Category Archives: Uncategorized

Requiem : I Need to Let You Go

 

I need to let you go now.

I can no longer linger with you, together, in this middle world. I can no longer pretend we are together, a team, a reality.

It is time for you to become my history, my story, my past…….you need to be what you are – lost to me.

Clinging to my existence as it was: measuring my life, my accomplishments,  by laying them beside my former self, the self I was with you,  can no longer be enough. It is merely compensatory, make-believe, fake.

Living up to your standards and for your approval is not working for me in this life and you would be the first to say that I should go my own way.

You would have chided me into having the confidence  to live my life in forward motion instead of backward glances.

You will always be the love of my life….but…

It is time for you to go .

 

The End of this Blog

Hello to my fellow bloggers. I appreciate that many of you have been following my musings for the last 6 years.

This has been a hellish ride for me and yet I have found that writing about it has given me strength to deal with my grief better.

It has been good to look at my feelings in words, relive them a little bit, and understand that they are a real part of me and that grief is the toughest feeling there is. It seems like great sadness is a transitory thing that can cause our creative natures to take hold. How many beautiful movies, poems, stories have you experienced that began with loss.

To me, it seems as though we can dig into our lives better when we are digging ourselves out of a problem. Our self-understanding is somehow illuminated in our struggles to survive both physically and mentally in these times.

It has been seven years since my husband of forty years died of cancer at the age of 63. His four year struggle dealing with the idea of dying was painful, hideous, frightening and unstoppable. A reality to beat all realities.

They have said that you reinvent yourself every seven years. I believe this may be true.

I intend, at this time, to focus on forward movement in what remains of my life. I have spent enough time trying to come to terms with a loss to which I will never surrender. That is the simple truth. It will remain with me as an open wound, festering at times and then seeming to be unremarkable.

Please feel free to print out these stories if you think they may be of help to you. I hope that if you have been challenged in your life, you may find some recompense in looking at my rambling story………

The last entry follows…….

Thinking About What Others Told Me……..They Were Right

I thought that eventually the hurt would stop and that life and the excitement of living would take over.
I thought that eventually the things I enjoy now would replace the things I used to enjoy.
I thought that events in my life: Christmas, birthdays, holidays – would continue with their old traditional charm.
I thought family would be there, with me, at my house, on my phone, enjoying my new life.
I thought that drinking the old drinks and enjoying the old foods would bring back the good old days.
I thought I would not miss him anymore…….

……..think again.

The Old Widow: Christmas Number 7

Well, this year,  arthritis has taken its toll. Nothing is done without pain attached. That includes sitting, standing, bending and twisting. Every bottle top, every package that comes in the mail, every pill bottle, every plug that needs plugging – it all hurts. I am determined that more exercise will limber up my body and I hold to that theory – even if it is only to make myself feel better.

That means that the Christmas lights have challenged me to no end this year.

When I first moved here, I invested in flimsy light-up Canadian Tire spiral trees and have about 12 of them in my downstairs storage room which I call – “THE DUNGEON” . These  trees are 6 feet tall, which is the height of my storage room ceiling. This means I have to hold each one sideways to get it out of two access doors, around the rec room furniture, up a flight of stairs and through the front door. I have knocked those things around so much that they are literally falling apart.

Needless to say, the last three years of having them totally iced up outside didn’t help either.

I have nursed them back to health each year and struggled with re-stringing them, but –  no more!!!!!!!!!!

I took the best three this year and stood them outside in easily accessible spots. I did not stake them in this time. With the first strong wind or storm, they will tumble over, freeze to the ground and be forever destroyed – what must be must be!

I then got into the box of icicle lights that Jim used to hang on the front of our house. They were so beautiful and he was so meticulous – I think I have avoided getting into these for fear of the memories they would bring back.   When I unpacked the lights, he had actually tagged each set neatly and labelled some of them with “needs repair”. Well, after those strings got axed, about half of Jim’s icicle lights had survived the cull.

I am still using the flood lights and the “light-up-head-moving bear” – but their days are numbered too.

Easy is better than challenging sometimes, and in this seventh Christmas, I am waving the surrender flag and inviting new ways of seeing and doing things. Not that I am getting lazier now – just that I am valuing my time and what I can do with it when I am not trying to chisel flood lights into the frozen ground.

My new doodle puppy, Willow, my old companion Mikki and my three cats, Louie, Mel and Jake are glad I have more time with them.

Merry Christmas !

The Cremation of Sam McGee

It has been a long time since I read any poetry. My granddaughter, who has an English major mom, ended up in tears after reading “When I Am Dead My Dearest”.

Having not been successful in changing my daughter’s mind about sharing the sadder parts of Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Frost, I decided to put myself on a mission to re-engage myself with “fun” poems.

I have never been a lover of literature – choosing to read technical documents and biographies, so I Amazon-ordered some things that I thought would add to my granddaughter’s repertoire in a fun way. After all, if reading something doesn’t add value to your day – why read it?

The first of these was “The Cremation of Sam McGee”. A memory of having to memorize this poem in Grade 5 had initiated my first “find”.

My granddaughter listened attentively as I read this to her over bacon and eggs this morning. This poem was a lot longer than I remembered. It also contained some God references and the word “Hell”, but I muddled through. Until you become an over-protective grandma you never notice these things.

My young sprite did not react at all to that language and I could tell she enjoyed the rhythm of this rather up-beat reading. Yes, it had suffering and death enclosed in its lumbering language and consistently rhyming phrases, but, in the end it all came out OK.

We could all take a lesson from Robert Service and rise out of the ashes.

Thanks Sam.

Christmas – The Final Stage

Never thought about this before – but then, I have never been old before.
My mom was never alone in her home. When dad died, mom still had my sister to cook for, to clean for, to take care of, to shop with – how lucky was that. My brother was close by if she needed him. She stayed in the home where she had raised her children Now that I look at that existence for a widow – I think she was very lucky.
Nowadays, our kids are moving farther afield to get employment and educational opportunities. More often, now, our kids and their kids are long gone when we lose our life partner. Then the decision becomes – do we move or do we stay? For those of you who have followed this blog, I went through many steps to try to determine what to do when, for a long time, I didn’t even know who I was.

Mostly, my widowed friends and I have one thing in common – we moved on – closer to kids, nearer to a new mate, out of the house and into a condo or nursing home.
I moved to a resort town – constant entertainment and full of people my age. Over half the population of this village is over 65. I am learning from widowed friends how to live my life as a single and I am learning from those still with their life partners that you can still be independent and good company.

Christmas, now that I have moved six hours away from most of my family, is a different animal. At first, I spent my holidays on the 401 corridor, going back and forth from siblings, to kids to grandkids – trying to make sure that I got to see everyone and they knew they were important to me. NO MORE!!

I am going to leave my kids alone – with their own wonderful Xmas traditions and I am going to nest in my home – happy in the knowledge that my family is safe in their homes and I am not totally exhausted.
Of course, I will still enjoy buying gifts for the grandkids – they will be couriered and there for them on Christmas morning so they know I love them and miss them.

I admit that I look back on the days when all of my children and their children drove hours to get to our family home for Christmas. I made the house ready and baked for weeks. I planned meals and wanted everyone to be totally comfortable in their childhood home. I loved preparing big meals with bigger desserts and we girls happily did dishes into the late evening while enjoying each others’ company and the occasional bottle of wine. Those were the days my friend.

Now, if I go anywhere on Christmas Day, it is as a guest at someone else’s table. I feel old and “extra” and not an integral part of the celebration – no matter what anyone does to change that on my behalf.

So, as I approach the final stage of life, I can see the change in the spaces I occupy. I can’t be the organizer of the celebration anymore and, really, I should have know that even before Jim died.

I can’t help, from time to time, being nostalgic about how beautiful my life was, how much fun I had, and how much love existed for me.  I was very lucky!

The Hospital

I went to the hospital today to have an xray on my “fused” hip. A simple xray. A simple ailment. Not a big worry but a concern.

I registered at “admitting” and followed the yellow brick road to the first waiting room. I waited.
I was paged and told to change into two robes – one for my front and one for my back. I obeyed and then went to the next waiting room and – I waited.
The Xray teck came out and paged me, instructed me to lie this way and that. He had a firm tone, an unforgiving rhythm in his language, a robotic charm. Three pictures and I was released.
That was the essence of my visit to the hospital – the only complication coming when I couldn’t come up with two toonies to get my car freed from the parking lot. They had me there!!! BUT………..

Memories returned………

I was nervous while in the hospital itself.

I smelled the smells and saw the tragedy of a caregiver trying to make sense of instructions given her loved one. So helpless in her pain, making inquiries to hospital employees that could not care less, in the line of people who had not patience for waiting behind her – who could not sense her pain and only thought of her as ignorant.
I have been there. In my confusion, in my frightened panic of having my loved one’s health in my unworthy hands. I have been there, in the public eye, pleading for more information, afraid and feeling naked in my fright.
I wanted to hug this women. I wanted to tell her that I know how she feels. I cried inside for her concern, her love, her helplessness in this hard world driven by time, routine, and robotic timetables.

I was even more reminded of my own traumatic past when I observed couples coming for treatment, seemingly absent of emotion but going through the motions of routines set up for their care. First we do this, then we go here, then we are allowed to wait here – this is what we do if we want to live……..

A hospital is a horrible place………………….

Bucket List

So, I never watched the movie that made the words “Bucket List” part of our culture and I never want to. It seems that a list of things you want to do before you die – put simply – means you are realistically considering the fact that you may actually DIE!

Well folks, after 6 months of a dislocating hip and new pain meds that just made me want to sleep my days away, I have gained great respect for creating and pursuing the completion of a ‘bucket list’. It seemed as though time was passing me by—-and it was —but, no more.

I now have a very hairy puppy, a DOODLE  named Willow Rose, a pontoon boat with a giant motor and a third pontoon so I can ski, a three way mirror so I can finally see the back of my head when I do my hair (sometimes big dreams come in small packages) and plans to travel.

I am going to travel to my mom’s birthplace and see, one last time, the Jenkins family farm in Magnetawan, Ontario.
I will, for the first time since Jim died, go to the boat show in Toronto.
I am going to Mexico to my niece’s wedding (I would like to lose 50 pounds first though) and I am going to get to know Ottawa better with my niece’s help.

It has been a beautiful Autumn here and I am looking forward to enjoying every minute.

 

The Sixth Christmas

Here we are in December again. How life continues to move on so quickly. As usual, I continue to keep tabs on my “getting older” self. Yesterday, I (the obsessive quilter) was working very hard on a Santa Claus quilt for myself and I decided to take a break. Making my way around the corner of the hallway to the kitchen something caught my ankles and I (as has so often happened with my advancing years) began to fall. There was nothing I could do as I became airborne. My body threw itself in the air landing with my right shoulder on the cat scratching post. From there, it careened off the back of a kitchen chair with my left shoulder and then flipped to my back, landing on the ceramic floor. Lucky for me I had left yesterdays boots (all three pair), and three pairs of socks, a hat, a scarf, and two pairs of gloves at the back door. It was a soft landing – no concussion anyway. As I began to check the rest of me, I realized that I likely would never have been able to find a phone to call for help anyway. I was fine.
This Christmas has been very different than the last five. I live again. I have friends that enter my house regularly now, so I have gone through my decorations and put many around my house. I bought a new tree with all new decorations too.
As I made the bows for my new tree, I realized that I have a place in this world. I have a lovely past for sure, but I also have a future. I know that seems very simplistic, but my new awakening has set me on a new course – a “ME” course. I am not sure what that means except it will involve playing a guitar, skiing, snowshoeing, and loving my family and friends and community. The world was patient with me. It allowed me to find myself again and it will permit me, I’m sure, to grow into myself a little longer. Thank you world!

Happiness Doesn’t Ring Any Bells

I have not written in this blog for a long time. I think it is because I am now feeling like the majority of people out there. I am here, I am coping with everyday life, I am not being affected every minute by a feeling of difference created by losing my best friend.
It has taken four full years of commiserating, reconsidering decisions, moving, challenging myself at every turn…but I think, after 66 years of living…I have finally discovered myself.
I never lived alone. I never considered 100% of the day’s challenges – noises the car makes, smells the furnace makes, hanging a picture, calling the plumber…..

I am now the ME I should have been from the beginning. Self sufficient and capable, with friends I can depend on, with family I respect even though I don’t see them often.

I don’t think my life is all that interesting anymore – at least to the general public. There is little drama and lots of good stuff going on. I am so busy here in my village that there is little time left to go in a different direction now or even to feel sorry for myself. The only time I get sad is when I try to go to a party and there is lots of noise, music and dancing. It is then that I miss my best friend and also my family and my youth.
I feel old most of the time now and that makes me sad too. I think that getting out and re-establishing my workouts will take care of that.
So, my internet friends, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep going, don’t give up. Give people a chance, give faith a chance, give yourself a chance. You will find yourself – not your phony self, not your brave-faced self, but the real you that you can respect and hold onto.
I have rung the most important bell for all of us- that of independence and courage to be happy once again – no one needs to read about that – just know it is possible.