Monthly Archives: October 2015


Don’t ever think you have your elders figured out……..they will surprise you, I promise.

Sometimes my Mom comes up with things that I cannot comprehend where she learned it. She’s not on Facebook or Instagram or god-forbid, Snapchat. She has a cell phone that we lovingly refer to as an Amish phone.  It’s an old flip phone. Lately she has discovered texting but she often texts back a cat for some reason and often words that no one can translate.

But all that being said, she does use a computer and and iPad and tries valiantly to stay in the 21st century.

So we were out for lunch today and she told me this story:

“So your sister called me for her weekly check-in,” she said nonchalantly

“Oh that’s nice.” I mumbled through my vegetarian chili. “What’s new with her?”

“Nothing much,” my mom said as she stabbed her salad with enthusiasm. “But when she called, my tenant, Mark was just coming in the door to help me move a table.”

My Mom has a small apartment in the back of her house. Right now she has a lovely couple, Mark and Cindy who have adopted her as their Mom.  They do things like sweep up the pine cones off her driveway, watch out for her when she comes home late at night and exchange treats. Mark is probably around 40-something. Mark and Cindy are moving soon and my Mom is going to miss them.

So when Mark walked in to my Mom’s kitchen and she was on the phone with my sister this is what transpired:

“Oh, Caren  (that’s my sister), my sweetheart just walked in!”,my Mom said in her most girlish voice.

“Really?” replied the surprised Caren, as my 87 year-old Mom has made it very clear she likes living the Carmelite existence. “who’s your sweethearr?”

Another unsuspecting prey!
Another unsuspecting prey!

Caren, I’m sure, was thinking it was one of the grandchildren or even a son-in-law coming to do some chore or other that couldn’t wait…like bringing up the Christmas tree on October 29th.

“It’s my tenant, Mark!” my mom replied.

Then….with Mark right there in her kitchen and Caren listening intently on the phone, my Mom said, with a twinkle in her eye (I know this because she related the story with just that verve);

“I’m a cougar!”

“You Just have to Laugh…………..”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski


Just checking………

As my life changes now from caregiver to Executor, trust me. the frustrations and the sense of humor still need to be in place.

I spent two hours yesterday calling all the places that send money to my brother-in-law to thank them, but notify them that he has passed away.

I called two pension plans, one health insurance company, one drug insurance company, and one health insurance reimbursement company. Five phone calls shouldn’t take that long. However, there is no “press 9” if your loved one has passed away. By the time I was transferred to each appropriate department and repeated my story over and over again, I started to feel the ghost of caregiver frustration rearing her ugly head.

Truthfully, most customer service people were quite kind and sympathetic.

But there’s always one, isn’t there?

The health insurance reimbursement company was set up by my brother-in-law’s former employer to reimburse each individual for their health insurance premium as a temporary benefit when the employer no longer wanted to be in the health insurance business. This started last year when I had to wade through 64 health plans to pick the best one and then send in a cancelled check to have reimbursement sent directly to my brother-in-law’s checking account. I am certain that I had to fax my Power of Attorney documents to this company so that I could conduct this business while my brother-in-law was in the hospital.

The second person I am transferred to deems herself helpful in this way:

“I can’t find your Power of Attorney document in my system.”

“That’s okay,” I replied, “because I’m just calling to let you know that my brother-in-law passed away.”

“Well,” she said tartly, “I think you have to call back and speak to customer service about that.”

“Okay,” I said slowly and a bit confused, “but will they take care of this then?”

“Well, I don’t know!” she sputtered, “but your Power of Attorney isn’t any good for dead people.”

Oh my God, did she really say that? Actually, I say that all the time in my lectures where I’m teaching about what you need to do get your affairs in order, but still….really?

“I know,” I told her, “because I’m also the executor.”

“Huh,” she mumbled, “Well, I don’t see any executor papers here in the file.”

“I know that too, he just passed away a week ago,” I said slowly and patiently, or so I thought. ” I just wanted to inform you so that you stop putting money in his checking account.”

“Well, we can’t just do that. Did you call his former employer?”

“Why, yes I did, with no difficulty.”

What she's really doing while talking to me.
What she’s really doing while talking to me.

“Well then,” she said with exasperation, ” they will take care of it.”

“So I DON’T have to call customer service?” I inquired.

“The employer will take care of it,” she said.

“Look, I just want you to note that so you don’t keep putting money into his account. Is that possible?”


I didn’t tell her I was closing those accounts. I’m just smiling knowing those checks would be swimming around in the direct deposit atmosphere for who knows how long.

And I did not call customer service.

’cause well………….in these times,

“You Just have to Laugh…………”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski


A tribute…………

My valiant brother-in-law, Larry, who braved the disease  of Multiple Sclerosis with dignity and grace has been the subject of many a blog. On Thursday, October 8, 2015 he passed away after a long, hard struggle. I honor him today and at his funeral on Saturday with love and gratitude for allowing me to be  his caregiver and for finding the humor wherever we could to make this journey one that will be remembered with laughter and love.

To the things he loved:  A good glass of  “Jack”, NASCAR,  children of all ages, and my sister Cindy. May they be dancing in heaven now and for always!




A case for the Paper………….

Midlife has it’s ups and downs.

One of my downs is sitting down about a hundred times a day to pee. This was even before my new healthy diet regimen.

My new diet requires me to drink half my body weight in water every day. I try to get this accomplished by lunchtime so that I’m not up all night in the loo. But during the day, I scout out ladies’ rooms as soon as I enter any establishment.

For some reason, I have now become the toilet paper goddess. Every where I go, and I go everywhere, the toilet paper roll beckons me to refill her. Initially, I thought this was a random event.

“Sure,” I thought out loud in a stall in Wegman’s grocery store one day, “you need a new roll!”

“No,” came the nervous reply from the next stall, “I’m fine, really.”

Oops. Talking out loud seems to be another phase of aging.

Then I noticed how deft I became at all kinds of different toilet paper delivery systems. It was like I was training to be a Navy Seal. I had to get the old roll off, the new roll unwrapped, slipped on the shaft, and snapped back into place, and unravel the glued end for use in record time. Pretty sure I was almost ready to take on an M16.

Actual Rolls Waiting for Me
Actual Rolls Waiting for Me


Eventually, it started to piss me off…pun intended.

Why oh why am I the only human being on this earth who knows how to change a roll of toilet paper? When I enter the stall and the paper is empty or one square is hanging on for dear life, I reflect on how it was just too much trouble for the last user to make this  effort for the next guest.

Okay. Fine.

Since part of my  new spiritual diet is being grateful, I decided to be grateful for every opportunity I have to make the next person’s ablutions an exceptional experience. I am grateful that there is in fact, another roll of toilet paper to be installed. I’m grateful that my bladder is working so well that I can discover a lavatory with internal radar from 50 feet.

I thought about giving up all these diets, but then who would be there to change the toilet paper?

“You Just have to Laugh….”

©Cathy Sikorski 2015