Friday, January 25, 2008

How would you spend the money?

We've been talking a lot at my house about the economic stimulus package. Reggie and I have already spent the sum we would receive many times over! We've talked about paying off some credit card bills and making a contribution to our car insurance fund. I'm also thinking summer vacation!
I was explaining it to my daughter, Anna, last night — telling her how we'd get $300 for each child. MISTAKE. Now she wants her share of the money and has been lobbying for a cut. This all got me thinking about this whole economic stimulus package. Critics say not everyone will spend the money; instead, many will save it. I know how we can get at least part of it spent. Instead of sending the $300 per child allowance to the parents, send it to the child. Judging by my own children (and others I know) their fair share will be spent within minutes of it hitting their hot little hands. Video game vendors, electronics stores, high-end clothing stores and toy companies would all get a pretty good economic boost, I feel sure.
I'm curious how Wilson folks would spend their check, both adults and children! Send me a comment.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Last night was not typical of Tuesdays at the Batts house. We went to see "Cats"! The blockbuster Broadway hit is playing at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, and we were there for the opening of the Broadway Series South Show. My daughter, Anna, and I had been looking forward to this for months, and we were certainly not disappointed.
I love musicals, thanks in large part to my former dance teacher Barbara Smith. Barbara also loved Broadway tunes and used them for her annual dance recitals. In my many years with Barbara (both as a student and teacher assistant), I learned the lyrics to so many shows from "The King and I" to "Oliver."
Atlantic Christian College English professor and newspaper adviser Mike Fukuchi also loves Broadway shows, and he kept me interested in my years at ACC. It was "Doc" as I call him, who helped me see my first Broadway show — "Cats." I group of us were in New York City for a newspaper convention, and Doc was with us. As soon as we got of the airplane that cold March morning, Doc lead several of us into the city to secure tickets for different shows. The most coveted ticket was for the relatively new musical, "Cats." We were elated to hold the tickets in our hands, although this eastern N.C. girl was shocked at the cost. $50 to $75, I think. I didn't care. The show was fantastic. I was completely mesmerized with the lights, the dancing, the excitement of being on Broadway! I had learned the lyrics to most of the songs because I had listened to the album (yes, album!) over and over in the weeks leading up to our trip, so I sang along silently as the actors, including Betty Buckley, entertained me with their songs.
I've never forgotten that experience. It opened my eyes to all the wonders of stage.
A few years ago, Anna had found my CD of "Cats" (Yes, I had upgraded) and she, too, enjoyed listening to the songs. It was natural we would want to see the show.
The Broadway South production is just as exciting as I remember from 20-odd years ago in New York. The dancing, music, costumes and sets still mesmerized me. I especially loved the rousing tap number with Jennyanydots and the beatle tatoo as well as the fun Skimbleshanks routine with the train. I realized early into last night's show that I was grinning. It was such a treat to see it all again — The Rum Tum Tugger hamming it up; Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer being plain silly; and the haunting sound of Grizabella singing "Memory." Wow.
Anna and her dad, Reggie, had the same reactions I had. I listened to them talk about the amazing voices that sometimes brought chill bumps, to their fascination with the athleticism of the dancers. They talked about the special effects including dramatic lighting and a cannon of sorts that shoots ribbons into the audience. I was afraid they would think the show was silly, but they didn't. They appreciated it for the same reasons I did: the music, the dancing, the costumes, the excitement.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hospital food

There’s one good thing about hanging out at Wilson Medical Center: the cafeteria. My parents haven’t been in the hospital often, but when they are there, I look forward to dropping in downstairs for delicious and cheap meals!
Breakfast is probably my favorite. I especially love the grits. This week, while staying with my hospitalized father, I’ve dined on grits, scrambled eggs, made-to-order Texas toast with jelly and turkey sausage patties. I was thrilled to see turkey sausage as an offering. I’m big fan of turkey sausage, and this was tender and delicious.
The lunchtime salad bar is another favorite. I love the fresh fruit, especially. On Tuesday, I had a tossed salad with a small ribeye steak and a baked potato. It really gave me the energy I needed for yet another emotionally draining day on the second floor.
One night I had a ham and cheese sandwich from the grill. Comfort food at its best.
Before we left for home Thursday, I picked up a quick lunch which included rutabagas. I love rutabagas but only eat them every other year, if that! Mama used to make them and served them with fresh ham, picked beets and cornbread. I loved that meal! My family would think I had lost my mind if I suggested they eat rutabagas. Mama always mashed hers; the hospitals were diced and were very good. I cleaned my plate!
Kudos to the hospital cafeteria for providing such an outstanding service to not only its employees but also to the families and friends who are visiting at the hospital. Being about to get a hearty, inexpensive meal was one less thing to worry about this week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mama & Daddy

My daddy’s in the hospital. Having him there and Mama at home only adds to the many complications of caring for elderly parents, both of whom have Alzheimer’s disease.
I’m a member of the sandwich generation, stuck like strawberry jam and peanut butter between caring for Mama and Daddy as well as my own family of two teenagers and a husband.
This week has been especially tough. I haven’t wanted to leave Daddy’s side, but I’ve needed to be at work. Needed to pick up my daughter from school, take Mama to a dermatology appointment, attend a meeting with a local hospice, get ready for a quick family trip that I’ve now had to cancel.
I chose Daddy, of course, and have stayed by his side during the day, relinquishing the night duties to a sitter who has been staying with my parents two nights a week for months now.
There are many of us in this “sandwich,” and in my blog I want to talk about the mind-numbing decisions, the heart aches and even the triumphs that come out of caring for the elderly. There will be other topics here as well because, well, there’s more to me than the daughter who does the grocery shopping and the banking, pays the bills and keeps the prescriptions filled, makes and keeps doctor appointments, holds hands, calms fears, dries tears and cleans up messes.
I’ve had a lot of time to think this week while sitting alone for hours at a time. While Daddy snored, I tried my best to stay alert.
I thought back to other hospital stays. It was a happy time when my children were born. I didn’t mind at all being cooped up in a hospital room because I had the company of my newborn babies.
When my dad was hospitalized at Wake Med following a stent procedure, we were happy to be there because the doctors fixed Daddy’s problem. We left with a resolution.
When we leave the hospital this week, I’ll be taking home an 87-year-old man with Alzheimer’s. Yes, he will be stronger than he was when he was admitted, but he’ll still be sick.
The TV remote will still befuddle him. He’ll still wonder who the “strangers” are in his house. He’ll still need help getting dressed. He’ll spout language I never heard him speak when I was growing up. And he’ll still fret and worry about every little thing, so unlike my daddy.
How nice if I could take him home with a sound mind and sound body.
That won’t happen, but at least I can take him home.