Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dorothy & The Handwriting On The Wall

I paid a visit to My Cousin Dorothy last night.

Since she first went to the nursing facility to live, I've visited her once a week. I missed a couple of opportunities during holiday weeks, due to the hectic nature of those times and the need to get other things accomplished, but other than that, it's been every Tuesday.

It's a pleasant routine, for the most part. Aside from the visit itself, which is always a nice conversation filled with family tales, the ride to and from the facility has also become something of a treat. I now know the route well enough to go on autopilot for the greater part of the 50 minutes or so, and, since I don't often find myself just sitting down and listening to music these days, the ride affords me that pleasure. Last night, it was Led Zeppelin IV on the way there, and Aerosmith's first album on the ride home. I recommend both, if you've never heard them (and, if you've never heard them, how old are you and what planet do you come from?)

On the return trip, I also stop and get something interesting to eat. Since I go straight from work at 5pm, and it's usually between 7:30 and 8:00 when I leave Dorothy, I'm pretty hungry by the time I'm headed back, not having eaten most of the day. I've tried a few different fast food places I never would have if not for these trips. I've discovered, for instance, that Five Guys burgers and fries are both magnificent and habit forming.

Well, that stuff is really neither here nor there, unless you're looking at my expanding waistline or you were driving next to a guy who appeared to be singing along to "Movin' Out" yesterday evening. The real point of this is to tell you a little story that Dorothy told me.

It seems that she and her family had moved to a new place to live, sometime during her teen years, and among the many chores that needed doing, to make the place habitable, was wallpapering.

[Dorothy, in her teens]

I realize that there are nowhere near as many papered walls these days as there once were. Wallpapering seems to be considered much less stylish than it was at one time. If you're in the habit of watching shows about home buying or selling, such as those shown on HGTV, the general reaction, when prospective buyers see wallpapered walls, is "Oh, this room needs updating!"

(MY WIFE and I, just for kicks someday, want to go to an open house and say the exact opposite of everything that is usually said on House Hunters. While the realtor shows us around, we'll exclaim, "Ugh! TWO sinks in the bathroom? We would much rather have just one. And why isn't there any carpeting? We hate hardwood floors! Also, this open floor plan makes us very uncomfortable. Is there some way you could put up three or four extra walls, so we could see what that looks like? Oh, and before we forget, the kitchen is way too modern. We prefer linoleum, knotty pine, and white appliances. And... Oh, My God! Is that a walk-in closet? There's no way in hell we could live here!")

Anyway, when people papered the walls, it presented an opportunity to write whatever graffiti one wished on the wall to be covered. Nobody would see it until the paper was removed.

Dorothy, then as now, was a learned person with a mischievous streak, which is a dangerous combination. While most young people presented with such an opportunity might scrawl their name, or a date, or perhaps (if particularly rebellious) some obscenity, Dorothy decided that wasn't good enough.

She wrote...

Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin

If you're as confused as I was when she told me this, go here:

Mene, Mene

Yup, she left behind a Hebrew warning from God taken from the biblical book of Daniel. The fact that this was a good fifty years before anyone would be able to Google such a thing, and find out what in hell it meant, didn't faze her in the least. She figured it would be a good joke for those who had the knowledge, a total mystery for those who didn't, and maybe a trip to the local library for some; a teaching moment for future generations. And that's why my visits to Dorothy are something to which I look forward. I not only get to listen to good music and eat great fattening food, I also get esoteric laughs and might actually learn something.

As usual, Dorothy sends her warmest "Thank You!" for the cards, letters, and whatever else you've been able to send her. As explained in other entries here, her eyesight is no longer good enough to reply via mail to each of you, but she truly loves each and every piece of mail she receives, and the staff get a great kick out of reading them to her. Since she's now bedridden most of the time (her osteoporosis is so pronounced, she can't stand on her own, let alone walk) mail delivery is a precious way to break up the monotony.

If you have the time, her address remains...

Dorothy Luff, Room 103
c/o Milford Care & Rehabilitation
10 Veterans Memorial Drive
Milford, MA 01757-2900

When I first started writing about Dorothy's move to this facility, I talked about how the prognosis was not good. She has osteoporosis, macular degeneration, arthritis, a bad heart, cancer, and weighs about 80 pounds. Her condition has changed little over the time she's been there, and that's a good thing considering all of her troubles. I firmly believe that your love, via gifts and letters - and your prayers - provide Dorothy with an invaluable uplift. You have truly made her life more pleasant, and have probably given her more days than she might have originally been allotted. For that, I thank you, deeply and sincerely.

Soon, with more better stuff.


(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

Thanks for the update.

Anonymous said...

I want to see you and your wife keep a straight face whilst yearning aloud for wallpaper...and WHITE kitchen appliances and.... LINOLEUM!

heh heh heh

It always cracks me up when I watch those shows. "Oh, no stainless steel?"

"Oh, it's laminate wood? Not REAL hardwood?"


And it's good to hear that your Aunt Dorothy is in good spirits despite everything.

You're a good guy Sully Brown.


Brighton Pensioner said...

Jim, please give Dorothy very best wishes from Brighton when you next visit her.

Maggie May said...

Dorothy was (and probably still is) a "smasher". That means to all non English....... STUNNING!
Thanks for the update. I still think of her often & will send her another card soon.
You have a heart of gold, Suldog, organising this!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

messymimi said...

Well, this post has been weighed in my balance, and it is not lacking at all.;)

Love Dorothy's sense of humor.

stephen Hayes said...

I wish I could know your Aunt Dorothy. You are wise to treasure her.

Buck said...

The post title gave me pause; reading it was a great relief.

lime said...

what a fantastic story! not bragging but i knew the reference without the explanation ro looking it up and as soon as i read her inscription i laughed. clever! i have to say though after having scraped an entire house of garish 70s era wallpaper if i never see another roll it will be too soon. my mom let us draw on walls before she insulated and drywalled them. i had great fun doodling to my heart's content but nothing as clever as dorothy.

Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

Dorothy is a character. Love her stories and yours. (A Five Guys just opened by me. NOw I'll give it a try.)

Thanks again for sharing her with us.

notactuallygod said...

Clever girl your little Dot
to put some reader on the spot
with a joke few would have got
an a laugh on those who did not

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

I feel better now that I've read the post.
Five Guys has piqued my interest, but In-N-Out's gotta be hard to beat.

Househunting with the Sullivans sounds like it could be a hit on HGTV. The only problem would be they'd have to find someone else to be YOUR WIFE since she's camera shy.

Karen said...

Nice update on Dorothy. Glad she is comfortable and has the ability to re-tell family stories. My upstairs bathroom has wallpaper. I hate it. When I asked hubz when he thought he could take it down and paint, his reply was "Not in this lifetime." Sigh.

Jackie said...

I sent Aunt Dorothy a card on Tuesday; I'm glad to read this post about her. She is a sweet lady with a great sense of humor. God bless her.

Chris said...

Glad to hear Aunt Dorothy is hanging in there.

We just got a Five Guys out here, and they're pretty darn good. Tough to compare to the famous In-N-Out Burger (very different style of burger), but I was very impressed.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure your weekly visits have something to do with her stable condition! Loved this story - I could imagine her writing it with a twinkle in her eye. She's a gem, for sure. Oh, there's a Five Guys in Austin - my boys have told me it's great but I still haven't been there!

Hilary said...

I suspect your Tuesday visits are good for both of you. Aunt Dorothy and her nephew are true gems. (now written on you blog wall)

Clare said...

More better stuff? MORE BETTER STUFF???
How can you get any better than this?

Love to Dorothy
xoxoxo, cd