Loneliness,,,do you see it?

My husband and I were at breakfast recently, in a restaurant while traveling. It was nothing fancy, the ‘eating area’ of a small hotel, yet it was, oddly enough, quite busy. It turns out there was a convention of sorts, of an ‘elderly and disabled group of veterans’.  Spirits were high in the breakfast room. Lots of chatter; clearly a busy dining room on this day.

As my husband went to the buffet, I scanned the room quite innocently, noting the various ages, and stages of mobility of the patrons and my eyes stopped on a booth just across from our table, where a lone man sat. Given that the dining area was full I assumed he would be joined by others as there was rapidly to be a shortage of seats, and this was after all a convention. Throughout breakfast I glanced over but he remained alone in his booth. He so very clearly belonged with this group – I don’t know how I knew that but I did. He was, like the rest, elderly and slightly disabled, but there was something more; something I couldn’t put my finger on and then it hit me. He was ‘alone’.

I watched him, subtly. (I hope) He’d stare at his hands, glance around the room and almost smile, then he’d readjust his cutlery. Periodically a waitress would come by to top up his coffee or ask if he needed anything more, and he’s smile and decline, returning his gaze to his hands. I instinctually knew he was a part of this group, this convention, and that he’d come looking to connect with someone, anyone, but my instincts told me he couldn’t initiate anything himself. He came looking for peers, companionship, but he needed another to invite him in to a conversation. My heart ached for him. He looked patient, and kind, and desperately lonely, and I secretly prayed one of these boisterous tables would notice him and extend the invitation. He looked like he wanted so much to be a part of the festivity, the laughter, the banter. And he looked kind, very kind.

I wished I could extend the hand of friendship he needed, but we were on a brief stop in a long road trip so could not offer any longevity to this encounter. We also were not his peers and it was so obvious he was among them, albeit anonymously.

We finished up our meal, paid our bill, and headed back to our car to continue on our journey but for the rest of that day he was on my mind and I realized, there’s a lot of lonely people out there. I wish I could’ve done something, I don’t know what, I just hurt to think there’s someone, anyone, alone who craves company.  I suppose if we took the time to really look around maybe we’d see the loneliness, the desperation, and if we went a step further and took the effort to spend time with them, however briefly, perhaps we’d make a difference. Maybe we could bring a few moments of joy to someone. Is that too much to ask? If I were lonely I’d be so very grateful to anyone who reached out to me.

This trip was several weeks ago and I still find myself thinking of the lonely old soul in the booth across from us. I hope with all my heart that he made a connection, a friend, and yet I know he is just one of many lonely souls in society, lost in the numbers and forgotten by too many.

In hind sight I regret not extending the hand of friendship. I could only offer breakfast conversation but it was better than no conversation and perhaps he wasn’t the only one to miss an opportunity. Perhaps he had a fascinating past to disclose, or maybe he’d led a quiet life, uneventful and unremarkable, but I’ll never know, because I didn’t reach out to find out.

I hope he found companionship that weekend, or even just a conversation. I hope he is lonely no more, but even if that were so, I also know there are too many who are,,,,lonely,,,,and lost,,,,,and forgotten, so I vow to pay attention to those around me and if I see another lonely soul I promise to reach out, to make a difference. We all need a friend, even a stranger, ‘however briefly’.

eating alone.jpg


Somebody stole my baby!

Last night my son, my youngest, my baby boy,,, got married, and a myriad of emotions has overwhelmed me. While all my children hold a special place in my heart, there is a unique bond between a mother and her son, her only son. A few years ago I recall him telling me about a girl, a special girl, but I already knew she was ‘special’ because he never talked about any girl before this.  He wanted us to meet her, and my heart sank.

I made a lovely dinner, set a lovely table, dressed for the occasion, and…..plotted her demise. While shopping for light bulbs at the local hardware store, I noticed they had a sale on hatchets ..mmm…quick, clean…….no, wait, get a cool, head mom…

Turn the clock back 28 years. I give birth to my 3rd child, a boy, and from the day he was born he won my heart. He had the biggest blue eyes and eye lashes like Bambi. (Ok, he was also a horrific barfer but I learned to overlook that.) He was sweet and sensitive. (He also ate a ton and weighed in like a horse, but I digress….suffice it to say he was a ‘healthy’ boy.) At the age of 4 he had a fascination for Elvis (Presley) and once confided to a local cashier at the grocery store that Elvis was living in our basement – that’s who all the food was for. He fashioned a guitar out of an old frying pan and spent hours lip syncing to old Elvis tunes. I had to make him an Elvis costume for Halloween that year (which I still have) and his cartoon of choice was ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’. He loved to play hockey on the street, followed the garbage truck down the road every week cause he thought it was so cool, and thought Oreo cookies were a gift from God. He also adored his Mama! (and I was ok with that) I was ‘the’ woman in his life.

This kid didn’t ask for much, he was just happy and grateful, to be. Throughout his teenage years he was no trouble, not like many teens can be (we were so lucky) Ok, there was the beer he bought for friends at the age of 16 because he always looked 30. (my kid was the only boy in grade one with hairy legs and sideburns) but we never found out about that until years later thanks to his cohorts in crime (sisters) They all covered for each other – they had a pact.

He was an excellent student, almost to the point of extreme. When other kids were out partying, he was in studying, and I worried that he was burning both ends of the candle (or at least becoming a total nerd) but he assured me he was just setting himself up for life (pretty profound for a 16 year old kid) so I stood back and watched, and admired, as he became a remarkable young man. I marveled at his maturity and his sensitivity to others. This was indeed a special human being and I loved that I was the only woman in his life, at least……until she came along.

I knew it before I met her, she was the one. I wanted to hate her ,,, but I couldn’t,,,she was nice, really nice,,,and I could see how much he cared for her. I was losing my baby.

Over the last few years I’ve watched their courtship blossom and while there isn’t as much time for me as there used to be, my baby boy still takes time for his Mama. I won’t let myself feel threatened by this new woman in his life because I know he is capable of so much love and I will not, can not, be replaced in his life, by any one. I have to acknowledge that his marrying and making a life for himself and his new wife is necessary, so I grudgingly pass the torch – I’m just glad he found someone who loves him as much as I do.

Last night, as I watched them take their vows I saw something in their eyes that warmed me – it was love; pure and strong and true. I knew in an instant my position with my baby boy will never be threatened. I was his first love and a mothers love is very different. No woman could ever penetrate the bond between a mother and a son, and no mother could ever, should ever, compete with the love her son has for his wife. This was indeed a special union and instead of dreading it I found myself warmed by it. The love of my sons life is now a daughter to me and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, I feel quite silly for ever contemplating anything untoward, not that I would’ve done anything, of course.

I’ll return the hatchet to the hardware store tomorrow.

Mother and son


I’m a doer. Anyone who knows me, knows that. I have a never ending to-do list for myself on which ‘prolonged relaxation’ is not an option.  I totally get that this is part of who I am and I do not set the same expectations for others. Idle is simply not a good state for me. My husband, on the other hand, has managed to perfect the art of relaxation!

All through the ages women bore the brunt of household chores; cooking, cleaning, child rearing, but this routine was established in a time when women worked only in the home, so it made sense. The males, traditionally the primary breadwinner, ‘hunted the food’ and we just cooked it and kept the home fires burning. Over the decades women entered into the workforce, now contributing to the household finances, but the housework still needed to be done so they just doubled up their abilities. It’s not that men are incapable of doing housework and raising a family; it’s just that they don’t want to. It’s more a matter of priorities.

After a long day at work a man wants to relax and unwind; decompress. That there’s laundry to be done or bathrooms to clean is of little import to them because it’s not a priority. They’ll go without clean socks for another couple of days, and “the bathroom looks fine. Besides if you clean it now, it’ll only get dirty again when I shower later.”  So is it a matter of standards, or are men just not as stressed about maintaining a household as women are?

I remember years ago when my children were little, I worked evenings and my husband worked days. I’d spend my daylight hours cleaning, doing laundry, and preparing a healthy home cooked meal for him to just warm up with the kids because I felt a certain responsibility for my family and my home. He felt no such responsibility, at least not to the extent that I did. In fact, on the rare (and I mean really rare) occasions when I was unable to prepare a healthy dinner for them he’d raid the fridge and whatever he found was dinner. Salami and leftover rice was on his menu more than once. Sometimes he’d spruce it up with ketchup and you know what?……..they survived! In fact, my kids really liked their ‘dad nights’ because they could pretty much eat what they want and they got one on one time with daddy. He played silly games with them, let them stay up past their bedtime, and on more than one occasion they dodged bath time (cause he didn’t feel like it) He still read them stories, he bought them ice cream, and he teased them mercilessly, and does to this day (the teasing, I mean). When I picked up an extra shift that meant he had to cancel his golf game to babysit, he packed up the kids and took them to the golf range with him. He’d cut down a couple of clubs to fit their size, bought them a bucket of balls, gave them a quick lesson and let them play. When they tired he gave each a juice box and a bag of chips to keep them quiet while he hit balls.

I suppose in hind sight we both did the right things. I kept law and order in the home, and he maintained status quo, i.e., he did the bare minimum to ensure the children were safe and keep me happy. Regardless of who was home and who did what, we managed to raise 3 healthy beautiful children and had some laughs along the way. (I still think he got off easy!) The children remember me for being the heavy, but also for instilling tradition and family values, and they remember him as the nice guy who let them have junk food and shielded them from mom’s rages. (we women are so screwed as a demographic!)

My husband recently worked 2 days in the garden (because I made him) then catches a cold (which he blames on me for mercilessly forcing him into menial labour). He takes to his bed as he convalesces until he gains enough strength to face the world again,,,,, or until dinner is ready, whichever comes first. He has to have breakfast in bed because “everything hurts”, (wow, that’s some cold) He desperately needs cold medicines, poor baby, so I walk to the store to get them and he gratefully swallows the pills, wincing with each gulp cause his throat hurts. (oddly enough he has no trouble swallowing his rye and ginger while watching the golf channel,,,,, from bed of course.) By late afternoon he has made a miraculous recovery,,,,just in time for one of his buddies to come by for dinner and watch ”the game.” (boy, those are some pills! I’ll have to get me some!)

After dinner, and while I’m cleaning up, I notice the wind has picked up and my lawn chairs are flying across the front lawn. As soon as I’m done with the dishes, and when I take out the garbage, I gather the stray chairs and secure them in the garage. My husband and his buddy are firmly engrossed in ‘the game’ and miss everything. There could’ve been a tornado and the only thing they’d notice is that dessert has yet to come. And it would’ve come sooner……had I not stopped to write this blog. I’ll serve it….eventually.

You know, I think he played this just right. He did what he had to do to keep me and the family safe, healthy, and happy and he did it by exerting minimal effort. That it worked just tells me maybe I did too much. Maybe I created tasks that didn’t need to be. In my quest to be the perfect wife and mother I probably took on too much, and expected too much. He did what he felt was needed and expected of him and by most standards and those of our children, it was enough. He’s a great dad, and even greater husband, and an all-round great guy. And he did it all with exerting virtually  no effort,,,,, go figure!

That there is an inequality of domestic chores even now, I have no doubt. Women still bear the brunt of running a household and raising a family, but I will acknowledge that the tides are shifting. Men are cooking more, and they want to. Parental leave is now often shared with fathers – fabulous! (no way my husband was going to stay home and be Mr Mom but that’s just him) and the trade-off is that women can enjoy careers outside the home knowing the home fires will remain in tact and if they don’t, maybe we just need to change our expectations. Life doesn’t need to be exhausting – we make it so, and I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my ‘less than energetic’ (unless it comes to golf)  husband! The laundry and bathroom can wait. Leftovers are fine, even if they aren’t nutritionally balanced. Turn up the music even if it disturbs the neighbours, and keep your shoes on when you come in cause eventually we’re going to vacuum anyway. In short, lets live life without dictating it.

I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my children’s father. I’m slowing down, taking it easy, ok, easier… and I’m learning to accept that what others can accomplish is enough. Life is too short to stress over the details.  I will likely continue to over tax myself because that’s me and I need constant activity, but I will also accept the limitations of others, because that’s them, and it’s the best they can do but…..I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,,,,,, in my next life I’m coming back as a man …….. I need the rest!

man relaxing


It’s that time of year

Summer. I hate it. It makes me bitchy.

When I grew up in central Canada summers were warm and sunny, pleasant even. It was in the mid 1980’s that humidity started to play a major factor in our weather and it turned our ‘pleasant’ summers into a sticky, sweaty mess, and it turned seemingly normal people, like me, into irritable shrews.

I don’t tolerate heat well. I don’t like balmy climates. If I did I’d live in a rain forest. As it is my husband and I relocated to Canada’s east coast several years ago, where much to my relief, summers were shorter and bore no resemblance to the hot, hazy and humid summers that were now the norm in central Canada……until 2 years ago, when quite suddenly we leapt from winter to summer in a matter of days, and humid temperatures dominated the majority of our season. I had hoped this was just an anomaly but  this pattern was to repeat again last year and, it seems, again this year.

It’s spring here. Temperatures have been in the high teens (Celsius, which equates to mid sixties in Fahrenheit – perfect for me) It’s warm in the sun with a gentle breeze and NO humidity. Two days ago our temperatures suddenly spiked to over 30 degrees Celsius and the humidity was at 100%, releasing the beast in me. I realize it sounds irrational but surely I can’t be the only person in the world who doesn’t like heat. I hate that I can’t escape it. At least when it’s cold you can keep adding on layers but I can only take off so much before I risk being charged with indecent exposure.

Yesterday our local forecast advised of a cold front (YAY!) that was to approach in the overnight hours. This was the best news I’d heard in 2 days but when I awoke this morning it didn’t feel cold, not even cool. I listened to the weather forecast that confirmed today’s high was to be 15 degrees Celsius with 0% humidity. I glance at the thermometer outside my window noting it already read 24% and the muggy weight of humidity was so dense you could cut it with a knife. Where is this guy broadcasting from, Jupiter? And how can they be so wrong, so consistently wrong?

How many times have you heard someone say the best way to check the weather is to open a window? It’s certainly more effective that tuning in to your local weatherman. How can this be? These are highly educated Meteorologists. Environment Canada, the centre for weather tracking and alerts, boasts satellites and radar equipment costing millions of dollars, and yet they rely the activity of a rodent to predict the arrival of spring. Really?

I think it’s safe to say we’re on our own when it comes to the weather. If you glance out the window and it looks wet, it’s probably raining. If it’s sunny and warm you’ll know it by the sound of children playing and lawn mowers humming, and the aromas of neighbours barbequing will fill the air. If, however, humidity is to play a role in the day you’ll know it by me…I’ll be the puddle in sneakers at the side of the road.

Is it Fall yet?

woman sweating