Mom, my two brothers, one sister in law and I headed
out for dinner over by Crocker Park, in Westlake, Ohio.
We had decided that Max and Erma’s was going to be our
destination. Fun times, consoling and warm thoughts, along
with our being able to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony,
in Sochi, Russia were all reasons for our choice.
Max and Erma’s is a busy, pleasant restaurant which features
good food, friendly atmosphere and television screens.
One of the first topics, our little ’roundtable’ tackled
was the subject of my AWOL post. We talked about losing
someone special and the way our hectic, frantic lives and
sometimes just the winter season pressing down on us can
push us over the ledge. Susan, a professor at Baldwin Wallace,
mentioned several times in her college teaching years where
the subject of depression and suicide has been on her students’
minds. Students feel pressure, besides everyone’s outside view
of college being just for parties…
Rich mentioned how he has encountered this in his teaching
both elementary school (parents and family members being
the main ones who were overcoming challenges in his twenty
years of inner city teaching, special education.)
Randy and I talked about former classmates at our high
school, one a part of set of twins and another man who was
a brilliant genius, along with being a gentle and humorous
man. Andy C. had been on my list of ones to remember and
commemorate. His Science Club participation in recycling,
along with the way he chose a project in the 70’s to put
solar panels up on the top of the high school to ‘warm the
water’ were part of our memories. His sister, Alice, had
been in my class and Andy in Randy’s class. His death in
his fifties surprised and upset us both.
Mom told us of someone, in her family, who came back from
Viet Nam changed by his experience. Nowadays, she said,
they would consider it post traumatic stress. Her cousin,
Johnny, was an artist and a sensitive member of a set of
twins, too. He did not ever fully emotionally recover from
his war times, but did not kill himself. Family members had
wrapped him up, deciding to insulate him, and offer him
some security. His father had funded several business
opportunities and Johnny continued living ‘hand to mouth’
by creating art pieces. Some reflected depth and darkness
and others were of the Rockport seaside town he lived in.
We chose food that sustained us, but the ‘food for thought’
was what I needed and nourished on more. My brother asked
me about that ‘matchmaking deal’ that Felicia had done
with the political analyst. He wanted to know more of the
details than my blog had shared and wondered why I did not
get up and leave immediately.
First, I did feel that the man, Bill, needed to see what
he had done, realize after he spoke with me, that he had
made too quick of judgments on my family and other subjects.
I reasoned with him, filling him in on my background, which
I am never bragging about, really just proud of my parents
and brothers. I have succeeded in a few things, myself, I
wished to share. I didn’t want to let Bill ‘off the hook.’
Susan asked me why I didn’t throw a cup of Panera coffee
at him, regarding his remark about my children’s kids. I
told her, I responded back, “Well, for a Democrat you seem
to be not following the party line. Would you rather my son
not have married a single woman with 2 kids?”
We laughed about some other subjects, we grew pensive and
appreciative over our family unit that has a lot of good
qualities within it. I felt comforted and lifted up by
their presence in my life. My Mom was very witty, at times,
saying funny comments about men and women’s relationships
and politics. She also said she hoped we would stay out
long enough to see the Olympics. She expressed a wise
and simple thought, “Being the daughter of two immigrants
makes me especially proud to be an American!”
The lighting of the Olympic torch, with the ones who
were chosen to run with their own torches, moved us all.
The grand entrance with the Olympics’ theme music (or
Official Olympics’ Anthem) playing caught the table next
to ours, that had two little boys’attention, with bibs on,
eating a very late dinner!
We enjoyed the Swan Lake spectacle, the spinning dancers
with the beautiful music playing. We were very excited
when we saw the huge gathering and parade of U.S. Olympic
team members, with our flag waving. We thought the U.S.
(we don’t know what her name was but we called her this)
“Ice Angel” leading with her appearance of being a living
Statue of Liberty was very nice part of the group.
Mom and I got up early on Saturday, to get her grocery
shopping at Giant Eagle (also located at Crocker Park)
completed. The regular list always includes a certain
amount of chocolate, which had to be ‘amped up’ due to
her making bags for all the servers, mostly teens, in
the dining room. (There are about 25 different teens,
some who start with the breakfast serving and others
who run the café or dinner serving.) All have been part
of my Mom’s “emotional and well being therapy.” It is
about two full years of being at the senior living apts.
We also had to buy some Sangria, sharp cheddar cheese
and wheat crackers. We lingered around the Valentine’s
Day decorations and she was very happy that I had chosen
a singing dog, which is white with red spots that pops
out of a pink Valentine’s Day box, to be on her decorative
shelf outside her door. I asked her if she wanted a wreath
but we finally decided that the red berry decorated one
that has vines and she had stuck a President’s Day flag
in it, was adequate decorating for her simple door and
shelf. We each purchased a box of the childrens’ valentines,
mine being wacky cats and dogs and hers being Mickey Mouse
While watching the exciting and exhilarating snowboarding
later in the afternoon, we were busily writing notes to
my grandchildren (her great’s, of course) along with some
for her neighbors. She was not up to the task of bagging
candy in huge amounts but said she had almost a week to
go, and not to worry about her getting it done. We held
our breath when Sage Kotsenburg did his fantastic and very
artistic snowboarding run down the manmade slopes at Sochi.
We knew he had made it to Gold, before the scoreboard told
us, since his 4 1/2 rotations and magnificent flips were
just ‘mind blowing!’ Congratulations of the first Gold
medal for the U.S. team!
Later, after dinner, I think it was, we sat and watched,
Meryl Davis and Charlie White in their team ice dance
performance. It was part of the short dance skating
competition. Canada had a wonderful presentation, along
with France and Russia. We missed the others, having gone
to pick up our dinners “to go” from the dining room. It
consisted of chicken stir fry, mashed potatoes and
cheesecake. I liked the mushrooms, celery and carrots
in the stir fry and added more sweet and sour sauce from
My favorite part of the Meryl Davis and Charlie White part
was their loose and carefree style. It held tight turns,
precise movements but a commentator noticed this and called
their mood, “joie to vivre.” Their energy and passion shone.
Mom liked the fact they ‘danced/skated’ to “My Fair Lady.”
The two songs, “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “I’m
Getting Married in the Morning” were woven into their
poetic performance. I also thought that Meryl’s pink
high necked fluffy, floating short gown was beautiful
and Charlie’s longer styled blonde hair and tuxedo
clad clothing was excellently chosen, as did Mom. We
did like the all black on another couple and the way
all the teams danced/skated so well. So far, Meryl
and Charlie have ‘won’ the first part of the competition
and hope that their great ease and graceful fluidity will
earn them an Olympic Gold medal also.
There is an upcoming part of the Olympics I am looking
forward to, which includes a young woman with roots in Ohio.
She has spunk, grit, shockingly bright red hair and an
This would be Katie Uhlaender, a member of the U.S. team of
“skeleton athletes.” They slide head first on a track built
for bobsleds! Talk about taking your life into your hands!
Her father was Ted Uhlaender, who died on Feb. 12, 2009.
He played for and coached the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati
Reds. He was also the Columbus Clippers coach and manager.
When Katie was only 15 years old, she developed a crush on
the player named, Jim Thome. I heard about this man often during
the period of the early 2000’s. Katie was born in 1984, while
my youngest daughter, who was an Indians’ fan was born in 1985.
I remember my brothers saying Thome was a great player, but my
daughter called him, “hot.”
This memory comes to me, since I look at Katie’s bright red,
short styled hair and think that she is cool looking. She has
been through a lot, including the loss of her father. The many
obstacles include a 2009 snowmobiling accident that shattered
her kneecap. She also had to have hip corrective surgery in
2011. In last October, 2013, Katie suffered a concussion while
practicing her extremely difficult Olympics’ skill. She gave
a verbal explanation that was rather poetic, saying she has
made a ‘mosaic’ of putting shattered pieces together. Katie
has come in 6th and 8th in this years’ two training runs. She
had placed in 2006, before her father had passed away of a
heart attack, after a difficult time with cancer, #6 in the
World Olympics. In 2010, only one year after her Dad’s death,
she placed at the Olympics, 11th place overall. In 2012, she
won the World Championship of skeleton sledding. She has the
Silver and Bronze medals and now, is “Going for the Gold!”
On her person, during every competition, she wears a combination
of her father’s baseball card, his 1972 National Championship
ring, (when he played for Cincy. Reds’ baseball team) and a
bit of his ashes held in a small, silver baseball.
Katie says her father was a great supportive person in her
life, “He would give me this undeniable sense of purpose.
That’s what gives me the drive of a warrior.”
Look up on Thursday and Friday, (Feb. 13th and 14th) Olympics’
schedules to watch this motivated and courageous U.S. athlete
in her Skeleton Run Competition and hope she wins the Gold!