Monthly Archives: February 2016

Want a Laugh? Call the VA……

Although my caregiving duties have changed some, I still, like many a dutiful daughter have to deal with issues of the elderly.

As I warned you a few weeks ago, my Mom is steeped in a battle with the Veterans Administration.  They reneged on her insurance about a month ago. This insurance is for widows of Veterans. My mother was placed on this policy 15  years ago. She’s used it for all her health needs since then, until that  fateful day when they discovered their error. For points of clarity, my Mom was put on Insurance Plan A and should have been placed on Insurance Plan B.

As you can imagine, in the world of government bureaucracy, this is no easy fix. Nobody knows what to do or how to repair this problem.

What they do know how to do is create all kinds of havoc that sends little old 87 year-old ladies into shock and apoplexy.

They have begun to  take back all their insurance payments over the last year or so, thereby causing my mother to receive bills from all her medical providers day after day after day.  You may not know this about the elder generation, but if they get a bill, they pay it. Case closed. Even though these bills will eventually be paid by Insurance B, this generation can not abide being beholden to anyone, especially their doctor.

After yet another three and a half hours on the phone with fwo divisions of the Veterans Administration…Insurance A and Insurance B customer service, and  DEERS   (Defense Enrollment Eligibility System) a department from the Department of Defense, I had my Mom actually hear a customer service rep tell her not to pay any bills until this is resolved.

The first guy was named Kirk. He asked me if I had spoken to him three days ago. I assured him I had not since I was out of the country.

“Hmm” he said, because I ‘m sure I had a call from some lady about this same problem, which I never heard of until this week.I guess Insurance A is running a review of all their insureds to see who is on the wrong program…hahahha..”

Yeah. Hilarious.Oh, and by the way, I think my mother may have inadvertently started this shake down of widows from the VA about a month ago.

Person number 2 , after our second 20 minutes on hold, was David. He, too, was flummoxed by this account of our woes and told us that he could only suggest we call DEERS, because It looks like DEERS needs to confirm that my father died on October 10, 1961.

Person number 3. after a very brief 10 minute hold was Bill. Bill was ever so kind. He could see that this was a grand problem. He couldn’t understand why the two insurance companies,under the VA would not accept a death certificate (yes, my amazing, organized- with-every-shred-of-paper-ever-touching-her-fingers-Mom has  a death certificate from 1961). Then Bill searched the records and said because the ‘incident’ (meaning my father’s death on active duty) was so long ago they would have to put in  a request to …you guessed it….the Veterans Administration, to confirm my Dad’s death.

One more transfer to another department of the VA, with a lovely 20 minute wait to Stuart.  It was almost taking as long to explain this journey as it was to be on hold, but explain it I did. And, this is a true story, mind you, while searching the data base of all the information under my Mom’s name and my Dad’s name, I think Stuart thought he put me on hold. Alas, this is what I heard in his exasperated voice:

Only I KNOW the ANSWER...she said.
How do you spell “Cluster$#!!

“What a cluster fuck!”

Yep, I burst out laughing, ’cause well, yeah…indeed.

The journey continues with me filing some documents they’ve asked for, waiting for a confirmation that my Dad has been dead for 55 years to come from the Veteran’s Administration to my Mom, so that we can then send it to the VA insurance.

That’s how it has to be done they tell me. The VA can’t send it the the VA, the widow has to do it. And at least a few more weeks of comedic material for a blog called..

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©Cathy Sikorski 2016

There’s no place like home….is there?

If you want to know what people in other countries think of our political process, go there and ask.

My husband and I just returned from a visit to Ireland. Before we even got on the plane, I was sitting in the airport chatting with a 20-something lady from  Germany. She intrigued me because she was wearing a “Bernie Sanders” button. After chatting with her for a while, I said:

“You’re wearing a Sanders button, but you can’t vote here, right?”

“Yes, you’re right. I’m going home to Germany, but my boyfriend is from South Carolina and we worked on the Bernie Sanders campaign.”

“So, ” I asked her, “I am so interested in as to why so many people in Europe actually know so much about our politics?”

This is what she said:

“Because it’s hilarious!”she said gleefully with a big smile on her face. ” It’s like watching entertainment. We can’t believe you would even vote for someone like Donald Trump!”

Oh my.

But I figured that was just one young lady. And even though, I agreed that the stand-ups, talk show hosts, and pundits everywhere were practically orgasmic over the Donald Trump treasure chest of material that has fallen into their collective comedic lap, I was hoping that wasn’t the world view.

Or was I? I mean if all the planets completely misaligned on November 8, 2016 and somehow The Donald became The President, what would the world think or even do, for that matter? What would we do? How much comedy could one stand over four years?

But I didn’t have to go on a mission once I reached Ireland. The research subjects came to me every time we got in a taxi. Had I stayed longer in the pubs and drank more of those delicious milkshakes they like to call Guinness, I probably could have published a paper on this learned topic.

As soon as they heard our American accents, the taxi driver had only two questions:

“Where in America are you from?” and “Who are you voting for?”

The whole country was seemingly interested in our take on this dog and pony show we call the Presidential Race. And Ireland was in the midst of their own elections, which were apparently not nearly as entertaining!

One WayWhilst laughing raucously in the freezing rain of Galway, where they hadn’t seen the sun  for a month, the taxi driver chortled: ” and your Mr. Trump wants to build a wall to cut off Mexico, and make the Mexicans pay for it, does he? Does he not know that if the Mexicans had the money to pay for such a grand wall, they wouldn’t be coming to America for jobs? HAHAHHAHAHA!

And that my friends, is how they

“Just have to Laugh……….” in Europe and probably everywhere else!

©Cathy Sikorski 2016

Oh, if Only I could find the right Foundation…..

So my eldest daughter is getting married in a few weeks. Yikes! Even saying that sends me in to labored breathing, a cold sweat and a mini panic attack. It’s the real deal wedding, and there’s a billion things to do.

Every day my ‘team’ of bridesmaids and whoever else I have managed to wrangle into this process, works on some crazy task that has to be completed by W-Day!

Over the weekend, my youngest daughter came home from the big city to get her maid of honor dress altered and help me find the proper foundation for my dress.

Yes, I don’t care what kind of dress you buy as the mother-of-the-bride, it requires the proper foundation. You can make sure every sin of your past 50 years is covered, ruched, sleeved,or enlaced, and you will still need to tuck, smooth, pucker and lift to get the fit that will be photographed from every possible non-flattering angle that any videographer, photographer, selfie freak and snapchat bitch twerking around you on the dance floor can catch at just the wrong moment.

Unless you have already done this, you have no idea how MANY choices of foundations there are on the internet, the department store and the black market for super secret coverage. But this is the thing, you either have to buy all these non-returnable undergarments, or cart this gown with  you to every dressing room in the tri-state area to take off all your clothes, put on a gown that goes over your head, weighs 10 pounds itself and then push and tuck and rearrange all the floppy, sloppy parts that you are trying to camouflage for just one day.

Eureka!  I find the magic solution to the problem areas I continue to encounter with each new failed undergarment. It’s a bra with clear sticky sides but no actual hook in the back. This foundation will not show through any lace, conflict with a low back or cause the proverbial ‘nip slip’ that a young Janet Jackson made so famous and would be cause for intense psychotherapy for all our wedding guests as something they could never ‘unsee.’

I get the bra adjusted, with my daughter’s help, I get her to zip up the side zipper on the gown. I see a bit of a look of horror on my daughter’s face, thinking: “She can’t believe how good I look in this dress!”

Then I look in the mirror.

I now have four boobs.

Two  that I’m pretty sure I own, and two that come in the lining of the dress. Since the dress has a side zipper, I can’t reach down the neckline of the dress to pull up the bra and settle it in behind the lining of the dress. My daughter pulls down the zipper and tries to reach in from the side, as I try and do the same. But with four boobs and two hands we just can’t get enough leverage to lift and separate like the happy old days of yore and Playtex.

Besides, four boobs is comical. Not like Wonder Woman, more like crazy Lucy and Ethel in a dressing room comical. And were are laughing so hard the tears are rolling down our faces…but I do not want tears of tragedy or comedy on this dress. So I get it off as quickly as I can.

I won’t lie. I tried the dress without a foundation. The only thing that did was show me that life is not worth living without a good foundation.

The dress and I are hitting the road, no not for a comedy show, to hopefully make it work baby, just in time for W-day! Wish me luck and keep laughing, kids!

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©2016 Cathy Sikorski