Patterico's Pontifications


Barbara Frey, 1938-2023

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:26 pm

This is a tough post to write. My mom passed away last week.

Her obituary is here, and sets forth the basics about her life. This gives you a flavor:

Barbara’s educational journey began at Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, New York. She then pursued her undergraduate studies at Cornell University, ultimately obtaining her Masters and PhD from Texas Woman’s University. . . . Barbara made significant contributions as a Book Editor/Copy Editor for Thomas Y. Crowell Publishers in New York, New York. Later, she found fulfillment as a special education teacher for Fort Worth ISD, dedicating 23 years of her life to Jo Kelly School. She also devoted many years to assisting her husband with his CPA business while simultaneously caring for four of her children and often running a daycare. The sacrifices she made to be present with her children will forever be cherished by them.

Barbara sought friendship and community in her places of worship, regularly attending Trinity Episcopal and Holy Apostles Episcopal in Fort Worth, Texas.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Barbara had a passion for various hobbies. She relished long walks, cherished family game nights, and immersed herself in the world of literature. Barbara’s creativity shone through in the imaginative cakes she lovingly crafted for her children. She also found joy in knitting, bridge, and attending opera performances. Barbara approached life with a genuine zest, treasuring every opportunity to meet new people.

Her passing was expected. Early last month, my sisters called to say that she was going into hospice care, and that her caregivers did not expect her to make it to November. (She didn’t.) My wife found me a plane ticket that got me into Bryan, Texas two days later, and I got to spend a few days visiting with her.

When I saw Mom, I was pretty sure I was visiting her for the last time. It helped me pay attention. To ask the questions I wanted to ask, and to say the things I wanted to say. We talked about her family growing up, and what it was like for her to raise us. We joked and laughed and had long comfortable pauses. Mom was tired and slept a lot. She was best in the mornings, when you could catch her awake and mostly alert for 2-3 hours. Come mid-to-late afternoon, she would be worn out and a two-hour visit might yield 10-15 minutes of conversation, with the rest of the time spent with her dozing as I would hold her hand. Even those times felt like something I needed to burn into my memory. I knew the time was coming fast when I wouldn’t be able to do it again, and I needed to pay attention in the moment

A story illustrates something about how those final visits went. You need some background context for the story to make sense. My sisters in Bryan, and in particular my sister Marianne, shouldered the burden of taking care of Mom in her final years. Before she fell and had to be in a facility, Mom lived with Marianne’s family in a special part of the house that Mom had designed and paid for. But there were many, many things to do for her. She had a heart condition and many foods and items were off-limits. But Mom was stubborn. She resisted eating as much as she should and eating the right foods. She gravitated towards food and drink that was bad for her.

Once in hospice, all the rules went out the window. The nice thing about a decision that it’s a matter of time before you die, is that you stop worrying about doing the annoying or painful things you have to do to stay alive.

So one day I was at Mom’s bedside and she said she wanted a Coke. OK, I said. What kind? Diet? Caffeine free? Nope, a regular Coke. OK. I guess you’re entitled. I’ll see if I can find someone to get you one. I walked around looking for her nurse and could not find her. (It did not seem urgent enough to press a button to call someone.) I came back and said I had not found anyone but would look again in a couple of minutes. She said: “There’s a machine in the courtyard.” Oh. OK. I’ll go there. I went to the courtyard, and sure enough: Coke machine. I got her a regular Coke and she starting sipping it from a bendy straw. She was happy. She said: “Marianne is going to kill us when she finds out.” I said I doubted that. That was the point of hospice. She gets what she wants.

Later, my sister Holly joined us, and texted Marianne that Mom was drinking a regular Coke. Marianne texted back: “Tell her to enjoy.” We told Mom. See? I said. Marianne is not upset. She made a face. I asked: Does that make it less fun somehow, because you’re not getting away with something? She chuckled with a trace of guilt and nodded her head.

That’s sort of how things went. It wasn’t gloom and doom. My mom had a sense of humor. Since she passed my sisters and I have found old voicemails from her and traded them. It made me realize how funny she could be, even just leaving a voice mail.

I sent one to my daughter and son. We agreed that there is something about pulling up a voicemail from someone who has died that hits you pretty hard. The context of listening to a voicemail makes you feel like they just left it. That you can call them right back.

The last words she ever said to me in person were “no weeping.” I was saying my last goodbye to her, and we told each other that we loved each other. But I didn’t want to leave. I knew I had to, because I had to catch my plane. So I would start to leave and then walk back and hug her again. I guess I got emotional and that was when she said those words to me.

The last time I spoke to her on the phone, the night before she passed, she couldn’t talk. She could only listen. She was on heavy morphine to keep her from feeling pain from an infection for which she had refused treatment. I told her I loved her and my sister said her lips moved. Maybe she was trying to say she loved me too. Maybe she was trying to say “no weeping.”

When I visited, we had a party for her at the facility where she was staying. She asked for her favorite foods–scallops, to be somehow wrapped in bacon even though she wanted the bacon crisp (?)–my sister Susan’s famous mac and cheese, and corn on the cob. My sister Marianne arrived with the food and realized she had left the bacon at home. I spoke to one of Mom’s favorite helpers, a wonderful woman named Mimi, and asked her if she could possibly get us some bacon. She literally sprinted away and sprinted back. She was back with it in no time. That’s how most of the people were there. They were very kind.

Turns out, with all of that effort, Mom liked the corn the best.

Here she is after the party.

If you ever get the chance to celebrate someone’s life before they die, take it. I could tell it meant a lot to her.

My sisters were at her side a little over three weeks later, on the day when she passed. My sister Marianne told Mom the last words she probably ever heard in this world: “It’s OK to go, Mom. Dad is waiting for you.” Less than a minute later, she was gone.

No weeping.

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:21 am

[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Democrats getting a clue:

One administration official told Axios: “Members of the extreme left are the same people who claim to call out dog whistles, and in this case they are now tone-deaf to anti-semitism unless they see a swastika.”

Another administration official, who is Jewish, told Axios: “The willingness by some individuals to excuse rape, killing babies, kidnapping children — there seems to be no line when Jews are the victim.”

A few administration officials who are Jewish told Axios they have felt apprehension in loudly backing the president even amongst their peers, given some of the rhetoric from the left-wing of the party.

Second news item

A giant red flag: Trump on weaponizing the Justice Department:

“Well, he’s unleashed something that everybody, we’ve all known about this for a hundred years,” Trump said, apparently in reference to President Biden and his administration. “We’ve watched other countries do it and, in some cases, effective and in other cases, the country’s overthrown or it’s been totally ineffective. But we’ve watched this for a long time, and it’s not unique, but it’s unique for the United States. Yeah. If they do this and they’ve already done it, but if they want to follow through on this, yeah, it could certainly happen in reverse. It could certainly happen in reverse. What they’ve done is they’ve released the genie out of the box.”

The former president claimed prosecutors have “done indictments in order to win an election,” and then suggested that if he is president, he could indict someone who is beating him “very badly.”

“They call it weaponization, and the people aren’t going to stand for it,” Trump said. “But yeah. they have done something that allows the next party. I mean, if somebody — if I happen to be president and I see somebody who’s doing well and beating me very badly, I say, ‘Go down and indict them.’ Mostly what that would be, you know, they would be out of business. They’d be out, they’d be out of the election.”

An individual, who we already *know* is corrupt and willing to subvert the law to benefit himself, now warns issues this warning, is a person has absolutely no business being near the presidency. Not then, not now, and not in the future. Period. And while Trump is a big problem in and of himself, it is the electorate that continues to venerate the buffoon, and will possibly put him in the Oval again.

Third news item

The Washington Post, whose banner reads Democracy Dies in Darkness, deleted a political cartoon depicting a Hamas terrorist using children and a woman as shields. Apparently that offended the sensitivities of some staffers and readers who complained about “both its message and the exaggerated features of its Palestinian subjects”:

When you choose to see this as representing all Palestinians, rather than the very obvious Hamas terrorists, then the terrorists are winning the PR battle. Assuming that this is a representation of the Palestinians at large only plays into the hands of the pro-Hamas groups and the terrorists themselves.

Fourth news item

On the eve of the anniversary of Kristallnacht, bearing witness to the Hamas massacre:

On Wednesday evening…some 200 invited members of the industry — most of them avowed supporters of Israel — convened at the Museum of Tolerance in West L.A. for a screening of a film unlike any other: Bearing Witness, which comprises 43 minutes of footage of atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists against Israeli citizens on Oct. 7…the footage was gruesome. Among other things, it depicted Israelis being ambushed, shot through windshields and beheaded with shovels, and it included audio of terrorists proudly parading around hostages and calling loved ones back in Gaza to boast about their misdeeds. For some, it was all too much — a number of attendees could be heard weeping, and some left the theater mid-film, unable to watch anymore. For others, it was not enough — when it ended, as Sheffler rose to speak again, several attendees marched out of the theater and shouted that viewers should not have been spared any of the atrocities that were committed, so that people would know the full extent of Hamas’ evil.

Fifth news item

Some believe that Sen. Joe Manchin, who announced he will not be running for re-election, will now be free to run third party run for the presidency:

“After months of deliberation and long conversations with my family, I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia. I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate, but what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.

The No Labels political organization released a statement following Manchin’s announcement:

Senator Joe Manchin is a tireless voice for America’s commonsense majority and a longtime ally of the No Labels movement. The Senate will lose a great leader when he leaves, but we commend Senator Manchin for stepping up to lead a long overdue national conversation about solving America’s biggest challenges, including inflation, an insecure border, out-of-control debt and growing threats from abroad.

Regarding our No Labels Unity presidential ticket, we are gathering input from our members across the country to understand the kind of leaders they would like to see in the White House. As we have said from the beginning, we will make a decision by early 2024 about whether we will nominate a Unity presidential ticket and who will be on it

Sixth news item

In Germany, Anne Frank cancelled?? Not a good look, Germany.

A proposal in a small German town to rename a public day care center that is currently named after Anne Frank has become the center of a fraught national debate in the country about antisemitism.

The plan to change the day care center’s name in the town of Tangerhütte…has attracted widespread coverage in the German press and criticism from politicians and Jewish leaders over the past few days.

Over the weekend, a local newspaper, the Volksstimme, published a report that the day care center, which it said had carried Anne Frank’s name since the 1970s, would be renamed “World Explorer.”

The proposed change comes in an atmosphere of acute concern about rising antisemitism in Germany, following the Oct. 7 Hamas assault on Israel and the subsequent Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Germany has long engaged in palpable national soul searching about the responsibility to remember the past given the country’s own history, including specifically about Anne Frank herself.

According to the report in the Volksstimme, the impetus to change the name had come from parents and day care employees, with the new name thought to be more child friendly. The story of Anne Frank was difficult for children to understand and “parents with a migrant background would often not know what to make of the name,” the newspaper reported, citing school authorities. The director of the school was quoted as saying the school wanted a name “without political background.”

On Sunday, Christoph Heubner, executive vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee, issued an open letter, in which he said Mr. Brohm and others responsible for the center were consciously turning their backs on Anne Frank.

“When people, especially in these times of renewed antisemitism and far-right extremism, are prepared to nonchalantly clean up their own history and consider the name of Anne Frank to be no longer desirable in the public space, it sets off alarm bells and sends out warnings concerning the fate of remembrance culture in our country,” he said in a statement accompanying the letter.

Untold thousands upon thousands of children throughout the West have been successfully taught about Anne Frank and her tragic story. Are the German educators unable to to do the same? There is an underlying ugliness at work here, and Germany will be rightfully judged if officials capitulate.

Seventh news item

A clear, informed, and nuanced Hillary Clinton makes for a must-see video from her appearance on The View:

While Netanyahu has understandably said “no” to any ceasefire, Israel has agreed to humanitarian “pauses” in order to get civilians to safety:

Israel has agreed to put in place four-hour daily humanitarian pauses in its assault on Hamas in northern Gaza, the White House said Thursday, as President Joe Biden pressed Israelis for a multi-day stoppage in the fighting in a bid to negotiate the release of hostages held by the militant group…John Kirby said a daily humanitarian pause would be announced Thursday and that the Israelis had committed to announcing each four-hour window at least three hours in advance. Israel, he said, also was opening a second corridor for civilians to flee the areas that are the current focus of its military campaign against Hamas, with a coastal road joining the territory’s main north-south highway.

Eighth news item

Bipartisan group of senators work on migrant border crossing issue:

A bipartisan group of senators is working through the weekend to forge a deal on asylum policy changes designed to reduce migrant crossings along the southern border, hoping to make a rare breakthrough on one of Congress’ most intractable issues, three congressional officials told CBS News.

Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Thom Tillis of North Carolina are negotiating a compromise to overhaul how migrants are processed along the U.S.-Mexico border, where illegal crossings have soared to all-time highs over the past two years. The compromise they’re envisioning would be part of a broader national security funding package requested by President Biden that includes aid to Israel, Ukraine and border security money, which Senate Republicans have conditioned on significant restrictions on asylum.

In fiscal year 2023, Border Patrol processed more than two million migrants who crossed into the U.S. unlawfully, only the second time that threshold has been surpassed in the agency’s history, federal statistics show. The unprecedented migration flows have strained federal and local resources, in border and interior cities alike, and created a political headache for Mr. Biden as he seeks a second term.


Sen. Fetterman pushes back:

Have a good weekend.


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