The Caricature of My Family

Caricature of my family drawn by a Quebec City street artist, 1995

This past Sunday I put out my Christmas decorations, the same ones I’ve had for at least 15 years. A few years ago I gave away my Christmas tree and replaced it with a mini pre decorated tree purchased from Costco.

As time passes, there is a need to simplify, in all aspects of my life. Therefore, this week I decided to rummage through my storage bins first going through all the Christmas stuff I no longer wish to use. That done, I went to the souvenir bins, slowly looking at the contents and remembering their significance. I found a cylinder containing a drawing. It was a caricature of myself with my then husband and teenage daughters, taken in Quebec City, Canada in 1995, the latter part of the 20th century! For a fraction of a second my initial reaction was sadness, for a family broken by divorce, but then taking a closer look at the drawing my sadness turned into laughter. Firstly, the caricatures did not resemble us. But what was humorous, was where he positioned me in the sketch. The setting is a pool. My ex husband is between our two teenage daughters. On the left, my eldest’s little body is in a dive position, the youngest, on the right, is perched on a stool and my ex is in bermudas with a drink in his hand, his posterior facing my head. I on the other hand, am lying at the BOTTOM of the pool with only the top of my head and eyes above the water.

The above scene is humorous not because of how he interpreted our faces but rather how he captured us as a family. My eldest, ready to dive, describes her nature, a go-getter. My youngest, a more layed back personality, is shown sitting. As for my ex, he’s the king, holding his cocktail with his posterior pointing towards his wife, “moi”, who is almost fully engulfed by the water. The disconnection between us is so obvious.

Perhaps my reaction to what I saw in the drawing was not only sadness and amusement but something deeper. A feeling of being in a good place and with a healthy sense of humour. But most of all, finally accepting the revised version of “My Family”.

Friends Lost

Twenty three years ago today I moved into my dream house. It remained my home even after the divorce and continues to be my current residence. It may be too big for a single person but for me, it truly is my shelter and refuge. My grandchildren love this home too and that is important to me. It’s the only home they associate their Nana with. This house has seen my life unfold in ways I could never have imagined at the time. The move was a turning point and I didn’t know it.

One of the changes that occurred shortly after moving in was the start of a new friendship with my next door neighbors, who were in the same stages of life as my husband and I. We became close, spending many evenings together. Then 6 years ago my neighbor, the wife, passed away from an aggressive cancer. I was divorced by then. Her husband now a widower and I a divorcee continued to be friends. That all changed when he started a serious relationship with a woman. His girlfriend felt threatened by our friendship. Overnight we went from friends to cordial neighbors. Another neighbor also a divorcee who was part of my life and I of hers over the past 12 years drifted apart once she got into a relationship with a man 18 months ago. This month she sold her home and I doubt there will be much contact after she leaves.

These two neighbors both distanced themselves after entering in a relationship with new partners. But friendships dissolve for other reasons too. I let go of some friends that have been in my life for some time but not for the same reason. There are certain friends I no longer feel a connection to. The pre-Covid life distractions are not there to deter me or confuse me; I can see clearer. For now my joy comes from living in the moment, working on my crochet projects, writing, but what lights up my heart is seeing the love in my grandchildren’s eyes, their curiosity and enthusiasm.

Friends come and go. Life has a way of putting people on your path for a reason and when they’ve served their purpose they are gone.

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Perception

Where did the summer go? It was a scorcher; only pleasant if you could spend it by the pool.

The latter half of the summer was spent indoors due to extreme fatigue, loss of appetite and an occasional fever. The symptoms first appeared in early August. I was tested twice for COVID-19. Those tests came back negative. After numerous blood tests, an abdominal ultrasound and MRI, I was finally diagnosed with Cytomegalovirus. Naturally, at the time I was worried, especially after the blood work showed some alarming results.

I entered the Autumn season with a sense of peacefulness and serenity. This summer gave me alot to think about. It helped me evaluate my relationships and clear some fog. In so doing, I finally learned not to take upsetting interactions personally. Its not because I care less, rather I realized that people are deflecting or projecting their fears and insecurities unto others.

Sometimes we need an illness or a certain discomfort to bring about profound changes to our perceptions on life and the human psyche.

Oh Oh, Is It Covid?

On Friday, July 17, my father passed away from cancer after spending one month in Palliative Care at the local hospital. The day the decision was made to send him there was an emotional one for my 2 sisters and I. My father had deteriorated rapidly in the days preceding his hospitalization. He needed professional care now. The viewing and the  funeral were done all in one day. It was small and intimate.  Throughout the service, I could not stop crying, not even during the reading of the Eulogy I composed the night before. You see, crying does not come easy for me.

Much of the summer has gone by and to date I have not been out on any outings except for one dinner invitation from my friend M, to view her newly purchased and renovated Condo in a scenic area of town. Despite the delays in her renovations, due to the Covid shut down, she was able to move in at the end of June. The hors d’oeuvres were served on the terrace while catching up, taking in the city view and enjoying a glass of wine. We moved indoors for the meal. She’s a fine cook.

I’ve had family and friends over on a few occasions but no other social outings, mostly due to the lack of invitations. My circle of friends were occupied with one thing or another.

For the past 10 days I’ve been fatigued and experienced a fever. Yesterday I went to get tested for Covid, now I’m in temporary quarantine until the results come in.

I’ll keep you posted! 😊

Simple Pleasures

With the gradual de-confinement of the past few weeks, it’s finally time to start getting back to a semblance of normal activity.

Yesterday, I made the decision to go purchase some lovely flowers for my garden urns. I then called my widowed daughter to ask if she wanted some help with the kids and would she like that I bring over some sausages to grill on the BBQ. Needless to say, the answer was “yes”, to both.

After picking up the flowers, the grocery store was next. Luckily for me, there was no line outside. I put on my selfmade mask and began shopping. I actually enjoyed it!

I feel alive again! Isn’t it remarkable how something I considered mundane has now  become pleasant, even with all the precautions needed during this global pandemic.

Why is it usually when something is taken away, that we can truly begin to know its worth? If we can always keep this life lesson in mind, perhaps we would complain less and practice “Gratitude”, more. Wouldn’t we, as human beings, be happier?

The Gazebo

With the gradual de-confinement, I have once again began to socialize; speaking on the phone or video chatting, is not my preferred choice. I like “in person” interaction.

Luckily, since the acquisition of my Gazebo, last summer I’ve been able to host my friends in its space starting last week; not more than 2 friends at a time. It is a closed structure and can protect us from the elements while air flows easily through the screened windows surrounding the Gazebo, making it safe during this time of Covid. It is big enough to keep the required 6 ft. distance. When its chilly, blankets keep us warm and cozy.

Last week, Maia came by and we had supper together but the evening ended early. Maia had been in the hot sun most of the day and was feeling its effect. Time spent with her is usually quiet and relaxing, “just chilling” is the expression used by the younger population.

This weekend my friend C—- came by mid-afternoon and stayed for dinner. We had so much to catch up on. With her demanding job and ailing Mother C—‘s busy schedule doesn’t give her much time to socialize. Getting together is always a pleasure.

Yesterday M—- and her friend A—- came by, in the afternoon. We opened a bottle of Prosecco and toasted to new beginnings. M— recently sold her home and is moving into a Condo. A—-, recently moved into a new Condo to be closer to her son and I renovated my back yard, last year. During the course of the evening, the conversation flowed, like the wine, LOL!! We did “take out” and ended the evening with a warm cup of coffee and my homemade Italian bread cake.

It felt good to have a semblance of normalcy, even though the little bottles of sanitizer sitting on the serving tray were there to remind us of the uncertain times we are currently living.

The Freedom of Self-Isolation

I’ve been in my quiet bubble of self isolation and have not posted for some time.

I’m relishing this time to do whatever I want, at the time I want, without any outside distractions. It feels euphoric!

This week,I directed my attention to making different styles of cloth masks. There are so many “how to” videos; it was hard to decide which ones to choose.

I made 4 versions, using items I had at home,( see below); Its amazing how creative one gets when working with limited resources.

The bottom 2 were the easiest to make.

On another note, like many women, my gray hair growth is visible. My nails are short and unpolished. I’m taking a breather from all these chemicals, like our beautiful planet Earth. In the last 6 weeks, we have greatly reduced our carbon footprint.

I’ve actually lost some weight by eating home cooked meals and drinking less wine. This makes me very happy, LOL!!

With warmer weather around the corner I’m looking forward to start my gardening. My Gazebo, has been “spring cleaned” and is ready for me to enjoy. Maybe, I’ll be motivated to resume writing my book.

Insignificant and Trivial

Writing about my single life during this 4th week of self isolation, because of the Corona Virus pandemic, is insignificant and trivial.

Social media is a way to stay in touch and connected during this period. Many people are baking, (including, myself) and cooking fine cuisine dishes. Others, are baking bread and making homemade pasta. All wonderful and fulfilling activities.

Just yesterday our Prime Minister announced the grim reality that we’re in for a long haul, 12 to 18 months, depending when the vaccine will be developed.

The general population is still in react mode over the global situation. They are keeping busy and adjusting their lives according to the daily government directives. Once the adjustments are made and the novelty of cooking, baking, creating amusing videos with “Tik Tok”, etc. and going to multiple food stores, simply for the outing, maybe then, people will truly understand the gravity of the current world situation.

Once all these distractions are exhausted, what next? Will people reach to the depth of their soul and revisit what is truly important OR will they become frustrated and angry?

In my opinion, everything happens for a reason. The World and its human inhabitants were spinning faster than it was meant to. I often felt that the planet Earth would fall off its axis and spin off into a black hole (metaphorically speaking). Everything needed to come to a halt in order to reset humanity and begin anew.

I want to be hopeful, but I’m also a realist, it will get worse before it gets better.

On a last note I want to say, I am proud and Grateful to live in Canada. Kudos to both our federal and provincial leaders. Their leadership is exceptional, under these trying times. They deserve our respect.

Courage

For those of us in North America, there is heightened anxiety over the spread of Covid-19 virus since the last few days. School closures and cancelled sports events amongst many other measures such as keeping social distance is all contributing to this anxiety.

Like most, I’m doing my part. In all honesty though, it isn’t so difficult for me. Ever since the birth of my first grandchild and then the H1N1, I adopted the hand washing protocol; maybe even too much at times. I don’t favor crowded areas so I usually shop at non peak hours.

Now is a good time to get some of those “to do” projects done. Also, Spring is around the corner, what better time is there to get ready for the change of season; on the top of my list is:

  1. Wash winter outer wear and boots before storing
  2. Sweep driveway of all winter debris.
  3. Clean garage
  4. Wash car interior
  5. Indoor spring cleaning

What are some of your “to do’s” for the the coming weeks.

The Beanie

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This Friday past, I had a lunch date with my friend M and one of her close friends. M’s friend had commissioned me to crochet a baby blanket for her future grandson and I was on my way to the restaurant, to deliver it, when my cell phone rang. It was from a previous client, of my creations. She wanted to know if I had any crocheted beanies in stock. I did not, but one could be made. That’s when she informed me of the passing of her close friend, who had been battling cancer for many years. Tears welled in my eyes.

About 2 years ago my client had asked me to crochet a beanie for the same friend. Apparently the friend loved the hat so much, that she left instructions with her husband to be buried with it, when the time came; she preferred to have the hat cover her head and not her wig. Unfortunately, the color of that beanie did not suit the color of the burial outfit chosen by her family; she needed a lighter color but the original hat would be placed in her coffin, in order to respect her wishes. I asked when it was needed for and she replied that it was for the day after next, the Sunday. After my lunch date, I rushed off to buy the yarn. The hat was replicated in the desired color and ready by Saturday afternoon.

This order meant a lot to me, it was personal. You see, I had met the deceased a few years ago shortly after the end of my cancer treatments. She was a lovely woman in her early forties, who was battling cancer for a few years already. We spoke about our respective cancers. My heart had gone out to her because she was young, with a young family.

There isn’t a single day that I am not grateful, for the success of my cancer treatments. I survived; others do not! They go through many different treatments in order to: slow down the cancer; stay alive as long as possible; be there for their children, spouse and/or cherished family members. These people are truly brave! It takes extreme courage to: face every new day; be living with the side effects of the drugs and the cancer; endure the malaise and pain.

Rest in peace, beautiful lady and warrior. May God have a special place for you.