Saturday, January 29, 2011


Why this Youth Performance Company show matters: just read this blog. There's not much more to say!

Even if you're not in Minnesota, chime in and support these young people who are sharing their hearts with the world. If that's not the bravest thing to do at 15? Well. The Matron thinks it is.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dutiful Daughter, of Sorts

Friends, the Matron has found herself suddenly thrust into the kind of situation for which she was unprepared. Not that this is necessarily a negative; she now has a greater grasp on not only what's ahead for her aging family members but perhaps for herself and the beloved.

Her dear, dear next door neighbors are in their mid-eighties. They never had children (wanted to but it just didn't work out) but have a lovely, large, and devoted family of nephews, nieces, sisters, cousins, and all that. Now, the sisters and brothers are also in their mid-eighties so the Matron's neighbors really rely on that upcoming generation of nieces and nephews for help.

The trouble? They all live at least an hour away.

A few days ago, it was determined that the husband of this long-time husband/wife team is dying of heart failure. Suddenly, his frail 84 year old wife was thrust into a position of command and decision making for which she was utterly unprepared. She also needs daily help herself for simple things that she's now unable to address, like feeding cats and putting in eye drops.

Please don't commend the Matron for what she's about to say next - really. People should take care of each other, period. That's basic goodness in the world and not laudable. Yours truly is no saint (just ask any of her children or her husband).

But the Matron decided to get involved; she's lived next to this lovely couple for 8 years and considers them family. The reception? Instant relief and welcome.

So she suddenly finds herself with the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of her neighbors --and with the additional freight of the wife asking the Matron to make those decisions on her behalf because she's exhausted and confused. Confused by the insurance, Medicare, VA requirements, nursing home regulations, hospice stipulations, the two social workers, three doctors and even driving on the freeway. The latter frightens the neighbor the most.

The Matron took some official time off from work today to navigate this terrain; she spent more time on the phone with the social worker than she did with her husband. Tonight, she'll go over at 9 pm, administer eye-drops, tend to cats, and have a conversation.

But the sobering thing? The real point of this post? If you're old and ill --or dying -- without someone to navigate the world of medicine, insurance, and government regulation, you're doomed. Make those decisions well ahead of time, friends. Have a team at your ready. And why in the world would a medical institution send home an 84 year old man who can't walk, pee, or breathe to be in the care of his 84 year old wife while he dies -- when they both wish he could be in the hospital or hospice? Every fiber in the Matron's body is now aligned toward preventing this death of two people instead of one. She knew this all in theory but living it is something else.

The other sobering thing? Well, the Matron isn't much one for glorifying eras gone by. Sure, before there was birth control, women had babies well into their forties. Lovely. Takes away the freight of having a 'later in life' baby today because childbirth was from 17 to 45 in years gone by. That's all good but after those women had babies, they died. So there's nothing romantic about the past.

Perhaps with one exception. People helped one another. Think Little House on the Prairie books (God-Buddha-Oprah-Allah-Universe, she hopes those books were accurate about the community spirit, Nellie Olson aside) Every single person on the Matron's block--many of whom have known this couple for 20 years -- should be highly attuned to and involved with helping them right now. This shouldn't be a place to praise someone who is, but a moment to contemplate what each of us can do better, next time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Matron's First Give Away

Got your attention after a two day absence?

First, let yours truly digress: things are awfully busy. She's still here, but the next six weeks are shaping up to be a blur. Most nights, she thinks about The Incredibles (remember that flick?) and wishes she had some of those superpowers. Like the ability to go days without sleep or Mad Men.

So here's the give-away--and it's not just a give-away, it's a message with heart and heft.

Youth Performance Company, probably the most teen-centered, teen-driven theater in the Twin Cities, is launching a new play called Mean. The play is about just that: mean. Bullying. From what the Matron can see (and she's not allowed into rehearsals or to read a script because the Diva doesn't tolerate such parental involvement), the play also shows how family patterns of disregard or disdain shape those who bully. If you're criticized consistently at home, doesn't that become your model of how to operate?

Every young person in the play with whom the Matron has talked has said that this is an unusual, stellar production. Phrases like "awesome," "revolutionary," "best thing that's happened to me" are being tossed about by usually reticent 15 and 16 year olds. The staff at Youth Performance Company is equally enthusiastic: this one is special. If you're concerned about fostering a culture of kindness rather than contempt, this show is for you --and the show incorporates real-life elements of the actors' lives. The stories these kids have! Some of our children are walking through mine fields every day.

So here's the ticket--and she means ticket. If you post about Mean at Youth Performance Company and invite your blog readers to see the show, the theater will offer you two free tickets to a performance. And the Matron is going to encourage you not just to post about the show but to look into your own crusty little heart and those of your children. Who among us have not been the victim?

Do help spread the word about something important to our kids --and the future of sanity and civility -- and send a link to your blog post to You get two free tickets to a performance!

Here's a link directly to Mean. First week of rehearsal and a note from the artistic director of the theater!

Scarlett, aka Diva, is the tiniest one with the glasses and pony-tail!

Tomorrow, the Matron is going to revisit her own "mean" experience (as the victim), one of her most well received blog posts. The memory still gives her goosebumps. And fear.

As does the now 70 lb blood hound puppy.