Archive for May, 2014

Mondays with Melitas – May 5, 2014

TANGLING WITH THE DMV                                          CINCO DE MAYO 2014


After my 90th birthday in 2008, a worrisome thought would appear every once in awhile, and it would just gnaw away at me.  You know, if you drive an automobile, the DMV becomes involved, so I started to agonize about the next hurdle I would have to pass when my 96th birthday comes up.  I have always passed those DMV tests with flying colors. They were a piece of cake –-even my very first one when I was 12 years old.  All I did was get behind the wheel of Titan’s Hupmobile, and Judge Landell of San Juan Capistrano was my passenger, we just rode around town and down to the beach, chatting away.  Then he gave me a license.  It would be illegal these days because the Judge was a second or third cousin of my Dad’s.  Do you suppose he should have recused himself and brought in the Judge from Santa Ana?  Goodness sakes, I might never have passed.  There I’d be having to work harder to make enough money to pay for a chauffeur to haul me around for life.  Come to think of it:  all that work may very well have shortened my life.  Remember that old saying “All work and no play.”

That concern stopped popping up after a couple of weeks, and my philosophy became “Que será, será.”

That was then, this now in the present time.  My 96th was sneaking up on me, and I hadn’t budged a muscle about doing some practice questions for the DMV written test, and my left eye has been giving me fits due to the pollen content so it drops big tears all by itself, and I can’t see too well until it’s mopped up by a Kleenex. What if it drops a tear while the lady is asking me to read one of the rows on the eye test?  Panic time, for sure.  OMG, there’s something else!  There is a zit (yes, a ZIT) on the very tip of my nose.  The picture to be taken will be a winner.  Maybe I can get special dispensation, and will take a “selfie” later at home when the zit is gone, then send to them to place on my license.  I’m acting like there is nothing to get a passing grade for this license.  All this is going on only 3 or 4 days before zero hour on the 23rd.  By Friday, the 18th, I was not ready to go take the test, and the first day would be on Monday, the 21st.  That is cutting it mighty close.  Besides, I haven’t spent several weeks taking and re-taking the practice tests, and getting nothing but perfect scores like I did 5 years ago.

I think a case of nerves was settling in to ruin my weekend.  I didn’t even drag out any practice tests – I was so apprehensive.

The weekend passed, the Warden had a golf game early Monday morning, so I decided it was time to study. I found five tests on the internet with ten questions each.  I practiced.  First test = all correct.  Second test = 3 WRONG.  Third test = 2 WRONG.  Fourth test = 1 WRONG.  Fifth test = 3 WRONG.  I read through them for a few minutes because I had to get dressed, Warden would be arriving shortly, and I thought I was in the advanced stages of a nervous breakdown.  We rushed around, I was in a real stew, started out to the car, and she pushed a glass of water and a tranquilizer my way — for immediate consumption — and out the door we flew.

At 2:10 PM I stepped into the line where you start the whole process. We were in the new DMV facility in PalmDesert just off Gerald Ford and Cook.  Nice place. I was chatting with the fellow behind me, and he revealed that he had been studying for weeks.  That said:  I thought to myself, so I fail, I fail ……….

This first line moves rather quickly.  This is the one where they first grab your $33, your old license, and the renewal slip.  You are through there in no time.  Now comes the sitting and waiting for your number to come up for the eye test.  If you are smart, you can get up to stretch your legs, and walk around where the stations are with all those eye test placards. This would give you some idea what you are facing.  Nothing for me to worry about there.  I can read the letters with or without my glasses.

Wait, wait, wait, and then your number comes up for the eye test.  The Warden stood up to accompany me to the “staging” area, but I told her to stay and read her book.  I didn’t want anyone to notice that I was a little tentative with the left knee cap.  It still is a bit weak, and I walk v-e-e-e-ry carefully.   It’s a good thing it was the left knee, else I wouldn’t be able to put the pedal to the metal.  I took off my glasses and read everything she asked for just fine.  Next I had to go to the picture station to get a picture with the zit on the nose.

After some more waiting, it was time for the written test.  I marked my answers, then carefully went over them again, turned it in.  There were 18 questions on the front, another 18 on the back, but for some reason you didn’t have to do the ones on back.  Then some more waiting for the results.  Not too long a wait, and I hear “FORSTER, you passed. One wrong.”  When she said “passed,” I nearly passed out.

So, instead of passing Applebee’s, we pulled in there and I called for the “Nurse” behind the bar who knows exactly what to do. And I had two.


I wonder if the DMV ever asks someone to drive for them, and they don’t know how to.  Oh, well, they would still grab the $33.


MELITAS FORSTER                                      MONDAYS WITH MELITAS


*** A note from Tammy Coia: I asked Melitas after she sent her blog to me if she has to renew her driver’s license every year now that she was 96….she said nope, I don’t have to renew it for 5 years, when I’m 101!



Hupmobile that I learned to drive in.  I also drove the judge around in this car.  The house on the hill was Aunt Mae's house

Hupmobile that I learned to drive in. I also drove the judge around in this car. The house on the hill was Aunt Mae’s house

Mel blog 5-5



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Guest Blog by Linda George Brown – May 3, 2014


I was about 28 years old at the time and life had gotten very complex.  I was barely hanging on to my sanity, my job and my family.
Stepping off the elevator I turned left towards the Recuperative Care Unit of Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz.  I worked full time at Mountain Computer in Scotts Valley and lived way out on Pleasant Valley Road in Aptos so the hospital was just about half way for me on my way home from work.
Standing in front of a big picture window stood a young woman about my age.  Jeans, tee shirt and sweatshirt, long brown hair falling in her face, I could see she was crying.  Since that’s about all I did anymore, I thought I’d stop and see what was up.
I stood next to her, touched her arm and quietly asked “Why are you here?”  I’ve always been willing to speak to a stranger and my style is to talk to them like I know them personally.  I figure, “Why not?” we’re pretty much all the same when it comes to this sort of situation.
Her answer was unsettling to me.  She wiped her tears with the back of her hand, looked at me and said “My mother has been here for 3 months and I am taking her home to die.  To my home.”
My immediate response was “Oh, no.  Three months?  How did you do it?”  “I couldn’t do three months!”  “No, I can’t do three months.”
She looked at me with pity in her eyes.  She, too, had thought, “No, I couldn’t do that.”
But life has a way of showing you just what you are capable of  and it’s always more than you thought you were able to handle.
A couple of days after we’d admitted her I was at the hospital to visit my mother.  She had cancer that had metastasized from her breast to her bones.  She was bright, vibrant and had been in charge at work and at home and was only 56 years old.   She’d been fighting her cancer for about 6 years already.  She’d done the surgery, the chemo and the radiation.  Then she decided to follow the Gerson Therapy, illegal in the states, an alternative nutritional therapy and had gone twice to the clinic.  I went with her once and learned much about life and death at that renovated Mexican motel in Rosarita Beach. She’d forged a gallant fight for so many years.
I remember her crying to me after breaking her leg at my house on Mothers day that she’d go crazy in bed for the next two weeks but she refused to go to the hospital.  Little did she know that those two weeks would turn into 6 months.  The morphine she took for the excruciating pain was provided by a holistic hippy doctor and administered by a holistic hippy nurse who was also a neighbor living  up in the Santa Cruz mountains.
For those six months during my one hour lunch break from work, I’d drive the 20 minutes it took to get to Ben Lomond, run in the back door, make the healing drink of liver from a calf no older than 3 days mixed with chopped carrots and apples and centrifugally spun into a juice.  She drank so much carrot juice that her skin turned orange in those months.  She consumed two 25 pound bags of organic carrots a week.  This was in the mid 80’s and it was lucky for us that we lived near Santa Cruz because organic was just becoming important and it was available up in the mountains.
Though on December 1st we just couldn’t manage her pain anymore and decided it was time to admit her.  Our family friend Barbara and I had spent the night sitting in small wooden chairs on either side of her bed watching and waiting for each individual breath willing her to live.
The next morning we called the window company to come out and remove the picture window of the room my mom had hibernated in for the last six months trying to heal herself.  She could no longer move and would have to be carried out on a stretcher and the stretcher wouldn’t make the necessary turns to go down the hallway.  A lack of foresight on my Mom’s part, I’d say and she’d agree with me.   Though she nor anyone else ever thought it would be 6 months that she’d spend in that room and even though at some point we knew it was not working we never thought that she’d have to be carried out still alive.
Once the window was removed we called the ambulance and they came to take her to the hospital, I rode with her in the ambulance leaving her home for the last time.
My father sat by her side morning till nightfall day in and day out. I was her sunshine and she needed to live vicariously through me.  She was on a permanent morphine drip and was alert and sociable. She had many visitors and often it seemed she held court.  I came 6 days a week.
For the next 15 months I worked full time, and 5 nights a week I would stop by the hospital and visit with my mom and dad in her big double room.  Saturdays were spent in her sunny room with the entire family watching sports
Some days I’d have our Nanny bring the kids to me at the hospital after she fed them but other nights I’d stay for only an hour or so and rush home to be mom and to do homework and baths and bed.
This was a time in my life that I often thought I couldn’t go on but somehow I did though to this day, those 21 months have caused me to carry the burdens of the stress those hours, days, weeks, months and years heaped upon me.
When you think you can’t go on you take it one day at a time and if that get’s too difficult take it hour by hour or even breath by breath, but when given no other choice know that you can do just about anything.
I wish I knew this woman I’d talked to that day on the way into seeing my mom.   How had I thought this was going to end?  How long did I think she had to live?  I knew I couldn’t do 3 more months. I remember thinking it might be days, maybe weeks but never months!  We brought her here to die.
I once met this woman who told me she’d just done 3  months…I said, “no, I could never do 3 months.’
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Summer Offerings for my out of town students!

This summer did you know you can have a one on one class with me via Skype or if you prefer over the phone?  Yes, that’s true all of my classes that I teach you can now enjoy in the comfort of your own home whenever you like!

All these classes are available for $40.00 each.  You will get the material emailed to you and then schedule a time to meet with me at your convenience.  It is a great way to keep writing during the summer even if you are not in Palm Springs.

Look for a link to be on my website in the next few weeks with a list of all workshops that you can sign up for .

Looking forward to keep you writing all summer long!

courtney up closewe all have a story to tell

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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!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

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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