The winds of change

My husband was watching a stock channel on television, not something I typically tune into, but I happened to overhear an economist talking about the effects of the global pandemic on our future and it caught my attention. He was talking about the job market and said retailers have been looking for an opportunity to eliminate the simplest of jobs by automation, and while no business would wish a deadly virus on society, this pandemic has provided them with the very opportunity they needed. He went on to say that by the year 2022 we would not see any cashiers in stores, rather we’d be using self check outs and paying with cards, thereby eliminating cash. This startled me in many ways most importantly, how would so many in society make a living if even the most basic jobs are gone?

Over the last few months the Covid virus has abruptly swept across the globe not only claiming lives, but seriously changing our day to day lives and negatively impacting our economies. Many small businesses are closed for good and those corporations large enough to survive now see new ways to do business. Employees are working from home and managing. Many claim to be happier because they can structure their day to ensure work and family balance, and employers who now see their people can be productive working from home so no longer need large office space. (I wouldn’t want to be a commercial real estate holder right now)

We are distancing from friends and family and when we do have social contact we are re-evaluating how and how much. The changes caused by this pandemic are making us more selective of who we choose to be with, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps we should’ve been more selective all along. I’m seeing more and more families together, laughing, playing, even working together. My neighbourhood has never been so beautifully landscaped because while isolating at home families are making projects to clean up their properties.

Children are missing their schoolmates, no question, but they’re finding new fun with siblings and parents and the joy appears to be reciprocal. This is not a bad thing.

Couples are reconnecting because when we all work from home there’s no escaping each other so if the relationship was strained before this pandemic will make it or break it and that’s not a bad thing either because it forces us all to face our situations. If it was bad before, putting off the inevitable isn’t going to fix it.

The pandemic is also testing world leaders making it easy for all to see those who are strong and capable of leading their nations through a crisis and those who clearly aren’t. (I’ve never been prouder to live in Canada)

Every day brings a new normal, something new to get used to, like it or not, and while we were once so resistant to change, we now have come to accept that the winds of change are here to stay. Life will never go back to where it was, and that too may not be a bad thing.

 

 

New world

 

 

Till Death do us part

Why do we choose the partners we do? And if we had the knowledge we have now, way back then, would we still make the same choice? (now there’s a loaded question)

I know a number of couples whose relationships are contentious at best, and you have to wonder not only why they’re still together, but what on earth could’ve brought them together in the first place. They have little to nothing in common and they fight openly and consistently, yet they are loyal to each other. Is it simply a matter of comfort and familiarity? (I guess it’s easier to stay with the devil you know)

I married for love (next time I’m going for money) and fortunately for me that worked out well. Now that’s not to say it’s been easy. The people we love can be a royal pain. We do, on occasion, get on each other’s nerves; irritating routines and annoying habits all take their toll on our patience and for some (ok, me) that fuse of tolerance is just a wee bit shorter (it’s really hard to be patient with someone who is almost always wrong) The simplest things become monumental.

My husband is a creature of habit, especially when it comes to eating. He loves his meat and potatoes and I’d venture to say he’s probably never eaten anything without his line-up of condiments. Now over the 38 years we’ve been married, I’ve become a pretty good cook  (largely out of necessity….he doesn’t cook and doesn’t want to, so it was learn to cook or starve) I take great pride in some of the meals I present to my family so when he plops a giant bottle of ketchup on the table before even tasting the food, I take issue with it. An expensive cut of meat that’s been expertly cooked differs little in flavor from boiled cardboard once you smother them in ketchup.

He disagrees, and since he rarely cooks himself I cut him little slack here. His entire culinary repertoire consists of mashed potatoes and homemade croutons, each of which he executes with such excruciating detail (and a HUGE mess) but neither of which requires any great skill, however, I always eat them without complaint and I do not ‘add’ any additional seasoning or condiments without trying them first.

Recently my daughter and her family were over for dinner and I was trying a new recipe I’d seen on a cooking show. It required a lot of last minute attention and because my daughter is a vegetarian I had to make 2 versions of the meal, doubling my last minute efforts. At the eleventh hour my darling decided he wanted Swiss Chalet Sauce with this meal (heaven knows why…I wasn’t serving chicken)  We have a powdered mix I’d stupidly purchased for him (he would occasionally drive to Swiss Chalet to buy just the sauce and it drove me crazy to see $1.79 go through our account so when I saw a powdered mix version of it I bought it…who knew it would come back to bite me?)

I had two pans on the go for some last minute frying I had to do and along comes my darling with a pot and his *^#$% sauce. After a few minutes one of my pans was ready to go much earlier than the other so puzzled I checked the temperatures and sure enough he’d moved my pan to another burner so he could make his sauce. Now I’m a reasonable woman but when you sabotage my meal for want of your 99 cent gravy I have a  problem with it but this time I decided to exercise some tolerance and laughed off this little idiosyncrasy. Would’ve worked too had he not plunked a big bottle of ketchup on the table. (can’t you just see the next days headlines “Wife beats husband to death with ketchup bottle”)

At the end of the day I suppose we all have our issues with those closest to us. It’s not easy living with another and unfortunately we don’t figure that out until it’s too late. (I have a number of friends who chose to remain single …..did they know something we didn’t?) On the other hand it’s probably those moments of frustration that force us to be more tolerant of others and, dare I say it, help us grow? Much as he can drive me crazy, I am more in sync with my partner than not, and I’m sure that’s in no small part to years of exposure. (That or he wore me down)  Who knew that those 5 words, “till death do us part’ uttered in our marriage vows, would have such a resounding impact (That said, if I see a bottle of ketchup come out next time I slave over a nice meal death is gonna come a lot sooner than he expected)

We are all different and how we coordinate to select our life partner is as unique as each of us. Besides, that’s not the hard part – riding it out in the tough times, is. We may be opposites, we might be completely mismatched, but acceptance is our life lesson here and at the end of the day it’s still about love, and that’s the real deal.

old-lady-with-rolling-pin

 

 

 

 

 

Ask a simple question

I was out with a friend recently and we were chatting about the weather patterns; how they were so erratic of late (who doesn’t talk about the weather?) I happened to ask if she’d noticed the full moon we had a few nights earlier because I recall it was so lovely. The night was clear and the moon was so bright it illuminated everything. I guess I was just so in awe of natures’ beauty I felt compelled to share it. (actually, I was just making small talk) Who knew it would open the flood gates? My friend is smart, well informed, and a great conversationalist, so I enjoy my banter with her but I was a little unprepared for her response.

She said the moon is the brightest and largest object in our night skies despite the fact that the moons’ surface is actually dark. I thought to comment my surprise at this nugget of information but before I could she continued. She said the moon is the only ‘natural’ satellite to orbit our earth and is the fifth largest such satellite in our solar system. (who knew?….ok, who cared?)  She went on to say that the moon, which is 400 times closer to the earth than the sun, is actually slowly drifting away from us at a rate of some 4 cm per year. (I’d better make note of the next full moon and get my fill before she’s gone for good!)

Thinking to move the conversation on to other topics, I commented on the numerous potholes on our roads caused by the bitter winter temps and lamented about what would surely be an irritating drive in the spring with construction destined to be everywhere. She replied by saying how amazing the effects of the moon were, not just to our planet, but to us, the people. (ok, wow, we’re still on this) She went on to say how remarkable it was that the moons gravitational pull could literally move our oceans, then she stopped, and we enjoyed a comfortable silence for a few moments. (thank God that’s over….) I opened my mouth to suggest we stop for a coffee somewhere but she started speaking before I could get a word in.

She said a full moon has been attributed to strange human behaviour, and went on to describe the noted irrational behaviours documented throughout the years. (what is she, Wikipedia?)  She said the effects of the lunar pull on the human psyche have also been known to cause strange or insane behaviour, including suicide, sleepwalking and violence, (ok, I’m contemplating the latter right now girl!) then she looked pointedly at me to emphasize the importance of this message. (I asked a simple question… did you see the full moon, yes or no… how hard can it be?) She went on in great detail (I think anyway, I tuned her out at this point) about scientific research, something blah, blah, blah, and I found myself thinking maybe that moon wasn’t so pretty after all (who knew I’d have to pack a lunch to hear about it?) I fell silent deciding I was better off to just wait it out.

After she’d finally run out of steam she looked at me and said, “so, what’s new with you?” Stunned at finally getting an opportunity to speak, I found myself speechless and I just stared back blankly. I opened my mouth, said “not much”, and was about to return the same question, then thought better of it. I still have another 30 or so years of my life to live and I’d rather not live them in this scenario.

If ever you think you’re asking a simple question, think again.

Moon

 

 

 

I remember you

Today is Mother’s Day, and yesterday my own mother turned 90. A milestone birthday, coupled with a national holiday to honour mothers; so much to celebrate and yet I don’t know how.

My mother is in Long Term Care. She has no idea where she is, or who she is, and she has no recollection of her family. The global pandemic has locked down her facility so we cannot visit. She has no phone so we can’t call but that’s alright because Alzheimer’s has robbed her of her speech so she wouldn’t be able to communicate with us anyway. I thought to send flowers or a balloon bouquet, something to let her know she is not forgotten, despite the circumstances, but while I was able to find a service that would deliver, they could not guarantee the receiving institution would accept it. It seems that for my mother, this major event in her life will pass unnoticed,  so I will pay tribute in the only way I can… by recalling the many memories she fashioned because I still remember, even though she can’t.

I remember as a child crawling into your bed after being frightened by a nightmare. You’d hold me close until I was no longer afraid and at some point in the night return me to my own bed, only after I’d calmed.

I remember you always made my favourite comfort food, noodles and sour cream after I’d recovered from stomach flu (which I seemed to contract frequently)

I remember church every Sunday and coming home to the heavenly aroma of the pot roast you prepared before we left.

I remember the holidays, traditions you engraved in our hearts forever; traditions we still follow. You’d start preparation weeks in advance, baking and coordinating meals, shopping for gifts and staying up late to wrap and hide them, and you managed it all while working full time.

I remember how you loved music, often singing, and your radio was always on. I remember in particular your love of Sambas, memories of your native Brazil, and when we were young you and dad would pull out the old albums and dance after we’d gone to bed.

I remember how much you loved your trinkets. We hailed you “Queen of Clutter” because every table top, every counter, and every square inch of wall had something on it – you didn’t like vacant space.

I remember how you’d stay up late into the night sewing clothes for us, after working all day. We always had a new outfit for the holidays.

I remember when I suffered my first broken heart and you sat there and cried with me, not because I got dumped, but because you hated to see me hurting.

I remember how hard you worked to host my wedding and all the gatherings that led up to it. And again, you stayed up late at night for weeks, after working all day, to make my wedding dress.

I remember you took a week of vacation from your job to stay with me after the birth of each of my three children and I remember I cried when you left because I was so comforted to have you there.

I remember how much you loved marzipan and, your ultimate treat, marshmallows covered in toasted coconut, and I remember how hard you laughed when you watched The Beverley Hillbillies or All in the Family.

I remember how you rejoiced over the birth of each grandchild, welcoming every new arrival with a lovely handcrafted blanket, booties, and sweaters. And when the family expanded until we numbered into the twenties, you still hosted family dinners, even though you no longer had the stamina of youth. Somehow you always found the time and energy to bring us together and you took great pride in your family.

I wish I could take all the wonderful memories you gave me and package them into a beautiful present  but I fear there isn’t a box big enough or a bow grand enough to do it justice, so I give you the only gift I can, my memories. They number into the hundreds I’m sure, and I treasure each and every one not just on this special day, but every day of my life. You may not remember me, but I promise to always remember you.

Happy 90th birthday Mama, and Happy Mothers Day.

Balloons

Online shopping

Recently I went into an electronics store to buy a stand for my television. (We’d had it mounted on the wall but after redecorating decided to place it on a table). Unable to find what I was looking for I asked a salesman who replied they no longer stocked television stands in their stores, rather, customers had to order these items from their online website. That surprised me, although I guess it shouldn’t. Last summer I needed to buy a wedding gift. I drove to the store where they were registered, printed off their wedding list and wandered through the store to make my selection but everything they listed was ‘only available online’. Why do we have store fronts if nothing is available there? (aaaah, maybe that’s the point!)

Companies are looking to ditch their ‘bricks and mortar’ because of the cost…..no real estate to maintain. And no real estate means no sales people to pay. Now they can direct customers to their self-serve online shopping site, where we can do all the work ourselves. And if we do need to speak to a live body there’s an 800 number answered by someone in a third world country, who doesn’t speak English, but that’s ok, cause he hasn’t a clue about the products we’re inquiring about anyway.

I think mine is the last generation of those who legitimately like to shop in person. I need to touch it, see it, feel it, before I buy. I don’t care about your easy return policy. When I ‘touch it, see it, feel it’, I know whether I want it, so if I buy I won’t need to return it, making your easy return policy unnecessary. I don’t want an 800 number. I want a sales person, a living breathing one who looks me in the eye. But I am finding it increasingly difficult to find these things and I suspect that’ll only get worse.

Future generations will likely only shop online and since I am not a member of the future generation my opinion matters little.

I think the hardest part of all this for me is that I (and many of my peers) thoroughly enjoy shopping. It’s an event, an outing. It’s a social ritual and for those of us firmly committed to retail therapy, it’s a religious ritual. When I need to buy a gift I thrill at the exercise of selecting that special something after wandering various shops. I love getting my fellow shoppers opinion, and when we stop for lunch we review our purchases, celebrating our ‘finds’. At the end of the day we all go home tired and satisfied because we enjoyed our outing and did our part to support the economy. Going online to order merchandise isn’t quite the same. It’s a mechanical task and for me, it takes all the fun out of giving a gift.

It’s been 3 months since I went into that electronics store and I have not yet gone online and ordered my television stand. I refuse to. If you can’t stock basic items in your store I won’t shop there. And if it costs more for me to buy the same item at a local boutique than via your online portal, I will do it, because I am determined to support the ritual of shopping; the way it was meant to be.

Technology has already robbed us of so many simple niceties. Can’t we just enjoy some of these manual processes, if for no other reason than socialization? I think I’m fighting a losing battle here.

Online shopping

A community’s heartbreak

It seems you can’t turn on the radio or TV without hearing about the global pandemic. The Covid 19 virus does not discriminate, attacking all age groups and having a particularly hard impact on the sick and elderly, but it doesn’t stop there. Perfectly healthy able bodied young people are succumbing to this unpredictable illness. The economy is tanking, people are social distancing, not by choice but out of necessity, and it seems life couldn’t get any worse. Or could it?

Last weekend the small community of Portapique Nova Scotia experienced horrors so unimaginable it made Covid 19 almost bearable, and much as we’ve needed to hear something ‘new’ in our broadcasts, no one could ever have wanted to hear this.

A 51 year old man went on a shooting rampage killing almost two dozen people and terrorizing an entire city. He targeted those he knew and gunned down those he randomly encountered during his reign of terror, killing perfect strangers, just because. He even shot two dogs – it seems no living creature was out of range of his gunfire.

Little has been revealed about this man other than to say he was a successful businessman and a ‘nice guy’. So what makes a supposedly ‘nice guy’ shoot innocent people in a fit of rage? Little has been said about his personal life, the people he was close to, if there were any he was close to. Was this something that had been brewing over time, or did he just snap? The fact that he had what looked like an RCMP vehicle and somehow garnered an RCMP uniform suggests this was planned, and in the absence of any access to this fellows psyche, we may never know what his motivation was. All we do know is that it was pure evil.

Whatever his struggles were they were clearly deranged and extreme, and normally I would feel only compassion and support for one struggling with mental illness but it’s hard to muster up any sympathy for someone who randomly, senselessly, murders another. If you have insurmountable issues that you feel you cannot overcome, by any means, then go ahead and do what you have to,,,,,to yourself. Don’t take down a community of innocent people.

The terror inflicted, the lives lost, and the families scarred by this will change the face of this small community forever. We may never know what motivated this heinous crime. The gunman was killed by police during his capture so his explanation, whatever it could be, will never be heard, and maybe that’s a good thing. I can’t imagine wanting to witness the inner workings of such a deranged mind – it’s even beyond the stuff horror movies are made of.

As the residents of Portapique grieve their loss and struggle to make sense of these events, the rest of the country grieves with them because every community is ‘ours’. These are our people and this happened in our backyard. Covid 19 might be the global threat that brings us to our knees, but like any world catastrophe, we will survive it, and we may even be able to rationalize it in time. This is our war and we fight it together. A mass shooting, on the other hand, brought about by an evil mind, is the bigger monster and the bigger threat, because it shatters the very foundation on which decent society is built.

Words cannot describe the pain we all feel for our fellow Nova Scotian’s as we mourn the loss of their loved ones and struggle to heal a country’s broken heart.

Broken heart

 

 

 

The puppy who captured the heart of a community

I love people, and I love animals. I’m especially a dog lover, but ALL creatures are sacred to me (except spiders)

Yesterday I, and a number of others, experienced the ‘experience’ of a lifetime, when it came to ‘ pet love ‘. My daughter, who is almost 7 months pregnant, has a puppy. A beautiful little (ok, not so little) Vizsla, named Ben, He’s lovely. Big floppy ears, and the most amazing green eyes. Typical of a puppy, he’s clumsy and awkward, and has a way of always being under foot.

Well this 8 month old puppy, Ben, had a seizure 2 days ago and in their attempt to get him in the car to rush to a Veterinarian he panicked and suddenly bolted. He literally jumped out of the car and ran into the woods. The kids were frantic. They live in a community surrounded by forest and they only moved here 10 months ago. They know,,,, well,,,,no one,,,except the odd person who saw them walking a dog.

I was chopping vegetables for a chutney (totally irrelevant) when my husband got the call,,,,,a hysterical call,, from our daughter. Ben was gone and they needed help. She also posted an SOS on her and her communitys’ Facebook page. Now I am not on Facebook or Instagram, never was, never will be, because I don’t feel the need to be that connected, but in this case Facebook proved to be a lifeline for little Ben.

My husband and I literally dropped everything, jumped into the car, and drove to her neighbourhood. Cruising the area, we stopped every person we saw walking to ask if they’d seen a loose dog and every single one advised that they too were on the hunt. They’d seen the call for help on Facebook and, it seems, so had many many others. People were walking their own dogs up and down the street hoping to lure Ben in. Kids were on bikes riding the streets and calling his name. More than a dozen locals were cruising the streets in their vehicles, and a number had set up a slow moving convoy on the highway just behind the homes in case Ben ran into traffic. A group of residents who had recreational vehicles coordinated to ride through the wooded areas and a local pilot offered to send up a drone to try to find him.

Sightings were reported and all would rush to that locale but Ben remained at large. My daughter consulted with Bens’ Veterinarian who advised he was likely disoriented from the seizure but it was promising that he was conscious and mobile. The search was into its’ seventh hour, dusk was only a couple of hours away, and there had been no sightings for at least 2 hours. Hope was waning and all feared he would not be found before nightfall. Temperatures were dropping below freezing, and the woods are home to any number of animals, coyotes, in particular, are a concern. An innocent puppy wouldn’t last long in these conditions.

As my daughter and I prepared to cruise the streets again the call came in. A young boy was searching on his ATV and found Ben quite far in the woods. We would not have found him on foot, he’d gone that far. He couldn’t bring him back on the vehicle so he radioed his father who gave us the location and all able bodies headed into the woods, my 7 month pregnant daughter jogging ahead of everyone (I was sure she was going to bring on labour!) Ben was freezing so the young boy took his own coat off and wrapped it around Ben while he waited.

After about 35 minutes the group emerged from the woods with Ben in tow. His paws were bleeding, likely from running blindly through rough terrain, but he appeared otherwise no worse for the wear. A crowd had gathered on the street because after an entire day of searching people needed to make sure it was him, and not for the first time that day I was humbled at the kindness of these strangers.

The community of Waverley, Nova Scotia, is truly amazing. A fellow resident was in need and everyone came out, full force, to help. In a time when social distancing is mandatory, due to the Covid pandemic, all maintained necessary protocols, but the restrictions did not stop them from helping. The collective sigh of relief when Ben was found rippled through the whole neighbourhood and we all slept better that night knowing this innocent puppy was safe.

Now Ben will still have some challenges, namely finding out why he had a seizure in the first place, but knowing he is in the safety of a loving community brings some measure of comfort. We cannot begin to thank all those wonderful strangers who so selflessly gave their time, vehicles, and efforts to the search. In a world where most keep to themselves we all feel a renewed sense of appreciation for the kindness of strangers.

To the wonderful community of Waverley Nova Scotia and from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Ben (2)

The Monarchy

When I was a child I remember every morning at school we said the morning prayer and then sang ‘God Save our Queen”. As a child I didn’t really understand why it mattered and before I was old enough to figure it out the protocol changed.’ God Save the Queen’ was replaced with  ‘O Canada’ and life went on.

Throughout my youth I watched news coverage of royal addresses, royal visits abroad, and it was fascinating to see these larger than life (or so I thought) people, navigating life as ‘Royals’. Gold carriages, sparkling jewels, and beautiful gowns; the stuff fairy tales are made of. I was in awe of these special people. Then I grew up, and saw reality. These were just normal people who’d been unfortunate enough to be born into royalty.

There was a time when the power of the monarchy was influential. They had a ‘say’ on matters of politics, and a direct impact on society. They were admired and respected. The Queen of England could appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister, any minister actually. And she alone had the power to dissolve Parliament, or declare war on any other country. That is no longer the case today. In fact, the role of the monarch holds very little power today, especially in Canada, and the Queens’ powers for the most part, are ceremonial. (guess that’s why we stopped singing ‘God Save the Queen’ in school?)

And it’s a lucky thing her responsibilities have been relieved in that regard because her days are filled enough with internal family shenanigans. Raised in an ice castle and shielded from real people and the real world how can we expect this monarchy to understand our lives? And yet they find themselves struggling with real life hardships; marital woes, infidelity, negative publicity. (How common of them!)

I think the biggest challenge of being a Royal has to be the monarchys’ control of their personal lives. Protocol dictates every aspect of their lives; how they dress, what and where they eat, who they marry, even the naming of their children. And if that isn’t enough they have to endure the constant and complete invasion of their privacy. Small wonder Harry and Megan seek to leave the Royal life behind. Seems even the Royals don’t see themselves as necessary to the British public any more. (And who wouldn’t crave ‘normal’ and strive to break out of this cocoon?)

Charles loves Camilla, he always did, but she wasn’t good enough for ‘Royal Standards’, so he was forced to marry sweet innocent and pure, Diana…and it destroyed both their lives. So much for royal protocol.  At the end of the day Charles got to be with Camilla, where he should’ve been all along. And Diana found her escape, sadly, in a tragic death. It’s a miracle those two sons aren’t more screwed up than they are, then again, who knows how they really are. So much is covered up to protect the precious royal image.

Over the decades the public has been granted a closer look at the Royals and we are all surprised and relieved, to find they’re every bit as normal as we are. They speak out and rebel, they fight for their right to live their life (some of them) their way. They have marital issues, and they have character flaws (oh no!) And over time their effect on society and political circles has waned, and rightly so. They are after all, just figureheads. Expensive figureheads. And one has to wonder if the value of the monarchy is worth the cost. No longer do they wield political influence. In fact, other than providing the public with soap opera-like entertainment, they have little positive impact on society (and I know there are countless royal-watchers out there who would challenge me on this) British taxpayers support the royal family through a “sovereign grant” and the costs have never been higher than they are now. Are they really worth it? (Where’s the bang for your buck?)

At the end of the day I feel really sorry for those born into these lives of servitude, because that’s all they are; servants, pawns in a game of thrones. On the upside, they have a beautiful home, wardrobe, and an endless supply of money. On the downside, they have a monotonous trail of ribbon cutting ceremonies, library dedications, and boring state functions to attend in the name of ‘duty’. Surely there are days when they’d like to take the kids to McDonald’s or a movie without a team of Paparazzi hiding in the shadows, snapping photos. And I suspect there are days they’d like nothing better than to saunter down to their local variety store in torn jeans, messy hair and no make-up, to buy a bag of potato chips, but they can’t. Because protocol dictates that they dress conservatively and hide in the midst of their security entourage.

The onerous tasks of ‘Royal duty’ take a heavy toll on the lives of otherwise normal people, and their financial burden on society is unfair and unnecessary. I wouldn’t wish the burden of royalty on anyone because the financial perks simply don’t make it worth while. Plus the crown is really heavy…..that’s why I gave it up.

Monarchy

Do as I say

My friend and I were walking, chatting about nothing and everything, inevitably ending up on the subject of our children. We both have adult children, gainfully employed, self-sufficient, and independent of us financially, but you wouldn’t know it if you heard us talk. We worry about their health, their jobs, their partners, everything we shouldn’t have to worry about, and yet we do. Because once you’re a mother you never stop worrying.

It’s not that our children bring us these worries. We just ‘see’ them from a distance. We see them making mistakes that could be avoided, the very mistakes we made when we were young – does experience count for nothing? Apparently not, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned and both agree upon, it’s that our children won’t listen. Clearly they have to hit the same brick walls we did to get it right. What a painful and unnecessary exercise!

And if you try to offer your unsolicited opinion, you’re met with ‘the hand’, because they’re going to do it their way regardless. It doesn’t help either, to tell them that we made these mistakes in our young adult lives and simply want to help them avoid the same pitfalls, because the response will invariably be, “I’m not you”, and that is the perfect segway for us to play the Do as I say, not as I do, card. (assuming they’ll listen, which they won’t)

As a child you are warned not to touch something or there will be consequences, an injury perhaps, or the something will get broken or damaged, but you had to learn for yourself, so you touched it. And the predicted outcome happened (you should’ve listened to mother….) but you’re a child, and that’s how you learn.

As an adult, however, you should be beyond that. Didn’t the mistakes of your childhood teach you to heed the advice of those with experience? (namely, your mother) Ignoring valuable advice (especially from your mother…ask your father, he’ll confirm this) often means you are destined to repeat the mistakes of the previous generation (us), and we want better for you.

But you don’t always listen, and when you’re stinging from the hurt of hitting that brick wall, it’s all we can do to keep from saying “I told you that would happen, you should’ve listened”. But maybe that’s the lesson.

Maybe the impact of the hit is what sends the message home. They say much of the learning that occurs during childhood is acquired through observation and imitation and I’d venture to say that as young parents we’re probably so busy raising kids and working we don’t notice the image we’re portraying. I know my parents tried to tell me how to live, and I didn’t listen, convinced I’d navigate the mistakes a little better. But I didn’t. I made them anyway and that’s how I learned.

So my friend and I walk on, changing the subject because we both know this one’ll never be resolved to our satisfaction. Our children will do what they please with or without our guidance, so we resign ourselves to waiting quietly in the shadows until they need us to comfort their souls and bandage their booboo’s.

You know, this’d be a lot easier if they’d simply do as I say and not as I do!

Do as I say

Keeping perspective

I was cleaning out a closet that hadn’t been touched in years and I came across an old newspaper. Curious, I opened it up to see what would’ve been so relevant years ago that prompted my husband to keep it (he’s the hoarder, not me) I looked through the headlines searching for something of significance (ok, actually, I was just looking for the crossword puzzle) and came upon the obituaries. I’m always curious to read about how the loved ones sum up the lives of those who pass so I stopped to scan the write ups. It’s difficult to read about those who die young, leaving too much behind that is unfinished but I have to acknowledge that we all have our path to walk, and for some that includes an early exit from this world.

I was impressed by one obituary that filled nearly half the page. (that ain’t cheap) I was particularly struck by the phrase, “The family are grief stricken by the sudden passing of ‘Jane Doe’,  at the age of 96” , and went on to list her surviving family, often referencing their  ‘tragic loss’. Wow, really?  ‘Suddenly’,,,, at 96?  Exactly how long did they think she should live? I get that these are written from emotion, but let’s get some perspective here.  If one manages to survive 96 years on this planet, that in itself is an accomplishment and I would think they’d focus on the celebration of her existence rather than the ‘tragic loss’.  And how ‘sudden’ could a death be at 96? (she’s had 95  years to get ready) The obituary said she’d been a resident of the same nursing home for the past 22 years(Bet that was how she’d planned to play out her life, frittering away in a nursing home) She’d probably prayed for death for the last 10.

Now I’m not discounting the family’s need to sing her praises to the world one last time, but this particular write up focused more on the ‘tragic loss’ to our world.  Maybe I’m too pragmatic to be objective on this subject but let’s gain some perspective here.  Anyone who makes it to 96 is ripe and ready for the taking. That’s why our bodies deplete folks. It’s check out time.

You want to make the world weep, tell me about the 36 year old man who succumbed to cancer leaving a young family behind. Or the 11 year old boy who’d drowned. Even the 64 year old who’d dropped dead from a heart attack 2 weeks after retiring. Now that’s a ‘tragic loss’ because these individuals still had so much to bring to this world!  But a 96 year old who’s been frittering away in a nursing home for the past 22 years, surely she was ready to go? (what could she possibly cling to here that would make her want to stay?) There’s nothing sudden or unexpected there. That she lived a full life for close to 100 years is a gift, one that should be celebrated, not mourned.

I suppose at the end of the day it’s unreasonable for me to expect people to ‘keep their perspective’ when it comes to the death of a loved one because emotion factors in so greatly. I’ll tell you one thing though, I’m going to have a chat with my kids cause if I live to be into my nineties I will have done everything I planned in my life. And whatever I didn’t accomplish in my time here couldn’t have mattered enough or I would’ve done it. Keep my obituary short and sweet, don’t dwell on the ‘worlds’ loss’, (i.e. no mushy stuff) and make sure I have my teeth in for the visitation.

from the blog www.stuckincustoms.com