Late summer drifts by
Blue skies, hot days, and cool nights
Fall begins to stir.
Late summer drifts by
Blue skies, hot days, and cool nights
Fall begins to stir.
I suffer from HPS on a daily basis. I have several purses (mostly Baggalinis) that I like and I switch them off from time to time (so that none of them get jealous). However, I can’t seem to stop myself from packing them as if I were going to be dropped into a rain forest and have to survive using only the contents of my purse.
I so admire women who carry a purse containing only a wallet, a comb, a lipstick, keys, and a small pack of tissues. How DO they do it?!?! I have to have everything I need and stuff that I may need. Of course, I have proven to myself time and time again that I really do NOT need a hairbrush (my hair is only about 2″ long so doesn’t need a whole lot of styling), a tube of lotion, 4-5 hankies, dental floss, a bag of cough drops, a container of assorted pills “just in case,” a journal and a pen, my daytimer and one of those Chlorox pens for spills. Oh, and my lucky “Believe” coin.
But always in the back of my mind I am thinking “but you really may NEED these things!” I don’t know what I’m worried about; some crazy attacker showing up at my driver side window at a stop sign? Am I going to do a James Bondish thing with my hand mirror or eyebrow pencil to ward him off?
Even my wallet is overstuffed. Besides the usual stuff, I also keep a lucky “angel” coin and a typed list of “personals” in there:
HPS is a real deal. I’ll bet that I am not the only one who suffers from this. I’m going to start looking online for a support group. To those other sufferers of HPS, I feel your pain.
<And now, insert massive eye roll here>
Just the other day, I was having lunch with the Crankee Yankee and my step-daughter, who had stopped by for a visit on her way back from Boston. While we were talking and laughing, I realized that the background music I was enjoying was a harp rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
I’m a big fan of Queen, and this song has been my personal anthem for years. Hearing it played on a harp was different but delightful. Which made me think of other “out of the ordinary” things that make me happy. Here are some:
Then there are the unexpected gems that make us smile; such as four of our five cats all snoozing peacefully on the bed together. (The fifth one likes her own space.)
Some of the best things happened when we were going through Mom’s and Dad’s stuff (we are still going through it all). There are some things I grew up with that I realize have no sentimental value to me. We have kept a constant “Free Stuff” table going at the end of our driveway, and people come by each day and pick up things that they can use or that they just plain like. It makes me very happy to know that these things will be loved and enjoyed by new people.
Just the other I had put out a small brass cat statue that had been given to Mom years ago. I’m not a fan of brass, but this small statue was very cute. I had just put it out on the “Free Stuff” table and gone back into the house. As I looked out the window, I saw one of our older neighbor ladies stop by the table. As she saw the little brass cat, she smiled and picked it up. I was very happy to see that she took it home with her.
There’s an old saying: when we are young, we collect stuff. When we are older, we give away stuff! That, too, is one of the things that makes me happy. Watch for the happy; it’s out there!
I once was a happy flier. I loved traveling by plane and always brought a book to read. Back when I was flying, you got a snack, drinks and a meal, depending on the length of the flight. I even enjoyed the airline food; it was like a picnic.
And then 9/11 happened. I, like millions of people, woke up to the news of the twin towers collapsing, an attempted attack on the Pentagon, and then hearing that over 3,000 people had lost their lives. In watching the footage the first time, I thought, ‘how did this happen? What’s wrong with the pilots? Is this a terrible error?’
I then realized that the planes had passengers on board and that they had all died once they hit the towers. I understood that I was watching the last breaths of those on board. I saw real terrorism for the first time in my life.
That evening I stood with hundreds of people in line to give blood; it was all I could think of to do. All of us talked and mourned together and got angry together. Since that day, I never flew again.
Look, I know the statistics and know that plane crashes are not common. In fact, the probability you will die in a plane crash is nearly one in eleven million. But, if you’re like me, you automatically see yourself as that one in eleven million.
My wonderful step-daughter is in the Army reserves. For several years she has flown to Oahu for training, and each year she has invited me to come with her. And each year I politely say ‘no, thanks.’ However, this coming year will be her last time to go and she again invited me to go with her in February.
For the first time I spoke without thinking: “you know, I think I may take you up on that.” Here’s why: first of all, my therapist has offered to ‘walk me through’ what to expect, i.e., the TSA rules and regulations, etc. (This wasn’t an issue until 9/11.) Second, the Crankee Yankee would love the chance to re-do the kitchen while I’d be gone. He knows that I will probably lose my cool if I stay around for that! (not-so-fun fact: loads of couples divorce during a kitchen renovation! Yikes!!!)
And finally, third: I ache to visit Hawaii. I want to float a lei of flowers out to sea over the USS Arizona. I want to walk the beaches in my bare feet and swim in the surf. I want to go to a luau (corny, I know, but I still want to), watch the fire dancers and hula dancers, snorkel for sea shells and swim with the hono (turtles). I want to walk through the Polynesian Cultural Center and take my time. I want to go on some guided tours around the mountains, beaches and sacred places.
I want to eat *poke and shave ice. I want to go to a luau and try everything, from kalua pig to poi (the bland, staple starch of the indigenous Hawaiians is made by mashing taro root to a gray paste.) I want to drink in all things Hawaiian; the sights, the sounds, the people, the places; everything.
We lost Aretha Franklin yesterday; that powerful, amazing, iconic Queen of Soul. Who can ever forget listening to her sing “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and “Natural Woman” and so many other songs? She was born to sing and inspire, and people of all generations will mourn her passing.
When we lose someone who has inspired millions, who has sung her heart out over the years, who has been the music in our lives; we feel that loss keenly. Anyone who has listened to this fabulous woman’s voice has been touched by her strength and passion. For me, she was the voice who commanded our attention even when the British Invasion turned rock and roll on its ear.
Her voice was part of the fabric of my life. I can remember where I was when I danced to her music. Every so often, an amazing person comes along that touches so many lives in so many ways. Aretha Franklin was that amazing person with a voice and passion that swept you up.
While we mourn the loss of this beautiful singer’s voice, it cannot be stilled. She surely is with the angels now, singing as only she can, far above pain and sorrow, sickness and earthly death.
We loved you, Aretha; we will always love you.
I certainly hope that selfishness never becomes the new normal. I think that our growing footprints in electronics may be helping the wave of selfishness along as well. Mind you, it isn’t always the fault of technology that makes some people more selfish than others. But I do think that the anonymity of technology encourages people to be snarky and rude because no one knows who they really are.
That said, actions speak louder than words. A dear friend told me that she recently witnessed a man park on the side of a narrow country road and leave his driver-side door open. All traffic had to squeeze around it to get through; it made a major inconvenience. Now he had to have known that he was causing unnecessary problems for others, but he couldn’t be bothered to simply close his door.
It’s the same type of thing with cell phones. How often are we trying to have a nice dinner out or read a book while riding on a bus or train or plane, when someone loudly talks on and on nearby on their cell phone. It’s as though they feel that the entire space around them is all for them. I don’t think that they realize how loud they are and that they are disturbing others. Sadly, even if you should be so bold as to say something about it, most likely you’ll get a pretty rude response because it’s all about them and their needs.
Much too frequently I notice that people often do not seem to realize that there are other people around them. I have seen way too many folks breezing through a door and not holding it open for the next person. Quite frankly, I don’t think that they even register that there are other humans around them.
We seem to be devolving into a pretty selfish “me first!” society, and it saddens me to see that. It appears that too many feel that they are the only people that count. But on a bright note, this makes any act of kindness and/or courtesy more important and appreciated. These are bright lights in the dark, and I pray for many, many more of them.
Do you ever wonder what your last words would be? I got curious and started looking up famous people and their last words. May the following give us food for thought.
1. Joseph Wright was a linguist who edited the English Dialect Dictionary. His last word? “Dictionary.”
2. Italian artist Raphael’s last word was simply: “Happy.”
3. Composer Gustav Mahler died in bed, conducting an imaginary orchestra. His last word was, “Mozart!”
4. Blues singer Bessie Smith died saying, “I’m going, but I’m going in the name of the Lord.”
5. Composer Jean-Philippe Rameau objected to a song sung at his bedside. He said, “What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune.”
6. Frank Sinatra died after saying, “I’m losing it.”
7. George Orwell’s last written words were, “At fifty, everyone has the face he deserves.” He died at age 46.
8. William Henry Seward, architect of the Alaska Purchase, was asked if he had any final words. He replied, “Nothing, only ‘love one another.’”
9. Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre turned to his partner Simone de Beauvoir and said, “I love you very much, my dear Beaver.”
10. Birth control advocate Margaret Sanger’s last words were, “A party! Let’s have a party.”
11. Rainer Maria Rilke said, “I don’t want the doctor’s death. I want to have my own freedom.”
12. Nostradamus predicted, “Tomorrow, at sunrise, I shall no longer be here.” He was right.
13. Author Vladimir Nabokov was also an entomologist, particularly interested in butterflies. His last words: “A certain butterfly is already on the wing.”
14. Author Herman Melville died saying, “God bless Captain Vere!” referencing his then-unpublished novel Billy Budd, found on his desk after he died.
15. Marie Antoinette stepped on her executioner’s foot on her way to the guillotine. Her last words: “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur.”
16. Richard B. Mellon was a multimillionaire. He was the President of Alcoa, and he and his brother Andrew had a little game of Tag going. The weird thing was, this game of Tag lasted for like seven decades. When Richard was on his deathbed, he called his brother over and whispered, “Last tag.” Poor Andrew remained “It” for four years, until he died.
17. When Harriet Tubman was dying in 1913, she gathered her family around and they sang together. Her last words were, “Swing low, sweet chariot.”
18. When Sir Isaac Newton died, he was humble. He said, “I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
19. Leonardo da Vinci was also overly modest, saying, “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” I guess the Mona Lisa isn’t good enough?
20. Louise-Marie-Thérèse de Saint Maurice, Comtesse de Vercellis let one rip while she was dying. She said, “Good. A woman who can fart is not dead.”
21. Drummer Buddy Rich died after surgery in 1987. As he was being prepped for surgery, a nurse asked him, “Is there anything you can’t take?” Rich replied, “Yeah, country music.”
22. Johnny Ace, an R&B singer, died in 1954 while playing with a pistol during a break in his concert set. His last words were, “I’ll show you that it won’t shoot.”
23. Richard Feynman, a physicist, author, musician, professor, and traveler, died in Los Angeles in 1988. His last words? “This dying is boring.”
24. As Benjamin Franklin lay dying at the age of 84, his daughter told him to change position in bed so he could breathe more easily. Franklin’s last words were, “A dying man can do nothing easy.”
25. Albert Abraham Michelson dedicated his life to measuring the speed of light and was the first American to win a Nobel Prize for physics. Even as he was dying at age 78, he was measuring light. He wrote in his log: “The following is a report on the measurement of the velocity of light made at the Irvine Ranch, near Santa Ana, California, during the period of September 1929 to—.”
26. Thomas B. Moran was a pickpocket, known by the nickname “Butterfingers.” He reportedly stole as many as 50,000 wallets in his career. He died in Miami in 1971, and his last words were, “I’ve never forgiven that smart-alecky reporter who named me Butterfingers. To me, it’s not funny.”
27. Murderer James W. Rodgers was put in front of a firing squad in Utah and asked if he had a last request. He replied, “Bring me a bullet-proof vest.”
28. Charles “Lucky” Luciano was a mob leader who helped the U.S. work with the Sicilian Mafia during World War II in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. His last words were, “Tell Georgie I want to get in the movies one way or another.” And it worked! His life story is told in the movies Lucky Luciano, The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, and many more. He also appears as a character in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
29. John Arthur Spenkelink was executed in Florida in 1979. He spent his final days writing these last words on various pieces of mail: “Capital punishment means those without the capital get the punishment.”
30. Convicted murderer Thomas J. Grasso used his last words to complain about his last meal. He said, “I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s; I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.”
31. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories, died at age 71 in his garden. He turned to his wife and said, “You are wonderful,” then clutched his chest and died.
32. Writer T.S. Eliot was only able to whisper one word as he died: “Valerie,” the name of his wife.
33. Actor and comedian W.C. Fields died in 1946. He last words: “God damn the whole friggin’ world and everyone in it but you, Carlotta.” He was speaking to Carlotta Monti, his longtime mistress.
34. Percy Grainger was an Australian composer who, with his dying words, told his wife Ella, “You’re the only one I like.”
35. Actor Michael Landon, best known for Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven, died of cancer in 1991. His family gathered around his bed, and his son said it was time to move on. Landon said, “You’re right. It’s time. I love you all.”
36. Football coach Vince Lombardi died of cancer in 1970. As he died, Lombardi turned to his wife Marie and said, “Happy anniversary. I love you.”
37. O.O. McIntyre was an American reporter. He died at age 53, and spoke his last words to his wife Maybelle: “Snooks, will you please turn this way. I like to look at your face.”
38. When he was 57, Edward R. Murrow died while patting his wife’s hand. He said, “Well, Jan, we were lucky at that.”
39. John Wayne died at age 72 in L.A. He turned to his wife and said, “Of course I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”
40. Humphrey Bogart’s wife Lauren Bacall had to leave the house to pick up their kids. Bogart said, “Goodbye, kid. Hurry back.” Not quite, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” but close.
41. Before Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, he told his wife Mary, “Goodnight my kitten.”
42. Donald O’Connor was a singer, dancer, and actor. He also hosted the Academy Awards in 1954. O’Connor died at age 78 with his family gathered around him. He joked, “I’d like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get.” He still hasn’t gotten one.
43. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill was born in a room at the Broadway Hotel on what is now Times Square. He died at age 65 in a Boston hotel. His last words? “I knew it! I knew it! Born in a hotel room and, goddamn it, dying in a hotel room.”
44. Jack Soo was an actor on the TV series Barney Miller. On the show, there was a running gag about Soo’s character making crappy coffee in the office. Soo developed cancer of the esophagus, and when was being wheeled into an operating room, he joked to Barney Miller co-star Hal Linden, “It must have been the coffee.” In a tribute episode, cast members raised coffee cups in Soo’s memory.
45. Josephine Baker knew how to party. She sang, danced, and acted. She adopted a dozen kids and lived in Paris. On the last night of her life, she left a party being held in her honor, saying, “Oh, you young people act like old men. You are no fun.”
46. Charles Gussman was a writer and TV announcer, who wrote the pilot episode of Days of Our Lives, among other shows. As he became ill, he said he wanted his last words to be memorable. When he daughter reminded him of this, he gently removed his oxygen mask and whispered: “And now for a final word from our sponsor—.”
47. When Groucho Marx was dying, he let out one last quip: “This is no way to live!”
48. Groucho’s brother Leonard, who was better known as Chico Marx, gave instructions to his wife as his last words: “Remember, Honey, don’t forget what I told you. Put in my coffin a deck of cards, a mashie niblick, and a pretty blonde.” For the record, a “mashie niblick” is a kind of golf club.
49. Wilson Mizner is best known for his bon mots, though he was a successful playwright. He’s known for the line, “Be nice to people on the way up because you’ll meet the same people on the way down.” When Mizner was on his deathbed, a priest said, “I’m sure you want to talk to me.” Mizner told the priest, “Why should I talk to you? I’ve just been talking to your boss.”
50. As he was dying, Alfred Hitchcock said, “One never knows the ending. One has to die to know exactly what happens after death, although Catholics have their hopes.”
51. Basketball great “Pistol” Pete Maravich collapsed during a pickup game. His last words: “I feel great.”
52. Vladimir Ilych Lenin’s last words were, “Good dog.” (Technically, he said “Vot sobaka.”) He said this to a dog that brought him a dead bird.
53. Blues guitarist Leadbelly said, “Doctor, if I put this here guitar down now, I ain’t never gonna wake up.” And he was right.
54. Thomas Fantet de Lagny was a mathematician. On his deathbed, he was asked, “What is the square of 12?” His last words: “One hundred and forty-four.”
55. Derek Jarman was an artist, writer, and filmmaker. His last words: “I want the world to be filled with white fluffy duckies.”
56. Sir Winston Churchill’s last words were, “I’m bored with it all.”
57. Actress Joan Crawford yelled at her housekeeper, who was praying as Crawford died. Crawford said, “Damn it! Don’t you dare ask God to help me!”
58. Bo Diddley died giving a thumbs-up as he listened to the song “Walk Around Heaven.” His last word was “Wow.”
59. Baseball player “Moe” Berg’s last words: “How did the Mets do today?”
60. Emily Dickinson’s last words were, “I must go in, for the fog is rising.”
61. As Truman Capote lay dying, he repeated, “Mama— Mama— Mama.”
62. James Brown said, “I’m going away tonight.”
63. Surgeon Joseph Henry Green was checking his own pulse as he lay dying. His last word: “Stopped.”
64. And according to Steve Jobs’ sister Mona, the Apple founder’s last words were, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”
Note: the source for most of these is the fantastic reference book Last Words of Notable People: Final Words of More than 3500 Noteworthy People Throughout Historyby William B. Brahms. It’s literally filled with this stuff.