Friday, May 11, 2012

  A Letter to my Parents from a Woman Approaching Seventy   I understand now. ​I understand now: Why you wanted to tell me stories about your youth and my ancestors. I only wish I had listened and asked you more questions. ​I understand now: Why you repeated the same stories over and over. My friends hold up their fingers to let me know how many times I've told them the same story. Sometimes they run out of fingers. ​I understand now: Why you said, “Don't try to take my car away. I only drive on roads I know.” My own eyes and reflexes have slowed down, but I have no problem driving on the roads that I know. ​I understand now: Why you read the obituaries in the newspaper, and took a comforting breath when you found no-one you knew. ​I understand now: Why you kept so much stuff. You should see my garage and basement today. ​I understand now: Why when you went out with friends the two men sat in the front seat and the two women sat in the back. ​I understand now: Why you talked so much about your aches and pains, and how much your medicine cost. ​I understand now: Why your hands trembled, and you dropped things. My friends now call me "Shaky." ​I understand now: Why you talked about people and places that haven't existed for years. Singers like Al Jolson; places like Fidelman's in South Haven, Michigan; or restaurants like Ashkenaz. I reminisce about Elvis Presley, the Nippersink resort, and the Rascal House deli. ​I understand now: Why you refused to learn how to use the VCR. You wouldn't believe the electronics I have to try to work today. ​I understand now: Why you hated to go out in the ice and snow. Broken toes and broken ribs heal much more slowly when you are older. ​I understand now: Why you forgot names, and mixed up places. ​I understand now: Why you almost burned down the house while cooking. I just don't bother cooking any longer. ​I understand now: Why you napped. ​I understand now: Why, though you dressed with care, by the end of the day your clothes had a few food stains. ​I understand now: Why you couldn't keep up with my pace when we walked. ​I understand now: Why you tired so after playing with your grandchildren, even though you loved being with them. ​I understand now: Why you sometimes forgot why you went into a room. ​I understand now: Why you had so much time, after spending a lifetime of being busy and always in a hurry. ​I understand now: Why you no longer criticized me when I made a mistake. ​I understand now: Why you constantly told me that you loved me. ​I understand now: Why you let me win at Kalookie. ​I understand now: Why you said, "Don't buy me gifts, just be sure to remember me with a call, a card, and a hug.” ​I understand now: Why you just smiled when I disregarded experience and acted like I knew better than you did. ​I understand now: Why you said, "Keep things in perspective. Know the difference between a slight problem and real trouble." ​I understand now: Why you believed that the important things in life are love, health, friendship, and respect--not money and power. ​I understand now: Why you quoted the old Jewish saying: “Man plans, and God laughs!”    

Friday, December 4, 2009


Joan sat at the table fidgeting with the silverware, and staring at the door. She was dressed in her new blue knit pants suit, sliver strapped high heels, face made up special by Neiman Marcus’s beauty experts, polished nails, hair set and trimmed just right. All this for nothing, she thought as she started to get up and gather her belongings. Joan had waited for her blind date for the last forty minutes. Her friend Adele had built up her expectations, praising the guy to all heaven. Wait until she tells Adele he stood her up.
Just as she was starting to leave the table a tall, thin, sandy hair gorgeous young man grabbed her by the elbow. Smiling, he said, “You must be Joanne.”
“The name is Joan, and if you are Adele’s friend Guy, I think you are the rudest person I’ve ever met. Please disarm me and let me go.”
Guy dropped her arm and bent down on one knee. He looked up into Joan’s large brown eyes, “Fair damsel, please, forgive me for being late. I was detained at the hospital. Had I known how beautiful you were I would have left all the bleeding patients and been here on time.
Joan started to laugh. “Please get up. Everyone is staring at us.”
Guy raised himself and turned towards the maitre de. “Sir, could you kindly seat us. We are starving.”
The maitre de directed them back to the table Joan had just left. The maitre de held out the chair for Joan. Guy sat down across from her. “The wine list please” he asked while waving his long thin outstretched hand towards the waiter. When the wine list magically appeared he turned to Joan, “You do drink wine, don’t you?”
“Yes,” Joan answered.
“I think red would be perfect as this restaurant is well known for their steaks,” Guy stated as he opened the menu and pointed to the words; Our Special-10 ounce filet with blue cheese and bĂ©arnaise sauce. “Joan, you look like a filet lady.
Joan was quickly warming-up to this funny, gregarious young man. Why she had already forgotten that he had kept her waiting for forty minutes.
They ordered. Actually Guy ordered two filets, two baked potatoes, two caesar salads, and two chocolate soufflés for desert, plus a bottle of St. Michele wine.
After the waiter poured the wine Guy held up his glass and made a toast, “May this first date be the beginning of many.”
Joan was over whelmed by his charm. Smiling she clinked her glass with his.
Putting his hands across the table towards hers, he said, “You know that I am a young struggling doctor working diligently in the E-R of County Hospital, but I don’t know what you do with your days. Let me guess, with that body, I bet you are a model.”
Joan shook her head, “No, I’m actually studying to be a nurse.”
Joan had barely finished her sentence when she heard moaning coming from the booth behind them. As she turned in the direction of the sound she noticed a very fat woman lying across the booth making gasping sounds.
She turned to Guy, “There’s something wrong with that woman.”
Guy looked at the woman. “She’s probably drunk. There’s an empty bottle on her table.”
Joan turned back to her own table and started to eat, when she heard a loud scream coming from the booth.
At the sound of the scream the maitre de and several waiters ran towards the table.
“Maybe they will get her out of here and we can get back to our conversation and dinner.” Guy said annoyed.
Suddenly a man entered the restaurant and ran to the booth with the screaming woman. “Somebody help please, my wife is having her baby under the table.”
Joan looked at Guy, as she exited her chair “Okay doctor, I know you have a gift of gab. Let’s see if you are all talk or if you can perform. That lady you thought was drunk needs a doctor to deliver her baby! Can you deliver?

Charlene Wexler
10010 W. Hillshire Dr.
Richmond, IL60071
Word count 693

Monday, November 30, 2009


“Don’t jump into the sewer” Laurie and I yelled to no avail. I’ve known Lew for close to half a century and my gut feeling was that nothing would stop him from jumping into the sewer and getting stuck.

It all started on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Lew, Gayle, Sam and I had just arrived at her daughter Laurie’s house to celebrate Father’s Day. It was going to be a small quiet group. Laurie, Steve, and their three children lived in a new house that backed up to a pond full of ducks. Sam and Lew went into the house while Gayle and I lingered outside. We were engrossed in the antics of a mother duck and her babies. Mama duck was squawking and pacing along the street. Five ducklings were following her. As we approached the scene we realized that she was calling to a baby that had fallen in the sewer. Matters became worse-- every time she walked by the sewer another duckling fell in.

“Gayle, go get help” I yelled as I chased mother duck and her two-remaing ducklings back towards the pond. That was when Lew came bounding out of the house and straight into the sewer.

Picture this scene----Lew is stuck half in and half out of the sewer but he is happy because he has just rescued two baby ducklings. I am running around holding the ducklings calling for their mother. Laurie is screaming “get him out of the sewer-keep my children away before they fall in too.” Sam is trying to help Lew-cars are stopping and blocking the street, neighbors are coming out with nets, fishing poles, buckets, grease, kids are trying to catch the one baby duckling that is running back towards the sewer, dogs are barking and also trying to catch the ducklings. One kid is trying to drop a firecracker in the sewer to scare the babies out. Steve has run back into the house to get his movie camera. He keeps it handy when his in-laws come over. They have been known to cause chaos in a normally quiet neighborhood.

All sense of time was abandoned. Our mission was duckling rescue. The pool net became a lifesaver for the ducklings. We were able to pull five ducklings out of the sewer. The kids went scouting for mama duck. She was found on the pond. How fulfilling it was to see mama back with her baby ducklings. We didn’t have to leave Lew in the sewer after all. He was able to maneuver himself out. All was well so we went back into the house where we decided to change our order from Peking duck to an order of pizza.


  To Live is to be free as a bird.
To live is to soar through the sky
To live is to take the good as it arrives
and leave the bad behind.
To live is to never have to fight to stay alive
To live is to never have to ask why!
I once had a little boy who loved life; who had no boundaries, who could soar through the day, who could gather friends in ever yard, who could sit for hours making Lego toys, who could race through books, visiting distant lands, whose smile could melt your heart.
Like all little boys his days of freedom were destined to end. With age came responsibility, and limits, like, school, and work.Unfortunately for this little boy the boundaries came to him before it came to others. First they came in the form of pain, and then confinement.
But this little boy loved his freedom, so he put up a brave fight.
For a short time he was able to conquer the cancer that was putting limits on him. For a short time he was able to break out of the hospital and play baseball again, to slowly soar through the neighborhood, to visit friends again, and to even travel to places like Disneyland.
But, soon the power of the cancer cells conquered his freedom and he was once again confined to pain, immobility, and loss of hope.
Before that fatal September 11, 1981, he wrote the above poem, to let his mother know that at last, like the birds, he was free to soar through the sky.
Charlene Wexler
The Cell Phone Store

What happened to your phone? You ran over it with your car. Oh, yeah, it kind of looks like something big hit it. Lady, I really don’t think it can be fixed. When four thousand pounds smashes something this small there isn’t much we can do.
You say we fixed your last phone. Gee, I knew you looked familiar. You’re the lady that was in here last month with a broken phone. I know we fixed it, but lady, that time you only drowned it in a coffee cup! That was an easy one.
No, I can’t give you another free phone for at least three months. I’m sorry lady. I know it’s hard to run a business without a phone. Let me see what I can do. Maybe I can give you a loaner until we can get you a new one.
I’m sorry it’s so small and harder to use then the other one, but it’s only a loaner. No I can’t get your address book into this phone. I know I put your phone book in the new one last month, but you only dropped it in a coffee cup. Look at this one, it’s smashed to bits and won’t turn on.
Please, lady, stop crying. Can’t you re-enter your phone numbers? Oh, they’re business numbers, and you don’t have them. Maybe if I can find your phone’s serial numbers, and your password , I could do something.
Okay I have the serial number on our computer. What is your password? You’ll have to call your husband, because it’s really his phone
Your husband wants to talk to me, Ok.
“Mister, please stop screaming and swearing at me, I didn’t run over your phone! Your wife said, I won’t fix it. If you’ll give me your password I may be able to help. What, you’re going to come down here and beat me up! Please just give me your pass word. Klunk! He hung up. What’s wrong with your husband, lady? Lady, Lady! Where did she go?
Ring, ring, ring. Hello, The Cell Phone Store. What you found your password. What is it?

Charlene Wexler


Coffee, coffee, water, Coke, and…
Tiles are all over the place. Why? Sliders are on backwards.
We’re on the second left. No you’re wrong, it’s the first left.
You’re stopping the passing! How could you?
You can’t do that. Yes, I can! Someone call the Mah Jongg League for the rules on that play.
We can’t concentrate on the game with the stock market on. It’s too
Where are you going now? Can’t you at least wait until we finish this
Your dog just ate all the cookies. Oh, my God, the cat caught a chipmunk.
You want to play without a charity pot. I can’t do that, I’m on Medicare.
Put the heat on. It’s freezing in here.
Stop banging the tiles. They will crack. You talk too much. And you are too slow. It’s a game, not a life altering decision. Throw a tile!
Are you crazy? You gave her Mah Jongg with that tile. You didn’t realize what she was playing. She has nine tiles exposed, and we’re playing on
the last ten tiles!
If I want to eat a whole bag full of chocolate covered raisins, I will. It’s my body. Don’t tell me I’m too fat!
You can’t have the tile. I already racked it. You have to be faster. Really
I racked it. It’s my joker!
I don’t owe you money. I paid you. If fifty cents is so important, I’ll pay
again. I don’t want you to starve!
You called that tile a three bam, and it’s a three dot. Isn’t there a penalty fordoing that? Yes, it’s called the senile penalty, but I forgot what it does.
Why are you holding up three fingers. Oh, I’ve told you that story three times. Have respect for your elders.
You only want one tile. Just one tile!
You need a drink. In the middle of the afternoon. It’s not the middle of the afternoon. It’s 6:30. We’ve been playing six and one- half hours. I need a
drink too!
Oh, sit down. You know you like playing Mah Jongg with the girls more
than you like playing golf with the guys. We promise to let you win the
next hand!

I guess it’s time to introduce our Mah Jongg Monday players. We are friends who have known each other for years, and years, and years. The gray-headed writer is Char. The blond Kalahari tournament lady, is Cheri. The auburn-haired one responsible for teaching us this game is Gayle. And our fourth is her husband, Lew, who we call Louise, on Mah Jongg Mondays!