A SPECIAL FRIEND

Five Items
Yesterday I spent the day with a friend of mine from college. We are actually distantly related (which I kidded her once must be the reason we get along so well!). She arrived at 11AM after getting stopped by the train. I don’t know what it was yesterday but we must have had all the agressive drivers out in force.
Our first stop was to the bank to pick up a letter from the estate department. I went up to teller to get money out and for whatever reason my card wouldn’t work. Go over to another person and same problem. While we are waiting she asked my plans for the day. Lunch and dessert. Oh dessert first? No, but I’ve done it. She thought that sounded really nice.
We then went to TH and I got soup and sandwich and my friend had chili. Hey have to leave room for our dessert! Then we went on to Home Outfitters. My friend wondered if there was anything I needed. I was looking for slipcovers but they don’t sell them. I also needed new table lamps as I was using miss matched ones and they didn’t give enough light. I couldn’t decide but found these really cool ones with four glass balls one on top of each other for the base. I also didn’t want to spend over $100 on a lamp. As I was putting them in the cart all I could think was Mom would have hated them and then I laughed. Even though I can buy whatever I want it was like I was still getting one over on her. I was having fun shopping in my mind for my future home. There was a really cool glass side table. Mom was not a fan of a grey couch but I could see with the right accent pillows it would work. In the same plaza there is a Pier 1 store. Mom had been to Home Sense (which is a similar store) with a friend of hers. She thought it was useless stuff. I was telling my friend about all the knick knack type stuff. There were so many reminders of Mom yesterday.
By the time we were finished (after we went to Canadian Tire for light bulbs–you sell lamps but no light bulbs HUH?) we were ready for our dessert. We were greeted by a waiter I had many times and he remembered me. I carried my friend’s gift in. Somebody’s birthday? Technically it’s not yet but we were celebrating early. I told him we were just having dessert. We both ended up having the same thing–lemon cheesecake. It’s no wonder it’s their best seller. It’s pretty but very light. The hard part is figuring out how to eat it because it’s a tower. My friend picked at it from the top…me I tipped it over and went at it.
After he took our order I passed over her gift. On her card is two old ladies and I like to think that will be us. That we will be friends forever. She opened her gift and she cried. That’s how I know I got the right thing. She’s my angel.
I picked up the cheque and the waiter said you’ll need this and gave me a rewards card. Another reminder of Mom because he brought me over two pens and neither one worked well. “A drawer full of pens and none of these work” Mom.
We went back to the house set up the lamps and just chatted. I framed the picture that TAR drew of my family so I passed it over for her. My friend is so wise because she said that T was sent to me by my family. That is why she has such a connection to them.
Thank you my friend for a lovely day. Thank you for your support.

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Coffee buddies

Counting Voices
Janet and I had two friends that we would go for coffee with once a month (on different occasions). It worked with the three of us. After a while the dynamics changed with the one woman after Janet died. There were times when I didn’t feel like I had her undivided attention.
I still go for coffee with my other friend. It means a lot that nothing changed. We both know that Janet is no longer there but we still talk about the same things we did when we went before. She doesn’t treat me differently.
Janet and I used to sit outside in the summertime and sometimes we wouldn’t say a word. I miss going for coffee with her. I always had someone to go places with.
Now that I have lost three family members I’m a little more cautious about who I socialize with and to be honest I don’t do it often at the moment. Socializing takes more effort than I really want to expend right now. Tomorrow I’m going out for lunch and dessert with a friend of mine from college. We’re celebrating her birthday early. She and I are people that prefer one on one conversations. She is someone that I can vent to and she doesn’t judge me.
I love going to conference but I like having intimate conversations with twins. I enjoy the workshops because they are small and I get to know more about people.

Slow down or speed up?

Pace Oddity
Right now this is a difficult question for me. There are days when my life feels like a speeding train and all I want to do is get off. But at the same time there are days when I think I can’t wait for (fill in the blank) to be over. It doesn’t help that my speed is not the same as my brother’s speed. He wants everything done yesterday. He isn’t as emotionally involved as I am.
It’s Income Tax season and this is the part I have been dreading. It’s so analytical. Assets listed here, will taken in, how much did she earn before she died. It seems so cold but I know that taxes have to be paid and it’s just a fact of life.
The next big thing will be to sell the house. I want to slow down and savour the memories but at the same time I know the sooner I move the sooner the estate can be settled. I haven’t really had time to slow down for an entire year and it’s exhausting.
The funny thing is a friend of Mom’s from church (who is shut in) kids me by saying “what are you going to do with yourself when this is over?”. Because right now neither one of us can see that far ahead. I can do whatever I want. There is freedom in that but I can’t imagine it.

I’m proud of me!

Pat on the Back
Growing up my parents never told me they were proud of me. It just wasn’t in their nature. They were both quiet people and just believed in doing a good job without reward. But I do remember in Grade 1 we had to colour a witch for Halloween. I outlined the witch and the pumpkin, coloured in a dark sky and I got a gold star. Dad framed it for me. He hung it up at the end of my bed.
Mom never told us but we knew she was proud of us. She was just proud that we were “good kids”.
My writing teacher tells me often how much I have grown in my writing. I still struggle with accepting the compliment (and that comes from Mom too as she didn’t accept compliments easily either). At the Christmas party she told Mom “you must be so proud”. At the time she didn’t really understand why I write so she didn’t say anything. But after a while she would say “these are good!”
In the past year I have had to learn how to do a lot on my own. Mom was in and out of the hospital and I had to cook for myself. I’m proud that for the most part I have been eating well. I can stretch my groceries and my money for groceries. I have done the banking and am now looking after estate. I’m learning as I’m going because there isn’t a handbook for some of this stuff. I ask questions.
After a really tough year I’m still standing.

I AM AWESOME

Toot Your Horn
Last night I was thinking about the words that my friend gave to each of my family members…things that they have given to me. I was thinking about the word strength. My Dad was the strongest person I know but he also grew up in the generation where men were the boss. Janet and I grew up knowing that we had to work harder because we are girls. But it also made me fight for my right to be heard. The greatest compliment my father ever gave me was to tell my brother that I could fight my own battles. My Dad taught me that.
My Mom gave me love. She also taught me strength by the challenges she faced because of her health issues. Janet and my Mom gave me unconditional love. There were times when I knew she was disgusted with us but she never stopped loving us. The greatest gift she could ever give me.
Janet gave me courage. All of these words are interchangeable with all of them. I have the courage to show tears. To be honest with myself that this journey is hard.
Why I’m awesome…
I’m a writer
I’m a loyal friend
I looked after my parents completely on my own
I’m working through my grief
I’m looking after a house on my own and it doesn’t look like an episode of the hoarders
I haven’t given in to the temptation to tell people where to go when they give me advice.
I’ve retained my sense of humour–Mom told me that

A little privacy please

Drawing a Blank
I have learned to avoid certain discussions. I have twin friends in the States that have posted political stuff on their wall. I disagree with their views but I respect the fact that the are entitled to their views. I draw the line at people disrespecting others on Facebook.
Right now “well meaning people” think they have the right to tell me what to do. My neighbour doesn’t want me to move even though she knows I can’t look after the house on my own. She has an opinion on where I should move to, don’t look online, make sure it’s on a bus route, get one on the ground floor and on it goes. My Dad called her a nosey old busy body.
But she isn’t the only person. I’ve had people ask how much the house is worth. I’ve had numerous people tell me that I don’t need a two bedroom apartment I won’t be entertaining.
What people don’t understand is none of this is their business but I can’t tell them that because that would be rude. I just politely tell them I will figure it out on my own. I’m not a child. I learned good money management from my parents. I have a good financial advisor. I have people giving me advice…people I trust.
My comeback? I usually hang up on them

What I learned at writing class

The Road Less Traveled
This was a busy week for me so I didn’t have time to write something for class. To be honest I just wanted to go and listen so that’s what I did.
We started the class with deep breathing exercise (which helps me A LOT!) and then a visualization exercise. We were supposed to pick a flower and then tell how that flower represents you. I have a hard time with this sometimes. I imagined a pink rose that was just slightly open. A friend gave me two for my birthday one year. One was red to represent Janet and the pink one was supposed to represent me. We were paired up so the person I was paired with said the opening up represents the changes in my life, this class. So I said a rose has thorns. She said those represent the hard times in my life. She got it exactly.
I passed around the drawing that my friend did. Some women were really moved by it. My teacher said I want you to write about what these words mean to you…not now but someday you will be ready. And everyone said “you’re going to frame this aren’t you?” It’s not something I’ve shared with a lot of people but this group is special.
The teacher mentioned that I had to take a little break due to the death of my Mom. She said when I first started my writing was different than it is now. She said I write from the heart.
When I got home I realized I was afraid to write from my heart at first. I had journalled but had to keep my feelings hidden. I guess I was afraid to really go there. But I also know that I had to get to the point where there was joy in sharing the memories.
A woman in the class drove me home. We talked before class and she tells me how amazing I am. She used to go to the church I grew up in. She doesn’t have any siblings and both her parents are gone. She was very close to her Dad. Her Mom died when she was quite young. She actually lives around the corner from me and we are going to go for coffee. She was very understanding in knowing how busy I am.
It was such a wonderful break. There is always someone who shares a story that makes us laugh. The teacher read something of hers (which she doesn’t usually) and it made me cry because it reminded me of the last line a friend wrote as a condolence for Mom.
That is the wonderful thing about writing…it creates a connection between people.

Feeling excited

twinstshirtmeShape Up or Ship Out
TWIN FRIENDS
How does it feel to be known from the start?
A feeling of fullness inside my heart
People who “get it”, they already know
They’ve suffered the loss and sorrow
Twins who walk with me along the road
A friend to guide me and lighten the load
How can it be, we laugh and have fun,
The clouds have lifted and there is the sun
We’re honouring love…
the gift of our twin
Put back together, feel whole again

Yesterday on facebook someone posted that she had booked for conference. A bunch of other twins commented below and I have found out that one women who wasn’t sure has decided to go. I call her my hug buddy because she was someone who really helped me the first time I went to conference. It’s not an easy thing walking into a room full of strangers. She and I correspond by letters. She is such a sweet lady.
I haven’t registered yet but will have to before March 1. It seems so early for me as I still have so many things to do. A friend I was talking to last night said it’s one more thing on the list.
This is a poem I wrote 5 years ago. I tried to explain in a poem what it feels like to go to conference but I really can’t. It’s a feeling of love so strong that it’s bursting. A connection to other people. A feeling of being whole again. It’s why there is a real emptiness when we go back home. We don’t have to explain why we feel the way we do because other twins get it.
There is a feeling of sadness though because this is the first time that Mom won’t be here to share in it with me. My friend last night said to post pictures on facebook and they will all be there for me. But it’s not the same.

My Talented Grandma

baby quiltsquiltingMad Libs
The other day I found the baby quilts that you see on the left. I can’t believe how much detail is in it. I’m pretty sure she did most of her quilting by hand too. I posted it on facebook and my Uncle said “those are keepers” which has cinched it for me. It’s hard because I know that I can’t keep everything but at least these are small. I came across a yellow one. I was wondering where it was because I thought surely she made one to match my room. It really is a lovely shade of yellow.
Growing up my Grandma made all of our clothes, plus she made quilts for all 5 of her grandchildren, dresses for Mom. She patched Rob’s jeans, hemmed pants, cut our hair, had time to make us cookies. I took it all for granted. She made our Grade 8 graduation dresses. I still have mine. 3 guesses what colour it is. I was going to wear it when I got confirmed but I had strep throat so I had to get confirmed (joining the church) in November. I had a similar dress only it was long sleeve. The pattern on the material was the same except it was wine. I loved that dress it was so elegant. I don’t have any pictures of me in it but I can see it as clearly in my mind as if I did. She even made me a sash to go with it because she had a little extra material. She made Janet a new dress for our cousins wedding too.
My Uncle laughs because my Grandma saved every pattern she ever used. Which is probably an exageration but we were 17 when she died and she had patterns when we were babies.
When my Grandma died my Grandfather got rid of the sewing machine soon after she died. At the time I didn’t get it but now I do. It was such a reminder for him. That was where she sat almost everytime we went over to the apartment. It’s like Dad’s tools…her essence is in that.
I will be taking a quilt to auction off for conference. I think Grandma would be really proud that her work would be going to help an organization that helps her granddaughter.
Thanks Grandma.

The Lovely House

Mad Libs
Tuesday morning I had a guy come to take out Mom’s stairlift. He came in the door and asked where it is and I pointed for our staircase is in the middle of the house. “Oh that’s easy”. Then I told him he would find the cord to plug down in the basement. While he was working I went out to the kitchen to do some stuff. He goes down to the basement and when he came back up says “you have a lovely old home. I really like it”. On Wednesday I had an assistant for grocery guy and she had to come to front door since side steps were a little icy. She was standing in front hall and says “you have a lovely home”. Two complete strangers said exactly the same thing. And the living room is a mess because I’m sorting stuff in boxes. But they both saw past that.

The great thing about my home is there is a powder room on the main level. So many older homes don’t have one. Plus a good sized entranceway and decent sized hall closet. More than enough room for coats for 5 people. Our neighbour had a very dinky hall closet so she had to supplement with a coat rack.

Most people think we only have a 3 bedroom house. It is 4 but the only large bedroom is the master. My room is L shaped due to it being off the bathroom and shower cuts into it. But I love my room. That’s what makes it original. I also have an archway into my room which I also love. The arches are what gives the house character. My brother’s old room is what I use as an office. Mom called it the computer room and my brother still called it “MY” room. Janet’s room is painted peach. Dad asked her many times “are you sure?” and she was.

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This is a picture of my room after it was painted. The colour is called “yellow raincoat”. At first it was a little darker than I intended but I do like it. The dark furniture grounds it plus I have white curtains. It reminds me of a sunrise. I had new carpet installed afterwards (I redid entire room) and the guy told me so many people are afraid of colour I really like this. I told a twin friend that after my Dad died I lived in a world of grey that I didn’t want my room to be that too. My Dad would never have let me pick that colour. There was a sense of pride in looking at it once it was all done.

It’s starting to hit me that I am going to be leaving my home. This is the place where my parents brought me and my sister home from the hospital. I’m sitting in the room where we slept. So many memories.