The Lengths We Go For Our Pets

This post is brought to you by Tidy Cats®, the cat litter expert for nearly 50 years.

Remy, my 14-year-old cat, had the Life of Riley until eight years ago, when we introduced a Norfolk terrier named Rigby into the family.

Terriers being terriers, Rigby lunged for Remy’s food the second he “smelled” it. He could be 50 feet away; he knew the moment the pellets hit the bowl. And oh, Rigby adored Remy’s litter box, too, for reasons not worth elaborating.

The Dog Whisperer couldn’t have trained Rigby to stop his antics, and we weren’t going to hire a 24-hour guard to watch over Remy’s litter box and food bowl. What to do, I thought, excited by the challenge of figuring out a solution.

Ah hah, it hit me, as we were renovating our apartment. Why not have the talented woodworker we were using cut holes at the bottom of two closet doors that would be big enough for Remy to slip through, but too small for Rigby’s chunky body? We’d put the litter box behind one door and the food bowl behind the other (the closets are in the same room, on opposite walls.)

The woodworker carefully determined the proper size of the cutouts and he went to work. Our scheme was a success. Remy quickly made her way behind Door #1 when she was hungry, and headed for Door #2 when she needed her litter box. Of course, Rigby vainlessly tried to squeeze into both cutouts for months, and although he finally gave up, he still makes a mad dash for the food bowl when we’re adding food or accidentally leave the door open. Rigby also will sometimes station himself outside the door while Remy is eating, determined to terrorize her so she won’t come out.

All things considered, our solution has been a big success!

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Come On, Suck It Up!

I don’t like to load or unload the dishwasher. I’m not crazy about cleaning the stove. And if I never did another load of laundry again, I wouldn’t weep. But, I LOVE to vacuum. Yes, you read that right. Ever since my mother tasked me, in the early sixties, with “carpet sweeping” (a mechanical device that basically lifted the top layer of dust from carpets), I have enjoyed the process of sucking up dirt, lint and other small particles of whatnot from wall-to-wall carpeting, area rugs, and floors.

Believe it or not, I also wrote about the “floor care” business, when I was the editor and publisher of an influential home furnishings trade newspaper. I toured vacuum cleaner manufacturing plants; I dined with the presidents of Hoover and Eureka; I even knew how many vacuums Sears sold every year. And I could write a thesis on the relative merits of one style versus another.

As you’d suspect by now, I’ve owned all kinds of vacuums in my time, good, bad and horrible.

Heavy uprights that looked like they could suck up small trees, but could barely lift a twig; canisters with unwieldy cords and clunky bodies that knocked into every wall on their travels from room to room and were daring me to trip over them; handheld vacs that made lots of noise but labored trying to lift sand from the back seat of the car and ran out of charge quicker than the original iPhone. The vacuum I now own is a pre-owned European import that normally costs an arm and a leg. It looks a lot better than it performs.

Of course, I was game when Dyson asked if I’d try out their new cordless vac, the Dyson Digital Slim™ DC59 Motorhead. That’s like asking an 8-year-old if he wants to try a shiny new bicycle!

Dyson claims that DC59 Motorhead “Out-cleans the top 5 best-selling full-size vacuums across carpets and hard floors. Without the hassle of a cord.” Naturally, I was skeptical.

Turns out, they were right.

  • It’s light: Under five pounds, and its small motor is located in the handle, making it a cinch to lift—with one hand—for overhead cleaning and to carry around the apartment.
  • It’s powerful and versatile: It sucked out every bit of the dirt deep in the seams of our often-used living room chairs; picked up pieces of packing material off the hardwood floor in seconds; dusted in places I haven’t touched in ages, including the tippy top of the kitchen cabinets, and perked up the little silk rug in our bedroom.
  • It’s convertible: The light aluminum wand can be removed to convert the unit into a powerful handheld vacuum for cleaning car interiors, upholstery, and more.
  • It’s flexible: The cleanerhead maneuvers with a flick of the wrist to easily reach hard-to-reach places.
  • It’s compact: It can be hung, with its docking station, on a wall or inside a closet without taking much space.

I used the unit for about 15 minutes and the suction remained as forceful as it was when fully charged. The battery charge reportedly gives you 24 minutes of cleaning time with full power.

Whether you need a new vac, want to buy one for your daughter’s new apartment, or think it would make a great gift for an approaching bridal shower, I strongly recommend you buy this one.

To enter to win the Dyson Digital Slim™ DC59 Motorhead ($549.99 value), fill out the form below!

This contest is now closed.

This post is sponsored by Dyson. Thanks for supporting FabOverFifty!

1 FOF will win. (See official rules, here.) Contest closes September 30, 2014 at midnight E.S.T. Contest limited to residents of the continental U.S.

Let’s Start A National Movement To Ban The “S” Word

I hereby declare the start of a movement to banish the word “senior” from the English language,
as in “senior citizen.”

And, while we’re at it, let’s say bye-bye to the phrases “golden years” and “old age.”

I didn’t think of myself as a “child” when I was 8, a “teenager” when I was 15; a “young adult” when I was 24, or a middle-aged woman” when I was 45. And I surely didn’t start thinking of my myself as a “senior” at the tender age of 50, when the depressing, AARP organization sent me a membership application. I don’t feel any different, at 67. What’s more, If I’m lucky enough to live into my 80s or 90s, don’t call me “elderly.”

I realize it’s convenient for demographers, sociologists, academics and psychologists to label people populations, but boomers refuse to get “old,” even if 60 is a bigger number than 20 and it takes us a little longer to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Consider what Harry Moody, 69, former director of academic affairs for AARP, told a New York Times writer a couple of years ago: “What’s going on is we have a problem with the subject itself. Everyone wants to live longer, but no one wants to be old. Personally, I tend to use the term ‘older people’ because it’s the least problematic. Everyone is older than someone else.

“Much of the time, it’s completely unnecessary to use age as an identifier at all. People don’t like it. That’s why you see organizations changing their names. Elderhostel got rid of ‘elder’ and became Road Scholar. AARP shortened its name, which now doesn’t mention age or retirement,” Moody said.

I also think women who refuse to disclose their ages—even if they’re clearly over 50—are doing us all a disservice. Aren’t they actually capitulating to those who think we’re useless and elderly after 50? If I have more energy, passion, drive and creativity than many people half my age, why should I hide the fact I’m 67? I can hear all my 30-something friends lovingly calling me “a pain in the neck,” “stubborn,” and “opinionated,” but I don’t think they’d pin the label “senior citizen” on my new jean overalls.

Press releases with the “S” word continually pop up in my email, such as one with this headline:


Don’t you just love the term “senior-friendly”? The release was sprinkled with other endearing words, like “the elderly”, and gave us spectacularly uncreative advice, including taking “the elderly” on “fun” activities like picnics. My mother died a few years ago, one month shy of 87. I never referred to her as elderly a single day of her life. And her “fun” activities included going to the Shakespeare class at the Y and playing bridge.

I decided to ask the “junior” PR person, who sent the release, to explain how her company defined “senior.” She responded: “Someone who is at least 60.”


Why I Decided To End The Life of My 14-Year-Old Cat

We euthanized Remy, our 14-year-old cat, this past weekend.

I met Remy in late 2001, maybe a few weeks after 9/11. Lauren (my first employee when I launched my own business in 1998, and still a dear friend) and I were walking near our office on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, when we passed a young woman cuddling a cute kitten in her arms (are kittens ever anything but cute?) We stopped to ooh and aah, and learned the kitty was up for adoption since her owner discovered she had a cat allergy.

A few hours later, I went to pick up “Remy” at the dance studio run by her now-allergic owner. That was the name I was going to give my first child, if I had a girl. I had a boy, but still loved the name. Remy was about a year old, her unofficial-looking papers reported.

She was a wonderful cat from that day forward. I remember hearing her cute faint meows for months after I brought her home, as she pitter-pattered next to my bed in the middle of the night. She eventually slept most of the night, but usually made her way to the pillows of houseguests at some point before morning. Whenever she decided to sleep between me and David, on a pillow, her purring was more soothing than any sound machine in Brookstone.

When the vet first examined Remy, he said she must have had an accident because her jaw was misshapen. It didn’t affect her ability to eat. As a matter of fact, she weighed in at 12 pounds as an adult, and Dr. Johnson advised me to put her a diet (she took after me, I guess.)

Aside from two pelvic fractures (one, the result of getting tangled up with a lightweight metal sculpture, which came crashing to the floor with her when she tried to extricate herself from it; the other, from a totally mysterious cause), Remy was healthy, content and extremely independent. She’d go about her business without fussing, and she only meowed when she wanted something she couldn’t get by herself (e.g. jumping over the high bathtub, in later years, to drink from the faucet, or opening up the door to our tiny outdoor space, where she’d bask in the sun and intently survey everything around her, as cats do so well.)

Not a cat who demanded or gave much affection, Remy would sidle up to certain people when she was in the rare mood to be held, stroked or kissed. She loved my nephew, Brian; his mother, my sister Shelley; my aunt Sylvia, and Douglas, my former husband.

Interesting, she appealed most to people who were not cat lovers.

“She was a wonderful cat, the first animal I ever cared about,” Shelley emailed me Sunday, when I told her Remy was gone. And David, who had disliked cats, bonded with Remy as soon as he met her, around 12 years ago. He couldn’t leave the apartment without knowing where she was and that she was safe and sound. Remy was a champ at bringing out his caring side.

We brought five-month-old Rigby, a Norfolk terrier, home when Remy was about 6 years old. When he wanted to be her friend, he’d gingerly approach her to nuzzle, but Remy was not in the least bit interested. She’d hiss at him to get away. Other times, Rigby would quietly watch her approaching from the other end of the hallway, and, as she got closer, he’d suddenly turn to chase her. He’d bark loudly as he began his pursuit, and Remy would let out a wild scream and head for the hills. Rigby always backed off.

Remy stopped looking and acting like herself about two months ago, when she suddenly started to meow a great deal, first mainly at night and then quite a bit throughout the day, and lost the sparkle in her pretty green eyes. At one point, I decided she was once my father, who had similarly colored eyes, but I changed my mind and thought she was a kinder, gentler Edgar, because she had the same piercing look. For those of you who don’t “know” Edgar, he was the Mississippi (snake) charmer with whom I spent 12 years.

When we took Remy to the vet for an exam, she was down to 8 pounds, from around 11 last year. Weight loss and excessive meowing are often symptoms of hypertension and diabetes in older cats, the vet told us. Her blood workup ruled those out, but did reveal a UTI (urinary tract infection). The doctor put her on meds. The infection cleared up and the meowing subsided, but Remy’s appetite was diminishing.

Subsequent blood tests showed she most likely had a type of leukemia that, fortunately, is treatable. Although the diagnosis wasn’t fully confirmed, Dr. Cavanaugh started treatment anyway and prescribed an appetite stimulant. He also noticed that Remy had a loose tooth, which looked like it was infected, so he injected antibiotics and told us to return in 10 days to have it removed.

But something more was wrong, I thought last week, as I noticed Remy’s mouth looking more and more misshapen every day. She’d start eating but would stop within a minute. She’d approach the water bowl, but turned away. Her meowing intensified again. Perhaps the antibiotics didn’t work and the infection had worsened. At least she’d have the tooth removed on Sunday.

The moment Dr. Cavanaugh looked at Remy’s mouth Sunday morning, he knew something more was indeed wrong. Turning to me and David, he told us that Remy had an “aggressive malignant tumor” on her jawbone and began to explain our options. He’d recommend an oncologist, who would probably take xrays and a biopsy. Depending on the results, part of her jawbone could be removed, along with the tumor. However, it was likely the tumor would return in short order. “Is she in pain?” I asked, of course knowing the answer because she was trying to tell us she was in distress ever since she started meowing a couple of months ago. “Yes,” Dr. Cavanaugh answered. “But we could give her pain medication.”

At that moment, my decision was made. We needed to stop Remy’s pain, but not
with pain drugs.

David would have prefered to take her home to prepare himself, but I couldn’t deal with that so I emailed my son, who also has a 14-year-old cat, and asked his advice. He agreed with my decision, and David also came to terms with it.

Dr. Cavanaugh gave Remy a sedative around 10:45 am Sunday, then inserted a catheter into her leg that carried the drugs to peacefully end her life. I couldn’t bear to be in the room. David told me she looked liked she was asleep. He cried, something that I’ve seen him do only once since we met, when Remy was around 2 years old.

All I could think of Sunday was Remy’s meowing during the last two months, as she tried to tell us she was in pain a great deal worse than any of us suspected. I am upset at the thought that we weren’t doing anything to help her, despite the antibiotics, appetite stimulant, leukemia drug. Although her mouth didn’t show any outward signs of cancer until last week (except, in hindsight, the loose tooth), the tumor obviously was causing her great suffering. I now realize that when she’d sit completely still, on the top of the sofa back, facing the wall, it was probably the only time she felt less pain.

My heart aches picturing her in that position and imagining what she was feeling.

Rigby, in the meantime, seems a bit lost since David and I returned to the apartment Sunday, absent Remy. He sniffed around her carrier and watched me empty the litter box and gather up her belongings. Crazy as it sounds, I think Rigby and Remy must have derived some comfort from one another, even when they fought like cats and dogs, and that they probably socialized when we weren’t home.

I wish Rigby and I could tell each other how we feel.

Is There A God (Oops! Doctor) In The House?

A little joke used to circulate among my generation: A woman dies and goes to heaven. Waiting on a long cafeteria line to pick up lunch, she sees a man in hospital scrubs, with a stethoscope around his neck, boldly step right to the front of the line. “Who does that doctor think he is?” she indignantly asks the man standing in back of her. “Oh, that’s God. He just thinks he’s a doctor,” the man explains.

We used to think
that was pretty funny, because we grew up thinking doctors
were Gods.

Our mothers revered them and hung on their every word when we were sick. If someone in our family was a DOCTOR, he was considered a rich relative. Of course, it would be a great accomplishment if we married a doctor. (A dentist was the next best thing.)

We automatically became part of the doctor cult when we became mothers. I instinctively called the pediatrician for guidance and reassurance every time my baby boy had a temperature spike, unfamiliar cough or uncommon bowel movement. It goes without saying that we, too, unreservedly trusted our doctors about our own health.

Until we didn’t. Somewhere during the last couple of decades, the ‘boomer’ generation (of women, especially) started taking charge of our own bodies, just as we’ve taken charge of our careers, our lifestyles, our finances, and a whole lot more.

Doctors misdiagnosed my dad’s advanced melanoma in 1988, claiming it was “salmonella.” A dermatologist told me the rash on my stomach looked like “syphilis,” when I was 23 and had never slept with anyone but my 23-year-old husband, who surely didn’t have syphilis. My son’s godly pediatrician turned ungodly when he adamantly and repeatedly claimed four-year-old Colby had a “bad cold,” which, in fact, was pneumonia. And we only discovered this when I insisted Dr. S do a chest X-ray on my coughing and feverish little boy. Antibiotics cured the pneumonia in days and the experience started curing my case of Doctor Worship.

Of course, the internet is jam packed with medical information, and while much of it is general, filled with inaccuracies, or just plain hogwash, it at least can prompt us to question our doctors, literally and figuratively.

Most doctors do not like that, including
the old timers who have been Gods for so long, as
well as many boomer doctors, who grew up thinking they’d become Gods when they received their MDs.
(Ironic that boomer doctors don’t get it!)

Personal case in point: I started seeing a cardiologist within the last few years, who specializes in women and heart disease. She’s especially interested in teaching women how to protect their heart health. The visit wasn’t prompted by bothersome symptoms, but I believe it’s important for women to have their hearts checked properly, since heart disease is our Number One killer.

My blood workup indicated my “bad cholesterol” increased beyond the “normal range,” although it wasn’t out of sight. My “good cholesterol” and triglyceride levels remained excellent. Dr. G immediately told me I “needed” to take a statin drug, which would make my bad cholesterol less bad and lower my risk for heart disease. Although I filled the prescription and started taking the medication, the more I read about statins, the less I wanted to take them.

Without getting into a diatribe about statins, one of their lovely side effects can be diabetes. Since my mom had diabetes, I have a predisposition to it. When I told the doctor my concerns, she said: “We actually prescribe statins for people with diabetes.” I didn’t quite understand what that had to do with me, and I didn’t question her further. I simply decided to stop taking statins.

Since then, I’ve interviewed a top Chicago woman’s heart specialist for FabOverFifty, who introduced me to an online test that determines a patient’s risk for developing heart disease or suffering a stroke. After plugging in my blood pressure (normal), good cholesterol and triglyceride levels (excellent), and a few other numbers, I clicked the button and anxiously waited a few seconds for the results. Good news! I’m highly unlikely to get heart disease, based on my profile, and I’m NOT A CANDIDATE FOR STATINS, EVEN FOR A MILD DOSE. I double-checked with the Chicago doctor, who confirmed my results. Interestingly, the test doesn’t even ask for LDL levels, because it’s the HDL that keeps plaque from forming in our arteries.

When I emailed my doctor about the test, she responded that “it’s not valid for people over 59.”

“Incorrect,” I emailed back. “If you’re over 59, it will only assess your 10-year risk versus your lifetime risk. At 67, I’ll take the 10-year-risk.”

She never responded.

I’m not interested in one-upping someone who went to four years of medical school, internship, residency and other grueling training she needed to become a heart specialist. All I’d like is for her to recognize that she shares something very important with her patients. She, too, is a human being.

And human beings do make mistakes, even when they have M.D. in back of their names.

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I’ve GOT TO TELL Everyone What I’m Doing RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

Remember when we used to take a vacation? Once we arrived at our destination, we had a dandy ole’ time, and then we returned home. We took lots of pictures and couldn’t wait to pick them up from the photo shop. We’d share them with our family, and maybe show them to a few friends when we’d get together.

Remember when we used to go out to dinner? We’d choose a restaurant, had a delightful meal, great conversation, maybe a cigarette with an after-dinner drink, and then we went home. We might tell a friend or colleague about the restaurant the next day. Then again, we probably didn’t.

Oy vey. Things have changed. Now I see countless Facebook posts showing smiling faces and sights from cities around the world. Muffy and Mickey in front of the Taj Mahal; Shari and Stan on Melrose Avenue in LA; Rhonda and Rufus yukking it up on a boat in Venice.

Not to mention the smiling faces at countless dinners. Louisa and Larry with 5 friends at a pizzeria in South Beach; Simone and Sammy at a French bistro in Atlanta; Mary and Max with their darling kids at a diner in Chicago.

If everyone is having such a dandy ole’ time on vacation, why are they spending any time creating countless posts—every step of the way—to show and tell their thousands of good friends and family members about it?

Surely, they can wait until they return home to regale us with details of their fascinating trip. Do we really need to know that they’re on their way to lunch at Cipriani in Venice, or on a train from Paris to London?

Now a word about the dinners everyone is enjoying. One acquaintance posts endless group photos at dimly lit restaurants. Everyone is idiotically smiling at the camera and the caption on the post says something like: “With my west coast family — at Gary’s Grill @ La Mancha Resort & Spa” (the names have been changed). A lovey-dovey couple looks up from their candlelit dinner to tell us how they’re relishing their time away from their kids.

Enough already, folks! Perhaps your mother, son, cousin or best pal is thrilled to know where you’re eating or exactly what you’re doing at 6:35 pm on Wednesday in Palermo or Atlanta, and although the rest of us are thrilled you’re having a good meal and a nice trip, we really don’t need all the details. At least, send us some interesting tidbit you learned about Turkey or Timbuktu.

Get a life, away from Facebook!

P.S. By the way, you might be questioning why I keep all these restaurant & vacation-goers on my newsfeed, if I find their posts less than thought provoking, motivating or interesting. It’s because I’m fascinated by the social sea changes in our society today and what better place than Facebook to see how people are thinking and acting? Facebook has unleashed some pretty dramatic behaviors, including people’s intense needs to be popular. If she has 500 friends she must be 10 times more popular than I, with my 50 friends. And if I don’t post on Facebook at least three times a day, my 50 friends might think I don’t exist, I will lose them all, and I will disappear into a puff of smoke.

Art Collecting Doesn’t Need A Rulebook

I have a personal connection with each piece of art hanging on the walls of my apartment. The five black and white photographs surrounding our bed depict street scenes from Paris and New York, my two favorite cities. A single French artist created all eight whimsical lithographs and original watercolors hanging in the hall, which I purchased at a charming French gallery over a number of years. Paintings by our daughters, when they were in grade school, proudly hang in the living room, as does an original collage by my former husband.

I love looking up from my computer and seeing one of the paintings or pausing to stare at the deserted Paris street in the morning rain, right before I crawl into bed for the night. The works of art are my friends, always ready to make me smile. Often, first-time visitors to my home comment on how much they love my art collection, which also gives me a little thrill.

Each of us uniquely chooses the artwork we hang in our home. Some of my friends only want paintings that match the colors and style of their furnishings. They wouldn’t think of hanging a modern piece in their traditionally furnished living room. Others only wish to display photographs and wouldn’t dream of introducing a color photo to a wall filled with black and white creations.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to collecting art. You might choose works by-up-and coming artists from around the world or stick with recognized names; perhaps you prefer a few major pieces or many smaller works, original oils or lithographs in pen and ink, florals or abstracts.

You needn’t be a world traveler, have barrels of money or a degree in an art history to own beautiful artwork. You can relax in the comfort of your home and view hundreds of magnificent creations that are priced for any budget and personal taste. I’ve discovered an enthralling on-line gallery that will capture your imagination and attention for hours. Click here to start your tour.

Routines I Can’t Escape

1. Texting my daughter every morning, the moment I wake up, with the message “MM” (morning Mone)

2. Relaxing after the day at work by watching Jeopardy at 7 PM, before David arrives home.

3. The moment David and I sit down to dinner, although we usually eat so fast, it’s a fleeting moment.

4. Seeing photos and reading descriptions of the four featured apartments or homes on sale, in the Sunday New York Times Real Estate Section (which we get on Saturday).

5. Having ex-husband, Douglas, to dinner on Tuesdays, after which we play Scrabble (I’m one of the few people who can beat him, which makes him crazy).

6. Crawling into bed around midnight and playing Words With Friends and Spell Tower, sometimes for hours.

7. Having morning coffee with sister Shelley, when she comes to work with me three days a week.

8. Watching the addictive shows of the season, currently Downton Abbey, Girls and The Walking Dead.

9. Trolling Facebook to see how the most narcissistic people I know (there are many) are patting themselves on the back this week.

10. Walking and window shopping on Madison Avenue.

1. Loading and unloading the dishwasher (I’m counting these as one since my list is so long).

2. Sorting and doing the laundry (again, counting as one).

3. Bringing the recyclables to the basement of our apartment building.

4. Cleaning our white lacquered dining table after dinner.

5. Changing the light bulbs throughout the apartment, which are part of a complex ceiling and wall lighting system.

6. Unpacking the boxes of food after a supermarket excursion.

7. Taking vitamins and pills in the morning.

8. Getting out of my PJs when I’m working at home all day.

9. Thinking about exercising (notice, I didn’t say exercising itself which, woefully, I don’t do much. Guiltily thinking about it is more than I can bear.)

10. Getting ready to go out, especially putting on makeup, which I try to do in 5 minutes or less, since it’s so darn boring.

Tell me the routines you love and hate!

How Much Are YOU Worth To The “Network”?

You think you’re a “fan” of FabOverFifty on the largest social networking site in the world, don’t you?

But, in fact, you’re really just an opportunity for this “network” to make more money. Let us explain: This morning we posted an article to our “network” page called “8 Foods That Make You Happy”, but the “network” ‘showed’ it to only about 600 of our 42,658 fans, about 1.4 percent.

This is a dramatic departure from how the “network” operated in the recent past, when it showed our posts to thousands of our fans. If we want all of our “fans” to see our article, we have to “boost” the post and pay the “network” $810.

We assume you became a fan of FabOverFifty on the “network” because you like our content, our giveaways and our style. And we love you for it. But the “network” no longer wants to give you access to our content unless we pay them for it.

The “network” wasn’t content making money from the thousands of companies who use it to advertise their goods and services.

Now the “network” wants to make money from small companies, like FabOverFifty, by leveraging our fans.

Please don’t get us wrong. We like to make money, too, but not by abusing the people who helped us grow in the first place. Without all our fans, there would be no “network”.

Why turn our fans into your pawns, Mr. Network?

Do You Miss Your Childhood Home?

I am captivated listening to friends talking sentimentally about their childhood homes. The houses embody such fond memories for them that they can’t bear the thought of their parents moving out and some other family living there.

“I felt like a piece of me was taken away,” one pal told me when her mother sold her house.

I’m enthralled by this talk because I have no attachment whatsoever to the home where I grew up. I’ll never forget the day we moved in, when I was three years old and my sister, Shelley, was a baby. The brand new, three-bedroom, three-floor house seemed so big, after living in an old apartment.

The house became smaller and smaller as I became bigger and bigger and a third daughter joined the family. My father’s satellite dental office took over the basement so there was nowhere to retreat besides my tiny 7-by-12 foot bedroom. The small living room led into a petite dining room and an even tinier kitchen. The five of us shared one bathroom on the top floor and, in turn, we shared the mini half bathroom on the ground floor with my father’s patients.

About five years after we moved in, my folks decided to replace the wood back porch with a “back room,” which temporarily made me feel like we were the richest people on the block. I could finally leave my claustrophobic bedroom when I needed to get away from my never-ending homework. When we sat in our shorts on the stiff, vinyl-upholstered sectional sofas during the hot weather, the backs of our legs stuck to them.

We rarely gathered around the table, as a family, for dinner and chatter about our day. My sisters, mother and I ate TV dinners on metal TV trays, in front of the TV, in the “back room.” After dinner, I retreated to my bedroom to continue my homework. My dad arrived home at precisely 8:40 every night, gobbled down his meal and went downstairs to his awaiting patients. We hardly ever enjoyed relaxing family times, all together, at home. My dad worked incessantly and my mother wasn’t one to take us to her bosom to read fairytales or ask us about our dreams.

I guess part of the reason I never strongly connected with this home where I grew up is because nothing in it made me feel warm, cozy and secure; not the furniture, not my parents, not the routine of our day-to-day lives. Once I left the house, after I married at 21, it took me many years to learn how to gain the security I never felt as a child.

A year after my father died, in 1989, my mother sold the house. I did return a few times over the years to take a look at the neighborhood and to see how the new family changed the exterior and if I could feel anything close to sentimental. I tried, but I couldn’t.

A couple of years ago, I decided to knock on the door and invite myself in when a man appeared. He gracefully took me on a tour of every corner. I tried to envision my younger self in each room. I couldn’t. Again, I tried to muster up nostalgic feelings. Nothing.

I miss my mom and my dad. Maybe the kids who grew up in the house after us will miss it. That house needs some loving.

Tell me how you feel about your childhood home