Archive for 2008


Monday, October 20th, 2008

My brother Jim calls me. He is hysterical. He has been trying to get county approval to open a restaurant and it has taken almost a year with no resolution in sight.

“My blood pressure was 220/125 at the doctor’s office,” he tells me. They wouldn’t even let me leave until it lowered.”

“Oh my gosh,” I shout. “We can’t have both our brothers going down!”

“I’m out of money and the county is killing me,” he says. “Venus, you have to help me.”

“What can I do?”

“You’re good at going into people’s heads. You have to go into this man’s head at the county and tell him to approve the plans or to at least look at them. He’s had the plans for months and I can’t get any response from him.”

He gives me the man’s name and no, he has never seen him, met him or talked with him on the phone.

“You don’t make it easy,” I say.

“Please Venus, please,” my brother begs.

I tell him I am not a Wonder Worker, that I can only put (good) things in people’s heads and it is up to them to act on them, or not.

My brother whines and snuffles.

“OK,” I say. “I will give it a go.”

The next day my brother calls.

“It worked Venus! He took action! But, he passed the plans back to The Horrible Woman Who had them for months before this; to The Woman Who Hates Me.

“She says, there are eighteen more things wrong and that it will take months and months to get the plans approved. They are all petty things. She hates me.”

“Have you met her?”

“No, but, she hates me. You have to get her to be reasonable. You have to get her to pass the plans, like right away.”

I sigh.

“OK. I will work on it.”

I do.

Jim calls me the next day, frantic.
“You did it, Venus. You got her to take action, but she found even more things wrong with the plan and she says it will take even more months to fix and maybe get her approval!”

I sigh.

“You gotta’ help me, Venus. I’m outta’ money.”

“Jim,” I say, “I put really good thoughts into her head to move this along really fast and for whatever reason she did. It’s not what you wanted to hear, but she did move quickly. I also said things like ‘God willing, and let the best thing work out for Jim.’ Maybe, somehow, the best is working out.”

“The doctor told me to stop drinking coffee because it raises blood pressure,” Jim says. “I did. Now, I have a terrible blood pressure headache and I keep throwing up.”

Our sister Polly thinks maybe he is ready to have a stroke.
She sends him immediately to chat with her husband, Ron The Doctor who is at the moment at our mother’s house.
Jim throws up when he sees him.
Dr. Ron determines that Jim is having the worst coffee withdrawal he has ever seen. Our mother makes him a pot of coffee.

The next day, I pick up a message on my cell. It’s Jim.

“Oh, this is terrible. Terrible. The Woman Who Hates Me has found even more complaints about the restaurant plans. She says she will defy her boss to get her way. You have to work on this Venus!”

I go to the next message.

It’s Jim, again. “Oh! You won’t believe it but the Woman Who Hates Me? Her boss just called me and says we will all meet with other planners in a week and he promises my plans will be passed!
Venus, I know you did this and you will get as many free meals as you want at my restaurant!”

Well, maybe I did it, and maybe not.

This is my generally hysterical brother.
My other brother Art, who has been having the acute leukemia, is a year younger then Jim.
The two brothers are entirely different. Jim is high strung and Art is mellow. They are quite a unique pair.

My sister Candy is the youngest in the family and she isn’t all that young! She is also a tall, blonde Amazon that makes men quake with delight.

Today, she decides to clean out Mother’s block building and the shed and the huge outdoor storage container. I ask her what is wrong with her.

She wants to know if any of us sisters can help her. We all beg off. You would, too. Mother has stuff in there from sixty and more years ago. In fact, just a few days ago, I found Mom sitting in her house in a pile of shredded paper. She had boxes of papers circled around her that were all mildewed, moldy, tattered, rat eaten and yellowed and browned.

“Mom!” I rasped, “What is this?”

“It’s your father’s and my tax returns from the time we married through to this year.”

Mom married in 1944.
I had to sit down.

I tell Candy that I will bring her lunch, and I will do anything else she wants but I know I can’t deal with all the horrid stuff that is crammed into black widows nests and racks of rotten boxes and rusted somethings. She will have to do the cleaning without me.

Candy says, “Fine. Just keep Mother away from me so I can toss everything. I’ve got my husband’s huge truck here and I am going to take truck loads to the dump.”

Before I can hustle Mom off, her black dog, Becky gets loose from the yard and takes off across the wide fields, heading for the highway.

I now get a good, long run built into my day which I expect is great for my health, but by the time I nab the dog, I am really annoyed. Then, I have to drag Becky home, through the fields, tripping in squirrel holes all the way.

I’m filthy now, and sweaty and pissy, but I drive Mother up town to the coffee shop where we can keep an eye on my brother Arthur. (If you read my blog, you know I am keeping an eye on him.)

Mother loves mocha coffee with whipped cream and I keep her supplied. She eats some soup. We visit with Art and his wife and other people who stop by.

Art tells us this.
“A day or two after I got to the hospital, I knew I was dying.

“Late in the night, a woman came in to see me. I thought she was a nurse, but she didn’t take any vitals. All I could see in the dark was that she seemed to have dark hair.
She said, ‘I’ve seen a lot of miracles happen to people who have cancer. You can have a miracle happen to you, too.’
She leaned over me and said, ‘You have to stay positive. You have to stay up. You can’t let in any negativity. If you stay positive, a miracle will happen for you, too. You will see.'”

Arthur adds, “I never saw her, again. I think maybe she was an angel.”

Mom and I are elated.

Art continues, “Venus, when you had the priests in India praying for me, I kept seeing wisps of energy in the room.”

He leans closer to Mom and me.
“And one night, I woke up and someone was rubbing the pressure points on my feet. I opened my eyes and no one was there. But, someone was pushing on various spots on my feet. And, I felt a lot of energy in my chest, and someone was hugging me.”

We all continue to chat and and eat and drink and I keep Mother away from her house for as long as I can. After four hours both she and I are flagging. Finally, she tells me she has to go home and take a nap.

We wheel into Mom’s drive. Thank goodness, Candy is gone and hopefully sixty years of stuff has left with her. Mom seems too tired to care.

I leave Mom at her house, drive down the road to mine, walk into the house and fall onto my bed.

My family wears me out.
I sleep for an hour.

WINNER OF A 15 MINUTE FREE PHONE SESSION WITH VENUS *Natascha Jensen. OFFER GOOD THROUGH OCT 23RD, 2008. After that, null and void.

Utter, Unfettered Joy

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

There are about fifteen people at the theatre today. I am laughing and laughing as I watch “Burn After Reading.” Nobody else is laughing except the man two seats to the side of me, who is sitting next to his dour wife.

The man and I are a duet, chortling and whooping and snorting, together. I so love the man; I feel practically related.

Looking around at the other people who are sitting still as chilled stones, I try to stifle and contain my uproar. I think, ‘Why aren’t these people laughing?’

Later, as I leave the theatre, I put my head down into the strong, dry Santa Ana winds. As I buck my way to the car I feel a great surge of gratefulness as I think, “Boy, I’m lucky. I am so lucky I have a sense of humor.”

It occurs to me that seeing the fun in things must be a talent or a gift and I am so lucky to have it. How can people ever get through life and all it’s grimness, without a rush of laughter to sweep out the dirt and tears?

It’s been a hard two months in my life with my youngest brother in the hospital, teetering on the edge of The Great Beyond, while dancing with acute leukemia.

My sister Polly kept calling me and shouting, “He’s dying! You know Art’s dying! Nothing is working. I am awake all night thinking about him. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. He’s dying, Venus! He’s dying!”

This was not good for my heart.

Finally, I said, “This is not helping. Take all this energy you have and figure it out. Figure out what will save him. Put the energy to work.”

My brother was indeed dying but now like Lasarus, he has risen from the ‘dead.’

About two weeks ago his blood and marrow suddenly picked up and began to run the race. My mother and my sister Polly and I know why. Polly put her brilliance to work and came up with a plan. She started feeding him good food from her house, blended up so he could swallow it.
He hadn’t been able to eat the hospital food and because of a thumb sized ulcer on his tongue, he couldn’t eat any food at all.

Next, after much tussle she began to feed him a nutritional protocol formulated to combat leukemia. The tussle came because the hospital and some members of the family are very orthodox and were against it.

Polly said, “You convince him to take the pills, Venus. You can do it.”

I went to visit him in the hospital and I said with a deadpan face, “You know, Art, Polly is determined to save your ass. Your bone marrow isn’t making blood. If you don’t start taking this nutrition that Polly has for you, we are going to grind up a lot of slippery liver and make you drink it, to build your blood.”

Art looked horrified. He blinked and said, “….tell Polly to bring the pills on down.”

From that time, even though he kept the pills hidden in his suitcase and took them on the sly, Art began to live.
Mom and I tell Polly that it doesn’t matter that no one believes she saved him; that they think it was the chemo but that we know she saved him and he is living now instead of dying and that is all we need to know.

He came home from the hospital a few days ago. It was a week earlier then expected and the restrictions he had expected were dropped. He no longer has to wear a mask and he can eat fresh fruits and vegetables.

There is an unusual something, however. He doesn’t stop talking. He talks and talks and talks.
I have known Art all his life and he has always been a rather quiet, thoughtful person.

The family had lunch the other day at the Coffee Shop. Art was yartling along non-stop. I looked at his wife and said, “Have you noticed he talks all the time, now?”

MaryEllen rolled her eyes in her head, looked toward heaven, flapped her hands and mouthed, “Yes!”

I wonder what this means? Has Art had a rebirth of sorts and now lives in Utter Unfettered Joy?

Or, you know how organ transplants affect the people who get them? They claim that they take on the personalities and quirks of the donors. Could it be the same with blood? Art got a lot of transfusions. Maybe his donors were big talkers?

And, just today I read that chemo damages the brain. Maybe Art got some fried neurons in the depressive part of the brain and he has come out happily manic?

I am going to have to watch him. For now, I will just hang out with him at the Coffee Shop and observe. I’ll have to largely observe, as the only way I have a chance to say anything is to shout, “Stop it! Stop it! I want to speak. I want to speak.”

Maybe while Art chatters on, I should just start laughing and laughing and laughing. Laughing continuously? I’ll put my sense of humor to work. What do you think?

I think the owners might kick us both out of the Coffee Shop.
WINNER OF A 15 MINUTE FREE PHONE SESSION WITH VENUS: *Pamela Sharp* Offer valid through Thursday, Oct 16th. After that, null and void.

Mother Drives Us Nuts

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Today, when I am at Dr. Dave’s, The Car Doctor, leaving my car for repair, I mention that I am going to call my eighty-six year old mother to come and get me.

Dr. Dave’s bushy eyebrows and his black hair shoot straight up in the air, he jumps away from me and shouts, “Oh, My God! Is your mother still driving?!”

He remembers what happened last time I called my mother to come and get me from his shop. He saw it all.

She was late and I was waiting impatiently by the curb. She drove up onto the sidewalk. “Yohoooo, Honey, I’m here!”

I jumped back real quick then jumped forward and hopped in the passenger side. Mom bumped off the sidewalk into the road and skimmied the car around the corner.
I screamed, “Stop! Oh my god, Stop!’

She did, but seemed puzzled.

She had almost run over someone on a bike and another person walking across the street. I had to explain it to her above all the yelling from the pedestrians.

Mom put her foot on the gas pedal and drove me home. It was the most terrifying car ride of my life. It was almost like the woman couldn’t see or hear.

We got to my house and I was trembling. “Mother,” I said, “you’ve always been an indifferent driver but you truly scared me, today. Can you see OK?”

“Well,” my mother admitted, “I guess I really can’t.”

That’s when we found out she had cataracts and was practically blind and that’s when we found out she was ‘profoundly deaf.’

We got the eyes fixed and we got her a good pair of hearing aides and we gave her some rules.
“You can’t leave town,” we kids said, “and you can only drive where there are stop lights.”

I turn to Dr. Dave now and say, “Don’t worry. She’s always been like this. It’s nothing new. God must protect people like her because I don’t think she has ever had an accident.”

Here is how my mother has always driven a car:

When we were little kids, Mom would take all of us to the grocery store with her. One day in particular, she pulled out of the grocery store lot, with the six of us kids all crammed into the station wagon with the many bags of groceries.

I happened to be looking out the back window. By golly, the woman was backing up and heading toward one of those long concrete things that you pull up to in some parking lots.

Mother was rushing the back end of the station wagon toward that concrete as fast as we kids chewed gum. It didn’t look right to me.

Mom ran the back end of the car right over that mound of cement and kept on going.


Mom then ran over the cement with the front end of the car. She didn’t stop. She whipped the car around and headed into the street.

I was yelling, “Mother, Mother! Mother! Something bad happened!”

“What happened?” my mother said.

“You ran over something.”

Mother declared that she had not.

“But, Mom, there’s something running out from under the car, all the way down the street!”

I was leaning over the back seat, peering at the road, watching something dark and wet splash lavishly along behind us.

I started screaming that something very bad was wrong with the car.

Finally, Mother said, “Oh, alright….” and pulled into our town’s only gas station.

The old guy, Mr. Burgett, who ran the station, came out to pump her gas, check the tires and the oil, wipe the windows and chat.
He was a friend of the family, as everyone in town was. There were 1200 people and we all felt related and we all knew each other’s business.

Finally, I leaned out an open window and said, “Mr. Burgett, Mr. Burgett, Mom ran over the cement thing in the parking lot and something is wrong with the car.”

Mr. Burgett got down on his knees and looked under the car. I think I heard him say something like, “Jesus Christ.”

When he stood up, his eyes were rolling around like beads on a plate.

“Margaret, didn’t you notice you took out the undercarriage in the car?”

No. Mom hadn’t noticed.

Another time I remember riding with Mom and ahead in the road was a deep, wide hole with red flags and wooden saw horses all around it. I thought, ‘Oh, surely she sees that huge hole and is going to stop or go around it!’

Nope, she aimed right for it and didn’t blink. It was like we were playing chicken with a cavernous hole in the road. Finally, I screamed like I’d been shot and Mom flipped the steering wheel and we musta’ gone around that hole in the road on two tires.
I was left panting in the front seat while holding my heart.

My mother said, rather accusingly, “I saw it.”

When Summer was a little kid, about four or five, we took my mother to lunch in another town. She was driving, which was foolish to begin with.
I remember we ate Chinese food.

After lunch, we all got in the car with Mom at the wheel. I wasn’t alarmed in any way. Why should I be?

We were parked with the sidewalk in front of us and next to it on the other side was a row of thickly planted bushes and another sidewalk was on the other side of the shrubs and beside that was the paved road.

Mom started the car, put it into drive and drove forward, right over the sidewalk, through the bushes, over the other sidewalk and turned right onto the paved road.
I am not kidding.
And, she never blinked. She never acted like a terrible mistake had been made. She was puzzled when I caught my breath and started screaming.

Summer and I still talk about that outing.

When I was a kid, Mother sold real estate. I remember one couple she had as clients.
Mom had driven them around to see houses and when she drove them back into our drive way and they tumbled out of her car, I heard them whispering, “My god, did you see that two ton dead possum she rolled right over in the road! She didn’t even notice! Did you feel that huge bump! Kerplunk! Bump! And, she kept right on chatting and driving…like she didn’t notice a thing.”

That couple became friends and they adore my mother and they still talk about the two ton possum.

When I grew up and had my own house, just down another road from mother, I had her drive me home one day.

She turned off the highway onto my road, and why I thought she would notice, I can’t say, but there was a huge ditch by the side of my road and my mother took that car and jumped the ditch and kept on going!
I started screaming (again) and mother (as usual) couldn’t understand why I was hysterical.

When my father got old and went blind, she walked him places, the same way she drives cars.
He’d have to hold on to her and trust her and the poor man! I was with them one day when when she walked him straight into…and over…a big bush that happened to be growing where they were walking.
She didn’t notice the bush but he did when he fell right over it and rolled on the grass.

Sometimes people say, “You still let your mother drive! Are you crazy?!”

Well, she is just the same as she always was. Her driving is no different now then it was when I was a kid.

The last time she went to the DMV she passed her eye test and her book test 100%. She told me everyone in the place stood up and cheered for her.

Now, how can you tell a woman who gets a standing ovation at the DMV that she can’t drive anymore?

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Offer good through Oct 3rd, 2008. After that, null and void

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