Only The Good Die Young

One way to escape the wrinkles and frailities of old age is to die young. Then you will always be remembered as youthful…or at least at the top of your game.

Another pop icon has passed. Michael Jackson.

Yea, he was weird in so many ways as he became an adult. The one white glove. Grabbing his crotch on stage. The children’s compound where alegations of child abuse arose. The weird marriages and the strange garb he dressed his kids in. The nose jobs. The changing skin color. The crazy amount of debt after being a super star all of his life.

But the good Michael was so very talented. Those of us who loved his music from his childhood to adulthood mourn the loss of that person. The Super Talent. The guy we now know had a troubled childhood.

It’s sad to watch a person’s life self-destruct. Is that what happened? Were drugs involved as mentioned as a possibility on the news? Think Elvis Presley. The father of one of his wives.

People can be very complicated.

Your memory will live on in your music. Your songs will continue to thrill us.

May you finally rest in peace.

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Where Were You When Your Mother Died?

I met your mom a few short weeks ago. She said she had just moved from a hoity-toity place that she really liked but she needed even more care.
 
Your mom asked me how many children I had. When I told her I was single and did not have any children, she said,”I’m sorry.” I  asked why she said that, and she replied, “Because I think you’ve missed a lot.”

I saw the photo collage on her door with your pictures and your kids’ pictures. Lots of faces on there.

Where were you when your mom was wheeled into the nursing home dining room wearing her purse  awkwardly around her neck?  (Old habits die hard.)

Where were you the last night I saw her when she cried out in pain as the nurse very gently rolled her to the dinner table? Where were you a few minutes later as she begged me to get  her a glass of water?

I  really wanted to  help her.  I could see how much pain she was in. I always said hi to her because she was one of the ladies who knew where she was and still had her mind. But I couldn’t get her  any water because  I didn’t know her medical condition.

Your mother was bleeding onto her terrycloth bib. It was so very sad to hear her helpless pleas fall on deaf ears. The  aides weres busy with other residents.  The nurse was off to another task.  I tried to get someone to respond. I think it was a weekend evening — you never know what to expect on on those shifts.

A couple of days ago I noticed your Mom’s nameplate was taken down. I checked the resident list and her name was gone. Your picture hung on the door for a few more days. I see the door is still closed today…I guess you haven’t had a chance to empty the room yet. Probably busy making  funeral plans.

Your mother must have loved you very much. I’m sure she was proud of you.  I saw your name in her obituary. Apparently she was pretty sick when you moved her there last month.

Where were you when your mother died?

HIPPA Laws Be Damned

There’s a new hospital opening in town, and this weekend they are showing it off to the public with a big open house. So many RNs running around the place, I was wondering who’s taking care of the patients at the old place, which hasn’t closed yet.

In the fancy, shmansy emergency room area, there’s a big screen on the wall — across from the nurse’s station — listing each emergency room number, patient’s initials, patient’s age, medical reason the patient is visiting today. Why don’t they just put the person’s weight up there too?

And let’s get an audio version too…let’s not overlooked the rights of the hearing impaired to snoop around while hanging out in the emergency room.

Geeezzzz…who thought of this? Have they ever heard of HIPPA laws?

Just about every time someone from our family has been in this hospital’s emergency room, we’ve run into someone else we knew. Now we can just walk down the hall and check out the person’s age and condition. How convenient!

If someone looks vaguely familiar, the age and initials may be just  the information needed to jog your memory.

Heck why don’t they just put a big lighted billboard out front — like the casinos have — and announce the surgeries being performed today, arrival of new babies, shooting victim’s names, etc. Post the newborns’ photos! Dr. Jones – now appearing in the operating room!

Ok, so there’s a private outtake (or whatever they call it) room. That’s nice. But this big screen on the wall is taking technology a bit too far. I would think a small screen behind the nurse’s station would make more sense. BTW..what about those nurses over 50…they probably won’t be able to see the screen from across the room anyway.

The scary thing is…the RN on the tour didn’t think there was anything wrong with having a big screen listing patient’s info.

Have you every been to a bar or restaurant and stared across the room at a TV screen –even though you couldn’t hear the show? Our eyes have been conditioned to look at TV screens — that’s why my dentist was playing some fake talk show TV in his waiting room the other day with an interview promoting teeth whitening or something. Cha ching! Cha ching!

In case you are wondering, this is the new St. Clare Hospital in Fenton, Mo. Maybe some of their officials will visit my blog. I can always use new readers.

Potty Talk at the Dinner Table

“I had a good BM this morning. Even they said it was good.”

That’s good news, Mom.

“Every time I do something, they write it down. I don’t know what they’re studying.”

Just another suppertime conversation at the nursing home.

Neighborhood Ice Cream Trucks in February?

It’s an overcast midwestern winter day, the temperature is in the 40s, and I can hear some funky music outside. What? Is that the ice cream truck?

I look outside and sure enough an ice cream van is slowing driving up the street playing that little melody that is supposed to draw the attention of all of the little kiddies within earshot.

The economy must be pretty bad if the ice cream man is out looking for clients in winter. Heck, just 3 days ago, the temperature was in the 20s – probably colder than his frozen treats – and my front yard was still covered in snow.

Weird.

Peanut Butter Terrorism

What are we up to– 400 plus products recalled because one greedy business owner looked the other way.

We hear a lot about how the government needs to stay out of the business of doing business. Well this is a perfect example of exactly why government interference is needed in the private sector. People are sick, others are dead – because one company chose to ignore the possibility of salmonella contamination.

What about the ripple effect to the customers of Peanut Corporation of America? And the peanut industry as a whole?

Peanut butter was a big staple in my diet.

Peanut butter on a toasted whole wheat bagel for breakfast.

Peanut butter crackers as a mid-morning snack or on a hike.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch or an occasionally dinner.

Peanut butter cups – both on their  own and the mini ones in ice cream.

I bet this stupid company flew the American flag on the holidays, (they added “America” to their name), gave lip service to how much they cared about their employees (I assume they are now out of work) and talked about how wonderful they were as a contributor to the economy, the community, blah, blah, blah.

Keep this in mind. All terrorist don’t look alike. They can high-jack a whole industry when they exhibit greed in favor of a true “corporate conscious.”

Does Your Marketing – and Branding – Suck?

We hear a lot about marketing, branding, blah, blah, blah. As the economy continues to toughen up – small businesses will have to work even harder to attract and retain clients.

Branding is more than just slapping a pretty logo on your product or brochures — then sitting back waiting for customers to beat down your door. Branding is about EVERYTHING you do.

A year ago, as my mother’s health continued to decline, I attended a “senior fair” sponsored by a law office specializing in estate planning. Several vendors had tables and there were a variety of speakers on a wide range of subjects. One of the speakers was from a company offering home health care services at my mother’s senior apartment building. The speaker made some interesting comments, and after she left the podium, I asked if she would be available for questions after the next speaker finished. “Yes, we have a table.”

Another 30 or 45 minutes passed before the other speaker finished, then I went searching for her table and asked the organizers to help me locate her. I guess the opportunity to finish work early on a Friday afternoon was just too big a temptation as she had closed up shop before the event had concluded.

Fast forward to the fall. Since her company was the most highly recommended of the two company’s located at my mom’s apartment building, we had contracted with them to provided morning and evening assistance with dressing and medicine administration.

My mother had a stroke in September, moved to one nursing home and then another in October. Cash flow was a bit of a problem, but I did send a small payment in  October and the balance due in November. The company did not send any statements, make a phone call, etc. –the payments were sent because we knew the money was owed.

Yesterday I received a second copy of the September invoice — not a statement. Attached was a sticky note with a handwritten message that the company had received payments, but we still owed money. The last sentence read “My accountant advised me this would be the last statement sent for this invoice before going to Collections.” The note was not signed.

The  invoice was the type that comes right out of Word, so it has a cookie cutter look to it. That’s fine for a small business. But nobody bothered to make the effort to look professional and turn it into a statement showing the monies received — they just stuck a blue sticky note on it.

Here is my response to the company:

I have received an invoice for  my mother.  There is no email on the invoice, so I am using this one.

Your company is looking for an additional $401.

As you are well aware, Mrs. Mom did not receive services for the full month of September.

According to my records,  your company has been paid  in full for August (including the increase in package) and for all of the days she lived at the apartment building in September up to and including the day of her departure.

The checks sent in October and November were sent not in response to any invoice — but because we knew we had received services and wanted to pay my mother’s account in full for all services ordered and received.Your current invoice clearly shows it was your policy prior to November 1, 2008, for clients to receive refunds when they did not receive services.

FYI – while she was there, some of the services we contracted  for were not performed. For example, I posted a reminder on the bathroom mirror and complained to your staff several times that I had frequently found nasty dirty denture water still sitting in her denture cup at the end of the day — even though all I requested was that it be dumped and rinsed out for just a second or so every morning. Not only that, I counted the denture tablets and they were not being used — no surprise since the same nasty water was still there. Made me wonder if they removed her dentures at all.

Also, there were many nites when I dressed Mom — with no expectation that there would be a refund — although your staff indicated there would be. We did not ask or expect one.

Generally, your employees were very nice and caring.

Instead of chasing ambulances to the hospital seeking additional income for new services — I would suggest you contact your client’s families for feedback while the person is still at the apartment to see if all services are being performed adequately.

In my opinion, the time to conduct your company’s marketing (such as customer satisfaction calls) is when your client is living at the apartment –not when you see an opportunity to make more money when a crisis has occurred. Your visits to see my mom at the hospital came across to me as a sales pitch and it really felt quite inappropriate.

Tell that to your accountant.

(editor’s note – I have removed proper names to protect my mother’s privacy.)

And The Winner Is….

The mailbox locations post.

This is the “most visited” post on my blog for 2008.

Apparently, e-mail has not totally eliminated the need for those little blue boxes on street corners. We still have to mail some of our stuff.

And thanks to the U.S. Postal Service…I get lots of visitors trying to find a list of nearby mailboxes and their pick-up times. It would be quicker to drive across the county and hand-deliver your letter than to find the mailbox listings on the USPS dot gov site.

If you need to mail something, click on my April 8th post…..then dig into the comments section….and you will find some great links to non-governmental sites to help you in your quest for the Almighty Mailbox.

I suspect this will be a most popular post for some time to come.

Thanks to my readers for helping us all out!!!

Holiday Treats at the Nursing Home

Mom’s nursing home held a little holiday party for the residents and their families yesterday. They served egg nog, which was a real treat as Mom and I always shared a carton at Christmas time. I think we are the only ones in the family who liked it. We each drank two cups.

The activities “guy” arrived in a Santa suit, and of course he knew every resident’s name as he greeted each one and posed for a quick picture. I didn’t know how much they would get out of  a visit from Santa, but anything that breaks up the day is a good thing.

Santa had on a very good-looking red suit – one our table mates commented that it was a very nice, rich looking material.  Some of the Santa suits you see are kind of cheesey and cheap looking. I noted that St. Nick looked pretty good as he was more trim than some I had seen in the past and that this was  more in keeping with our health conscious times.

As Santa approached mom, who is now confined to a wheelchair — to my surprise not only did she have a big smile on her face  – but she was stretching out her arms and reaching for a hug!  I think my mouth dropped open and I held back some tears as I watched her respond with such joy to something as simple and timeless as a visit from Santa Claus. She was the only one I saw respond with such obvious outward excitement.

After Santa gave Mom her hug and posed for a picture, her turned to the next lady, “Virginia!”

As Santa and Virginia smiled for the camera, I announced to the room, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

Several people laughed and I think just about everyone in the room was smiling. It was a good day.

Post Election Feels A Little Like 9/11

Remember how nice everyone was after the Twin Towers fell? For a few weeks Americans seemed to be nicer to each other. We had been attacked as a nation and we were all on the same side. People were friendlier and a more polite to strangers and others as they went about their business. We were all in it together. It was a quiet calm after the big storm.

It wasn’t the same happy feeling we experience during the Christmas holiday season. People are more rushed, pressured to get things done, but then they are pretty nice to each other for a week or so.

I think Americas have felt different since Tuesday night when Barack Obama was elected President. Our economy is in shambles and we’ve elected someone we hope can lift us out of the economic crisis and put more of us back to work.

Black and white strangers appear to be a little more friendly to each other. It took people of all races and economic backgrounds to elect our first African-American President, and we all know it.

Our country has undergone a major shift. I think in some ways we are experiencing a state of shock as we did post 9/11. But it’s a good shock.

How long do you think the honeymoon will last? Even if Obama solves all of our country’s major problems next year, how long will it be before people are back to their normal, indifferent selves?

Will the good feeling even last until inauguration day?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had this holiday feeling all year?

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