Niece Alexandria is having a birthday

the middle Green cousin

Alexandria

My second niece is having a birthday today. Alexandria is the daughter of my sister Marcia.

I remember quite well the first time I met her. She was about six months old and we were at a wedding reception for a cousin of ours. (We managed to miss the wedding – long story…) Anyway, I got to hold her and she began crying. Marcia insists that it was because her shoes were too tight. I chose to believe that narrative.

One time when she was five or six, I had purchased this reversible outfit at an Albany event and then brought it down to Charlotte. It was a hit with her and her mother, and she got two or three seasons out of it. All right! I lucked out.

One of my favorite times with her was when she came up to Albany. Downtown, there was a series of temporary statutes. I know I took a ton of pictures with her interacting with these faux people. They are in this house, somewhere.

She was extremely helpful to Marcia in caring for my mother, particularly in mom’s difficult later years.

Employment

Alexandria had been working in a fast-food chain for a number of years, working her way up to a manager. So she has some great interpersonal and organizational skills. The thing is, middle managers in many jobs get the short end of the stick. Salaried employees get called on to show up when someone else fails to show up.

She has a new job this fall in distribution, and she seems to like it so far. It’s certainly far less stressful than her previous gig, as far as I can tell.

Of the three Green cousins, Alexandria is the middle one. She’s younger than Rebecca by about the same number of years as she’s older than my daughter. I’ve seen what a great older cousin RJ is to Alex, and Alex is to LPG. Alex would work on my daughter’s hair and patiently play dress up for hours.

Happy natal day, niece Alexandria. I love you.

Health report: blood pressure

Emergency surgery for the baby sister

blood pressure

One of the things my cardiologist – I have a cardiologist?! – wanted me to do is to track my blood pressure. I’m not sure why. My BP has usually been pretty consistent over the years.

Still, all month, I’ve been religiously waiting for 8:20 a.m. I don’t eat beforehand. After opening the device and attaching this tool to my left wrist, I sit on the sofa with my left arm elevated by the davenport’s arm.

The idea is that I sit quietly for five minutes before pushing the button to start the reading. Why do 300 seconds of doing nothing seem so long? I hear the second hand of the analog clock in the kitchen ticking.

What have I learned? Other than the tracking of this information has become an obsession? Not a whole lot.

According to the current standards, a systolic reading of less than 120 mm Hg, and a diastolic score of less than 80 mm Hg is considered normal. If it’s 120–139 systolic/80–89 diastolic, it’s considered At Risk (prehypertension), and higher than that is considered High Blood Pressure (hypertension).

When I gave blood regularly – 176 times, thank you very much – my BP was never over 130/80, and usually far less. Only on two occasions has it ever been over 140 systolic. One was for my physical in anticipation of my hernia operation in 2015 when it was 163. The other time was when the cardio surgeon started talking to me about having a procedure in August 2020, and it was about 155 the first time, 142 the second.

The numbers bounced around this month, but it hasn’t been over 120 systolic since the 17th. It’s never exceeded 76 diastolic. But I’ll keep doing it for the foreseeable future.

The baby sister

My sister Marcia called me Friday night at ten minutes before ten. This is NOT my best hour, as I was heading for bed. I hear on my answering machine, “Er. Call [my daughter], maybe in the morning. I’m having surgery.” Wha?

I rushed over to the phone. Marcia had been having digestive problems all week and ended up in the emergency room at about 6 p.m. By 9 p.m., the doctors determined she needed surgery. THAT night. Without getting too specific, her digestive tract was out of alignment, probably due to surgery from 30 years earlier. Think of a garden hose that gets twisted and needed to be unkinked.

I called her daughter Saturday. My sisters, and their daughters(!) and we had our Zoom chat on Sunday. we’re hoping she’ll get out of the hospital later in the week.

Marcia, the youngest, maybe the bravest

no nonsense

Roger Leslie Marcia.5 GainesThere was a point when this became my favorite picture of my “baby sister” Marcia. She’s the one in the foreground, in front of my sister Leslie and me, in our driveway at 5 Gaines Street in Binghamton back in the mid-1960s.

My appreciation for the photo certainly developed after March 12, 1995. That was the day of my parents’ 45th anniversary. There was a family blowup. I remember the details amazingly well.

The part relevant to this piece involved a discussion the three of us had in the parking lot of a Montgomery Wards. Leslie and I were telling Marcia how awesome she was.

Specifically, our maternal grandmother, Gert Williams, would fill our heads with stories of boogeymen and other creatures designed to quiet and tame us. Roger bought into it. So did Leslie. Marcia never bought into grandma Williams’ nonsense.

She would also stand up to our father in a manner Leslie and I would never have DARED to have done. One of us said back in ’95, “we thought he was going to KILL you!” I think we were speaking figuratively.

So I suspect that the photo bugged me a bit when I was a kid as lacking order and symmetry. Now I appreciate it as an act of individualism.

Home

As the youngest, Marcia was the only one of us to permanently move to Charlotte, NC in 1974 with our parents, though both Leslie and I stayed there for brief periods. Ultimately, That has meant that she is the one who is the keeper of the family photos. I own virtually no photos from my childhood, save for a few duplicates I’ve managed to find on visits to North Carolina.

The photo here I found on her Facebook page, which is a treasure trove. Some of my cousins who are working on genealogy totally agree. Unfortunately, my grandmother never bothered to label the older ones.

I should continue to note that Marcia I the person most likely to send a card, not just birthdays and anniversaries, but for Easter and Thanksgiving. I didn’t send her a birthday card this year, or probably last year; this post will have to do.

Sister Marcia: Alzheimer’s fundraising

A potential cure for Alzheimer’s has been found by a new study.

Marcia.Roger.ChristmasAs I surely have mentioned, my sister Marcia was in a too-familiar position in America.

She was raising her daughter and making sure our mother was all right.

For much of the time, Mom was pretty OK. Then in the months before she died in February 2011, not so much. The reason they had a post office box was that mom would take the mail and hide it. She could be belligerent, though seldom to people outside the family.

On her Facebook page for her birthday, which is today, Marcia is raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association. Her timing is quite fortuitous. There is a “special opportunity to double your impact in the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease — our $500,000 Matching Gift Challenge, thanks to longtime supporters, Mary Joy, Jerre and the Stead family.

“The Mary Joy and Jerre Stead became involved with the Alzheimer’s Association when Jerre’s mother developed Alzheimer’s. Since then, Mary Joy, Jerre and their family have been dedicated supporters of the Association, and they’ve pledged to match every gift received by June 15, up to an incredibly generous total of $500,000.”

Incidentally, I read that a potential cure for Alzheimer’s has been found by a new study that appears to have uncovered what causes the disease. “The new treatment would use drugs that are currently prescribe to fight HIV.”

“‘For the first time, we can see what may cause the disease,’ lead researcher Jerold Chun told The New York Post. ‘We also uncovered a potential near-term treatment.”

“The Post added: ‘Chun and his colleagues at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego, Calif., compared brain samples of seven people who had Alzheimer’s with six who didn’t.”

Donating through the Alzheimer’s Association NOW, whether through the efforts of sister Marcia or not, would be a great birthday present for her, and would honor our mother to boot.

Sister Marcia: contribution to the genealogy talk

Someone in the audience knew Charlotte Yates from her time in Binghamton before 1954.

Even though she hasn’t been to our hometown of Binghamton, NY in over a decade, my sister Marcia has contributed mightily to the genealogy talk our cousin Lisa presented recently.

Lisa spoke at the Broome County Area History Conference on April 21 at the Bundy Museum. She came all the way from Washington, DC to introduce two families, one Black and one Jewish, which my wife, daughter and I attended.

As she wrote in the precis, our “second great grandfather, James A. Archer, a free Black man who, along with two other family members, fought in the Civil War. They survived and returned to Binghamton to raise families and start businesses.” In part because of other photos Marcia put online, Lisa was able to ascertain that the post-Civil War photo I’ve posted to this blog included not only James Archer, but the brothers of his wife, Harriet Bell Archer.

“In the late 1800’s the Archer family purchased a house on Maple Street, which became a hub of family activity for several generations to come.” That was the house my grandmother and mother grew up in.”

She also told about her great grandparents, Isaac and Sarah Berman, who were born in Latvia and Lithuania, emigrated, first to Denmark then to the US in 1913 and settled in Binghamton. Isaac “started an egg business that eventually turned into a trucking company that was the first to offer overnight service from the Triple Cities to Boston.

“Both families grew and in 1937, the two came together with the marriage of Ernest Archer Yates and Charlotte Berman, my grandparents, who faced their own challenges as an interracial couple.” Ernie was my grandma’s brother and Charlotte the third child of Isaac and Sarah.

This picture also came from Marcia’s collection, with Ernie and Charlotte together in the back row, my mother’s arm on Ernie’s shoulder. Given the presence of three of their four children, I peg the photo in 1945 or 1946. Someone in the audience knew Charlotte from her time in Binghamton before 1954, when she and the children moved to Queens, NYC after Ernie died unexpectedly.

When Lisa came to Binghamton, she had to take a detour off Front Street onto Gaines Street and pass another Archer property at 5 Gaines Street, where MY nuclear family lived in the 1950s and 1960s.

So Marcia, even though she was far away, was an important part of Lisa’s presentation. Happy birthday, baby sister.