Keeping memories alive

Dormant
A couple nights ago I had a dream about my family. The last time I saw my cousins was almost 4 yrs ago. In the dream we talked about Janet and an Aunt smiled at me as if she was glad that I am keeping their memory alive. Dreams are funny because it’s presenting something that would never happen in real life. Letting your feelings remain “dormant” is not healthy. It’s comforting being able to talk to my Moms brother and his daughter about my grandparents, my crazy Aunt, Mom and her Mom. We all have different memories but we also have the same experiences. My Aunt was a hoarder and she was cheap. I reconnected with my Aunt on Facebook. They were divorced but I always thought of her as my Aunt. I would laugh st how she called it “the old farts swim class”. She wrote really lengthy letters and was always there to talk to on fb. It was unfair that she died young. She should have been able to retire and enjoy life. They brought back the toblerone for the summer and it made me think of my cousin who said the truffles were not the same.

7 years ago I posted a photo of a quilt that I bid on at an auction at the Twinless Twins conference. I saw it on the wall and just thought it was so beautiful. I didn’t even realize until I got it home that it had Janet’s favourite colours…red and hunter green, and mine yellow and purple. It really was meant to be. I remember thinking am I nuts to spend this much money on a quilt but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t. The take away was that life is short. I deserved to have something that made me happy. People told me that but I had a really hard time with the word. Maybe that’s why I was able to frame it when I moved because it was a fresh start.

A friend is having a garage sale this weekend and she posted a photo of a scrabble board. Mom and I used to play and she would play every week at her seniors group at church. One week she came home and told me this lady made the word “fart”. When they looked at her she exclaimed “what, we all do it”. Mom cried when she died because she said it was never the same playing after that. At her funeral they placed her Tilly hat on the casket because that was what she was known for. It’s why we go to funerals or visitations. Not just to show our respect but to share our memories. My Uncle said he learned a lot when my grandfather died from his carpet ball buddies. We know them as one person but there is so much more to them. Sometimes you forget that parents actually had a life before they were married and had kids.

Tailor

Tailor
Today is the first official day of Twinless Twins conference. It is being held in Tucson and I don’t do well with heat so I didn’t go. But I’ve been thinking a lot about how do they “tailor” a program to suit everyone’s needs? When I first went there wasn’t as much social time as there is now and I was ok with that because I was going to learn coping strategies. To listen to how other people have made it thru this journey.
One of the big things that they do at conference is sharing our story. And by this it means sharing how your twin died. I attended a bereavement support group and I know why we did it but for me how she died was such a small part of the story. Harder still because it was so public the story was already out there. I have gone to 4 conferences and I can honestly say the only way I found out the story of WHO they were is from Facebook. How bout when we are introduced to someone ask them to tell you about their twin not how they died.

I also have a hard time in group situations anymore, I’m better one on one. I think it’s because I was a caregiver for a long time and homebound. I had a wonderful time at Christmas and Canada Day with people who welcomed me.

I am thankful for twin friends to talk to and who have helped me so much. But I also know there was a time when I didn’t think of the friends who lost Janet too. I am not just Janet’s twin at conference. I’m her twin everyday. I can honour her memory by writing this blog, by living a good life, being happy.

What would she think?

Yesterday my friend and I got talking about lots of things and in the course of conversation I was telling her about my brother’s modern kitchen complete with an island with waterfall tile (according to home shows that’s what it is called) and barn board on one wall. It’s not a look that I like, I think it’s too modern. I know that my parents wouldn’t have liked it and I know what they would say. So then my friend asked what would Janet think? And it sort of scared me to think I don’t know. Maybe she would like it. As twins we were so in sync but we were also different. She was more out spoken. When she died I got cards from people from public school telling about stuff I didn’t even know. I found a monologue she wrote for English class and I had no idea she could write like that. But it also spoke about things she kept private. As her twin I wondered why she didn’t tell me. But I also knew we were 2 separate people.

Last year it was 10 years since she died. I never would have thought that the pain would lessen. To say life moves on seems so trite but there has been so much change since she died. I’ve changed. I’m more independent and I’ve become out spoken. I remember thinking once that the person I was was gone for good but she was always there just buried. I wrote yesterday about the gift of friendship. It’s a blessing to have relationships with friends where it is comfortable. These were people that loved Janet too.

This blog is a place where I can share memories. I have realized that they kind of come in waves. Some little thing will spark it. I’ve come to accept that some memories fade and that’s ok too. Love doesn’t fade.

Gifts

Caper
I was going to tile this post the gift of friendship. I met a friend for lunch today. We went to public school together. We reconnected when Janet died because she wrote a condolence on the website. We emailed back and forth a lot. Janet and I had always wanted to go to Vancouver and she was my tour guide while I was there. I can’t believe it’s almost ten years ago. We both cried when I left to go home. She is someone that has supported me in the ways that I honour Janet. It’s comfortable, even though we may not see each other often we just start up where we left off.

The gift is that I got to see her at Christmas and again for a belated birthday lunch. And I got a birthday card. She draws a picture in it and words cannot express how special it is. I know that Janet is always with me but I think sometimes I need that reminder. The first one she drew I showed my Dad and he couldn’t believe how intricate the detail was. I couldn’t decide what shirt to put on this morning and she drew me with a striped shirt…what I almost put on.

I could wish for more time but that’s what makes any occasion with a friend special. Hugs don’t hurt either.

Weekend

Savage
My Saturday morning routine is going to the Farmers market. Yesterday’s word was jangle and the only thing I could think of was coins. It is the only place where I shop that I need cash. Most things are 2.50 or 2.75. Of course because I usually get money out of the bank machine I have to break a $20. I was telling the vendor that I only had frozen vegetables left. I bought a small bag of spinach, zucchini and a pint of green beans. I don’t buy green beans at the grocery store because I tend to buy too many. It’s the perfect size for one. There is something about fresh produce in the summer, everything just tastes better. This weekend is perfect temperature wise where it’s comfortable without a coat but not steaming hot. Although it will come.

Today I walked to Victoria Park to check out Sunfest. I wandered around to look at the tents. Most was kitschy stuff, lots of clothes. I do enjoy all the smells when I walk around the park. I bought a gyro and a mixed berry frozen yogurt for lunch. The great thing about being within a short walking distance is I could eat my lunch on the balcony (although my yogurt was melting). And no dishes to wash!

This week is Rock the Park which is directly across from me. Last year I was lucky enough to be away because as the name suggests it is loud. Oh well it’s only once a year.

Sun, food and festivals a perfect weekend

Cruise

Sail
Mom and I went on a cruise over Christmas the year my Dad died. We didn’t want to be at home surrounded by all the memories and we both needed a vacation, a chance to relax. I don’t remember how we chose it. I think there was an ad in the paper.

It took me a couple of days to orient myself. The food was great but after a while it was too much. It’s a great way to see lots of places. We were going to go on a glass bottom boat tour but it was sold out. There were lots of activities on Christmas Day too so it was ok. We went to a service but it was the shortest service we had ever been to. We rode up in the elevator with a couple and their daughter and we all laughed about it. The man who did it was well older than dirt.

We also had high tea in the afternoon. It’s a nice way to get to know other people too. Mom was so happy that they had a traditional Christmas dinner although she did miss the pie. Turkey, yams, green beans, stuffing (I think with chestnuts). Our last day was the 26th and they had macaroni and short ribs. Comfort food from home. There were people that were staying on for another week and I said no I look forward to going home and cooking my own food. Mom and I aren’t used to having people wait on us.

Our last day Mom and I played scrabble in our room. Mom made the word water and I made the word port off of it. I took a picture because obviously by our words we had enough water and wanted to go home. We both agreed it was a wonderful vacation. I look at the pictures and smile. But we both knew we were trying to run away. It was always there though.

The fun thing about going on trips is being able to share the adventures when you get home. Now Facebook will be the place to do it.

Canada Day

Scamper
Yesterday I spent the afternoon and evening with my family. My friend emailed me the middle of the week asking if I wanted to come out to her husband’s parents place. When they came to pick me up there were planes flying overhead. Lots of activities downtown yesterday. I was in the heart of it which also meant traffic was slow going!
There was a time after my Mom died that it hurt to be surrounded by families because it was a reminder of what I had lost. Now it has become more natural and it’s easy with people that I have known a long time. I was helping my friends Mom put food on the table. In the course of conversation we get talking about Janet. She said I don’t want to make you sad but how can we not talk about her you look exactly like her. His Dad is a twin so he and I got talking about having our own language when we were little. It’s comforting because she would have been there with us and this way she is. She is remembered. At the same time I sat there wishing my own family could do that. I am thankful that the elders have passed that down to their son.
We played games. I watched the kids “scamper” after the dog. She’s so affectionate. I even brought some of her hair home with me.
I was admiring her garden. I do miss that living in an apartment although I don’t miss the work involved. When it was dark we could see fireflies. Because our house backed on to the river we could see fireflies if we sat on the deck or even from the living room. Reminders.
At about 10pm they set off fireworks. I have never seen them that close before. I took lots of pictures of my friends. I am old school and used my digital camera.
An enjoyable evening spent with some awesome people.

Passenger

Passenger
Driving with my Mom occasionally I would point out something interesting as we passed. “Mom, did you see that?” “No dear, I’m driving”. Sometimes if there wasn’t anyone behind us we would slow down to look at something. Our last car that we had had seat warmers. My friend teased me about that but they are so great. One car had cup holders in the back although I never understood that. Yes for a van but not for a little car. My Dad wouldn’t let us have drinks in the car because he was afraid it would spill but Mom and I often went through the drive through when it became her car.
When my friend took me to see this apartment I didn’t know how to get to the street from my house so we went a little further than we needed to. She did tell me one time that I can give directions well which is something I learned from Mom. She was a really good navigator.
One of my memories of Facebook today was of a photo my Mom took of me standing in front of a big bear in the Calgary airport. I have a picture of Mom waiting in our airport. I remember how excited I was. I kept repeating “we’re really going”. It will be 10 years this year since I went to Vancouver. My friend and I walked a lot but we also took public transportation. One of the great things about living in a city is you can.
I love taking the train. When I went to conference in 2010 I took greyhound. It was easy enough but this time I decided to take the train for comfort. I love taking the train. Janet always sat beside me. I would take the window and she would sit on the aisle. It’s a lot easier eating lunch on a tray that on a bus.
Today is Canada Day. I am thankful that a train has taken me to Quebec and Ottawa. I have flown to Vancouver. It makes me realize I would like to see more of our beautiful country.

Snack

Snack
The first thing that came to mind for this prompt was my Mom taking snack for her seniors group at church. Except she wouldn’t call it snack she called it “lunch”. No lunch is a meal snack is what you have with tea. I think she thought lunch sounded a little fancier. If it was someone’s birthday she would bring cupcakes. For Halloween she made cupcakes with white icing (ok, out of a can) and she bought these orange candies to put on top..kind of like jube jubes. I even took a picture of her pointing at her work. One woman’s specialty was date squares and Mom made sure she brought me home one.
When we went to bible study we brought chocolate chip cookies. We all would take turns bringing snack. When I went to another church the first time I went to a book study in someone’s home I thought “where’s the snack”? Because for me that was part of the evening.
Of course snacking also brings to mind all the different nutrition advice. Eat 5 times a day and someone else tells you no snacking is bad. I meet with a dietician every 6 months or so and have to fill out a food journal. When I first started going she noticed I’m not a snacker. I always have something mid afternoon but I’m not a morning snacker. Sometimes I’ll have an evening snack but it depends on what I have for dinner. I try to have lots of fruit on hand but realized I forgot this week. I do keep some in the freezer and I’ll throw a handful on some yogurt. For me it has to be quick. Cherry tomatoes and dip, baby carrots, half an apple.
In our family we all loved sour cream and onion chips and they had to be the ridged it was all about the texture. If we got chips for Halloween Mom would use them to put on top of a casserole. I was never one of those people who could sit with a bag of chips and mindlessly eat. I could with popcorn. It’s actually a healthy treat as long as it’s not swimming in butter. My Dad and I both liked caramel corn.
In the summer months I used to get an iced cap at Tim Hortons but then I switched to iced coffee…less calories. Some are almost a meal in themselves.
Summer is a great time for snacks. Watermelon, strawberries. I almost bought some cherries today. It’s such a short season.
Happy snacking

On the fridge

Magnet
When I think of magnets that is the first thing that comes to mind. Our fridge growing up had magnets from businesses. Pizza Hut, a maintenance person. My Mom had a calendar on the wall in the kitchen but this was were she put reminders.
At one time I had kid art. A drawing sent to me from the child of a twin friend.
On my fridge right now is a magnet that a friend gave me that has an inspirational quote/saying. There is a poem as a Memorial tribute to my Mom. It’s held on by a magnet that looks like a stone given to me by another friend. The word on it says LOVE. I bought a grocery list sheet that has magnets on the back. It has boxes next to items and it has it separated into groups…vegetables, meat etc.
Because everything is digital now there isn’t the need for stuff on the refrigerator as much. If I go out for coffee with a friend I will put it in my calendar in my iPad. I will put in Dr appointments in there too.
There is a drawback to being digital as I tell myself that I should print some pictures off from computer but I haven’t done it yet. Nowadays friends take photos with their camera and then I save it to my computer. Which means transferring them to a site to print.
When my Dad was in the hospital I printed off our family photo to put on his bulletin board. Technically because it was a professional portrait it’s not supposed to be reproduced but I thought this was ok. He was so pleased. I did the same thing with Mom only I printed off one of her granddaughter. A good pouty one. One of the nurses said that girl has attitude. It was a way of making a place feel a little more personal. It was also a good conversation starter for Drs.
Most home shows have stainless steel appliances. They have eat in kitchens and most have bar stools. But I can’t imagine the front of the fridge filled with kid art. But it’s like photos on the wall it’s what gives a home a personality.