A Brand New You, Effective Tomorrow
New Year’s Eve is a time to reflect on the year that passed. I’m happy to see 2015 go but I also have to look at everything that I learned and accomplished in the year. My New Year’s resolution last year was to write a blog post everyday and I accomplished that. Which is a big deal because there were days when I had to schedule in a bathroom break when I was looking after Mom. Dishes didn’t get done but I took a 20 minute break to write a blog post. Some days I did two so that’s how it evened out on days when I really didn’t have time.
We went out for dinner for Easter and had fun. I had a magical day for my birthday and it was really nice doing a balloon release with Mom the next day.
It is weird thinking that I’m going to be starting the year on my own. At breakfast we would always wish each other a happy new year. I did go to a party in 1999 for New Year’s Eve but I just didn’t get the big deal. It’s a night for couples.
While I have a couple of events happening this year that are good 2016 will mark 10 years since my twin died. It seems unreal that I have lived that long without her. The day does get easier but this year will be different because I will have just passed the one year anniversary of Mom’s death. It will help that I’m going to the twins conference in the summer to be able to talk to people.
So what are my resolutions for 2016?
Have more fun.
Avoid toxic people (if possible)
Yesterday when I was going through Mom’s jewelry box I found these in the bottom of the box. How special that Mom kept them all these years. I’m RuddB because I was born two minutes after Janet. I will have to buy a shadow box to put them in to display.
We were born before ultrasound so my Mom didn’t even know she was having twins until she went into labour. One of us was behind the other one so when they were checking the heartbeat they only heard one. Mom didn’t even believe the Dr. Dad almost fainted. My Grandmother worked on the desk at the hospital. They were so thrilled. We were born a month premature and were less than 8lbs combined at birth. My Dad was so worried that we were going to live because he had never seen anything that small before but my Grandmother assured him we were healthy. My Mom said it was strange to give birth but go home without any babies.
Of course it was also before the time when they knew the sex of the baby. Mom had one name picked out…she always liked the name Janet and Grace was named after Dad’s mother and Moms grandmother. Mom thought “what about Jennifer”. Dad wanted the middle name Alice but Mom nixed it because it would have spelled JAR. But growing up I so wanted to have a family name that was passed down.
These bracelets mean more than any amount of gold or diamonds. They are a link to a person that loved us enough to save them. A link to the bond I have with my twin.
Young At Heart
Last night I realized that Christmas was over when the tv channels were no longer playing Christmas movies. Oh my goodness Home Alone must have been on at least half a dozen times on different channels. There are certain ones that I have to watch at Christmas but the sappy made for tv ones about how the young woman finds love while trapped at a cabin in a snowstorm with the handsome man who doesn’t like her at first (and probably hates Christmas). UGH!!
Mom liked going into the New Year and back to a routine after Christmas. This year since Christmas is on a Friday a lot of places are closed for 4 days. It’s back to a routine for me as Tuesday is garbage day and someday I have to go for bloodwork for a Dr appointment in January.
I think that’s part of growing older is having more responsibilities. Christmas is for kids. Real life means divorced parents who have to shuffle kids back and forth, credit card debt paying for presents that you can’t afford, broken families. My Uncle once said that at my age I don’t have to do things that I don’t want to do and I told him that’s not true. Because in life there are things that we must do but we don’t want to. My Mom’s church friend is 92 and is no longer able to attend church. But she told me this year the last person who sat in her row died. “I’m the last one left”. That’s the part of aging that sucks.
Tell us about the role that faith plays in your life — or doesn’t.
Growing up we went to church every Sunday. My Dad went with us although I don’t really remember a time when he did because I was probably about 5 or 6 when he stopped going with us. When we got a little older we sat with our grandparents. My grandfather helped a lot in the church where my Mom grew up. He was an Elder, helped on the board, I think he was on the property committee. My Mom was in UCW and helped with funeral lunches and such.
When I was younger I never really thought about my faith. I just thought of Sunday School as an extension of schooling. I guess you could say I thought of it as a duty. When we got confirmed and became members of the church it was a big deal. Although I remember thinking that we would be seen more as adults but it didn’t really happen.
When my Mom had to have a kidney transplant it was the first time I really prayed for something every night. That I believed that God would make it so Mom was better. I never doubted that Mom would get a kidney. Oh I knew people died on the waiting list but I was young enough still to believe that God could do anything.
As I got older I saw the church as an institution rather than a place where people worshiped. There were things that they couldn’t do because there wasn’t money. I just believed that you payed people for what they are worth and people shouldn’t have to leave a church because they aren’t being payed enough. It made me and my sister very cynical.
When Janet died I remember wanting answers. I wanted to know why this would happen. If God was so big why couldn’t he have saved her? Why did Dad’s cancer come back. I prayed and my church prayed, Mom’s church and he still died. Other people got miracles but not us. Mom died about a year after she was told that her kidney was wearing out. I haven’t really been to church much since.
My Mom’s “friend” asked me about a month ago if I had gone back to church so I lied and said yes. She’s a bible thumper and told me you SHOULD go to church. She realized she had to backpedal because nobody should tell someone what to do. She told me it would help. Well it doesn’t. All I feel is numb. All I can see right now is everything that has been taken away.
My faith is still there…right now it’s a tiny flame in a very dark room.
Well it’s Christmas Day. It doesn’t really feel like it though because NOW it’s just me.
When we were little we would race down the stairs to see what Santa had brought. Mom would get up in the middle of the night to put the turkey in. Dad would be up watching the Yule log channel. When we got older we had to wait until 10 to wake my brother up. That was the latest that Dad would let him sleep in. After breakfast we would open presents and then at 12:30 or 1 we would have our turkey dinner.
I didn’t put up a tree this year but I decorated the mantle. Right now I’m still in the house so I can because when I move into an apartment I will have to change my decorating. I saw a segment on a talk show a few days ago where they were showing a “Selfie” tree. You take pictures of your guests print them out and hang them with a clothes pin on the tree. I thought what a great idea. A way to remember all my friends. A new tradition.
Because that’s what Christmas means now. Figuring out what Christmas is going to be like by myself.
I’m the keeper of the memories.
Ebb and Flow
If I look back a year ago I can already see how much my blog has changed. This blog started off as a place where I could write about my twin Janet. Over time I started writing about my Dad too and then my struggles with taking care of my Mom. As my blog title says it’s about MY JOURNEY. I have had so much change in my life that I don’t look into the future. All I know is that next year I am going to Twinless Twins conference in Detroit in July. A friend who lives and works in Australia will be here for Christmas next year. I’m praying that things work out and I will be able to move but since I’m on a waiting list I’m not sure. I know that I will be able to go to writing class in the spring. And I will have time to actually write.
I can do anything I want…which is exciting.
But at the same time I still have to go through the firsts. The first time I celebrate Dad’s bday by myself, Mom’s birthday in March, the first time I go to the cemetary by myself, my birthday.
I woke up this morning thinking it’s 2 days until Christmas. While everyone else is running around getting things done I just kept thinking “when will it be over?”
My Aunt phoned this morning to ask if I had some place to go for Christmas. Unfortunately I had already been invited to a friends house but I love the fact that she thought of me. I got 3 cards today. One from a neighbour. My other neighbour phoned too. I got an email from a public school friend and an email from my college friend.
I also got a phone call from a friend who is going through a rough time. We had gone separate ways because we grew apart but I kind of feel that we need each other.
All of these people are concerned for me. Some have cried with me. At a time when I think of all that I have lost I also remember all of these wonderful people who will email to say “I’m thinking about you”
I had groceries delivered this afternoon. Her son was with her today and he opens the door “Christmas is coming”. How can you not smile at someone who is so excited? I gave the woman a card and she gave me a hug so he said “GROUP HUG”. Is that not the sweetest thing ever?? Love really is all around.
That’s what keeps me going. Knowing that I am SO LOVED. That my family in heaven still loves me because love never dies.
This picture was taken 7 years ago the last time I went to a ballgame. I was in Toronto for the Twinless Twins Conference so my brother bought tickets for the game for my birthday. Toronto is full of culture and entertainment but my brother has only been to the Skydome and AirCanada Centre for baseball and basketball games. It was a great game. My Mom even figured out by rotation what pitcher would be pitching the game and she ended up being right. The game was 2hr and 20 mins and would have been shorter had the last batter not fouled off many pitchs (more than 10).
I was never as big of a fan as my parents. My brother followed in the paper and knew all the statistics when he was 9. My Mom’s brother was a sports columnist for The Spectator and he watches ALL sports.
The BlueJays got into the playoffs this year but they didn’t go very far. I titled this prompt “Fairweather Fan” because I kind of got on the bandwagon when they were winning. We didn’t watch the games because by 9pm we were both too tired to watch. But Mom followed in the paper. Mom went to games with a group from church. A guy would rent a bus and they would all go. Mom always bought a program and she would keep score. One game went for 14 innings and one gentleman wondered who the winning pitcher was and the organizer said “Marilyn would know she kept score”.
Every year for Mom’s birthday I would buy her what she referred to as her “baseball bible”. A baseball magazine with all of the teams and players. I would have to buy her a new one every year because there would be trades, people brought up from AAA. One of Moms friends always thought it was Dad that watched and Mom just watched with him not realizing it was actually the other way around. My grandparents listened to it on the radio because they preferred the announcers to the ones on tv. As you can see I have a long history of baseball loving people.
Christmas music fills the air
Seems there’s little time to spare
Mom is baking Christmas treats …
Round the corner to have a peak
Brownies, hermits, macaroons
Where will we find the room?
Christmas cards upon the table
Ready soon to be labeled
A note to share our year
Spreads some Christmas cheer
Our tree is placed into the stand
Dad will lend a helping hand
It’s leaning left, now it’s right
Perfect, that’s just right
Carry boxes down the stairs
Soon tinsel is everywhere
Ornaments with our names
Branches hung with candy canes
Take a walk into the night
To see the houses alit at night
I was thinking last night why is Christmas different than other holidays and I came to the conclusion that it’s full of traditions. We would put up the tree 2 weeks before Christmas. Dad didn’t really like it up much before that. We left it up until January 6 because some years we would have his siblings over for his birthday on the 5th and it looked pretty. The beginning of December Mom would pull the cards out and set them on the table. It wasn’t the same sitting at the table by myself. I wrote cards this year because there were some people that wouldn’t have known that she died. Mom always baked a lot of cookies even if it was just the 5 of us. We had to have nanaimos for my brother but she bought those because they are hard to make (I tried one year and they were awful). Janet and I would go for walks in the neighbourhood to look at the lights and we would critique the houses–that one needs more bows, it would look better with white lights etc. I don’t go anymore because it’s not the same.
As I wrote yesterday we always watched Miracle on 34th Street. And the Sound of Music. Mom wasn’t a big fan of Love Actually. I know people are going to gasp at this one but she found “It’s a Wonderful Life” boring.
Traditions are meant to be shared. I think it’s why for people who have lost someone we don’t know what to do anymore. We wait for the season to be over. I also know it’s harder because I’m in the house where I have all the memories from Christmas. I think it will be easier to make new traditions when I am in my new place.
Yesterday I came across the Christmas Classic “Miracle on 34th Street”. My Mom always said it had to be the original! They remade it but it doesn’t have the same charm as the original. It was almost over but I’m sure it will be on again
Christmas Eve. It was our family tradition to watch it every year.
In the evening I was watching “The Polar Express”. It’s a movie about a group of kids that take a train to the North Pole. The one boy does not believe in Santa.
After I finished watching it I thought about how these two movies have the same message. Friendship (Susie and Fred, Alfred and Kris, the lawyer and Kris), love, and believing in something even though it doesn’t make sense. The Polar Express is about how we as children out grow believing in Santa but I think it isn’t about outgrowing it but believing in the goodness that Santa represents. I cried when the kids were singing “when Christmas comes to town” because there aren’t any presents under my tree. It is my favourite part of Christmas picking out the perfect gift for someone I love and watching their expression when they open the gift. My brother wanted a Wii fit board 6yrs ago and they were sold out everywhere. I went to get a flu shot at a school across from the mall so we went shopping after. Zellers just got a new shipment in so I happened to get the first one that morning. The look on his face was priceless.
I remember getting a red sled for Christmas from my grandparents…Janet got one too. They put them out on the balcony and told us Santa left them.
While this season is hard for me I still believe in the spirit of Christmas. The goodness of friends who invite me for Christmas. A friend who bought me the mouse that we saw at the market because she knows how much it means to me…a reminder of my twin. Who is going to take me out shopping after Christmas to buy stuff for the house.
We should all believe in the true spirit of Christmas.