Archive for April, 2014

Mondays with Melitas – April 28, 2014

O – O – O – O – O – O – – L – D    LADY STORY


Now, here’s a story about the 115 year-old lady who passed away in the Netherlands back in August of 2005.  Guiness Book of Records had, prior to her death, recognized her as the world’s “Oldest Person,” and at the time of her death, she was actually 115 years and 3 months old.  I am aghast that they didn’t keep track of each and every day, maybe even mark down the hours, even to the second. That’s the least they could’ve done.

Then along comes CNN getting into the act, reporting that her brain was in good shape — no signs of Alzheimer’s or any other diseases that appear in old age.  (In this case, I would say, ancient age.)  And who sez all old people are not playing with a full deck?

They have been picking and poking away at this poor woman’s body for these past 9 years.  Why don’t they just leave her alone to get some well-earned rest and peace?  I wonder if those so-called Privacy Laws would apply here.  Let her be, already.

The most important part of the information about these medical studies is that “They Say” she only had TWO (2) stem cells left putt-putt-putting along, and at birth she had started with 20,000, give or take — as everyone does. Can you believe that???  And that it takes around 1,000 of theses cells to keep the bloodstream pumping? It was a miracle that those 2 stem cells stuck around to carry on the monumental job. I’m so glad she had those 2 loners that never gave up the ship, nor did they shirk their duty — just went chugging along,  just the 2 of them. I wonder if they ever ran in to one another on their bodily travels trying to keep this woman’s wheel of life well-oiled.  It brings tears to your eyes to think these 2 stuck it out. You gotta give these 2 stem cell soldiers a 21-gun salute for hanging in there.

At this juncture, we will switch over to my case at hand.  It sounds like I should be taking stock in my supply of stem cells. It would appear that they are most important to keep the blood rushing around into the nooks and crannies of one’s body. The trouble is: is there a way to count them when you are alive and kicking?  Then, in case I am lucky enough to find and count them, I would have to learn how to nurture them and keep them healthy and happy while they work, swirling around keeping my blood replenished. You see, I have never given a thought to my stem cells.  I haven’t helped matters either over the past 15 or 20 years, the way I have been getting into scrapes that open the skin and allow the blood to jump ship.  It’s not funny!  I have the shins on my legs to prove the point of how my legs seem to want to have contact with objects that slice and bruise, and then there is now a scar on the top of my head which chose to tangle with the trunk lid of my car leaving puddles of my life’s blood on the pavement in Stater’s parking lot about a month ago.

All of which brings into focus an anomaly of sorts.  I would say that you have been hearing about all the football players suffering concussions  — and dumbing them down a bit. Really serious stuff.  Well, I just read about this guy who had a real bad concussion, was unconscious even, and when he came to he was as smart as a whip. No “duh” for him.  Sort of like the “Unforgettable” lady on TV.

In my day, I have had several concussions, and after each one, I feel somehow that I have become smarter.




MELITAS FORSTER                                                    APRIL 26, 2014   mel blog 4-28luncheon melitas

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Honoring two amazing women at our spring luncheon

Saturday, April 26 marked the date for my women’s writing workshops spring luncheon.  This luncheon was planned to honor the 96th birthday of Melitas, of the famed Mondays with Melitas!  But just 10 days before our luncheon was to begin, one of our very own passed away.  So now, came the shuffle to change the format.  I wanted to honor both women…so we began with celebrating the life of DD Gore and several got up and shared how DD had touched their lives.  It was a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman and friend.  I know she was with us there in spirit.  We then transitioned to having a few of my students read pieces of their works, we laughed, sighed, shed a few tears and together in that room bonded together.  We made new friends, we reconnected with our fellow writers, but through it all we shared a common love of friendship.  The feral cats then surprised Melitas by making her an honorary feral cat for the day.  My heart swells with pride as I looked around the room of 40 and saw all the smiles and heard the laughter swirl around the room.

luncheon 1luncheon 2luncheon melitasluncheon 4

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Guest blog by Pedro McCabe – April 24, 2014


“I got up this morning and my kitchen looked like a pirate’s  treasure with all kinds of yummy foods from Trader Joe’s – all Easter gifts from  my magnificent nephew Andy Pandy who surprised me. He carried in three big bags  and sought places to store in my teeny-weeny dollhouse trailer. My concept of  family has been zilch for so long – sadly, distance and lack of communication  prevail. Everyone’s drifted away.    Andy came in like a big  breath of spring: tall, handsome and charismatic. The little treasure in his arms  was a magnificent little well-behaved 3 year old fellow called Connor – I  haven’t seen or been close to a child in ages. What joy to pick him up, hold him  close and bounce him on my knee and  sing to him. I changed into Father  Goose for brief moments acting very silly and using a high pitched voice a la  Jeanette Macdonald to make him laugh. I marveled at the comraderie between daddy  and son – it touched my heart – one of those wonderful loving, caring moments I  don’t experience any more. Connor was so wonderfully inquisitive and insisted on  seeing the wheels that hold up my mobile home. He was very forthright about what  he didn’t like (my pink lemonade, my “stinky” bathroom and missing his Mommy) I  only wished their visit would never end.   My memory skipped back to a  time when Andy Pandy was a small child. I once had the chance to babysit for him  when he was five or six – a Ricky Shroeder lookalike. His Mom couldn’t find a  baby sitter so she asked me if I’d care of him for the day. I was petrified but  thrilled and asked him what he wanted to do – so we went to McDonald’s for lunch  and I then asked him what movie he wanted to see. He replied “Rambo” and off we  went. His mother later had a fit when she heard where we’d been. He was an angel  then and still is today at 38 and 6 foot 4″ and officially called   Andrew Conway McCabe – a workmen’s compensation lawyer in San Francisco. My  heart is full today. The two Easter bunnies restored my faith in humanity. I feel  like I can soar and almost touch the sky. Life feels so  good.  pedro easter  
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Mondays with Melitas – April 21, 2014

IN TROUBLE IN PARADISE                                                    APRIL 21, 2014


I spent a lot of time in Hawaii, especially during the 1950’s and 60’s, and what a place to spend a lot of time.  I would go, say for a week, but end up a couple of weeks; or go for three and end up four or five.  This one particular trip was planned for three or four weeks, and was stretching into several months.  I left before school was out, and when summer vacation came, Gary joined me with the surfboard.

My businesses in San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Beach were in good hands with my manager, Dean, who was a very trusted friend and had been working with me for at least ten years.

During the days, I spent on the beach at Waikiki in the area of the Halekulani Hotel, with a deep, deep tan; while the nights were spent at the Clouds, a nightclub which my friend Annie had.  It was a wonderful place, high end entertainers, along with high end clientele. A lot of the time I would help out bartending at the service bar, supplying the drink orders for the waiters and waitresses.  Annie and I had first met playing softball for the Orange Lionettes when we were 16 years old, and she is six months younger than I — which she always just hates.

The months were flying by, and just about every week there would be a phone call from Fullerton, CA, and it would be my Mom — she was alone since my Dad had passed away — and it would be the same conversation each time: Very tremulously, “Well, when are you coming home?  How can you be away from your business like this?”  I would try to soothe her, and sweet talk her, and get it across to her that Dean was handling everything just fine.  I could tell she was getting more worried; after all, she was 83 years old at the time.  The year was 1961.

Finally, a LED light came on in a recess of my mind, which gave me the solution to my dilemma. (I don’t think LED lights had been invented yet, but this was a mighty big flash.)  I rushed out to the nearest Travel Office, purchased a round trip ticket from LAX to HONO, then dropped it off in mail to Mom.  At this juncture in her life, she had only been in an airplane one time, and that was when Bud and I had our little airport in San Juan   Capistrano after WWII.  A lot of people might not call them airplanes — just puddle jumpers. Bud and I both gave her a ride, and that was that.  She finally acquiesced to fly over to Honolulu to see first hand what was going on.  It would be all by herself, and at 83!

A sizable group went with me to meet her at the airport, and she was in ecstasy over all the attention and the numerous leis that were draped around her neck and shoulders.

So now I became the tour guide, and took her everywhere around the Island of Oahu.  We visited the north end where Makaha is located and is world famous for all the surfers trying to ride those mountainous, mammoth waves. We saw the Pali,  drove around Diamond Head to see Hanauma Bay, then up the east coast past Koko Head, through Kailua and Kaneohe, past Old Sugar Mill to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We took several days to drive around because we were very busy spending days at WaikikiBeach with me swimming and Mom relaxing on the Terrace of the Halekulani Hotel just off the beach.  We would have a delightful luncheon on the Terrace, then take a little stroll, but back in time for Cocktail Hour where we would be served by the beautiful Mandarin Chinese ladies all decked out in those long, silk, straight gowns secured tightly at the neck.  Then back to the Hotel (Annie’s, and the price was right for me) to get ready for the evening activities.  Life was good.

Gary was going to have to be back in school, and I guess it was time for me to get back to business, so the three of us boarded a plane with all kinds of gear:  surfboard, luggage galore.  To get it all back to Fullerton and Laguna Beach, we had called Bud in San Juan that he should meet us at LAX with his Ranchero for all the luggage, and have his wife, Evelyn drive up in their sedan for the live luggage. We three travelers ended up at my home in Laguna.  Took Mom to her home a day or two later.
I know my Mom had a super time.  All my friends treated her like a Queen, and she was in her glory.  It was the trip of her lifetime.

And she stopped nagging me to get back to business. Thank goodness.

MELITAS FORSTER                                             MONDAYS WITH MELITAS

Mom and me tour around

Mom and me tour around

Annie and me

Annie and me

Mom enjoying a little party

Mom enjoying a little party

Me on terrace in Halekulani

Me on terrace in Halekulani




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When all you have left is memories…

dd sweet picI just learned that DD passed away today at noon.  My first response was to write about it.  My eyes are weary from all the crying I have been doing these last few days.  It seems so hard for me to realize she won’t be sitting in her favorite chair in my classes each Thursday at 11:30.  She would always arrive early so she could have a cup of coffee with me and munch on her favorite cookie.

My mind races back to when I first met DD about 3 years ago.  Neither one of us knew the effect we would each have on each other.  We both opened each other up to new horizons.  I smile as I remember that not too long after she started coming to class she told me, she had an idea!  She told me she wanted to attend her 60th high school reunion up in Washington, but really needed a driver and since my son lived up there would I be willing to drive her there and back.  I told her I would see what I could do but to make a long story short I agreed and the date was set for us to travel that summer.

I should have gotten a clue when DD had several “paper” maps spread out on the counter before the trip.  I told DD I didn’t even know how to read a paper map but I had GPS on my phone and that would lead us to our destination, but DD liked the “paper” map better so that was what we would use.

We started the trip by her telling me she wanted to start the drive and then I could take over after just a bit.  Well, we traveled from Palm Desert to Seattle and she rarely gave me a turn to drive.  I kept saying DD, remember that’s why I’m here to drive, but what she really wanted was company.

It wasn’t an easy trip, but we did lots of talking and laughing and on the way back I talked our friend Barb into flying in and driving back with us in hopes that she could get DD to maybe let us both drive.  Nope, pretty much she wanted to drive.

But that was how DD was, she was in control and that was how she liked it.  Probably all those years in the military helped create the woman she was.

That was the beginning of many road trips we took together.  She was so proud of me when she was at the finish line of the San Diego half marathon.

DD raceI loved being a part of DD’s life and I always knew that she was my number one fan.  She wanted every one to write their memoirs and be apart of the “group”.  Every one who met DD loved her.  She was one of the most generous loving person I have ever met.

DD became a part of my family and spent the last few Thanksgivings with me and my family.

She was my business “manager” always thinking of ways for me to grow my business.

But most important she was a friend and a confidante.

I have so many wonderful memories of my time on earth with DD, it was so short, but in the 3 years I knew her I learned so much about her and her life growing up in Ketchikan.  She loved her home state of Alaska, she loved the United States, she loved her sister and she loved her nieces and she loved the catholic church, especially Father Lincoln and she loved being a Republican.  We chose to disagree on religion and politics but we had plenty of other things to agree on.

I was proud to call DD my friend and what a huge hole in my heart  I now have.  So DD, here’s to you…I always told you that when you get old and needed me I would be there for you.  I’m so sorry we didn’t get to say good-bye today.  I am happy that I was able to spend a minute with you this morning even though you were sleeping…but I’m grateful the other visits I made this week at the hospital you were awake and knew me.  The last thing we talked about was that you were going to hang in there for my 50th birthday in November.  dd bday banner

I promise to pay it forward for you.  I promise to be a friend to others just like you were to me.  I salute you DD Gore and thank you for always being there for me…I know you are still watching over me, but from above.

So DD, thank you for so many fun memories of times spent together…





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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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