Just be kind

Some days reading social media makes me really depressed. Although I’m not on Instagram I do “follow” Erin Napier of Home Town. One day she had a picture of her kitchen and someone complained that she had kid art on her fridge. What kind of person complains about kid art?? Kid art is the best because they are having fun. It captures a moment in time.
The trouble with these kind of comments is that we can have 99 good comments but we remember the 1 that isn’t. I recently got glasses for distance and a friend that I have known for a long time gave me a backhanded compliment. Yesterday I walked away from what could have become an argument on Facebook because I’ve learned it just isn’t worth it.
I had a lovely comment on a recent post titled resilient. That’s the lovely thing about blogging that sometimes we write something that someone else needs to hear. That happened to me yesterday when I read a post that someone wrote on politeness. My friend writes about kindness a lot but it’s such a simple thing and yet there are days when it seems that there isn’t enough of it. I’m the type of person that will let someone go ahead of me at the grocery store if they only have 2 items. One of my favourite booths at the market is run by the woman who says “hello darlin” in greeting, who knows many of her customers by name. She’s special.
This also includes being kind to ourselves. Accepting our limitations. Finding the things we like instead of the things we don’t. Self-care. For me it’s buying flowers for myself just because. Tell someone how much they mean to you or just give them a hug. Send love.

Passing the torch


Last night I got an email from a cousin asking if I had the email addresses for 2 cousins whose father died recently. Growing up this was Mom’s role in the family because she was the keeper of the addresses. Janet and I used to joke that if there was a fire the first thing she would grab would be her little green book. She not only had addresses but marriages, births and deaths in it too.
I have written often that my Mom would send Christmas cards to family and friends. I learned that even though we didn’t get a card in response they still appreciated hearing what we were doing in the year. It made me a little sad to think that for some this was our only form of communication…once a year through a letter (that eventually was printed out on computer).
I was going to title this post values because there are times in life when I realize not everyone was raised the same way as I was. Both my parents believed that knowledge wasn’t just from school but also from church and life skills. I remember when we went to a family reunion with my Dad’s oldest brother and my Dad told us we each had to write a thank you note when we got home. We did buy a thank you gift at JC Penny on the way home. We pooled our money and didn’t have quite enough so we went to Mom to get the rest. If you were invited to someone’s house for dinner you brought something as a thank you.
Some days those values that I was taught seem so old fashioned in the world we live in now. But treating others the way we would want to be treated should always be true. Doing the right thing.

Resilient

At 12:05 my grocery person buzzed to be let in and I learn that it’s the chatty one. She comes in and asks how I am and I told her better today but last week was rough. She knows a bit about Janet because she once asked if I had any family. After she put up my groceries I was able to show her the drawings that I had framed. There are some people that just get how much we miss the people in our life that are no longer with us. I never know who I’m going to get until the day of so I believe Janet knew which person I needed today.
In the course of conversation I shared with her how Janet died which is something I rarely do. It was years before I could do it without crying. I rarely even do it at the twinless twins conference because I prefer to share the good memories. But as I told my grocery gal this is part of my story now.
After she left I realized that I am resilient. I lost my best friend tragically and very publicly. I took care of my Dad at a time when I could barely take care of myself. I cared for my Mom. I think it takes an outsider to really see what a huge accomplishment that is. Being resilient doesn’t mean that everyday is going to be smooth sailing but I know that I have the strength to get through it. I emailed a couple of people that I knew would “get it” because I don’t need to be strong all the time.
I have a friend that also writes a blog and often ends it with the saying kindness is contagious. She is someone who believes in the power of a hug. Today was definitely one of those days. A hug just makes everything better.

GRIEF


Today’s word is progress and I chose to title my blog post grief because sometimes it feels like I’m not making any progress in grief.
Wednesday night I got an email from a friend of mine that she went to a training exercise at a local college put on by paramedics. One of the exercises used was based on what happened to Janet and she met the paramedic that responded that day. As I read her email I was sobbing because it took me right back to that day. It’s so hard because to many people that is all she will ever be is the person who had a tragic accident at the fair.
The thing about grief is that it doesn’t matter that it’s 13 1/2 years after the fact there are days where the pain is going to be as intense as when it just happened. I know in my heart that Janet was more than that day but it will never escape me. My brother once told me it would be easier if people forgot the day and yet that isn’t possible. Some days going into the hospital is a trigger. Going past the place where it happened is hard even if I’m in a car or on the bus. I have to actually turn away. A twinless twin once told me that maybe it would help if I went and I thought no it won’t.
I have been told by a counsellor and a minister that I was stuck and it made me angry at them. There was a time after my Dad died that I was angry at the world. To people that don’t understand the twin bond they will never get that trying to find an entirely new identity is hard work. Many people will never see the progress that I make because they will only see the person I was before. I have to learn how to honour that bond while still going on living alone.
This is my favourite picture of my twin. I post it whenever I need reminded of the love that we had…still have. Early this morning I got an email from my grocery guy that he is able to pick up a couple of custom framed items that I took in a couple of weeks ago. I sat there thinking that is my twin at work since she knew that I needed them. Writing that is progress because there would have been a time when I would have been embarrassed to say that. It’s ok to say that she is still with me. That she lives on in me.

Go shopping

This morning I learned of another store that is closing. I can honestly say I’ve only been in Pier 1 once and I bought one thing that was on sale. My Mom had a friend that loved to shop in Home Sense which is a similar store only less expensive. Her husband thought it was useless stuff and Mom kind of agreed. I remember going in once with a friend and picking up something thinking who buys this stuff? According to the article the store has to compete with Wayfair. I purchased a couple of items for my home online. That’s the great thing about buying decorative items. It’s not like buying clothes…you don’t have to worry if it fits or not.
When I learned that I needed glasses I had many people offer “advice” on where I should purchase them. A friend even suggested buying online. Since I don’t drive I already knew that I was probably going to go to the optical store in the mall near me. I did go to their Facebook page to read reviews beforehand.
Last week I had to go into Shoppers Drug Mart for something and when I came out I noticed people using the self serve checkout. It was the second time in a week that I had seen a business with them since Metro also does too. I was telling my friend that I think that is so wrong but at the same time it’s hypocritical of me to say so since I will go to the ATM instead of using a teller. But there is a caveat to that in that I don’t want to be sold a product or service that they think I need. Plus inevitably I get behind a talkative person.
Even buying groceries is done by sending a list by email and paying with a debit card. Shopping really is different now. We used to go to the mall and probably stop and have a coffee. There was a social element to it since we usually ran into someone that we knew.
I think that is why I like going to the Farmers Market so much. They get to know their regulars. There is an interaction even on their social media pages. It’s about the colours and the smells. The laughter. The joy of a little kid eating a cookie or juicy watermelon. There is always going to be that need to be able to try before you buy.

BlueJays

This morning I learned of the sad news that Tony Fernandez died. As soon as I read it I was transported back in time to the era of George Bell, Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield (mid 80’s). Tony Fernandez was my grandmother’s favourite player. He wasn’t hot heated like George. He was a decent guy and gave it his all when up to bat. I remember there was a fast food chain that gave out plastic cups with the players faces on it. Janet had George, I had Lloyd and my brother had Willie Upshaw (who was his favourite).
Watching baseball was such a family event. We would go over to our grandparents place and watch together. Good grief this was even before the SkyDome was built. We went once to Exhibition Stadium with my grandparents but there was a rain delay. We could have gone back to finish but by that time my brother had fallen asleep and we didn’t feel like it. I think the bus driver put it on the radio for us. The first time we went to the SkyDome we got rained on because when the roof was first built it took a lot longer to close than it does now. My grandfather thought that was funny and shared that story with EVERYONE.
I don’t watch baseball anymore because I don’t even know most of the players. If I went back to the 80s I could probably name most of the team. We don’t have that same connection anymore.

Happy


A couple of days ago I got an email from my coffee buddy arranging to go for coffee yesterday. We ended up going to the mall to pick up my glasses and then went to the coffee shop on the corner that you can only get to if you come from a certain direction. When I went into the optical store the saleslady remembered me and asked if I was excited to get my glasses I actually replied yes. When she asked on Saturday the whole process was overwhelming so I wasn’t really sure yet. I sat down in the chair and she had me shake my head to make sure they didn’t fall off. She gave me a cloth to clean it with, a bottle with cleaner and a lovely hard case. It’s no wonder I have a big purse. With a cellphone, wallet and now glasses it keeps getting heavier!

I told my friend that when I went home I second guessed myself because of the colour but she told me she really liked them. I posted this photo on Facebook since a couple of long time friends asked to see what they looked like when I posted that I had to get glasses. I was shocked at how many people commented. One friend wrote that they look so good on me and another wrote gorgeous. A long time friend told me the world will look so much clearer now and I thought about how that is kind of a metaphor for life. My cousin told me to be good to myself. A collage friend told me her new glasses have clear frames and I thought about how there was a time when that would have been me. I’m sure my parents wouldn’t have like them. Growing up I didn’t wear name brand clothing. Now I wear jeans with a little bit of bling. I bought sequinned pants for a Christmas dinner.

I do see the world more clearly now. After a long time when the world was full of grey it is now full of colour both figuratively and literally. I tried on about half a dozen pair of glasses and this is the one where I actually said “wow” when I looked in the mirror.

Birds of a feather flock together

I have found in my life that this adage is true. Like most people my first friends were kids in the neighbourhood and then kids in public school. I was friends with a girl at church since the age of 4 or 5. I write was because we just lost contact after she moved away since she wasn’t good at returning phone calls or emails. I’m still friends with many people from public school but very few from high school. This is where the adage comes true because we just didn’t seem to fit in. In college I wasn’t in to the bar scene but did have a table of woman that I ate lunch with. I kept in contact with one woman through letters but even that has changed in the last few years since she became a Mom. She now hangs out with the Mommy groups. I remember going to a bridal shower for my cousin whose parents lived in an affluent area in Oakville ON. The bridal shower gifts were more than we would spend on a wedding gift. We were driven by a couple of the neighbours who were talking about storing their minks and how it’s hard to find good help. Mom leaned over and whispered “this is how the other half lives”. We lived in a middle class neighbourhood. Most people even tend to stay in the same neighbourhood all their lives.

The adage is true because there has to be some commonality. We met through church since we helped with Sunday School with her. One would think that once she left church it would have been harder to maintain that friendship but we did. I have mentioned many times how my coffee buddy is one of the few people where the dynamic didn’t change after Janet died. There were people I met through grief groups where eventually the friendship dissolved. I came to learn that it was because we only had that one thing in common. Eventually that wasn’t enough.

I have a friend from public school who is very different from me. Our political viewpoints are different, she is artistic. Even physically we are different as she is petite and blond(ish) and I’m tall and brunette (with help). We reconnected through lengthy emails. There was a trust there from the start and with friendship that is a big thing. I know the commonality with all of my friends is love.

Buying glasses

I know for most people this wouldn’t be a big deal but this is the first time in my life that I have needed them. It’s also a big deal because I didn’t let myself get persuaded to buy them somewhere cheaper. I ended up going to a place in the mall closest to me. They were extremely helpful especially since I was a little overwhelmed trying them on. There were a couple that I tried on that were maybes and some that were definite nos. It’s one of those times when I wish I had someone to go with me to give a second opinion but I think that’s part of why I feel like it’s an accomplishment that I did it on my own. My Dad pretty well wore the same style all his life…except when he had darker frames in the late 60s and early 70s. There is a picture of my grandmother around that time and she had very prominent cat eye glasses. Let’s just say those weren’t for me!

When I moved into my apartment my furniture ended up being very modern. It wasn’t as if I set out to pick that style it just happened to be what I liked in the store. At first I did second guess myself because they are big purchases but it all works together. Although being single it’s nice that I don’t have to get someone else’s approval. Nowadays I send a picture to a friend or post on Facebook and that is how I get feedback.

Every day we make decisions. This is a quote that a friend posted on Facebook. “Who knew that the hardest part of being an adult is figuring out what to cook for dinner every single night for the rest of your life”. Remember when you were little and you would ask “what’s for dinner?”. Ahh those were the days.

Fandango’s February Expressions #6

The expression for today is “leave well enough alone”
It’s an appropriate expression right now as my newsfeed on Facebook is inundated with meme’s, articles and rants about the teacher’s strike in Ontario and Trump’s acquittal in the US. I also had a couple of friends who were on opposite sides on the fence on the Superbowl half time show. I wish we could go back to the time when Facebook was just for sharing photos of your kids, a trip and in my case lots of food pictures.
I have learned to leave well enough alone and not involve myself in debates on Facebook. I have shared articles and videos of our local campaign but it’s for information purposes and I don’t post anything that is divisive. There is so much anger surrounding not only American politics but Canadian as well. We have to remember that these people are our friends. We need to respect each other’s viewpoints even if it differs from our own.
I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to bite my tongue in certain situations. You know when you have an older relative who has a lot of opinions on how you should live your life and you just sit there and nod. A friend has to come to the hospital to have some tests done and it will be a last minute decision whether I meet her or not. There are times when I wish I didn’t have as many Dr appointments and going to the hospital on purpose is overwhelming.