Sunday, April 27, 2014


This week’s entry is devoted to all of us walking around with fragile hearts.

My stepson, Matthew Minches, would have turned 24 today.

Matthew is the son of my husband David and his ex-wife Eve, and the brother of my stepdaughter, Lauren. He passed away four years ago this August after battling with rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer. 

Last night my kids and I toasted Matthew for his birthday and shared a dessert in his honor.  It was the first time I’ve been able to focus on celebrating his life vs. the tragedy of his losing it. 

I’m often debating with myself whether the greater tragedy lies in the life that Matthew’s missing out on vs. what we’re all missing out on because his life ended.  I heard my husband say a couple times that he feels worse for Matthew to have been robbed of life than for his (David’s) loss in not having his son.  Aware of the deep, dark hole that Matthew’s absence has caused in David’s world, I find that unbelievable.

My brother Denis, whose wife Lisa passed from cancer when she was in her 30s – just a few months after she had given birth to their son Daniel – said the two are equally bad.  Lisa missed out on experiencing great joy in being Daniel’s mom and he (Daniel) missed out on the many aspects of her personality which would’ve been such a good fit for him.   

As the stress in our home continued to mount with Matthew's birthday approaching, and I found myself asking over and over again why it was Matthew who had to be afflicted with such a dreadful disease, more catastrophic news came our way:  our dear friend Steve Lahav suddenly passed away. 

Once again I have to ask why did such a good man so entirely devoted to family have to be taken from his wife and sons (and their girlfriends) and his dad, who had recently moved here from Florida?  This makes no sense.  As for David and me, we will miss him terribly.  Steve, his wife Marcy, David and I so enjoyed and appreciated our individual friendships as well as the foursome we had become over the years.  We have already informed Marcy that she will now have the dual role of being both herself and Steve when we go out. 

Minutes after I learned about Steve, my son told me that his great Uncle Wolf (Karo) passed away, with the funeral actually falling on Matthew’s birthday.  He was 90 and had been ailing so while his passing may not have been unexpected, it remains an immense loss for his family and friends.       

I could say this week has been awful, and it has, but that doesn’t begin to cover it.    

My dear friend Ann said that no one can understand the depth of other people’s pain unless they’re living it too, and she is right.  I am convinced that people who have lost the most special people and the most powerful relationships they have ever known will never be the same without them.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014


I love coupons. The only thing better than coupons for items I want is coupons I know my family or friends might want, whether for clothing, personal products, groceries, or anything else. 

Coupons make shopping fun.  I’ve always gotten a kick out of coupons that print after the purchase of a product, say at Shop Rite or CVS, which mirror what I’ve just bought or my buying preferences overall. That’s great thinking. 

Since my daughter Allison lives in NYC and also goes to CVS periodically, it’s been normal practice for me to notify her when I had received coupons via email that I thought she might want.  Over time she figured out that if she’d give the cashier my phone number, she’d get the same coupons I would, as well as those that reflected her buying habits.  With advances made to this process, she can now access the discounts right off the bat when she enters the store by plugging my phone number into a cool new coupon machine and, like magic, a couple feet of discounts will pour right out.    

Last weekend when she was home, we went together to CVS because we each had a few items to get. She made a beeline for this new fancy machine – clearly not the first time she used one like it – and was delighted when she found a coupon that she could use.    

“I can tell when you’ve been buying candy because I see candy coupons,” Allison said as we walked to the cash register.  WHAT?!?!?  Did she just say that?  OK, so I do buy a candy bar here and there.  But really…is there no such thing as privacy?  Do all my bad habits have to be publicized?  It’s like an email was sent directly to my daughter telling her how bad her mommy’s been. 

What if I was a dating single mom now, like I was 15 years ago and had bought some personal products which therefore printed out similar coupons…maybe she’d say to me, “You’re not actually doing THIS at YOUR age, Mom, are you?” (condom)  or “Mom!  Please tell me you’re not going to have a baby!”  (pregnancy test) or “Ewwww…A fungal infection, Mom?  That’s nasty.” doubt about it.    

Who would’ve ever thought that my guilty pleasures could be revealed through the sharing of coupons, of all things?  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Nightmare

As you probably know by now, my husband loves his doggy more than anything else.

Sometimes David surprises me, like the other day, when I heard him tell Shea, who had his little furry face next to David’s big furry face, “I need time to myself, Shea, I’ve been tickling you all night and now I just want to relax.” 

And then other times, I’m not surprised at all. 

One morning last week when David came out of the shower, he told me he had the worst nightmare ever, and he couldn’t stop himself from thinking about it.  He reiterated “worst nightmare ever” until I asked for the details.     

Since he’s already lived the worst nightmare ever – that of losing his son – he was obviously exaggerating but I could see he was, nonetheless, a bit shaken up. 

During the nightmare, David found out that the doggy he has loved for 4 years as his own actually belonged to another family.   In an effort to rectify this once and for all, David and I went to the house of the people who had raised our little guy before he came to live with us.         

When we got there, Shea immediately made himself at home, wagging his tail and chasing his doggy siblings around in what appeared to be very familiar surroundings.  David said this made him both happy and sad.

Since it seemed like his mamma was thrilled to see her family reunited, David realized he would have to come clean for her to understand how important our doggy will always be to him.  He shared his most personal business; he told her that Shea saved his life when Matthew passed away and that he can’t live without him.  He was not misrepresenting what he and I both knew to be true.   

Apparently the woman had her own reasons for wanting to keep her/our pet, so we ended up having to leave her house without Shea Doggy.  That’s how the nightmare ended, leaving David lonely and mournful. 

I told David that dream or no dream, I’m surprised he left with me; I would’ve thought he would’ve stayed with Shea.    

He appeared to agree and took it a step further.   Yes, he said, “I would’ve married the woman if I had to.”               

Really, is anyone surprised?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Over Easy

Most people who knew my dad, City Councilman David Cohen, were aware that he was a tireless advocate for the people of Philadelphia.

But what I’m sure almost no one knew was that he made the best sunny-side up or over-easy eggs in the world.

After hearing me brag about my dad’s eggs time and time again, my husband asked what he did that was so special.  So, I decided to show him, with 2 eggs, to the best of my ability:  fairly high flame, lots of butter in a hot pan, let these babies sizzle away till the liquid part of the eggs is gone, flip them perhaps (depending upon the diner’s preference), sizzle again for about 10 or 20 seconds or so and VOILA.   

My dad passed away in 2005, and I don’t think I’ve had an egg since without thinking about how much he relished his morning routine.  It started very early – somewhere between 5 and 6 am every day – and went on for hours.  It involved way more than food, too. 

He read the newspapers from cover to cover, and back then when I lived at home, there were at least 3 delivered to our house daily:  The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Bulletin (which I think was an evening paper) and the Daily News.  These dailies were in addition to a bunch of other weeklies, such as The Philadelphia Tribune, the Jewish Exponent, the Northeast Times, and many more.  While reading, he always had KYW blasting in the background, often accompanied by long bouts of static, which never seemed to faze him (yet clearly irked me, as I can still feel my twinge of annoyance some 35 years later).

My senses were on high alert from so many competing sights, sounds and smells in the kitchen, up to about 9 or 10 am. each and every morning.   My dad would bounce around from station to station in his robe and slippers, starting with making freshly-squeezed orange juice for my mom as well as her personal favorite, soft boiled eggs (yuck), which he too might have, or not.  Sometimes he would add bacon to the menu, which was as crispy as it could be without disintegrating, the darkest toast possible, freshly-brewed coffee and always his staples:  a bowl of Corn Flakes, oatmeal and/or Cream of Wheat, and Tang. 

Of the 4 Cohen siblings, I’m the only one who hasn’t followed in my dad’s footsteps by entering the political world, but I’d bet I’m the only one who has been able to come close to bringing this particular legacy of his back to life.

For that, I thank my husband, who started as a most devoted student and has nearly perfected this dish with the purchase of a cast iron skillet and, most importantly, determination to make me the best Dave Cohen eggs he can make.

And when he slides them on to my plate, I am in heaven.