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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I am losing my mind!

I don't know if it's old age or early Alzheimer’s, but I can't hold a thought for more than a second anymore.

I can't tell you how many times I've sat down to write a blog about this and then forget to do it!

If you run into me in a store somewhere don't just start talking to me. Tell me your name first because 9 out of 10 times I won't be able to remember who you are and where you fit into my life. My husband and I now have a system . . . If we are out anywhere and somebody approaches me like they know me and I don't introduce him within 30 seconds, he'll introduce himself and say "and you are?"

Don't assume because you just told me your name that my brain retained that information because chances are it hasn't and I may have to ask you your name three or four times before I actually capture it.

Don't be insulted by it. When I got married, I forgot my husband's name. When the Reverend asked me to repeat the Vows, I said "I Robert take you Helen." So technically I married myself. The Reverend didn't correct me, I didn't remember saying it and hubby swears he's a single guy!

I also lie to people and tell them English is not my first language because lately I ain't got no grammar either! I forget how to spell words like "the," I constantly question the simplest of grammar rules and I can't pronounce anything with more than two syllables. It's getting to the point that even Spell Check can't figure out what I am trying to say. In my quest a few seconds ago to spell "syllables" it came up with "collywobbles." Yes apparently collywobbles is a word! Don't ask me what it means.

I read an article on-line that said there are homeopathic drugs that you can buy over the counter that help improve your memory. I went to Lawton's and Shoppers Drug Mart looking for them. Both times I came out with a magazine and shampoo because I forgot what I went there for. But I have lots of shampoo and great magazines in my bathroom.

I started setting alarms on my cell phone to remind me to pick up my children at school and other events. If I don't do that, I don't remember to pick them up! And don't ask me what day it is because I am more likely to tell you it's 1998 than 2013. I never know what day of the week it is. And if you're talking for more than 30 seconds chances are I am somewhere completely different in my head and
you're sounding like Charlie Brown's teacher to me because all I hear is "Wha, wha, wha, wha." I have no focus at all.

It's also not unusual to find the Cheerio's in the fridge or the milk in the cupboard in my house. I can never find my glasses even though there are about 20 pairs of them around my house. I can never remember if I locked the door or turned the stove off. Or if the light I just drove through was red or green.

I am turning 50 this year. Which I don't consider old age either. So maybe that's got something to do with it.

Now there are some things and people that I am happy to forget, but there are some things and people that I'd like to remember; like my kids, my wedding anniversary, the date Christmas Day falls on each year.

Now I can't remember what I was talking about. I've lost my train of thought. I don't know if I am losing my mind or my memory. I guess you can all take your pick.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A very simple man

The day before my Mother passed away, my best friend Nancy's father, John Constantine, passed away. It was a unique coincidence. Throughout our lives we have done just about everything together. Now we grieve together.

My Mother's funeral was at 9:30 in the morning and her father's was 2:30 that afternoon. I felt I needed to be there. So my family and I attended the second funeral of the day.

(In picture: John Constantine and Nancy.)

I was moved by the beautiful Mass booklet her family gave out at the front door. Her younger brother, Patrick, had written a story about her father and called it "A very simple man." He spoke about his admiration for his father and his appreciation for the "simple life" he had lead.

Patrick also wrote a blog about his father which is very moving and can be found at:

This very simple man had worked at a hockey arena all his life and supported his family on a small salary. He didn't own a fancy car or fancy house and never wanted things that were beyond his grasp.
From inside the family he probably did look like a very simple man. From my perspective, across the street, he was anything but.

My Mother was a single parent who had no help from my father or anyone else for that matter. The nicest thing he ever did for us was leave.

Nancy's father was an anomaly to me. He went to work every day; he loved his children; he wasn't violent or an alcoholic; he attended church every week and was faithful to his wife. He was a good man who supported his family.

His wife was diagnosed with MS and she quickly went downhill. This horrible disease took over her body and left her in a wheelchair with no feeling from the waist down. This simple man tended to her with an incredible amount of love and compassion. He carried her up and down the stairs in his arms each day. Never making it look like a burden. Always making it look like a new husband carrying his bride over the threshold. His lot in life was not easy but you would never know it. He was never without a smile or a joke. My Mother would often remark, "A lot of men would have turned to alcohol or left all together. Not John. He's a good man."

He had a simple way of dealing with people. We had a neighbour who owned a small business. He lived directly across the street from John. He was convinced that someone was vandalizing his car and business although there was no damage. He set up a video camera in his front window to record everything that happened on the street. It was pointed directly at John's house. The neighbours found it creepy and asked him to take it down. He refused and it caused quite the fuss on the street. John came up with a plan. Every day he stood in front of the video camera and danced a jig. The neighbour was enraged with John and often yelled across the street ordering him to stop. After a week of capturing nothing but John dancing, he took the camera down. This simple man, in his simple way, achieved what no one else on the street could. His daily silent protest brought an end to a neighborhood stand-off without yelling, fighting or threats. Today, he would be a You Tube sensation.

In a snow storm, he would be the first one out with a shovel, clearing his own driveway and then anyone else that needed help. After his wife passed away, everyone thought John would die with loneliness. He proved them wrong. He became the life of the party at the senior's dances. Always ready to dance with whomever asked, never without a smile or a joke and quite the "catch" according to the ladies.

So Patrick, although I loved your story, you are wrong. John Constantine was not a very simple man. He was an amazing father, a dedicated and loving husband, a great neighbour and a good friend. In our neighbourhood he was a hero and an honourable man.

He was much more than a very simple man.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Lost at the mall - The day your Mother dies

When I was about seven years old I went to the Avalon mall with my mother. We would always start at Woolco. She would take me to the toy department and let me play while she shopped. After about 20 minutes of exploring the toy department I decided to go look for her. I walked through the store looking up and down every aisle like I was crossing the street, but I couldn't find her.

I searched the store but she was nowhere to be found. I thought I spotted her in the shoe department. I ran towards her but realized as I got close, it was a lady with a similar coat. I began to panic and started to run faster through store calling out to her. I circled the store one more time and still no sign of her.
Panic turned to fear as I realized I was lost and tears began to flow. The tears were blurring my sight and I couldn't breathe. I tried calling out "Mom, Mom" but the only thing that could escape from my throat was a dry heavy, gulp of tears.

A sales lady stopped me and asked if I was lost. I tried to say yes but I could barely breathe from the heavy sobs coming from my chest. All I could do was nod yes. She brought me to the customer service desk and as we got closer I could see my mother talking to the lady behind the counter and ran towards her. I couldn't get a word out of my throat. She saw me coming and I flew into her arms.
She said, "Where were you? I've been looking for you everywhere!" My face was soaking from tears, and snot that left train tracks on my cheeks and chin. She took a tissue from her coat pocket and dried my face. All I could get out was one word at a time between heavy sobs. "I thought you left me" I cried. "You know I'd never leave you" she said.

She took me by the hand and we went to the restaurant, sat down and had custard cones until I calmed down.
That feeling of being lost at Woolco came back to me this week. When my sister called to say mom, who had been sick for a while had been admitted to hospital and wasn't doing well. As I drove towards the hospital that feeling of panic and fear that I felt as a seven-year-old lost in a store, came back to me. When I ran across the parking lot the tears were blurring my sight and I wanted to call out "Mom, Mom" but the only thing that could escape from my throat was a dry heavy, gulp of tears.

I rode the elevator to the 7th floor and took a wrong turn. I ended up on the opposite end of the hospital. I stopped at the nursing station and told the nurse at the desk I was looking for my Mother. She brought me to her room. When I got there she was frail and weak. I took her by the hand and said "I got lost when I got off the elevator and couldn't find you." My face was soaking from tears and snot that left train tracks on my cheeks and chin. She held a tissue in her hand and she dried my face. All I could get out was one word at a time between heavy sobs. "I thought you left me" I cried. "You know I'd never leave you" she said.
I took her hand but this time I knew we were not going for ice cream. I knew this time would be the last time she found me. At 85 her various health problems had caught up with her. The heart that had given decades of unconditional love was failing her. I was able to spend an hour with her by myself before the army of children, grand-children and great-grand-children showed up. We got to say good-bye.

Today she closed her eyes and went to sleep and I cried like a seven-year-old lost at Woolco who knew she would never be found again.
I love you Mom and thank you for everything.