A Blind Date In Baltimore, MD

A BLIND DATE:
My version of the story is he rang the bell, I opened the door, he came in, I introduced my mother to him and we went out. He was cute, he said he thought we were rich because my Mom was in the kitchen writing checks. He apologized for not having his own car, he had been in an automobile accident and was using a loaner.

He took me to Maria’s restaurant in Little Italy. We, at least, I felt very comfortable in his presence, and we ate and drank wine, and we talked for hours. I liked this good looking guy and hoped he would call me again. I was a little surprised that he did not try to kiss me good night, or rather I mean morning. I think it was close to three a.m. So what, I didn’t have to get up until six.

Howard’s mother told me her version. She said he came home and she asked him if he had a good time. He said I was a nice girl, but I talked too much. Then, she said, the next morning he was on the telephone talking to me.

He asked me out for a date, but I had already made other plans. (Before I went out with him) He asked me to break them, but I told him, I’d never do that to him, so why should I do it to anyone else. However, I had a lousy time, and couldn’t wait to go out with Howard again.

After that, neither of us went out with anyone else. Maybe it was love at first sight. At least we thought we were in love. The first date was September. We were engaged in December. And married in June.

We started our life with love and kisses and it’s still that way today, 61 years later.

Reflections of Me: Sweet Sixteen, Not For Me

Sweet sixteen, how did they ever come up with that line. Me? I hid myself in my books. I felt frumpy, and ugly, whereas my Mom was beautiful and outgoing, and everyone loved her. Me, I was invisible.

By the time I was sixteen I went to work with my father every Saturday.¬† Cross Street Market was an enclosed place, but freezing inside. Dad woke me at five thirty a.m. and by six we were on our way to work. I wore so many layers of clothes I could hardly move. Socks, paper, shoes, boots and I still froze. I couldn’t wear gloves because Dad sold meat and that’s cold. So was the cash register.

Dad’s favorite story that he told everyone, as soon as I got to work, I grabbed money out of the register, and went to the deli for some hot coffee. I did, I needed that coffee to warm up.

It was a grind, long hours and ice cold days. That’s what I remember the most, being so cold all the time.

Every time I ran out for coffee, I’d notice the kids outside the pubs waiting for their parents. They were huddled together to keep warm, and I’m sure they were hungry. I hurt for them, and I’ve never forgotten how they looked.

We sold ox tails, and believe me, Jamie Oliver and Julia Child had nothing on me. I could cut those ox tails like an expert.

I hated working there. I knew I stunk from the long twelve to fourteen hours of work, and the cold chapping my hands until they bled. Coming home and taking off the layers of clothes and socks and newspapers was a sight to behold.

Next Reflections: The Market Burned to the Ground.

Refections of Me: Moving

I vividly remember that day in 1941. I was ten years old, and my mother told me we were moving.

“Moving, moving where? Why?”

“Because Daddy got a job atthe¬† Glenn L. Martin plant in Baltimore, Maryland. We have to move.”

I saw the tears trickling down my mother’s cheeks, and my world turned upside down. She held open her arms, and we cried together.

The truly traumatic part was leaving my four grandparents, and all my aunts and uncles and cousins. We’d be alone in a strange city, just the three of us.

The next day at school I was humiliated when my fourth grade teacher asked me to go up to the map and show everyone where Baltimore was. I stood there frozen, my knees knocking, and my fingers dripping water on the floor. I was ready to cry when Mrs. Maher rescued me. I sat down and I shut down.

That was only the beginning of the miserable school experiences that were in my future. My childhood was hit by a land mine, and I remained buried under the rubble.

Only now do I realize how much my mother was hurting and all the sacrifices she went through to keep us together as a family. I was much to young to reach out to her, but I hope wherever she is, she knows I understand that she did what she had to do.

More Reflections of Me later

 

Writing Prompts:

1. I remember: thinking, doing, going, wondering, the joy, the anger, the hopelessness, the magic, the wonder, the irony.

2. The brilliant autumn trees were stripped bare and bleak like her heart

3. She stored the heat from his kiss in her heart.

Keep love and kisses in your life.

Caregivers: Live In Their Reality

One of the most valuable pieces of information I received after my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease was: You will have to live in his reality.

Those were the truest words I heard. I still tell caregivers that same advice. I know how hard it is, and yet, it’s also simple.

I was talking to one of my caregiver friends and we talked about it, and she said, “It doesn’t always work, but it’s still good information.”

Caregivers, you are my heroes. No one else can or would do the job you do 24/7. How I admire you and your tenacity, your ability to carry on. That’s not to say you never get depressed, or feel like you are all alone, and no one understands. They don’t. It’s that simple. Unless you actually stand in someone’s shoes you don’t know how they feel, or what they are going through.

I think that’s one reason I finally decided to publish my secret journal. To show others what it feels like, the thoughts and emotions going through a new caregiver’s mind. Now, I’m so glad I did publish it.

Tomorrow I’m speaking at the Henderson Senior Center, and I’m looking forward to it. They are the greatest bunch of people, giving, caring and open. The kind of heroes no one talks about. They are always behind the lines.

After that we are meeting old friends from Howard’s hometown of Baltimore, MD for lunch, what a treat that will be. I don’t think we’ve seen them in decades. A chance encounter with their daughter who works here and we found out we knew her parents. What a small world.

As this year is coming to an end, I feel blessed in all that I have accomplished. I publsihed my book, Behind The Mask, so people could stand in the caregivers shoes and know what it feels like, and hopefully that will inspire them to go out and Adopt A Caregiver. I’ll talk more about that tomorrow night.

Give the gift that lasts forever, and costs nothing. Adopt A Caregiver, and tell them your friend Helene sent you.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Helene