Tuesday, December 13, 2016

When Family Drifts Apart

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!

Charles Dickens

This morning I was  feeling melancholy, and I grabbed my mom's old photo album and ended up transporting myself to days gone by as well as the shedding of a few tears.  Oh, how I would love to go back in time and see family on Christmas  for just one day.  They're all gone now.  All of them--grandma and grandpa, Ruth, Uncle Collis, Harry, dad, and mom passed last year.  All I have left is the few cousins.  We were a small family.  I was an only child and mom's 4 siblings only had a couple of kids each.  And sadly, us cousins were never really very close, even as children. 

Some of these cousins I have managed to find through Google, FB, and Classmates and we have been in contact; still others I have attempted to contact, but have received no response.  For the life of me, I don't understand.  We are all that is left of the old days.  Sure, mom alienated all of her family, but 50 years has passed.  It was mom who caused the instability in the family, not me.  All I did was drift away.  Isn't it time to let go of old resentments and become a family once more for the time we have left?  Why is it just so hard to let go? 

Maybe I ask too much of them.  Maybe they don't want any part of the past.  Maybe they have painful memories that I know nothing about.  But, my memories are painful as well.   I am not giving up, though.  My life is finally becoming complete, and I refuse to let go.

I did find my cousin who is wearing glasses.  He still lives in his dad's old home.  He's a bit of a hermit, but he did respond to my letter.  He seems very sad, and I look forward to the spring when I intend on paying him a visit.  

(Sorry for the quality of the picture.  It's old and in order to avoid the light of the flash I had to take it at an angle.)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas memories.

Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for — I don't know what exactly, but it's something that you don't mind so much not having at other times.

Kate L. Bosher
 My dad, his twin brother, and myself.  Many years ago.

On Christmas, more than any other time of the year except for birthdays, I find myself remembering.  Remembering what used to be and yearning to have it back again.  But no matter how much I wish and yearn for, one can never go back again.  Childhood is long gone.  Parents are gone, grandparents are gone.  Gone but never forgotten.  Never forgotten.
And as we move into this holiday season of 2016 there are many new memories to be made now that family has moved back into the area.  No longer will we be separated throughout the country with a huge family party planned for the 29th.  Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren.  All coming together.
And I just know that our ancestors will be looking down on us and smiling. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Slightly Better Today

Pain is telling us something is wrong, that we need to
behave differently, that what hurts must be fixed.
Ernie Larson

Good morning everyone. What can I say? It's going to be a cold, cold day. I'm off to the fruit stand this morning and will be heading right back home afterwards.  They are even predicting some snow Sunday into Monday.  Will be starting early here this year.

On a good note, I did have a salad yesterday, my first one in what seems like forever.  It has been at least a year.   It was only a simple salad--lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and red cabbage, but, oh, it tasted so good. Another one is on the menu for today, and at the fruit stand I plan on buying some watercress to add to it.   Wonder how long it will take to get sick of them.

Lost another .6 pounds this week.   I seem to have put a stop to my downwards spiral.  Have to keep watching myself.  As a food addict, it is very easy for me to get off course.  All it took was one little bag of chips at school, and chips that I hadn't thought I would like --black pepper and cheese-- to get me started.  Ended up buying a huge bag and kidded myself that I was only eating a few a day.  But, the fact is, by the end of the week I had eaten the whole bag.  I'm not even going to talk about my candy run which started after one tiny piece of chocolate at a child's first birthday.

Bought this today for my shoulder and neck pain. Heat it in the microwave for 1 minute 45 seconds and it stays warm for 30 minutes. Do this every two hours. Noticing some improvement.  Feeling a little better this morning.

One thing I have learned from this episode is that one cannot continue to operate their body on the same level as when they were young.  The time comes when one must face up to the fact that their body is not the same one that it was 20, even 10 years ago and the importance of adjusting to these changes.  Here are some things I have learned.

Typing.  I have blogs, I am on FB, I play 4 different games, I type all my school lessons.  Hours and hours on the computer, typing.  My chair is far too low for the computer so my shoulders have to work overtime.  Years of this finally caught up with my aging body.  Time to get a lap table and invest in a new computer chair. 

My right side is my favorite side to sleep, but last night I stayed off of it.  They say sleeping on the same side every night can cause shoulder pain.  Wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. And I not only got a better night's rest than I have in days, but also a lessening of pain. 

And today when I head over to the fruit stand, I am taking my shopping cart even though I only need a few items.  During my whole life I've thought nothing have carrying heavy bags, but now I know I cannot do this any longer.  Wonder Woman I am no more.  

Have a good one and a happy weekend.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Taking a Healing Break

Just when I started this new blog it has to happen.  A repetition injury to my shoulder and shoulder blade. My PC is set up on a table too high and the constant lifting of my arms to type has taken its toll.  Ironically my last blog was about the aches and pains of aging. Must take some time now to rest shoulder and make some other plans for typing.  Before we moved I had a wonderful computer desk and chair that we had to leave because I have no room for it here.  Looking into a lap desk for my laptop.  

See you soon.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

When Pain Becomes Like an Old Friend

You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you
will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses,
and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain and
learn to accept it, not as a curse or punishment but as a gift
to you with a very, very specific purpose.

Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

When I retired in 2013 one of my goals was to sleep as late as I want.  Freedom meant no longer no more alarm clocks waking me at the break of dawn.   Oh, how good it was going to feel.  After 50 years living by the clock, I could now lounge in bed until noon if I wanted and not feel any guilt.  But, even the best laid plans can fall apart, because although I no longer had an alarm clock, with elderhood came the aches and pains.  Like clockwork some part of my body begins to ache... and ache enough to wake and rouse me from sleep, and I've found that fight it that I may, the longer I lie in bed, the harder it is to climb out.

I never know where the pain is going to hit.  Every day it seems there's a dull irritating pain somewhere in my body sometimes the pain is pretty sharp. My elbows occasionally ache, and don't get me started on my knees.  Fortunately, though, since I lost over 50 pounds my knees no longer hurt like they once did.  Only on occasion do I feel a throbbing which wakes me from sleep.

This morning it's my shoulder blade.  I know I am perhaps too much at the computer.  I love playing games, and I do have my essays to type.  I know I have to stay away for a couple days, and keep promising myself I will, but that promise really doesn't last long.  The next morning, bright and early, I'm up and checking out Facebook.  After all, I do have to know what's going on in the world....which friend has snow, who's finished with their Christmas shopping, what so and so made for dinner.  All very important stuff I need to know.

We all get stiff after an extremely heavy exercise bout, but as we grow older we get stiffer more and lying around just makes it worse. Climbing out of bed in the morning has become a momentous affair.  No more bounding out of bed and racing for the coffee. Nope, as one grows older slow and easy as the way to go as a slowly hobble to the kitchen. 

One thing I have found is that when you reach a certain age, doctors seem to write off your pain.  Maybe not all doctors, for sure, but Medicare does not allow you to see the very best.  Back when I mentioned my knee pain to my doctor, his response was, "Osteoarthritis.  It's part of the aging process.  Not much can be done.  But, it would help for you to lose some weight." This was when I was 223 pounds.  53 pounds lighter, and I realize he was right.  But, I only wish he hadn't been so nonchalant about it.  A little sympathy would have helped.

Yes, pain has become my old friend, but I have learned to pretty much ignore those mysterious aches and pains that strike without notice.  I have discovered that many of them will go away on their own, some within minutes. And, I have come to expect pain somewhere all the time.  It's become a fact of my life.  I know my lower back pain is a direct result from the hairline fracture of the spine I suffered in my youth.  Arthritis has set in.  And those other various pains are probably not only a result of the aging process, but also from not listening to advice when I was young.  I had always been warned of future problems from carrying heavy shoulder bag or wearing cheap shoes (I was always of the mindset that I would rather have three pair than one pair).  Heavy lifting, not eating properly, not exercising throughout my life hasn't helped either. 

But, I don't dwell on my pain.  Instead I open my eyes in the morning feeling blessed for another day.  And I keep going.  I don't sit around feeling sorry for myself.  I stay active and fight through all those aches that threaten to ruin my day.  For, despite all, life is good and I am glad to be here.  I am thankful for another day.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Joy of Paper Dolls

Genuine play occurs when you lose sight of yourself and your life for
the moment. You are totally immersed in whatever physical or creative
activity with no awareness of the passing of time. You are truly awake
and alive. For some people, play may be more physical. For others, it
is a creative outlet for expression. However, both types of play can
satisfy our basic need for curiosity, exploration, and fun.

Jill Murphy Long 

Yesterday I ordered some paper dolls from Amazon.  I had hundreds of them when I was a little girl.  I cut paper dolls from catalogs, and from magazines.  On Saturday mornings granddad and I would get into his car and drive into town.  He'd give me some money to buy my paper dolls while he went and had coffee with his friends.  Oh, I could play with my paper dolls  for hours and come up with a hundred different stories to play.  It's not the same when we grow up.  Too bad.

This is not my first order.  I bought paper dolls last year and actually got around to cutting some of them out.  But it wasn't as much fun dressing them.  The stories just weren't there.  That wonderful childhood imagination that brought my paper dolls to life and gave them character, was no longer there, and try as I might I couldn't find it.  So, why spend money and buy more you may ask.  Because I just HAD to have Betsy McCall.  She brings me closer to my grandma, the woman I loved with all my heart.

It's funny how all these memories keep  popping up now as just as  I am about to enter into my 8th decade of life.  For so many years they'd been brushed aside while work and survival took precedence.  Oh, I thought of my grandparents often, but the idea of trying to reconstruct those wonderful childhood years, well, that just  never occurred to me.  Yet, here I sit  now with paper dolls, and coloring books, and crayons.  I love reading about fairies and elves and fairy tales are at the top of my list.  I ask myself, is this normal?  And why now?

I do have to admit that I didn't enter into my elder years without a fight.  For a time after I hit 50  I began lying about my age, coloring my hair, buying every anti-aging cream on the market.  I did everything I could to stop the aging process, but one day I realized that I wasn't going to win, I couldn't stop the years, so instead I began embracing them.  Well, maybe embracing is too strong a word.  Let's just say I accepted the passing of the years.  I gave up fibbing about my age, still use a face cream but don't spend money I no longer have trying every new one on the market.  I do still color my hair as well.   So, I cannot say that this childhood fascination comes solely from a fear of aging although I have a secret wish to spend at least ONE day with my grandma and grandpa.  

It is also so true that I find those long-ago memories so much  easier to retrieve.   I can forget what brought me  into the kitchen,  but I can remember riding grandma's broom around the back yard like it happened yesterday.  Can even remember the name I gave the broom/horse.  'Sowdy'.  Where that name come from, I have no idea.  But I do remember spending hours trotting around on that old maroon broom.

While it is true for many elders enjoying these past-time toys can enhance a combination of skills including cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and sensory skills, reduce anxiety and boredom, and promote a sense of well-being,  I can honestly say that  having these toys in my life continues to trigger many of those treasured memories which had been pushed aside and forgotten for so many years.     And, although I may lack that old imagination to play with them, they bring me joy in so many other ways.  They  bring me back to a happier, worry free time when all was right with the world.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

On Friendship

 The reward of friendship is itself.
The person who hopes for anything
else does not understand what
true friendship is.

Alfred of Rievaulx

This morning as I ready myself for church, it occurs to me that today I have friends.  I have people at church who wait to greet me and chat with me just because they LIKE me.  I have friends at the retirement program I attend at Brooklyn College.  I have old school friends in my life now.  We found each other on Facebook and Classmates.  I've missed out on so much throughout the years, and am having fun making up for it.

I've always been a workaholic.  Family came first, then job, and that left little to no time for leisure.  I'd always thought I had friends at work, but now that I've retired, I realize they were just peers, not friends.  Guess I really hadn't known what friendship was all about.  Oh, I don't blame my peers at all.  As the oldest member of our team, I was from another generation, 20 years older than the next oldest.  I had nothing in common with them.  I know that now, but at the time I did and as a result of reading something into it that really wasn't there, I allowed myself to get hurt.  Now, I can understand why they did some of the things they did.

Like the time they were all talking about a party over the weekend that I'd not been invited to.  Yes, I was definitely hurt and allowed it to eat away at me for days.  But, today I understand.  My peer had given a 'sex toy' party and was embarrassed to even tell me about it because, let's face it, would you invite your grandmother to one of those parties?  And, although because I am blessed to look younger than my age, I never saw myself that way with them.  I never noticed the generational difference.  Later she told me she didn't invite me because she respected me.  At the time I couldn't see it that way.  Now, three years later I understand.  Besides, I wouldn't have gone to the party even if I had been invited.  Even if it had not been a 'sex toy' problem because the party was way up in the Bronx, and I never travel there.  

But, yes, being left out really did hurt, but none of them knew how very much.  I had always been the child that nobody wanted on their team, the outcast, the child they made fun of because my dad was an alcoholic and word had it that he went out and got into bar fights.  True.  But I grew up shy and introverted, lonely, and the fact is, when they say 

'Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me'

that's not true.  Hurtful words last so much longer than physical abuse.  Hurtful words can last forever.  They may appear to go away, but all it takes is one incident to bring back all that childhood pain, and that party did it.  I was once again that lost little girl that no one wanted.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

On Turning Seventy.

If wrinkles must be written upon
our brows, let them not be written
upon the heart. The spirit
should not grow old.

James A. Garfield

 My first birthday.  An eternity ago.

 69 years later

Wow, I'll be turning seventy in March.  Finding it hard to believe.  Where, oh where has all the time gone?  Seems like only yesterday I was counting the days until I hit 21 and became an adult.  And now, here I am about to cross the threshold into old age.  Seventy, to me, signals the last third of your life.  I've so much left that I want, that I NEED to do.   So many hopes and dreams as yet unfulfilled.  Will time be on my side?  

I regret that I didn't start fulfilling my goals sooner, that I chose instead to be a workaholic, but at this point in my life, I really don't have time to focus on those regrets.  Yet sometimes I find them inching their way in.  But, I think that is true at all stages of life.  Don't we all feel regrets once in awhile?  Don't we all wish at one point or another that we had made a different choice, that we had done something differently?  I think regret is a part of life, yes, but not a part of life to be dwelled upon.  I think we were meant to feel, but then to move on, to use our regrets as a lesson of something not to be repeated.

I see this blog as a journal of sorts, a memoir of my journey into the next stage of my life.  My thoughts, my feelings, memories of times past.  Yet, my journal is also a story of new beginnings, of family and friends, once lost, who have now once again become such an important part of my life.  Life is so good, and I am so blessed and filled with gratitude.

So, here's to the future and a celebration of the past.  I invite you to take this journey along with me.