Monthly Archives: June 2015

Throw Momma from the Train???

I don’t know why..wait..oh yes, I do….I decided to take my 86 year-old mother on a whirlwind European vacation with us because she said she wanted to go when my sister went last year.

Our thirtieth wedding anniversary was approaching, so of course, why wouldn’t we take my Mom and our adult daughter with us on a 2 week trip to Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Dublin and a few other small towns thrown in? So romantic.

We nixed the river boat tour as too little time in each city and too much  time on a boat, especially since my daughter and I can be prone to sea sickness. What we didn’t realize was that a bus tour meant loads and loads of walking.

I almost killed my mother.

it would have been okay, except every day at least one of this intrepid group of four from age 23 to 86 decided that we should all do the extra tour of the day. And the remaining three did not wish to be unsociable or, God forbid, miss any one little highlight of the tour. Every one of us was pooped every single day. Up at 6 AM or earlier and very late to bed. We were going to have fun, damnit.

We even met up with our older daughter and her fiance in Budapest to add to the romance of 30 years of marriage. I will admit that Nanny passed on the pinball museum that day, which actually may have been one of my favorite pastimes. After walking a billion blocks to the museum in some heavily UNpopulated area, we played pinball for over 2 hours on all kinds of machines from the past eight or nine decades!

And then we got lost in Vienna.

pastryNow, normally i would embrace that. It’s fun to be lost in a foreign city. As long as you feel safe, it’s intriguing to find yourself in areas of the city that aren’t on the tourist map. But it’s downright cruel to keep your 86 year-old mom hiking through the streets of Vienna without a map, a plan, a coffee,a sausage or even a Viennese pastry.

We couldn’t find a taxi, a cafe, or any reasonable place to stop. And we couldn’t abandon her in a park and say we would come back for her because we had no idea where we were leaving her.

As she got redder in the face and was puffing along, I began to get worried. I think I actually broke into a furniture store that was closed when a gentleman came out…I just grabbed the open door and went in to an apparent board meeting. The look of panic on their faces was alarming, to them…not me… I was worried about my Mom.

Kindly, in perfect English, the nice man gave us directions:

“Go up this street until you can’t go anymore, then turn left and you will be at your destination.”

We almost turned left before we couldn’t go anymore….which actually meant running into a stone wall……..and there we were.

We’ve been home a month. We discuss the concerts, the architecture, the tour guide who told us all about living under Communist rule, and how exhausting but amazing the whole vacation turned out to be. But we never once have discussed getting lost in Vienna. I was pretty sure my Mom wasn’t impressed with our trekking across Eastern Europe.

Grand CentralUntil yesterday when she said, “I still want to take a train trip across the entire continental United States.” Cause that wouldn’t be tiring in any way.

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski


Another One Rides The Bus…..

For some reason, my friend, Lisa likes to be featured in this blog. So here we go.

For medical reasons, a traumatic brain injury, Lisa had  to give up her driver’s license several years ago. Eventually, she became quite savvy and capable of taking public transportation. In her small town, that means the bus. A perk, if you would like to call it that, of being on Medicare, is that you get to ride the bus for free. Otherwise it costs a dollar.

Lisa has been riding this bus for a few years now. Until recently, all she had to do was to show her Medicare card to the bus driver, and she was allowed to take a seat, gratis.

Apparently, there’s a new sheriff in town.

A few weeks ago she had this encounter with a female bus driver, whom she never saw before.

“Sorry, ma’am, but you need a special card to ride the bus as a Medicare rider.”

“No,” said Lisa, “I don’t. I have been just showing my Medicare card for years and that is sufficient.”

“No, you need the special card,” said the bus driver.

“Since when?”

“I don’t know. I just know  you need it.”

“I’ve never even seen ‘the special card’, “said Lisa.

“Well, I’ll let you go this time, but you need to get it.”

Lisa never saw that bus driver again. Since she didn’t know where to get the special card, she just let it pass.

The other day, as she was getting on the bus, there was a new young male bus driver, whom Lisa had never seen before. He’s holding a pamphlet in his hand as she ascends the stairs.

“How old are  you?”

Lisa, thinking he is complimenting her……as every middle-aged woman thinks when handing a Medicare card as ID, replies a bit quietly so as not to alarm fellow passengers who most likely think she is quite young:

“I’m 63.”

“Well, you’re barely that, I can see.”

Lisa is flattered,until he drops his bombshell.

“You can’t ride the bus for free. You have to be 65 years old.”

“I’m disabled and I’ve been doing it for years.”

dollar“Nope. Not allowed. Here’s the brochure. It’s a dollar.”

I’m happy to say here that my friend Lisa has come a long way since that TBI. Not only does she get around on her own. But after many years of trepidation just being out in the world, well, she doesn’t take crap anymore. Yay, Lisa!

“What’s  your name?”She demanded from this arrogant brute, who was so willingly ready to accost the disabled and the elderly.

“Well,ma’am,” he sheepishly replied, “if you don’t have the dollar today, you can pay next time.”

This bus driver was on a mission to save that bus company a dollar, or take a power trip every stop along the way, or who knows what, maybe her bus driver was Donald Trump in disguise and he was testing some of his new economic policies to see how to save government funds.

Never did give her his name…and…..weirdly, she hasn’t seen that bus driver again, either.

For a dollar…..did I say that already?…………..a dollar.

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski


Check, please!

My girlfriends and I decided to meet for a drink. We hardly ever do this. Now I know why.

We were finding it difficult to get together and one of the girls was heading down South to see her new adopted grandson, so we wanted to wish her well and just catch up with each other.

Two of us had an adult beverage and two of us tee-totaled(is that a verb?). Our waiter was a very solicitous gentleman. Younger than us, but not a young man. He patiently waited for us to chat and returned a few times before we were ready to order.

When we told him we were through, he kindly, without one look of exasperation or even surreptitiously rolling his eyes, went for the decaf coffee pot when we changed our minds and decided to have coffee.

We gals had a great time showing pictures from recent weddings, talking about vacations taken and vacations to come, sharing yet another story about our Moms…yes even at our age, we still kvetch about our Moms!!!! And passing along those not-so-fun anecdotes about other friends and relatives that seep into a middle-aged conversation about health, wellness, and mortality.

TestWhen the check came, the first intrepid woman just asked the waiter to put her charges on her credit card, which he did. That left the rest of us to do the math from the check which, by default, included her charges as well.

This is the problem when people trust you or worse think you’re smart.

Even when the waiter told us the club soda was free, we still just threw in a bunch of bills when we couldn’t make sense of what was owed. I told the waiter: “if the tip is inappropriate, please come back and tell us.

He came back alright.

“Did you kind ladies really mean to leave a $14.00 tip on a $11.00 bill?” he inquired.

NOW, what do you do?

Flirtatiously and adorably for a gaggle of women in their 50’s we said, “Sure!”

From a former waitress, every once in a while you just need to leave a ginormous tip for your server. It will make their day, trust me. It would be nice to know, though, that that is what you are doing, so you could feel good about it.

After more than 40 years of friendship, I am no longer allowed to look at the check, or in the alternative, I must have a drink first. I may be sharper with an adult beverage.

“You just have to Laugh……”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski


When I returned home from a trip abroad recently, I noticed that I just could not get my ears to unclog. After two weeks, I relented and went to the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist.

I thought I couldn’t hear in my left ear. The doctor started in my right ear and removed more than a bit of wax, and said, “well, maybe that will take care of it.”

My left ear, however still sounded clogged to me. He examined it, and thought perhaps there was fluid in my Eustachian tube. That required a hearing test.

It turns out that there may indeed be fluid in there or some nerve impingement that you can get from flying, because I do have a hearing loss.

However, my  hearing test was so bad, that the doctor wondered if I had a history of family deafness. Did anyone complain that I couldn’t hear? Can I hear the television? the radio? answer the phone with no trouble?

The answer to all these questions is: I have never had a hearing problem. In fact, I was pretty sure I had exemplary hearing. I could hear every little thing my kids were doing upstairs with out a monitor. I heard them fighting outside before someone came in crying. I’m pretty sure I have ADD because I can hear the TV and the radio at the same time and try to process what they are both saying.

But he showed me the bell curve. Both my ears are deficient according to the test. I’ve probably been hearing deficient since birth. Who knew?  It may however, explain why I am always the loudest one in the room.  At a writing retreat in Provincetown we were all reading our masterpieces for the final night, and that was the night of town fireworks. My professor was astonished that I could read my entire piece over the fireworks and the audience could hear every word. I’ve obviously developed some compensatory skills.

So I’m on steroids for a week to see if the fluid clears up and take a new hearing test in two weeks. But I’ve discovered I now have a secret weapon. Selective hearing.

“You need to lose weight,” What? I don’t remember hearing that.

“We need to clean out that closet.” Hmmm. Don’t remember anyone saying that. Probably didn’t hear it.

“You can’t help me? I never heard you say that.”

See, it’s a caregivers’ dream! And now when I say I didn’t hear that, my kids, my husband, Medicare….they all have to believe me. I keep a copy of the bell curve in my purse, just in case I need proof!

“You Just have to Laugh……..”

©Cathy Sikorski 2015