Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Remembering Daddy

Daddy's birthday would have been June 20, so it always fell near Father's Day. For most of his life, we believed that he was born in 1900. Like many blacks born in the south in those days, he didn't have a birth certificate, and relied on something scribbled in the family Bible. It wasn't until he applied for Medicare that we found out what we had long suspected. Daddy was born before 1900. We knew he remembered the Wright Brother's flight in Kitty Hawk a little too vividly to have been only three-years-old.

The Medicare application required a birth certificate to prove that he was 65. Since he didn't have one, they would accept the birth certificates of two of his children to substantiate his age by the age he gave on the children's birth certificates. The trouble was, Daddy wasn't consistent about his age. For a child born in February 1926, he said his age was 26, disregarding the fact that he had not passed his birthday, June 20 of that year. For a child born in July 1931, Daddy showed his age was 31.

That sent the Medicare folks to looking at the Census for 1900. There he was listed with the family as a child. So he qualified for Medicare all right, but the discovery became a source of family amusement for the rest of his life. Daddy passed away in 1968, and the not-so-old age of WHO KNOWS.

Excerpt from my memoir:

When I started school in Petersburg, I was in the afternoon class for first grade at Giles B. Cook Elementary. Daddy walked me to school everyday until he decided I could handle it alone. Instead of telling me I was old enough to go by myself, one morning he was especially slow getting ready. I waited with my book bag in hand, and nagged him that I would be late for school. It was important to be there in time for lunch, when I could eat my bologna sandwich and have a carton of school chocolate milk. After I had nagged for a while, Daddy told me to go on, and he would catch up. I went off down the street, watching for Daddy to catch up. By the time I reached the corner where I would turn, I could see Daddy leaving the house. He followed me at a distance from there on, and at every turn, I would look back to make sure he was still following me. There were no major streets to cross and hardly ever a car passing at that time of day anyway. By the time I reached the school, Daddy was not even in sight, so I waited until I could see him, and waved good-bye as I went into the school building. I was on my own from then on.

The photo is Daddy with my sister Toni and me, on the campus of Virginia State College. My mother finally received her four-year degree the same year that my oldest brother did. They graduated together from Virginia State College.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shopping for Meds

I know I'm a Senior Citizen around here. My friends call me Ms Sarah, Mama Sarah, Mother Confessor. I don't mind.

I probably take more prescription meds than most of you, so you may think this blog doesn't apply to you. But you may have a parent, grandparent, sibling, neighbor, or someone who is struggling with the cost of prescription medication and could use some relief.

I take seven prescription medications every day, along with a handful of vitamins, minerals, herbal supplements, and assorted other stuff. It takes a lot to keep a sister alive these days.

As a retired employee of the State of NC, my health care premium is free for life, or until they change something. Due to the current economic downturn the State Health Plan has made some changes to keep the plan solvent. Co-pays are increasing, as well as premiums for family members. Tinker has his own retirement, so that's not an issue. But for a lot of State employees the increase means they can't afford to insure their families. It was a short-sighted move on the part of the State, since it's the young people who don't have major medical expenses, who keep the plan afloat for us old folks.

I used to think a $30 co-pay for a 90-day supply of a generic medication was a good deal, until I realized that those same meds on the open market cost less than $30 for a 90-day supply. The preferred pharmacy for State insurance, Medco has been making money off of us. The open-market players have gotten into the pharmacy business and are selling that same 90-day supply for $10.

I've been a little slow in getting into the game, but this week I jumped in. Wal-mart, Target, and all the local grocery chains are in the game. In addition they offer incentives for bringing your new prescription, or transferring one from your old pharmacy. When I picked up my three generics yesterday that previously cost $90 total, I paid $30. It would have been $50 because I take 2 pills per day of two of those prescriptions, but I had earned two $20 incentives for two prescriptions I filled for a family member the day before. I can only cash in one at a time. Not a bad deal.

This is something I've been planning to do for months, but when a new Harris-Teeter opened across the street from my health club, I knew I had to do it.

If you can't take advantage of this kind of discount, check with mama, grandma, auntie, and 'nem. I bet somebody you know can.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Welcome Guest Blogger, Patricia Neely-Dorsey

Sarah, thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce my "little book of southern poems" to your readers.
Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems is "a celebration of the south and things southern". There are so many negative connotations associated with Mississippi and the south in general. In my book, using personal thoughts and dreams, I attempt to give a positive glimpse into the southern way of life. I would love for you to Meet Mississippi (and the south) Through Poetry, Prose and The Written Word.

For more information about the book, please check out my website at:


If you want a glimpse of Southern life,
Come close and walk with me;
I'll tell you all the simple things,
That you are sure to see.
You'll see mockingbirds and bumblebees,
Magnolia blossoms and dogwood trees,
Caterpillars on the step,
Wooden porches cleanly swept;
Watermelons on the vine,
Strong majestic Georgia pines;
Rocking chairs and front yard swings,
Junebugs flying on a string;
Turnip greens and hot cornbread,
Coleslaw and barbecue;
Fried okra, fried corn, fried green tomatoes,
Fried pies and pickles too.
There's ice cold tea that's syrupy sweet,
And cool, green grass beneath your feet;
Catfish nipping in the lake,
And fresh young boys on the make.
You'll see all these things
And much, much more,
In a way of life that I adore.

© 2008 Patricia Neely-Dorsey
from Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life In Poems

The book is available at