Sunday, January 25, 2015

Let's Go to the Movies!

With my mom having passed away, I am now left with a lot of "free" time.  I was initially thinking that this freedom would allow me more opportunity to focus on my blog posts each week, but then I realized that without visiting my mom and coming into contact with her world, there's going to be a real shortage of material to draw upon.  Although I am hoping to stay in touch with her friends Betty and Marion from Spring Hills, for now I'm going to refocus and zone in on subject matter I've only touched on previously but that which forever fascinates me:  the differences between men and women.

In order to do this, I've decided to share with you the inside scoop on a particular situation that David and I see very differently.  Rest assured that David, being the good sport that he is, gave me two thumbs up when I asked if he'd be OK with being the subject of my blog post.    
So, without further ado...Last night our dear friend came over for dinner and a movie - "Boyhood" - to watch in David's man cave.  My girlfriend mentioned to me before the movie that when I was picking up our Chinese food, David mentioned that he is going to make popcorn for us even though, he told her, I'm not a fan of his popcorn machine.   

For the record, I love popcorn, and I love the dates David and I used to have at the former Ritz movie theatre, for many, many years.  There was an air of excitement about it, from driving there to driving home.  Since we always arrived 45 minutes to an hour before the movie started (guess whose idea that was?) we had a lot of time to hang out while quickly moving through our routine as if time was of the essence:  David would get the tickets, I'd wait in line for the popcorn, he'd come over and give me my ticket, take napkins and a straw for the soda and then he'd sprint to the specific theatre to claim our two seats, most of the time before anyone else had entered.  We'd then assess the quality of the popcorn and the soda, most of the time nearly finishing both before the movie started.  Afterwards, we'd go somewhere for dinner or a dessert and talk more about the movie.   
When David said he wanted to build a home theatre several years ago, I completely understood he wanted to enjoy movies at home, although I did mention my concern that I hoped he would still want date nights at the Ritz.  
A year after the completion of the theatre, he started talking about getting a popcorn machine and cart, to further simulate the Ritz experience.  Oy.  I said NO WAY!!!!

Here's why:  1 - I was afraid with the combination of a home theatre AND theatre-quality popcorn, David would never want to "go to the movies;" 2 - I didn't want us to indulge in the sinfully delicious Ritz-like popcorn more often, and I wasn't sure I'd even like the popcorn he'd be making at home; 3 - I didn't want to be responsible for something else to clean; 4 - I was afraid that the placement of the large (and oily) machine and cart front and center in the home would be very irksome to me.     

We spoke at length about my objections and, as usual, we compromised:  He got the machine without the cart, and it stays in the garage until it's time to use it.  And, true to his word, he cleans it, each and every time. He even puts it back into the garage when he's done with it.

David never really "got" my objections; his goal was to bring the experience we enjoyed so much at the Ritz IN to our home; my goal had been to continue to enjoy our date nights at the Ritz, not at home.  We run into this issue quite often, actually, as I'm always looking for different things to do outside our home, while David likes to stay in, whenever possible. He also prefers to avoid crowds, whereas I'm not as bothered by them.     

I wonder if these differences represent male/female thinking or are unique to us.

On a side note, Boyhood was great, the room performed like a true theatre and the popcorn was actually pretty good.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Wise Words

Moms are very wise and pass on invaluable knowledge to their offspring, sometimes without even realizing it.  

Their words can be loud and clear, directed to us about a particular situation, or the message can come across in a more subtle manner.
Some moms, for example, drum into their daughters' heads that they must always wear clean underwear when they leave the house, just in case they get in an thing would lead to another...someone would inevitably see an unseemly undergarment and think less of mom, for not having raised her daughter right.  
Thinking that moms warn their daughters about their underwear always makes me smile, especially now. 

My mom would never have cared if someone saw me in tattered underwear. It wouldn't even cross her mind that someone would make a judgment call about me or my family based on the state of what I'm wearing.  And, if they did, they should be ashamed of themselves, not the other way around.  

There were, however, many other things that were important to my mom, which she hammered into my head. The three Florence Cohen "mom-isms"  which have been swirling around on overtime this past week are:   

1 - Never cross a picket line, under any circumstances.  Even if you don't know about or agree with the picketers, respect what that person/group is trying to accomplish. (I am grateful my mom taught me this).

2 - Always wear orthopedic shoes; at the very least, supportive ones.  My mom made me wear black and white saddle shoes though my youth (very painful!) and, even in recent years, would always state her disapproval when I wore anything else, like flip flops and/or my favorite UGG boots.  Much more concerned with how things look than she, I would cringe when my mom and dad would wear their "custom" shoes, which invariably meant they would be the most hideous-looking I had ever seen.

3 - So as not to catch a cold, she'd tell us two things: 1 - don't ever go outside with a wet head (I am OK with this); and 2 - always wear the same winter coat, regardless of whether the temperature reads 25 or 55 degrees. This never made any sense to me.

By next week I could come up with a hundred other statements she made that come to mind every now and then, but what has made a daily and enormous impact on me are two words I heard her say all the time. 

Whether to the caregivers, wait staff or family (myself included), my mom never failed to show genuine appreciation for help or attention she was given.
"Thank You," she'd say, and we knew she meant it, with all her heart.

Monday, January 12, 2015


I feel so lucky to have had my mom for nearly 55 years.   

Not many people can say that, although my older brother can boast over 65 years.  I'm jealous of that, even though I know that sounds very greedy.

Had my mom passed when I was younger, when my kids were little for example, I wouldn't have paid attention to her as I had in recent years.  I'm sure I would've been too consumed with my own life to step back and look at hers.  It wasn't that I didn't know she was seen as a strong and progressive woman - I did - and this is what the newspaper articles, Facebook posts and her funeral had and will continue to highlight:  her accomplishments as a community and anti-war activist; a feminist; a union organizer and much more, all of which paved the way for change and to make society a better place, one step at a time.  
But since I was the youngest of four and inherently different from everyone else in my family - so much so that I often thought I was adopted - I viewed my mom not as a pioneer or a rebel but as a tender, loving woman, who I simply adored.  When she'd be hosting Ogontz Area Neighbors Association meetings in our living room, night after night, I'd be upstairs writing notes to her, attaching them to string, and lowering them to land in front of her face, asking when everyone was going home.  This may seem pathetic and very selfish, but the bottom line was that I didn't want to share her with everyone all the time.  I just wanted to cuddle up next to her and to lay my head on her lap.

The years continued to go by with our very different personalities and lifestyles but, as she aged, I found there was a place for me next to her, after all.  It turned out that I could be helpful when it came to assisting her with a few daily chores that had become overwhelming at times - some six to eight years ago - such as her enormous influx of mail.  An average load that clogged up her mailbox consisted of bills (10%), magazines and newspapers (20%), catalogs (10%), invitations to various political events (10%) and what seemed like a disproportionate number of donation requests (50%), which I initially saw as junk mail.  

Initially, in the interest of time and lack of patience on my part, I tossed the "junk mail" before opening it.  However, I began to feel it shameful to discard half of her pile when I was supposed to be helping her, not censoring her. So, I opened up the envelopes and realized these requests were not simply cold calls but were reflecting an already-established relationship.  All the material echoed the same message:  Thanks for your help, and Can we count on you to provide more?   

I was floored by the wide array of world causes that were of concern to my mom and which she addressed with her generosity, often to multiple groups with the same focus, such as local and worldwide efforts to combat hunger; matters impacting African Americans, Native Americans, Jews and other minorities; women's rights; the plight of the impoverished and homeless and healthcare crises including cleft palate in underprivileged countries. Doctors Without Borders, Special Olympics and lots of pet, nature and wildlife organizations were always tended to by mom as well.  

It was during this time, when I went from relying on mom to encouraging her to rely on me, that I realized I had never really thought about who she was and what she was about.  All along I just wanted a mommy; not something more or bigger.

Nonetheless, in that glimpse of what she did to help others, day after day, year after year, with no one watching as she wrote out check after check, I became truly appreciative of the whole Florence, a remarkable woman with an enormous heart, who will forever be my sweet, beautiful and loving mom.