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The Oy Vey After the Storm: How I survived Hurricane Irene With My 95-Year-Old Mother at My Side

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We made it through the storm. The Hurricane of all hurricanes, Irene, which -- as it turned out here in NYC -- wasn't so bad. Praise be. Still, we had our own hurricane of sorts. Hurricane Harriet. Mother of all storms. Oy vey!

As some of you know, my mother is 95 years-young and she lives in Long Beach, Long Island. If you were listening to the news, you'd know that Long Beach was under mandatory evacuation! For numerous reasons, Mom wasn't willing to budge. She wasn't going to a shelter (can't blame her at 95, can you? imagine her sleeping in a gym with a few hundred other folks -- the experience could be worse than the storm); nor was she willing to come to me.

She hadn't left her neighborhood since my father died 10 years ago. With Dad at the helm, she was a bit more adventuresome. The last time she'd slept over was 25 years ago, when she babysat the kids when Peter and I went on our honeymoon (yes, second marriage -- yes, deep sigh).

Anyway, you get the point. Getting her here, to our apartment, was going to be a crazy-ridiculous-angst-fear-ridden-major-league project. (I am seriously under-exaggerating.)

Fortunately, because we were slated to visit dear friends in Vermont, we had already secured a rental car for the weekend. (I am city-dweller and do not own a car.) When we heard that the storm was rolling in a few days prior to the weekend, I said, "Let's keep the car rental open. Just in case we have to 'rescue' mom."

Who knew I was so smart and had such psychic ability? Peter, the hero of the story, upon reaching the car rental place to pick up said car, said to me, "If we drive out there and your mother refuses to get into the car, I will lose my mind."

He telephoned her, "Harriet, we are on our way. No ifs, ands or buts about it. You're coming with us. Pack your bag; be ready." She reluctantly agreed.

The trip out there was horrific. There were pockets of heavy rain (worse than during the actual hurricane -- the kind of rain you can't see through), and we feared that we might not make it there, or even worse, we'd make it there, but not be able to make it back to NYC.

There were many lessons learned over this weekend. The big one is this: It takes courage to be old, and a good deal of creativity, intelligence and determination. Because we were together for a prolonged period of time, on my turf and not her's, I saw things that I would not necessarily see, which made me ask questions that I would not normally ask.

Every task done, from bathing to laundry, has been retooled and relearned. For instance, the laundry: My mother does her own laundry. She wants to. She wants to keep on doing anything and everything that she can for herself, without help, because it keeps her going and gives her a purpose.

Mom lives in an apartment building. There are fire doors in the hallway, and they are heavy. She has learned to push her body against the door, open with both arms, wedge herself in, toss the laundry ahead of her and then, she quickly slips through to the other side.

And there's a subtle prejudice against old people. She experiences it at the pool. She sees the look on the young people's faces when she comes out. She has her group of friends, a large group, but nonetheless the looks sting. After all, on the inside, she's the same person she's always been.

I am still processing the weekend. It was my intention to write about and share the most powerful, eye-opening, fat-melting tip ever, courtesy of one of my private clients. But ... the 'storm' threw me off kilter. So off kilter, that I indulged in comfort food after we returned mom safe n' sound to her home.

I hit the frozen pancakes. Imagine! My husband picked them up as part of the "emergency food supply." Had we lost the electricity, I don't know how we might have toasted them? Emergency shopping for New Yorkers is a funny thing to watch. That's another story/post.

Still, I did count the calories. Three pancakes equals 270 calories, plus 100 calories of lite syrup =equals 370, and just rounded up to 400 calories. I had a light dinner later in the day. Not so bad; not even 'bad' enough to confess to Our Lady of Weight Loss, the patron saint of permanent fat removal, and seek forgiveness.

Thank you for listening and allowing me to process and let go of the weekend.

Have a safe, storm free week! And please feel free to post your stormy stories below.

Spread the word ... not the icing.

Janice Taylor, the voice of Our Lady of Weight Loss & the creator of the Kick in the Tush Club (who couldn't use a kick).

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