Sunday, December 25, 2011

Gratitude Christmas

Sophie and I took her nephew David to dinner last night and then returned home to an empty house, save Siegfried and Sheba, our 7- and 5-year-old Jack Russell / children.

After David left, we sat together, just the two of us.

When was the last time, if ever, that we weren't with others on Christmas Eve?

We couldn't answer. And so we opened presents, listened to Handel's Messiah in front of the Christmas tree and fireplace. Never have I done so little on such a night.

We didn't hear from Bandar, a good sign that all's well with her and family in Virginia. We'll check in with her and my folks later today.

Soon, we're off to sister Amy's in Hudson for Christmas dinner.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a hope that you get a chance to take an appreciative breath and enjoy whatever goodness you may have in your life today.

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's a Bandar-ful life!

Season's greetings!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rest for the weary

Mission accomplished. Today we nervously put Bandar on a plane headed for Norfolk, via Philadelphia. This is the beginning of something special. For five weeks, Sophie's mom will get to stay with Sophie's sister and her family in Virginia Beach.

Yippee for Bandar! And her family in Virginia! And for Sophie and Steve!!!

Enjoying an adult beverage during our final 
night out together, this week at Friday's 
It wasn't easy preparing for departure. Long before today's ordeal -- arriving two hours ahead of departure, my accompanying Bandar to her gate and explaining over and again (and again and again) which ticket was which, how and when she would change planes and what we had written on her emergency note -- Sophie had to pack for her mom, take care of her mom's Christmas presents Bandar wants to give to family in Virginia, organize and stock up on and ship her meds, give her a final Saturday night shower and trim her hair. And to add extra challenge, Sophie came down with a flu bug yesterday. She got everything done despite being miserably ill. 

All along we lived in fear. Something else would go wrong, not an unreasonable worry in thinking about travel plans for a nearly 87-year-old.

Anytime this week Bandar sneezed or cleared her throat Sophie jumped.

"You're not getting sick, right? You can't get sick," she'd say.

A major cold or respiratory infection could screw up everything. We've been counting on Bandar getting on that flight.

And then we got a bit of a scare yesterday with our first major snowfall of the season.

All of this a healthy reminder of what's at the essence of the Serenity Prayer.

So this week we prayed. For good health and clear weather. No delays, no missed or canceled flights. And what do you know? God answered our prayers. Bandar's in Virginia!

Now that she's checked in with us to let us know she arrived safely, we can take a breath and begin our second Bandar-less break this year (the first was a one-month respite in July). Aside from two other short breaks since Bandar moved in with us in June of 2009, our life has been every day with Bandar. Morning. Noon. And night. Every. Day. With. Bandar.

Caregivers need these breaks. We are so grateful to have family to help share the load, that Bandar's well enough to travel and stay elsewhere and to have friends and family to keep us in their prayers. Now, we're praying again for good health, clear weather and a happy five weeks for everyone in Bandar's life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chillin' by the fire

At a recent dinner, holding court.
"I don't have much to say tonight, not like last night," Bandar warns. 

She's right. There will be no repeating last night's performance.

At 8:30, I light a fire, the second of this young autumn, and begin some work on my laptop, Bandar sitting to my right, in her Bandar chair, a Bandar blanket on her lap. True to her word, she's not talking. At least not much. I'm not complaining. The fire is pleasant. I hear a distant train. 

Last night was different. Same fireplace and seating arrangement. But my Lebanese houseguest faced the fire and reminisced nonstop, apparently for the benefit of our dogs and me. For two hours, she chattered about her life, her country of origin -- the "blad" as she calls it -- about her father, mother, sister and brother. About her late husband and their kids including my wife / Bandar's daughter Sophie. About St. Elias and the annual church carnival. And about her house. Whatever got into her last night was something I hadn't seen in months. She lit up. I enjoyed seeing her enjoying herself.

David Murad, who would have been 100 this year had he lived this long, married Bandar in 1955 less than three weeks after they were introduced in Bandar's hometown of Machghara, a Beirut suburb. Following the arranged marriage in Lebanon, the first-generation, Lebanese-American, Youngstown native and his bride moved to Cleveland to start a family. 

"No house like my house," she boasted. "It's brick!" she shouted, rolling her Rs. This past summer with the aid of her children, she sold her house, another rite of passage.

"I know, br-r-r-r-r-ick!" I yelled out of habit, attempting to out-do her R-roll and her volume but failing at both. I've heard this love of house and brick several dozen times before. She says br-r-r-r-r-ick! I say b-r-r-r-r-ick back!

The stories continued as I sat and surfed, read email, scanned the news and reviewed my calendar. They went on as I opened the door to let the dogs out, escaped to the kitchen to make some tea, went upstairs to chat with Sophie. It mattered not if I was in the room, within earshot or out of range. Bandar's regaling didn't stop. Like the Rs of her beloved brick, she was on a roll.

She's back to quiet tonight. I'd say she's content looking at the fire. I know better. Bandar's tired. And she's in pain. 

Bandar moved in with Sophie and me just more than two years ago. Her back healed as well as it's going to. She's a little more mobile and a bit stronger. But she lives with pain every moment of every day. For a couple hours yesterday, she escaped.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Sophie's new iPad2 got a workout yesterday.

Bandar checked out some Lebanese cooking Youtube videos. And wanted to watch a few more. And a few more.

Sophie didn't get much time with her new toy.

"That's not a computer," Bandar said.

I don't know what she thought it was. But Steve Jobs made an old Lebanese woman happy.