Friday, September 21, 2007


My father is 88 years old and he is failing rapidly. He and my mother both have had wonderful health all their lives - and for my father, that has drawn to a close. Last spring, his artificial knee got infected and it had to be cleaned out. The two surgeries that ensued and the rehabilitation and enforced hospital stay nearly killed him then, but he got better. He never really regained his earlier health, but he was able to live independently for at least this past year since then. He was diagnosed with Type II diabetes about 5 years ago, and since then, his eyesight has rapidly declined, which was the beginning of his trials. He would lament at length about how he just couldn't get over the loss of sight in one eye.

In August - August 10 - my mother and father celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. My father was barely able to get around, and had already begun to fail in a more rapid manner. Yet all three daughters came, one from NY State, and we went out to dinner. Compared to 10 years before, I couldn't help thinking how much had changed for all of us.

Now, it's September and my father is barely able to get out of bed. He can't sit in his favorite chair because he can't get out of it. My mother, who is 9 years his junior, has cared for him all this time, but is rapidly reaching the time when she just can't do it anymore. Add this to the fact that it was just found out through a cat scan that my father has been having many small strokes - that's why he has gone downhill so rapidly in the past 3 months - I think his time of crossing over is very near (and I hope it is since I don't want him or my mother to suffer any more of this debilitation).

Since they live 2 hours away from me, I can't be of much help very often - not every day as I'd like.

So, as I sit here trying to face what is before me, I remember my father.

When I remember things, I see it all so vividly. I can see the bars of my crib and
I'm standing up, looking over the edge. My crib is in my parent's bedroom in the house my father built in Middletown, NY. It is a split level house in a new neighborhood. In 1956, when the house was being built (and the year I was born) there were no trees yet, but that changed quickly. As I'm leaning over my crib, I see my father standing in the open door of the closet of their bedroom - to my left. He has on a light blue plaid short sleeved summer shirt, and he is singing "Home On the Range" to me. I can see it as clearly as if it were yesterday. He is young, dark-haired and handsome, and the closet light is on - it is late in the day. Perhaps he is trying to sing me to sleep.

Another time, company was at our house. My mother's sister and her husband, my aunt Josephine and Uncle Chester, who lived in Jacksonville, FL. were up visiting. I was maybe 5 years old, and I always had to go to bed at 7PM, even in summer when it didn't get dark until 9 at night. Everyone seemed to be having such a great time this evening, and the lazy summer sun was still coming strong through the windows of the bedroom, but off to bed I was trundled. I didn't mind so much because I was sleeping on the floor of my parent's bedroom so that the company could have the other bedrooms - and I thought this was exciting. I also felt so safe sleeping in their room.

I remember playing outside all day until finally it was time to come in, eat supper and take a bath before bed. I remember the feel of the hot water after a day of hard play, and the soft crisp clean smell of fresh pajamas after the bath.

My mother ironed our sheets - isn't that odd? They were washed and hung outside to dry, so that they absorbed the country air. Then she ironed them. Climbing in between those pristine white sheets that smelled like the summer breeze was heavenly. Combine that with the bath and the clean pajamas and it was home. Wonderful childhood home.

My dad taught me to pray the Our Father. I might have been 3 or 4 years old. I can remember he and I sitting on the concrete steps behind our dining room, facing the back yard. I remember thinking how serious he was and that this was important to learn.

I used to wake up - to me - in the middle of the night, and find everyone else in bed except my father. He was downstairs in the "playroom" watching Johnny Carson perhaps. I would climb up in his lap and go back to sleep and he would sit there with me until he was ready to go upstairs to bed himself, and he'd carry me up with him. So long ago. I'm 51 now, so it's a very long time ago indeed.

I want to record more of my memories of my father, my mother and my childhood. Stay tuned for more nostalgia.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


So, here I am at work. It's 12:27 (I have 3 hours until I can go home) and things are slow - obviously, since I'm posting. It's pouring out and more rain is expected.
There's something nice about a rainy day. I grew up in the Northeast, so rainy/cloudy/snowy days are pretty common. It's too dreary in the Northeast - too many of those dark days, but in Florida, which is usually relentlessly sunny, it's a break to have a rainy day. It's like a ticket to do nothing. You don't really want to drive anywhere unless you have to. You don't feel like you should be working in the garden or starting any complicated projects. You have weather "permission" to just lie around, read, snooze - and just enjoy indoorness. I like that occasionally. When it's sunny out, it's beautiful here, but I think, "I should be pulling more morning glory vines down"..."I should be riding my bike, pulling weeds, painting walls, etc. etc. etc."

So, at 3:30, when I break loose from here and head home - I hope it's pouring so I can just turn into a giant veggie, reading blogs and books - and snoozing in between.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dennis Morgan and Gordon MacRae

OK - so you're dying to know what Dennis Morgan and Gordon MacRae looked and sounded like back in the good ole' days.

Well - here's Dennis Morgan.......sigh.

Dennis Morgan played the sailor heartthrob in the holiday movie, "Christmas In Connecticut" - one of my favorite holiday movies. I never liked Barbara Stanwyck much - she plays the female love interest, but even so, I love this movie. I would have gone loony over Dennis Morgan myself.

And now - here's Gordon MacRae (I just learned how to embed the video in the blog so you don't have to click and go there....)

Gordon MacRae as Billy Bigelow, trying to go straight because he thinks he's going to have a child.....this is the most touching song from "Carousel".

And finally - my mother and father long before they thought of being anyone's their dating days - circa 1946 or 1947.....

Do you wonder why I thought Mr. Morgan and Mr. MacRae were so handsome? The three of them might have been brothers - my dad and those two actor/singers. My father could sing, too. He was in the choir in college along with my mother (where they met), and he used to play piano - the Moonlight Sonata was his specialty. It's too bad maybe that Hollywood never got a good look at him, because they'd have slapped him in pictures so fast.....and my mom would have had to marry someone else (although she could have been in movies, too) - and then, where would I be? But anyway, you can see what I'm talking about here.

On The Mend

I haven't been feeling well, so I haven't posted for a little while. I ate something I shouldn't and it most definitely disagreed with me.

In any case, I'm feeling better and I added another "widget" to my sidebar. It's the Itunes Widget. It's supposed to show my favorite music choices, but it only seems to include the purchases I made today, which was all early 1950's. I have lots more favorites than that!!

I also downloaded some 1950's Cuban music - I was selective, though. The loud repetitive horn music I skipped - I opted for ballads with guitar. I have to find more since the few I found were beautiful. I want to look up the lyrics and see if I can find a translation - such as, for Guantanamera, one of my favorites. When I did a search in Itunes for Guantanamera, there were over 50 choices, but most of them were too brassy, too upbeat. I remember the folksy rendition from the 1960's and, although I couldn't find that particular one, I found a few that were close, although I didn't choose Pete Seeger's recording - he doesn't sound authentically Spanish.

OK - I looked up Guantanamera. There is a lot of argument about who actually wrote it. The consensus is that it was a popular melody, like a folk tune - and Jose Marti's poetry was put to it as lyrics.

The other story is that there was a man on the radio,who is the "official" composer according to the Cuban Supreme Court in 1993 - Jose Fernandez Diaz - who put different lyrics to the song all the time, reflecting news stories of the day. He is credited with having begun this in 1929. Since no one is really sure this is the case, he is the first to make the song famous, anyway.

The original lyrics, as written by Fernandez, are about a man who has a girlfriend and he makes a pass at another girl - the original girlfriend sees him, gets disgusted and leaves him. She is the Guajira Guantanamera - peasant girl from Guantanamo.

When the song is sung with the haunting poetry of Jose Marti, and the refrain is sung - literally "peasant girl from Guantanamo" - it doesn't make much sense, but it sure is beautiful. What do I think? I think it was a popular country tune in Cuba in the early 1900's - and the lyrics were about the guy who made his Guajira Guantanamera angry by flirting with another. The song was then hijacked for political purposes and entertainment value.

I found the original on Youtube - it's by the Sandpipers.

There's also a really bad TV show in Miami called, El Show de Fernando Hidalgo. It's fascinating in it's tackiness. There are overweight young girls, probably relatives of workers on the show, dressed in spangled thongs and short tops, dancing as the equally chubby band of spandexed women and scruffy men play Cuban music, sing and shake their hips. This is where they use the song Guantanamera in the same fashion as Jose Fernandez Diaz - they sing the news headlines each day and punctuate these with the chorus, "Guajira Guanatamera". Interesting, in a cultural sort of way - they must have gotten the idea from the old Cuban radio personality. I can't help but watch this show once I happen to come across it while flicking through channels - I can't take my eyes off the bad costumes and the healthy dancing girls. I don't like the show's host - he strikes me as a used car salesman dirty old man with shortness issues (he's shorter than just about everybody on the show, including the young girls) - and something tells me he's as devious and petty as he looks.

Here's some more Spanish music I downloaded. I can't put the music files on here, but Youtube, being the marvelous tool that it is, has just about everything. This is from a Spanish movie in 1951, called Anna - I think the song is called "El Negro Zumbon!"

I also downloaded two more songs from an album called, "Havana 1950" which I cannot find on Youtube, but if you go to this website, and click on the song, "Aprende A Elegir", you will not regret it. The slight crackling hiss in the background sounds old and makes me think of an early 1900's overcolorized view of Havana.

Click on "La Envida" also. Even though you only get a snippet of the song, it sounds like old Cuba - I can smell the flowers and see the bright colors (and it helps that I live in South Florida which is only 90 miles from Cuba and looks a lot like it in places.....)

The last song I like on the album is "Cuarto de Hotel". The rest I don't care for, even if they are very Cuban.

Well, I'm off to Itunes again. I looked up Gordon MacRae to see if there was anything by him I liked. He has my all time favorite male voice. He was the lead in the Broadway musical (about disfunctional and abusive relationships in Maine) called "Carousel". I joke about the plot line, but I adore the music. When I first saw the movie, I was a young teenager and it struck me right in the romantic tragedy zone of my young adolescent heart. Then, when my two older sisters played the two lead female parts in their high school play, it engraved the songs and lyrics on my heart. I still love to listen to it - but only if Gordon MacRae is singing. The second runner up to Gordon is Dennis Morgan, of "Christmas in Connecticut" circa 1945 fame. He was handsome too, as was Gordon MacRae. They're my all time favorites - perfect looks and perfect voices......sigh. Hey - I wonder if Dennis Morgan has anything on Itunes.....

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Just A Little Peek in the Window

I am SO happy to have a three day weekend this weekend. Last week was very difficult in some ways, but a wonderful thing happened that made all the difference in the world.

First, I think I had a mild stomach virus - no vomiting, thank God, but you know the other end alternative, right? I had that. Also, constant low range nausea. I just didn't feel right. Thankfully, I wasn't hungry and believe I lost maybe 1 or 2 pounds. I'm trying to eat more sensibly anyway, so the virus helped. I was also exhausted, but the big problem was emotional and spiritual. Wednesday, I got up, stood in the shower, and wondered how I was going to make it through the day, and then the day after that, and the day after that. In my head all my problems marched before my eyes with no relief in sight and I felt, literally, overwhelmed by it. Couple that with feeling physically under the weather, and I was filled with despair. I tried to apply Biblical principals and promises from God's Word to the situation and it just didn't cut it.

I finished my shower and was sitting down, finalizing my work preparations, feeling absolutely awful, when a piece of paper was slipped under the bathroom door. I wondered what note my husband was sending me (he does that sometimes) - I figured it was some article he wanted me to read and couldn't wait until I came out.

But, no. It was John 15:16:
"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and (V)bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that (W)whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you."

Now I know you must consider context, but when I read the words "You did not choose Me, I chose you" - it was as if God was speaking directly to me. In all of the mess and worry, fear and dread, He was reminding me that I am His. I was feeling very much a failure, that my life would just continue to spiral down and I should do something to stop it - and He reminded me that He chose me. He didn't have to choose me, but He did. I can say I don't understand why and mean it, but that doesn't change the fact.

I did read the rest of the verse - I'm chosen to bear fruit, and that means to cast my burdens on Him and ask Him for the strength to move forward and make the right decisions - so that I do bear fruit.

This may not seem like much of a big deal to you, but God knew what would comfort me at just the right time.

The minute I read that verse, tears filled my eyes and I felt totally relieved. He (meaning God) isn't "mad at me" for being such a dolt in so many ways - and that note under the door put me back on track.

My husband also wrote some applications of the verse underneath it, but what literally knocked me upside the head was reading that verse.

I am convinced that God used my husband and His Word to comfort me. I asked the Mr. what prompted him to give me the verse and notes - he had not done anything like this in a very long time. He said he was doing his morning Bible reading and this verse just "struck him" and he decided to pass it on to me. Yes, he knows I'm worried and upset, but he's given me other comforting words before, even from the Bible, and it hasn't made the difference this did.

So, if I say; God spoke to me - in a way, He did - through his Word and through a wonderful husband.

And now I'm on my 3 day weekend, the Mr. and I conquered the totally unkempt back yard, which looked like Tarzan might swing in any moment, and here I am, comfortable, comforted and looking forward to another day sleeping in tomorrow.

May your weekend (if you have the weekend off, if not - whatever days you do get off) be wonderful.