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April 12, 2018 / Sandra Bossert

The Candy Man

I was just listening to a classic oldies radio station. The song named The Candy Man by Sammy Davis Jr. just played. It reminded me of the real candy man in my life. Before my family moved to Mastic, I lived in Levittown Long Island until half way through the second grade. This is no offense to Mastic in any way but Levittown is paradise to grow up in.

For starters, my family lived across the street from a village green. If you are a Billy Joel fan, you may have heard him singing about Brenda and Eddie meeting at the village green. Well I lived across the street from one of the village greens. There was a basketball court, playground, swimming pool, a strip mall of outdoor stores, lots of grass for flying kites, frisbee etc. and all summer long a mobile would arrive with concerts and puppet shows for children.

Then I started school. I met a girl named Larrasa Sue. We became fast friends and would go to each other’s homes to play when school let out. One day, Larrasa’s mother took both of us to their neighbor’s house. She explained that the neighbor had a surprise for us. A surprise! How exciting! I thought to myself and I couldn’t wait to see whatever else this great town had.

The man was very friendly and he introduced himself to me and greeted Larrasa and her mother. With that, the man handed us both plastic bags and asked if we were ready!?! Larrasa shouted with joy “Yes!!!”. We were lead to the living room. Everywhere I looked were candies, pretzel rods, sweets, chocolates and cookies. I could feel my smile growing bigger and bigger. Larrasa’s mother explained that the neighbor is the candy man and I was to pick out a bag of candy.

WOW! A candy man!!! I was all but jumping up and down. Was I dreaming? Is this my birthday? Hanukkah? No!!! It is not but here I am in the candy man of Levittown house!!!

My dad would often bring me and my brother, Ken, to the candy store on Saturdays and allow us to pick out one piece of candy. He would pick one out too.

My grandfather, Papa Joe, would sometimes either let me and Ken pick out candy or he would surprise us with the latest candy of the 70’s such as whistle pops or pop rocks.

If that wasn’t great enough, Larrasa and her mother just introduced me to the candy man.

I hit the jackpot! A REAL LIVE CANDY MAN!!!!

The two adults encouraged me that it was okay and I could take candy or whatever sweets I wanted to take. I couldn’t stop thanking the man. From time to time when I would visit Larrasa, her mother would allow us to visit the neighbor and without fail, he always had bags ready for us to pick out our respected candies and sweets.

I once asked the mother why the neighbor did this. She explained that he is a really nice man who loves children and he just wants to see us happy.

After I moved, Larrasa and I would write letters to one another. We stayed in touch for a long time. I was actually at her Bat Mitzvah when she turned 13, but then our lives grew apart. In later years I have tried to locate her but haven’t been able to. I will always cherish the wonderful years that I lived in Levittown and the people who lived there. To a child, there is nothing better than a real candy man.

(c) 2018

 

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March 9, 2018 / Sandra Bossert

The Unsolved Mystery of Regular Dave

Recently, I reconnected with my college roommate at SUNY Oswego and very dear friend, Christine, for the first time in over 20 years. Part of the conversation was us reminiscing about our college years. We were going back and forth with stories. I asked her… “Do you remember our crazy telephone that had so many features that it came with an instruction book? It  would say “HELL-Duh. HELL-Duh or “ANSSSS -ER. ANSSSS-ER.”

Christine reminded me of how at that time I named someone “Regular Dave” and the name stuck. Everyone was calling this person “Regular Dave”. I had no recollection of this until Christine reminded me and I just burst out laughing. It begged the question.

“Christine, who was Regular Dave and why did I call him that”????

If you think about it, the fact that I would label someone as “Regular” couldn’t have been flattering to Dave. Looking back on it, if someone called me “Regular Sandra” I know I would not find it too complimentary or flattering. It would be downright…not very nice. Anyone who knows me knows I have always wanted to be that person that builds people up around me, not tearing anyone down.

Christine answered “I don’t know. You had more than one Dave in your life at the time and one day you just started calling him Regular Dave and then it stuck”. Christine said that all she could think of, is that maybe Larry’s roommate was named Dave.

A couple of days later, I reached out to Larry by text. We met at Oswego and have been close ever since. I let him know that Christine and I were in touch. Then I asked him. “Do you remember a Regular Dave”? He replied “Of course I remember Regular Dave”.

I was so glad.

“Larry, who was regular Dave and why did I call him that?”.

” I don’t know. He was some guy that you knew and you started calling him regular Dave”.

Oh my heavens. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that he coordinated his story with Christine before he spoke to me.

“Larry, what was your roommate’s name at Oswego”?

“George? Ben? Tom? Greg?”. I don’t remember, but it wasn’t Dave”.

Now it was going to drive me AND Larry crazy.

What was Larry’s roommates’ name? Who was Regular Dave and why did I call him that? Didn’t I realize how wrong that was?

After much thought, I realized that one of the people named Dave was “DJ Dave”, which would have prompted me to refer to either “DJ Dave” (a friend who worked as a DJ at weddings etc) versus Regular Dave.

To date, Larry has remembered that his roommate’s name was Scott.

Unfortunately, “The Mystery of Regular Dave” remains unsolved.

(c) 2018

 

 

March 1, 2018 / Sandra Bossert

Special Needs Head

Recently I was working with a Patient who was very nice and appreciated everyone who was helping him. He was an Asian man and unfortunately his English was not very strong. I asked him if he was interested in going to rehab or any program to help him stay clean and sober. Each day he would give me the same answer in a thick accent, “no program thank you G-d bless you”. This became a ritual. I would ask the same question each day and I would get the same exact answer.

To my surprise, on the last night before he was going to be discharged, this otherwise easy going man approached me in a desperate tone. “Sandra. I want program”. Then he started using body language. He put his hands on his shoulders and draped them down towards his legs. “I need coat”. Then he put both of his hands by his shoulders again and started wildly flipping them up. He did this just the way someone would put the hood part of a hoodie on their head. “Special needs head”. WHAT?!?! Did he just say “SPECIAL NEEDS HEAD”?!?!?!? He started flipping his hands like a hood in an even more pronounced way. Then he said it again. “Special needs head”. “I need special needs head because my head special needs”.

I felt like I was in the middle of a cartoon or maybe I was on a Candid Camera type reality show. I found MYSELF copying him flipping my hands over my head as if to put on a hood. Then it occured to me. All this time I am trying not to laugh. He is a very nice man after all and I don’t want to laugh at him when he is trying hard to speak English. At this point I can’t even talk because I am dying and trying to hold in my laughter. I manage to muster up a “do you mean a hat sir”? Thank G-d in heaven that his answer was “YES!!! Hat!!! I need hat Ms. Sandra because I have special needs head”. I wonder what the hell he means by a “special needs head”. Unfortunately, I just didn’t think there was any way I was going to be able to hold in my laughter long enough to get that question answered. So I didn’t ask.

I will never be able to look at a hat the same way again without thinking about this exchange. Special needs head !?!?!?!

 

(c) 2018

February 17, 2018 / Sandra Bossert

The Day Getting a Sandwich was an Ordeal of Royalty

This summer I was stopping at my friend, Ray’s house for a short visit before continuing on to visit my parents. Ray explained that he had to stop to “pick up a sandwich” before he continued on to go to work. If I would like to, I could follow him. Then, after he gets his sandwich, he will point me to the highway and I can continue to visit my parents. I did not want to get lost, so I agreed. We were both in our respective cars. Ray kept driving road after road after road. I was wondering…where could this deli or store possibly be??? Next thing I know, we are on the grounds of a country club. My curiosity had the best of me. Was this a private deli for country club members? I never knew that Ray was a member of a country club! How impressive. Odd that he never mentioned anything about this to me before. Next thing I know, we are walking by a golf course. We keep walking and walking until we entered a building. There were tables, chairs, a bar and outdoor seating. It was a restaurant at the country club and almost everyone there knew Ray! We were given menus, cloth napkins and fine silverware. This is NOT what I expected. After all of this, Ray did indeed order a sandwich. It was about a 45 minute ordeal, but it did eventually arrive.

That day I came to find out that when Ray said he “is going to get a sandwich before going to work” he does NOT mean I am going to pick up a sandwich at a deli. It means that I am going to drive to a country club, walk into a restaurant, greet almost everyone there and then eat my meal in style.

I had told my parents to expect me to join them for lunch so I did not order a sandwich myself. However, I helped myself to some of Ray’s french fries and they were quite good. Also, as discussed, Ray did indeed show me said road “after he had his sandwich”. The entire time that Ray and I were together, it never occurred to him that his version of “picking up a sandwich” was completely different than mine.

Once I finally, finally hit the road, I stopped and got my father on the cell phone. I explained to him that I was about ten minutes away. He was glad to hear that I was okay, because he expected me about two hours earlier. Honestly, I expected me two hours earlier too!  I spent the entire time wondering how I was going to explain to my parents why I was two hours late. So I went with the truth. In my life, I am just not creative enough to come up with stories that would match what really happens.

Well. Even though it was completely unintentional, Ray taught me something that day. My life should be less rush and more indulgence.  A big bonus…enjoying life with the people who count. Ray lives his life to the fullest. So should we. Thank you Ray, my dear friend, for the day that simply getting a sandwich turned into a great memory.

(c) 2018

October 6, 2017 / Sandra Bossert

He was Clinically Dead – Survived and He Wants Us To Know…

Recently I had a Patient named Steven. He struggled with several deaths in his immediate family in a relatively short period of time. He was in his mid thirties and what threw him over the edge is the death of his elementary school aged child. Not knowing where to turn or how to cope, he turned to heroin and immediately became hooked. I met this man after his fourth time overdosing on heroin. All four times he was pronounced clinically dead. Narcan was administered and it brought him back to life each time.

“You know what Sandra, you seem like a very open minded and caring person”. “I am going to tell you this and I hope you will share it with others”. Steven went on to say that he was always an Atheist. Once he was clinically dead the first time, he believed he travelled down a dark path. At the end of the path was light . He was greeted by his parents and the other relatives that had recently passed away, his child and a pet that he had in his childhood. There were angels. After getting greeted, he was asked if he wanted to go into a room so he could see his life again. He looked towards the room and saw what resembled a film running with images of his life so he stopped and watched. It was a timeline of his life so far. He also saw two thrones. There was a presence so bright that he couldn’t really see what the presence was. He could only experience the bright light and assume it was G-d. It is Steven’s belief that he saw G-d. What he believed is he experienced a strong, overpowering, loving force of energy so powerful that you had to look away. Steven said it felt like a harsh bright light but a “loving force” at the same time. He said he had no choice but to look away because of the brightness. He also believed that he saw Jesus. Steven said that he was eventually told that it wasn’t his time and that he had to leave. This was the first time that he overdosed.

The other three times he said that he had similar experiences with one exception. He would be told more information each time. He was told that people have souls. Once their life ends, their souls continue. This life is the hardest one because there is both good and evil forces. After our souls leave our body there is another life. It is an easier life. He also said that there are many religions. People keep coming back as different religions until they reach their final resting place. His belief is that the Christian faith is the last one before final rest.

He also said that throughout heaven, prayers were being heard by every soul in heaven and they were being acknowledged.

Today Steven is a Born Again Christian. He is no longer Atheist. He believes that the reason he keeps surviving being clinically dead is because he is supposed to let others know what happens in the afterlife.

I do know that there is documentation showing that Steven overdosed resulting in four hospital admissions. It is also documented that he has never had a history of mental health issues with the exception of being addicted to heroin.

I really appreciated that Steven felt comfortable enough to tell me about his afterlife experiences. It was one of the most interesting days on the job that I have ever had.

You might wonder why I would have blogged about this. If his message to me is true then it may be comforting. On Saturday, I was in temple for Yom Kippur ( Jewish New Year). A prayer that we always say talks about how G-d will seal our fate for the upcoming year. We read about “who shall live and who shall die”; “who shall be poor and who shall wax rich” and the prayer continues. It made me think about Steven. I do hope that if there is an afterlife, we can look forward to reunions and a force of love.

As many of you know, I celebrate the Jewish New Year. My hope is that in the coming new year I may be reunited with you for happy occasions and that more love in the world starts right now.

September 14, 2017 / Sandra Bossert

The Worst Marriage Proposal Ever

I was working with a Patient who barely spoke any english. The first day that I met him, I got a translation service who spoke english and spanish. In summary, he only wanted to speak about his housing and immigration problems. Over the few days that we met, I just could not convince him to speak about addiction. Far from it. He would keep changing the subject. On the last day we were to meet he spoke in an angry voice. In broken english. “Sandra you write letter I become citizen”?!?!?!?! I looked at the man like he had two heads. Now he is raising his voice. YOU WRITE LETTER I become citizen. Write it. NOW. He shoves a piece of paper in front of me and reaches to take my pen.

Since I was startled by this man yelling at me and taking my pen out of my hand it took me a moment to realize what he was doing. He was demanding that I marry him. I mean, what letter could I write that would even get him CONSIDERED for citizenship.

So I regrouped. Sir, I can not help you with your immigration status or your housing. If you want to talk about addiction, I may be able to help you.

I told Walter about this awful marriage proposal. He asked, “How much did the man offer to pay you”?!?!?

Nada.

If anything, he would probably try to make ME pay HIM.

A co-worker said “you can’t blame a man for trying”. Now that made me feel better.

If you want someone to marry you for a green card, this is NOT the way to propose.

July 6, 2017 / Sandra Bossert

The Farm That Grew Legs and Crossed State Lines

Recently, a Patient asked me to assist him with making a long distance phone call. He spent almost one half hour trying to convince the person to pick him up at the hospital and drive him to Connecticut so he can work on a farm.

I could hear the man yelling through the phone “No! You are a liar. How many times do you think I am going to fall for that! How many times am I going to pick you up at a hospital so you can get high! For the entire phone call, the man did not waiver. My Patient’s tactics were getting more and more desperate sounding. “Do it for my mother who is sick and in another country”. “Do it so that I am working on a farm and can’t get high”. “Do it so I can earn a plane ticket and leave the country”. Eventually he got off the phone and was really upset.

The next day, I came in to work and the Patient was already making a request to see me immediately.

“Sandra, I need to go to NJ?!?!?!?”.

You’ve got to get the hospital to pay for me to go to NJ so I can work on a farm”.

I wondered but did not say out loud…what happened to CT?

Does this person think that I am stupid? Yesterday the farm was in Connecticut. Today the farm is in New Jersey. Am I to believe that a farm grew legs overnight and walked across  state lines?

I told the story to my colleagues and they could only shake their heads. Apparently, this Patient comes in every few months and gives the same story about needing to go work on a farm and we should pay for his transportation.

It was another first for me.

(c) 2017