Is There a Qualified Doctor in the House?

What characteristics are important in choosing a doctor? For me, the choice may not be mine to make such as in the case of a referral. If I trust the doctor who is making the referral, I need go no further.

Otherwise, two important factors to me in selecting a physician are the recommendations of friends and the education of the doctor. I would prefer a doctor educated at a nice prestigious university rather than at an online medical school. Is that really too much to ask?

But the most significant factor in retaining a doctor, which is never discovered until the day of the first appointment, is the assortment and variety of waiting room magazines. Now let’s be honest. Do we really want to spend hours in a waiting room filled with nothing to read but Field and Stream and Popular Mechanics? What does that reveal about the compassion and thoughtfulness of the doctor and his staff? I need a selection including magazines such as People, Newsweek and/or Time, and perhaps Reader’s Digest. I give bonus points if the magazines are fairly current—at least two years young.

I am never happy to be seated in a physician’s waiting room, so a pleasant diversion makes my experience less stressful. Since I always have the option to surf the Internet on my phone, a considerate physician will have the Wi-Fi password available for my use displayed in the waiting room. This shows my doctor is thinking of not only his data plan but that of his patients.

So there you go. Recommendations, education, great magazines, and free wi-fi. That’s how I find and keep a doctor.

Always Be Prepared for a Revolution

I was discussing the need to be flexible in planning a vacation with Kelly the other day. With so much of the world constantly in upheaval whether it be because of unexpected weather events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, mudslides, or snow in areas unaccustomed to extreme winter conditions, or a terrorist attack or civil unrest, one must always have a back-up plan.

While this is not new and I admit we never had a Plan B, it is nevertheless an excellent idea. Years ago, Dad’s parents planned a magnificent trip to Cyprus, which is a beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea—south of Turkey and west of Syria.

Knowing the geographical location of this island and being the nervous-nelly that I am, I would never consider such a trip, but your grandparents were adventurous back in 1974. So they made their travel arrangements, and while in the air, a revolution broke out on the island. The pilot decided to divert the plane to Cairo, Egypt.

The inflexible, grumpy passengers aboard that airliner chose to remain in the hotel that they were placed in and had an awful vacation, but others, like Dad’s parents, decided to make lemonade from those Egyptian lemons and visited the Great Sphinx of Giza, the pyramids, and a few random temples.

The moral of the story is to always be prepared to bend when the unexpected happens. Like the tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland, which opened their restaurants, hospitals, homes, and hearts to passengers diverted there on September 11, go with the flow and be receptive to detours.


He Didn’t Look Dead

When I heard the Beatles song “Strawberry Fields” playing on the radio recently, I was once again in my music time machine, now en route to the kitchen of a family I was babysitting for. It was the autumn of 1969, which was the year that the rumors of Paul McCartney’s death spread like wildfire throughout the world.

That particular evening, I recall putting the children to bed and then hanging out in the kitchen as I listened to a local radio show laying out all the clues and timeline of Paul’s demise, which allegedly occurred three years previously as a result of an automobile accident.

Among the “proof” was the fact that the cover of the “Abbey Road” album was supposed to depict a funeral procession, and it was pointed out that Paul was the only one without shoes. Also, he was walking out of step with the other three Beatles, which was another subtle indicator that he was dead.

During the ending of “Strawberry Fields,” if you listen very carefully, you can hear the words “I buried Paul.” On the song “Revolution 9,”when a line is played backwards, it sounded as if someone was saying “turn me on dead man.”

The clues went on and on, and the story was that the Beatles  had replaced Paul with a look-at-like after his untimely death. Record sales for the several of the albums in question increased but eventually, the rumors died.

I saw Paul a few years ago, and I must say that he looked and sounded quite healthy. But I will always remember where I was the night WABC radio analyzed the clues of the death of Paul McCartney. For all of my contemporaries reading this, what do you remember?


More Than Just a Ride

On my recent trip to New Jersey, I decided to finally embrace another facet of twenty-first-century technology by ordering an Uber to get to and from the airport. I am happy to report that, despite my anxieties and fears, I did not end up buried in a landfill or swimming with the fish. Both drivers were professional, personable, and polite. It was my second driver, however, who impressed me the most.

When I glanced at the Uber App on my phone, I noticed that I was able to review his profile. I noticed Carlos was from the Dominican Republic, so I asked him if he had a story. He enthusiastically told me the tale of meeting his American wife while she was on vacation in his homeland. They danced the nights away, and she made many return visits to the island.

Five years ago he moved to America and married her, and now with his green card in hand, he is working as an Uber driver and studying to become a citizen. He proudly told me that he is enrolling in the local community college to study criminal justice with the plan of one day becoming a police officer. He hopes that, as a citizen, his mother will be able to join him here.

Although he did not speak English when he moved here, I was impressed by his command of the language now. I thought about all the people on the western end of the island of Hispaniola, where the Dominican Republic is located—the “shithole” country of Haiti as our president calls it—and wondered what he thought of his adopted country.

I told him how impressed I was with what he is doing with his life and said I hoped he was not discouraged by all the negativity towards immigrants of late. I thought of the talk of limiting “chain migration”—the program whereby immigrants already residing here can bring their family members to live in this country with them. (Incidentally, the correct term is “family unification”)

Carlos sadly told me how much he misses his mama. Will she be able to someday move here?

As I listened to Carlos describe his hopes and dreams, I felt an increasing sense of worry for him. When I made the decision to dip my toe into the world of Uber travel, it never occurred to me how much more than a ride it would be. I wonder who I will meet next.


A Birthday and No Friends?

We celebrated another family birthday this past weekend. It was held at a cute little place called “My Gym,” which reminded me of your days of gymnastics lessons at the YMCA.

As we all know, little children and the elderly do not have filters on their mouths, so Bryce made the comment that “Lily does not have any friends.” While that is true compared to the amount of friends that a child who has attended school for three years now has, it was not particularly complimentary.

I decided to check out your baby books to see if you all had friends at the tender young age of two. As the oldest child, Kelly was the only one who truly had friends that were not related. They were the three little girls from the playgroup which she attended beginning shortly after her first birthday. That particular year she had three parties. The first was with her neighborhood friends, the second was with her aunts, uncles, and the only cousin she had at the time, and the third was with her playgroup friends.

Jamie had two parties. The first was with her playdate friends, all of whom were the children of my cousins. We had lunch and cupcakes. Like Lily, Jamie was a fan of Minnie Mouse, which was exemplified by some of the gifts—a Minnie Mouse bank, Minnie Mouse Colorforms and a Minnie Mouse train.

Casey, sorry to say, you had only one party, which was with your sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I suspect that as the youngest of three girls, you primarily played with your older sisters. I made a Dalmatian cake, and you received a Dalmatian puppy, a desk from Dad and me, a Ninja Turtle mug,  a Magic Nursery doll, and an Ariel outfit, doll and puzzle. The Little Mermaid gifts should not be surprising since you have reminded me on numerous occasions that the movie was released on the day you were born.

So Lily, when you grow up and read the account of your second birthday and hear what your brother said about having no friends, Aunt Casey and you can commiserate over a glass of wine.

Detective Clouseau Returns

Back in May, I told you the story of my search for the rightful owners of some pictures from two of Grandma’s old photo albums. For seven months, I went full-speed ahead looking to match a photo with an interested relative. In a few cases, I was able to find a still-living person from one of those seventy-year-old photographs. It was great fun—like a living scavenger hunt.

Then I got busy with other projects and forgot about my mission. Earlier this week, I pulled out my folder of photos, dusted off my detective license, and decided to take up the cause again. I got two more hits.

The first was the daughter of a man who grandma had gone to a prom with at Princeton University when Grandma was sixteen. She looked beautiful in her gown, and he was handsome in his uniform.

             Isn’t She Lovely!

Like many of Grandma’s former beau’s, her date had an admirable career. This particular gentleman “possessed a profound insight into right and wrong” and was “an icon in the healthcare community.” Apparently, his granddaughter loves old family photos and supposedly would never forgive her mother if she did not accept my offer to send her the pictures. I was able to relocate eight photos!

The second hit was a woman in six photographs who lives just two hours from me. I located her grandson on Facebook, who sent a digital photo to her, and she told him that she wanted to speak with me. We had a lovely conversation Monday night. I was truly inspired by this woman, who at the age of eighty-nine answered my call on her smart phone, and then informed me that she recently bought herself a new car. She still drives. She sounded so alert and full of life and was quite eager for me to send her the photos—several alone, and one with Grandma.

It was a great chat, and I was so happy to speak with yet another elderly person, like Dad’s 94-year-old golfing buddy, who gives me optimism that not everyone ends up living out there final years in declining health.

Happy New Year.