Playing Cards

My mother was a mathematician and my father an engineer.  One of my early memories is of my parents sitting at the dining room table with yellow legal pads, pencil in one hand, cigarette in the other and working elaborate mathematical equations requiring page after page of calculations.  My father finished first and joked, “What’s the hold up?  Checking the answer is easy… here’s mine.”  Thank God they met each other and could share a love of math humor.   Continue reading

Saint Anthony

Betty Compton was born in 1929, the year of Black Tuesday when the stock market crashed.  The Great Depression was not an easy time for a young family, and its legacy includes people, like my mother, who never assume that life is easy or fair.  The stories of her father during the Depression are legendary – losing his business, working 3 jobs to make ends meet, taking-off only one day a month.  He provided for his family and ensured that each of his 5 children went to college for the hope of a brighter future.  As life would have it, Betty Compton grew up to be good looking like her movie-star namesake, a straight A student, hard working… and frugal.

The advantage is clear of working hard and being frugal – Betty has every resource to pay for whatever health care she needs in her final years with Alzheimer’s Disease.  That is a blessing.  However, the other side of the frugal coin is that she is absolutely no good at spending money and… shops super sales at stores with names like “Imp Peddler.” Continue reading

I’m Sure You Understand

Sometimes I forget that my 82 year old mother is a rock star.  But when we enter her bank and the tellers and manager greet her from across the room with big smiles, big waves and a big “Hello Miss Betty!” — I remember her stardom.  In my lifetime, a teller has never greeted me by name, let alone an entire bank staff.  My mother, of course, has time for each fan.

All in all, I should not have been surprised when the bank manager called me at work to share his concern for Miss Betty (I guess he googled “Miss Betty’s son” and my name and office phone number came up).  He reports that she seems to be showing signs of confusion and withdrew a large sum of cash.  When asked about the money, Miss Betty replied with a wink, “Christmas is a time of secrets.” Continue reading