HELEN HUDSON HERE: MAKE MY DAY

 Here’s what makes my blood boil:  callous jerks running roughshod over old folks with an air of insouciance that unhinges me .  Whether it’s shoving past them in lines, defrauding them by phone, neglecting their care or outright ignoring their presence, their constant victimization makes me furious.  I defy one, single reader to go one, single day without witnessing this crime.  And it is, a crime.

A few hours ago, a frail, old man was backing out of the “Handicapped” space next to my car.  He moved slowly and looked behind carefully as he reversed.  However, when he was three-quarters of the way out, some girl flew around the corner in a large pickup, SAW him and actually SPED UP to pass him.  He slammed on his brakes.  After she passed, I looked through the window at his face.  It was grim and shaken.  I waved.  He looked up nervously.  I smiled and motioned him to roll down his window.  He did but only one inch.  “Not your fault,” I said.  “She was a jerk.  You were in the right of way.”  He gave me a tight-lipped, half-smile.      

 I kicked a cab in New York City once.  I was helping my 90 year-old grandmother across 5th avenue when a taxi ran a red light.  He came so fast that I had to pull her out of his path.  As he passed, within mere inches of us, I kicked his bumper as hard as I could.  THAT made him slam on his brakes.  He jumped out of his taxi yelling in a foreign language.  I was too mad to be intimidated.  “You almost hit my grandmother, you maniac,” I yelled.  “You could have killed her!”  As I continued to maneuver her safely across the street, cars all around him began honking.  He just stood there, yelling, as all of 5th avenue angrily swarmed around him.

Frankly, I don’t know to this day if I actually made a dent in that cab because I never looked.  However, I hope I made one in the driver.  Part of me wonders that if that girl today in the pickup had been closer, would I have kicked her bumper too?  Maybe I’ve turned into the Clint Eastwood of the elder set.  Maybe I’ll start carrying a cane at each hip.  If someone gets unruly with one of my elderly, I’ll whack ‘em.  First I’ll look ‘em right in the eye, though, and say, “Make my day.” 

Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” now on Amazon/Kindle.

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HELEN HUDSON HERE: MAKE MY DAY

 Here’s what makes my blood boil:  callous jerks running roughshod over old folks with an air of insouciance that unhinges me .  Whether it’s shoving past them in lines, defrauding them by phone, neglecting their care or outright ignoring their presence, their constant victimization makes me furious.  I defy one, single reader to go one, single day without witnessing this crime.  And it is, a crime.

A few hours ago, a frail, old man was backing out of the “Handicapped” space next to my car.  He moved slowly and looked behind carefully as he reversed.  However, when he was three-quarters of the way out, some girl flew around the corner in a large pickup, SAW him and actually SPED UP to pass him.  He slammed on his brakes.  After she passed, I looked through the window at his face.  It was grim and shaken.  I waved.  He looked up nervously.  I smiled and motioned him to roll down his window.  He did but only one inch.  “Not your fault,” I said.  “She was a jerk.  You were in the right of way.”  He gave me a tight-lipped, half-smile.      

 I kicked a cab in New York City once.  I was helping my 90 year-old grandmother across 5th avenue when a taxi ran a red light.  He came so fast that I had to pull her out of his path.  As he passed, within mere inches of us, I kicked his bumper as hard as I could.  THAT made him slam on his brakes.  He jumped out of his taxi yelling in a foreign language.  I was too mad to be intimidated.  “You almost hit my grandmother, you maniac,” I yelled.  “You could have killed her!”  As I continued to maneuver her safely across the street, cars all around him began honking.  He just stood there, yelling, as all of 5th avenue angrily swarmed around him.

Frankly, I don’t know to this day if I actually made a dent in that cab because I never looked.  However, I hope I made one in the driver.  Part of me wonders that if that girl today in the pickup had been closer, would I have kicked her bumper too?  Maybe I’ve turned into the Clint Eastwood of the elder set.  Maybe I’ll start carrying a cane at each hip.  If someone gets unruly with one of my elderly, I’ll whack ‘em.  First I’ll look ‘em right in the eye, though, and say, “Make my day.” 

Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” now on Amazon/Kindle.

HELEN HUDSON HERE: RAISE THE ROOF!

Granny let me have a party at our house back in the 70’s with Imagea bunch of my hippie friends.  She bought potato chips and 7 Up and told me I could even crank my record player up a notch.  (“In A Gadda Da Vida, Baby” was a fave.)  As she retired to her bedroom, she said, “Now have fun, dear, but don’t raise the roof!”  Funny that I am remembering that little piece of advice right now.  Because when the architect said he was going to ‘raise the roof’ of our old, fifties ranch I had no idea what I was in for. 

We are now at the end of week two of ‘the renovation’ and  someone has dropped a bomb in our backyard.  The cement patio is jack-hammered up.  The white picket fence has been ripped out and stacked behind a tree.  The salvageable rose bushes are stuck in a clump of what was the lawn but is now a churned up, chocolate mess. 

Should I venture to step out the patio door now, I would fall into a five foot pit of old bricks, broken up cement, spiky, metal rods and rotten boards filled with rusty nails.  Inside, the walls have been sledge hammered out into piles of rubble.  Now, there is a panoramic view from the living room smack into the master.  Well. . .we were looking for more light.  Now we have it.

Renovating a house is like living a life.  You really don’t quite know what you’re in for until you’re IN it.  You have a vision of what you hope it will be, but getting there can be treacherous, circuitous and downright messy.  The same goes for raising kids.  You have a vision of who they might become but their own paths often wander far astray and leave you anxiously wondering. 

I have to remember that tomorrow at 7 am when the crew arrives and Thomas gets behind the wheel of that back hoe and Lenny wields his jackhammer, biceps blazing through the concrete.  Remember that, as Salem guides the men through all the drilling, pounding, banging of boards and whizzing of saws.  Remember, that somewhere in the endless swirl of plaster dust that settles everywhere at once—that all dreams, no matter how starry take shape in chaos.  Raising a roof means tearing things down but the view will amaze you. 

Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” a non-fiction memoir of the years she and her husband cared for her grandmother with Alzheimer’s.

   

FILL-IN-THE-BLANKS THIS CHRISTMAS

Right now, this page is as blank as my cupboards are bare of gifts this year. I just read, “Breaking News” from the New York Times, which says that “Spending is down for November which indicates a gloomy forecast for 2012.” Part of me feels guilty for this downturn, for I have not spent a single penny on this Christmas. No, not one.

Well, I did spend $6 on some holly cuttings for a wreath which I fashioned and hung on the front door. Around the edges, I tied five, old, pine cones from a long ago walk with the dog. When a friend assumed that I had purchased it, I was pleased.  But the usual fuss I make shopping, buying, wrapping, hanging lights and decorating the house has not happened.  In fact, I even forgot to pre-order our usual 12-lb turkey.

Months ago, I reminded my teenage daughters that this would be our, “handmade Christmas.” It is a tradition we started some years back which has yielded some of our most treasured possessions: a hand stitched quilt our oldest made for her sister; a hand-sewn bag our youngest made for us; a photo collage which hangs on the mantle from a happy, family time.

But this year feels different and not because it has been a difficult one but because I want it to hold meaning. Granny taught me long ago that you can’t buy that. It is always wrapping itself effortlessly into your heart and head.  So, I have decided that my gift to my family this year will be my happiest memories of time with them. I began writing them some weeks back. The task was harder than I thought it would be, because as you remember the happy times, the sad ones have a way of creeping in, too.

So, as you fill-in-the-blanks of your own Christmas this year, I wish you moments of meaning.  They will fill the pages of your heart with more laughter and tears than you can imagine.  One day, you may just be lucky enough to have the time to write them down . . . or even read them.

P. S.  Just before posting this, I heard the sweetest sound coming from my husband’s office.  He was whistling, “The Christmas Song,” in its’ entirety.  Those lovely notes are filling my heart line by line this very second!  Merry Christmas!

Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” a memoir of her grandmother’s years of Alzheimer’s.

 

IT TAKES A LOT OF NERVE

It takes a lot of nerve to steal from someone but it takes even more to give what you’ve stolen back. Both scenarios occurred to an 83 year-old friend of mine yesterday.  She arrived at the pool as she has, “for the last 40 years,” with her purse stuffed inside of her gym bag.   She put them in her locker and headed out to swim. When she returned her purse was gone.

Inside, besides $60 in cash, were two gift cards from her grandchildren totaling $200, along with her ID and all of her credit cards.  Bereft, she drove straight home to cancel everything. When she finished, she walked out to her mailbox and found her purse sitting inside. The cash and gift cards were gone, but everything else was just as she had left it.

I thought about the girl who returned it in broad daylight. Someone could have seen her, including my friend. It took nerve but it also meant that she had a conscience. Nowadays you don’t see much of that. Just read the news. Not much conscience around.  Some of our politicians and PEOPLE idols could have used a grandmother like mine.

When I was five, I stole a piece of Bazooka bubblegum from the open jar at the checkout stand as Grandmother paid for our groceries. I unwrapped it, stuffed the pink sweetness into my mouth and began to chew. However, as we approached the car, Granny looked hard at me and asked, “What are you chewing?” “Gum,” I answered guiltily. “Did you pay for it?” she asked. “Um. No,” I replied, “but it only cost three cents.” “That is stealing,” she said. “The amount doesn’t matter.”

She reached into her handbag, took out a Kleenex and had me put my gum inside of it. “Now take this back and tell the clerk that you are sorry for stealing it.” Then she took three pennies from her purse and pressed them into my hand. “And here is the money to pay for it.” “But Grandma,” I protested, “You mean I have to give the gum back AND I have to pay for it, too?” “Yes,” she replied. “But why?” “Because you won’t enjoy it anymore. Your conscience won’t let you.” I’m kind of hoping that girl has that same feeling with the stuff she buys on my friend’s cards.

Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” an Alzheimer’s memoir.

GET A LIFE!!!

When my oldest first said these three words to me I really was speechless.  Then I laughed.  After I wiped the incredulous look off my face I just stared into her then 16 year-old eyes and said:  “I have one but unfortunately for you, you’re a BIG part of it.”  Now if you have teenagers and haven’t heard this yet—trust me—you will.  And, if you are a parent of ANY sort you know one thing for sure:  Your life hasn’t been YOURS since that first cry.

Some parents simply cannot handle the reality of that.  It’s just too all-consuming.  Casey Anthony comes to mind.  But most of us adapted piece by piece, year by year as our offspring grew.  Then one day we realized that even our simplest thoughts almost always include our children.

Teenagers aren’t cool with that.  They so desperately want to be free and on their own that sometimes just looking at them sends them into a frenzy.  This afternoon, while driving my youngest, I was warned, “Don’t talk to me!”  So, I didn’t point out the cool clouds that were stretching across the purple sky ahead of the oncoming storm or the funny, looking dog being walked by the funnier looking woman.  Just drove in silence.

 I remember being her age.  When my grandmother drove me places I even hunkered down in the seat if I saw anyone I knew.  Just couldn’t wait to be ON MY OWN.  It didn’t help that hers was always the slowest car on the road.  The worst thing, of course, was running into a friend when she was with me.  If it were a boy, I fairly died inside.

Somewhere along the line, though, I grew up and thanked her for all those rides.  Had lots of adventures.  Saw some of the world.   Graduated from college.  Had a career—then another career.  Fell in love.  Married.  You know the rest.

I have 40 years of memories BEFORE my kids were born.  Way I figure it, they have a LOT of catching up to do to REALLY get ‘A LIFE.’  Yup, (and it makes me smile just thinkin’ about it) I had a life.  Still do.  Only it isn’t just MINE anymore.

 http://www.helen-hudson.com