When I was 13 I had to learn how to do laundry. When my Mom went into the hospital to have a kidney transplant we were all expected to do our own laundry. She told us over the phone step by step how to do it. First you turn on the tap, then you put soap in, then you turn the knob for settings and pull the knob up. Janet and I made dinner. It wasn’t gourmet by any means but it was food.
All 3 of us took the bus in the city. I don’t drive but I could get around very well by bus. I know people that have never taken the bus. It makes you resourceful though.
My Dad taught Janet and I to do yardwork, we mowed the lawn. When he had cancer treatment he had to teach me how to trim the hedges. I heard people tell me “but that isn’t a woman’s job”. Since this post is about “educate” who teaches us that there are men’s roles and women’s roles?
Growing up I learned about budgeting. My Mom would often wonder where the idea comes from for keeping up with the Jones? How money for them was what they lived on and yet for many people it’s a symbol of status.
After Janet died I read a lot of grief books. It wasn’t because I wanted to be educated I wanted to learn how other people coped. But nobody can teach you what it’s like to lose a loved one. I learned from other twins just by talking to them. I would go on chat and talk about a problem I had and someone else would say “I had that too”. I learned quickly that counsellors didn’t see that twin loss was different than sibling loss. A twin has to learn how to develop an identity apart from their twin. I journalled, that was my coping strategy.
Being a caregiver I learned as I was going along. I learned when to fight and when to walk away. When each family member died I learned who would support me and who would walk away.
When Mom died I knew the basics of what to do for an estate because I had done it before but I didn’t know everything. I knew nothing about filling out paperwork to apply for an apartment but I was lucky to come in contact with people who helped me. I had to figure out a budget because I had to have a number in mind of what I could afford.
School doesn’t teach any of these things. When I was looking after my Mom she would tell me “yes people in our family might have more education than you but you have life skills” and for her that was more important. A couple of friends said that I take after my Mom. She taught me how to be a good person by example.