Summer Vacation

It’s that time of year, when people head out on the road for some family fun. But with our children grown, we stay at home during the busy summer months of July and August. It’s a good time to catch up on yard work, especially since we have such a short growing season in the Canadian north.

So while others fight the crowded roads or beaches, this is what I’m doing.

I’ll be back in August with a post to tell you all about the back breaking work on my summer vacation. It’s going to be beautiful … someday. 🙂

In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy your summer. I’m enjoying ours.

The family that lies together, stays sane together!

I’m often quite oblivious to what’s going on around me. Perhaps it’s because I spend so much time in my own imagination. So it should come as no surprise that when my family lies to me— in the name of protecting my sensitive sensibilities— I’m totally oblivious to their deceit.

One Saturday evening, my man and I splurged on a couple of mega-size chocolate bars, and with our treats in hand, sat down to watch TV. My man finished his bar, but I only ate half of mine, so I wrapped up the remains and set it on the end table beside my chair.

On the following Monday, I returned home from the day job, ravenous with hunger. While supper cooked, I decided to alleviate my hunger by scarfing down the rest of my bar. But the bar was gone.

I searched the floor, under the table, under my chair. Nothing, nada, zilch. Not even a piece of the wrapper in the garbage. The only explanation was that my man or boy had found it, consumed it, then hidden the evidence of their crime, which was in truth, odd behaviour for them both. Although I’ve been known to raid their stashes, they never touch mine. But I digress…

The inquisition was on. When my man and boy arrived home from work, they both denied eating the bar. My man suggested I’d woken in the middle of the night, done the deed myself, then forgotten it by morning.

Huh? I’ve never sleepwalked in my life.

The next night after work, too hungry to wait for supper to cook—yes, there’s a pattern here—I widened my search and again found nothing. Perplexed, I emailed our oldest son. Had he dropped in while we were all at work? His answer…a definite no.

Over the next few nights, still fixated on the missing chocolate bar, I searched the house and quizzed my family. But they stuck to the sleepwalking story.

The following Thursday, I headed downstairs for potatoes and opened the cold room door. A mousetrap, along with a poor dead mouse, was on the floor between me and the potatoes.

I closed the door and went back upstairs to cook rice.

Later, my man and boy confessed they’d conspired to keep silent to protect me from myself. They knew me well enough to know that a mouse in the house would bring out my latent crazy gene. If I’d known about the mouse, I’d have had them tearing apart the house until they found the poor frightened creature.

Instead, they quietly resolved the issue, setting traps and determining how the mouse gained access to the house so they could prevent it from happening again.

Has your family ever lied to you to protect you from a similar truth? Or do they man-up, tell you the facts, then live with your craziness?

(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)

The Gift of Sight

My mother has macular degeneration, a medical condition which results in the loss of vision at the center of the eye. Eventually it spreads outward and causes blindness. This condition makes it difficult or impossible for her to recognize faces and read the newspaper. Although she still has enough peripheral vision to allow her to perform the daily activities in her life, there are many other limitations.

She cannot drive, nor can she check her grocery bill to ensure the charges are correct. If she uses magnification, she can read the headlines in the newspaper, but she is unable to read the tiny print in the article. Needless to say, when my dad was alive, we would often find him at the kitchen counter with her, reading the ingredients of a recipe out loud, and helping her get the right measurement in the cup. Gosh, they made such a cute couple, the memory makes me smile. 🙂

During mom’s annual visit to the eye specialist, she asked him if removal of cataracts would help her vision. The doctor thought it might and immediately set up an appointment with another doctor to have the procedure done.

As the day of the surgery approached, my mother started to get nervous. She’d heard that cataract surgery could worsen the macular condition. Since she already had one eye on the verge of being declared legally blind, and the doctor was going to start with her good eye, she feared she could come out of the procedure not being able to see at all.

The surgery was performed on March 16th, the day of her 84th birthday. Mom left the hospital with cloudy vision, then fretted for the rest of the day that the cloudiness would remain, leaving her worse off than she was before. The next morning, we went to the doctor for a checkup and he reassured us that the cloudiness would pass.

That afternoon, as we prepared food for a small family gathering to celebrate her birthday, mom asked me to read the wrapping on a package of ham because she wanted to know if it was smoked. As I silently scanned the label, she started to read the ingredients out loud.

It was a miracle. She read the package ingredients, the numbers and words around the stove dials, then brought out the cookbook to see if she could read it, too. And she could. She immediately called her sister to share the good news. When I called her the next day, she had been sitting on the couch with her magnifying glass, reading the articles in the local paper.

I never would have expected the removal of a cataract to give my mom the gift of sight, but it did. Now she can’t wait to have her other eye done.

Do you know someone who might benefit from this information? If so, please pass this story along.

For more information on macular degeneration, click here.

(Originally published at Women Unplugged.)

The Beauty Within

On Friday, February 10th, August McLaughlin is hosting the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. Make sure you stop by her blog. There are prizes to be won, but even more important, you can read inspirational stories about women and men. Tales about beauty, not on the outside, but on the inside where it counts the most.

My mother was a knockout. She didn’t have to work at it. In fact, to this day, she’s one of the least vain women I know. My dad carried this picture of her around in his wallet until the day he died. He would often pull it out, show it to others, and brag about the amazing woman he’d married.

Beside my mother and two younger sisters, I felt like a giant, tall and awkward and gangly. I slouched to hide my height. I hid in the background of pictures to hide my ugliness. I often imagined I was adopted into the family because I didn’t look like I belonged.

It was years later that I realized I’d taken after my dad’s side of the family. The women there were tall and stocky. They had meat on their bones and calves that weren’t small and delicate. But they were sweet and kind and loving.

My mother is now 83, has shrunk, and barely comes up to my shoulder. My sisters are still smaller than me. But I’m no longer that awkward, ugly teen. I’ve grown into myself, and learned that generosity of spirit is far more important than looking like the supermodel I once wished to be.

The greatest gift you can give to yourself is acceptance. Be comfortable within. Be sweet and kind and loving, and you will always be beautiful to me.

Do you have a story to share? On Friday, make sure you stop by August McLaughlin’s blog for the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. I’ll see you there. 🙂

PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER …. REDIRECT

I interrupt my writing time to take my 92 year old father-in-law (FIL) and 83 year old mother-in-law (MIL) shopping. My FIL uses a walker and shuffles at a snail’s pace. My MIL moves almost as slow.

I must constantly remind myself Patience, Grasshopper, for one day you will need assistance, too.

We start at the bank, where my FIL and I chat in the car until my MIL returns. Then we drive to the health food store and wait some more. Every time I have to help one of them in and out of the vehicle, it’s pure agony. We’ve only been gone an hour, and we still haven’t reached our main destination.

At Wal-Mart, I park beside the front entrance so my in-laws won’t have so far to walk. I almost – almost – leave the car running and the keys in the ignition. At the very last moment, something tells me to grab the keys and I pocket them. By the time I get around to the passenger side, my FIL has locked himself in the vehicle and can’t figure out how to get out.

After unloading my passengers, I park the vehicle and hurry inside. My MIL is watching for me and the moment she sees me, she races off at a surprisingly fast clip. My FIL decides this is the perfect opportunity to do his own grocery shopping. Soon my arms are filled with cereal and wagon wheels and bananas and bread.

I find a cart and dump the groceries in, but by now my FIL misses his wife. We spot her snow white hair on the opposite side of the store and we start our long journey toward her – shuffling forward inch by inch. Half way to our destination, my MIL disappears up an aisle. By the time we reach the spot where we’ve last seen her, she’s gone.

We search the aisles and finally find her, only to have her race off again. By the time we’ve made a complete circle around the store, we’re both exhausted and agree that it’s time to sit down at the nearby fast food joint.

But the moment we have our coffee and juice in hand, my MIL appears. Strangely, the items in her cart are not bagged, but since she’s headed off to buy herself a coffee, I assume she’s finished shopping and has run her items through the cash register.

We finish our refreshments, which means I’m nearly home-free, and now all we have left is one quick stop at the pharmacy. Then my MIL remembers a few more items she has to pick up. And oh yeah, she still needs to pay for her purchases.

It takes us three and a half hours to do what would normally take me less than an hour. I smile, silently thank my Dad for sharing his patience gene with me, and sit back to wait.

Three and a half precious hours. As far as time goes, it’s a drop in the bucket of my life. My in-laws won’t be here forever. I remind myself Patience, Grasshopper, for one day you will need assistance, too.

(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)

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