Still learning

Tagline
This was a tough one because a few thoughts came to mind.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. It’s definetely a phrase I lived by after my twin died and when my Dad had cancer. There were days when I thought I didn’t have the strength to carry on but somehow I did.
At my Dad’s memorial service a friend of mine asked how I was. I told him “it blows”. A mutual friend of both of ours bought me a card later that said “Sometimes life is like the wind…it blows“. Losing a family member hurts, trying to figure out a new normal is hard work so for a while life really sucks. And it’s alright to say that it does.
Weak is the new strong. This was told to me at a bible study I went to by the youth leader. He saw it on a bumber sticker. I added the phrase “If that’s the case I must be Superwoman!!”

After my Dad died I was reading the book “Eat,Pray,Love”. There is a part in the book where she and her friends are sitting at a cafe in Italy discussing what the word of a city is and what word would they use to describe themselves. When she was in India she found the word in a book in the library “ANTEVASIN”. I think it meant in-between. At one time my word would have been LOST but when I read that I thought “yes, that’s a good way to describe it”.

I have put as my title “Still learning”. A friend and I went to a grief workshop at my church and this one woman who was probably my Mom’s age said that we were so smart. She kind of thought we had it all figured out. On the way to the bus stop we laughed because we don’t. I’ve learned a lot on the way about myself, about grief, about loss but in no way do I think I have it all figured out. I’m still learning.

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Dr visit

Yesterday I had an appointment at a Diabetes Centre for the first time. I was referred to a Diabetes specialist but only saw the Dr for 5 mins–which is a long story.
Since it was new appointment they went through my medical background including family history. My Mother is Diabetic due to weight gain from medication for kidney transplant. It’s a vicious cycle. Then she asked about siblings. Oh boy I didn’t have a clue how to answer that. My twin is in heaven and I’m estranged from my brother. Would my twin have become diabetic too…I’ll never know. I almost answered that I don’t have any siblings because it’s the truth but I just answered NO.
When someone dies no one ever tells you about all the little things that will come up afterwards. The tough questions.

Quiet on the Set

The Show Must Go On
If you were involved in a movie, would you rather be the director, the producer, or the lead performer? (Note: you can’t be the writer!).
I would choose to be the director. I’m more of a behind the scenes type of person. The lead of a movie carries the picture and that is a lot of pressure. I wouldn’t want to be the producer because they have to get the money for the movie. Plus if the movie bombs most people don’t remember who directed it but if the movie is great I get an Oscar.
Now who to cast. It would definetely be a romantic comedy. Jennifer Aniston would be the female lead but who to cast opposite? Gerard Butler. I love his accent and he’s not handsome in the typical Hollywood sense like George Clooney or Brad Pitt (although I do enjoy both of them) but he’s ruggedly handsome. I watched him in “The Ugly Truth” and he made that movie. He’s such a jerk but you like him anyway.
Hopefully I get a good script!
AND ACTION

Ketchup is not a food

Food for the Soul (and the Stomach)
My Mom is a good home cook but my Dad put ketchup on some things that I didn’t think should have ketchup on. In public school my Mom would buy the small chicken pot pies. Dad would turn his upside down on the plate and then proceed to put ketchup on it. I used to get after him for putting it on homemade pie but he would say “It’s MY food and I’m going to eat it”. Both Mom and Dad would dip their grilled cheese into ketchup. When I was in a hotel in Detroit they had homefries for the breakfast buffet. I looked all around and couldn’t find any ketchup so had to ask a waiter. He looked at me in horror–what would you need ketchup for?? Hey if you can put sausage gravy on your biscuits (which I don’t understand…it looks yucky) then I can have ketchup.

In the eulogy for Dad I mentioned that his favourite meal was ham and scalloped potatoes. Janet preferred the ones out of the box because they were thin but Dad had to have the real thing. But he wouldn’t eat it as leftovers. If we made it out of the blue for him he would think we had done something wrong or were softening up for something (we needed money?). Dad was a meat and potatoes type of person, he liked nothing better than a good piece of steak. He wasn’t too fond of rice though. We could only have it twice in a week and NEVER in a row. My Dad could eat a can of peanuts in 2 days and don’t think about sharing a box of chocolates with him.

Sunday mornings were what my Dad would call pancake day. I would come down the stairs “Are we having pancakes?”. When we started going to an early service at church there wasn’t time to make pancakes. Also homemade not Aunt Jemima.

We do something to honour his birthday. We often have his favourite meal and share a piece of cake. I think Janet and Dad are having their own banquet in heaven.

Sharing a Meal

003Food for the Soul (and the Stomach)
My favourite meal would have to be Thanksgiving dinner. Janet and I would cook the meal together. It brings back memories. Now that there is just the 2 of us we don’t usually cook a big turkey. We are going out for brunch for Easter because it’s easier.
I have a friend that makes fun of me when we go out to eat because I take pictures of the food. I just think it’s so nicely laid out. When I went for Christmas dinner with my monthly coffee date friend I had sliders (see above photo). There was some sort of relish on the one which I didn’t like. One of my guy friends laughed when I said this restaurant is really good because they refill your water glass promptly. One of my pet peeves. I don’t want to have to hunt someone down for more water.

Food is such a shared experience. It’s what we do to socialize…cake for birthdays, turkey for thanksgiving, ham for easter. Now that I’m diabetic my food choices have changed a lot. We always had cookies in the house…not anymore. Mom took cupcakes to share at her seniors group for her bday and I ate mine without icing. When Mom was in the hospital it was the first time I had to cook for one and it was hard. I remember after Janet died having so much food leftover because I was so used to cooking for 4 or 5 if my brother was home for weekend.

Food is a way we show someone we love them. Grandma always made sure she had oatmeal cookies in the cookie tin. My Mom would make date squares (my fav). We would have mac and cheese–the real stuff not KD–at my Grandma’s place. It was so creamy and nobody makes it like hers. I used to make chocolate chip cookies to share with friends at bible study.

We bring food when someone dies. When Janet died we had more food than we could possibly eat and most went in the freezer. My brother got sent home a grocery bag full of fruit. “What am I going to do with this?” My friend said “He’d be very regular”. Sometimes food makes us laugh.

Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining

I Walk the Line
I hope I won’t offend a couple of my friends by this title but it came to me after feeling like I’m getting the run around from home care people.
The woman this morning calls at 8:30 and informs us that she is coming at 11 on the answering machine. Mom phoned the office but apparently the woman didn’t get the message. She comes into the house and we were expecting her walker to be delivered so we thought that was who it was. She had no name tag on and didn’t even introduce herself. Oh did I mention she reeked of cigarette smoke. Goodness and she’s going to give someone a bath–YIKES!!
I ended up phoning the office back and left a message with them. When my Dad had cancer the people were professional, clean and always had name tags on. Is this what we have come to? I shouldn’t have to phone people back. Oh and I always tell Mom I will phone because I gave give people what for better than she can.

My Dad taught me values but I listened when he had to do it so I also picked up a thing or two.

Treat others the way you would want to be treated

I Walk the Line
Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

Growing up I learned how to treat others by the example that my grandparents, parents and other family members treated people. Growing up in a family that went to church I think gave me a good foundation. When I was young I saw things more in black and white, if I treated someone well they would respond in kind. I learned that wasn’t always the case. I got treated as a doormat and by my 20s I learned how to say NO.

When Janet died it gave me the freedom to say no. One of the facilitators called it SELF CARE. For the first time in my life I put my needs ahead of someone elses. It was hard because it went against my nature. I’m a nuturer, I want to take care of everyone. I eventually had to learn that taking care of myself was not selfish. That the only way I would have the energy to take care of someone else was to take care of myself first. I will go and get a manicure for a little “ME” time. At first I thought it was so extravagent but I had to realize it’s alright to spend money on myself…have a little fun.

I have lost some friends because I don’t do drama anymore. I value honesty and respect. That means being honest with me but also with yourself. BUT it also means to do it with love and not judgement.

FREE TIME…WHAT’S THAT??

But No Cigar
So close but always seems to be out of reach…
Yesterday I went grocery shopping. I hadn’t been for about 10 days so it was a very large order and took most of the morning to put away. Today I thought I would be able to get some laundry done and clean out the hall closet–both things that needed doing. Closet is clean (and found 2 lost items–YAY ME) and laundry is started. Then just before lunch my Aunt phones and asks if she can come for visit this afternoon. Yep, free afternoon gone. Tomorrow Mom’s Occupational Therapist is coming. Gotta tidy living room.

In less than 2 weeks my writing class is starting back up. I have to get better organized so I don’t have days like today. Caregiving is a full time job and doesn’t really provide much free time. In this morning’s weekly local paper one columnist was talking about going out for coffee with a friend who asked her “What makes you happy?”. My immediate thought was writing makes me happy. Writing this blog everyday makes me happy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go change my clothes for company.

Not what we planned

But No Cigar
Tell us about a time things came this close to working out… but didn’t. What happened next? Would you like the chance to try again, or are you happy with how things eventually worked out?
2009 was supposed to be a happy year for my family. My brother had gotten engaged in the summer, my Dad was gaining strength back after his cancer treatments…life was good. Then in Feb my Dad had a follow-up appointment with his Dr and found out that the cancer had come back. He had developed a tumour near his kidney. He decided not to have it removed and just to enjoy the time he had left. How to tell 2 people that are so happy the worst news possible. My Dad was told he would have 2 years to live but it didn’t work out that way. The tumour was very aggressive and he didn’t live to see his son get married.
Because my brother was busy planning a wedding I was the one who cared for our father. It was very difficult to see the strongest person I know not have the strength to get out of bed on his own. Every day was a blessing. Do I wish things were different…YES. But it brought us closer. Dad wasn’t demonstrative. I never heard him say he loved me. When he was in the hospital I said it to him. He would give me a hug when I left and kiss my cheek or hand. For a long time it hurt knowing Janet would never get that but a twin friend of mine that is also a counsellor said that I have to let it go or it would eat at me. It’s not my load to carry.
When someone we love dies we have to do what is best for ourselves even if that means making tough choices. Distancing ourselves from people that don’t have our best interests at heart.

Alphabet Writing Prompt

Third From the Top
I didn’t really have time to write today so I’m sharing something I wrote a couple of years ago.

ALPHABET WRITING PROMPT
A…adulthood. One evening we were at my Uncle and Aunt’s for dinner. She was also asked when are you considered an adult. She said “18 is considered an adult but some people never get there”.
B…brave. It’s a word for a long time I didn’t understand. I certainly didn’t think I was. I didn’t have everything figured out, I was just doing the best I could.
C…crabby. Janet was like Lucy in Peanuts. If she was mad the whole house knew it. She outgrew it.
D…doll. Janet and I were given Bert and Ernie dolls for Christmas when we were 6. She loved hers so much that the arm came off.
E…everything. Someone once asked me what I miss about Janet and I knew “everything” wasn’t the answer they were looking for. The answer I always give is her laugh. I have friends to talk to but her laugh is irreplaceable.
F…first born. Janet was 2 minutes older than me. We used to joke that it was only because I pushed her out.
G…girls. We were known as “the Rudd girls”.
H…hug. My Mom would say we were the mushiest people but Janet and I loved each other and we would show it.
I…Idiosyncrasies.
J…JandJ, that’s how we were known…like it was one word.
K…knit. My grandmother didn’t know how to knit but taught Janet to crochet. She made beautiful afghans as wedding gifts.
L…legacy of love. When Janet died that was her legacy.
M…memories. I wanted to write down everything because I didn’t want to forget.
N…no pretenses. Janet and I are the same “what you see is what you get”
O…Janet wanted to be an only child, she didn’t like to share (and never outgrew it!)
P…priceless.
Q…questions. When Janet died my Dad said I wanted someone to give me the answers. I wanted to understand why it happened. Eventually I realized having the answers wouldn’t really help anything.
R…My minister once asked me “If Janet was a colour what colour would she be?” “That’s easy, red”. Why Red?, he asked. Because it’s a strong colour.
S…Slob, yep I can admit my twin was a slob–the exact opposite of me. She was the type of person who wore clean clothes out of the laundry basket. When it became empty time it was time to do laundry. It’s the only thing I would get mad about. We never fought.
T…Triggers. The things that I associate with her death.
U…uncomfortable. I remember the first time I went to a family party by myself. They treated me differently and yet the only thing that changed was Janet wasn’t there.
V…Vancouver, a place I went to honour Janet because we had always wanted to go together.
W…walk. Janet and I would go for daily walks. I realized after she died that I still walked on the same side as when we walked together. It was like she was still walking beside me (because she does).
X…An extra voice in making decisions. Going shopping on my own was hard because I didn’t know what I liked and what I didn’t without her.
Y…died young
Z…her zany sense of humour. She had what my Mom called a spontaneous laugh, people wanted to join in.