A Cuppa Cuppa Cup


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A couple of years ago, Chip and Katie gave Memomma a  coffee mug all her own, big and bold, pink with white stripes, and the slogan “QUEEN FOR A DAY” — a perfect gift for the coffee-guzzler Daddy loved to call Queenie.  In keeping with the name, the mug held a queen-sized serving of hot java.  If you knew my mama, you knew she wanted a LOT of coffee, at every meal, three times a day, no matter the season, plus several cups in between.  And if we were in a restaurant, she’d order a glass of water on the side.  Not that she drank the water — she’d grab a spoon and fish a couple of ice cubes out of the glass to cool down the coffee.  And then she’d ask the waitress to warm it up with a refill, and start the drill all over again.

Mama enjoyed her “Queen for a Day” mug, even after we placed  an “OUT OF ORDER” sign on the Keurig  when she forgot how to operate it.  My husband, George, fixed coffee for her often, to keep her from overflowing the Keurig with extra water, and by brewing it for her, fooled  her into using doctor-ordered de-caf  so we could all get some sleep. But, to paraphrase Daddy, that was sort of like tinkling in the ocean. None of us ever got any sleep.  George quietly helped me take care of Mom for more than three years, and whenever I thanked him, he answered, “She was never anything but nice to me.”

Four months after Mama’s last cup of coffee, I walked into the living room and noticed that the Queen mug was up on the mantelpiece, right next to my Williamsburg  candlesticks, where it didn’t match a thing.  What?  I couldn’t believe somebody — probably one of the grandkids, who love to grab a slightly naughty brew at Grandmommy’s house —  had left a dirty cup of coffee up on the mantel to mold, so I  stepped up on the hearth to grab it.

But I heard a shout, and my  my hand stopped in mid-air.

“What are you doing?” George hollered from the sofa, and this is a man who rarely raises his voice.

“I’m taking this coffee cup back to the kitchen.”

“NO.  You can’t.”

“I can’t?   I couldn’t imagine why not — we may not be the most OCD people in the world, but we don’t normally leave dirty dishes lying around the house.  I looked into the cup, puzzled.  Not a drop of  khaki-colored brew.   Clean as a whistle.

“What’s the problem.  Why not?”

“It’s retired,” he smiled. “RE-TIRED.”

And I cried.

How lovely.







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Marguerite Alice Clark Van Hoorebeke Frick, six weeks shy of ninety-eight years old, died peacefully Tuesday, February 27, 2018, in Cherry Grove Beach, South Carolina. Memorial service will take place at 2:00 PM, Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Chapel By the Sea Baptist Church, 1051 Sea Mountain Highway, North Myrtle Beach, (Cherry Grove) South Carolina. Visitation will be held after the service at the home of Chip and Katie Holt in Longs, SC.

Marguerite was born April 14, 1920 in Drew, Mississippi; the oldest of five children born to Thomas Huey Clark and his wife, Mary Ella Hembree. Due to their mother’s serious illness, she and her siblings grew up in the household of their great-aunt, Florence Rozier Davis, in a large southern home overlooking the Yalobusha River in Carrollton, Mississippi, and on the Clark family farm in Teoc. Hot Mississippi summers were spent in Neshoba County on Grandpa Hembree’s farm, highlighted by a week in the family fair house at the famed Neshoba County Fair — #74 on Founder’s Square. Marguerite made family history by winning the Talent Contest at the 1931 fair, beating all the adult entries with an original dramatic presentation. She was a terrific storyteller and conversationalist, and never once ‘ruined a good story with facts.’

After graduating first in her high school class, Marguerite obtained a scholarship to Chillicothe Business College in Chillicothe, Missouri – the world’s largest business school at that time — where she paid for room and board by working in the dining hall, and was crowned Homecoming Queen. During that time, she met and married US Army Captain George Van Hoorebeke, from Joplin, Missouri. Captain Van Hoorebeke died a hero’s death in World War II, leaving her with two young daughters, Virginia and Carole.

In 1946, a young Signal Corps officer from South Carolina was ordered by his commanding officer to ask her out for a double-date because she owned the only car on post and could provide transportation. Six months later, she married Lieutenant Martin Luther Frick, Jr., and they moved back to his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. As jobs were scarce in Mississippi, but the textile industry was booming in South Carolina, some of Marguerite’s family members moved to South Carolina as well, always finding a warm welcome, hot meals, love, and laughter in her home. Daughters Beth and Margie were born while the family lived in Greenville.

Martin L.’s Duke Power career moved them to different cities, so Marguerite enjoyed working as a bookkeeper and shopping center promotion manager, and especially loved her career as a real estate broker in Charlotte, Burlington, and Winston-Salem, NC. After retirement, Marguerite and Martin L. spent eighteen years on Sanibel Island, Florida, where they shelled all day and danced all night, making friends from all over the country who became like family. As a member of Sanibel Community Church, and Methodist churches wherever they lived, Marguerite considered herself a ‘choir widow,’ sitting in the congregation while her husband was in the choir loft.

Grandmother Hembree taught Marguerite to sew when she was a young child, and she became an accomplished seamstress, creating window treatments, upholstering furniture, and fashioning designer-quality wedding gowns for her daughters. She was also a terrific down-home southern cook, and her shrimp creole is still legendary among those associated with beloved friends Annie Murray and Wilson White and The Monterrey Motel in Surfside Beach, SC. She was often accused of having the world’s worst case of ‘gadget-itis,’ as she got one of everything new that ever came on the market. In 1952, the whole neighborhood crowded into her living room on Saturday nights to watch the Lucy Show; she had the first microwave oven in town; the basement held a huge electric ironing machine she operated with expert precision, and her kitchen was filled with steamers, ricers, dicers, under-counter can-openers, vegetable sealers, and all kinds of things that nobody really needed but she loved.

Blessed with quick wit and a sparkling, outgoing personality, Marguerite was genuinely interested in every person she met, and went out of her way to be kind, upbeat, and hospitable. She read the morning and evening newspapers word for word every day for years, and never missed voting in a national election. She was often called the world’s biggest female sports fan, as she cheered for the Clemson Tigers and Duke basketball. Her daughters were told more than once, “Your mother knows more about football than any woman I’ve ever met!”

Martin L. and Marguerite loved to dance together, and she loved listening to her husband and daughters perform music. Martin L. once said, “The day I met Marguerite was the best day of my life. She was beautiful, she was intelligent, had a wonderful personality – and she used good grammar!”

Marguerite’s longevity brought heartache along with joy. She was widowed twice, and suffered the pain of losing two daughters, Virginia Ella Van Hoorebeke Frick Miller Hill Hooker (Sol) of Taylors, SC, and Carole Ann Van Hoorebeke Frick Long of Winston-Salem, NC; granddaughter, Kristina Elaine Hinsdale of Belews Creek, NC; and great-granddaughter, Marah Leigh Bomar Worthy, of Greenville, SC.

She is survived by daughters Elizabeth Frick Holt (George) of Powhatan, Virginia and Cherry Grove Beach; Marguerite (“Margie”) Frick Hinsdale (Mark), of Belews Creek, North Carolina; her youngest sister, Polly Ann Clark Atkins of Columbia, South Carolina; sisters-in-law Betty Campbell Clark of Greenville, SC and Betty Jean Clark of Garden Grove California, and many adoring nieces and nephews who will travel from across the country to be at her memorial service.
Marguerite’s grandchildren were the delights of her life: Tracy Miller (who named her ‘Memomma’) of Greer, SC; Robin Miller Bomar (Mark) of Blue Ridge, SC; Lisa Long Feldmann (Ed) of Longmeadow, Massachusetts; George Long (Jessamine) of Roswell, Georgia; Chip Holt (Katie) of Longs, SC; Bryan Holt (Rebekah) of Powhatan, Virginia; David Holt (Krystal) of Fredericksburg, VA; Martin Hinsdale and the late Kristina Hinsdale of Belews Creek, NC; and step-grandson, Michael Hill of California.

She had the pleasure of loving thirteen great-grandchildren: The late Marah Bomar Worthy (Andrew); Monica Bomar Fowler (Jordan) of Blue Ridge, SC; Micah, Nathan, Chloe, Jane, and Ian Holt of Powhatan, Virginia; Keira and Eli Razzak of Kernersville, NC; Evelyn and Elaine Holt of Fredericksburg, Virginia; Sylas and Robinson Long of Roswell, Georgia.

In recent years, Marguerite made her home with George and Beth Holt in Powhatan, Virginia, where she attended Emmaus Christian Church; and in Cherry Grove Beach, SC. She remained good-natured to the end and thanked the Good Lord every day for her life, safe travels, and blessings. The family wishes to thank Embrace Hospice, especially Samantha and Stephanie, for their loving care during the final weeks of this remarkable life. Soli Deo Gloria.




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The Marguerite Chronicles ~ February 6, 2018:

Marguerite’s ups-and-downs over the past week have been epic — several times we thought she was checking out. Still, her physical condition didn’t meet Medicare guidelines for general inpatient status, so we paid for five expensive nights to give ourselves some breathing room. She enjoyed all manner of relatives visiting over the week-end, though she seemed barely conscious through much of it.  Two daughters, two sons-in-law, a sister, a niece, a nephew, four grandsons, two great-grandsons, and a great-granddaughter stood in loving prayer at her bedside. We didn’t think she’d last till  her Tuesday morning discharge time.

And then, last night, she woke up.  Somebody recharged the Energizer Bunny, and this morning, we found her trying to climb out of the bed — after four weeks of being unable to use her arms or legs or even to roll over.

So, as previously planned, a hospital bed and other hospice-at-home equipment was delivered, and a transport brought her back to the condo. She was awake.  Joking. Talking in sentences. And listening to her grand-nephew who happens to be a bona-fide composer, symphony pianist, and Uber driver tinkling the ivories from the living room.  “I just love you more every day!” she said to him.

People in their last days often rally for a little while before entering a final downturn, so we don’t know for sure if this is a rally or an actual improvement after finally detoxing from the medication that made her comatose.  Time will tell.  But no matter, we’ll take it.

So, drop by anytime.  The Queen is holding court!



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The Marguerite Chronicles, February 1, 2018:

Memomma is in a lovely hospice home in the Myrtle Beach area, after being hospitalized in Winston-Salem and Myrtle Beach.  A doctor in Winston-Salem, who was treating her for a UTI, decided to change her seizure medication after noticing that it was not what is normally considered a therapeutic dose.  Had he bothered to check with me, or the prescribing neurologist whose name we provided, we could have explained the reason for the lower dose. But he didn’t. And he changed it to a medication that made her almost comatose for nearly 3 days when it was first prescribed for her a few months ago.  When he mentioned the medication to my sister, he used the brand name, not the generic name that she had seen on the bottles.  So, after five days of taking this medicine, Mama was in terrible shape.  Only after she was discharged in a nearly comatose condition did I realize that she was back on this medication and suffering terrible side effects from it.  On top of the other issues that legitimately landed her in the hospital, this was a crowning blow, and  she’s been through the wringer.

So, in the hospice home today, she cried out with a terrible headache, and even after receiving medication, she seemed to be in a good bit of pain.  Margie and I sang to her — Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace, Precious Lord, Take My Hand, You Are My Sunshine, I’ll Fly Away…

Tonight, when we left,  she was sleeping deeply.  Though to us, she seems to be deteriorating, she no longer fits  Medicare guidelines for general inpatient status (GIP) in a hospice home, so we are purchasing a few nights of what is termed ‘room and board.’  It costs an arm and a leg.

If she lasts till Tuesday, we will move her here, and she’ll receive in-home hospice care, covered by Medicare, until such time as she can qualify for general inpatient status again and can be moved back to the Hospice Home. As a friend’s uncle said when he was being kicked off GIP status, “I’m not dying fast enough to suit ’em.” If she stays in the Hospice Home but is not considered GIP status, Medicare pays the hospice care part, but room & board is on our dime.

So, I’m thinking of taking in a few boarders myself. Hmmm — we have two extra bedrooms at the beach, and four in Virginia, so at $175 per person per day in a double room, or $250 per day for a single room — I could potentially pull in at least $36,000 per month. Anyone looking for room and board? I guarantee really good food, comfortable mattresses, and great views.

The Right Man


Eighteen days into 2018, we’ve gotten Mama out of one medical situation and into another.  After spending about a month in rehab, she was discharged last Wednesday.  My sister, Margie, went to pick her up, and took her back to her home near Winston-Salem so I could babysit five/sevenths of my grandkids while their parents went away for a week.  But Mama wasn’t doing well.

In rehab last month, after a week, she was jumping up out of bed like a teenager, and it looked like physical therapy was working wonders.  But a week or so later, she suffered some kind of downturn, and could not longer function at the same level. They discharged her, saying she had reached a plateau.

Yesterday, she could barely follow directions. She couldn’t walk. Couldn’t lift a spoon to feed herself.  So, for the second time in two days, Margie hauled her over to the ER at Wake Forest-Davie Medical Center.  Her right hand was swollen double; she had a fever, and her entire right side was quite weak.  Today, she has perked up.

So, while ago, my cousin texted from Mama’s bedside. The physical therapist was working with her.  “Can you touch your head?”  Mama touched her head.  “Can you touch your shoulders?” Touched her shoulders, too.  “Can you wiggle your hips?”

Mama laughed.

“I can if the right man is around!”



Two-thousand-seventeen,  as every year before it,  held a million mundane moments.   And in between them, a few joyous minutes and too many sorrowful hours scattered ‘life’ into the dailiness.  Three hundred sixty-five slow days flew by far too fast, fitting the cliche and making us feel far too old.  All those ordinary afternoons fade,  forgotten, one to another, but the best days and worst days burn into our souls. The plain old nondescript days help me balance – they keep me standing,  keep me going  through the times I lose  footing – whether I’m giddy with good speed, or drunk in depths of sorrow.

Life spoke loudly, too many times, that some dreams have run out of  hope. Grace helped me shut up and take it. And Grace helped me get through and go on, though I rail in anger that these  dreams are not to be.  The darkest day for me and my family, was August 16, when our precious Marah died, and our dreams went with her. Time stopped that day, and in some ways, won’t begin again till we meet on that beautiful shore. And then, when we had barely ‘come to’ after that sucker punch, November 4 came and took  my teacher, mentor, beloved encourager, supporter, understander (and critic!) – the larger-than-life Erving Covert, and I am left to sing without him.

But some wonderful days, some glorious days made it possible to bear the rest. October 19, our precious Laney was born. August 18,  sweet Alden came into this world.  A trip through childhood Mississippi memories with Mama and Aunt Polly. A cruise to the Bahamas. A new house for Chip and Katie. A 97th birthday for Memomma. In June, a stage, a song, and a show  breathed a little energy into my stalled musical life.

And in between the highs and lows, there were a thousand sweet times with ones I love who love me back. Family, friends, grandkids.  Dinners, phone calls, emails. Road trips. Boat rides. Sun, surf and sand. Love, music, and laughter. Adventures, conversations, communion. Hope, faith, and God-winks. Even a new dream or two.


Another year of history.

Lord, hold  us close as we travel through time.

2018, ready or not, we’re here. It will be different. And it will be the same. God bless us.

Back To Myrtle Manor — The Nursing Home, not the TV Show…


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I rushed back to MB today after being in Powhatan for Christmas,  and made a grand entrance into Myrtle Manor around 7 PM.  Memomma Marguerite qualified for in-patient rehab after a 3-day hospital stay due to a second seizure that occurred on December 9.  She had the first seizure that we knew of in November, but it’s likely there were others that we didn’t see.  The first time, I was giving her a shower — her hair was soaped up, all was well, then all hell broke loose. I’d left the phone on the kitchen table and when the seizure was over, I had to prop her up against the bathtub wall for a minute to run call 911. This time, I was dressing her after a shower when it happened, but I’m proud to say that my cellphone was in arm’s reach.  I’m getting this eldercare thing down pat, one emergency at a time. It’s a fine science, y’all. Requires talent.  The kind I didn’t get naturally. My music education is fairly useless for this, but it helps preserve my sanity.

The seizures are attributed to shrinkage of the aging brain, so if you have longevity genes, take notes.  Years ago, during one of Daddy’s laps around Baptist Hospital, we coined the term “oldage,” pronounced ‘oldige’ as opposed to ‘old age.’

You had to be there I guess, but Daddy was a real pain when his blood sugar was up.  And with all the chocolate pie he demanded from every Greek restaurant in Winston-Salem, his blood sugar was always up. And rooms in Baptist Hospital weren’t private.  A doctor was interviewing a hard-of-hearing patient in the next bed, and shouted, “DOES THE NUMBAGE GO ALL THE WAY UP YOUR LEG?”  And Daddy answered, in the booming voice that learned to whisper in a sawmill,  “YOU DON’T HAVE TO HOLLER — I CAN HEAR YOU ALL THE WAY OVER HERE.  AND THERE’S NO SUCH DAMN WORD AS ‘NUMBAGE!’

We cringed, apologized, and attributed his outburst to oldage.  So now, Mama’s got a serious case of it, but instead of hollering, she turns on the charm — still the Homecoming Queen, the Belle of the Ball, General Eisenhower’s Dance Partner, and Real Estate Broker Par Excellance.

She was thrilled to see me tonight, and declared that it must be mental telepathy that I came, because she had been looking for a telephone directory all afternoon so she could call me.

Her uh, ‘dimension’, as the divine Miss Malaprop calls it, is all over the map. She knew the correct names of grands and great-grands in the Christmas photos I showed her, then asked if George Holt is in Charlotte. Uh, noooo, George is in Richmond, but she used to live in Charlotte, so the dots do connect in some fashion.

“Where did you park the car?” she asked, several times. “In the parking lot,” I answered, several times. H eyes filled with wonderous delight. “I didn’t even know they had a parking lot here!”  In her mind, we’re talking Disneyland.

Well, we don’t really want her to know there’s a parking lot, much less a car — this is the woman who said, “I’ll stop driving when you lock me in jail and throw away the key.” Then, she totaled her minivan when she turned in front of oncoming traffic while defying doctor’s orders. Two weeks later, she called a taxi and kidnapped her own husband from his nursing home. Took him home to her independent living apartment with nary a needle full of insulin nor a fridge full of food.  A nightmare we don’t want to repeat. When people tell me how sweet my mama is, they don’t know the half of it.  She has her sweet moments, but she didn’t get to be 97 years old by being sweet. But she is quite the charmer.  So, if you go to see her, keep an eye on your keys.

 She’s back in the fifties when it comes to phone calls, and no longer knows how to use her  cell phone. “We need to write down everybody’s phone number so we can call them.”    I’ve explained a dozen times that my phone contains everybody’s phone number, but it doesn’t compute. And this is the woman who got her first computer at age 70, took a class in  Direct Operating System, then somehow deleted it from her computer, while we were visiting them on Sanibel Island — she lost her DOS, and barely came up for air during our whole vacation.  Now she doesn’t know DOS from Windows, but every time she sees an iPhone, she says she wants one –until I tell her it costs seven hundred dollars.


She’s always had a severe case of gadget-itis.  She had the first microwave oven in town, and the first of everything else, too.  We had an electric ironer, for goodness sake.  You probably don’t even know what that is — but it was a commercial grade ironing machine that pressed sheets, tablecloths, and the like on a big roller, operated with knee-and foot-controls. She and our maid we experts — they could even do shirts on it.  And  every electric cookware gadget that came on the market found its way to our kitchen:  steamers, crockpots, electric skillets, fondue pots, food processors, seal-a-meal machines, you name it  — hence, extra cabinets added on every wall, whether they matched the originals or not.  One year — I think it was the year of the electric comb —  I asked Daddy what we should get her for Mother’s Day. It was the age of under-counter everythings — can openers, radios, toaster ovens.  Daddy shook his head.  “Heck, honey, she has everything.  I can’t think of a thing — unless you can find her an electric  a** wiper.  But it’d hafta be the undercounter model.”

She is still very particular about determining front from back when putting on her clothes — though she might try putting her panties on over her pants.  And I think of  the beautiful clothing she made, the gorgeous wedding gowns, the draperies, and the furniture she upholstered, and wonder at how a brain that could fashion such complex items can get so mixed up.

But when it comes to her shoes, she’s careful about right and left.  And  obsessed.  It’s as if there’ll be some kind of Cinderella catastrophe if one dainty little toe touches the bare floor.  We go to the restroom.  I say, “Ok, Mama, now take off your shoes.” She looks at me like I’ve lost my mind, but the deer-in-the-headlights look tells me she’s lost hers, too, and she asks, “Why?”

 I explain that she needs to take off her pants, and they won’t come off over her shoes.  So, she carefully slips them off.  I take her pants off,  and turn my back to fold them up. And before I can turn back around, those deft little dancing feet slide back into the ruby slippers — and I try not to cuss, and have to say again, with as much patience as I can muster, “Ok, Mama, now take your shoes off.”  And again, she looks at her idiotic daughter and says, “Why?”  And we put new pants back on, but before they’re pulled up good, the dadburn feet are already feeling for the shoes.

And I say, “Mama, if you would be half as concerned with keeping your underwear dry as you are with your shoes, I will be soooo happy.”  And we laugh and carry on,  and the next trip to the loo, we do it all over again.

When Chip and Katie visited her on Christmas Eve, she looked at them and said, “Where are our parents?” and made several other really off-the-wall comments, so I think some medication changes plus the disorientation of being in nursing care takes a toll on her brain function.

“Where do we pay the bill here when we check out? I don’t have any money with me.”  Deja-vu:  Daddy asked that question a hundred times when he was hospitalized.  And a hundred times, we answered, “You don’t have to pay a dime.  Medicare and Duke Power are taking care of it.”

“Where are you sleeping tonight?” She asked me — several times. I told her I’d be at our regular condo in NMB, and she said she needed to go up there so she could see what it looks like — never mind that she has practically lived here for the past two years.

They’re working on adjusting her depakote levels, which are too low. I’ve learned from our  DNA profiles via promethease.com that she and I are slow metabolizers of many medications, so early or stronger doses are sometimes necessary.  It takes multiple shots for me to get numb in the dentist chair, but 8 hours later, when most people have normal feeling back, my whole face is frozen.  So, it’s beginning to make sense that the med they had her on wasn’t strong enough, and that this new medication is slow to act as well. Bingo.

Physically, she is remarkably stronger. She told me she goes to physical therapy twice a day in the ‘phys ed room,’ and is getting good muscles. And she hopped up out of bed in a heartbeat — which is a little scary, because she does it so quietly.  We’ll have to put the alarm back on the front door when she returns.

We have a meeting with her care team tomorrow to discuss her progress and plans for discharge, but I know she will be there at least through January 3. She was excited when I mentioned the names of family members who are planning to come visit in the New Year.  Even when she is feeble, she’s the strongest woman I’ve ever seen.

Thanks for all your care, prayers, and encouragement. She’s getting torqued up. I hope soon it’ll be my turn, ’cause I’m in need of some serious torque-ing, like on a cruise ship…



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Mama’s much quieter these days, quieter than those who knew her would ever have imagined. But her great personality is still intact, and shines through the confusion whenever we need some comic relief.  We need it often.

Yesterday, I was helping her out of the shower, but I hadn’t closed the bathroom door.

She looked up at the open door, and through the fog of a 97-year-old brain mixed with shower mist,  said, “There aren’t any men here, are there?”

“No,” I assured her. “Just you and me.”

She grinned, and that  mischievous  Marguerite-sparkle appeared in her eye.

“Awww, shucks!”

“My Social Security” Ain’t Mine


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I tried several times to enroll in online access to “My Social Security,” now that I’m old enough to be decrepit,  but the site kept telling me that they cannot create an account for my social security number.  Mind you, this is not for enrolling in SS, or receiving any money or benefits — simply to get online access to what is touted as MY records.  So I called the Help Desk. And believe it or not, the nice lady told me that for some unknown reason, the US Government has been unable to establish my identity through EQUIFAX — the credit reporting agency, even though I provided her with my name, birth date, place of birth, mother’s maiden name, and could have added blood sugar readings, dental records, fingerprints, DNA profile and genealogy chart going back to a dadburn Plantagenet King of England. Plus I answered all the financial questions like “NO, I HAVE NEVER FILED BANKRUPTCY,” which has nothing to do with social security.

Now, last time I looked, Equifax was not a government agency, so I ask you — what the HECK does Equifax —  have to do with confirming my identity, and why would the government take Equifax’s word over mine as to who I am?? So, I will have to go into a Social Security office with my numerous government-issued ID cards (driver’s license, passport, and passport card) to be issued a CODE which will allow me to sign up online.

But oh, I was able to sign up online for Medicare through SSA — the same people, y’all — but that didn’t require an Equifax proctology exam. Next think you know, they’ll want the serial number off my bionic hip.

This, folks. Big Brother at its most ridiculous.



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Mama no longer takes showers on her own, and getting her to agree to one takes some major coaxing and coaching. So this story starts one year ago, and goes backwards from there.

May 1, 2016:  After I told Mama we were going to see a show tonight, she surprised me by announcing she’d take a shower. She’s still capable of doing those things with minimal help, but I usually have to cajole her into the tub, like with a cattle prod. I was delighted she was showering of her own volition. I heard the shower running, and after it turned off, I went in to help her out — and help her out was exactly what she needed. Her bathtub seat had disappeared from the tub. (I found it in the guest room later.) She showered without it, and then, after she got out, she sat down precariously on the side of the tub and slid bass-ackwards into it. I found her sitting sideways in the tub with her knees hinged over the edge, patiently waiting for me to come help her out. Thankfully, I was able to cross my arms, lock our wrists, and pull her out. She went back to her room – I finished dressing and went to help her to the car, but she’d crawled under the covers, and was wearing my clothes! We got the clothes changed (again), and she was tickled to be going to ‘the theatah’. I’m happy to report there were no further incidents!

Today, one year later, we’re looking for her teeth. Again. I hope to find them in time to meet dear friends John and Betty, who’ve invited us to Villa Tuscanna in honor of Mama’s 97th birthday.  I really don’t want to go dumpster-diving for teeth today.  The  denture adventures of the past several years will last me forever.

Three years ago, on her April 14 birthday,  Mama threw her teeth away in a napkin at Hoskin’s Restaurant.  That was one expensive lunch, even though the waitress brought key lime pie  on-the-house  in honor of Mama’s birthday.

Going to the denture people is worse than pulling teeth. Pure torture. It’s not their fault, they do the best they can, but oh, the agony. We were staying in an ocean-front condo over on the beach that week, and I made an appointment to get new teeth, gnashing mine ’cause we were paying an oceanfront price for a day of  pure-tee denture distress.

We got Mama up early that morning, and told her we needed to dress quickly to leave for the appointment.  I went into the kitchen to check a few things, and came back to her bedroom to help her — but she was nowhere to be found.  The place had 4 bedrooms, so it took a few minutes to find her.

And we found her, this woman who has always preferred showers to baths, lying on her back, slippery wet and nekkid as a jaybird, in the tub.  And she couldn’t get out. ‘Twas not a pretty sight.

I tried pulling her up, but I was already in major hip pain headed for surgery, so it didn’t work.  I figured we might have to call 911 to get her out, but my sister, Margie, who is 2 inches taller, and had hips that worked, and better leverage, came to the rescue.   She planted both feet in the tub, straddling Mama, reached down and body-hugged her.  Up they came, slipping and sliding on the wet porcelain.

I tried to quick-dry Mama and get her dressed.

“MAMA!  We’re due at the doctor down in Myrtle Beach in 30 minutes. We have to hustle!  Why in the world did you decide to get in the tub?”

“Well — we’re just going over here to the Gentle Dental, down the street!”

I was flabbergasted. Nobody had ever once mentioned, much less pointed out, Gentle Dental. She’d read the sign – we drive by it every day. When she heard we were going to get new teeth, she assumed it was Gentle Dental. Heck, they don’t even do dentures.  How I wish they did.

Take care of your teeth, folks, so you won’t have to send your daughters dumpster-diving in your old age.  ‘Cause if you live to be ninety-seven, it’ll be their old age, too.