Oct 26, 2015 - Family    3 Comments

Practicing the punchline for dad’s funeral

Barb and siblings with Gerry

Jerry looks comfortable with his three kids, Steven, Barbara and Robin.

Are you comfortable?
A reasonable question to ask of my 85-year-old father for whom so much has become difficult: hearing, seeing, walking, breathing.
But he’s the one who likes to do the asking, a set-up for a punchline that he’s trained his children, grandchildren, aides, friends and even his rabbi to deliver, with a shrug: Eh, I make a living.
The other day he and Rabbi Dan spent more than half an hour together in the furniture-packed living room of my dad’s apartment. Afterwards, the rabbi told me my father instructed him to practice the joke he wants told at his funeral, with specific directions that the punchline be shouted from the pews by those of us in the know.
Yes, at his funeral. Which, the doctors say, could be days, weeks or a very few months away. The other day my father learned he has a malignant tumor that he decided not to treat. Don’t worry, he said, cancer won’t kill me. Not being able to breathe will.

My father likes to point bit by bit from head to hip, reciting which parts are gone, dead or dying. He outlived his wife, and he’s lived with diabetes, kidney disease, two bypass surgeries, the addition of a pig’s heart valve, macular degeneration, hearing loss, the replacement of a hip and now, cancer. When he tips forward in his medical recliner and suddenly zonks out, we think, today’s the day. Then he gets a second wind in time to catch the Off-Track Betting station’s replay from Belmont. Give me my sheet, he demands, checking to see how well he fared following favorite trainer Linda Rice.
My father had a premature wake of sorts four years ago when the doctors promised he was a goner. Turned out, as the rabbi explained, God wasn’t ready for him and, as my brother assured him, neither was my mother, may she rest in peace. Nonetheless, after being told death is imminent, accepting the end and saying all his goodbyes, it took a while to come to grips with still being around.
This time is different.
And so, Rabbi Dan needs to practice. Read more »

Oct 23, 2015 - Saratogian Archives    No Comments

Nuisances of today’s social media age

(The following column originally appeared in the Fresh Ink blog on March 31, 2014)

 

I did not send you a friend request on Facebook, not that I don’t like you.

I did not win $90,000, not that I’d be averse to that.

And I did not realize how impossible it would be to let Facebook know my account had been compromised.

While I was sitting in a corporate meeting of editors recently wondering when the afternoon coffee and cookies would be wheeled in, someone somewhere created a faux Barbara Lombardo Facebook page and invited my Facebook friends and email contact people to be my friend. Some also received exciting but unfortunately false news about me winning $90,000.

The responses varied from curious (“Hey, sister, did you send out a friend request? We’re already friends”), to concerned (“I got a weird message from you that didn’t sound like you”), to creeped out (“Ugh, the boss asked to friend me”).

So, I changed what I hope are all of my passwords for email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Tout, Storify, Pinterest and Instagram. I’ve run out of places of birth; favorite teams, movie stars and athletes; significant dates; lucky numbers; pets, dead or alive; street names and special cities; and schools, workplaces and organizations. I had to start a paper folder called “P*******S — DO NOT LOOK IN HERE.” Read more »

Jul 23, 2015 - Saratogian Archives    No Comments

After 38 years, it’s a wrap

(The following post originally appeared in Barbara Lombardo’s Fresh Ink column with The Saratogian.)

 

This afternoon I’ll help put together The Saratogian’s Pink Sheet racing section for Opening Day at Saratoga Race Course, and then call it a day for the final time – ending 38 years at my full-time workplace since grad school.

I was in college during the Vietnam War and Watergate and was stirred by the power of the press to do good. I discovered journalism was fun, and I was good at it.

07.23.15 Barb final Day

On Barbara’s final day, her desk was still mess.

I lucked out landing a reporting job at The Saratogian (where Linda Glazer Toohey was my first of 11 publishers) and rose up the ranks in a great place to live and work. Christy Bulkeley made me one of the few women managing editors in the country; there was never a line at the ladies room during national editors’ conferences.

I’ve loved most of the job: the chase of a “good” story, depth reporting and strong writing, news that somehow makes a difference, the simple joy a well-written headline that fits in print, helping staffers improve their craft, the hectic deadline-driven environment, meeting interesting people who do amazing things, getting to know (at least a little) about a lot of stuff.

After years of running The Saratogian newsroom, I was promoted in 2014 to be top editor also of our sister paper, The Record, merging the two newsrooms into a single reporting and editing operation and striving to serve the audiences of both dailies, not to mention the readers of our weekly Community News in southern Saratoga County. Read more »

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