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Here are the final five brief conversations about my new book, Obama, Oy Vey: The Wit and Wisdom of My 107-Year-Old Mother.

Information about it is linked below.

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I have been writing and posting these diaries for about seven years. During that time many who have read them suggested they would like to see them form the core of a book. I am pleased to report that such a book was recently published. Details are linked below.

Over the past two to three months I have had a series of brief conversations with my mother about the book. Here are the first five. The remaining five will be posted tomorrow.

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Mon Dec 29, 2014 at 08:17 AM PST

Police Public Relations Jujitsu

by zwerlst

When was the last time TV news showed the video of Eric Garner being strangled on Staten Island by police officers? A tape we saw time after harrowing time 24/7 just a week or two ago. It has disappeared from the airwaves.

What has taken its place? Live shots and video of the makeshift memorial in Brooklyn at the site where two policemen, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were brutally assassinated nine days ago. And this weekend there was the wake and funeral of Officer Ramos that was broadcast live and then repeated on tape over and over again. Next weekend  there be another funeral for Wenjian Liu the second officer slain. It will be shown live and then during the next 24 hours replayed frequently.

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Tue Nov 04, 2014 at 03:51 AM PST

The Ladies of Forest Trace: Darling

by zwerlst

It is becoming more difficult to determine when it is best to call my more-than-106-year-old mother.

Time is having its inevitable way with her. She is losing vitality and spends more time than in the past resting and napping. So for me to establish a calling routine--she very much likes routines and rituals--is not working well.

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These days I call my mother at least once a day.

For decades, we used to speak on Sundays. At precisely 12:00. She loved to demonstrate that she was in command of all her faculties by dialing at the stroke of noon, feeling especially proud of herself on those two time-change Sundays a year when we leapt forward or fell back. Those calls always began with a proud, self-satisfied chuckle.

But now that she is nearly three months past 106 and losing stamina and concentration, since I want as much of her as I had in the past when our conversations would last an hour or so, now my seven to ten calls a week add up to about that amount of time. I also know that we're nearing . . .

I want the time together, just being with her, but also to hear her very-late-in-life thoughts.

                                                    *   *   *

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Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 06:00 AM PDT

Ladies of Forest Trace: Winks

by zwerlst

“If you want to talk to me you have to call between winks.”

“Between what?”

“I’m sleeping all the time. Twenty winks.”


“Forty what?”

“Winks. You’re catching 40 winks.”

“So call me later when I’m awake. When I’m not winking.”

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It was two days after my mother's 106th birthday and I called to run an idea by her.

"I have a theory."

"A what?"

"A theory, a perception I want to ask you about. It's something I've been noticing for the past number of years."

"How big a number? I'm trying to get used to big numbers. But before you tell me about your ideas, I have a related question for you."


"Is this the way you talk to a mother? About shooting?"

"Sorry, please, ask me your question."

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Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:20 AM PDT

Ladies of Forest Trace: What's Left?

by zwerlst

When I answered the phone, I heard my mother sigh.

"Soon, it will be another year."

"You mean, another birthday?"

"What kind of future do I have?"

"In truth, Mom, you've been saying that for years. Many years. Since before you turned 100 and here you are only a month away from 106. Amazing."

"For you maybe amazing . . . For me, too much." As she has recently, she sounded breathless.

"I admit, I've thought about that too. After all . . ."

"I have no time for after-alls."

"So, what's on your mind?" I wanted to distract her from thinking about aging and the inevitable.

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Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 10:15 AM PDT

The Republicans Are for Nothing

by zwerlst

When Frank Rich is booked to appear on the Rachel Maddow Show I try to tune in. I like the way he sees through the hypocrisy that passes for political discourse and though he is an unashamed progressive is not above giving Democrats corrective grief when he sees them pandering or posturing.

The other night he joined Rachel to mark what they claimed was the end of the Obamacare debate. With up to 10 million newly signed up to be covered through health insurance exchanges or enrolled in Medicare, plus millions more young people covered by their parents' policies, they proclaimed there will be less political advantage to Republicans to keep bringing it up.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 08:31 AM PDT

Ladies of Forest Trace: The Wimp

by zwerlst

“You know how much your mother likes us to come to dinner with her and her friends.”

“Didn’t we . . .?

“We didn’t,” Rona said. “At least not this year. Last winter once or twice but . . .”

“We should,” I quickly agreed, knowing we would wind up there for dinner no matter what excuses I might make. Among other things I hate eating at 5:00. And then there is . . .

More about my resistance I am reluctant to reveal. So we made arrangements to join my mother and the “girls” last week.

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Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 08:46 AM PST

Ladies of Forest Trace: Three Saturdays

by zwerlst

An hour into our most recent visit, for the third time my mother asked, "Is it Saturday?"

And for the third time I said, "No, Mom, it's Monday."

"So you see, as I keep telling you, I am losing my memory." Looking at me, as if to explain, she pointed to her temples. "Soon I won't know who I am."

"On the contrary," I tried to assure her, "Your memory is fine, even for someone much younger than you."

"Everyone's younger than me."

"That's remarkably true," I said, smiling proudly, "And wonderful."

"So why don't I know what day it is?" she persisted.

"Neither do I," I said, half truthfully.

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Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 04:22 AM PST

Ladies of Forest Trace: India

by zwerlst

"Come over as soon as . . . you can. There's something . . . I need to talk to you about."

My mother, short of breath, sounded ominous. I thought, considering her age, was this the . . .

"Are you OK?" I asked, not really wanting to know the truth.


"We'll be there in 35 minutes." I was already looking for the car keys and signally to Rona to get ready.

"Just you."

"Me? Alone?" That was unprecedented. Rona and I have always visited together.

"You. There's something . . ." She didn't or couldn't finish and hung up.

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