Holiday Greetings from the Edwards

Since taking a position at UNC, Senator John Edwards purchased a piece of property outside Chapel Hill, on which to build a house. Based on the location of their land, the Edwards children go to the same school as my children. And Jack is in Grace’s kindergarten class and Emma is in Peter’s 2nd grade class.

Anyway, today we received a holiday card from the Edwards with the picture at the left. And to think, we didn’t even send them one.

If you are interested: One America Committee

Categorized as Daily Life

Christmas Vacation?

At the end of the summer a technology lawsuit drove my employer into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We have been operating all Fall as if we would emerge on the other side of this court approved scenario. There is a large debt with our primary vendor that must be addressed in any sale or move forward plan, or that vendor takes over the company and disposes of the assets.

As recently as last week it appeared that a “white knight” investor was interested in the company, and is still interested. The problem is that it would take him another 30 days before he can raise the capital to do the deal. And we have reached the limit on our current funding sources. The secured creditors and the court were unwilling to allow a new investment of cash in a secured manner. That means that anyone who puts up money now to fund operations through January would never recoup their investment. They would merely be another unsecured creditor.

Therefore, we have “ceased operations” and the employees have been “laid off due to lack of work.” Welcome to the world of euphemisms.

A court appointed reorganization specialist is coming in to evaluate the viability of the company and determine what level of operations should be sustained while looking for sale. If the company is not viable, they will move forward with a liquidation.

As a result, I now have an extended Christmas vacation. I filed for unemployment and will begin looking for a job, however, I have lots of things that I would like to do in the mean time. All those projects that pile up on your desk and in your mind are calling me. I could spend weeks and months just getting caught back up in my life. There are still boxes to be unpacked from our move nearly 3 years ago. I have many trips to the Thrift Shop in my future. I would love to go to the darkroom and print some pictures from our trip to Spain last year.

My charge is to look for a job, enjoy my time off, catch up on some things I’ve had to put off, and have dinner on the table by 5:30 every night. And as they say, I’ll keep you posted.

Categorized as Daily Life

Holiday Letter

Seasons Greetings to one and all!

This year has been as busy as always for the Cohen family. Each year seems to get busier and busier, and to go by faster than the one before it.

Grace spent most of the first eight months of 2005 eagerly looking forward to kindergarten. After seeing her brother go off on the bus each day, she was ready for her turn to come! Her pre-school graduation was in the middle of August (Meg cried, of course), and then she started Kindergarten the week before Labor Day. She’s had a great first semester, and is really enjoying it. Grace also started soccer this fall and was quite a sight in her hot pink soccer shorts! She also started ballet lessons, which she loves. We know that she enjoys performing, wearing pink, being a ballerina and learning new things, but we’re not sure of the order! They’ve given two small shows for parents only, and will begin rehearsing for their big recital after the holidays.

Peter spent the first part of the year in first grade, and continued to do very well. Over Spring break he was able to go to San Francisco with his Granddaddy to visit with Uncle Dick and future Auntie Trina. He continued to play baseball, with Meg coaching, and basketball, but after moving up to second grade, he added football to the mix this fall. That’s tackle football. He played on the 7 and 8 year old Carrboro Falcons team. They had an undefeated season, and went all the way to the league championship. Unfortunately, they lost, but it was an exciting and hard fought game between two undefeated teams. Peter’s also still active in Cub Scouts and is busily working towards his Wolf badge. The big news on the Cub Scout front is that Jeff is one of Peter’s den leaders. There are no known photos of Jeff in his Cub Scout uniform, but we imagine there will be some one day. And surely someone will post them to the internet!

The entire family was able to take a wonderful trip to San Francisco in October for Meg’s brother’s wedding. We had a wonderful week there, and we able to fit in lots of touristy things around the wedding festivities! The wedding took place on a beautiful setting overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. The Blue Angels were in town for Fleet Week; they were very cool, but by the end of the week we were a little tired of hearing them zoom overhead and craning our necks looking for them. We also made our traditional trip to Florida for Thanksgiving to visit Jeff’s family, which is always a lovely break.

Unfortunately, this year held some sadness, too. Jeff’s grandfather passed away the first week of December. Nat was 93 years old, and had been in remarkably good health until late this fall. We were able to see him for one last visit in Florida, and were all able to go to New York for his funeral. While his passing was very sad for us all, we feel incredibly lucky that he was part of our lives for so long, and that the kids got to know their Great-Gramps and what a special person he was. We’ll always remember his jokes, his toast-making skills, his birthday cards and the checks for a lobster dinner he sent our way. Rest in peace, Nat.

We wish everyone a happy and healthy 2006.

Categorized as Daily Life

Google Does Evil (or at least stupid)

I have a gmail account (Google Mail) that I don’t use because I don’t care for the email address I chose and I’m not happy with the available choices. Anyway, periodically, I log in just to mess around with it and see if I should be using this robust on-line mail system.

As this has now gone live, there is a simple “ad link” at the top of the mailbox. When I clicked on the spam folder to see if I had gotten any spam with this private address, and what did Google serve up to me: a recipe for Spam Primavera.

Categorized as Daily Life

Goodbye MD

Earlier this afternoon my mom called to tell me that my grandfather passed away. She saw him in the morning and told him that we were all fine and he could go. She told him that he would be with his wife and everything would be okay.

Last week I thought this was a sad picture, because Nat was in a hospital bed and did not look so good. But today it is a happy picture, because he is smiling and surrounded by those who love him. We are lucky to have had such a great man in our lives, and I am happy to have said goodbye.

While I don’t know what the medical record will show, he died of weariness. After 93 years, our favorite MD (meat dealer) has moved on.

Categorized as Daily Life

A Grandfatherly Health Update

Since we were in Florida less than a week ago, Nat’s health has continued to go deteriorate. In talking to my mom last night, she told me that Nat was no longer eating or drinking, and he now had a catheter for relieving himself.

Things got even worse today, and at 1:00 this afternoon my mom changed his routine. No more therapy, since it was not doing any good, and was causing him a lot of discomfort. There was no reason to get him up and move him into this chair, that chair, and then proceed to poke and prod him.

The new approach to Nat’s stay in the nursing home was to make him comfortable. They gave him morphine for his pain and some fluids to keep him hydrated. There will be no further intervention. It is now just a matter of time.

Categorized as Daily Life

Darth Vader Nutcracker

When I told Grace about the Darth Vader Nutcracker, she asked if he and his friends danced. It took us a minute to make the connection with the Nutcracker ballet, which she is seeing in a few days.

Categorized as Daily Life

Hot Dogs, Deion?

Another fine graduate of North Fort Myers High School and Florida State University has parlayed an NFL career into hawking hot dog cookers. And should we be concerned that he is wearing coveralls to cook hot dogs?

Categorized as Marketing

A Thanksgiving Goodbye

How do you prepare for someone to come to the end of their life?

Thoughout the fall, and leading up to our Thanksgiving trip to Florida, where I would see my mom, stepdad and my grandfather, I kept hearing health updates about my grandfather. In addition to perpetual headaches and constant nausea, my grandfather has emphysema. After a recent trip to the doctor, my mom was informed that this, or something else respiratory-related would be the cause of his death. It would probably not be soon, but it could be. It could be six months or more. The doctor told her that her father has a very strong heart, and that is why he has lived past his 93rd birthday. My grandmother was one of six sisters, and of the sisters and their spouses, my grandfather is the only one left.

I was glad that we would get the chance to visit with Nat on the Thanksgiving holiday because it would give me the opportunity to say good-bye. 18 years ago I said goodbye to his wife, my grandmother, as I left to go back to school. She passed away during my 14-hour drive back to college. My last conversation with her, one more comment about my needing a haircut, included a goodbye that was truly a goodbye. I prepared myself for a similar experience again.

About 2 weeks ago my grandfather need to leave his apartment in an assisted living community due to his continually falling down. After about a week in the hospital, my mom checked him into a nursing home. He could no longer walk. He could no longer feed himself. He needed help.

I thought I was prepared for seeing him, but I wasn’t. The first night we arrived in Florida, we stopped by the nursing home. He was sleeping in his room. He looked very old. His skin looked like parchment stretched across his skull and he was lying very still. I wasn’t even sure that he was still alive. He had also lost a lot of weight. The only way to describe him was that he looked old.

We came back the next day to visit with him and he was awake and in therapy. Over the next several days, we saw him at least once per day. His degrees of lucidness changed drastically. He always seemed to know us, including the kids, but at times his words, which were slow in coming, just didn’t make any sense.

He was rushed to the hospital the day before Thanksgiving because the nursing home staff was concerned about the tremors and twitches of his arms and head. They had gotten progressively worse during the day. The ER doctor found no medical cause for these, but admitted him to the hospital due to dehydration. We visited him in his hospital room after Thanksgiving dinner and took our traditional family picture. We gathered around his hospital bed and told jokes and had a good time. This was the best he was during our entire trip.

I have not posted the picture because it is too heartbreaking. We are all smiling and Nat is doing his best to smile, but it just doesn’t come across in the photo.

We visited him again when he came back to the nursing home and it was pretty disturbing. He seemed very out of it. The kids did not seem to understand completely what was going on, although, based on his quietness and somber attitude, I’m pretty sure that Peter, like the rest of us, understood that Nat would die in this place. Maybe not soon, but it was coming.

I said my last goodbye to a man who answered to my grandfather’s name, but he was not my Grandpa Nat. He was a very old man in a wheelchair who had trouble speaking and even more trouble understanding what was going on around him. I am waiting for the phone call that could come anytime telling me that this man has followed my grandfather and moved on.

Categorized as Daily Life