When This Senior Needed a Ride, God’s Uber Service Showed Up

Now that she has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), getting around has become more difficult for my friend Susan. After fasting for blood work Tuesday morning, hunger gnawed at her stomach. She felt dizzy. And now her senior-ride driver – some new guy they hired – was late again. She decided to wait inside the doctor’s office, out of the brutal heat hitting St. Petersburg.


She didn’t know that in all her discomfort, a tiny miracle was in the making.


Now in her mid-70s, Susan gave up driving about five years ago, handing the keys to her SUV over to a friend, who just happened to need a car at the time. It just worked out, she said. After leaving New Mexico, where we met some 25 years ago, Susan is finally back “home” in Florida, along with the daughter she raised there.


I don’t know many women who value their independence quite as much as Susan. A classy, hard-working single mother most of her life, it chafes her pride to depend others, especially for getting around. Her freedom means too much.


The requisite 30-minute grace time came and went. Still no driver. Dehydrated, with her blood sugar declining like an ebb tide, Susan started to lose it. Calling the ride-service to complain, she hoped for good news.


Give him another 25 minutes, the dispatcher told her. But he was already half-an-hour late! Why couldn’t they get their act together?


Talking on the phone that night, Susan told me about the former driver, a nice man who managed to keep people on schedule. Too bad he quit, she said.


Placating her patience, she imagined autumn and how lovely the rest of the year would be. She could get out and walk, and not have to sit inside all winter. But this kind of disregard, she decided, she could not tolerate.


Finally at her limit, she called a cab. It was the only thing to do, even if it did cost more. As luck would have it, the taxi and the senior-ride driver showed up at the same time.


“I’m through with you people!” she told the driver. And she climbed in the cab.


As she ate her lunch, Susan fretted over how she’d stay on her fixed-income budget with taxi fares to pay for. Trips to the doctor’s office, her weekly volunteer job at the senior center, an occasional dinner with friends – she’d be out over a $100 a month.  But at $9 per trip, the senior-ride service wasn’t cheap either.


In the midst of all her worrying, the phone rang. It was her old driver, the guy who used to work for the senior-ride service. Susan could hardly believe what he said next.


The man had started his own shuttle service. Would she like to have him as her driver?


Now it was my turn to lose it.


The entrepreneur had saved the phone numbers of everyone he used to transport. “Can you pick me up at 8:30 in the morning?” she asked.


It was God, she said. Had to be.


And I believe she’s right. When God hears our prayers, no matter how very small or seemingly insignificant, somehow there will be an answer. Susan had done all she could. She wasn’t sitting at home wringing her hands. I think sometimes that’s when miracles happen: When God meets us half-way.


Susan’s new ride will cost the same as the senior-service. Only now my friend – a very independent woman –will no longer have to worry about getting where she wants to go. She’s in good hands. FFG

Ten Tips for Writing Your Parent’s Obituary (Hint: Do it Before They Die)

I want to talk about a topic often considered taboo. And maybe a bit macabre: Those dreaded mini-chronologies written about someone who’s passed on, known as obituaries. I recently read that, a website that publishes obituaries and public comments about the deceased, has become quite popular of late. I’ve commented on the site myself.


But someone has to write all that stuff. Namely, you.


Especially as our parents age, we might want to determine what kind of obituary they would want, where they’d like it published, and what they think is important about their lives. If they’re climbing that proverbial hill, but not quite over it, it’s not too early to make few mental notes.


Heck, I’m even coming up with songs I want on my funeral play-list. Why would I want to pass away without letting someone know that I don’t want any bloody Pachelbel, or Elvis Presley singing Softly, As I Leave You.


When my dad passed away in 2014, I sat down with my mother at her dining table. Elbows leaning on her good, white lace table cloth, we went over what she’d written for his obituary. Continue reading

Detroit Teacher’s $390,000 Settlement is a Symptom of Much Bigger Problems

I seriously doubt that Detroit English teacher Tiffani Eaton-Davis will be diving back into the trenches anytime soon. If ever.

Her broom-swatting attempts at breaking up a wild classroom fist fight at Pershing High School on April 14, 2014 got her fired.

Captured on a student’s cell phone, the footage shows two boys plowing into desks, and one kid pounding the other in the face. Eventually, a classmate intervenes, separating the two.

According to a story published in the Detroit Free Press online, Eaton-Davis sued Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority in federal court over civil rights violations, alleging that white teachers at the school had physically broken up fights without being disciplined. “The EAA is a controversial reform school district that Gov. Rick Snyder opened in 2012 in an effort to turn around the bottom 5% of Michigan schools. All 15 of its schools used to be part of Detroit Public Schools.”

In addition, Eaton-Davis said the district failed to warn her of the “unusually high amount of violence and fighting” at the school. While they offered her a job at any EAA school, the lady didn’t bite.

She recently won a $390,000 settlement from EAA.

“This is about the destruction of her dream and her career,” said her lawyer, Jim Rasor.

The settlement, however, while possibly fair, is just is a symptom of much bigger problems. Continue reading

I’m with Cokie: It’s (Past) Time to Call Out Donald Trump

Why am I doing this? Sharing political posts on a parenting blog?

Well, I’ll tell you. Because parenting is political.

It’s about whether the leaders we elect care about the same things parents care about: family-supporting jobs that enable one parent to stay at home and raise the kids; clean air to breathe and water to drink and bathe in; affordable college tuition. The list is long.

These are all things I am for as a parent and grandparent. Things I can wrap my head around.

What I can’t wrap my head around is what Donald Trump is for. Like punching people in the face. Lying about nearly everything (I can’t account for his self-aggrandizement). And acting as though a fair percentage of the world’s population should be exterminated – or at least deported.

How is it that someone so oblivious to the rules of civil discourse, and obviously unqualified to fight for anyone other than himself,  Continue reading

The Abusive Paternalism of Donald Trump (Mostly a Reptile) vs. Bernie Sanders, the Nurturing Father Figure

Is it possible that two powerful father-figures are running for president? One, a brazen rich guy with orange hair, parleyed an inheritance into billions, flies around in private jets, and owns hotels emblazoned with his name. The other, the son of poor Polish immigrants, made it all the way to the U.S. Senate and still drives a small Chevy –  the make of which he says he doesn’t know.

While Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders aren’t only presidential candidates in this election cycle, something the media never ceases to remind us of, the excitement among their supporters is indeed unprecedented.

Crowds in the thousands, including a preponderance of young people, wait in line for hours to hear the white-haired, philosopher they call Bernie. The senator from Vermont doesn’t have a superPac because he won’t take corporate money. Instead, the average campaign donation from his fan-base is twenty-seven bucks. While he’s done well in largely white states, Bernie’s popularity has been crossing the racial divide due to his views on income inequity, raising the minimum wage, and educational and job opportunity.

Donald Trump attracts a different demographic – older and mostly white, according a 2015 story in the LA Times. Trump doesn’t need a superPac because he’s rich.  Although he probably has a plethora of corporate donors. His past racist comments on minorities have no doubt given him a black eye, and are a turn-off to people of color. Even sorority girls with fake tans.

Whoever wins the presidency, though, will be at the nation’s helm at a pivotal time. Are we to be ruled by corporations that can spend unlimited amounts on their candidates?

Or are we to be a government “of the people, by the people and for the people…?”

I think we’re still trying to outgrow our adolescence – not yet out of that awkward stage – like teenagers trying to decide what they want to be when grow up, and in desperate need of mature guidance.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are both are “outliers,” not of the establishment mold. And each bearing wildly different ideas for a middle class groaning under the weight of lost jobs and low wages, craving the stability of their parents’ generation. You know, a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. (Or is it a computer in every room? I forget.)

But I’m not going to discuss how they intend to run the country. What I want to talk about is personality.

Trump the billionaire is an outsider to politics, never having been elected to public office. Though I hope he at least had a class in civics. When his sentences don’t begin with the word I, leading to an outrageous proclamation, he’s demeaning, combative, and at times downright vulgar.  He also has a tendency to skewer people. Like Fox debate moderator Megyn Kelly. And how about the time he squirted a water bottle on stage, mocking a nervous Marco Rubio? How is this mature, reasonable behavior?

Sanders, on the other hand, is an insider. A decades-long crusader for the middle class, he’s an old-school gentleman, a good listener, and avowed democratic socialist who cares deeply about the welfare of others, but doesn’t give a ___ what his detractors think.

Let’s take these two outliers apart.

Trump is a phenomenon. He “shakes things up” with his wild behavior, I heard one devotee say. (Actually, it was my 84 year-old mother, whose favorite TV show is Shark Tank.) And he’s completely unpredictable, pouncing on any bit of perceived judgement by threatening a law suit.

Scientifically, this is how a reptile acts: Responding to challenge with a show of colors and finally aggression, fighting to the finish.Reptile with orange head

A reptile’s behavior is ruled by Continue reading