Some Things I Wish I’d Asked My Grandfather

I recently did a big splurge and subscribed to The New Yorker. It’s the gift that keeps on giving in ways that I hadn’t imagined. As I sat in my cozy apartment on a rainy Saturday holding an actual paper copy of said magazine, I had a visceral flashback. All it took was the wetting of my finger to get a recalcitrant page to turn and I was holding a copy of my grandfather’s beloved Saturday Evening Post, which he and I devoured as though it were our last meal on earth. He sat in his chair, smoked his pipe filled with sweet smelling cherry tobacco, and read it from cover to cover. I could even feel the stickiness of the pages on a humid summer afternoon, smell the ink, see where it rubbed off on my fingers. I loved watching him read. It was comforting somehow to a little girl whose home life was chaotic. For him, a respite from a wife who was inexplicably mad at the world. I spent as much time with him as I possibly could. As soon as he left for work I curled up in that hard chair and read the Saturday Evening Post with its Norman Rockwell covers.

My mother was a reader of paperbacks, Dad consumed two daily newspapers, and my brother read comic books. But it was Grandpa who inspired me. He looked so wise smoking his pipe, wearing his reading glasses. I wanted to be like him, patient, kind, and loving. My mother got her beautiful name, Thea, from a story he read in that magazine.

After I recovered from the shock of the realness of that memory, I got to thinking about the stories that we both read but, sadly, never discussed. And I thought of questions I wished I had asked. First I focused on reading then expanded out to more personal questions.

  • Who is your favorite writer?
  • Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
  • Which stories stay with you the longest?
  • Do you think Rockwell really captures the lives of the majority of Americans?
  • Did you ever write anything besides letters?
  • What attracted you to Grandma beside her beauty?
  • Do you have a secret dream?
  • What was it like being in the Navy?
  • What was your childhood like?
  • If you had plenty of money where would you like to travel?

The question I wouldn’t ask would have been am I your favorite? I knew I was. Although, as an adult, I found out that each of his ten grandchildren thought we were his favorite. That’s how good he was. I still think I was his favorite.

Rebekah Spivey for the Poplar Grove Muse







The Stars Decide to Rearrange Themselves


Old Orion got tired of his reputation
For hunting innocent animals
All for food
So he became a vegetarian
And turned his bow into a plant pot
Where he would grown herbs to
Flavor the salads he now favored.
The twins learned that there were now
Operations that could safely separate them
After all of the millennia of being
Bound to one another
So they underwent the scalpel
And  finally free
Went their separate ways..
Virgo was really tired of being virtuous
And saw one the freed Gemini
Looking for a new mate
She hooked up with him
(poor twin with such a short-lived freedom)
And a nova was born..
Meanwhile, Aquarius tired of his watery burden
And smashed the pot
Leaving his hands free to hold the moon..
Pisces fell out of Aquarius’ water pot
And landed on Mars
Where he grew legs and developed into  a land animal.
Leo chased Pisces, thinking of his next meal
But found Mars too hot and so decided to chase his own tail
The twirling turning him into a fire-breathing dragon.
Cancer wanted to lighten up a bit
And so left his shell and became
A happy octopus floating in the night sky
Looking for Taurus
Who had tired of his own beastly nature
And become a reef in the night sky
Perfect for the Cancer octopus
To befriend.
The Large Dipper was weary of being so easily spotted
By the amateurs below
And so changed its handle into a ladder to the sun
Where it would be lost to the sight-seers
By the glare of fire ball.
All in all,
It was a busy night,
They all agreed.
Happy in their new selves
Looking for some adventure
Out there in the universe.

Bev Hartford  For the Poplar Grove Muse

A Rant About Healthcare

True story

On Thursday late afternoon our son who attends college in Vincennes, Indiana, texted to tell me he was out of one of the three drugs he uses to control his seizures. He must take his drugs or he will have a seizure. He told me he had enough to last to Saturday. I called the pharmacy that told me-“Nope-not up for refill for 8 more days. Call your doctor.”

Of course one can’t call the doctor until business opens the next day, so Friday at 8:00am I called his neurologist. Meanwhile, I have my son hunting high and low for apparently 8 days worth of missing pills.

The outgoing message at the neurologist’s office asks you to choose an option: press one for appointments, press two for prescriptions, press three for a nurse and so on. I pressed three for the nurse and got voice mail and left an extensive message detailing our problem. Her outgoing message tells me I will wait up to 48 hours for a reply. Also, ironically, the outgoing message says that if I have a problem with a scrip to call the pharmacy. There is almost always a black hole of bureaucracy between these two entities. I can’t tell you the number of times the pharmacy has told me to call the doctor and the doctor has told me to call the pharmacy.

I wait 20 minutes and call again, this time pressing the buttons to get me to a live human who reassures me that the nurse is there and working her way through the voice mail, and she should get to it at any minute.

At 11:30,  I had not heard from her, so I called again, pressing buttons to get me to a human and this time the nurse herself answers the phone. She tells me that she will talk to the doctor and can handle it immediately, and I also ask her to send the scrip to Walgreens in Vincennes. Walgreens is the pharmacy closest to campus.

BTW—she acknowledged that it was the doctor’s office who called in the wrong scrip initially. Our son didn’t lose his pills, he simply was not given enough. “Oops, I’ll send in the correct scrip this time.” The nurse apologized and we told our son to stop hunting for the missing pills.

Now,  I pass the task  to my husband Geoff. It is his job to call Walgreens and give them our insurance and make arrangements to pay for the drugs that our son needs. He calls me shortly after to tell me its all set. Walgreens helped him set up a special payment account and took our insurance information. “No problem.” he said.

But wait, an hour later he notes on this special payment site that, Walgreens has posted that our insurance will not work with Walgreens and they will charge us $1200 for the 30-day supply. For those of you who do math that is $20 per pill twice a day for 30 days.

So he calls back to the Doctor’s office. Now it is about 2:00pm on Friday. Geoff talks to the nurse again, and she says that she will talk to the doctor again and send in a new scrip to CVS in Vincennes. We wait for confirmation. Nothing comes. Geoff drives to the doctor’s office at 4:30.  The nurse is still there, but the doctor is gone for the weekend, and she apparently never asked him to resend the scrip to CVS in Vincennes. She tells Geoff, “He’s driving to Louisville for the weekend. I’ll try to get ahold of him and have him call it in.”

Well nothing comes through. It is 8:00pm. No doctor response at all. The outgoing message on the doctors voicemail says simply to hang up and call 911. We think perhaps we need to go back to Walgreens and pay for 4 pills ($80) to get him through till Monday and then try again on Monday for CVS to fill the full scrip. Perhaps we can get the doctor to call next week?

I call CVS one more time, and after much discussion of the situation, (We have been on the phone with them three times now. They know us well.) the nice lady at CVS reveals that in fact they can call Walgreens and get the scrip from Walgreens. Who knew! At 8:45pm the pharmacist from CVS calls to tell me that not only does he have the scrip ready and waiting for my son to pick up, but there are coupons that can get us a 14 day supply for free and money off on the rest. Who knew!!

The moral of the story. CVS in Vincennes really helped us. I am switching all my scrips there even if they charge more. They came through for me. The pharm tech and the pharmacist were the heroes.

The second moral: The system is really messed up. It took two adults a whole day of head scratching, texting, phone calling and waiting to get doctors, pharmacists and insurance companies to come together to get two weeks worth of little white pills, SO MY SON DOESN’T HAVE A SEIZURE.  What happens when a parent who doesn’t have a decent employer who lets her make calls while at work needs to fix something like this?  What happens to people who don’t have insurance and  need to get meds to stop seizures?  What happens to someone who just can’t figure out how to make it work tries to get medicine? It should not be this hard.

Ask me sometime how often stuff like this happens.

Please please someone out there. FIX the HEALTHCARE SYSTEM!!!!

It’s NaPoWriMo Day #3—a poem that plays with voice

Some of us live, deep inside, for NaPoWriMo, or, now, Na/GloPoWriMo, formerly know as National Poetry Writing Month, now National/Global Poetry Writing Month

We at WWf(a)C have a “secret” Facebook page (I personally figure the more anyone hacks and knows about poetry writing, the better!), and anyone who wants to join at any point in the month is welcome to join us.

We write to a daily prompt provided at
each day at midnight EDT, or to our individual muses, post our writings on the page, and share responses to our writings (mostly in the affirmative “readback lines” style Women Writing generally uses). Consider yourself invited to join the fun, at any point in the month, as an appreciator or a participant.  Watch out, this writing practice can be addictive, causing serious withdrawal symptoms in May, and anticipatory tremors in February and March….

Here is today’s rough response from me:

The Voices

Hey, how are you? (I miss you every day, wish you well every day, You are my child, my heart.)

I’m doing well.  (Not sure I can let you in. Or if I even want to. At least today.)

So, what’s going on? (Trying so hard to be light, to make space for you to be, to share. DO NOT ask for information. Accept what is offered. Gratefully. Be cool.)

Oh, not much. (Everything. You couldn’t possibly understand. Could you?)

We’re plodding along here.  No big changes. (Not since the seismic departure of essential you.)

That’s good.  (Whew, don’t have to worry about you guys. Grateful you are grownups.)

How are classes going? (I mean, how is your stress level, NOT how are you performing?)

Okay, my prof really liked my paper for the last senior seminar. (Can we not do this?)

That’s great. (I think you are fabulous. I love you. Everything you do is wonderful. Can we not do this?)

Well, it sounds like this might not be the best time to talk. (Please do not let this blow up now.)

Yeah, well, I’ve got lots to do, and laundry, and a meeting in an hour. (Please don’t blow this up.)

Okay. Don’t want to keep you. We love you so much. (Whew. Didn’t blow it up.)

Love you so much Mom.  (I do. Why is this so hard?  Whew.)

Love you so much.  (SO, so much.  You have NO IDEA. And that’s okay. That’s as it should be.)