Do you eat the red ones at all?

Red smarties coming out of the box in the shape of a heart

After the lovely small wedding we attended last week, Tom and Harry hosted the minister and his wife, as well as J. and me, at a fancy schmanzy restaurant for a celebratory dinner. Over the course of our meal, we had no end of engaging conversations.

At times, we shared our most private thoughts. Tom mentioned, for example, that, when he was younger, he had hated the taste of red Smarties. He tried to convince us all that red Smarties tasted different from the others, at least when he was a child. He was quite insistent. He was so animated I wondered whether red Smarties were so abhorrent to him that he refused to eat them.

As a chocoholic, I was curious about Tom’s assertions. I had to find out for myself if there was any truth to what he was saying. Thank goodness that clinical psychologists like me are trained in both research design and clinical practice. I could tell you with my eyes closed exactly how to assess Tom’s hypothesis. And, yes, my eyes would have to be closed.

In mere moments, I had designed the perfect study. I picked up a box of Smarties at the grocery store a few days later. (They happened to be on sale.) I coerced J. into being my assistant as well as the second subject in my study. I would pay her in–this is obvious–Smarties.

First I divided the Smarties into two groups: the red ones vs. everything but red. Then I sorted the Smarties into groups of three, each group having one red Smartie. I turned my back to J. and asked her to hand me a group of Smarties one at a time in a random order. When I received the first Smartie, I forgot to close my eyes as I brought my hand to my mouth. What a dummy. I kept my eyes shut through the remaining trials.

J. agreed to participate in my study but she refused to be blind to the colour of the Smarties she was eating. I recall she said, “Just give me the darn Smarties.” She didn’t believe knowing the Smartie’s colour would influence her taste perception at all. She wasn’t taking the study as seriously as I was, apparently, and her responses may be biased as a result.

In any event, the findings were as I expected (I’ve just added experimenter bias to subject bias): neither of us disliked the taste of the red Smarties. We also concurred that the red Smarties didn’t taste any different than the others. Over the course of the brief study, we didn’t spit any red Smarties out in disgust; we savoured all of the Smarties because Smarties are inherently yummy.

My interest in Smartie research did not stop there, however. I began to wonder what proportion of Smartie lovers suck them very slowly vs. crunch them very fast. (I, for one, am a slow Smartie sucker. Ah, the taste of smooth melting chocolate…but I digress.) This burning question has prompted a second study. If you would like to participate, contact me at 1-800-SMARTIEPANTS. Compliant subjects only need apply. That means no Smarties for you, J.

A modern fairy tale

Love conquers hate t-shirt

Once upon a time there were two men. We’ll call them Tom and Harry, because neither one could ever be a Dick. Let’s say they met over a cup of coffee and they fell in love and they settled in to a relationship They both had successful careers and they lived in a sweet home, one that had been in the family for generations, along with their various and sundry four-legged friends. But something was missing.

One day they got a call that two young children, siblings, needed a home. So they jumped into action. They bought bunk beds and Kraft dinner, since they were short on time. They took a crash course (self-taught) in being the best parents they could be. One week later, they welcomed these children into their home and their lives. They bought the kids clothes and toys and books and school supplies, because the young’uns hadn’t arrived with much. The wet bar downstairs was quickly transformed into a children’s play area with a dad-constructed full-sized puppet theatre.

Both parents were already accomplished chefs, so they were ready for the sudden onslaught of family meals and children’s lunches. They enrolled the kids in schools and in after-school activities, and they quickly learned how to queue for coveted special-interest camps.

But there were other skills they needed to learn, and learn them they did. In no time, Tom had mastered the art of French braiding and shopping for sparkly clothing while Harry created the perfect Princess cake and carved a watermelon into an impressive shark for a children’s fruit plate. These dads could be counted on for the best home baking at parent-child gatherings. In no time, they were the envy of all the neighbourhood moms, and maybe even a few of the dads.

After devoting several years to raising their children, Tom and Harry decided to do something for themselves and their family: as their 20th anniversary approached, they set a date for their wedding. They’d long been discussing marriage, but their insta-family had delayed their plans. Seven years into parenthood, they called the minister they have known since their children’s christening and asked if he’d have time for a quick union.

And so it came to pass, in the beautiful garden of their inclusive church, the sun shining brightly upon Harry’s bald head, that these two dear friends were married in a moving ceremony. The couple’s love for one another and for their two children was ever apparent. J. and I had the special honour of being their witnesses.

Some people take issue with a wedding between two loving same-sex partners. Others cannot imagine two men as devoted co-parents. I don’t understand those people.

The icing on the cake–there’s always icing on the cake–was the actual icing on the gorgeous and delicious wedding cake that their eldest baked and decorated for them. She has obviously learned from the best. I envision her as an expert baker, perhaps after she completes her engineering degree. This young lass displayed spatial problem-solving skills superior to her very bright parents during the wedding ceremony.

Now that rings have been formally exchanged, I predict that Tom and Harry and their lovely children will all live happily ever after.

The End Beginning, or maybe The Continuation

Yeah, sure, sometimes I’m grateful.

Let’s start this post by saying that I don’t buy a lot of clothes. But a few days ago I bought a t-shirt, size medium. (Hopefully it will still fit me when my unintentional hunger strike ends.) It says #grateful across the front, which I find a little Oprah-esque, but I liked it anyhow.

I don’t like to preach gratitude but occasionally I do find myself thinking of things I’m grateful for. Being alive is the most obvious one.

Soon after I bought the shirt, as if by fate, I had a texting exchange with a doctor friend, my second debrief of sorts with him following last week’s adventure at the urgent care clinic. He was kind enough to check in the evening of my incident, and somehow we got to texting again on Friday afternoon.

I was worried my friend might be angry with me for what I’d recently posted about my visit to the clinic because he’s the kind kind of guy (no, that was not one of my frequent editing errors) whom I imagine feels responsible for anyone’s mistreatment by a medical professional. That’s quite a burden to bear, don’t you think? I reminded him that he can let that go.

When I asked him whether he was angry with me for what I’d written, he responded: I could never be angry with you. To say I was touched by his response would be a gross understatement. The sentiment actually brought tears to my eyes. I know, you’re not surprised.

Sometimes someone says something to me that I know I will never forget. Some are traumatic moments, the ones where someone has blurted out something very hurtful or mean. We all have moments like those, interactions where we feel shamed or belittled or bullied. I try to let these incidents go because I don’t find stewing about them helpful. Sometimes I am successful but sometimes I am not.

But the moments where someone says something that so kind and supportive, those are moments I want to hold on to. I must have reread the text several times before I deleted it. It has been a great comfort.

Has anyone ever told me that I could never evoke anger? No one, ever. I understand why. I spend my days infuriating people with my irritability and cluelessness and rigidity and all my other tiresome quirks. Maybe this dear friend doesn’t know those annoying sides of me that would drive him crazy were we to spend too much time together.

Or maybe he does know how difficult I can be, and he still chose these words of support. That’s a true friend. So everyone should know how grateful I am. Thanks, dear friend, for debriefing with me after your very long day of work. And thanks for your continued kindness when we caught up a few days later, even if you were disinhibited by your first vacation beer. This post’s for you, bud.

And now I must go put on my new t-shirt, to drive the point home.

 Beer stein filled with beer on a wooden table at a pub

 

Jelly Jelly, full of belly, how does your garden grow?

Basset hound sniffing at the kale in chicken-wire cages

Within the few days since my last post, our flourishing garden is now bursting at the seams. In addition to our radish sprouts, our yellow and green zucchini, beets, beans, green onions, and lettuce have all made appearances. When they say 5-7 days on those seed packets, they really mean it. Any day now, we expect to see the beginnings of our herbs as well. Potatoes are hopefully taking root in our expensive new soil–growing vegetables ain’t cheap, at least in the first year–and our eggplant and strawberry plants are thriving.

One thing we’ve learned about gardening is that fellow aficionados are generous. In the past, even without a garden, we’ve received their overflow, but this year, they’ve donated the lush benefits of their hydroponics operations as well. Heirloom tomatoes grown from seed, kale for our salads and soups, even nutrient-rich soil from our friends’ garden if we need it.

Now we somehow have to protect our plants from pests small and large. First there are the bad insects, which we have banished thus far with the help of good insects, companion planting–even plants have besties–and soil coverage. Our studious kale plants are reading the newspaper as we speak.

Then there are the squirrels, which are cute from afar, but not in our garden. I have nothing against squirrels, but we are overrun with them thanks to a neighbour who generously keeps them in peanuts. They bury their cache in our yard, digging up plants in the process. Then they forget their hiding spots, often foraging in the wrong places. My keen observations suggest that squirrels are not very bright.

Finally, there is the peskiest pest of all: the beloved dog. I’ve sometimes wondered whether Jelly has iron-deficiency anemia because of her affection for greens. When we leave our grocery bags in our entranceway following a big shop, Jelly systematically pokes her head into each one scouting for greens, pillaging any leaf within reach. When we deign to store those greens on the bottom shelf of our fridge, Jelly materializes whenever the fridge opens in search of a healthy snack. Kale seems to be her favourite. Don’t worry, we wash our greens, especially before we serve them to company.

So why did I make the egregious error of placing our two donated kale plants within our easy reach, completely forgetting that Jelly would then have access to them too? (Remember, folks, I’m a novice, barely a preschooler, at this gardening stuff.) After a few drive bys–there goes a leaf faster than you can say, “Stop! Thief!”–and several more surreptitious attempts to score a snack, our generous friends loaned us chicken-wire cages to protect our kale from The Predator. Jelly still eyes the plants longingly but can’t seem to figure out how to knock the cages out of the way. It’s only a matter of time.

If Jelly does manage to break through the kale cages, our friends have promised a larger chicken-wire contraption to contain the dog. That’s a creative gardening solution. They must have gardening Ph.D.’s.

The meaning of Easter through the eyes of a Jewish chocoholic

Small children on an Easter egg hunt

A friend was apologizing to me yesterday for not knowing more about Passover and Jewish customs. “Bah humbug,” I responded, “I probably know even less about your customs.” It’s true. Despite my living in a world where Christianity is the predominant religion, I know very little about the real meaning of Easter.

I have managed to familiarize myself with the important non-religious Easter customs, however. I know that children look forward to a grand Easter egg hunt sometime over the weekend. I also know that these same children would be disappointed if the eggs weren’t made of chocolate. I am glad that I did not know, as a child, that Christian children everywhere were hunting for chocolate Easter eggs and I wasn’t invited. This ignorance is due not only to my Jewish heritage but also to growing up in a predominantly Jewish community.

When I examined the true meaning of the Easter egg hunt more deeply, I realized Jewish children do engage in a similar ritual during the Passover Seder. Early in the Seder, a piece of matzah known as the afikomen is hidden for the children to find after the Seder meal. The excitement of finding the afikomen is not without its purpose: the goal is to keep the wee ones awake through the long celebration. That excitement used to keep me up for hours, I’m sure, although I can’t recall my childhood excitement as an adult.

In case you were wondering, afikomen means “dessert” because it is supposed to be eaten after the meal, when it is found. Matzah for dessert! Yummy! Thankfully, at our recent 30-minute Seder, we somehow forgot to end our meal by eating the afikomen. Rather than matzah for dessert, we insteaded suffered through large slices of Kosher-for-Passover lemon cake and flourless chocolate cake.

Compare our two traditions: Jewish children get to look for the afikomen while their Christian friends search for chocolate Easter eggs. Which custom would you prefer? Need I even ask? The searches may be similar but, in this case, the rewards are vastly dissimilar.

Usually, when I write about being Jewish, I try to convince you that our celebrations and rituals are more fun/better/more exciting than yours. I’m not trying to preach or proselytize; I’m just telling it like I see it. Being Jewish is great. One morning of gifts at Christmas vs. eight days of Hanukkah gifts? I rest my case.

But in this instance, I won’t even try to bring you on board (“board” is a Jewish pun, since matzah and cardboard taste remarkably similar, at least to those who have tasted cardboard). If I had a choice, I’d take the chocolate eggs over the matzah anytime. Matzah notwithstanding, I’m still happy to be Jewish, especially during Hanukkah.

If you’ll excuse me, I have to go and put my first-ever batch of hot cross buns in the oven. J. loves hot cross buns, and it is Good Friday. Of course I will not eat any of these leavened baked goods myself because Passover has not yet passed over. Also, I’ve decided to nix the crosses on them because, well, I’m Jewish. I’m substituting Xs instead. Do you think J. will still know what they are?

Homemade batch of hot cross buns

Why are these playoffs different than all other playoffs?

We are on the second day of Passover now, Jews around the world are struggling with GDDTM (that’s “gastric distress due to matzah), and my suffering is just beginning. Tonight the Stanley Cup playoffs kick off and Edmonton Oilers fans province wide will end what they have dubbed the 10-year post-season drought. Try hanging out in the desert for 40 years, Oilers fans, and you’ll appreciate the true meaning of drought.

Tonight, with the help of their key player, Connor McDavid (that’s McJesus to you), the Oilers will start their run at the Cup. Oilers fans will be glued to their television sets to watch the first-round match up, knowing their boys in blue stand a good chance.

Sadly, the Calgary Flames have earned a playoff spot by the skin of their goalie, and their fans do not hold out the same hope. I don’t know hockey, yet I’m anticipating they’ll barely make it through the first round. They’re up against the best in the West and if I were the betting type, I’d be placing my money on the other team. Calgary doesn’t stand a chance. That’s why I have not chosen even one Calgary player in my hockey pool. (Sure, maybe J. chose my players for me since she’s the only true hockey fan in this household, but even if I were choosing for myself, I’d have passed on the Flames.)

The Oilers-Flames rivalry dates back almost as many years as the Jews’ wandering in the desert. That’s why Oilers fans are gloating over their successful season and their playoff prospects, while Flames fans fear the end is near.

Life-sized stuffed Grover in Oilers jersey sitting on couchDid I mention that J. roots for the Oilers and I for the Flames (solely to irritate J., of course)? This won’t be a problem after the first round of playoffs, when I too will be rooting for the one Alberta team still in contention, but tonight I will be outnumbered: J. has invited her Oiler-fan friends to her woman cave to kick off Round 1, and I will be the only one wearing a vibrant red Flames jersey. Even our life-sized Grover is rooting for the Oilers, and Jelly will be doing the same, under coercion. (N.B.: I will not be posting a picture of Jelly in her cute little Oilers t-shirt because I refuse to soften the blow of her disloyalty.)

One of the couples attending has baked a homemade cheesecake adorned with the Oilers’ logo. This same couple made that scrumptious rainbow cheesecake for Pride last September, so I know it will be divine. It looks incredible, don’t you think? However delicious it may be, I’ve been told I don’t get any unless I join the immoral majority. If I really want a slice of cheesecake, I must jump on the blue bandwagon.

I can’t switch allegiances yet, though, because I enjoy being the antagonist. No matter. This cheesecake will not be kosher for Passover, and you know I am too good a Jew to eat of the forbidden fruit. So enjoy your delectable cake but first pass me the matzah, would you? Tonight I must suffer like my ancestors. Bring on the GDDTM.

Cheesecake with Oilers logo on it

The unanticipated responsibilities of the cancer patient

 

Quote: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it, do the other trees make fun of it?You may think that having cancer is no big deal for me now. I’m stable, I’m active, and yes, I’m tired, but that’s the life of the leukemic. There are, however, some added responsibilities (burdens?) with this disease that no one warned me about.

Let’s take Sunday yoga, for example. I have been going to the same Sunday class for years, since long before I had cancer. This class was also the first I returned to after my leukemia diagnosis, when I was weak and frail and could barely stand let alone hold tree pose. (In case you were wondering, if a tree falls in yoga class, it takes other trees down with it.) J. attended my first few classes post leukemia to stop my tipping over.

Every single Sunday, I ignore the voice telling me I should stay in bed, however loud it is, and I head to yoga. The class starts and I often wonder how I’m possibly going to stay awake. But I’m there and I do my best and I usually feel better by the end.

Over time, I see many of the same people, and we gravitate toward our spots in the room. If a regular doesn’t show up, her (or occasionally his) spot often remains empty, assuming some unsuspecting newbie doesn’t fill it. Yesterday I was tardy to yoga. I arrived as class started, but not early enough to lay out my mat and settle in. Yes, I was one of those annoying yoga disrupters.

Lately I’ve been walking to the gym with my friend, C., who’s graciously assumed the task of ensuring I do not stray in front of moving vehicles. But C. did not have time to walk yesterday so I headed out late, walking solo. Let’s just say that when I arrive early to yoga, it’s because I’m with C; without her, I fall apart. By the time I arrived yesterday, I was so harried that I needed the calming class, thereby defeating my own purpose. Despite the full class, my spot was empty.

Before I had time to unroll my mat, I learned I had caused an uproar amongst my yogi peers. Despite our texts the day prior, C. feared I was still waiting for her to pick me up. Other friends chimed in. “We were worried about you!” “Thank God you made it!” “Here’s your equipment!” A friend who’s usually tardier than me (but never an annoying latecomer) had even texted to ask where I was. No matter that I was disrupting the whole class of fellow yogis, who were sitting calmly on their mats, ready to go.

Woman on yoga mat in half-moon poseThroughout the class, I thought about the upheaval I’d caused–no wonder I kept falling out of half-moon pose. (I often fall out of half-moon pose. It’s hard.) Talk about the kindness of friends. At the end of class, I again reassured everyone. “I’d never miss Sunday yoga.” I assume my buddies were actually worried I had mysteriously dropped dead. All the more motivation to arrive early to yoga in the future.

I live and breathe anxiety; the last thing I want to do is to add to others’ stress. Or lose my prime spot in class.

Have I been giving Santa a bad rap?

Santa reading letters in front of fireNow that Christmas has come and gone, I question whether I’ve given Santa enough credit for his thankless job. He spends months at the North pole sorting through children’s letters and, with the help of his elves, readying the sleigh for Christmas Eve. Then he has to harness all those temperamental reindeer to the heavy toy-laden sleigh. Finally, he loses a night’s sleep delivering gifts around the world for the meagre payment of milk and cookies.

In the midst of all this, Santa has another arduous task that goes largely unappreciated: his secondment to the local shopping mall. Long lineups of children wait their turn to share their Christmas wishes with Santa. Some wishes are easy to fulfill while others are more of a challenge. I didn’t appreciate how tough this task was until I read an insightful article in last Saturday’s Globe and Mail.

Every Saturday, the Globe has a column entitled “Five Questions with….” The interviewee may be a local important businessperson or philanthropist or artist. Often it’s a familiar name from the recent news. Last Saturday the interviewee was none other than Santa Claus during a break from his pre-Christmas posting at a local mall. Santa’s responses to the interviewer’s questions were surprisingly thoughtful and insightful (read the article here). Among other things, the interviewer asked what kind of people get coal in their stockings (very selfish people, he said).

I was particularly struck by the interviewer’s query about how Santa deals with wishes he can’t grant. According to Santa, there are many such wishes. Children have asked Santa whether he can bring a parent home from somewhere afar for Christmas (“I don’t traffic in people,” he replied). One child asked whether Santa could cure diabetes (beyond his skill level, he acknowledged).

Santa noted that increasingly, rather than asking for tangible gifts, children are asking him whether he can make someone they care about happy. He tells these children that sadly he cannot. As he put it, we are responsible for our own feelings; no one can make someone else happy. Whoa, Santa, where did you learn that?

I spent years training to become a psychologist yet I still often have to remind myself of this ultimate truth. If someone I know is having a bad day, often I want to jump in there and cheer that person up. Consider, for example, the odd occasion that J. wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. (I am much more likely to wake up on the that side than she is, by the way; J. awakens singing most days, which is also a problem since I am not a morning person.) On J.’s bad days, I spend hours thinking of ways to cheer her up. Let’s just say it never works.

I feel helpless knowing someone I love is struggling and I can’t do anything to make that person feel better. I can listen and be of support, but I can’t change anyone’s mood but my own. Thanks for reminding me of this, Santa. I may be Jewish, but I appreciate your wisdom.

Now go get some rest. You’ve earned it.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Chrismukkah

Blue and gold Hanukkah sweaterPeople who don’t celebrate Hanukkah sometimes don’t appreciate that this holiday is but a drop in the bucket of Jewish festivals. We’re not commemorating the birth of a saviour or anything momentous like that. It’s more of a David-and-Goliath story, where the Maccabees play the underdog who prevails.

Hanukkah traditions also differ greatly from those of Christmas. There is no such thing as a Hanukkah bush and no gifts arrive via the chimney. We don’t hang Hanukkah wreaths (although an image search reveals a frightening number of them) and Hanukkah stockings don’t hang from the mantle. The ugly Hanukkah sweater is harder to find. We’re even blue and white to your red and green.

Box for a Hanukkah gingerbread houseI’ll admit we Jews bake our share of menorah-shaped sugar cookies this time of year, but few if any gingerbread. I was so flabbergasted a few weeks back when I spied a Hanukkah gingerbread house that I took a picture and sent it to all my Jewish friends. Building a gingerbread house is a Christmas tradition, and not one I’ve envied since childhood.

Our world is consumed by Christmas each year, whether we celebrate or not. To be fair, J. and I do participate in our unreligious way since J. is not Jewish. In December, a few singing Snoopys dressed in Christmas garb magically appear around the house, as well as our beloved Charlie Brown Christmas tree. J. hangs Christmas lights on our house barring a December cold spell. Then she adorns our wholly unChristmassy Christmas tree with a variety of dog ornaments. And of course there’s the annual television viewing of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Hanukkah wreathBecause the Jewish calendar differs from the usual, the dates of Jewish holidays vary from year to year. This year, Hanukkah happens to start on Christmas Eve and end on New Year’s Day. A true confluence of celebrations! So the question arises: how do we celebrate both holidays at the same time? J. graciously decided that Hanukkah would take precedence this year.

On Christmas Eve, after J. lights up our doggy Christmas tree, we will light the first candle on the menorah. I will sing the blessings while J. hums along. (She’s not yet fluent in Hebrew.) Then we will join dear friends for a lovely Christmas Eve dinner. We will be bringing home-baked challah and a Middle Eastern salad because, well, I’m Jewish.

On Christmas Day, Hanukkah will take centre stage. We’ve planned a small Jewish feast for two in keeping with our Hanukkah celebration. We’re subbing Mediterranean-spiced turkey-zucchini meatballs for roast turkey, latkes for mashed potatoes, and apple sauce for that disgusting canned gelatinous cranberry jelly.

And the presents? Rather than opening all our little gifts in no time on Christmas morning, we will each open one small gift every evening for eight days as we light the menorah, as per the Hanukkah tradition. This way we will extend our celebration. Hanukkah, the holiday that never ends.

I wish you all a happy holiday season. Thanks for following along (tolerating my drivel?) this past year.

P.S. If I’m quieter than usual next week, I may be busy crafting my annual post on New Year’s resolutions. Stay tuned.

Any good cake has icing

Road sign reads: No work ahead.Now that I know I have the potential to live for a few years longer, you’d think I’d stop thinking about death. No, not so much. Lately I’ve been wondering whether, by the time I actually die, however many years from now, people will be so bored of hearing about my wimpy leukemia that no one will show up for my sendoff. Oh well, I can’t control who comes to my final good bye, if anyone. I’ll just have to live die with that.

Oddly enough, this train of thought was sparked by J.’s two grand retirement parties this week, to which I was graciously invited. Her workplace gathering was standing-room only (so what if there were no chairs?). J.’s not dying–far from it–but today when she packs up her desk, including her slinky weiner dog, she’ll be leaving a number of people who are going to miss her terribly, from what I heard and from the sentiments on the many cards she received. At the workplace party, her colleagues spoke glowingly about her contributions to the workplace, about how much she’s done to create a sense of community and mutual support, and about her effective work as a mentor and leader.

Retirement is a time for celebration (and cake, with icing–small piece for me, thanks), while it is also a time of losses, and I’m not referring to her paycheque here. J. will miss her colleagues as much as they will miss her. She was overcome with emotion as she spoke to her group of the great work they have done and how much they have meant to her. J.’s feelings run deep, but she shares her tears sparingly. I imagine her tears took everyone, maybe even J., by surprise.

As an outside observer, I was also struck by the spirit of fun amongst her workmates. Group picture in yoga poses anyone? These relationships go beyond those of colleagues; these folks are kind, supportive people who are there for one another when the chips are down. And at times during her tenure in this position, her chips have indeed been down. I recall a mysterious bottle of scotch awaiting her on her desk the day following our awful break in, to replace the bottle that was pilfered.

By supporting J., her colleagues’ kindness has extended to me as well. J.’s workmates have sent many a comforting text our way while we’ve been in the ER waiting to see how sick I really am. They’ve also been understanding when she’s had to reschedule meetings or reassign duties in her absence.

Finally, there’s the icing, J.’s boss, who prefers not to be called her boss, so let’s call her Ms. Boss, shall we? Ms. Boss has given J. the leeway to get her work done while caring for me. Thus J. has stayed in close contact from doctors’ offices and hospital rooms. Ms. Boss has encouraged J. to be with me through every medical crisis. She has shown tremendous kindness to J., and through J. to me, over their time together.

So enjoy your retirement, J. You deserve it. But don’t forget there are losses for me, too. I’ll have to start keeping the house tidy during the day, for example. That may indeed kill me.

Quote: The less routine the more life, by Amos Bronson Alcott