When I thought of this word today the first thing that came to mind was the skit on SNL
I am currently reading the September issue of the Oprah magazine. Many of the articles are about empowering woman. To be “selfish”. We grow up listening to the outside voices and we have to recite whatever mantra works for us. “I am capable. I am strong”.
I was thinking about this word as I sat in Starbucks this morning having my morning coffee. This is a place where I am surrounded by people but I am eating alone. But to an extent it is a solitary place because of people on their laptops. Even people sitting together aren’t talking they are both on their cellphones.
Because I grew up a twin I never had to go anywhere alone unless I chose to. Coffee was shared. We would go to Red Roaster or the 3 of us would go to Tim Hortons after grocery shopping. We would meet friends for coffee. When Moms health was declining the hardest part was knowing I was going to be alone.
Moving to this apartment has been such a blessing because I’m not alone. A week ago my superintendent phoned me in the evening because she hadn’t seen me around and was worried that I was sick. I ran into a fellow tenant and she was joking that she actually had company who didn’t run into the supers. Don’t get me wrong coming from a house it took some getting used to but I like to think Mom made sure I had people looking out for me.
I have had to tell myself that I’m not alone. I have friends to rely on if I need help with anything. I went for tea with a friend on Wednesday. This has been a very social summer. At the same time it’s nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy a good book.
After Janet died I wrote a poem “alone in the crowd”. For many Twins that is what it feels like…we always had someone else there. It took me a while to adjust (I’m not sure that is even the right word) to a different dynamic. Janet knew what I meant. I had to speak differently. There were times when I would go somewhere and everyone was “partnered”.
I think it just depends on the day whether alone is a good thing or not. I have learned that I have friends that have taken me into their family. My parents and sister are still with me too.
10 years ago today my status read “leaving on a jet plane”. I reconnected with a friend after Janet died. This was before Facebook so we sent long emails catching up on each other’s lives. In one email she asked if there was something that Janet and I always intended to do and I said Vancouver was on the list. At the time I didn’t really realize what a big deal this was flying across the country less than a year after my twin died. Staying with a woman that I hadn’t seen for almost 20 yrs. I remember thinking that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations because I was so excited to go but it did and more. I saw all the tourist spots but my friend made sure that Janet was included.
Today I went for high tea with a friend of mine at Eldon House. Finger sandwiches, scones and dessert. I made sure that we got a picture together. Next week a cousin of mine is coming to visit. Around the time that would be my parents wedding anniversary so I think it’s neat that we will be going out to dinner then. I’m not sure where yet as we haven’t talked about it. She came to visit a a few years ago and was glad that she got to see Mom.
This summer I have been lucky enough to spend time with friends and coffee with Uncle and dinner with cousin soon. Reading a fellow bloggers post on time made me think. I remember what it felt like not to have enough of it. When I was a caregiver I had to give up going out to the movies or seeing friends. Thankfully friends stood by me. I don’t take it for granted that I can go to a class at the library, go for a fancy dinner.
The prompt for today is grainy and the word makes me think of pictures. I look at the picture of Mom sitting in the airport and the memory is as clear as if it was yesterday. I remember how pleased Dad was with the gift I brought back for him (he was a hard person to buy for). I don’t need a picture to capture the memory because I carry it with me in my heart.
Growing up in a family of 5 getting ready to go somewhere was scheduled if we all had to have a shower. Quite often Mom would have one the night before, Janet and I were morning off and the men were afternoon depending on if it was dinner or wedding. Makeup was applied in the bathroom on the main level or what Mom referred to as the powder room. My grandparents had a full length mirror on one of their doors so my Dad attached it to the hall closet door. It was good for final touch ups to make sure everything was in place. My Mom could still tell you the story of when my cousin got married in 1995. My brother had hit a growth spurt so he had to buy some new pants. They were too long so he had them hemmed the day of. As we are getting into the car Mom says “thank goodness we live 5 mins from the church”.
Because my twin and I both had short hair it was what Mom called wash and wear. For many years Mom had a perm but after her transplant the medication made her hair very course so she didn’t do it anymore. She didn’t dry her hair. I remember going to church and the times when we were rushed was usually when my pantyhose would rip. I would have to hunt in my drawer and sometimes ask Mom for another pair. All the while grumbling “this is why I don’t wear nylons!”
My parents were the types that always arrived early to something. My Aunt was the same. His youngest sister was “fashionably late” always half an hour.
At my house if I was being picked up by someone I would sit on the stool in the kitchen because I could see out the window tonthe driveway. Now I have to arrange a time so I can be down in the lobby. If the person is early they buzz up to let me know.
When my Mom and I went grocery shopping we would split the list and I would do one side and she would do the other. I would come back and she would say “what’d you do run around the store?” Because I knew where everything was I could do it very quickly and if you were in my way look out!
With technology we can get instant replies. We can get next day delivery of packages we order from Amazon. But at the same time I have friends that are camping or just sitting out on the patio. Time to read a book. Time to spend with friends and family. That can’t be hurried.
Think about all the ways in which our lives are organized. Yesterday I got a phone call about a booking I filled out online to go to Eldon House for tea with a friend so I put that on my calendar (on my Ipad). Then when I was scrolling down I saw a diabetes appointment on September 11 which means I should probably have my 3 month bloodwork prior and go to GP. My requisitions are all together on a shelf. I do online banking and my expenses are automatically withdrawn from account. My paperwork isn’t that organized…something that wasn’t passed down from my parents!
I don’t know whether technology makes it easier to plan things or not. Because we have more technology we almost have to double check which form we used to contact someone. I know my friends home phone number off by heart but not his cell. I’m terrible about remembering to charge my phone but at least I remember to carry it now!
This morning I went to the grocery store because I am running low on sweetener for my coffee and coffee in the morning is a must! I organize my list according to aisles and then try to organize the bag according to what has to go in freezer or fridge. I keep a basic list on my Ipad and then just add to it when I run out of things. It makes it easier to email my list to my grocery person. My friend teased me that Saturday is market day. Thursday was grocery shopping day for Mom. Monday seems to be laundry day for most people. Monday is cleaning day because Tuesday is grocery day so I make sure kitchen is clean. It’s the day I take out recycling because it’s picked up on Tuesday. In a house we had an 8 day garbage collection and how glad I am that I no longer have to worry about what day it is! Or have to clean out the stinky pail or worry about yard collection. On Wednesday I sat outside and read a book. Many of my friends have posted photos of them doing the same thing.
For me moving into an apartment meant a clean slate. It could be organized the way I wanted. Our house was organized to an extent but I only had my room to put my own stuff. I have a coffee cupboard. Carafe on bottom shelf with sweetener, cups and travel mug on middle shelf and coffee pods on top shelf. I knew when I did the tour of apartment that is where my coffee maker would go.
I have 2 bathrooms so some stuff is in one bathroom and some in another. We didn’t have vanities with drawers so this makes it much more organized. I know where everything is! Cleaning products are in the guest bathroom and I have 2 bottles of toilet bowl cleaner because Mom did that so she would always have one in each bathroom.
This post could also go with yesterdays word which was delivery. It seemed like all I did was wait for furniture to arrive. As I went along I realized oh I need this or I can wait on getting that. Having lived in a house all my life I only purchased one piece of art for my room when I redid it. A lot of Mom and Dad’s art was given to them. The mirror over the mantle was actually a painting which had a really cool frame so grandma took out the picture and had glass put in it. The one over the couch was a wedding gift. I am sorely lacking in art but it’s like everything else in my place I want something that I love.
Last year I organized a get together for friends in September to honour my twin. It helped to have something to look forward to. A calendar is a way to be organized but it’s also a reminder. A twin friend once told me it’s easier to have a plan.
The last time my friend and I went for coffee we had a really good talk about the social aspect of food. She teaches phys ed so she is conscious of the calories in food. Should I eat that? I remember when I first had to cut out all the foods that I liked it felt extreme. Being diabetic means I have to count carbs and read labels. It was nice to be able to talk openly to someone who truly gets it. She talked about how sometimes it’s hard to find the balance.
A friend of mine recently posted a very honest status on fb about what it’s like having dietary restrictions. For her it’s dairy, gluten and corn. She wrote if you can go out to eat and eat anything on the menu be thankful. My writing class went to a Thai restaurant and I had to decline. It’s not fun feeling like we are different but we have to do what is best for ourselves. because of the salt content I steer clear of Asian cuisine. I do occasionally have Chinese but I order take out and get steamed vegetables, rice etc. Did you know a regular hamburger from Harvey’s has 1000mg of sodium? That’s my allotment for the day.
People wonder why I end up at the same restaurant most of the time. For someone who has to watch their sodium content meat potatoes and vegetables is what I would have at home. This restaurant also allows you to make substitutions. And I don’t have to hunt someone down to refill my glass with water.
I try to eat whole foods as much as possible. I’m not perfect I don’t eat properly all the time. Life happens.
At around 4pm I Ambled over to Ribfest to pick up some ribs for dinner. It was calling for rain all weekend but it held off today and I even got to enjoy them sitting on the balcony. Last year when I walked home I looked up to the sky and talked to my Dad because every year he would ask if we were going to Ribfest. We rarely went when we were at home. We didn’t eat out as often and I guess we thought it was expensive.
Janet and I went to Ribfest the year that she died. Back then they still had a balloon festival at the park that I currently live across from. We didn’t go down all the way but watched them being inflated from the street. Since we lived close to downtown we could often see them from our deck. Tony the Tiger, Remax, a Canada flag. 11 yrs ago I still had a camera with film and ended up taking it in after she died. It was so strange seeing her face eating the ribs.
My friend that draws a picture in my Christmas card and sometimes in my birthday card drew a special picture for my 40th birthday. Janet and I were in a balloon and we were talking. She doesn’t draw us talking. I don’t think I ever told her that this is the last event we went to together. It’s the only one she has ever done in colour.
I often think how my family guided me to where I live now. Despite the fact that I lived in the same neighbourhood for 40 yrs there are memories associated here too. We went to Harris Park for a picnic with Mom. We did the double decker tour. We saw fireworks at Canada Day with my Uncle.
It’s like strolling down memory lane.
A few years ago I separated my clothes by season. Spring/summer was on the left and fall/winter on the right. And dresser clothes were kind of in the middle. Now I have all my skirts and dresses to the right in my closet because I rarely wear them. My everyday wardrobe consists of jeans and tshirts.
I had to go to shoppers Drug Mart this morning so I stopped for a coffee in the market. I love people watching although not as much as my grandma and Mom! I sat beside a group of couples and they were dressed nicely. There is a difference with age as the younger people were dressed in hoodies and shorts.
I get emails from clothing stores that I have purchased from online. They have really nice dresses. Alright if you have a wedding to attend but when you reach a certain age you don’t have any friends getting married.
Going out to dinner sometimes is a challenge figuring out what to wear unless I have been to the restaurant before. Swiss Chalet is somewhere you can go in jeans but also in your Sunday best.
Janet, a friend and I used to attend a woman’s show downtown in march. One year my friend and I went to a talk on what shape you are. We are both rectangles. My Mom and grandma were both hourglass.
Speaking of clothes I have to do some laundry.
This is interesting that this word came up for thr prompt today. Yesterday I was reading an article that was trending on Facebook with regards to the 2016 census. According to the report 28 percent of households are single and many no children. They cite many reasons for this…economics, divorces and people living longer so their spouse has died.
My Dad was 36 when my parents got married so he was a bachelor for a while. To save money he stayed in boarding houses. My grandparents lived at home until they were married. When my grandmother died he was lost because he had never lived alone.
I remember going to my Aunts house for dinner and in the course of conversation she mentioned how many people she knew that were my age that were single. But the way she said it I knew that she didn’t see it as a good thing. I have a couple of cousins who didn’t have kids and that was seen as odd too. I don’t know whether it was by choice or not but it’s up to the individual. They make wonderful aunts and uncles because they have the freedom to do more things.
There is a sense of independence from being single. I’m not responsible for anyone but myself. Being married means you have to ask someone’s permission if you want to spend money because it’s shared I don’t have to do that.
I don’t believe in “happily ever after”. A true partnership means there will be trials. My parents weren’t demonstrative but the day before my Dad died he held on to my Moms hand so tight. It literally means growing old together. My parents had shared values. Dads rules were “their rules”.
The word partner doesn’t just mean romantic. Janet was my partner…often jokingly my partner in crime. She was my coffee buddy, my walking partner, the person I cooked with and my shopping consultant. We would sit outside and not have to say a word. She was the person who calmed me down and would tell me it usually isn’t that big of a deal. But she was also the person who would beat someone up if they messed with her family. After Janet died Mom was my partner. She was my rock because I could talk openly to her. We both lost our partners.
I once told someone that I went for walks “by myself” not alone. They didn’t get the difference. For me Janet walked beside me so I wasn’t alone. Being single means there are days when I’m lonely but I remember A friend is just an email or phone call away.
I started watching a tv show called Date my Dad. It was on after another show I was watching and I was curious. It’s about a guy whose wife died 3 years ago and his daughters are trying to get him back in the game…so to speak.
This weeks episode involved them going to the cabin that they went to as a family. They show a preview of next weeks episode and I knew I would bawl when I watched it and I did. I pretty well cry at almost every episode.
When they get to the cabin everyone goes off to do their own thing. The middle daughter has a grade 6 science project about an ecosystem and is having trouble picking a topic. Their neighbour had gone with them so he takes her out for a walk to look for an idea. He is showing her moss on a tree and explains how everything works together. If you take away one thing it affects everything else. I’m not paraphrasing it well but there was this awkward pause when he realized how it related to the loss of their mother. I remember relating it to a jigsaw puzzle with a piece missing. The picture is still there but it’s not complete.
The youngest child is 7 and she doesn’t have any memories of being there with her mother. That got me too because it made me think of how memories are so powerful. What would it feel like not to have any? There is a scene where she sits in her mothers chair and the eldest daughter gets mad because to her it’s sacrilegious. When I moved I brought my Dads chair with me but I knew when I found a couch I would get rid of it. A couple of my friends didn’t get it. It wasn’t just the fact it didn’t go with my new place but it was DADS.
There is a moment when the eldest daughter runs off and her father has a talk with her. She tells him “I didn’t want to come here”. For him it’s comforting going back there but for her it was a reminder of what she lost. Every family member reacts differently. It was such a honest portrayal. When my Dad underwent chemo I went into the room with him and once he was set up I left. The nurse said I was welcome to stay and Dad told her “she doesn’t want to be here”. I had never spoken it out loud but he knew. There are times I had to force myself to go. My brother thought it was odd that Mom and I went to out flowers on the grave on our birthday. Like the Dad in the tv show for us it was comforting.
Tonight I had a really good chat with a friend of mine. We talked about empathy. She talked about how when she met my friends at the celebration of life for Janet last year she could tell how much they cared for me. She didn’t grow up with us because I met her in college so it’s a different relationship but like many people reading this blog she has gotten to know her better through my stories. I like to think the friends I grew up with get to know her better too.