Copious amounts of patience and maybe coffee

Right now I feel like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for me. Automated systems are fine for some things but when you actually want to speak to a human being it’s more complicated than it needs to be. Since I don’t drive I had my grocery guy drop off my computer to be serviced at Staples. I phoned Nerds on Site but they didn’t get back to me. A couple hours later I get a phone call that I forgot the power cord. I just assumed that just bringing in the tower was ok. I’m not really technologically savvy when it comes to computers. When I hooked my computer up I had no idea where all the cables went it was more or less a process of elimination but I did it. Thank goodness for my IPad!
Obviously there are things that I can’t control…the weather being one of them. Yesterday it was still minus double digits. I took some recycling out and it was chilly even though it’s covered and I wasn’t out long. Today we started off with freezing rain turning over to rain. The weather always seems to be terrible when I have to go for a Dr appointment.
I’m counting down the days until I will be going out for coffee with my friend. She makes me laugh. I’m thinking of booking a manicure soon. A little self care.
Right now I have copious amounts of laundry to wash!

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Patriarch


Yesterday I had my grocery guy pick me up a fruit tray. I am tired of having the same fruit every week and it’s convenient. I know that if it’s in the fridge I’m going to eat it. The trays at Metro are cheaper but the one at Superstore also comes with a cream cheese dip so it’s probably about the same. Every time I open it I think of my Dad who had to have yogurt dip on his fruit or what he called “joy juice”. I don’t know where he picked up that term but nobody else in our family called it that. And yes he was fussy enough if we ran out of yogurt he wouldn’t eat fruit. My Dad liked to have half a grapefruit for breakfast. Unfortunately if you take certain medications you can’t have grapefruit anymore. When I cleaned out the silverware drawer I had to throw out the knife that is specifically used to cut a grapefruit because I can’t have them.
I have been dreaming about my Dad a lot lately. I haven’t had consecutive dreams since he died so I’m sure it’s because of a lot of memories right now. In the one dream Dad was in it but far away and Mom was in the car driving to get us but she never got closer. Janet and I were walking together. I could see how it represented Janet always being with me. It was comforting.
I was talking to a friend at Christmas and she assumed I must have been close to my Dad and truthfully not always. There was definitely a lack of privacy in our family. There were things that my brother got to do because he was a boy. But I respected my parents. They taught me values by example. We were expected to dress up to go out for dinner. You wore decent clothes to meet with someone in authority like a bank for example. We sat at the table to eat. I may not have liked the conversations when we went to my Aunts house but I certainly learned a lot. My Dad taught me that we are to treat each person equally. Im sure he learned it growing up on a farm.
He taught me how to stick up for myself. As a woman it’s not always an easy thing as there are many places where it’s a mans world. But he knew that when he was no longer here I would need to know how to do things.
I can’t believe it will be 10 years since I talked to him.

Community

This is a word that my former minister preached on the Sunday after Janet died. It’s a word I’m struggling with at the moment because there are days when I feel like I have lost a lot of connections in my life. When I joined the Twinless Twins organization 11 years ago I considered it my family. As time passed some people dropped off and I kept the ones that had been with me the entire time. One woman is probably old enough to be my grandmother but we talk a lot. It’s a tough thing to be open and honest with someone and then that trust is broken. Although it has been almost 10 years since my Dad died since I have lost 3 family members after each one I felt like I was starting over. Well truthfully I don’t think I ever started with Janet because my Dad got cancer so soon after. For a long time I felt like I had to hide my grief. The rest of the world wanted me to get on with my life and at the time I really didn’t know how to do that.
This morning I changed my cover photo on Facebook of a group photo at the celebration of life event I held for the 10 year anniversary of Janet’s death. These were all people that were with me at that time and are STILL with me. I needed that reminder today. They have shared the ups and the downs. I’m not sure why some people stay forever and some people don’t. We all change and grow in our lives. I have come to realize that the friends I no longer have are ones that I wasn’t myself with.
Obviously I’m not going to agree with friends all the time. We may differ on the big issues but when it comes down to it I know that there are certain people in my life that will always have my back. It’s hard some days missing my family but I have built a strong community/family for myself.

Chore

This is an appropriate word for me this week. I started off the year with good intentions of booking Dr appointments and putting them in my calendar on my IPad. Because I only see one Dr once a year I have to wait until the new year to get a letter in the mail for a clinic date. I phoned and they didn’t have anything, then I get a letter for a date in February then I get a call that it has been cancelled. Beyond frustrating. So the best laid plans go out the window. And then there is the chore of getting bloodwork as I have non existent veins…they are deep and small.
Living in an apartment I no longer have chores like shovelling snow, cutting the grass or maintenance jobs in a house. I don’t have to carry out garbage in the winter! I finally finished laundry yesterday. I have a grocery delivery service which is a chore I can cross off the list once a week. I don’t have to worry about the weather and I can get a full weeks worth of groceries.
When I was cleaning out my parents house I did Peter Walsh’s decluttering challenge. It’s interesting now to look at the challenge for the day and think ok I’m good. I was watching a segment on The Social yesterday where they were talking about a tidy house equals a tidy mind. I had sentimental attachment to items so I had every letter that a friend sent me, postcards, stuff I made in school etc. But when I moved I got rid of everything. I think there is truth in what they say because I know where everything is. I’m sure part of it is that I lived with a lot of stress for a long time. There are things I can’t control but I work on the things that I can.
Speaking of which I have to go take out the garbage.

Collections



I guess you could say that these are my collections. The first one is obviously my collection of bears. The little one Janet bought for me at the grocery store for Christmas many years ago. I think there were 3 or 4 in the series that you could buy. He was actually in a box in the closet until I moved to my apartment and decided to display my bears on the shelf. The second one is a gift from a friend for my birthday or Christmas. The white one has angel wings on it and was a present I received in the mail the year after Janet died. I also have a grey bear that I leave on my pillow. He’s a little more worn because he has wiped many tears. And yes he has been thrown against the wall a few times too. Teddy bears are comforting. There is nothing like a great big bear hug from a friend but this comes close. When I received the white one my Dad thought I was too old to have a teddy bear. I’m sure he would be shocked at how many I have now!
The second collection is actually Janet’s and it is the 3 mice on the mantle on the right. The little one I purchased in the States when I was attending a TT regional meeting with a fellow twin. We went out to dinner at family restaurant that also had a gift shop (I can’t remember the name). I picked up the mouse and thought Janet would like this and I put it back. My twin friend was the one who persuaded me to buy it. I was there to honour Janet and our twinship. Because people know that I have a mice collection I have received ornaments from friends. One day after I mailed some Christmas cards I continued down to a gift/interiors shop near me. It wasn’t open yet but the owner saw me looking in the window and opened early. I wandered around and found a whole tree with mice on it. Since I wasn’t planning on buying anything and just headed out for a walk I only had enough money in my pocket to purchase one. I like to think both of these stories are Janet guiding me to these items.
When I moved into my apartment it wasn’t until I put my stuff on the bookcase that I felt my place looked homey. Many friends had the same reaction when I posted the finished product on Facebook. One of my favourite episodes of Home Town was when the guy that had been living in apartments most of his adult life finally was able to display the things that had meaning to him. Records, baseballs. The room was sort of a library/den and was his favourite room in the house. It tells a story. Eventually I want to frame all the birthday and Christmas cards that my friend has given me. The hard part is figuring out how to display them.
All of these things have sentimental value to me. They are a link to family and friends. They might not be valuable objects but they are priceless to me.

Timely


There is a challenge going around Facebook to post your first profile picture when you joined (which for me was fall 2007) and your current profile picture. The second picture is summer last year but it was the most recent picture that only I was in. It’s interesting how I don’t really notice how much my physical appearance has changed until I look at pictures. I know the purpose is to see how much you have aged but I think I look the same and I have been told by a few people that they can’t believe I’m over 40. I have a few more laugh lines but I’m proud of those because laughter is good medicine.
My current profile picture is a photo that was taken at a family dinner in 2005. After having a frustrating week I needed to see Janet’s smiling face. I changed it to black and white because both our faces were very flushed because it was very hot that day. They must have had air conditioning at the restaurant but it was not turned up enough. I can even tell you what we wore. I was in a light blue t-shirt with white pants and Janet wore a red shirt with a gold chain and borrowed a matching skirt from me. She had to wear pantyhose because to quote her “nobody wants to see my white pasty legs”.
My first picture is taken at the Rogers Centre in Toronto the summer of 2006. Our last vacation together. It was before I had a digital camera so the film wasn’t developed until September. It was about 40 degrees outside and neither one of us was coping well with the heat. There are days when I look at the pictures and smile and there are days when I can’t believe almost 13 years has passed since that picture was taken. Life changes in 13 years but for me I think I have had more than most. Photos show the changes on the outside not on the inside. I look at the recent picture and she looks content. It took a lot of work to get there but I think my family would be proud.

Letters

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post titled “The Lost Art of Letter Writing” and it was never more obvious than this past Christmas when I received 4 cards in the mail. I just couldn’t get in the mood to even send out cards this year so only a few people got one. Nowadays we have email, facetime or texting. Sending a letter seems so old fashioned.
Growing up my grandmother corresponded with cousins by mail. Whenever they went to Florida in the winter months they would send us a postcard. I found one in my dresser when I was sorting stuff to move. My Mom would always send a postcard home when she was on vacation even if we wouldn’t receive it before she got home. It’s a way to say even though I’m not home I’m still thinking of you. Many postcards say “Wish you were here” and I usually picked out those. I found letters my grandmother sent to my Mom when they went to England shortly after my parents were married. It was very descriptive. They went to see the changing of the guard, what they could see out their window, the weather of course.
When a mutual friend was living in the States for a while Janet and I sent her letters because we knew she was homesick. When we received a letter back we would bring it to bible study and read it to everyone. It didn’t matter that the spelling wasn’t perfect it was maintaining a connection. There were other people that wrote occasionally but eventually they stopped and she told us our letters meant a lot to her. Janet and I often said that we were born in the wrong time period because we loved writing letters. It’s often said that children learn by example and Janet and I would see our grandmother and mother write letters. We loved going to mailbox at Christmas and pulling out a stack of cards. When my cousins started having babies they would put a family photograph in the card. My Mom did the same thing and when we had family photos in later years I would go to Shoppers Drug Mart and get some printed for her. It makes a generic greeting card more personal.
At the same time sending a letter makes it easier to say things that one couldn’t say over the phone. My parents both did it when they had to tell my brother of health changes. I’ve sent “break-up” letters to friends. I had to inform people on Mom’s Christmas card list that she had died. For all of these instances the wording is everything.
Cards and letters were probably the hardest things that I had to decide what to do with when I moved. There are some special ones that I kept. The sad thing is it’s also a reminder of friendships lost over time. Before there was email we had to take the time to write a letter. A college friend and I would write pages back and forth to each other. Maybe we’ve lost the ability to communicate when we sit in a room checking our phones all the time.

Partner

I’ve been thinking about this word a lot recently after receiving an email from a twin friend who is having a hard time at the moment. It’s been 10 years since she lost her twin and 5 since her husband died. It’s a double whammy for her as she has lost both partners. I was a caregiver to my Dad at the same time she was caring for her husband. When I was walking back to my apartment with my friend she asked when the last time I went to see a play was so I told her with Mom (which would have been 5 years ago). I gave my coffee buddy a gift certificate to a movie theatre and she asked if I even go to a movie theatre. I told her I couldn’t remember the last time I did but it was probably with Janet. I mentioned this to a couple of twin friends but I could tell that although they understood they couldn’t RELATE because they have never had to go somewhere alone.
I’m not going to do things that I associate with Mom or Janet with someone else. They are things I shared with them. I know my friends mean well but I need to do what works for me. When I went to writing class although I write about my family it is something that is mine.
Last night I watched New Amsterdam. Because it’s on at 10pm I watch it the next day. Plus it’s not a show I can watch before I go to bed! When I watched the scene where Max got to talk to his sister I was bawling. I love how Max changed them.
My partners aren’t physically with me but I can hear Mom in my head often. When I go for a walk I feel Janet with me. I carry them in my heart.

The number 3

My Mom used to say that things happen in threes…usually bad things. This was the case for me recently as we had our hydro go out, fire in the building and I had an issue with my credit card. My friend believes in this saying too because she was the one who told me just wait something else will happen. My Mom wasn’t a superstitious person but she believed in that.
The number 3 comes up quite often in our family. My Mom was born in the third month of the year in 1933. Janet and I were born in the 6th month on the 21st. My parents had 3 kids and they both died on the 3rd of the month. My grandparents lived on the 6th floor of their apartment.
When I had the appointment to look at a unit in this building the super told me she had one on the third floor and one on the 5th. I chose the 3rd because I thought if the elevator was in use I could walk up the stairs. When she locked up I noticed the number of the unit and I realized that this was a sign. I had associated the number 3 with an ending because of my parents but now it would be associated with a new beginning, a place to call my own.
Janet and I used to go for coffee with a woman from church and a friend we met through a mutual friend. I still go with my coffee buddy and there are times when we feel that missing presence. It’s a different dynamic. I like when my friend draws herself in the Birthday or Christmas card because then there are 3 of us…together.
I guess that is why I’ve always had a connection with the number 3 as it represents family and friends.

Cake and ice cream


Tomorrow would be my Dad’s birthday. We would often invite his siblings for cake and ice cream in the evening for his birthday. My Dad had the job of taking everyone’s coat. It was easier as we didn’t have room for everyone around the table and you aren’t having a big meal. Plus we didn’t have a lot of seating so we dragged out the dining room chairs to sit on. The men always had the biggest piece and my Dads sister-in-law in had what would be called a sliver. We usually kept the tree up until after his birthday if we were having company as it looks festive. For company we always had tea and all the members of our family drank it clear which made it very easy. One year we even had champagne. I remember I wasn’t old enough to drink but we weren’t given that much. My parents didn’t drink so this was a big deal! My Dad was very particular about his cake, it had to be chocolate. My Mom wasn’t that fussy but hers was usually some sort of white cake. For their 25th anniversary they had half white and half chocolate.
Whenever we had my Dad’s eldest sister for dinner we usually served ham and scalloped potatoes as it could go in the oven and you didn’t have to babysit it. It didn’t matter that this was our go to meal as she would tell us you can’t cook scalloped potatoes for one person. Mom would serve turnip puff with it and there was no hiding the odour of it cooking. Although my Dad loved a big steak his favourite meal was ham and scalloped potatoes. People were surprised when the minister shared that at his funeral.
My Dad LOVED chocolates so his sister would bring that as a gift. My parents taught me that when you went to someone’s home you didn’t go empty handed. Hospitality means different things for different people but I’ve found it definitely starts from giving from the heart.