Monday, September 19, 2022

My Beautiful City

 This is a photo taken by Ray Mackey of the city of St. John's, Newfoundland, at night.


This is the city during the day.

The harbour is spectacular and we have ships coming in from all over the world.






Nestled in the city itself is an active fishing village called Quidi Vidi which is beside where I live.

A photo, courtesy of Gerry Boland of Cabot Tower, which I can see from my window. This is the site of the first transatlantic radio transmission in North America by Mr. Marconi. The dog in the picture is Chief, a fixture on Signal Hill for many years, a gorgeous friendly Newfoundland purebred who sadly died a month or so ago from cancer. He and his owner will be missed by everyone.










Monday, September 12, 2022

Letting go

 


I've had to let go of many people, places and things in my life. Like many of us. Marriages, relationships, friendships, jobs, houses, a country, a province.

It's never easy. And I'm not forgetting my addictions either. The claw marks are enormous on those, bleeding profusely.

Old behaviours that didn't serve me well. And oh yes, the blame game to avoid responsibilities. The lack of discipline in some areas of my life. Procrastination - there's a big one. I will never understand people whose lives are in perfect order, dishes done, floors swept, beds made every morning, yoga to start the day followed by organic granola and fruit in a delicate hand made bowl. I want to put them under a microscope to study them, to see where the differences lie to see if I could grab a gene or two. I tend to be a reactive housekeeper. Advice I pass on is to have people into one's home at least once a month to keep one's house in order. It works. Also the timer. Set the time for whatever number of minutes you choose and just do some of the grunt work during that time. You don't have to finish. That's been a lifesaver for me. I don't have to do all the dishes. Just five minutes worth or whatever.

Old age has given me much to let go of. And it hasn't been easy. I'd say for many of us oldies. Acceptance acceptance acceptance of the way things are. 

Loss of of good health is a major one. I would take mine for granted. Not any more of course. But by far the biggest is knowing that the former ability to hike miles, to run miles is gone forever. Mobility, eyesight, failure of internal body parts are the norm. 

To cease fighting aging is an ongoing battle. Some days are better than others. My one wild and precious life is consumed by doctors, lab work, medications and, yes, looking for sunshine where I can. If I remember. On good days I do and on "bad" days not so much.

I celebrate what I still can do, write, knit, read and socialize when I can and when I feel safe. Ongoing Covid and world issues are almost too much to bear. We've made a right bollox of this fragile wee planet and there really is no coming back. As we say out here on The Rock - the arse is out of 'er.




Thursday, September 01, 2022

Carrying The Memories

 

My parents on their wedding day, 80 years ago. September 9th, 1942


As we age, memories are often in solitude. Those that share them are gone, or as the eldest of six, I carry some of the better memories of my parents alone as all their siblings and friends have passed on and my siblings knew different parents once we moved to the city and five more children entered the picture. My mother died in her fifties, having been sick for five years with her youngest only just turned fourteen.

I first knew my parents as a young couple and I was the only child for well over three years. I do have an astonishing memory, both in detail, location and events. And I often recall whole conversations. They were avid cyclists and my dad had built a special seat for me on the crossbar of his bike. And I remember the picnics and excursions so very well and going fast down hills with dad making fierce noises. Their joy was to make me laugh and I delighted in their antics.

They also were part of a choral society and often held rehearsals in our flat we had in a small town in East Cork. I would hear them at night singing wonderful songs of old as they both had fine voices.

They were both avid readers and instilled in me a life long love of books.

The years were post war(called The Emergency in neutral Ireland) and rationing of just about everything was the norm.

Relatives would drop in regularly, my mother’s parents and three of her sisters and two of my father’s sisters who lived in the town and they loved to show me off in the various homes they would drop in on. That was done then. No calling ahead, everyone just dropped in in that phone-less era. And everyone always had treats for visitors, hard as they were to come by in the post war years.

Dad was very well known as he was the town clerk then and we couldn’t walk down the street without someone greeting him and arranging to go to various football and hurling matches on the weekend.

I continue to be astonished at the complex music they would sing together, sometimes just for me, sometimes when a crowd was in and music was the accompaniment to the evening’s socialization.

And I can recall the lyrics and melodies of their repertoire so easily and hear their voices as if it was yesterday and not 75 years ago.

Here's one they would sing together:


My father was a great fan of Richard Tauber who sings it here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Busy Business of Old Age



Being old is a full time job. It takes up a huge amount of head space, time bargaining, spoon counting, and energy. Add to that mobility issues and transit challenges and inflation and you have quite a storm.

(1) have a large quantity of pills in my day. I have them delivered. But nothing is automatic. I do a weekly pill sort every Sunday into these compartmentalized gizmos. And phone my doctor when getting low. He faxes (you read that right) my requirements to the pharmacy. But every single time, they forget, he forgets, one of the pills, so I have to phone the pharmacy and ascertain the status of the missing pills. My specialists don't/can't access my list of medications but proceed to tweak some but neglect to tell my GP. I have to then go to my GP and show him the *manual* changes the specialist has made to these meds. GP is informed by LETTER a week or so later of the changes. My province's health care system's data base is 30 years old and even though every year they budget some millions for updating it, it never happens. So digital management of my medical needs is absent. I should NOT have to run around organizing my own medications. Everything should be on line - the pharmacy, the specialists, my GP, me, all interacting on the ether.

(2) My GP is leaving to move to Nova Scotia as his spouse works there. I am seriously heartbroken. Our health care system here is in crisis and finding another GP is a huge challenge as there's an unconscionable shortfall in doctors. My existing GP is trying to find me a doctor due to the ongoing management (weekly) of my health issues. He's an incredibly involved compassionate and caring doctor and one of the best I have ever had. But he leaves in November. 

(3)I have fairly decent days and fairly awful days of pain, breathing, movement, take your pick. It's hard to plan. But I find if I have a "busy" day I need to rest the following day. Today is a rest day as yesterday was a family dinner out in Petty Harbour, a lovely spot, see pic below that I took in the later evening. Today, everyone is going off to have a meal at a place I love but I knew the car-ride of a few hours along with socializing with a pile of people and the car-ride back would do my head and my body in.

(4)Accessibility planning. Lately I found that those we were meeting were at the most distant table in the restaurant, already seated. Great view but what felt like two miles from the door. Last night was even worse. They get to places early and were there when we got there. I had to traverse the main floor, up a terribly rickety staircase and then traverse the second floor to their distant table - and dear gawd, they chose one of those dreadful high tables with stools. Luckily I had my cane, George, with me so I could clamber on and off the stool. I find they were remarkably insensitive to the needs of a visibly mobility challenged person but chose not to say anything as one of them is, tragically, terminally ill.

(5)Bathrooms. I always need to plan and clock the presence of. Need I say more?

(6)Tests, xrays, scans, this could be almost full time. And each one takes a day. Organizing a helper and possibly a driver as the main hospital is a nightmare of parking and accessibility with endless corridors to navigate, thus necessitating a wheelchair volunteer. No candy stripers of old here to help out. Often Daughter has to take the day off work to help out and I feel so bad about this as it eats into her vacation time. Another stress factor for the old. Leaning on our children for assistance and trying so very hard not to feel guilty about it. 

(7) Multiple other issues but this blog post is too long as it is. Inflation. Food prices. Budgeting. Medical expenses not covered by health care (in home lab work, physiotherapy, dental, hearing, podiatry, pandemics (yeah, plural). And more I am forgetting about. Fear of "The Home". Lack of home assistance for those who wish to stay independently living.


How are you all finding the busy-ness of aging?





Sunday, August 21, 2022

Running Behind Myself

 It's odd that. I leap ahead to the old me and often get caught up in breathlessness or pain and I'm really, really slow in learning the lesson of slowing down. Honouring the what is and forgetting about the what used to be.

I always moved at the speed of sound just about, multi-tasked ad finitum, accomplished so much in one day that others were astonished.

I've done enough reading to know that I was a type A personality, always eager to prove myself (to whom, you might ask, but I really don't know) and a classic workaholic.

All is changed now that I am a few weeks into my 80th year having just reached my 79th a week or so ago.

Grandgirl is here and staying with me until next weekend which thrills me no end. Our twosome time. She's enormously attentive to my needs and even to my wants. Her cooking is amazing and we plan to catch some movies and/or series in the time she's here. She will be working remotely for a few days, which is fine by me. She's a federal economist and we are so proud of her as she is - seriously - quite brilliant. Her long term partner is staying with his parents who have moved here as his dad, though quite young, is terminally ill. A real tragedy.

I am busy counting all the gratitudes in my day as I tend to lose track when my health distracts from such feelings.

I am so grateful she is here and so very thankful for our long close relationship since I first laid eyes on her. 

I have much to catch up on, calls to return, emails to respond to, half done knitting to complete, so while she's here I can get cracking on all of that as even in this small apartment we have two separate rooms to work in. 

We also plan some wonderful beach time at this glorious place a few miles from my house.





Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Unwritable

 


We all think we’re special. We all want to believe we matter and when that’s all pulled away either in our minds or by the actions, imagined or real, of another, something breaks inside of us.

And we can’t process the aftermath, the self-doubt and yes, the grief that ensues.

Tears are more frequent as we age, magnified, unplanned, spontaneous. Often with an underlay of fear and an overlay of unremitting anxiety, with pinches of despair and a dash of self-pity thrown in.

Old mantras intrude, old judgments, old tropes, old cliché-ridden nuggets of wisdom which might have applied to the younger, more optimistic self. But now are as ancient and cobweb-ridden as the receptor herself, exhausted and worn down in equal measure, well past the best by date.

Some days the old fire gets re-lit but with less fuel, far less tinder and much dampness in the logs. The flames can burn less brightly, but they do burn.

And the darkness recedes for a spell and the shadows tiptoe off to the corners of the room until the dawn.


Question: What do you fear most in old age?





Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Another Completed Circle Around the Sun Thoughts


Yes, I'm the happy little cutie with my mother in 1946

I am quite astonished by all the birthday greetings rolling in on me. I suppose hitting the age of 79 is a feat to be applauded. Not that achieving this had anything to do with my healthful and perfect lifestyle. Not by a long shot. As some of you don't quite catch my sarcasm so there's a bit for you. Many of my really healthy friends are dead. Well come to think of it, most of my friends are dead.

Amongst the many messages is one from an old school mate who is a whole 10 days younger than me. she partly writes:

"Speaking of school reminds me of our old school and this bit of information might bring s smile.
One of our newspapers, the Irish Independent, has a Saturday magazine.  This Saturday it had a feature on Centenarians, Four centenarians were interviewed one of whom was Sr Mercedes.. She talked about her early life both before and after she entered  St Marie's of the Isle, but the piece that might interest you was how she became a Science teacher and introduced Science into St. Al's which was unusual for a girls school then.  She never taught me as anything science-y was beyond me.  Anyway I texted Gladys to let her know and she replied as follows"She was thrilled with wisewebwoman and myself when we burned hydrogen in air and got  H20, ie water".   I wonder if you remember that incident.  Gladys also said that your class was the first to study Science in St Als. Glad you didn't burn down the Science building anyway!" 

I calculated this was 65 years ago, which is incomprehensible really. I can remember the experiment clearly in our spanking new laboratory. Girls and science were at a great remove from each other then. I feel like a living history book. Along with science and physics our incredible headmistress insisted her "gels" be taught calculus by a male teacher from the boys' school across the river.  (Our school was a picturesque old red brick building in the middle of the river Lee). Higher mathematics were absolutely unheard of for any schoolgirl in Cork city in those days. We were incredibly fortunate.

Equally astonishing to my mind is that a teacher of mine is still alive today.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Good News

I'm finally walking. I have a marvelous physiotherapist who's one of the few making home visits. Not walking far but walking. Getting the odd night, very odd, in my bed as I still wake up with pain and have to move to the recliner for any ease.

I had to really talk myself into going outside my apartment and walking. Agoraphobia had set in - a fear of falling, a fear of being outside without help, a fear of catching Covid as my building is not safe. 

I drove my car after months of not. I met a friend for coffee. We are super safe and joke we're the only two eejits wearing masks on the whole island. But elders are falling like flies here and very, very sick. And mortality rates in my age group are very high. 

I had a treatment today and he noticed I was very tense. A type A personality does not drift easily into old age and serenity. I am pain free for now after the treatment.

I'm working away on a memoir of a year in my life way, way back in prehistoric times. Creative non-fiction. I am startled as to how much comes back to me. It's really all coming to life and I relive the intensity of that long buried time.

As for the rest of me, still taking my - what feels like - 200 pills a day and marveling at the fact that I have outlived most of my friends. I will be 79 in a few days and at some point later in that day I will enter into my 80th year, my 80th turn around the sun. I am astonished. I lived hard and fast for many years and had terrible depressions and considered ending it all many times.

Looking back, in spite of everything (life is far from perfect) I am so very grateful to still be part of the human race, still full of curiosity and occasional joy, capable of sadness and delight, still full of wonder and awe at how beautiful this planet is, especially my little corner of it.


We have a fishing village, Quidi Vidi (pronounced Kyda Vyda by many old timers!), right in the middle of our city of St. John's. This village is right around the corner from where I live and has fabulous restaurants, a brewery and a whole building full of incredible artisans while fishing life goes on around them.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Rant Season

 




First of all, I offer you the above.

Then I offer you these:




You imagine these are comfortable to wear? The wires alone dig into the skin leaving terrible marks, sometimes the ends break loose and pierce the skin. Many scientific studies show they might even cause cancer from restricting the breasts so tightly.

As for the so called shoes, many I know (usually short women) had to have bunions removed surgically. And other appalling distortions of the feet. We don't need foot binding done to us, we do it to ourselves. I only had to look at Nancy Pelosi staggering around on hers in Taiwan and want to scream at the screen: "Wear comfy shoes Nancy, you're allowed, you're 82!"

And if you're a man reading this, imagine binding up your dangly bits in wire and rigid satin and teetering around in six inch (or any inch) heels. And thrusting all of yourself outwards in enticement. How long would you last?

And PS full confession: I did these nasty things to myself even though five foot eight. But not for long. And never in the last twenty five years.

But I so wish other women would wake up sooner and stop this spanxy self-torture and mutilation. But yeah, I know, ageism and so called beauty products are a trillion dollar industry.



Friday, August 05, 2022

What's Next USA?


I was flabbergasted to see many of my USian female friends post the above as their profile picture on Facebook today.

The comments were chilling. Many considering sterilizing procedures, their husbands considering vasectomies. Others stockpiling birth control methods. Others putting out words for friends who need abortions. Canada is taking in droves of them at the moment and offering services free of charge.

And then I thought, of course. The Handmaid's Tale, long predicted by Margaret Atwood (a Canadian) has arrived and this is how it arrives.

It's 2022, I keep reminding myself and rights are being removed in the country to the south of us by a positively evil misogynistic Supreme Court who are planning to take away the rights of gays next and have gleefully announced it.

All this trailing back to the rapist and racist they put in power in 2016. One who promised he would take his revenge on every woman who rejected him. A psychopath, fraud, grifter and grafter - who will never be charged for all the criminal acts he performed before, during and after his election. His (paid?) fall guys will take it all on the chin for him. Because that's how a mafia works.

Meanwhile, this is all a great distraction for a country burning  up or flooding catastrophically while racist cops stop and sometimes kill  those who drive or walk while black, and AK47 wielding 18 year olds kill random children in schools as the cops cower outside, afraid. And enshrined by the NRA is the right to bear such weapons, concealed or not. And Monkey Pox declared a national health emergency.  And in the midst of this, the speaker of their house marches off and pokes the beast that is China.

All this while climate change is the only item that should be on the agenda of the USA - the worst polluters on the planet.

/end rant 

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Ordinary Things

 I need reminders of the pleasure I get from ordinary things so I don't overlook them

I must have read this poem, oh, about twenty times since I saw it first on a friend's Facebook page a day or so ago. And then I posted it myself on my own page much to the delight of many.

It doesn't have to be sunsets and seascapes and the tops of mountains and gourmet meals and meaningless acquisitions, does it?

The ordinary doth suffice and can fill the heart with wonder.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

So on and so forth


 

I get these messages.

I get it. I really do. As I might have, in my past, being equally guilty of these kind of projectional questions to friends who were ill.

Following are the questions, followed by the real questions friends/acquaintances might be covering up.

"You must be better by now". i.e. for gawd's sake if you're not, stop malingering.

"Still your legs?" i.e. that's a hell of a long time to have your legs betraying you.

I've stopped explaining it's my entire body and its innards and I must have a world record for lack of sleep because, you know, disbelief reigns if I even mention it.

Because I've been so long on the medical treadmill and all the tests, some are giving up on me. I hear that. I don't dare ask for more that 1 item on my grocery list to be picked up. This week it was bread. I wanted to get two loaves but didn't dare ask as my friend who volunteers for me has massive handicaps of her own and is in constant pain.  I am feeling like my own nuisance that I wrote about.

I am so grateful to Daughter who comes in faithfully every couple of weeks - she's living way off, 2 hours away from here. That's 4 hours of driving plus picking up items for me, bank (cash) groceries, library, drug store at times and driving my car to make sure it's running. Other essential errands. And she has her own medical challenges (MS).

Grandgirl can hardly wait to get here in a few weeks so she can help me negotiate my life.

  • There is so much wrong with me that for the first time I'll list everything here:
  • Weekly lab work due to high potassium levels and monitoring of 50% under-performing kidneys. My doc calls me "the pin cushion." Funny not funny.
  • Extreme pain due to arthritis in my back exacerbated by a bad fall about 6 years when I was concussed after a spine shattering fall on the ice. 
  • Pulmonary vascular disease in my legs.
  • Far too frequent high blood pressure bouts and breathlessness  due to elevated something (forget what). Creatin? Not sure.
  • Occasional white light blindness when my chronic anaemia kicks in for a go at me and my iron plummets.
  • Far too many hospital procedures, I've had it up to here with tests which basically show nothing can be done. 
  • Blindness in my right eye brought on by one terrible procedure where because of my kidneys I couldn't get an anaesthetic. Ophthalmologist baffled.
  • I can't lie down due to terrible pain. I have morphine but am reluctant to take it due to developing an immunity and also I don't want to feel half-corked.
  • At night I try to lie on my bed with 3 pillows for a couple of hours but give in and go to recliner where in a pretzel-like position I attempt sleep, usually failing. This has been going on for three months.
  • Due to unseasonable and awful record breaking heat here I had to suspend physiotherapy as it would have been dangerous. Old women are at mortal risk in this heat as their hormones have reduced sweating ability. And no, our province is not equipped for heat like this, thus no air-conditioning. Thanks once again climate change.
  • Every expenditure of energy is an effort due to the afore mentioned challenges. The Spoon Theory holds fast for me.
  • Doc has been ill and my meds  have been screwed up. This takes a huge stress toll on me, explaining it all to the pharmacist who is now God. When one is exhausted, stress is like the final straw. I am sure I whimper now and again.
So one long whingey whine here. I'm truly having a terrible day and this might cheer you up, thanking your stars that things looks a bit sunnier for you. Far too many of my blog friends stopped writing when they were ill. I understand that. I miss them. But I also miss the absence of how they were dealing with it. Or not.
And no, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," by Monty Python is terribly unhelpful unless you're a saint.





Friday, July 22, 2022

At Least

This painting by Franciszek Paderewski reminds me so much of going wild mushroom foraging with my mother when I was a child. What a feast she would create afterwards.

I comfort myself with the oddest words and phrases. Living alone, I suspect I'm not alone in doing this. I imagine if not living alone we rely on a partner to buck us up.

Self bucking-up involves tasks that are often challenging but can be managed with a little encouragement. 

But I say to myself regularly: at least I can do this or that. And remind myself that so many don't have homes or have far more serious and life threatening issues.

I remember one time, on a summer spent on a West Cork, Ireland island about twenty years ago we were discussing how often airline pilots were applauded at the end of a flight just for doing their jobs.

And we asked each other shouldn't that apply to those who weren't paid but were just doing what was necessary?

There was a huge cast of characters in the old farmhouse, relatives and dear friends coming and going all summer. Each time someone brushed the floor or did the dishes or went down to the farm for the milk or gathered field mushrooms for supper or brought in the clothes from the line we all stood and applauded. And it made everyone feel good, so much is taken for granted in the small tasks of necessary work that we do, often completely unacknowledged by those around them.

So on particularly poor days I applaud myself with little phrases like "good girl!" "well done!" even for washing a  few dishes or tidying up or paying the bills. I sometimes take a little bow to my imaginary audience. Because some efforts are supreme and exhausting. A couple of "well dones" from my doctor the other day stoked me up a lot. He knows. At least I'm on the phone or on the internet. At least I am managing my own health along with my medical people.

Being old and sick is a full time job. Very poorly paid. We need all the encouragement we can get.


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Sanity


 

Do you ever wonder about your own status? I'm talking mental health of course, per the heading.

And what is sanity?

Well, here's a definition:

the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner; sound mental health.
"I began to doubt my own sanity"

We know what insanity is, of course - and this is just my recollection of a good one:

Performing the same task over and over and expecting different results. 

 Do we all fall between these, somewhere?

I don't know what thirty odd months of basic incarceration has done to my brain.

There have been spurts of outings and trips, but far too infrequent and, unlike some, I don't hold out any hope this pandemic is ever finished with us, too many variants with too many ineffective vaccines. I remember reading when I was in my early twenties that the greatest threat to humanity was a virus and it would take us all out.

I lived through the polio epidemic, which I've written about here. I've lived, again as a child, through the threats of cold war and nuclear chains being rattled every day on the news, and believing in the cataclysmic threats of Fatima - the angry virgin, seen by peasant children, threatening all of humanity until Russia succumbed to Christianity or some such rot. I imagine that must effect an unformed child-brain in ways we can't imagine. 

And yes, we all have trauma of some kind as children - from peer bullying, to drunken fathers (or mothers) to poverty and unimaginable abuse.

I suppose if I'm questioning my own state of mind, the brain health meter would point to sanity. 

I'm dealing with inertia, loads of it. It's hard to get enthusiastic, to experience joy, to make any kind of plans, to even call my doctor (who last time was coughing through a Covid variant- much to my shock as he was rigid in precautions).

There's also massive denial out here on The Edge of those also caught with The Covid. They label it something else, like cold or flu. Statistics are lacking. Many Covid deaths are written off as something else. The Economy defeats public health mandates or precautions.

And note I haven't touched climate change or Roe or Ukraine or all the other shyte happening around us. We really, really, don't deserve this planet. Like the pestilential fleas we are, we will be shrugged off. The Virus is winning.


All your thoughts are welcome.




Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Blog Buddies



 I've been fortunate in the friendships I have formed over the many years I've been blogging. A few I have met in the flesh and interestingly the friendships are just as solid and connected when that happens. A few stayed with me in my last home. I held wee dinners for some there and the conversations never ran out.

Many have died too. Which took the heart right out of me.

Marcia was a gifted woman, a teacher, a writer, with a tremendous wit. We had personal correspondence and Facebook chivvying and then 9 years ago she reconnected with a man who used to work with her years before. He had lost his wife. And the rest is history. He became the love of her life and they travelled the world together.

She didn't maintain her blog, unfortunately, life was too full I imagine, and there were his and her grandchildren to entertain and visit all over the country.

On Friday, she died. The Big C took her too. 

She was a vibrant soul, one I will always remember.

Marcia: a kindred spirit indeed. You will be missed.

Friday, July 08, 2022

A Nuisance

 


My mother died young and my father was a long time widower. He thought it would be a dishonour to my mother to marry again and also that he had seen far too many families suffer under step-parents hauled in.

One of his greatest fears was to become "a nuisance." A nuisance in his mind encompassed a huge range of character defects. Such as neighbours who were always borrowing stuff, people dropping by uninvited, hypochondriacs diagnosed by him, drunks, cars who cut him off, asking for any kind of help if you were sick, children who threw balls over his fence, workers who needed to use his property to perform essential task for the neighbourhood (cable, telephone, electricity, water).

He had adjectives to add, of course. A right nuisance, and awful nuisance, a thoughtless nuisance, an unimaginable nuisance, et al.

Of course I inherited this feeling but only in some areas that I know of  though some might differ.

And that is in being sick, in being needy, in being sad, in being in grief, in being worried. I just don't want to inflict myself and my state onto anyone else. I truly don't want to be a nuisance. 

I think part of this is the fear of being incarcerated in some awful place with no privacy, sharing a room with an irritable noisy crank, being hauled into terrible games and sing-songs by attendants and being forced to be nice to everyone.

Recently, I've had a few bad days and felt like a total nuisance even to myself. I could barely move and just about everything was a challenge. I did not reach out but did respond to one who checks up on me all the time (she would be a nuisance in Dad's book).

She came over and took care of me even though she has her own health issues. And I was so grateful to her for attempting to feed and water me. I was also nauseous on top of everything else. A triple nuisance you might call me.

Most of all I am nervous about being a nuisance to my family. My health is unpredictable and varies wildly from wheelchair use to a modicum of walking. So I bottle up a lot.

The reason I am writing this is to see if there any others out there who feel as I do, bordering or being "a nuisance" because of health or other issues. Or even fearing of being a nuisance at some stage in their lives.

Or maybe it's a strictly Irish thing.


Sunday, July 03, 2022

Sanitizing


 

I am continually fascinated by how people's lives, once dead, can be sanitized to the extreme where you wonder whom the obituary is talking about. Or whom the article or book was written about.

A friend dropped off a magazine for me to read as it featured her father, a brave Norwegian sea captain who saved many lives during WW2 and had a full chest-load of heavy beribboned medals to prove it.

She has shared much of her father's story with me. None of it good. For instance he moved to St. John's after the war and married her mother. He forgot to mention that he was also married in Oslo.

He was a man who was into the swinging lifestyle in a major way and her and her three siblings' childhoods were warped by the mad drunken key-swapping parties in their house.

His first wife tracked him down when my friend was around twelve and he was yanked back to Norway to parent the two children he had had there. He never returned to St. John's.

My friend tracked him down when she was twenty-one so she could introduce him to her infant daughter. 

He was pleasant and polite, she told me, but very disinterested in her life and baby. She was introduced to wife number one but this woman had no English so she wondered  what lies he told her to account for my friend's presence in their home.

Needless to mention, wife number one is not mentioned in this glorifying article, just the second wife and her four children.

And I know several such immaculate life stories far, far removed from the dark underbelly of truth.

How about you? Know any?

Friday, July 01, 2022

Understated

 

I love my adopted country with all my heart. I was out on the beach today and I observed how discreetly we observe Canada Day which is today, July 1st. Little crests on polo shirts, grannies wearing red cardigans over white shirts, small maple leafs on beach chairs and umbrellas. Red and white beach balls, little girls in red and white pleated skirts and so on and dogs with small maple leafs on their collars.

We don't blast it from the rooftops. There's just this quiet pride in this beautiful country rolling from sea to shining sea and fact: our landmass is greater than the United States.

The land area of Canada is 3, 855, 103 square miles compared to America's 3, 794, 083, making Canada 1.6% larger that the States.

And we invented so many things - here's some you might not know about.

  1. Paint roller
  2. Garbage bags
  3. Pager
  4. Peanut butter
  5. Road lines
  6. Wonderbra
  7. Search engine
  8. Imax
  9. The pacemaker
  10. Basketball
Sometimes we're number one in the top countries in which to live but this year we're number two.

Round-up of the best countries to live in the world in 2022
  • Switzerland.
  • Canada.
  • Norway.
  • Singapore.
  • Australia.

And oh yes, a picture of the beach from today. So many birds on the water following the capelin, a small fish (note granny in front of me in red cardie). It's been four weeks since I've been outside my door. I'm so grateful to be somewhat mobile.






Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Lana

It's about time for an update on Lana, my dear friend who has dementia. I call her every week and she never fails to remember me.

For a while, I was nervous calling her, would she forget me, would she have bouts of paranoia, would she ask me too many questions.

None of that never happened. 

Our last call lasted an hour, the longest ever.

She had me laughing uncontrollably at one point in the call when she talked about a kind of spa in her luxurious assisted living complex which has beauty salons and hair styling units.

I said how's your hair looking? Look in the mirror and tell me. she told me it was crawling down her back.

She's a fan of really short hairdos, always has been so I asked her why the change.

She explained that to go to the salon would involve her emerging like a "fizzhead" and that, she would never, ever accept.

I know exactly what she meant and I said "like those tightly permed old women?"

And she started laughing uncontrollably too. 

Then she said there's a new invention I have to tell you about.

And she proceeded to tell me about "something" that helps with hair and keeps it off her face and her aide showed her how it operated..

After a few minutes I said, you mean a headband I think.

And she went yes, yes, a headband. A brand new invention. You need to find one. They are amazing.

She's still so articulate in so many ways and sometimes her flashbacks astound me. I remind her that she is in a very luxurious residence when she asks where her money is.

She tells me she walks every day and sits on a bench and counts cars to keep her brain exercised. 

I preplan the number, she says, and I don't get off the bench until I reach the number, hundred, two hundred, fifty.

She was a numbers whiz in her past life and this is no surprise to me.

I cherish our time together.




Sunday, June 26, 2022

Confined to Barracks

 Well that's it. The headline. 

Three words.

The story of my life at the moment.

Normally I love being home, not having plans. But three weeks of it?

A bit of a challenge.

So what do I do with my time?

I read.

I'm on the internet.

I play Scrabble with friends around the world more frequently (we've been playing for over a decade and we all have high ratings)

I started to take pictures of this interior life.




I welcome guests, but only those who are safe. Masked. Careful. Cautious. As the Summer Wave of the Pandemic still hasn't hit here yet but has in other parts of the globe. Some of my friends have been, and still are in some cases, deathly ill with the blasted thing.

I social-media-post outrage for that patriarchal country to the south of us throwing women to the curb once more. Has ERA ever been ratified down there? I doubt it but am too lazy to check. Or care. The women need to arm themselves with the liberal gun laws and determine their own futures. As guns are the only thing understood down there it seems. It's heartening to see many younger Canadian women of my acquaintance offering Usian women sanctuary and abortion free of charge if and when they need it.

And PS I'm on a pain medication but still sleeping in my recliner as lying down in a bed is a thing of the past for now. I feel like I'm permanently camping (which, ps, I've always hated) but in my living room without the views of the great outdoors.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Whales

Out here, every year around solstice on The Rock, at the edge of the North American continent, we anticipate the hump back whales rolling in after the capelin - shoals of small fish that they feed on.

Anticipation is everywhere, the weather gives the signal first. Daily, the fogs start to roll in followed by the shoals of fish, followed by the dive-bombing gannets, who mate for life and are constantly grooming, feeding and cuddling each other.




Then the whales drift in to their feeding grounds. They come from as far away as South America, an incredibly long journey, fraught with the peril of huge ocean liner propellers and other challenges.


Photo from today, courtesy of Regina Molloy.

Speaking for myself, I breathe a sigh of relief. Our planet is OK if our whales roll in.

It's an awesome sight and one not to be missed if at all possible. I have spent whole days, and many evenings, just sitting by the water, while hundreds of them came near the shore, some as large as buses. One time I was all alone and could hear their kitten-like cries over the surf. I still get teary when I think about it. The real gifts of life never, ever cost money.


Photo from today, courtesy of Clifford Doran.

Solstice and the arrival of the whales will be forever linked in my mind.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Pain and fear, isolation and loneliness.



I thought to write here today. Even though I don’t really want to.

It’s the topic everyone works hard to avoid bringing into conversation.

PAIN: Chronic and severe and endless.

With the result that there is a loneliness that seeps over the sufferer. She knows no one wants to hear the same old, same old. So she lies, or covers up or uses a selection of old tropes.

Q How are you?

(1)Oh, you know.

(2)Much better than yesterday. (Lie)

Q What does the doctor say?

(1)We don’t say: Well (s)he too is sick of my calls.

(2)We mumble a selection of vagaries.

(3)Waiting for a call.

(4)Will call them today.

Along with the loneliness there’s the exhaustion of just plain dealing with life. Or not dealing.

There’s lack of sleep for one. There’s the ongoing decision of:

(1) suffering and being alert or

(2) ingesting painkillers and becoming a zombie.

Friends and relatives get impatient. I understand that.

But it really makes things far, far worse when they ask for details of the pain and it’s offered, only to be met with deadly silence or the clicks of an escape hatch being opened ("gotta run, talk soon!") and the listener vanishing.

So chronic pain is isolating for multiple reasons. We are not looking for solutions. We know all the solutions, we’ve explored many avenues, some involving more pain we can’t endure.

Out tears are in isolation along with frustration and a sense of hopelessness. And loneliness.

We are the brave.

We learn to let very few in to what is really going on. We forego, with longing,  the things we used to do in our health that we would simply take for granted. For example, I see someone walking on the street or in a movie and I go "look at that! they're walking with a smile!"

My big job today was sorting my weekly pills. A job I detest with all the fires of hell. It takes 30 minutes. If I don’t drop pills on the floor.

My helper comes tomorrow so I don’t have to do dishes which is excruciating, standing at the sink.

It’s over two weeks since I slept in a bed as the recliner is the only place I can do a series of catnaps through the night with some small semblance of comfort.

I can see why some go insane from this kind of existence.

And so very few that understand it.

I know I never did.

And I realize one of the greatest gifts in life we can offer each other is to listen.



 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Quality of Life

 Living in Canada, as one wag put it, is like living with a meth head as a tenant in your basement. A tenant who is so out of touch with reality that he keeps screaming in your face at every opportunity that he is the best tenant ever and he has all these friends who will tell you the same thing.

Well let's start with quality of life.

Canada is, guess? 1.

Followed by Denmark, Sweden, Norway. and way down the list at #20, is the USA.

And then you get healthcare. The U.S. healthcare system only extends to those with money. Lots of it. If you are barely surviving economically, serious health issues can result in bankruptcy.

"Medical bills are reported to be the number-one cause of U.S. bankruptcies. One study has claimed that 62.1% of bankruptcies were Caused by medical issues Another claims that over two million people are adversely affected by their medical expenses."

The U.S. ranks last overall on the health care outcomes domain (Exhibit 1). On nine of the 10 component measures, U.S. performance is lowest among the countries (Appendix 8), including having the highest infant mortality rate (5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births) and lowest life expectancy at age 60 (23.1 years).

Best healthcare systems in the world are:

  1. South Korea
  2. Taiwan
  3. Denmark
  4. Austria
  5. Japan
  6. Australia
  7. France
  8. Spain
  9. Belgium
  10. United Kingdom
And gun deaths, so far  in the US in 2022. Those red dots? Use your imagination.

And then we have this travel advisory/warning from the Canadian government on going to the USA, as if one is entering a "third world" country:

"Gun violence

The rate of firearm possession in the US is high. It’s legal in many states for US citizens to openly carry firearms in public.

Incidences of mass shootings occur, resulting most often in casualties. Although tourists are rarely involved, there is a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Familiarize yourself on how to respond to an active shooter situation."

No other country in the world shoots its children in schools as they hide under desks. And the solution? Arm teachers, reduce number of doors to schools.

The louder one screams about being the very best, the greater the lie.