My Dad Died

My Dad’s name was Shelly Dobkins.  He and my now husband Steve worked together for World Savings way back when my husband Steve was a young up and comer and before I knew him.  Shelly always saw something in Steve and admired his intelligence, integrity and class.

I met Shelly when I was young and green in the corporate world after I graduated with a minor in psychology and a major in business management. At 24 years my senior, he became a friend and mentor to me for business and corporate advice.  Then as we talked more deeply over the years he learned that I was (mostly verbally, but sometimes a little more) abused by my biological father and my step father.  He then started taking on more of a personal role in my life paternally.

I finally asked him 20 or so years ago if I could call him Dad.  He was thrilled.  He came when I got a new apartment to check the security, he checked the tires on my car, he made sure the gas stove was working properly, he did all the things no one had ever done for me and that I never even knew needed to be done.

Steve had married young to an Asian American woman and they never had kids.  I think he was married to her for about 7 years.  In the course of their divorce, Shelly being the jewish Dad started harping Steve about meeting me. It pissed Steve off and he told Shelly that he and his wife were not even living separately yet, how would he dare try to set him up on a date so soon! He was harping me too and I thought why would this very good looking man going through a divorce want a woman 3 years older?  Shelly, my Jewish Dad, of course was trying to get me settled with a good man.  So sweet.

Shelly finally invited us to a “huge BBQ” at his and Myra’s house in Newport Beach.  It was four of us.  They left the two of us alone on the patio overlooking the bay with wine.  The rest is history.  I’m married and living with my soul mate.  Shelly found him for me.

So, this man, my Dad, not only tremendously in so many ways helped me as a young, vulnerable woman in the corporate world, he gave me the gift of my life, which is my husband.

I grieve my Father’s death tonight.

 

 


Unpretentious

“I’m impressed by people who use vocabulary in a way that is interesting but not pretentious,” my husband said to me tonight.  I was happy to hear that, he deals with lots of A players but some B players in many markets around the country.

Steve is President of a huge mortgage lending company, and was in Portland, Oregon to visit with his regional manager out there.  He wants to debrief all of his trips and actually his entire work life with me.  I love it and I help him a lot and always have.

“What more detail about his communication skills impressed you?” I asked.

“He chose the right words at the right time and tempered the entire conversation so there was truth and honestly but no drama.”

“Wow,” I replied, “that is something. So many people are dramatic, manipulative and misdirected so it’s great you have that guy in Portland.”

“Yes,” he said, “he’s one of the good ones. I might promote him soon.”  We then talked in depth about how and where he could be promoted and when that might happen, who he would replace, who would replace him, etc.

“Steve,” I said, “do you think you have impressive and excellent communication skills?”

“No,” he said, “I think mine are adequate and they get the job done, but yours are impressive, excellent and exceptional.”

 

 

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The President

I manage our household finances and while I’m very good at it, my husband Steve is better and I need help from time to time.  Today Steve was promoted to President of Prime lending.  I’m so proud.  Here is the link to the press release if anyone is interested.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171002006172/en/Steve-Thompson-Named-President-PrimeLending-PlainsCapital-Company

Steve is very humble.  When we were dating seriously 20 some odd years ago he said, “You are so much smarter than me, I better get an MBA.”  And he did, while he was working full time I might add.

He got home a little early today and in the late afternoon I was working on some stuff in my home office and needed to ask him a question.

“Can you please step into my office for a moment, Mr. President?” I called.

“Yes ma’am, CEO!  We all know who is in charge here!” he replied

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Strong, Silent Type

My husband is generally a man of few words and not someone earlier in our marriage I would have pointed to as a philosopher, but things change. Steve is Executive Vice President of Prime Lending. It’s a big job. Neither of us participate on social media and sometimes I feel like everyone in the world except us loves it. One day I asked him why he’s not on social media and his response was rather breathtaking.

“First of all, I don’t think I’m all that interesting and I don’t find anyone else all that interesting either. I aspire to a state of grace, not perfection. I always had pressure to be perfect and I’ve learned it’s not realistic. You can always be graceful and elegant, but you cannot be perfect.”

This must have been something that had been on his mind. The first sentence answers the question about social media. The other three seem unrelated to the question but so eloquently communicate something he’s learned over the years that he has obviously embraced wholly and make him seem pretty interesting.

It’s been fascinating over the past 20 some odd years watching this man grow, change and evolve. My bohemian albeit extremely talented and affluent brother once referred to him as “a banker with a soul.”

Amen

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Beetle

My grandmother called me “My precious Annie.”  For some unknown reason, my grandfather called me “Beetle” which was short for “Annie Beetle Bum.”  All my aunts, uncles and cousins on the maternal side of my family still call me Beetle.  Cute and strange.  I had an Aunt-in-Law whose name was Kioko.  She was Japanese and not fluent in English.  After 15 years she found out my real name was Andrea and not Beetle.  She was shocked. She didn’t know what sounded right or not right for an American woman’s name and Beetle was all she’d ever heard.

One time, 20 years ago at my sister’s wedding shortly after I had married, one of my drunk uncles came up to my husband Steve and blurted “You got the Beetle!”  Steve now calls me Beetle most of the time.  So sweet how things like that stick and perpetuate over so many years.

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Scary

“You have to be strong,” the woman in the waiting room at the oncology radiology facility said. “My husband has lymphoma everywhere in its final stages and we are cheerful and optimistic. It’s what you have to do to be with cancer.” Her husband will probably die. He is completely hunched over by what I suppose is osteoporosis in addition to the lymphoma his lovely wife told me has taken over his entire body.

That first day we went for Steve’s radiation treatment, I noticed a bell on the counter with a ribbon tied to it. On the ribbon it said I made it the whole way! I was so new to this idea of my youngish husband having to go through radiation that I didn’t quite get what that was. Then, when Steve was in treatment, someone walked out, picked up the bell and rang it. Everyone in the waiting room applauded and some jumped up to hug the person who had just completed the grueling months long, daily treatment of radiation. I suddenly got it and of course, was one of the jump-up huggers. But I was also in tears.

A couple weeks ago was Steve’s last radiation treatment for a mild recurrence of prostate cancer. MILD? Can you really even say that if its cancer? You really can’t. It’s cancer. In his case even though his numbers are low and very encouraging, you get only one shot at radiation. One. You can’t do it again because radiation causes cancer. What? We are trying to solve cancer with a cancer-causing agent? Yep. OMG.

On Steve’s last day I was in the waiting room, waiting. My husband is a very subtle and humble person. He is not a person who has a need to bring attention to himself so I wasn’t expecting him to ring a little funny bell. I just assumed he would want to get out of there and put it all behind him while we wait and wait for results of radiation.   He walked out, made eye contact with me, picked up that bell and rang it loudly with a huge smile on his face. I burst into quiet tears; I try not to be a spectacle either. People applauded, jumped up to hug him and it was a demonstration of how beautiful people can be when we realize we are all in the same damn boat. Cancer levels the playing field.

 

 


Where Am I?

Have you heard about Texas weather? When we told people we were moving here they said, “Well, clearly you aren’t moving for the weather, so why are you moving?!” It’s 8:30 pm, I have a sinus infection, Steve is on a plane hoping to get into Dallas/Fort Worth tonight from a biz trip. It is thundering, lightening and what I cannot reconcile is that it’s 92 degrees and HAILING! How is that even possible? How can it hail when it’s 92 degrees! Could it be 32 degrees High in the sky when it’s 92 down here?? (Notice I unconsciously capitalized high as if something supernatural is going on.)

I can hear the hail smashing against the the skylight in my kitchen. This is also tornado weather, something brand new to me. Tornados are a “warm weather event” I’ve been taught. Lovely. So I stay awake with my sinus infection, two dogs freaking out about thunder, my husband on a plane circling around, still trying to get my arms around what the hell is Texas….


Bubbles

The other night my husband Steve was stressed and achy so I drew him a bath. I lovingly put in Epsom salt for the aches and a nice smelling bubble bath product for the scent and the bubbles. Bubbles when you are in the bath over age 50 are a really nice idea. His bath was ready and he got in. I hung around in the bathroom with him. We’ve only lived in this house about 8 months and we haven’t taken a lot of baths.

“This bath has a Jacuzzi function, did you know that?” Steve asked me.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Have you ever used it?” he asked.

“No,” I said, “I don’t like chaos and Jacuzzi’s seem chaotic to me.”

“I’d like to try it,” he said.

“Okay,” I replied, “Let’s see if we can figure this out.”

Steve laid his head back while I fiddled around with the controls on the touch screen. Nothing was happening and then suddenly the jets sputtered and sprung into action. And I mean action. The bathwater and bubbles suddenly looked like a gigantic vat of boiling water on steroids.

Then the bubbles began to grow.

And grow.

“Before we knew it, bubbles were rising up from his waist to his chest and then threatening to envelope his face.

“How do you turn this damn thing off!” he shouted over the rising bubbles and the noise from the jets.

“I don’t know!” I yelled back as I was bailing bubbles with my arms and throwing them into the shower.  I had to keep bailing bubbles because they had begun to spill over onto the floor while I had visions of them filling up the entire bathroom.  This was a race against time.

“Try anything and everything!” I yelled, “Before those bubbles cover your face!”  I frantically kept bailing bubbles into the shower.

It seemed like and eternity but he finally did something that worked and the jets stopped. We stood there staring at each other. Bubbles everywhere! In his eyebrows, his hair, my arms and everywhere else.

“Relaxing bath, honey?” I asked. We burst into hysterics. “Steve, I’m going to go get my phone! I need a picture of this for my blog.”

“No, you’re not,” he replied.

Sorry, no photo!


Anti-Social

“It’s a lot easier being older,” my husband said the other day.

“Why?” I asked him.

“It’s easier making decisions. I put more value on my time and what I spent it on so that expedites my decision-making. I don’t spend time with people I don’t want to spend time with or do things I don’t want to do.

I had to laugh. Indeed, he and I are not the most social people. He said that humans are hard wired to be in tribes and groups and that we somehow missed that wiring. We have an inner circle of people we like spending time with, even in Dallas now, but we generally have no interest in meeting new people. Steve works long hours and we also love to spend time alone together.

Shortly before Christmas we were standing on our driveway at our new house in a gated community and a neighbor whom we had not met walked by and said, “Oh, hi! Are you the new neighbors?”

“Yes we are,” I said.

“Oh great! Then we’ll see you at the annual Christmas party up the street!” she exclaimed.

“Well,” I hesitated, “I’m not going to say we are anti-social….”

I heard Steve chuckle behind me. He loves that I’m the more vocal of the two of us and handle these types of things.

“…..but we just aren’t the type of people who like to meet new people,” I finished.

Her demeanor changed slightly and then she blurted “Oh, I totally get that! There is hardly enough time to see the people we already know!”

“Exactly!” I said, “Nice talking to you and have a great evening!”

After that exchange, I didn’t want to say nice to meet you.


The Wizard of Oz

One of the less than lovely things about Texas is tornedos. Apparently we don’t get as many as places like Oklahoma and Kansas but we do get them. Take the day after Christmas for example. 11 people in the Dallas area died in tornedos and a house 15 miles from ours was demolished. I’ve learned that when people die in tornedos it’s usually either a traffic related incident caused by the tornedo or they are hit with flying debris. So, If you are out and about, you have to quickly figure out a way to get out of the car and somehow take cover.

I’ve only been in Texas just over two years and the only other places I’ve lived are California and Arizona. In California we worried about earthquakes, landslides, houses sliding down hillsides and wildfires. In Arizona we obsessed over rattlesnakes, scorpions and a particularly threatening cactus called “Jumping Cholla”.

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The cholla (pronounced choy-a) is perhaps the most feared and hated cacti in the southwest desert. If you brush up against one, you will know why. The plant has pads that separate easily from the main stem. The spines easily attach to your clothing, your skin and your shoes. Since the plant is covered with spines, it’s difficult to grab and dislodge the pad that has found a new home with you. Why are they so difficult to remove? Unlike other varieties of cacti with solid spines, cholla’s actually have hollow spines. Because they are hollow they can easily attach to whatever they touch with their needle like sharpness. If there is moisture, such as with skin, the tips actually curve once they have made contact, locking their spines in place just underneath the skins top layer. OUCH! But, I digress….

When the tornedo sirens blared the other night, my husband and I and our two golden retrievers hunkered down in the inner most room of the house, which is my husband’s closet. If you have followed my blog for some length of time, you might recall that I have that closet well stocked for an event such as this one.

Here are the contents of our shelter in Steve’s closet:

  • water for humans and water/water bowl for dogs
  • snacks for humans and treats/chew sticks for dogs
  • a battery powered American Red Cross emergency weather radio
  • a battery powered, super mini flashlight
  • a battery powered lantern
  • two battery powered personal spray bottle/fan contraptions in case it gets really hot
  • back up batteries for all that battery operated crap
  • a blanket
  • a little nightgown for me in case it gets really hot
  • reading glasses in case I have to run in there without mine
  • 2 bottles of wine, a wine opener and doggie Xanax
  • a deck of cards for gin rummy in case Steve or Tim are in there with me and paper/pencil to keep score since we’ll be drinking all that wine and would no way remember the score

I’m not kidding. All that junk is beautifully organized in Steve’s closet.

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So, while Steve was fumbling with the tornedo radio, I was texting my sister in California. My sister Lisa always has and always will live in California. We were born there and she is a beach girl.

The tornedo radio is saying we are in a life threatening situation and to take cover immediately, I texted. So we are in the safest place in the house, a closet, with the dogs.

That must be freaky, she responded, are you scared?

I am kind of scared, I went on, the radio just said the tornedo touched down about 15 miles from our house.

Ooooh, she replied, I didn’t realize they touched down.

I chuckled to myself. Just like me two years ago, she knows nothing about tornedos. I think she was thinking of hurricanes.

Think “twister”, Lisa, I texted back, like The Wizard of Oz. 

Oh! she exclaimed, Is Toto with you?

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