Bea Westerberg may be contacted at


Has anyone been worried that I might not have something to write about each week? We are nearing my 375th column. The problem is not thinking about something to write, its deciding what little tiny piece of life or information I can share in 900 words or less.

This week's information focuses around conversations I had with Daughter Nissa. Our Sunday morning ritual since she left for college in upstate New York in 1995 was to talk on the phone for several hours. This was back in the late dinosaur days and cellphones were rare.

I found a way to get a 800 number for her so she could call home not only on Sundays but any time she felt that she needed to be in touch with us. Things have moved forward many times and now we are at the unlimited cellphone route.

On one of our conversation days we were exchanging our list of things to do but really were not very excited about getting done. Among my list of things to do was to find my cellphone. It is known to take trips to hide on almost a regular basis since I do not feel I need to connect it to my hip. I also do not have the phone number memorized so I was complaining about taking the time to look that up and hoping I had not turned my phone off. The plan was to call myself and listen for the ring and I would do that after I got done talking with Nissa.

Someplace during this long conversation, I had a smashing bright light enter my brain and say to me, "Bea, look at what you have in your hand that you are using to talk to Nissa." A miracle happened! I had been using it the whole time. I started laughing so much she got worried something really was wrong with me. My brain is a real piece of work.

School lunch

Among the long list of conversations during the last Sunday's session was the fact it's back-to-school time. We talked about the annual ritual of taking the back to school pictures and perhaps it took Mom a few years to get them developed. Nissa stated that she never ever had a hot lunch at the high school. I said, "Really, what did you eat"? She said I made her lunch each morning.

That part of my life must have been washed away with my stroke because I do not recall packing this child a lunch.

I asked her what I packed and what kind of lunch bag or box she had. She also said she did not really recall. Talk about a totally forgettable piece of life.

I remember doing Husband Larry's metal lunch box and quart of coffee each morning but not even a hint of a vision for my daughter's lunches. I will repeat: my brain is a piece of work.

Where's Johnnie?

Time flies by and Nissa completed and got her PhD and did two years of post-doctoral work. She for sure had to make her own lunches as she was in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Baltimore, Md.

During the time she lived in Baltimore her personal phone number got on the "parent to call" list in the Baltimore school system. She did not have any children and surprised to hear that her son Johnnie was a very challenging student. His misdeeds included skipping school on a regular basis, chewing gum, not turning in his homework and owing the teacher lunch money. As hard as she tried for over two years she could not get herself removed from this list. As time went on the calls got fewer and fewer, but she sometimes wonders what happened to her imaginary child. It would be very sad if Johnnie's real parents never found out about his school life and he fell through the cracks.

It's a wax wrap

I can remember what I did for school lunch back in my day. It was "make it myself" if I wanted something to eat at school. We did not have hot lunch until seventh grade and then it was only a rare occasion that I got money to buy lunch. Wax paper was the wrap of the day and Mom saved small grocery bags for our lunch bags. I never did get the cowgirl lunch box I dreamed of.

I did check in the back-storage room to see if I could find some lunch boxes that Nissa may have used but I did not find any. Would I have put them in the attic to keep them for her? She did say that she knew for sure it was well before the time of bento boxes and insulated bags and all the fancy trapping that go with school lunches nowadays.

A few years ago, I did purchase, for myself, a few of the Japanese molds to make hard boiled eggs in the shape of chickens, birds and flowers. Having over 1,500 cookies cutters; maybe I made fancy shaped sandwiches? Oh my, I truly wish I could remember.

I was checking the list of things to make for kids nowadays and it is beyond sandwiches and chips. Baked ravioli, ham-and-cheese pinwheels, pizza rolls, fruit pizza, goldfish crackers and string cheese were among the suggestions. Cut an apple, put it back together and hold in place with a pipe cleaner. No more brown apples! Life is good!