In this strip, I was able to say hello to both Charles Schulz and my friend, Beth Scott. Surprising friends by mentioning them in the paper was great fun.
Here is another real life situation. My dentist husband was cornered, from time to time, outside his office and asked to give his expert opinion on someone’s dental work. As a new practitioner, he would do this as a favour and I often saw him at parties, for example, with his fingers in someone’s mouth! Eventually, he refused to do this and asked folks to please make an appointment. The nuisance, the intrusion, and the possibility of saying the wrong thing eventually made him realize that the clinic was the best place to do a check-up! Nothing was more convincing, however, than the above scenario! This really happened and it was fun to recreate the scene in the strip. If the culpable lawyer ever read the comics, I doubt he’d have recognized himself!
I have always been fascinated by nursing homes and aging, and now that it’s my turn to experience the process of my own decline, this series of strips is particularly poignant.
My first mom-in-law, Louise Franks, loved to play bingo. She was good at it, too, and could keep track of eight or more cards at a time. One night, she invited me to come along. Her advice to me as we entered the hall was, "Don’t win. Nobody likes a first night winner." I guess her popularity, and mine, would be tarnished if I did!
Years later, after a divorce, remarriage and a move to North Bay, Ontario, I was ready to do my civic duty by fundraising for the local Arts Centre. This meant volunteering to work the bingo games. I learned a lot about bingo as I ran down the aisles selling dabbers, candy, and cards.
I learned that bingo was indeed a way of life, and yes, it is taken very seriously!
This is another true situation. There were times when I was so engrossed in writing or drawing the strip that I was oblivious to everything else around me. My kids could talk to me, ask for things, say stuff that didn’t make sense, and I’d simply nod and smile. An entire day could go by and I’d forget to eat or even get up and walk around. It was like being in a sound sleep. There were times when people would have to distract me from my work, look me in the eye, make sure I was absolutely focused on them, and then say what they wanted me to hear!
Dabbers and disposable cards made the game so much easier. With the new speed and efficiency, players wanted runners to be on the ball. If someone needed a new card or wanted a bag of chips, the runners had to anticipate this and literally run to the side of the player. A winning call wasn’t greeted with applause (as it was in the church basements), it was a serious loss, a begrudging acceptance and a chance to start again.
After working the bingo games, my husband and I would come home exhausted and reeking of cigarette smoke (thankfully, the bingo halls are now smoke-free). We’d immediately disrobe in the front hall, stuff our clothing into the washing machine and have a shower. We wondered how the players could survive night after night in that toxic atmosphere. Perhaps they didn’t.
I have several friends, now, who are living in assisted care facilities. They each have small, comfortable apartments; they make their own breakfasts, but lunch and dinner is provided in a spacious, nicely decorated dining room. All three ladies admit that there is a very active social life going on around them, and it’s not all provided by the entertainment committee.
My friend, Anna, confessed that the elevator in her residence can be particularly challenging. As it provides an intimate space for a certain amount of time, proposals of a suggestive nature can be made quite discreetly between floors. She said it was not uncommon to see people get off the elevator on the "wrong" floor and stay there until morning.
I still buy nice napkins for my table and folks still refuse to use them…but I do.
For awhile, I thought about giving Annie a real challenge by revealing that her marriage was not entirely happy.
Some problems might have been seeping into my own marriage at the time, but we managed to keep things going because the kids were young, we both had a lot to do, and we both had a great sense of humour.
We did talk about our first meeting and how our lives together began. We had a lot of fun and many great adventures.
Paul Bergan was indeed one of our son’s teachers. Paul and his wife were also good friends of ours. It was always fun to use the real names of friends in For Better or for Worse®.
What you don’t see on this screen door is the pattern and the holes made by the dog and the kids wanting to get in.