Just being me

Popular
Growing up Janet and I were never concerned about being popular. We were each others best friend. Like most kids were started out with friends in the neighbourhood and then friends at school. Many years later those friends are my family. I have watched a friend grow into a wonderful teacher and a loving wife and mother. As I got older I realized that they kids that were popular had struggles too. I have found that the social structure of high school tends to continue into adulthood. The moneyed people, the social butterflies and the outcasts.
When I was talking to the daughter of Mom’s friend she asked about family. So I told her I can either be the person they want me to be or I can be the strong woman I am now but I can’t be both. It’s a hard lesson to learn. Mom would tell you that I’ve never really fit into a mold. But I’ve learned that this doesn’t make me popular. It sounds so easy to be “real” but it’s not.
When I was sitting waiting for the bus on Friday I was thinking about what it means for our parents, friends and extended family to be proud of us. For my Dad he was proud of me for all that I did around the house to take care of them. Although he never said it I think he was proud of my being strong in my grief. Parents can be proud of our successes but they are most proud of raising kids that are helpful, strong, independent. Things that can’t be measured.

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Mothers

As I mentioned in a previous post a friend of Mom died on Monday I just returned from visitation. Mom always said that it was awkward when you know the parent but don’t know the kids. The daughter was so sweet to phone me as I know how much work is involved after someone dies. Since this is the neighbourhood funeral home the staff know who I am. When I wandered in I didn’t even know which one was her daughter but she did. I had a little pang when she said the 3 of us downstairs in coffee hour. You know when memories flood back and you can see it clear as if it was yesterday. I wrote a note in a card this morning and it was harder than I thought it would be. I read over the condolences online and her dentist wrote one. I received a lovely note from one of Mom’s doctors how it was a pleasure to know her and this woman wrote the same thing. How proud she was of her kids.
I told her daughter how I would tell her Mom how much of a help she was and she would wonder how. She told me she said the same thing to her not that long ago. A similarity shared with my Mom because they were both humble. She also said her Mom was her friend. Going to a funeral each person is unique but the common link is love.
It has rained off and on all day. Thankfully it was sunny when I went. I felt I needed to go to honour a wonderful friend not only to Mom but to me.

Feeling sad

I just got a call from the daughter of a woman that used to go to the church that I grew up in. She past away yesterday. While it isn’t that surprising because she was 95 and her health had started deteriorating the past year it’s always sad when someone dies.
When Mom and I went to church she would look over to see if she was in her usual spot and if she wasn’t she would phone to make sure she was ok. They would sit together in the lower hall. Mom in the middle and another woman on the right. They were buddies even though she was old enough to be Moms mother. They both came over when Mom had bladder surgery. She and Mom had a bond because they both have twins although hers were boys. And her son died a few years ago so they could discuss it as a parent and I could as a Twinless twin.
When Mom died she was such a support. She was someone I could talk to about my frustrations with people at church. She told it like it was. She often said I’m not physically doing anything to help you but she helped more that she will ever know.
She told me constantly how proud she was of me at a time when I was very lost. When I was stressed out she would tell me “this too shall pass”…and she was right. It taught me patience.
September 25 is a day of love and loss. A friend got married almost 20 years ago and we were in her wedding. The same day the mother of a friend of Moms died. 5 yrs ago a friend’s son was born. That’s life. It’s so cyclical.

Thank goodness for On Demand

Pamper
Tomorrow all my favourite shows are returning. Reading over my recent posts one would think that I watch a lot of tv but when I was watching the start of the Emmys I wasn’t familiar with any of the shows. A couple of shows that I like are Canadian…Murdoch Mysteries and Private Eyes. Even though I grew up in the generation that watched 90210 we didn’t. We must have watched the occasional episode because I did know the characters. Every time I see “Shade” driving his sports car around Toronto I wonder how they managed that because Toronto traffic is busy all the time. I must have missed a couple of episodes of Murdoch because it ended with him on the run and I have no idea why. Apparently someone gets killed off in season premier too.
Monday night is also The Voice. It’s faster watching it later because there aren’t commercials. I have to avoid the instinct to check the facebook page to see who the talents are. Some seasons you can tell the first week who is going to go all the way (Jordan Smith!) and some seasons I just can’t get into it. A lot of people say that it’s not about the judges but it is. I like the banter back and forth. It’s friendly competition.
I really liked the show Pitch but it was not renewed and yet The Good Place was…figure that one out. And just when you start getting into a new show you have to wait “patiently” until they make new episodes.
My Mom really liked Hawaii 50 but I would only watch it if it had a good story. If it started out pretty gruesome chances are I would stop watching it.
What about you? Any shows that you can’t wait to watch again?

Leaf

Leaf

Growing up we had 2 big trees in the backyard, a black walnut and a cottonwood. While they provide great shade both have drawbacks. Picking up walnuts in the fall is not a fun activity. The skin gets on your hands and stains and the sound of cars rolling over them is grating after a while. It’s also not advisable to park underneath it if you have a car alarm! The cottonwood tree starts producing what we referred to as fluff around the time of my birthday. Cutting the grass at that time means it goes EVERYWHERE including up my nose. It sticks to clothing too.
I have included a picture taken the fall after my Dad died (8 yrs ago). I was talking to a friend online after lunch and told her that I had to rake some leaves and wondered if she wanted to jump in the leaves. It was a time when I was trying to find the joy at a time where the pain of two losses so close together was very raw. We have many goofy pictures. I raked up a big pile before she came and we jumped in. Neither of us were good selfie takers so we have pictures of half our heads. By the end we were laughing so hard. Walnut leaves aren’t colourful so you don’t get the pretty pictures like you would for a maple.
I’ve always liked raking leaves. There is something therapeutic about it. Raking the leaves after my Dad died it was a lot more work because it really is a two person job. But there was satisfaction in seeing a clean lawn and it’s good exercise.

This is one of the trees in front of my balcony. I still have 2. This year I will be able to sit outside and watch the leaves change colour. Last year I walked to a program at the museum and enjoyed the leaves crunching under my feet. I am thankful for trees that provide shade when it’s hot outside! Even though the calendar says fall we are going to have 30 degree (90F) weather for the next 5 days. To use yesterday’s word I am MIGHTY thankful for central air!

Crumb

Crumb
How interesting that this is the word for today. Last week I had a yearning for the cherry cheesecake that my Mom used to make. I think it must have something to do with comfort food as I just past the anniversary. Plus there are times when I get tired of having fruit for dessert.
Yesterday was grocery delivery day and I put down all the ingredients to make it. He put the crumbs on the counter and told me he was looking for Billy Bee crumbs but couldn’t find them. That’s the kind my Mom bought. I remember going shopping with her and thinking they were with the baking but they put them with the cookies. Mom made it with cherry pie filling but one time I bought cherries in juice so I had to thicken it with cornstarch and wait for it to cool. I don’t actually like cherries so I would pick them off. If she made it for company I didn’t because I’m not totally uncouth.
It’s one of the those items that Mom didn’t use a recipe for. I was helping make the crust and asked how much crumbs should I use. I don’t know enough to cover the bottom. How much butter? Enough to moisten. So making it on my own might be interesting. Oh well that’s what the internet is for! It makes 9 so I’m going to half the recipe and freeze some.
As I write this I can picture Mom sitting on the stool with the big mixing bowl in front of her. She would beat the dream whip and I would slowly add the cream cheese. I would usually eat while it was still in the bowl but I was allowed to lick the beaters. You are never too old for that job.
Cooking and baking was a shared experience. It’s so much easier when you have a sous chef…and someone to clean up after you. Every time I pass date squares at the marker I think of cutting them for my Mom. Such a sticky job but the end result was so good. We often joked that Mom and Dad had kids for these thankless jobs…to carry stuff in from car, go to the store with them.
Crumbs are like memories…they are what is left.

Recreate

Recreate
Yesterday I wrote about cooking shows and today I will be writing about my other guilty pleasure which is watching home shows. I’ve been checking out some new ones since all my prime time shows are in reruns for the summer.
When my Mom was in the hospital I found Masters of Flip so when she came home she wondered what this was. They take old houses in Nashville and “recreate” them into stunning homes. There are times when recreate would be a stretch because they are literally tearing it back to the studs. A new one I found is called Home Town. I’m not sure exactly what city it is but it’s in Mississippi. There are similarities to each because they are both married and the wives are both tiny. What I love about Home Town is at the end she takes the drawing of their house and frames it for them. The couples are people that moved to the city and are making it their home town. It’s not just a home they are making a community. I also love when neighbours stop in to look at the houses because there are usually some really cool stories. There is something special about preserving a home that has many memories in it.
I’ve seen commercials for a show called Sarah off the grid. My friend and I were discussing how a 5,000 square foot Home is not off the grid. She asked how many people in the family…4. I had to laugh at Mike Holmes whose first question was “do you have a sump pump?” It’s nice to look at all the fancy stuff but it has to be practical too.
The house I lived in had arches in the doorways and I miss them. They gave the house character.

Cooking shows

Flavorful
Before supper I was watching triple D and suddenly realized what I would write about.
When we had the basic cable package occasionally they would have a free preview of the food network. Dad liked Emeril because he enjoyed when he yelled BAM. He was interested in the different things that he cooked. A while ago they had a free preview of the cooking channel. My favourites were Dinner at Tiffani’s and Tia Mowry. Right now they have all sorts of celebrities with their own show. Haylies America, Patti’s Place, Trisha Yearwood. Of course these are all southern gals so it’s not food that I would be able to eat but it’s entertaining.
I’ve been watching Guys Family road trip. They stopped at a road stop and his son asked for food to go and his younger son said “and I’ll need a pillow and a blanket” that’s how full he was. Although I’m not sure I would want to ride in an RV after eating some of the food that they do.
There was a show on that had 2 teams take local ingredients from a farmers market and cook a meal from it. It was based in California so it’s definitely different than Ontario. But I liked the concept.
I’m sad that summer is almost over because I love all the fresh fruit that I can get right now. I do keep frozen on hand too. Fall is the time of year for squash soup or taco soup. It’s 25 degrees outside so definitely not soup weather yet!
Right now it’s pumpkin spice season. They have pumpkin muffins with cream cheese in the middle at Tim Hortons. I love the smell of pumpkin pie baking.
The other day a memory came up on Facebook that Mom was baking banana bread. We always had ripe bananas in the house. I wrote that it was comfort food because there were times when that was what she did she baked. Janet and I would make chocolate chip cookies. My friend and I were discussing how your pallet changes when you eat healthy. But it’s different too because comfort food is meant to be shared. I think we all have foods that we still make that our mothers or grandmothers made. My sister made the best biscuits but I can’t make them like her. My Mom loved grandmas chicken and dumplings.
They are our favourite foods not because of the flavour but because of the love put into it.

Thankful


Although this has been an emotional time for me some good things have happened to.
1. I’m thankful for the support of my health care team. My kidney Dr and dietican and nurse.
2. A comment by a friend that made me feel good
3. I’m thankful for the love of my family in heaven, 2 family members whose support has been invaluable and the love of friends.
4. Online shopping which means I have a book to read while I wait at Dr office.
5. The gift of writing. Having somewhere to express my thoughts and having people comment or just click like.
6. Warm fall days
7. Water! My kitchen faucet broke. I’m also thankful that I live an apartment where all those little things are taken care of for me!

An emotional day

Yesterday a friend and I went to the cemetery to put flowers on the grave. I have never gone in September because for Mom and I it wasn’t a date we wanted to honour in that way. When my friend and I were discussing dates to go for coffee we both felt that this was the right day. My friend wears very tailored clothing and yesterday she wore a maxi skirt. I have a feeling in honour of the day. I have a few close friends that get what the day represents to me and she is one of them. I stood at the grave staring at the names thinking about how unfair it is. That’s my entire family. Of course I think about the things that they miss out on. For my friend looking at the dates it really hit home how close together they all were.
She said it’s not like the accident happened and that’s it there were decisions that you had to make as a family. The hard part is for many people she’s just a name in the paper. Even for people at church who didn’t really know us that is how we are introduced. My friend tells people she belonged to someone, her sister misses her every day.
This is the part I don’t discuss with anyone, not even twinless twins because they would tell me that the people who matter know she was more than that day. It’s why I started this blog so that I would have a place to share the funny moments. The stubborn person. The most loyal person that you would ever meet. She had a special bond with grandpa and loved whisker rubs. She got a job at a call centre and after Christmas we went shopping. Because she had a little more spending money she bought a pair of pjs for me. I still have them even though they are falling apart because that was love. That was who she was. She loved to cook because that was her way of showing love.
This blog is about my journey as a twinless twin and some days the journey isn’t easy. Thank you for going along for the ride.