Category Archives: Sue Glab

Hot Air

Who Cares?

We care about many things in this holy land.

We are a diverse group of some 320 million souls, passionately concerned with things like guns, football, which movie had the highest box office figures this past weekend, whatever Kanye West has to say, the Kardashians, and those idiots who sell duck calls.

Oh, we care, deeply, loudly, and, often as not, irrationally.

One thing we don’t care much about is what happens to our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, husbands and wives, and any others who’ve had the poor foresight to grow old.

And the funny thing is, we’re all headed, inexorably, toward that moment when we are unable to lift ourselves out of bed, unable to recognize our children, unsure of what day, month or year this is, incapable of contributing to and participating in this competitive, free market world.

That is, unless we’re lucky enough to go to sleep one night and fail to wake up in the morning. Many people consider that a tragedy. But it pales compared to watching a human being waste away as one health care facility after another says, Hey kids, you’ve gotta move your mother now! Her insurance is running out. Her bank balance is approaching zero.

My mother, for one, won’t ever vote again, so no politician really cares about her. She won’t ever be able to contribute money to any lobbying groups or professional associations or advocacy organizations, so no one with any clout will speak up for her.

She’s superfluous. A drain on society. A taker.

And many of us loathe takers. So many, in fact, that we’ve elected to Congress a whole raft of men and women whose whole purpose as public servants, it seems, is to protect the rest of us from takers.

They’ll be damned if they’re going to spend our precious tax dollars on all those takers.

So rather than provide reasonable, comfortable, resting spots for our fellow aged human beings, rather than financing dignified send-offs for those preparing to take that mandatory plunge into heaven or hell or the chilling nothingness, we instead give them…, well, nothing.

Because we don’t care.

A friend of mine comes from the Netherlands. Her parents were elderly and sick. They were in pain with no hope to ever lead productive, fulfilling lives again. So, in their homeland, they were given the option of convening all their friends and loved ones for a big going-away party where they could say goodbye and tell everybody how much they loved them. People ate and drank, there were laughter and tears, embraces, and closure. Then each of the parents was given an injection and within moments, was dead.

What a way to go.

We don’t do that here because we care about something called the sanctity of life. I wouldn’t argue with those who espouse that, only every time I see my mother, I pass roomsful of people lying in their own shit, their eyes aflame with dementia, their sleep disturbed by three or four other hapless souls down the hall wailing like banshees, their rooms flooded with harsh, fluorescent lighting, their arms pierced with needles, and tubes coming out of their urethras so that the janitorial staff won’t have to spend all day mopping up piss. I’m not seeing much sanctity when I go see Ma.

The closest things come to that is when Ma stirs out of her private misery long enough beg her god to take her, now.

I’d love to throw Ma a going-away party, the way they do it in the Netherlands. I’d do it because I don’t care about any “sanctity of life.” I care about Ma.

Life’s Hot Air

My Wish For My Mother

The opening line of The Stranger by Albert Camus goes like this:

Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.

That is perhaps the most deft and revealing introduction to a character in the history of the literature. With those two short sentences, Camus tells us everything we need to know about Meursault, the eponymous l’étranger. The rest of the book is detail.

Maman, of course, is the informal French for Mother.

I don’t know when Sue Glab is going to die. But I want it to be now. This minute.

I’ve been in Chicago the last few days. My mother, who had a terrible fall in August and has been bedridden since, is hanging on to life by a slender thread. She’s suffering physically, mentally, and in her spirit.

An infection is beginning to cause her body to eat away at itself. Her mind is going. She hardly recognizes me.

Now and again, she slips into a brief lucidity and begins praying to god to take her away. Thursday she looked heavenward, raised her hands (as much as she could), and wondered aloud, “I’ve been a good woman; why are you doing this to me?”

Throughout the years she’s had a spotty relationship with her god. She’s never renounced him or stopped believing he could help her. But at times, I think, she wanted very much to tell him off good.

Now, she feels she’ll be getting the chance to talk to him face to face very soon.


Happier, Healthier, Younger

When I go back to Chicago later this week, I’m going to bring her a rosary. It’ll make her feel a tiny bit better.

Then again, I hope I get the call that tells me she won’t be needing anything anymore. Tonight, maybe. Or tomorrow. I don’t know.

I envy her the capacity to appeal to her god. If I was a believer, I’d say, “Listen, big boy, quit playing around with my mother! Take her away. Stop being such a goddamned bully.”

Hah. Goddamned bully. As if he could damn himself.

My mother, at times, was as tough as nails. I could no easier get a fib past her or change her mind about a grounding than I could flap my arms and take flight. Physically, she developed a pair of guns by making a weekly batch of homemade bread loaves. She’d knead an enormous panful of dough for long, long minutes every Friday.

Believe me, I didn’t want to mess with her.

Now, she’s skeletal. She resembles nothing more than a bony robin fledgling who’s fallen out of a tree. She can’t even hold up her pencil and one of her beloved crossword puzzles. She hasn’t been able to do that for months.

She is, in fact, dead already. Only her lungs and heart don’t know it.

Woody Allen once said, “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering — and it’s all over much too soon.”

A joke, sure. But humor at its highest level works because it’s undergirded by truth. And today Allen’s evaluation of life is borne out in spades by my mother’s continued existence. She is miserable, lonely, and suffering. That is the sum total of her life at this moment.

And when it’s over, it won’t be soon enough.

The Pencil Today:


“The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.” — Doris Lessing


Yesterday was my mother’s 91st birthday.

The old girl is still chugging along. Just the other day she told me she she had no intention of moving out of her third floor apartment in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn. She holds to that position even though it takes her about a week and a half to climb down the stairs just to fetch her mail.

I figure, Why argue with her? She might whack me on the side of the head. As long as she’s still got the crust to stare me down, she can live anywhere she’d like.

The Chief

In honor of Ma’s big day, I’ve decided to re-run a post that I wrote a year ago.


[Originally ran in The Third City, August 18, 2011]

The whole mess of Glab/Parello scoundrels, wastrels, beggars, borrowers, and stealers is gathering Saturday afternoon in the western suburbs to celebrate Sue Glab’s 90th birthday.

I call her The Chief.

She’s my mother. Born Susan Mary Parello in 1921. The nurses only put down the name Susan because they couldn’t make head or tail out of the Italian name Vincent and Anna Parello really wanted to hang on her. That would be Asunta, pronounced ah-SOON-tah, for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Parellos started their Chicago brood in Little Sicily near Grand and Ogden avenues. When Ma was a little girl, the family moved to the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood. There she met a Polish kid named Joe Glab. She was 16, he was 18. They eloped to Indiana. She buried the old man in 1995.

Ninety freakin’ years old. Can you imagine?

I don’t even know if I want to live to 90. I won’t be able to run around at night, chase women, drink till all hours, smoke like a chimney, then go out the next afternoon and play softball in Lincoln Park at that age.

I know I won’t be able to do these things when I’m 90 because I can’t do them now. Haven’t done them for a good dozen years.

In fact, the cardiologist’s office called me the other day to report that my last echocardiogram indicated the old chest pump is getting even creakier than it already has been. Great.

I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed ever since I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, back in 2003. Of all the things I can worry about, I’ve chosen to lose sleep over the possibility that I’ll turn in my timecard before my mother does.

To paraphrase a line from George Costanza of “Seinfeld,” I hope Ma goes lo-o-ong before I do.

So far so good. Now Sue Glab is almost 90.

You know, 90 is really, really old. When I was a kid, I thought 12-year-olds were old. Then when I started hanging out at dance and punk clubs when I was 21, I’d see couples who were 30 or so and think What are those old fools doing out on the dance floor?

Ma has always had a habit of remarking when anybody dies, be they 35, 67,  or 77: “Such a shame; and he was so young.”

I’d think, What the hell is she talking about? A 67-year-old is not young.

But to Ma, everybody who’s a day younger than she is, is young.

Now, just about everybody on Earth is at least a day younger than she is.

Even Ma knows enough not to say a 90-year-old who keels over dead is young.

Somehow little Susie Parello, later Glab, has made it through 10 spins shy of a century. Yee-ow.

That’s a lot of heartache and disappointment. And a bit of triumph here and there.

She doesn’t need to suffer the loss of the likes of me. Losing a kid, I understand, is the worst fate a parent can experience. She’s already destined to cash in her chips bearing another great grief. If she lives to be 137 her beloved Cubs still will not have won the World Series. One tragedy is enough in anybody’s life.

So far I’m holding up my end of the deal. And The Chief just keeps rolling along.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

From XKCD: “What If?”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present/&/CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

Click For Full Article

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ivy Tech, Bloomington Campus — Monthly Lunch & Learn session: “The Power of Creativity” presented by Ladi Terry, 11:30am

People’s ParkLunch Concert Series: The Gospel Gurlz; 11:30am

◗ Corner of Madison & Sixth streets — Tuesday Farmers Market; 4-7pm

City Hall, McCloskey Room — South Central ArtsWORK Indiana monthly meeting; 5:30-7pm

The Venue Fine Art & Gifts“The Art of Twisted Limb Paperworks presented by Sheryl Woodhouse-Keese; 5:30pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Music: Robbie Bowden; 6-8:30pm

Scholar’s Inn Gourmet CafeYoung Professionals of Bloomington monthly mixer; 6pm

Irish LionBloomington Rotaract, students & young professionals community service organization, call-out; 6:30pm

Cafe DjangoMusic: JFB Jazz Jam; 7pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Burden of Dreams”; 7pm

First United Methodist ChurchQuarryland Men’s Chorus call out, rehearsals every Tuesday; 7:30pm

The Player’s PubMusic: Blues Jam hosted by Fistful of Bacon; 8pm

Max’s PlaceMusic: Bender’s Showcase; 8pm

The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington — Team trivia; 8pm

The BishopMusic: Patton’s War, Fluffer; 9pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th

  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th

  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th

  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th

  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st

  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012

  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st

  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • “Media Life,” drawings and animation by Miek von Dongen; through September 15th

  • “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture”; through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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