I Don’t Know What I’m Doing and Other Stuff I Admit to The Dog

The poor dog. She hears stuff that normally, no one would ever say. Like bad jokes. Or random rants. Or cooking tips, because my children who are no longer children refuse to participate in anything that takes place in the kitchen besides eating or drinking so the dog hears all the valuable potentially life-saving tips the wise woman wielding the spatula has learned over the past 50+ years. Sigh. And that. She hears stuff like that. Those random mini-rants that makes one look visibly shaken or in need of heavy doses of medication. Anyone who needs a sounding board should seriously consider getting a dog. Or a cat…no really, a dog.  

Cats are temperamental and have superiority complexes that make them leave the room when they sense things are getting a little boring or heavy hearted. They can’t stand needy people, so they turn and walk away. Unless you are holding a can of tuna, then they MAY stick around long enough for you to say a couple of words. Then they will interrupt with one of their self-involved mews or leg scratching and demand you lay that can down so they can eat while you drone on endlessly about your human needs and emotionally challenged offspring. Ugh.  

Dogs will at least stand there and look at you. Stare at you until you cave and give them a treat for being so kind-hearted and loyal. They’ll sit for an hour and listen endlessly hoping you will at least drop a piece of chicken their way or a bread crumb. And then wag their tails in endless joy that you even had the time to say ‘hey’ at them. Dogs. So sweet. So loyal. So not cats.

Not that I hate cats. I do like them. I had one of my own. They just are a lot of emotional work. They like you only when it suits them and even then, it’s tenuous at best. Fickle animals. They’ll lay on your head and wait for you to pet them one minute and the next, if they sense you need a cuddle, they suddenly have a million things to do like wash their paws, or watch the birds outside or chase that string on the pillow. They are busy!  

Dogs are listeners. Perfect for crazy evening drunken tirades or silly arguments about politics. They don’t talk back or disagree. They don’t even have an opinion, unless you ask them to lay down or roll over. Apparently, tricks are tricky and can only be completed followed by a treat. No treat and no trick. Hmmm….I know people like that, too.

Mags has heard it all. Parenting woes, swear-filled outbursts, overjoyed proclamations and teary worries. She still just stares up at you and lets you get it all out…then fetches a toy so you can play, because everybody likes a good toy to throw.   


Admitting to the dog that life is a roller coaster and sucks sometimes, is different than having to admit that to a real living person. People seriously have the gall to disagree or say you’re being dramatic or have an actual opinion and then give advice and expect you to follow through! What the hell?!  

I don’t want that! Just sit there like the dog and listen to what I have to yell at you. WHY CAN’T PEOPLE DO THAT?!  

Because people are not dogs.

Too bad. There would have been a treat in there somewhere…AND I WILL ALWAYS THROW A TOY TO CHASE.  
 

 

 

The Bracelet

For the past couple of days, I have been wearing a charm bracelet that was given to me when I was nine years old. It’s silver with little charms that dangle from rounded chains connected by other rounded chains. It’s like those paper chains we used to make in school from colored construction paper and then hang from Christmas trees as garland. Only made of silver. And much nicer. It was brought back for me from Holland. I’ve added some charms to it over the years, but I still keep it in a special place in my jewelry box. The person who gave me the bracelet was very special to me. Although she is no longer with me, I wear the bracelet at times I need to feel her presence; when I need to feel her closer to me and to be nine years old again. I think we all need that from time to time.
A friend just recently lost his father. It’s tragic and sad and reminded me of her. Not of her death or of her illness that took her, but of the woman who was very involved in my life, who said I would always be a little bit hers. Of summers at the cottage, trips to baseball games and our first ride on a plane. She died at the age of fifty after a stroke and health problems that left her weak and unable to speak. I still miss her and carry her with me everywhere. The memories remain even if she is no longer in my presence.
I wanted to say something that would ease the pain of losing a loved one, but there is nothing that can be said; only that the person may be gone, but you carry that person with you always. He is not lost, he is not gone forever from your memory or from what makes you, you. He is gone from your house, from his house, from his car, from the physical portion of your world, but he remains a part of you. The words he has spoken, the essence of who he was, what he meant to you, how he made a difference in your life, is not gone. He is carried through your life, through your children and through your words and actions.
I’ve lost my parents, my brother and my friend, but their presence is always one I feel. Words I say to my kids, I can often hear my mother’s voice. When I look at my son’s eyes and see his passion for golf (yes, golf) I see my father. Every time I get the opportunity to work with a struggling student, or hear the rumble of a motorcycle, I see my brother’s smile. When I feel the sand between my toes and hear the ocean, I think of Oogie and remember how much she loved the sound of the ocean waves.
Sometimes it takes a tangible object like my bracelet, to bring them closer. I still have my mother’s jewelry, I still have trophies that once belonged to my brother, I still have my father’s slides and old projector, and I have my bracelet. All things that once belonged to my loved ones, but I keep in remembrance. Not that I need these things to remember, I have them because they once loved these things. They once touched them, admired them, and belonged to them. I guess they make me feel closer to them for having something they once loved, but I don’t need these objects all of the time.
My loved ones are never far from me. I just know where to look….

Friday With Annie

IT’S FRIDAY!!!

I hope all of your weeks went well.  To kick off what is hopefully to be an awesome fun-filled weekend, I am posting an oldie but a goodie.

I give you the Eurythmics with ‘I Need A Man’…not that I do, I already have a great one…Hubby and I will be celebrating our 22nd Anniversary tomorrow!

Awwwww…

So, in  honor of said day, I give you Annie…in all her Monroe-esque glory.

Have fun kids and stay safe….

A Tribute For Kirk

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My brother Kirk in the back in the blue t-shirt. Not sure what he is holding up.

This is a repost of a special tribute I wrote for my brother and appeared on my previous blog.  I wanted to post it again.  Thanks for indulging me.

Today would have been my brother’s forty-eighth birthday.  At the tender age of twenty-one, he died much too soon.

As tragedies go, Kirk’s young life was punctuated with struggles and awkward growth. He was the middle child of us three, adopted as a baby.  My mother was told she would never have children again after several miscarriages and my parents began adopting.  My eldest brother first, then Kirk when she found out she was pregnant with me.  I was born one year and seventeen days after Kirk’s birthday.  She had three children all under three by the time she was 36.  Fun times, I’m sure.

Kirk was always the most mischievous and curious of us three.  Dark haired and deep brown eyes, his coloring matched that of my eldest brother and my mother, but with my flame of red hair and pale skin, I was mistaken for the adopted kid.

Kirk’s journey into academia was, to put it mildly, just awful.  He was put into what was called ‘Special Ed’ in those days for his poor reading and writing skills.  He just didn’t have any.  School was the catalyst that set his behavior into spiraling temper tantrums and downright defiance.  His esteem suffered with every failing grade and the segregation of Special Ed only served to feed his negative self-image.

By the time Kirk had hit his teens, he was functionally illiterate. He had basically dropped out of high school at 14.  He could take anything apart and put it back together again…maybe not in exact working order, and there may have been some random pieces left over, but for all intents and purposes, it was together.  His behavior had escalated to new and frightening heights and he was relegated to a group home in Dover, a country town outside of Chatham, for a period of time; a life altering event for him, but also in my young eyes.  He transformed from a troubled youth to a caring socially contributing member of society in the mere few months of living there.  I remember visiting him at the group home when I was thirteen. The people who worked at the home presented a whole different perspective than the troubled difficult youth he had been known to be.  He was responsible for chores.  He chopped wood, cleaned rooms, mentored other youth in the home.  He was learning to read, getting some perspective on his behavior and learning the meaning of the word ‘respect’.  I instantly felt a kinship to the people who had made such an enormous impact on my brother.  Kirk was discharged from the home a few months later, deemed ready to return home.  He returned to a sick father, dying of cancer and a distraught mother.  His behavior flailed, but the people from the home were instantly at our house when my Dad got the news he had cancer.  He died that September and Kirk reeled.  We all did.

The high school years were difficult with Kirk hardly attending and his absences felt.  There were run-ins with police, and a few harmless asides but he was struggling.  Then he got a job.  The local bowling alley hired him to take bookings and bowl on the local team.  He was good.  He worked hard and met a girl who ran the snack bar.  She helped him with his reading and writing since taking bookings meant he was forced to write people’s names.  They became inseparable and she became his constant. A few years later I graduated high school and was embarking on my own journey to head to Toronto for school.   I had decided I wanted to be one of those people who had helped Kirk find his way when he was at the group home a few years previous. I applied to a college in Toronto for the Child and Youth Worker program and was accepted.  That Christmas, he gave his girl a ring and moved out into his own apartment.  My eldest brother had moved on a few years previous, going to university in Thunder Bay and making a life with his then girl, now wife.  My mother moved from our townhouse we had lived in for fifteen years and moved into a brand new co-op going up on the opposite side of town.

The year had proved to be a good one for Kirk.  He had a job, had a girl and a new apartment. His relationship with my mother, rocky at times, was beginning to mend itself into a more mother/adult-son union.  I came home from Toronto a couple of times during my first year and we were able to see each other.  He was proud of me for taking a big step to Toronto and me of him for his big step into adult-hood.  In our last conversation I remember teasing him that I was getting older.  He said I would always be his little sister.

The following fall, with the help of his girl, he bought a brand new motorcycle.  It was fast and big, but he was not licensed to ride it on the main roads of town.  He decided to take it out on the back roads for a bit of fun and to test it out.  He took a buddy who had his own bike and off they went.  Never taking anything slow, Kirk rode that bike down a dirt road, took a turn too fast and hit a rut in the road.  He flew off the bike and into a hydro pole. He was killed instantly. Yes, he was wearing his helmet.

I was telephoned the news while in Toronto just beginning my second year of college.  I got home the following day. The ensuing days are still a bit of a blur.  I remember Thanksgiving was the same weekend as the funeral and we went to my Aunt and Uncle’s for dinner.  A joyous reprieve from the tragedy at our feet, I remember laughing at the dinner table.  The next day was Kirk’s funeral.  The air was fraught with tragic despair and mourning for a life taken too soon.  I remember riding to the grave site and looking behind me at the procession.  There were so many cars that I could not see the end of the line.

It is true that Kirk had impacted a lot of people in his short life.  Despite his difficulties, he proved to be a young man with heart and abilities that were not clearly defined, but were budding as he edged further and further into adulthood.  I graduated in my program and worked with kids like Kirk until I began having my own.  Life comes full circle and again, I have been presented with working with young adults burgeoning into their own path and learning to work with the challenges that have been bestowed upon them.  I feel his presence when I sit down to work with another student flailing in the wind of Learning Disabilities and I know he approves.  He greatly contributed to what I do and who I am without even knowing the impact of his life on mine.  He is missed.

Happy Birthday, Kirk.

July 5, 1965 – October 2nd, 1986

You Know You Should Call It A Day When:

In a rush to secure a gift for the love of your life, you call specific stores with desired item on sale only to find the last one to be sold “just minutes” before your alarmingly boisterous arrival.  This was hours after your initial plea of ‘can you save it for me?’ only to be told ‘no’. Fuckers.  So fearing impending doom and total catastrophic disappointment from the love of your life, you flee to the netherworlds of town to secure desired item.  You find it!  It barely squeezes into backseat of car.  Meanwhile, D1 is lamenting that you were unable to pick her up from her job so she asked the love of your life for a ride who calls you 7 times in attempts to reach you only to be promptly ignored.  And when finally you answer you hear this: ‘why the hell am I paying 65.00 a month for a cell phone that you don’t answer?!’ to which you respond ‘she could have walked to a Tim’s and waited it’s a nice day’ to which he states ‘what Tim’s there isn’t one close’ to which you promptly hang up.   You then drop D2 off at rowing 15 minutes late which is devastating since she’s the coach and is responsible to show a good example to the ‘young people’ and now has to do laps in response to her lateness.  Gee mom, you pretty much suck.  Then, you rush to rescue D1 from the hockey arena that D2 said she was impatiently waiting at since the love of your life had to pick her up from her job since that job equals death and waiting any more than five extra minutes could be as painful as having your toenails removed one-by-one by a monkey high on crack, AND the love of your life had to take son to hockey hence the whole arena thing,  only to find that she is home and has been home for some time now and if you had answered your fucking phone you would have known that and not have found that out by the time you were half way to an arena at which  none of your family were even located.  To which you proudly display said perceived ‘desired item’ in the livingroom after having to secure a hernia in the process of extracting item from the backseat of your Corrolla only to have the love of your life proclaim, upon his arrival home,  it’s not as desired as perceived.  Bastard. 

AND THEN THE NEXT DAY, you dump a whole bottle of coffee cream on the floor of your car, and a strong odor of Hazelnut permeates the interior.  In attempts to squelch that odor and the impending sour-milk-from-the-depths-of-a-nauseated-baby-smell, you erroneously decide to mop up said dairy product with paper towels and a Lysol-soaked rag.  Now the car smells like Hazelnut infused Lysol.  Pleasant. 

THE DAY AFTER THAT, having not had the opportunity to purchase more Hazelnut heavenly goodness in which to put in your morning coffee since you were busy doing OTHER PEOPLE’S laundry, preparing supper, cleaning shit up and planning an epic holiday, you ask three family members early in the morning to assist in said purchase only to be told that it would ‘make them late for work’.  So, only one cup of morning coffee.  All the damned day.

 Grumpy. As. Shit. 

NOOOOOOO!!!!!  MY EYES ARE BURNING

NOOOOOOO!!!!! MY EYES ARE BURNING

Hope you are having a fucking awesome day.  Love and hugs to all.

KJ  

 

Hollering You Home

The last visit I had with my mom, I made her clothes shopping with me.  Which she hated. Not just because she didn’t like wearing anything besides pajamas, but because I made her wear shoes.  She hated wearing shoes.  I guess her slippers were far more comfortable and she found shoes so constrictive.  I refused to allow her to go out in public with slippers on her feet, instead insisting on her donning her running shoes.  She complained and had she been the type of woman who swore, I’m sure  I would have heard a few expletives that day directed solely in my direction, but she complied to my request nonetheless.

I managed to get her out to the Thames Lea Mall with her shoes on and secured in her wheelchair.  I think we were out ten minutes before she began asking when we were going to eat.  That made my shopping job a little easier since now I could use lunch as a reward.  After I told her we would be eating as soon as the shopping was completed, we had new pajamas, underwear, slippers and a couple of tops in our cart in under a half an hour.  Food was definitely one of her greatest joys.  Of course, once we sat down, ordered and the food arrived, she would take two bites and declare she was full.

If she required other clothes, I would go alone and proudly show her the purchases upon my return, only to hear “I don’t wear that colour” and “What is THAT?!”  She would reluctantly have them labeled and put into her closet and I’m not sure she ever wore her new clothes, but she humored me enough to make me think she may wear them eventually.

Mom was stubborn and proud.  She had definite likes and dislikes and let you know what those were.  She craved being alone and was determined in her resolve to remain as independent as possible.  She loved her family, respected others’ opinions and always had a quick smile or witty remark ready.  Even when she was in pain and was having a rough day, she continued to tease the nurses and the doctors with sarcastic retorts to their frequent apologies and expressions to remorse for her situation.  Mom was more concerned with how everyone around her was feeling than she was about herself.  She neither asked for assistance nor insisted on anyone’s participation in her care.  She expected those around her to remain dedicated to their families, to be good to those around them and to gain fulfillment through goodness and abundant expressions of love.

I was reminded when speaking with Keith about when we were younger and played outside, Mom would holler to us to come home from the park for dinner.  When I was sitting with her at the hospital one afternoon and the pain was evident and her body was itchy and irritated from the morphine, she exclaimed that everyone was hollering.  I knew then that the angels were hollering her home, just as she had done with us.

Although we are sad today that Mom has left us physically, her spirit remains active in our hearts and her memory will not fade from our minds.  Be comforted in the knowledge that she was a dedicated mother, a trusted friend and a sister to all the women in her life.  She is with God and loved ones now, happy to have moved on and happy to have been hollered home at last.

Margaret Josephine

April 7 1929 – March 2 2012  RIP

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