Can You Hear Me Now….?

March 27, 2014

I am always amazed at how important it is for people to be heard (obviously myself included, considering I write a blog), but it’s the passive aggressive yelling that always surprises me. That insatiable need to be Right or to have the Last Word – seriously, that has to be exhausting to keep up.

I love talking with other people – hearing other opinions and points of view, because sometimes it changes my own perspective on things which is a good thing. I am often surprised, suddenly seeing things in a clearly new light  and  I grow. However, to pontificate –  just to hear one’s self speak – now that is a whole other sermon. I want to hear and share ideas, not be sermonized, because I don’t think that anyone’s point of view is ever enhanced that way. We all need to be intellectually enticed, gently and creatively, in order to truly learn and re-focus.

I think this goes for everyone,and in any situation –  because whether it’s school or a cocktail party, or even a chatty travel partner….there are things to learn and things to share and new ways to see virtually everything in life

I think about my soulful, soft-spoken  great-grandmother who used to say; “You can say anything to anybody – it’s all in how you say it.”

As a Talker (and Lord knows, I am a Talker!)  I know I need to remember that sage advise from time to time…

don’t we all!

My Dad told my husband and I this from his hospital bed. He was not being pessimistic in any way = he was simply reminding us that we should take action. Live for now . Do – Do – Do …don’t wait until the “right time” – there will never be a right time…..If you’ve been thinking about doing something for awhile now…it’s already getting too late – do it.

This from a man who was never big on giving advice…but when you are near the end – your clarity is, well….CLEAR,

Do. Follow your dreams. Go for it. The time is NOW.

My dad, so cruelly diagnosed with ALS, was taken to hospital 3 weeks ago –  he caught the flu (ironically, having had the flu shot). As a family, we have spent the last 3 weeks in limbo/in hell. How could this happen to our family? We kept saying. How could this happen to my parents, who have had an incredible 60+ year romance….one that has touched more people than I could ever have imagined. I bumped into some former neighbours last week – they broke down in tears, hearing about my parents; with whom they had just attended a neighbourhood cocktail party two weeks earlier (so like my parents!).  The woman, mustering all of her strength and courage said to me through tears; “Your parents are lucky. So many people never find that kind of love – and your parents shared their romance everywhere they went, waving at neighbours as they walked hand in hand” …..and there I was – holding someone in my arms who was touched by my parents, breaking down in public – appropriately unashamed. I watch my Dad fight an already decided losing battle. He fights the tears back whenever he says goodbye to my Mom for the day…he is not ready to break up with her….although, truth be told….one day he must.

My mom often says, in a small, quiet  voice, “You never think it’s going to end”.

Up until a few months ago they were still mall crawling on a rainy afternoon, going out for a burger, inviting friends over for cocktails….they have never stopped being that 25 year old couple – those precious newlyweds that had a lifetime of dreams ahead of them – they are always in a stage of planning things… after 60 years, my parents still have dreams.

And that – is what makes breaking up virtually impossible to do.

Yesterday I had my annual “Ladies Only” Valentine Party. Well, I say annual because I held it rather successfully for 17 years, but then it took a 4 year hiatus due to the fact that people went back to work/kids were at that age where we were all attending various hockey games and swim meets/concerts etc. No one could seem to get together. I tried it again this year, a brunch – the way it was in the old days…..and WOW! 25 fabulous, red and/or pink clad ladies filled my home, much to my extreme pleasure. The champagne and OJ flowed – the quiches were hot – bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon graced the table as well as croissants and jams – and there was a far more interesting cheese plate than in days long past!

This all began about 22 years ago when my son was 18 months old and I was in a “Mom and Tots” playgroup. We all have toddlers and babies then and had been married just long enough to no longer be going out for Valentine’s Day. So, I came up with the idea of treating my friends to a Valentine Brunch…..”Ladies Only” (read – no kids! – although my dear friend, Ann’s baby Kristen was happily there….Hey Kristen – the only kid – EVER!).  I wanted my friends to have the chance to wipe off the drool and spit up, swipe on some lipstick and dress up a bit, and also to have a well-earned glass of champagne and be served a brunch. That’s right – I said served - because back then, it was a small enough group to be a sit-down affair. A couple of years passed and I was in Pre-School too – so now I had another group of lovely ladies to treat.Now, because I still wanted to do the sit-down I was in a quandary until my friend Kathi suggested …are you ready for this? TWO sittings, in order to accommodate everyone. Sounded good/worked well/ I had the energy back then. 

Quickly – word began to spread among the ladies I knew about this Valentine Party, with its champagne (always a draw!), food and wild decorations (I used to change the curtains and placemats/tablecloths in my kitchen every season, for goodness sake). Pink tulle hung in every doorway and hearts were everywhere  hanging or on display – and I still do that! Plus there were those famous Loot Bags; because I believe that loot bags should not be just for children at birthday parties! In the early days the loot bags contained fancy panties (oh yeah – you try going into a store and imagine all of your friends’ derriere sizes!) but over time this became impossible with the number of, well,,,,derrieres (it’s now candies)!

Of course, I don’t get to visit with everyone….25 is a lot of ladies. But the whole reason I started this and continue this event is because I want to treat these wonderful women.I wanted then to have the chance to meet with and exchange thoughts and ideas with other women…women they’ve never met.

This is my Valentine gift to them all – not to mention that it’s a wonderful way to break up winter. January….you’re getting over the holiday season – but by mid-February it’s nice to have a dalliance with the knowledge that spring is soon to arrive.

So – a wonderful time was had by all…..plus my house is now super clean (thanks to my wonderful husband) to boot!

Happy Valentine’s Day to my wonderful Ladies!

Yawning, tearing eyes  - it’s 9:45 and I am ready for bed.

I crawl into bed and pull the duvet up under my chin – fluff my pillow and ahhhhhh – cozy! Any minute now, I’ll feel that deliciously heavy, sinking feeling of drifting off to sleep.

10:15 – I hear my son come in the door. Hey – why am I still awake?

10:45 – I know you’re not supposed to look at the clock but – what time is it?

-What is the  last name of my daughter’s new friend again?

- My eyelid itches a bit. Why do I even have dry skin on my eyelids? My husband said he noticed it in the folds. When did I get fold on my eyelids?

- I have to make Valentine cookies next week. Should I frost them? How hard is it to “flood” a frosting on a cookie?

- Why am I still awake?

11:15 – My pharmacist suggested to me that I take a Gravol now and again to help when I can’t sleep; so downstairs I go to take one.

11:20 – (back in bed) Ok – pretty soon, I’ll be drifting off to sleep.

Midnight – I am not asleep…but I am too tired to read and too tired to get up.

12:15 – That’s it! I’m getting up and trying the warm milk thing that my husband suggested as he fell asleep (head not even hitting the pillow yet).

12:20 – Sitting in family room with my son, watching a bit of TV and sipping on my warm milk (which by the way – really doesn’t taste that good). My son informs me that studies have now shown that the warm milk “treatment” is just a placebo. I smile and tell him “I’m desperate.”

12:45 – Back in bed. Ok, NOW I’ll be able to sleep – Gravol, warm milk – good to go!

- Why do my eyes tear so much – am I seriously aging?

- What am I going to make for dinner tomorrow night – I mean tonight? Can’t bear chicken again.

- The dog is overdue for his annual visit to the vet.

- Why is that my hair won’t hold a curl – unless of course my hairdresser does it for me? Should I get highlights?

- Did I pay that bill?

- No! I didn’t – have to do that tomorrow (I mean, today). Hope I remember.

- Need to refill my Mom’s cell phone minutes for her tomorrow (sorry – I mean, today)

- I KNOW you’re not supposed to look at the clock – but what time is it?

- OMG. I have to get up in 4 1/2 hours!

4am – I’m groggy, I have just woken up from a  deep sleep (finally!) to hear the dog barking. Something he never does at this hour. I wake up my husband and tell him to go downstairs and see what’s going on. He comes back to bed and tells me he saw absolutely nothing.

Hmm – not like my dog to do that. Maybe it’s a new newspaper carrier. No – not at 4am. Maybe it’s someone walking, carrying something – like a shovel. Would he be wearing a hoodie too? Who is out there walking at 4am? Maybe it’s kids skulking around looking to break into a car…..no It’s -20C….no one’s out there.
When did I get to be so neurotic? Do not ask my children that .

4:30 – Oh great…I am going to have to get up in an hour. How will I do the day on just 3 hours of sleep?

4:45 – Well, too bad – there’s no point in trying to sleep now.

5am – I’m up. I may as well go downstairs and make coffee.

I love fresh ground coffee but I don’t want to grind it at 5am…..

You know what? This is a blog.

Where does the magic go?

February 6, 2014

I stopped by my parents’ home today to visit and say hello. My father has ALS which has been a tremendous blow to our family – we never saw it coming….a man who, although 86, puts most of us to shame with how active and in-shape he has always been. Walking 2 miles daily – rain or shine, and not in a shuffling elderly way – always striding at a clip, shoulders back.   He also worked  out at the gym three times a week  for the last 60 years – and by the way; never liked doing the “senior group” – always wanted to push himself and work out with young people. However, this is what Life has decided to hand him and we have no choice but to accept it. One of the incredible lessons has been the moments of insight I have had into my parents 60 year-long love affair….I have always known that they loved each other and they have never been afraid to show their devotion and affection, on a daily basis. They have also felt free express their normal marital differences from time to time – so I never had a skewed idea of what marriage was all about.

But, it is the intimate moments that I have accidentally witnessed.

One day, while in the hospital  awaiting results from a series of tests due to a false scare that he was suffering from a pulmonary embolism; I was sitting behind them in the waiting room and my mother suddenly said quietly “We had some really great times – didn’t we?”  and added “It seems like just yesterday. We had so much fun…”

My dad responded with a tired smile and nodded. “We sure did… it’s all in here” he said, pointing to his chest…to his heart.

I had to hold back the tears because it was not my time.

Today, while chit-chatting about life in general, my dad pointed out to my mother that the times that she holds most dear were the times when my sister and I were small children and they were a young couple – a young family. He reminisced about how they used to get together with their group of friends  - other young couple with young families. Glory days; for most of those lovely, fun-loving people, all of whom were a big part of my daily life….are long gone.

Once again – I kept the tears to myself because  it is not my time.

I often sit and talk with my husband and wonder out loud with him – where do all these wonderful times that we are having now, the good feelings, the long evenings of parties and gatherings with family and friends, all the hysterical laughter – where do these moments of magic go ….once we  - go?

Bad-Ass Mama

January 19, 2014

Last week, my SUV started to roar . Yep, you guessed it – a hole in the muffler. On Day 2 of this development I was driving home, a bit embarrassed and self conscious about the loud sound – that is, until I came up behind Mr. Bad Driver. He was driving exceptionally slow and (seriously?!?!) looking for parking while in the middle of a very busy intersection. I couldn’t get left there – stuck in the intersection when the light turned red. So I ever-so-slightly hit the gas. my vehicle squealed on a patch of ice (of course) as I roared by, and all I could think about was that this guy was probably thinking “jerk!”…or maybe not. I smiled at the thought that perhaps he was thinking “woah, bad-assed mama!”

At any rate, I am definitely taking the car in to have the muffler fixed this week – but I might enjoy the odd “roar-by” until then ;)

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