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Dear Family:

Many have asked how my father is doing after his recent “mini” stroke that necessitated a trip to the hospital and then a care facility. Many of you also have asked how I’m doing, as it’s no secret my relationship with my incredibly stubborn father has been strained over the past couple of years. Usually, I’m good with words. When it comes to him, though, words fail me.

Hence, I will describe what has happened/is happening using photos of bad taxidermy.

We visit Dad for Christmas. He says he wants me to look into assisted living places near us (as opposed to where he is, which is four hours away).

We visit Dad for Christmas. He says he wants me to look into assisted-living places near us (as opposed to where he is, which is four hours away).

 

After I took a day off of work to take tours of assisted living places, Dad calls to tell me, "Nevermind." He has decided to stay in his house with my stepmother.

After I took a day off of work to take tours of assisted-living places, Dad calls to tell me, “Nevermind.” He has decided to stay in his house with Kat (his wife).

 

Dad called. He had what he thinks is a stroke.

A few days later, Dad calls. He had what he thinks is a stroke.

 

We visit. He's fine. He will remain in the hospital for a while and receive physical therapy. He needs physical therapy. Everyone is happy.

We visit. He’s fine. He will remain in the hospital for a while and receive physical therapy. He needs physical therapy. Everyone is happy.

 

He tells us he is fine. He says we should start cleaning out his garage as he may have to sell the house to pay for full-time care.

He tells us he is doing great but that we should start cleaning out his garage as he may have to sell the house to pay for full-time care.

 

We spend an entire day cleaning out 1/3 of his garage. We took two truckloads of crap to the dump and three truckloads of stuff to the Salvation Army.

We spend an entire day cleaning out 1/3 of his garage. We took two truckloads of crap to the dump and three truckloads of stuff to the Salvation Army.

 

A couple of weeks later, I go back up to visit him in the nursing facility to have a chat with him and the therapist about next steps. Kat yells at me for cleaning out Dad's garage when I should have been sitting vigil next to him the entire weekend we spent doing what he told us to do.

A couple of weeks later, I go back up to the nursing facility to have a chat with him and the therapist about next steps. Kat yells at me for cleaning out Dad’s garage when I should have been sitting vigil next to him the entire weekend we spent doing what he told us to do.

 

According to Dad's legal papers, I share power of attorney with Kat. We have to agree on any decisions regarding his care. We do not agree.

According to Dad’s legal papers, I share power of attorney with Kat. We have to agree on any decisions regarding his care. We do not agree.

 

Dad is supposed to be released this week. There is no plan for in-home care. Kat is not speaking to me. Dad rotates among three main states: confused, angry, depressed. Only once in a while is he the dad I remember.

Dad is supposed to be released this week. There is no plan for in-home care. Kat is not speaking to me. Dad rotates among three main states: confused, angry and depressed. Only once in a while is he the person I remember.

 

I do not know what will happen next.

I do not know what will happen next.

If you are praying people, pray for him. Pray for me. Like the taxidermy pictured above, it’s not good.

Stay tuned,
Beth

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Dear God,

After this weekend, I’m certain you exist. The proof: My father is still alive.

I asked you for patience, and you granted my wish.

Here’s a refresher on the circumstances. (You know this already, but I know you have plenty on your plate with all the election-related prayers.)

My cousins were visiting my dad, so Eddie and I made the four-hour (one way) drive to visit him/them. As soon as we got there, and I settled into a chair for a chat, Kat (my stepmother) asked me to fix their DIRECTV setup.

Me:

irritated

 

Hell to me is being tech support.

While trying to get that sorted, Gideon discovered my father’s WiFi connection was down.

Me:

rage

 

I called DIRECTV tech support as it was clear the issue was bigger than something I could fix, and gave their phone to Eddie. I took my phone to the so-called “computer room” to sort out the modem issue with Windstream.

While on the phone with Windstream, we determined the phone jack might be bad. The following ensued:

Me: Dad, where is another phone jack?
Dad: It’s at the end of the phone.
Me:

wtf

 

More troubleshooting followed. Meanwhile, I was trapped in this “computer room” feeling like I was in an episode of “Hoarders” and wanting to do this:

 

"Citizen Kane" room trashing

If you would like to answer another one of my prayers, you can inspire my father to get rid of the two late ’90s computer systems and desks, floppy disks and miscellaneous paper that clutter this room. And maybe you can compel Kat to get rid of the four creepy dolls, fake ferns and flea-market clocks.

Anyway, thank you for helping me summon the patience necessary to keep from throttling my father. And thank you for helping arrange technicians for both DIRECTV and Windstream to come out Monday. That truly is a miracle.

I’m a believer,
Beth

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Dear Mr. Trump,

Good evening! I know you are gearing up for the third (and final, thankfully) presidential debate, so please read this later — like at 3:20 a.m. when you are up tweeting.

When I first wrote you back in July, I said, “I’m sure you are quite lovely in person.” As it turns out, you aren’t. And you have the dubious honor of bringing the P word into the mainstream. Imagine the fun conversations I’ve had with my kids!

1b5cb62ae34b24690eef2b82723f3999And speaking of mainstream and conversations with kids, I do have to thank you. We regular humans are having some interesting conversations that apparently should have happened long before now.

We are talking about rape culture. We are talking about saying to men, “Don’t rape,” instead of telling women, “Don’t look like you are asking for it.” We are talking about the thousands of indignities women face on a regular basis.

On Facebook today, I posted a link to a blog post titled, “It’s Not Okay,” by a writer named Molly.

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In response, a man who was a good friend of mine in high school wrote this:

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-7-07-39-pm

While I certainly appreciate his note, that episode was not on my list of stories. I was thinking more about that time when a guy at a bar grabbed my P word just like you like to do, Mr. Trump. Or when a guy I had just started dating let himself into my apartment and replaced my sheets and shower curtain with ones on which he had drawn himself. Or when a guy assaulted me at gunpoint in college.

Yeah, those are the ones that stick out.

Every woman I know has stories like mine.

And I want to be clear for the purposes of educating you and your defender Rush Limbaugh, I did not want, ask for or agree to any of the above.

If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it’s perfectly fine, whatever it is. But if the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police. But consent is the magic key to the left. — Rush Limbaugh on his show Oct. 12

Yes, Rush, consent is the “magic key.” Without consent, a sex act is indeed rape. Even the U.S. Department of Justice says so.

So thank you, I guess, for bringing this topic more into the light than it ever has been. It gives me an extra reason to talk to my boys about how to be respectful men and not someone like you.

Sincerely (but not respectfully),
Beth

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imageDear Dominic:

This was your first week of school, but I’m the one who learned a lesson.

When we were shopping for last-minute school supplies, I gave you a little bit of a hard time when you wanted a pink binder. I said, “You are going to a new school. Are you sure you want to call attention to yourself and be the kid with the pink binder?”

You put me in my place — rightfully so. You said, “It’s just a color, and I like it. If the other kids don’t like it, that’s their problem.”

You are so right. You are wise beyond your 11 years. I was wrong. I apologize.

My knee-jerk reaction was a leftover of my childhood days where we did what we needed to do to fit in so that we would not be a target for bullies. Pink was for girls then. That I didn’t like Barbies was my own dirty little secret.

Your father and I have raised you to be an individual, to be inclusive, to be kind to others, to like what you like and not be ashamed of it.

We’ve clearly taught you well.

I’m sorry I forgot those lessons for a beat.

I’m so proud of you.

Love,
Mama

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Dear Body,

I’m not sure what’s going on with you, but you gave me quite a scare this week. I ignored you when you manifested dizziness Tuesday night, but then you got more insistent that you needed attention. Thanks so much for Wednesday morning’s nausea, sweating and shortness of breath — the cherries on the top of the dizziness sundae.

And Brain, you didn’t help. You know just enough about medical issues — thanks, “Trauma: Life in the E.R.” and “Forensic Files” — to be worried.

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 11.32.51 AMSee No. 3-5 above. And note also that dizziness is one of the symptoms of a stroke as well.

Yeah. So …

Like any good mom potentially having a heart attack or stroke, I drove my kids to camp then drove myself to the hospital. (It’s what we do. Amirite, moms? We keep our shit together.)

I was pretty sure I was fine, but what if I wasn’t?

The good news is that I got plenty of attention at the hospital. When you list symptoms like mine, folks tend to take notice.

I got a date with an EKG. I also enjoyed a chest X-ray with a CT scan thrown in for kicks. Perhaps the best part of my adventure was stumbling down the hallway wearing a half-open “gown” and carrying a urine sample. Good times!

I knew I was going to be OK, though, when they booted me out of my room and into the hallway to make room for another patient. An hour or so later, the attending physician deemed it appropriate to give me 30 seconds of his time to declare I had vertigo.

Me: Great! So what caused it?
Dr. Personality: We don’t know.
Me: How long will I have it?
Him: It only lasts a couple of hours.
Me: I’ve had it since last night.
Him: Well, it will go away in a little while.
Me: Will it come back?
Him: We don’t know.
Me: Fantastic! I feel completely informed!

(I made up that last line.)

I went home with anti-vertigo and anti-nausea medicine, a fancy plastic and paper bracelet, and a serious of unread texts from friends and coworkers who wanted to know WHAT THE HECK?!

Since this happened, friends have come out of the woodwork to tell me about their experiences with vertigo. And I’ve discovered that stress can trigger or worsen vertigo.

Oh.

Well.

It was Week 10 of a 10-week quarter. I did just finish a 33-page qualitative research paper. So, um, it’s a little understandable, I guess.

Anyway, I’m fine. Fine!

I promise.

But thanks for the reminder, Body, that I need a vacation. Stat!

Love always,
Beth

 

*A Mark Twain misquote. He actually wrote, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

 

 

 

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Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 1.13.26 PM

Dear Eddie, Love of My Life,

I read “Toddler barfs in the car, dad freaks, epic text exchange ensues” today and laughed so freakin’ hard.

You know why.

What do you mean you don’t?

Sure you do.

It was July 2005. We were coming back from spending a few days with our friends in Daytona Beach. At six months old, Dominic was already swimming. (People can try to dispute that fact, but we have the video evidence.) Despite the fact that it was a short-ish drive home, we decided to stay overnight at a hotel with a pool to give Dominic more water time.

We found a good prospect off I-95, and I went in to ask about vacancies. (This is during the dark ages, i.e., pre-iPhone days.)

I came out of the hotel with bad news to find you honking and gesturing wildly at the baby. I opened the door to the back seat and looked at Dominic.

“How did he get ahold of chocolate?,” I thought.

“Oh God, that’s not chocolate,” was my next thought.

I’m a mom, so I sprang into action.

“You get the car seat,” I barked. “I’ll handle the baby.”

I stripped that poor kid down to the nude on the sidewalk. I grabbed him around the middle and walked around the hotel to find a hose. Yes, a hose. I hosed him down right there in front of the window into happy hour at the hotel. When you have a screaming, naked baby covered in poop, you do not care about civility. Or, apparently, water temperature (sorry, Dominic).*

I’m not sure you knew all the above as you were dealing with a ripe car seat. As I recall, we had to quarantine the car seat cover in a trash bag and let Dominic sit strapped into towels the rest of the way.

It’s the Dad Panic that makes this story and the barf story above funny. Why was the guy’s first order of business post-barf to call his wife? What could she do over the phone? Why did you immediately start honking?

The world may never know.

Anyway, he was OK, we were OK, and now we have a great story to tell.

Love you, even if you did freak out that one time,
Beth

*People reading this: Do not call DFCS. Dominic was then, and is now, totally fine. He was used to roughing it. We didn’t have baby wipe warmers.

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Dear Bathroom-fixated Bureaucrats/Legislators:

The abundance of so-called “bathroom bills” is mystifying to me. Why is this a thing? Am I supposed to carry my birth certificate with me just in case I’m stopped by the Potty Police? Can I not use the men’s room when the women’s room has a line 10 deep? Is there really an epidemic of pedophiles stalking children in bathrooms?

I’m not down with the POV of people and groups such as the Family Research Council on their support of these bills. To me, the FRC’s six “talking points” should never be spoken aloud, much less written. Are you folks listening to yourselves?

kevin-moore-bathroom-cartoo

I am NOT worried about pedophiles in the bathroom preying on my kids. Why? Because my kids are old enough to holler at someone who is doing something inappropriate and/or leave the bathroom immediately and tell Eddie, me or another adult in charge. Do other parents not discuss today’s version of stranger danger with their children? If my kids were younger, they would not be in the public bathroom without me or Eddie. So I don’t really understand what the fuss is all about.

I AM worried about a different kind of filthy person: the kind who leaves the bathroom a crime scene. I don’t want to have to wear a hazmat suit to answer nature’s call.

Where is the outrage over pee on the seat and floor?

Where is the disgust over lady products wadded haphazardly in disposal bins?

Where is the fuss over floaters?

bathroom-e1277159107542

THAT is what bothers me on a daily basis, not the thought of a transgender person needing to use the facilities. I’m not even worried about sexual predators (see reason above). I’m worried about people who don’t wash their hands. Germs kill!

If you must have Privy Patrol, let them cite for infractions such as:

  • Burglary of All the Toilet Paper
  • Assault with a Deadly Scent
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident

I’ll be writing my congressman.

Yours in Sanitation,
Beth

 

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