to you.  I am not a good reader.  I am sure that the woman who reads books will be back soon and she can read it.”  The boy just stared, so Harry went on.  “I am not sure of my schedule and I don’t know about reading, besides I am not good at reading out loud.”

With nothing but a staring face looking up at him, Harold finally said, “We’ll see.”  At that, he got up, patted the boy on the top of the head and left the room.  When he got to the front desk, he put the book down as if to turn it in.

“Are you done with this book?” the librarian asked.

“Maybe,” a befuddled Harold replied.  “I don’t know.”  He left the book, walked down the few stairs to the entrance and out into the Florida sun.

Related:  The “Harold stories” in order: “Soup and Sandwich,” “The Case With The Missing Egg,” “Come Monday, It Will Be Alright,” “A Tuesday Mystery,” “A Tuesday Fantasy With Harold,” “A Wild West Wednesday,” “A Library Lesson

I SENT MY HUSBAND AND MY MOM TO COUPLES’ COUNSELING – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I swear to God, I actually made my first husband, Larry, go with my mom to couples’ counseling. They were driving me crazy. They fought with each other. They each talked to me against the other. They both tried to get me to ‘side’ with them against the other. They each thought the other was bad for me.

Me, Mom and Larry in around 1979, about 5 years into our marriage

They were both very controlling. Each wanted to get me to do what they wanted, which was usually the opposite of what the other wanted. For example, one major issue was the amount of time we spent with my mom. Mom obviously wanted us to spend more time and Larry wanted us to spend less. After my father died, in 1981, my mother asked us to spend Saturday nights with her so she wouldn’t have to be alone. Larry wanted Saturday night as ‘date night’, and a night to see friends. I negotiated a settlement on this issue – we saw Mom on Friday or Sunday but Saturday was for Larry and me as a couple.

Other issues were not as easy to resolve. I often felt like a wish bone being pulled apart by Mom and Larry. The hostility level between them was off the charts. So was my stress level.

Me, Mom and Larry in 1984, when I was pregnant with our second child

I got really desperate at one point and consulted a family therapist. I explained the situation to him and he agreed to see my mom and Larry in couples’ therapy. He first met with all three of us, together. Then he met with each of us alone. Only then did he meet with Larry and Mom together. After two or three of their joint sessions, he called me.

He told me that there was no point wasting his time and my money on a lost cause. He said I had to give up the idea that either Mom or Larry would ever change – it wasn’t going to happen.

The doctor explained that Larry and Mom were both narcissists and borderline personalities. There is no reliable treatment or cure for either syndrome. In fact, a symptom of both is a total lack of self-awareness. Apparently Larry could see Mom’s issues very clearly and Mom could see Larry’s equally well. Their insight was 20/20 when it came to the other’s faults. But they were innocent victims in their own eyes. To each, I was being manipulated by the other and they were just trying to save me.

Me, Mom and Larry in 1987

I remember sitting on the floor of my bathroom with the door closed, crying on the phone with the doctor. I begged him to try again. But he insisted that I face reality. He was right.

Nothing changed through 25 years of marriage. But here’s the irony. After Larry and I separated and later divorced, Larry and Mom got along famously! They actually had a lot in common. In some ways, they had more in common with each other than either had with me. These similarities suddenly came to the fore once I was out of the picture.

All those years, they were obviously fighting over who would have the most influence and control over me. I’m amazed I survived, relatively intact. One other thing the therapist told me was that I could never be my own person and live my own life until both Larry AND Mom were out of my life. Hard to hear. But he was right about that too.

I separated from Larry in 1998. I met my current husband, Tom, in 1999. Mom died in 2002, a few months before Tom and I married. Since then, I have become a different person. I am more confident, more self-assured, more independent and more relaxed. Also happier.

I’m also sad to realize that two people I loved so dearly were so destructive to me for so long. That’s a very hard pill to swallow.

FAMILY MEETINGS

Colbert did a piece on family meetings a few nights ago.

I looked at Garry. “We didn’t have family meetings. The closest thing we had were family fights. I bet you didn’t have family meetings, either.”

He looked at me. “You knew my parents. Can you imagine my mother having a ‘family’ meeting? It boggles the mind,” he commented.

I nodded. “I don’t think our generation had family meetings. The closest thing we had were probably large family get-togethers, during which we tried to keep hostilities from turning into violent shouting matches.”

Our parents told us what to do. We either did it, fought about it until we gave up — and then did it anyway — or said we would do it knowing we would really do the other thing. I don’t know about anyone else, but being sneaky was not considered “lying.” It was more like survival. Making it to adulthood with independence intact required a good deal of prevarication. If you only did what you were “allowed” to do, you would become a pathetic shadow of one or both of your parents.

Growing up meant developing individual opinions and direction. Our parents weren’t necessarily interested in our opinions. About anything. Being sneaky meant you could save the inevitable face-to-face confrontation for something really important.

So, no family meetings. No rational group discussions of what the family should do … or even what we personally could do. Instead of meetings, we had arguments, fights, low and high-level hostilities … and plenty of sneaking around.

Family meetings? Like me, mom, dad, Matt and Ann sitting together and logically — and politely with good humor — discussing our collective and individual futures? Not. Really.

NEVER OLD

We knew each other from across a room. She had dreamed of me. I recognized her. We were friends pretty much instantly. Through 40 years, our lives, even when we were out of touch and on different continents, have followed parallel paths.

Our husbands are friends and sometimes similar enough to be startling. We wear the same size clothing, even the same size shoes. Like most of the same music, movies, books.

 

Yet we come from completely different backgrounds — ethnically, religiously, culturally. It has never mattered. Not way back when we met or now.

We have seen each other through so many crises, so many rough times and we’ve always managed to be there and banish the gloom. I think the thing we have most in common is a weird, ironic humor … a sense that the only real power we have over a malign fate is our laughter.


Friendships that last a lifetime and remain active and alive, not “memories” of what were, are rare. That two lives could follow such similar paths for so long is even more rare, but it happened. And I am very grateful. I know there is somewhere on earth at least one person who can make me laugh no matter how horribly wrong everything is going.

MY GRANDFATHER – THE EARLY YEARS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I don’t know too much about my grandfather’s early life. But what I do know is very interesting.

My grandfather, Abe, was born in a part of Eastern Europe that was Russia one day and Poland the next. When an army came through the town, the Jews would hide in the basement because both the Russians and the Poles hated the Jews equally. When the Jews went into the basement in Russia, they’d come up in Poland. And visa versa.

After Grandpa was born, his mother apparently suffered from a very bad case of post-partum depression. She turned on her child and over the years, she tried to kill him. Grandpa’s father and siblings had to protect him from his own mother.

By the time Grandpa was around ten, the situation was untenable. His father decided it would be better for him to leave home and study with rabbis in neighboring towns. So Grandpa became an itinerant scholar at the age of 10. He didn’t talk much about his years wandering around Russia as a child. But he always loved history and studied both Jewish and American history throughout his life. He proudly could name all the American Presidents to me in order.

Earliest photos of Grandpa are in New York City as a young adult

He also developed a fondness for orphanages and always gave money to them whenever he could. I think he identified with children who were cast out of their families. He never even knew his own birthday. He made one up.

Years later, he and an older brother and sister reunited in America and became close. But he never saw his parents again.

Grandpa came to New York City around 1906, in his late teens or early twenties. He spoke Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew but not English. He was taken in by relatives on the lower east side, the Jewish section of New York City. He was allowed to sleep on the floor of their tenement apartment.

To earn a living, he started selling notions from a box hanging around his neck (think cigarette girls). He sold them on the streets and also door to door in the tenements. As a young man, Grandpa was gorgeous, dapper and charming. He also had a way with the ladies. So selling came naturally to him and he was good at his job.

He tells of a day when he was knocking on the doors of an apartment building trying to sell his wares. He knocked on a door, opened it and started his pitch. It was a bathroom and he was talking to a man sitting on the toilet. He was mortified, but he kept on talking and actually made a sale!

Grandpa gradually saved up money and met and married a first cousin, Sarah, also recently immigrated from Russia. Their mothers shared a father but had different mothers. So they were actually half first cousins. So Grandpa’s mother-in-law was also his aunt. My mother grew up thinking that all men referred to their mother-in-laws as “Tante” or “Aunt”.

Grandpa saved up money started buying real estate in New York. He became very well off. But he spent all his money over a seven-year period. He was a hypochondriac and spent the money on spas and ‘cures’ for his imaginary illnesses. At one point, he nearly died of complications from a totally unnecessary surgery. During this time, his wife and daughter had to fend for themselves. He eventually came back home to stay. He made the money back, and more, again in real estate. This was all before my mother was 16.

Grandpa with my mom when she was about three

Giving to charities and Zionist organizations was always a big part of Grandpa’s life. He started early, giving what he could. No matter how poor he was, he always put something away in a Tsadaka or charity box on the theory that someone out there had less than he did.

As he earned more money, Grandpa became active in and a contributor to many organizations supporting the State of Israel as well as poor Jews in the U.S. When he died, he was well-known and very well-respected in the New York Jewish charitable community. He did very well for himself and he gave back, in spades. Starting when he had nothing but a roof over his head. He taught me the importance of giving to others, both in his words and his actions. For that I will always be grateful. For a poor “orphan” from Russia, he did good.