Category Archives: senior citizens


2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)How many times have you read a book or seen a movie billed as romantic comedy that simply wasn’t funny? I feel like I’ve read lots of those kinds of books and seen lots of those kinds of movies where the humor fell flat. It should have been funny but it wasn’t.

Do we even know what romantic comedy is? What it’s supposed to encompass?

Too often, I think romantic comedy is built around a situation instead of the characters. And if the humor doesn’t come from the characters, there’s no way it can be funny. You can force them into a comical situation, (think Sandra Bullock and  Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal) but if THEY aren’t funny, you won’t laugh. You probably won’t even be entertained. Sometimes it all seems just kind of dumb. Even a little bit sad. Sometimes writers try to force comedy to get laughs and when they try too hard no one is amused. And maybe, when they aren’t trying to force laughs, but a movie leaves you smiling and with that warm fuzzy feeling, they’ve succeeded (why did While You Were Sleeping work so well?).

My first book from Samhain Publishing (A Month From Miami) image001_editedwas billed as romantic comedy by my editor. I’d never considered it would fall into that genre. But when I read it now, I smile. It’s cute. Light-hearted. Warm. And the characters work well in the babysitting-for-car-repair trade scenario. Nobody’s Fool, a ten-year high school reunion story also got tagged as romantic comedy. It’s cute, but is it funny?

NobodysFool72smMaybe romantic comedy doesn’t have to make you laugh until you cry. Maybe you won’t laugh out loud at all. Maybe humor is so subjective no two people will find the same thing tickling their funny bone. But a successful romantic comedy? I think we all know it when we see it or read it.

With the soon to be released Cleo’s Web, I’m categorizing it as romantic comedy that’s actually funny. Not only is the situation comical (a 30-something disguising herself as a senior citizen) the characters play well off that (when the hero tries to keep her rule breaking secret in return for a favor. Or two.)

I’m still working on the cover. And the blurb. And the formatting. And all the other fun stuff that goes with publishing. But here’s a sneak peek excerpt from Cleo’s Web just for you:

“What do you want?” she asked so softly she wasn’t sure he could even hear her. She’d directed the question at the window instead of him.

“A home-cooked meal is what I was thinking.”

She turned to stare at him. “You want me to cook for you?”

She must have sounded horrified because he said, “Now who would have thought you’d find that more abhorrent than sleeping with me?”

“I didn’t. I don’t. I can’t.”

“Why don’t you pick one of those and go with it?”

“I, uh. I’m not much of a cook.”

“Oh, come on. You must have learned something from Gertie.”

“No. I’m a lousy cook.”

“Oh. Did you want to reconsider the sleeping with me option? I promise not to hog the covers.”

She stared at him not entirely sure he wasn’t serious. “I’ll cook,” she finally managed.

“See? That wasn’t so hard. One other thing. Don’t ever answer the door wearing what you did this morning. That disguise you had on? Wear something like that whenever you go out. I’m willing to look the other way, but the residents won’t, I can guarantee it. If they figure out you’re breaking the rules and I’m allowing it, I’ll lose my job and you’ll lose a place to stay. Got it?”


“And try to look less, er, that is, try not to be so, um…”

“So?” Cleo raised an eyebrow.


Cleo couldn’t help it. She started to laugh. And once she got going, she couldn’t stop. The tops of Daniel’s ears turned pink. But he grinned at her. Again.

And here’s my latest attempt at a label after the blurb:

Warning: Contains 30-somethings behaving like senior citizens, failed attempts to impersonate elderly individuals and numerous retirement community violations.

#Cleo’s Web #romantic #comedy




Visiting Mom 2015 – Part Two

That evening we retrieve our three remaining aunts on Mom’s side and meet up at the Sirloin Stockade in Carthage which is where we always gather with them. Mom’s sister, Maxine is 95. Martha and Anna Lee are both 80-something.

My aunt Martha


All three are independent widows and live alone. It isn’t easy to visit when there’s so many of us and some of us are hard of hearing, but it’s great to see them and the Stockade’s buffet offers many delicious choices as always.

Maxine, was always our favorite aunt, probably because she never had children of her own. She’s one of those people you can talk to about anything. She has begun to falter. Not physically, but her memory. On the way home (an 18-mile drive on dark country roads) she says repeatedly, “I’m glad we’re having such nice fall weather for your visit,” or some version of that phrase. I mention it to Steve after we drop her off. He says, yes. She said that eighteen times. He was counting. Once for each mile we drove, I guess.

Maxine and Mom


I drove Maxine’s car and commented on what a nice ride it had and asked her what year it was. She said “Oh, I don’t know. 1957?” We chuckled at that. (It’s a 1998 Oldsmobile 88 with under 50,000 miles on it.)

Friday morning it’s crisp and cold, in the low 40’s. Chris and I walk to the square and on to the town’s only grocery store. Sarcoxie is dying, but it’s still gasping for air. A restaurant that seems to change hands each time I visit is now offering Chinese fare. We buy breakfast stuff. Steve is shocked that we walked all the way to the store and back. “But it’s uphill,” he says. “Both ways,” I agree. (It’s really not that far and the company was good.) Chris makes breakfast and Maxine joins us. Then we go to visit Mom.

She is at her place in the dining room waiting for lunch. It is a bit awkward but fascinating to watch the residents gather for lunch. Mom doesn’t really know who we are but seems delighted to have visitors and is all smiles. She seems to “remember” who Maxine and Steve are once she hears their voices.

There are about 20 residents gathered in the dining room, 11 of whom are in wheelchairs. The staff seems efficient and the residents are ready for their juice. Mom’s roommate Frances appears to be asleep but an aide puts a straw to her lips and encourages her to drink and eventually she does.

Maxine leans over to me at one point and says, “I hope I die before I end up in here.” This is funny to me because Maxine is probably older and healthier than most of the residents there.

Maxine’s boyfriend Vance resides in the assisted living wing of the same facility. We planned to visit him, but he’s not there. Vance has macular degeneration and is nearly blind, but when Steve calls him we learn he is playing golf with his son. So we go to WalMart. Steve shops for Maxine. She doesn’t brave the walk around the store, but sits on a bench with Chris. He buys Chips Ahoy cookies and mint lifesavers for Mom. We go visit Martha for a little while. Afterward we stop at Wendy’s for lunch. At Wendy’s, we are all considered senior citizens and our drinks are free. This, I am learning, is one of the many benefits of growing older.thH13588W9

(Chief?) Sarcoxie Days

10645101_10203511988414945_5485431917587865473_nI’m back in Sarcoxie.  Again.  Ugh.  Chief Sarcoxie Days is a celebration, but of what?  Obesity?  Poverty?  Hopelessness?  Am I just used to everything new and bright and shiny so that here all I see is faded paint, burnt out lights and desperation?  Maybe the worn out carnival is a reflection of my mother’s worn out life.

Each day she grows a little sadder, less vivid, less alive.  Eventually she’ll fade away like the memory of a fall street fair on the square.

Yesterday at the home I was shocked by how much older Mom looked.  She “lost” her upper plate so her face is more sunken.  She’d put on pedal pushers under her dress.  At least her hair looked clean.  We walked her down to see “the birds” – caged finches.  Mom doesn’t get out of bed some days.  I’m sure she sees no reason.  She’s weak(er) because of it and I wonder if she’ll make it.  She does, my brother Steve on one side and me on the other holding her hands, my 94-year-old aunt walking on her own just fine behind us.

We’re meeting two other aunts at the Sirloin Stockade for lunch.  When Steve said we were taking Mom with us I said, “Why?” “Because she hardly ever goes anywhere.”  That’s because she doesn’t know where she is anyway or who she’s with.  But I demur.

It’s probably good for her to get out.  It’s a long walk in hot sun from our parking place to the restaurant door and then to the back table where the aunts are waiting.  Steve fixes Mom a plate – fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and green beans.  He cuts her meat.  She picks at the food but when he sets dessert in front of her she’s enthusiastic.  The little plate is picked clean in minutes.  I wonder if she has trouble eating due to her missing teeth.  Steve says, “Didn’t you see her chomp right through that cookie?”

We joke about Mom’s obsession with meal times but most of her senses are dulled.  Sight.  Hearing.  Cognitive ability.  All she’s got left are taste and touch.  And there are days, I’m sure, when no one touches her.  There should be an official hugger in her assisted living facility.  Steve says those people there are so damned lonely.  He talks to them when he and Mom sit in the lobby.  I think he’s performing a valuable function.

My mother was not a hugger.  Not particularly affectionate at all.  It was almost as if she was never comfortable in her own body.  She held herself apart.  But now I wish I could pick her up and hug her.  Hold her and soothe her and take care of her.  No one really takes care of her.  Her nails are longer than I’ve ever seen them.  She’s like a Lab, Steve tells me.  She won’t let anyone touch them.

I wonder what her toe nails look like.  Has anyone trimmed them?  She’s always wearing shoes and socks.  Even in bed.  No one’s seen her feet in years.  Steve says, “I’m not touching them.”  My aunt doesn’t seem too interested.  Tough toenails, I guess.

When we arrived to see Mom, she greeted Steve and Maxine like she knew them.  Maxine says, “Do you know who this is?  This is Barbara.”  Mom looks at me, puzzled and possibly pleased and says, “Oh.  My daughter?”

That is the most recognition I’m likely to get from her.  Undeniably I am her daughter with all that entails.

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#Sarcoxie #mothers #loneliness