A Refrigerator Door And a Handle on Life

By Barry Berkey
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, August 29, 2005

Ihad never thought of the notes on my refrigerator door as personal and sensitive until a recent visit from my California cousin, Janice.

Shortly after she arrived, we headed to the kitchen for lunch. She immediately was drawn to a disorganized array of magnets and clutter affixed to the refrigerator.

Studying my appointment cards, receipts, recipes, memos, photos, schedules and other reminders, she exclaimed, "You had Frosty killed!"

Defensive, I said, "Frosty had gone deaf. Maybe you didn't know she'd also been blind for a couple years."

Janice stood before the receipt marked Euthanasia Services, $116. "Poor Frosty," she said. "Did you try a cochlear implant?"

"No," I said guiltily. "Putting her down was the kindest thing . . . Okay if we eat? Soup's getting cold."

Ignoring me, she asked, "How long have you been dying your hair?"

"Dying my hair?"

"Here!" She tapped impatiently on the refrigerator. "A rebate for Grecian Formula."

"Oh, that? I'm not sure how long."

She asked, "Why are you seeing a physical therapist?"

"Low-back spasms."

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