Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Those Wobbly Tires

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Charlie was in his early 80s and was getting a little bit slower than usual.

He and his wife wanted to take a trip and fly to California to visit their son. He called us and asked for help in arranging the trip (never mind that his daughter lived a few miles away, but was TOO busy to help).

So we arranged their flight and reserved a car for them to drive to their destination on arrival at the airport in California. We gave them explicit directions on what to do and how to get it done—complete with MapQuest directions from the airport to the son’s home. Mind you, this is the same couple who, a year or so before this trip, drove to Tucson to attend a meeting and forgot to take the address of where the meeting was to be. They subsequently got to Tucson and turned around to drive home.

So, off to the airport in Phoenix and we were to wait the four days until their return to find out the events of this trip.

Apparently, all went well and their visit was drawing to an end. They drove to the airport and tried to find the correct car rental place. After three trips around the rental area, they finally found the correct place and turned into the car rental to return this car.

The only trouble was that they drove into the EXIT—not the entrance—and right over the spike bar that punctured all four of their tires.

Charlie continued to drive the few feet to the return area, parked the car, and removed the carry-on bag all while telling the attendant that “they should check out the tires as they seemed a bit wobbly.”

This happened about six years ago, and since then they’ve sold their home and moved to a senior residence when both of them were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The wife died from complications of this disease a year or so later, and Charlie was moved to a new Alzheimer’s home near his son in California. One morning, the son dropped to the ground with a fatal heart attack. Rather than be moved back to be near his daughter, he remained in the home in California.

Charlie passed a year or so later from, again, complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

About once a year, we remember them both with this story about “Wobbly Tires.” And instead of feeling sad, we find ourselves laughing so hard that we really can’t stop.

It is truly a great way to remember someone. 

My Favorite Holiday Meal

Ruby Regina Witcraft

Since I will eat almost anything, picking a favorite meal stretches my imagination.

Any kind of pasta tops the list, but there are many other favorites such as a New England boiled dinner with lobster or pot roast. None of these constitute a holiday meal, so I would have to go for something special.

My husband had a very “Okie” taste, and I was always trying to expand his pallet into something more diverse than chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes. He was a good sport but snails would make him run away from home, and anything green, such as salads or greens of any kind, were looked upon as garbage.

Putting my thinking cap on for a holiday meal was a must, and is when I would dig deep for something that he had never had.

Beef Wellington for Christmas, I thought, would be a sure husband pleaser. Never made it before, but how hard can it be. Slap a little pastry on a prime rib hunk of beef and, “Tada,” Beef Wellington! Not quite that easy, but I’m game for anything and really wanted to impress him and taste it for myself.

Made a nice pie pastry, seasoned the beef to within being unrecognizable, gently arranged the pastry, cut out pretty little leaves for the top and stuck them on with an egg wash.  I placed it on a rack and roasted it to a medium-rare stage. It came out of the oven looking like a thing of beauty, if I say so myself. Of course it had to rest for 15 minutes, but it gave us time while drooling, to admire his highness, The Duke of Wellington, on a platter, surrounded with roasted potatoes and asparagus.

His Nibs looked it over and said, “Where’s my chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes?”

I never made it for him again, but I wish I could. He was impressed and it was tasty.

Ah Yes, It’s Time to Go Shopping

Dick Nelsen

Ah, yes it’s time to go shopping. It is the week before Thanksgiving and with six weeks’ vacation every year, I always took the three days before my favorite holiday off from work. With the main objective to help Kay shop for Christmas presents for our children and whomever she had on her list. Generally, it always rained on this week, but undeterred by this inclement weather we took off for the purpose of spending hard earned money for things that our children would soon forget. Our first stop was to a store, which was very popular at that time, but which I have since forgotten. Armed with a list of things we wanted to get we entered the festive adorned store. I asked what she was looking for and she said a blouse for our daughter. As we entered the store she stopped at a counter with sweaters. “What are we doing here?” I asked, “You said we were looking for a blouse.”

“But,” she said, “we are shopping.”

“You have to be kidding,” I said, “You said we were going to get a blouse for our daughter, not a sweater.”

“I’m not having any fun,” she said.

“Neither am I,” I said. “Let’s go to a fine restaurant and have lunch.” Which she readily agreed to and so off we went to a gourmet Italian restaurant, and after a great meal and a terrific bottle of red wine, we stopped shopping and went back home. After all, the kids were still in school and it was starting to rain, thank you, God.

Needless to say, Kay felt it was best if she went shopping and I went back to work. I couldn’t agree more, and since that fateful day she has been the shopper and I pay the bills. However, I continued to take the three days off before Thanksgiving, and we made it an annual tradition to go out to eat at a terrific restaurant and have a bottle of good wine.

This past summer, while in beautiful Pinetop, Arizona, Kay said she needed to buy a new shirt, other than the white ones she brought on our trip. Now the day before, I played 18 holes of golf and I felt great. But off we went to the few stores in the area and after what seemed like hours, we finally bought one blue shirt. I was exhausted, my back hurt, my feet were sore and I vowed never to go shopping again. What is it about shopping that gives women such stamina and men such weariness? I do think that God had this in mind when he created humans. Wasn’t it Eve that went shopping for fruit in the beginning?

Years ago I had one of my sales representatives, a very successful sales rep named Charlie Geisler, stop by the house and she brought her young 5-year-old daughter. I asked her young daughter, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

Without a moment’s hesitation she responded, “I want to go shopping.”

It was at that moment that I realized it is a trap, it is genetic, it is inevitable. Women are born to shop and men … are, well men, are born to not go shopping unless they know specifically what they need. That is the proper way to go shopping. Take a list and go get the items and then leave. You don’t go wandering around a store looking at all sorts of extraneous things; get what you need, and then if the situation presents itself take your wife to a great restaurant and go home.

Oh, there is one thing that I must add. This shopping thing does not apply to going to Costco or shopping for a new car. That my friends are left to us men and I just hope that bit of shopping doesn’t ever change.