Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Well, I really have to say that, for the first time in my life (almost no exaggeration) I'm truly surprised. At what?

What life has become. In the past, we all complained a lot. But we weren't really surprised. Let's face it. We ACTED surprised, but Mmmm, we weren't.  "Oooh...this job is really hard. And boring."

Big surprise.

" boyfriend/girlfriend did this or that."  Wow. Shocking.

"OMG! I had a baby. It's hard work!!!! I have no time for myself!" Truly unparalleled in history.

"Shit! I'm 45, and the mortgage needs to be paid, the kids' RESPs need to be topped up, my husband/wife is an irresponsible sh*thead, and my parents are experiencing full-blown dementia, and I don't know what to do. Which doesn't really matter, because I don't have a single f*cking minute to myself to think about my own navel, so why would I think about this?"


But now. Now, comes the stuff that no one warned of. Well, maybe a few movies were made about this, but perilously few. It's called: "YOU'RE OLD."

Sure, go ahead and laugh, all you young 'uns out there. But this is SH*TTY. This GETTING OLD thing.

So here's the drill: You turn 50 or so (give or take a few years on either side, but that's it), and your body gives in to all these genetic time clocks that are built in, and against which you have NO HOPE of FIGHTING. Over the course of maybe three years, you turn into your mother/father. You have no control over this. Exercise/botox/surgery are mere myths in terms of being fixes.

That's it. I have little more wisdom to add. Govern yourself accordingly. (of course, more grim details will follow in the next post)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fair Weather Blogger

That's me! I only blog when I feel like it...and in the last couple of years, that's been "not too often."

Anyway, the 1st anniversary of my mother's death is coming up, on June 4th. I think of her often, and she is with me in many of the things I do, which follow automatically on her teaching. I have many conflicted emotions about my mother, my childhood, my father, and our whole family situation.

In the end, though, I think of it all less and less often, because, let's face it, it was probably pretty typical, and it wasn't horrid. It wasn't fantabulous, but it wasn't horrid. I had good food, was well-dressed, was given what I needed to learn at school (desk, pencils, quiet room), and in general I felt secure as a child.

Now, I know others who had terrible childhoods. I had friends who were psychologically terrorized by mentally-ill parents. I know others who thought everything was great, but (now with hindsight) know they were given the bare minimum: no advice, no wisdom, no guidance, no self-esteem.

One of my contemporaries left home of her own accord when she was 17. Couldn't take the crap anymore. She left. And she made it through university, is brilliant, is successful in her career.

Another friend was booted out of her home at the same age: 17. Can you imagine? "Hi honey, well, you just finished grade 12, and we've let you stay here, oh, um, an extra five minutes. Now, get the hell out."

Nice. This last friend hasn't been so successful. Her "career" is non-existent. She's my age and waitressing. Still. She's got no prospects, no back-up and her dreams, well, they drifted away long ago.

I've now reached the grand age of 54. Looking back, I, too, could be a bit bitter. Things haven't gone exactly, or even nearly, as a I planned. But like my childhood, it hasn't all been awful. There's been lots of good.

Honestly, can you really expect much more than that?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

So What Now?

So the thing is, as ever, life goes on.

And there is nothing more annoying, or self-defeating,than a whinger. Someone who goes on about how others have hampered them. OTHERS stood in their way.  Others did this and that blah blah blah...

It is true that you carve your own path, and anyone who says "OH MY! Me mammie held me back, "(or any one else) is just employing excuses.

So that is not what I've been trying to say in my last posts. Whatever I have done, was what I wanted to.

Whatever dysfunctional relationships I've had in the past, which I've continued (not disfunctionally, but continued the relationship at a distance on my terms), I was aware of...and new ones have been largely functional. And happy.

So I go forth...but everything changes. Death brings change and new life. One day I will be able to articulate this better........:)

Sunday, September 7, 2014


So I've updated you on my last year. It's been horrid.

The thing is, I lost myself during that time. All I did was take care of others.And while that in itself is not a wholly bad thing, it is when others are taking advantage. And that's how I feel.

I feel like my mother took advantage, sometimes. I feel like my kids took advantage sometimes, And I feel like my husband took advantage. I got into "taking care of others" mode, and never thought about myself. And nor, apparently, did others.

I haven't worked full-time since my ex-husband left me. Why? Because I couldn't leave my kids. I ended up getting divorced in a part of Canada where you must absolutely be bilingual in order to be employed in my line of work. And I'm not bilingual. So I've worked part-time, on contract every since. Yeah, they'll hire you for those kinds of jobs, even if you're not bilingual. What a great country, and government, we have.

So I couldn't leave Kookytown to get a good job....and leave my kids behind. And that's what my ex-husband insisted upon, and the law was behind him.

Can you believe that? The town where you get dumped in, is the town where you must stay, according to Canadian divorce law. Unless you want to leave for a job, then see your kids for a month in the summer, and that's it. And those little ones flying on a plane to see you. How sad, how scary, how sickening.

I couldn't do it, so I stayed, and in doing that, I compromised myself, my ambitions, my self-esteem, my power, my money-making abilities, and my freedom.

Which is all well and good, if you make that decision, and then you get the support you need from your family. Hmmmm.

In any event, I guess what I'm trying to say is, now that my mother is gone, I feel like blinkers have been removed from my eyes. I look at myself, and wonder, "what happened?" I haven't seen a doctor in years, on my own accord, for myself. I need to see an orthodontist, and I need to get various other physical issues in order. When's the last time I've had time to exercise the way I want to?

It goes on and on.... and I won't even mention the material objects I've denied myself...because I may need that money to give to other people. A Starbuck's Latte? Never had one. I can't afford that.

New clothes? Pshaw. My 25-year-old stuff is good enough for me. Meanwhile, my son gets the latest, best computer, and my daughter insists on Uggs as her daily footware. Etc.

Now, here's where I stop the rant. I just wanted to give you examples. And I will continue in my next post about how I may actually try to save myself, going forward.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Redemption (please save me from all the little boxes)

People forgive me, for it has been almost a year since my last

When I was a child, I spoke those words, or nearly those words, on a regular basis, because I was raised as a Catholic, and that meant going to confession.

"Father forgive me, for I have sinned. It's been (insert time here) weeks since my last confession."

The priest would listen patiently, lecture gently for a while, then assign my act of contrition, which amounted to saying a few Hail Mary's, maybe a Lord's Prayer thrown in for good.

How could I ever forget that routine? As a child, heading for the confession booth, waiting in nervous silence for the priest (always a withered up old white guy) to slam open the tiny wooden divider, and reciting my "sins," (my mother always said to make up a few minor ones if I couldn't honestly think of anything I'd done wrong) was both terrifying and strengthening.

After all, if you can face that sort of torture as a kid, you learn the template to face a lot bigger stuff as an adult. And to not question why, just to react appropriately, sometime with gritted teeth, but always with a stolid Catholic front.

Well, a lot has happened since last November, and I feel like I may have sinned, or not, and that I may be redeemed, as in saved.

I won't write at length about the last year...for that could form a book. Here it is in ten easy points:
  1. Last Christmas, my mother shared the day with us. She was 94. We opened gifts and ate brunch in full view of the tree with all the gifts unwrapped and strewn about. After, my mother wanted to open the gifts. She had no memory of already doing that. She really couldn't remember anything more than ten seconds in the past. Later, after we'd delivered her back to her home, she called and plaintively asked if she was not going to see us that day?
  2. Early in January, my mother-in-law died as Anthony and I sat beside her bed at the Kookytown Hospital. She'd suffered with Alzheimer's Disease for some years, and had broken her arm in December, and was thus hospitalized. She never left the hospital, but over the month she was there, she forgot how to walk, and even chew her food. She'd already long forgotten who we were.
  3. Watching someone die is unpleasant.
  4. Over the next 4 months, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. She started to feel some pain, and became weak from blood loss through internal bleeding. Thus began an intense time for me as I watched her decline. I took her to umpteen medical appointments, almost weekly blood transfusions (to keep her from suffering a heart attack due to the blood loss). She became wheel-chair bound. I learned how to get her in and out of the car, and where all the best labs were located for people who use wheel-chairs. I became exhausted from trying to take care of  her while balancing all my other responsibilities.
  5. Anthony's uncle died very suddenly in April, and Anthony prepared and gave the eulogy at his funeral. It was disturbing to see his family so upset, and to then see him, the uncle (or rather, the little box he was in), placed in a bigger glass box in the group mausoleum where he will now reside forever after.
  6. On May 11, 2014, Mother's Day, we (all four of us, me, Anthony, Alexander and Kathleen) visited my mom and had brunch. She barely ate (in fact, she'd been barely eating for some time, and had lost so much weight by then that for the FIRST time in my life, my mother weighed less than me). None-the-less, she seemed delighted to see us, and chatted brightly with my kids. The conversation circled to the same things every ten seconds or so, but that was fine.
  7. Over the next three weeks, my mother began seriously dieing. I started visiting nearly every day. She became confined to her bed, started wearing diapers, and her doctor increased her morphine to dull her pain. She was skeletal, and moaned for my help whenever I visited. She could not move herself to even shift her weight, and I watched her attendants bathe her and replace her diaper, while she cried and moaned for me. When I asked what she needed she couldn't articulate much, except to ask to sit up. In the last few days, she couldn't speak much at all. I'd hold her hand, talk to her without getting a verbal response (although she would look at me), and play her music box over and over. Watching my mother going through this process was extremely unpleasant.
  8. On June 4, the doctor call to tell me she'd died. I felt sort-of-numb, but drove with Anthony to the Kookytown Funeral Home and made and paid for all the cremation arrangements. I wrote and placed the obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press. I let her friends and relatives know. And then I started on the long process of executing her will. It's a lot of work, even though she left her affairs in order. It will take several more months to finish up. One of the details I have yet to deal with is figuring out where I will place her (in her little box) forever more.
  9. In June and July, Alexander and I helped Anthony finally empty his mother's house completely of all the crazy detritus still left-over from her departure. She and her son John had made some insane mess, let me tell you. We wore masks, rented dumpsters, and laboriously emptied the place of years of garbage that had never been sorted or pruned. Most should have been thrown out years ago. After we were done, Anthony got the place on the market, and sold it. Now, he's trying to deal with executing his mother's will. It will take years. She did NOT leave her affairs in order. 
  10. Through the summer, we've helped Alexander get ready for university in the fall. It's his first year. He's moving to Toronto, where he will live in residence and study engineering at the University of Toronto. I have dealt endlessly with my bank, in order to figure out how to withdraw money from his RESP, and in what amounts (it's not easy figuring this out), and helping him apply for student loans, which is overly complicated, to my mind. And I've pressured his father to contribute to the process. Of course, his father has pretty much refused to help with anything. At the last minute, he finally cut a cheque to Alexander for a small portion of the coming year's costs for tuition and residence. But it's not enough, not his fair share, and certainly not what he can afford.
As you may imagine, this has all been a bit much to absorb. I find myself awake at night, reliving this-and-that. Memories from childhood have resurfaced. Every time I find anything with my mother's handwriting on it, I pause. Anything that still smells of her (Estee Lauder powder) is reason for a bump of guilt, remorse, affection, or who know what?

All I know is, I walk around with small lumps of pain popping in my chest, or lying like heavy stones in my gut. People are leaving me, at record rates, it seems. I look for how I may be saved, and even renewed. I'll write about that another time.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sticks and Stones...

In yesterday's post, I ranted a bit about all the tests one must endure after age 50.

But I neglected to mention one: a bone density test.

When I hit 50, my family doctor told me to undergo such a test. When I asked why, she said it was to get a baseline picture of how my bones were doing.

That way, as I aged, they would be able to measure if I were losing density.

OK, I thought. At this point in my life, I bet my bones are in great shape, I even predicted smugly.

I've been a big milk and cheese consumer all my life. And I've also done a lot of bone-strengthening exercise like running, too.

Well, surprise, surprise. I took the test. A few weeks later, my doctor called, and asked to see me about the results.

What on earth for, I wondered? Why would she need to see me in person to go over what were presumably ordinary  and average bone density readings for a woman of my age?

Well, you can guess the rest. I had terrible readings.  In fact, I had full-blown osteoporosis.

My doctor was shocked and said so. She's never seen such poor density in a woman my age. I was shocked, too, of course. What the heck was going on? My doctor didn't have a clue, so sent me off to see a specialist.

And you know what? The specialist didn't have a clue, either. She questioned me about my diet and exercise patterns. Other than the fact that I'd been a slim, petite person up to that point in time (which is somewhat of  a predictor for poor bone density), she couldn't figure out why I'd have such advanced osteoporosis.

We discussed milk. She admitted that the research around milk and bone density is controversial: in fact, it's looking more and more clear every day that dairy products aren't the great bone-savers that the dairy industy would have us believe.

She had no idea what to do with me. I was too young to go on drugs that help to halt bone deterioration (nothing cures osteoporosis, but these drugs can at least slow down the process). And I was already taking in enough daily calcium through diet.

She had nothing more in her arsenal of helpful advice, other than to suggest I take a daily Vitamin D supplement, and to come back and see her in one year, to be retested.

I have to tell you, I've been angry about the situation ever since.

I'd gulped more milk in my life, drinking it even when I didn't feel like it, all based on the assumption that what doctors told me was true: drink milk for strong bones.  Now, at this point in my life, doctors are starting to say OOPS! Maybe milk isn't particularly good for your bones. Maybe, even, too much milk can cause cancer: prostate cancer  in men and ovarian cancer in women.

What should I do about my children, I wondered? Studies are now linking consumption of milk in adolescent boys to prostate cancer later in life. And my daughter? She needs even more calcium than a boy, according to doctors. But how is she to get it? Too much dairy is no longer looking like a great idea, and calcium supplements in pill form are not proven to even work.

I have struggled with this dilemma ever since getting the test results. I've stopped drinking milk. I feel betrayed by years of misinformation from doctors and industry about milk. And if I have osteoporosis after a lifetime of milk consumption, stopping now can't do me much more harm, can it? That's my reasoning, anyway.

I've compromised with my kids about milk, telling them to drink it in strict moderation, while trying to eat other calcium-rich food sources as well. Beans and canned salmon are just two great sources for calcium that you never hear about...probably because the dairy industry is yelling so loudly about milk.

In many ways, I wish I hadn't had the test. I was going happily along in blissful ignorance. Now, I know how fragile my bones are, yet there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

And I think about my mother. At not-quite 94, she has never broken a bone in her life. She has never drunk milk, either.

She has fallen twice (that I know of) in the last couple of years. Still, no broken bones.

So what is one to make of it all?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mid-Life, or, So This is 50

I guess I'm middle-aged.

The way I feel lately, though, I think I'm more toward the end of mid-life and closer to the beginning of old-age, than the reverse.

I"m 52. My eye-sight is very poor, I have a chronically bothersome tooth (with cap on it), a bunion that has a life of its own, and 5-10 pounds of unwanted weight that just won't budge.

The thing is, these phenomena are fairly recent.

Until I was about 48, I felt great. I felt much like I always had, through adulthood.

My weight was steady, and I was slim; slim without thinking about it. I had no aches, from bunions, teeth or otherwise. And although I wore contact lenses to correct my vision, my eye-sight was still OK.

Then, I approached 50, went through menopause, and BANG. I was old.

I can barely see now, even with contacts. That's because I've become so far-sighted that I need to wear reading glasses, while wearing my contacts, in order to see anything close-up. Without contacts, I try wearing progressive-lens glasses, but they fail miserably.

One eye has marked astigmatism, only partially corrected by toric contact lenses, and the other is full of floaters that block my view. You can't do anything about floaters. And the older you get, the more likely you are to have them, little bits of inner eyeball floating around in the jelly of your eye. Whee.

My tooth cracked a few years ago, as I was chewing candy and waiting for a flight in the Kookytown airport. I ended up getting the tooth fixed while on vacation, but despite repeated tweaks by my dentist, it has never been the same. To wit, it hurts every time I bite down on it.

As you can imagine, it sucks to eat food when you also experience pain while eating. Despite this fact, I've gained weight over the last couple of years, and now am 10 pounds heavier than I ever was in the last 15 years.

In the past, if I gained a bit of weight, I'd lose it. Easily, immediately. I'd eat less, exercise a bit more and voila, off the excess weight would fly.

Not now. Now, I can starve and work out, starve and work out, only to see no results on the scale. It sticks like the proverbial glue.

The bunion has grown exponentially during the last few years. Although it doesn't hurt too much, it's causing difficulty in fitting shoes, and I no longer want to wear sandals in summer, due to its looming size.

At 50, the medical community starts running tests on you. One of the first is a demand that you undergo a colonoscopy.  I repeat, whee. Of course, as a female, I've been undergoing mammograms and pap tests for decades. These too, must continue. Various immunizations must be updated: polio, tetanus, etc. And new ones rear their heads:  have you heard about the new shot to protect against shingles, an apparently extremely painful condition that can surface in mid-life, if you've ever had chicken-pox?

And then there's energy. I don't have it. I can't concentrate and learn like I used to be able. While the fat sticks like glue to my body, very little sticks in my brain. A brain that used to be like a steel trap. It's just regular memory deterioration, but it, too, sucks. 

Come the evenings, I am so tired I don't want to go out. If we have evening outings, I try to sneak an afternoon nap in, so I can stay awake long enough to socialize.

I won't even begin to describe the insomnia that stalks me during the nights.

I guess what I'm trying to really say with all this, is that middle age is a definite condition, and I've hit it. And I didn't expect it. I really didn't understand that such noticeable, marked changes would happen over a relatively short time-frame, and that I would become someone I'd never been before, someone I don't recognize as the old me.

It sucks a bit, and I'm not liking it, and don't want to accept it.

But there's nothing to be done, except to try to continue to hold back the tide. So I try to eat well, and do my exercise to stay sort-of limber and ache-free.

What else can you do?

If I'd known this was coming, I'd have cherished more about my old life: my carefree, pain-free body and mind. So that's my advice to anyone younger than me.

Don't waste your youth obsessing about silly things. Work hard, play hard, don't sweat the small stuff.

You're going to have plenty of time to regret this-or-that, to think about what could-or-should-have been, when you can no longer breeze through the day. Enjoy! If you don't like something, try to fix it, and if you can't, ignore it!

And I mean that.