Monday, May 18, 2009

That Guy, You Know, uhhh, What's His Name?

This has probably happened to you at some point ... you know the voice on that radio commercial belongs to someone famous, but you can't remember his name.

The moment I heard his rich, elegant voice on the way home today, I knew it was, uhhh ... you know, that actor. I could picture him like he was sitting next to me as my brain struggled to access his name during my whole 50-minute ride home.

It's the guy, you know, who had a major role in Shawshank Redemption.

Memory aids rambled through my head ... and he played the lead in that movie about the inner city high school principal.

Orson Wells? No, this guy is still alive.

Denzel Washington? Right color, wrong age. This guy is older.

A lapse in recall can happen at any age, but it is more scary when you're over 50 because it conjures up images of growing old, of experiencing the poorly-named phenomenon called a 'senior moment,' or worse, Alzheimer's. Forgetting an actor's name, or where you put your keys, is no big deal when it only happens once in awhile.

Oscar something? No.

Fred something? No, but I'm sure it's something with an "F" in it.

I had nearly given up, when I sat at the computer and started to type G o o g l ... Morgan Freeman! That's it ... MORGAN FREEMAN!! See, something with an "F" in it.

Whew! One small step for man, one giant leap for memory.

OK, poor attempt at a humorous end, using that quote from, uhhh, you know ... the astronaut, uhhh, his name is something with an "A" ... uhhh ....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Remembering Mom

First thing – happy Mother’s Day! I hope you’re spending quality time with your mom and if you are a mom, I hope your kids are spending time with you.

My mother died almost four years ago, so I won’t be spending real time with her, but she is definitely in my heart and my head today.

She died, in part, because of that wicked woman Hurricane Katrina. She survived the storm, then the arduous post-storm temporary relocation from her nursing home in suburban New Orleans, which no longer had electricity, running water or food, to another nursing home a few hundred miles away. But she died the next day. We were unable to return her home for a funeral for another six weeks.

My sister and I regularly speak before groups of people as part of our jobs (I’m in media and she is a teacher and a Mary Kay consultant), but delivering a three-minute eulogy to our family and friends was a first for us. I did all the talking and I held it together till the last sentence.

This is part of what I said at her funeral. (I’m using my sister’s initials here because I never post real names of family on this blog).

When we met with Father Ralph a few days ago, he pointed us in a wonderful direction for today. He said this should be a celebration of Mom’s life.

A M and I are so lucky to have had her as our mother, and there are so many things we could say about her. But in my mind, four things stand out above the rest:

1) She had a great sense of humor …. She loved a good laugh. One of A M’s last memories of her was a few days before Katrina. Mom was sitting there at the nursing home laughing. A M doesn’t really know what she was laughing at, but she was having a good ole laugh.

2) Mom loved to travel. And with the evacuation to north Louisiana and her return here in this casket, she traveled more during her last three days of life and the weeks since her death than she had traveled in decades. She is probably having a good laugh about that right now.

3) Mom paid me and A M the greatest compliment a mother could pay a child … many times. She married late in life, especially for her generation, at age 39. She told us many times, including at her 94th birthday party, that her life really didn’t begin till she was in her 40s, when she had us.

4) One of the most important things in life is family. Up until the last year or so, she kept up with what was going on in your lives … the cousins, your kids, your grandkids. The Mary Kay sisters, the red car ... she even got to ride in the red Mary Kay car and she was aware of things that day.

And it means a lot to A M and I that you are here sharing this day with us.

Mom, we love you.

Mom read the daily newspaper, cover to cover, right into her late 80s. I don’t know if there is a heaven and if there is one, I don’t know if they have internet access. But if there is and if they do, she might be reading this blog, so …

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Word

My friend Mary has an annual tradition similar to a New Year’s resolution. In January, she picks a word that will set the tone for the year.

I decided to try her strategy this year. My word is play.

If you know me in real life, you know I tend to be all work and no play. My time sheet is fiction; the job just can’t be done effectively in forty hours. Pile on the daily traffic bullshit of living in the DC suburbs and the increasingly time-consuming aspects of owning a thirty-year old house with a one acre yard, and there is no time left for anything else.

But Mary’s strategy is brilliant … one simple word to bring things into focus.


Items I’ve attached to play are things I want to do just for me that have nothing to do with work or chores; things I want to do just because I want to do them. No complicated goals or reasons, just activities that I think are fun.

Four specific things in my play bucket right now: a regular happy hour with friends who are much younger than me, working out at a gym, photography and Italian lessons. Si, sono lo studente l’italiano.

I’m tempted to explain the motivation behind each, but, well … I don’t have to. I’m doing these things just because I want to. Play is my word.

Future play: a hiking club, more visits to the Smithsonian, some Washington Nationals games and a local blues festival.

It’s sad that I need a memory aid to remind myself to have fun; but hey, whatever works, right?

Grazie, Mary. Your idea is wonderful.