This Thanksgiving, with COVID-19 cases approaching 200,000 a day in the United States, sixty-two percent of Americans chose to observe the holiday with a smaller, safer celebration.

Because of recommended CDC guidelines and hubby’s pre-existing health condition, our family initially had planned to celebrate Thanksgiving in our own homes. But then my daughter, newly engaged, confided her desire for all of us to go wedding dress shopping TOGETHER!

Fortunately, hubby’s nephrologist pronounced him “in good working condition,” enabling us to grant our daughter’s wish! We all got tested, then our two daughters drove hundreds of miles to visit. (FYI, two of us were still test result-less on Thanksgiving, but that’s another story)

Our Thanksgiving feast was an intimate cozy gathering of four. I prepared an eight-pound turkey breast in lieu of a whole turkey. May I say our doggies enjoyed partaking in that meal over the next four days! (No onion, no garlic!)

The girls prepared mashed potatoes, carrots with dill, string beans with steak seasoning, and gluten-free stuffing. We followed up with pecan pie–store bought but still delicious. Sparkling cider instead of alcohol; everybody wanted to be up and on it for Friday’s wedding boutique adventure.

As it was, we barely made it on time to the first of our two appointments. This wedding dress shopping experience was way different than the one I had with my older daughter five years ago. To uphold COVID-19 safe distancing regulations, the boutique only booked ONE customer per hour; there was some leeway, but if you went over an hour-and-a-half, some boutiques made you pay to stay!

We made our way into Nitsa’s of Winston Salem, a luxurious boutique with lots of natural sunlight, a stunning flower wall, and dozens of wedding gowns. Chris Bambalis, whose family owns the boutique, was a highly knowledgeable wedding consultant. She remained masked throughout the appointment, as did all of us who accompanied my daughter. Only one attendee was allowed in the dressing room; I seriously tried to make a dash for the room but was intercepted by my older daughter who reminded me that this was NOT my wedding!

My daughter brought seven dresses into the dressing room, which was more than enough! Only she and her sister were allowed to choose dresses; the consultant literally kept her hands to herself during this 5-minute search and seizure expedition. The consultant did, however, demonstrate the easiest way for my daughter to step into the flouncy wedding gowns. Honestly, the gowns hung so heavily on their hangers that I hadn’t been able to raise a one from the rack!

Since my older daughter’s rebuke, I’d confined my participation to taking notes within my journal. We all soon agreed that, amid the tulle, satin, and lace, the first gown–a Cinderella ball number that actually fit my pocketbook–was the perfect pick! As beautiful as it was, though, we still had one more appointment. We thanked Chris for her time and went on our way. I was sure we’d be back.

Back in the car, though, my bride was concerned that she hadn’t cried like all brides are supposed to when they say YES TO THE DRESS. Her sister assured her that everybody is different; there’s no set way to react.

I wasn’t prepared to like Elizabella’s Bridal Boutique in Greensboro; in my mind, we’d already chosen my daughter’s gown. But as my bride tried on a a variety of styles and silhouettes, I soon realized all bets were off. Like Nitsa’s, this boutique featured gowns designed in Barcelona and Italy. We found another Cinderella ball gown type, which definitely made me tear up.

However, the gown that ultimately caused my daughter to cry was the elegant design of a Ukranian designer. As our ancestors on one side of the family tree are from Ukraine, this gown seemed written in the stars. I became sure of it when Whitney mentioned the price of the gown–it matched that of the first gown!

My daughter said YES TO THE DRESS! She drove back to Chicago, secure in the fact that a year from now, she, G-d willing, will be walking down the aisle, her father and mother on either side of her, wearing the wedding gown of her dreams….

Finale: Scary Sunday

How to Remove Blood Stains from Cement Surfaces |

A diverse collage of paramedics stream into the house, through the living room, and into the bedroom to attend to my husband. Although partially clothed, with blood still oozing from his leg, my husband is attempting to joke with the EMTS about his stupid accident.

My brain in a dither, I can’t be in that room right now. I ask if it’s okay for me to walk the dog, who hasn’t been let outside for a pee in six hours, and they give me the go ahead.

I return less that ten minutes later, only to see the ambulance zooming off into the night, my husband on board. Thankfully they’d left the front door wide open, so we were able to get back inside.

Was it weird that I didn’t freak out about rushing after the ambulance? That, instead, I focused on spraying hydrogen peroxide over the garage “crime scene” blood until white, cloudlike masses consumed the lead-smelling rust?

Not so much. The EMTs had left a note that they were taking my husband to the nearby med center, not the hospital. I phoned instead. I’ve endured many a late night hospital trip with hubby, and I sensed this wasn’t that. Besides, I knew he was in good hands. At this moment, the only thing I COULD control was removing the blood so everything would be NORMAL when I brought him back home.

A couple hours later, stitches sewn, and antibiotics administered, we pulled into the driveway.

“Pull into the garage,” he said.

“Yeah, not gonna happen,” I said.

Although I’d managed to erase, in record time, all blood from carpet, utility room, and garage, my heart knew the emotional fall-out would take much longer to disappear.

PART 1: Scary Sunday


My husband has pre-existing health conditions, so I’m super cautious to make dinner reservations after confirming that restaurant follows COVID-19 guidelines, re: masks, sanitizer, and social distancing. We’ve just returned home from one such dinner and are exiting the car, when our Bichon starts his shivery welcome home strut around my husband’s feet. Focused on making it to the bathroom, hubby manages to skirt the dog, instead gashing his leg along the sharp end of the car door

All at once, the garage floor is seeped in blood–the same blood flowing from my husband’s leg!

“I’m calling 911!” I say, attempting to modulate my voice (for his sake) as I sludge through the crime scene.

“I’m fine,” he says calmly. “Just get the bandage, hydrogen peroxide, and gauze from the linen closet.

He’s obviously forgotten that he donated a plethora of wound care products to the in-home health care nurse during their final visit. I’d urged him to hoard some of the Medicare stash they’d sent him for free “just in case!”

My husband had pooh-poohed the suggestion, despite his razor-thin skin recovering from one wound after another. De-ni-al!

I barrel through the living room, finally making it to the bathroom. I grab a thin roll of gauze, sanitizer, and three wound pads from the linen closet. Then I beat it back to the utility room and commence wrapping the wound.

Just when I think the bandage is secure, I notice droplets of blood seeping from miniscule holes in the gauze. At this rate, I’m sure hubby is going to bleed out and I won’t have enough bandage and gauze to re-wrap the wound!

Moments later, I’m on the phone with the 911 dispatcher when hubby taps me on the shoulder. “Sorry to interrupt, but I really need to get to the bathroom. Can you bring me my house slippers?”

I glance down to see his toes and feet dripping in blood. Crap! Although I’ve penned five crime novels, I’ve never seen this much blood in one place at one time. I wrack my brain for answers and come up with nada.

Just then, I hear the sirens. Paramedics burst through the front door.

(Stay tuned for Part 2 on Friday!)