Who says “You can’t go home?” I do, Jon Bon Jovi. And Thomas Wolfe.

Still a pleasure: hot soup.

Still a pleasure: hot soup.

I got a call from Jeanne yesterday while I was working. I work at home now, which is one change from the last time Wiggles and I were blogging. Jeanne was calling from the nursing home where she and Bob are now living. The nursing home is another change since you’ve heard from the StarkRavers. Since then, Jeanne’s dementia has intensified (we refer to it in front of her as “memory issues,” but let’s face it, people. It’s dementia.) Or maybe it was getting bad anyway, but we didn’t notice it.

Hang on, I’m having a hot flash. It’s 30 degrees out, but I just yanked the window in my office open a little bit more. Ahhhh.

Jeanne sounded really chipper on the phone. She was cheerful and to the point as she said to me, “I need you to arrange for me to go home for a few days.”

Home? There is no home for her to go to. When they moved into the nursing home, we got rid of everything in their apartment. Her fake furs? To their caregivers. Her piano? To a music school. Her dozens of pillows, vases, urns, and art from Home Goods? Into the dumpster. Much of their good silverware? Wedged into the back pockets of the building superintendent’s jeans.

In short, there is no home to go to. But Jeanne didn’t remember that.

“Mah, you gave up the apartment, remember?”I stuttered. “when Daddy got sick and you ran out of money?”

Silence.

“Who made THAT decision?” she asked.

There was no real answer, really. So I just said, “Oh, Mah.” Maybe I should have told her that we could discuss it the next week, or after Christmas, or some other time in the future. But I was caught by such surprise that I told her a little bit, just a sip, of the truth.

The blessing of Jeanne’s dementia is that she probably forgot about that conversation 20 minutes after it happened. But me? I was flayed by it for the whole day.

I felt terrible for her over her disappointment and confusion. I also felt terrible for the now-familiar wave of the nasty disorientation that comes when adult children become the parental figures.

So Jeanne can’t go home for a few days, in the way she would like. But here’s what she can have:

1. She can enjoy a good movie on TV  (i.e., anything with Meryl Streep or Adam Sandler. Should they ever work together,  Jeanne would wriggle with delight while wearing the purple quilted jacket that she bought from HSN. “It’s one of a kind!” she said to me the day she thought the nursing home’s laundry had lost it).

2. She can chomp down a bagel with whitefish salad on the top and cream cheese on the bottom, accompanied by an iced coffee with Splenda.

3. She can have a fresh manicure.

4. She can indulge in Face Time, which I have introduced her to so she can see the expressions of her children and grandchildren who live in other cities when she speaks to them.

These smaller pleasures will have to suffice, as time unfolds and I lose more and more of my beloved mother.

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Wiggles Surprises Everyone By Being All Substance, No Flash

Dateline: The Foggy Grey Splendor of San Francisco

Our security system consists of being the most run down house on the block.

Hot Pants clued our dozens of followers into the yummy Katz’s Delicatessen details and even managed to slip in a snapshot of myself and The Lord & Master (shhh – don’t ever let him know his actual face has appeared on this site!).

So what have I, Wiggles, to say about the renewing of our vows? On the serious side, renewing vows was way more fun than taking them as a 32 year old basket case with the emotional sophistication of Gidget. The L&M and I dressed down, skipped the rings, and just stood together before our family and friends and told the truth. And when the truth is as beautiful as our lives, that’s powerful stuff. I have done countless stupid things in my life. But when it mattered most, I fell in love with a man so indescribably wonderful that every other aspect of my life has been bettered by our relationship. I know this is rare, and I cherish him and our life together.

Of course, I wouldn’t be Wiggles without loads of dumb moves. How is it that I didn’t learn from Sassafrass’s high school graduation that I should not appear in public wearing ivory pants? Even when they fit properly, such bulk and bumps do not look good in light colors. Apparently, I am incapable of seeing myself in a mirror. It’s all a blur, topped with makeup and jewelry. Most unsettling.

Fat & Happy. I cannot complain. But I do apologize if this burns your eyes.

Also, I must confess that my industrial strength two week old blow-out was quite the worse for wear having slogged through the worst of the Jersey summer heat and humidity. Even more startling, I managed to eke another week out of said ‘do until I finally plopped into the magical hands of Hamideh, my Hair Goddess. I maintain it’s her hair; it just happens to be on my head.

Multigenerational gorgeousness.

Allow me to close with just a heartfelt thank you to all the people who made it such a great day: Andy & Susan for letting us trash their home, Roberta for shlepping the food from NYC, Jeanne for wearing one of her snazzy new dresses and playing the piano for everyone, Tucker for being Tucker and looking more fabulous than ever while doing so, Leigh Ann and Josie and Matt for wasting their Saturday by being with us, Peter and Sue for trekking in from Chicago amid enormous challenges, and, most of all, Sassafrass for blessing us by singing “Our Love is Here to Stay,” which celebrated us as a couple and as a family.

My Immortal Beloveds [to steal a phrase from Kelly Ripa]

I promise never to be this serious again, folks!

Yes, Vows were Renewed

They came, they overate, they drank a concoction called “The Tenafly Teaser.”

Wiggles, the Lord & Master, as well as family and friends converged on our brother Andy’s house in Northern New Jersey to reaffirm their love and snarf up some corned beef.

Yup, that’s right. Corned beef – as well as Pastrami and sour pickles and tomatoes – were supplied by the one and only Katz’s of Houston Street. Here’s what the boxes looked like, piled gingerly so as not to bruise the meat – in Andy’s car.

Watch out for the Meat!

Watch out for the Meat!

You know you've made it when your name is on a box from Katz's.

You know you’ve made it when your name is on a box from Katz’s.

True to her word, Wiggles didn’t allow the word G-d to be uttered during the course of her and the L&M loving speeches to each other. They did however, mention the words “psychosis” “frisky” as well as the phrase “Two wrongs made a right” in reference to Sassy.

Here’s how they looked, post-renewal.

Let the Eating Begin!

Let the Eating Begin!

It was a wonderful time, even for a semi-cynic like myself. Everyone worked together to make it a seamlesly enjoyable get together. You know who was one of the stars of the show? Yes. that’s right – Pancake, who had grudgingly attended the grooming salon at Litter & Leashes the day before. She looked gorgeous. Check it out:

Is that a Face?

Is that a Face?

She let everyone hold her, snuggled up with Jeanne, and didn’t poop inside the house. I don’t want to say she was tired when she got home, but she slept till 9:40 this morning, which I regarded as a personal best.

There is video percolating around of some of the juicier moments – so I am looking to some others (who know who they are) to email it so it can be posted.

And of course, Wiggles will be adding her own account of the day’s events. Can’t wait to see what her top moments are.

Wiggles and I Eavesdrop on Jeanne’s Therapy Session

this is a woman with a degree! Thank God!

this is a woman with a degree! Thank God!

 

On the suggestion of her gerontologist, our fair mother has entered therapy.  Wiggles and I can only imagine what she talks about, but we can make some educated guesses that main topics include:

1. her children

2. the need for a weekly hair appointment

3.  her ailing husband

4. the need for a weekly manicure

5. current events: I think this week probably included a mention of the stunning tie-dye assymetrical hem dress that Wiggles bought Mah at a local Teaneck emporium. Jeanne looked adorable in it, especially after she paired it with jewelled flip-flops and dangly earrings.

 

This was, in fact the outfit that Jeanne wore when we delivered her to her session. We were hoping that we’d be invited in to hob-nob with Mah and her therapist. But alas, the shrink didn’t ask us to join in the revelry. She just snapped on the radio and ushered in her patient, the 80-year old living embodiment of the Age of Aquarius.

Wiggs and I had to know what Jeanne was babbling about! With no time to lose, we rustled up some props so we could hear.  Here’s what it looked like:

ooh! she IS discussing us!

ooh! she IS discussing us!

 

Then she abruptly switched topics. Wiggles said she heard the words “gold bracelet,” “hot dog at Costco” and “crackle nail polish.”

When the session was winding up, we had to get ourselves together. “Act casual!” I instructed Wiggs. Here’s the pose she took:

Here she is, NOT eavesdropping. I swear, Your Honor!

Here she is, NOT eavesdropping. I swear, Your Honor!

Jeanne was happy as a clam when she emerged. Then guess what we did? That’s right: onto Costco for hot dogs and lemonade. Bliss!

 

 

Mah Suggests I Write to Suze Orman

While chatting up Our Mother on the telephone, I entertained her with tales of the Lord & Master’s and my many fiduciary blunders – mortgage under water, interest-only payments on line of credit, foolishly sending Sassafrass to NYU – one of the top ten most expensive schools in the country – leaving us enslaved to one Miss Sallie Mae. You know, fun stuff designed to get her mind of being housebound, diabetic, and facing increasing dementia.

And, let’s not forget, Hot Pants & I shepherded Bob and Jeanne through their very own personal bankruptcy. It’s a toss-up whether the finest moment during that hoopla was (1) H.P. finally locating a folder marked “I.R.S.” inside of which she found not a single thing or (2) Daddy’s approach to the bench in court accompanying himself with a fart for each lurching step he took. As their lawyer said, “Well, this’ll be a first.”

She zeroed in on the solution immediately.  “You should write to Suze Orman. She can fix this.”

“I’ve seen a lotta Money Morons in my day, and you’re right up there with the worst.” Hell, if I’m gonna mess up, I’m gonna go all out!

Oh, Mah, I wish it were true. Yet here I sit on another gorgeous spring day in San Francisco, doomed to be stuck in paradise. Until Wells Fargo repossesses.

So, here goes:

Dear Ms. Ormon: 

My mother wants you to undo the craptastic financial dilemma in which I find myself. Please help.

Sincerely,

Another Idiot Who Used Her Home Equity Like an ATM.

I can hear ol’ Suze lecturing me right now. “Use of your credit card – Denied. Using electricity and heat in “your” home – Denied. Eating – Denied.”

Most Women Would Slim Down For Their Vow Renewal. I Clearly Am Not Most Women.

This was my short lived dream. Dressed, of course.

The Lord & Master and I are renewing our connubial vows before our Nearest & Dearest as our 25th anniversary approaches. As Bob says to Jeanne on theirs, “Another year of goddam wedded bliss.”

Why, you ask? Because we are grateful to be lucky in love; because we still enjoy spending (almost) all our time together, because – let’s face it – no one else would have us.

Unfortunately, we’re enjoying ourselves so, ahem, fully in the run-up to this “picnic with ‘mush'” as the L&M refers to it, I’ve backed off the traditional ‘lose weight/look great’ idea, and sunk into the more forgiving, indulgent ‘be happy/look’ crappy mindset.

So I’m gonna resemble this luscious lady instead.

Of course, after two weeks of Big Jersey high life, by the Big Day, I’ll be a Big Mess.

Ah, the good old crispy pre-SPF days.

P.S. Memo to Hot Pants:  Battle of the Figurines? It’s ON, Babycakes!

Preview: Wiggles Is Coming to NJ to Renew Her Wedding Vows: Jeanne is thrown into a Clothing Quandry

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Yep, you read that right. Seems Wiggles is putting down her nail scissors (or should I say, her saw?) and she and the L&M are getting on a plane to come East and re-pledge their love. It is shaping up to be a hell of a party, complete with deli platters, Sassy as officiant, and special appearances from Bob and Jeanne, the latter of whom has been mulling her outfit for the past few weeks. I expect the rumination to intensify, and I will start to hear more of the following:

Are you wearing a dress to Wiggles’ party?

Joan Rivers has been showing a lot of new clothes lately. Should I get a new outfit?

I do have white pants I could wear.

I think I need a new skinny belt.

One of the girls bought me a skinny belt. It cost $2!

That skinny belt doesn’t fit. I think I need to loop two together.

Let’s go to Banana Republic so I can get something to wear for Wiggles’ party!

Eesh. It will be a bloody miracle if I make it to this bash.

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