Category Archives: Life

Sarah is Old

It’s my 40th birthday. This morning I woke up in a hospital bed in a hotel in California’s wine country. The hospital bed was crucial to the trip, so that Rob and I could get some sleep. But of course there is something extremely messed up about spending your 40th birthday in a hotel with your husband in separate beds. Especially when your bed has rails.

I asked Rob to bring me to Calistoga for my birthday because the wine country might be the longest love affair I have ever had. The first time I came here was November 4, 2000. My 22nd birthday. I knew nothing about wine, except that I greatly enjoyed it, and so my boyfriend at the time and I went to all the places we had heard of (meaning all of the places that sold cheap wine in Madison, Wisconsin.) We had an amazing time. This is my happy place.

The first time Rob and I traveled here together was in 2005, Read More>

Time That You Love

By now, many of you are wondering if I’ve taken a serious turn for the worst. Or is it worse? I’m never sure about that, and I don’t feel like looking it up. It’s true that my body continues to weaken, and it’s getting harder to breathe. My speaking voice is really quiet, which means that Otto just laughs at me when I tell him not to do things (he openly mocked me by eating my peanut butter sandwich off the counter last week while I looked on, and later he acted all innocent like he just hadn’t heard me telling him no. I hope he gets diarrhea.)

My intention was to blog twice a week when I started in 2014. Now my intention is to blog today, and we’ll just see what happens after that. Summer was good, although as usual it went by so quickly that I feel like I went to sleep in June and woke up in September. Scarlett got prescription glasses and went to her first sleep away camp for one week. The glasses are already broken. I mean, did I really even need to say that? We didn’t even send them to camp with her, because it’s not like we’re amateurs here. But we did think she should wear them to school, and clearly that is where we went wrong.

Sleep away camp was a great success, and when we picked her up she informed us that Read More>

A letter to my nephew on his sixth birthday

Dear Jack,

You have no idea how hard it was not to start this letter with something like My Dearest Quackadoo or Darling Quackers or even Dear Little Jackie Bear. But I didn’t want to embarrass you right at the start, so I saved that for the first sentence. You’re welcome.

Pool boy

Happy birthday! You are six, sweet boy, and I have been so excited to write you this letter. It’s hard to believe another year has gone by. You rocked kindergarten like a pro and are headed to first grade in a mere month. I promise that if you invite me to school for any events I will probably not call you Quackers in front of your friends.


Highlights from the past year include you and me picking out Halloween costumes. This is an activity I have enjoyed since you were a baby and I bought you your first prison inmate costume, complete with tattooed sleeves. Faced with fluffy choices like cupcakes and ice cream cones, you rejected convention and brilliantly decided that Fiona (who was not yet two at the time) would be a bearded garden gnome. You went as a musclebound, hammer wielding Thor, and Scarlett changed costumes at least three times that day, ending up as a zombie cheerleader for Arizona State University. We went trick-or-treating on Grove Street, where the neighborhood blocks off the street and residents decorate their garages with spiderwebs and cauldrons and give out buckets worth of candy. Halloween with you and the girls is magical.

I can tell you without hesitation that one of my favorite moments this year was when you and your mom came to one of Scarlett’s basketball games at the JCC. The game had started, and all of the spectators were lined up against the far wall of the gymnasium, most in folding chairs or standing in small groups. You walked directly to where I was sitting, in the middle of all the action, and without a word you climbed into my lap, wrapped my arms around you and leaned back. I am not making this up: people were whipping out cameras. I think two women spontaneously melted into the floor, never to be seen again. Take note, my nephew, your charm is a powerful thing.


As a five-year-old, you traveled to Barcelona and Kauai, trying out new foods and late bedtimes. You face timed us from a porch in Hawaii that overlooked the ocean, and showed us the chickens running wildly in your backyard. Though you had barely been there for two days, you were as brown as toast and probably just as warm. In a way, I felt like I was right there with you. I do miss our travels together.

My ALS continues to progress, and you have become one of my trusted wheelchair drivers. With you in total control of the chair, we have cruised through the Mission and Noe Valley in search of restaurants, zoomed maniacally around playgrounds, and covered much hilly ground in our chosen city. Well, I guess it’s my chosen city. You are from San Francisco, a fact that still gives me a small electric shock when I think about it.


You are a phenomenal big brother, which surprises no one. Fiona has learned so much simply from watching you. You take good care of the things you love, like your colorful betta fish, Doughnut. You are learning to play the piano. You play soccer and T-ball, tennis and basketball. You love to ride your bike and be with your friends. Whenever I see you, you come right up to me and give me a kiss. Lately, you have taken to clapping my hands for me at appropriate times, and lifting my hand for a high five. You sat on my lap at Scarlett’s violin recital and used my arms to play your own imaginary violin.


Jack, you crack me up daily. You are an extraordinary person, and like the Beatles song says, it’s getting better all the time. I adore you, and I can’t wait to celebrate this big day with you.


*Photos by your parents and my friend Margaret, except for the one of you dressed as a girl. I took that one. Scarlett dressed you.