Away From Home


There we were, two of the most anxious females I know, going to a strange city by Greyhound.  Whatever gave me the idea that this was a GOOD idea?  Well mainly it was because Carly and I were going to spend some good quality time together.

My son was driving us to the bus depot and I was feeling pretty calm until we were almost there.  Then my mind started racing with questions.  What do we do?  Where do we go?  We started off doing what we thought was the right thing.  We went to the counter at the depot and told the guy (who turned out to be our driver) that we were going to Edmonton and what do we do?  He looked at our tickets and, very kindly, told us we would be departing at Gate 1 at 6:45.  We found seats nearby and waited impatiently.  It got later and later and Carly was coming up with more and more dire scenarios (What if we don’t sit together?  Why did I have to read about Tim McLean? What if people smell bad?)  then finally we saw the bus arrive and security being set up.  We were about 5th in line and finally got to the security table when we noticed we were the only ones without any tags on  our luggage.

Now, remember, we did go to the counter and no one said anything about tags.  We had to go back to the nice man and tell him we needed them. There was a lineup there too and only 2 people on duty.  One staff member was being held up by a guy who was trying to say his 3 bags were all carry-on’s and the bag that weighs 100 lbs. is free.  That was not true and vigorous arguments ensued.  We finally got to the nice man and he apologized for his mistake and even let me take my heavy carry-on with me.  By this time there was no line at security.

Security checked my bags and waved the wand over me.  Then Carly.  Good, nothing was pierced on her that I don’t know about.

The thing about the motor coach I noticed the most was the smells that made their way to me throughout the trip to Edmonton.  The first half hour I smelled vomit.  The guy across the aisle kept belching really loud and they were quite stinky too.  As were his farts.  Then I thought everyone was drinking on the bus because someone would walk by me and I would smell alcohol.  Turns out it was the hand sanitizer from the bathroom.  Good for them for being so clean.  At least I knew they washed their hands after they did their business.

The smell that started half way there and never really went away came from a cup of coffee that a woman behind me spilled which proceeded to go downhill where Carly’s backpack was directly in its path.  Carly was already so stressed out at this point she went over the edge for a bit.  She cried over her Vans backpack and her new toiletries bag inside, now reeking of and dripping with coffee.  The lady felt so bad and mopped up everything with toilet paper.  Then there wasn’t any TP for the bathroom.  Finally the driver found some.  Whew.

feetMy legs and feet swelled up so much it was ridiculous.  I have a history of blood clots and made sure I walked around whenever we had a stop.  My feet hurt so much throughout the trip.  The swelling never really went away.

When we got there, after 18 hours on the bus and with barely any sleep, we still went shopping.  I could barely walk and would send Carly into a store while I would find a bench to sit on and rest. I had to buy a sweater because it wasn’t summer in Edmonton.  Fall weather had hit and I was in shorts and tank tops.  I was miserly with money and was so glad to find a pretty good one for only $10.  Carly must have spent over $300 the first day.   Her money not mine.

I slept so good that night and was out like a light before 9 pm.  I loved the pillows.  Our hotel was nicer than I expected.  I used booking.com and found a pretty good deal.  I give it 3-4 stars.

We hit so many stores.  There were so many people, especially on Saturday.  It was almost impossible to get through some of the aisles as they were clogged with crazy shoppers.

Saturday at the Mall!

Saturday at the Mall!

Friday was my birthday and another day of shopping was planned.  I got some great deals just telling people it was my birthday.  My new fella had given me a card with strict instructions not to open it until my birthday and I actually obeyed.  It was one of the first things I did when I woke up.  Open it I mean.  Lo and behold it had money in it!  With more strict orders (he seems to be a little bossy) to spend it frivolously on myself.  So I bought Body Shop stuff, which I never buy because it’s too expensive.  Because it was my birthday I got free hand lotion thrown in.

Carly spoiled me rotten on my birthday.  She paid for all the meals and cabs and bought me a beautiful forever scarf which was handy on the way home in the air-conditioned bus.  She paid for more than half the food on the trip and half the cab fares.  Almost every time I looked at her she had her bank card out.  She was so patient with me and my sore feet, as long as she knew where I was.  Thank goodness for texting and cell phones.

I noticed a lot of things that makes Edmonton different from Winnipeg, besides the mall.  The noise is unbelievable and overwhelming. We had to shout to each other most of the time at the mall.  Everybody goes really fast there too.  Cars and people.  Some of the fashions I saw I haven’t seen here, at least not yet.  AND I didn’t see one butt crack when people were sitting down.  In Winnipeg you can count on seeing several in any food court, on the bus or even just walking around.  I didn’t see one and that made me happy.

Leaving Edmonton was very different then leaving Winnipeg.  For one thing there was absolutely no security check done.  This caused a whole new round of anxiety for Carly as now anyone could have a knife or a gun and cut off our heads.  No one did but even so the trip home was a nightmare.  For 20 hours we listened to a baby either screaming with misery or laughter, depending on her mood.  At least I had to listen, Carly had her iPod so she plugged into her music world and drowned it all out.  The baby rarely stopped and it was horrible.  When she did stop another would start.  There were 8 children on that bus under the age of 5.  One mom had 4.  Another mom had 2 and one of hers was the devil child who kept screaming.

This mom who had 4 children with her was amazing.  We were about to leave Edmonton when a man came running onto the bus looking for seats he said.  There weren’t that many, it was pretty full.  The driver announced that a family of 5 was coming on board at the last-minute and to be patient.  No problem.  Out the doorway I could see this tiny woman, maybe about 25 years old and 4 kids, ranging in age from 8 to 18 months, all holding something; pillows, blankets, books, bags of food.  They climbed on then the driver made ANOTHER announcement that these people had reserved seats so a lot of people had to shuffle around.   The dad then ran off the bus, yelling “love you kids!” and he was a blur going back into the depot.  The little family was in the back and we didn’t hear a peep out of them.

We had a layover in Saskatchewan and these kids totally entertained me.  They danced and sang and giggled and climbed and ran and hid.  All the while, their mother was calm, laughing along with them, getting them to settle down for only minutes at a time and not worrying too much when they started up again.  She spoke to them patiently and kindly and I could tell she does this all the time by the way the kids treated each other; the same.  She met my eyes and laughed telling me they only had 3 hours of sleep so they were really goofy.  I told her, “My dad used to say, It’s better than crying”.  She laughed more.  I could hear a little hysteria in it though.  She was so great.  She would crouch on the floor with them, rocking the youngest against her chest while talking softly to the others and feeding them apples and grapes.  How she could hold that position for so long boggled my mind.

(Carly hates my people watching.  She thinks I’m nosy.  What the heck else would I write about if I didn’t watch other people and what makes them do what they do?)

Meanwhile the other screaming kid was still screaming with the mom begging her not to cry.  The dad did nothing; he just looked mad.  I know the child was tired and they were on a long trip but it was really hard to take by hour 15 of the 20 hour trip.  By the time we got home, I wanted to kiss the ground.

We had a delay before we left Alberta.  A young woman was hanging out with some of the younger guys on the bus, taking smoke breaks with them, etc.  These young men always smelled like pot (SECURITY!).  Anyway, we made a quick stop in a small town and I walked by her where she was commenting to some of the other women (who also smoked) with some concern about how she was swelling up.  I wanted to show her my own feet but didn’t dare scare her.  We all got back on the bus and started off again when she left her seat and went to talk to the driver.  He turned around and took her to the hospital.  According to the guys she hung with, she had taken opiates and then one of the guys gave her something else which didn’t react well with her.  We had to leave her there in the middle of nowhere, hopefully in good care.

I totally had a good time although in pain. Tylenol Arthritis was my best friend.  I’m pretty proud of myself but not totally surprised I could do it.  I had to be a good mom to Carly, who was anxious a lot of the time and keep her calm from her day-mares.  Never mind the hundreds of people or the guy who wanted to give me a makeover and wouldn’t give up, even when he saw me later and practically chased me.  I handled it.  I did good.  It’s taking me a few days to recover from the overload and the swelling but I’m just about there.

I’m still not sure about social situations though.  This was very impersonal as I didn’t have to interact with many people.  Just doing this trip and knowing, even if I am anxious about it, I can breathe through it and continue on.  I don’t know what the future holds but it sure looks good from here.  Going into big crowds like that was amazing and overwhelming at the same time.  We kept it simple; using cabs to get to the mall and back.  We didn’t do any sightseeing at all.  The fear of getting lost is still too strong.

Would I do it again?  Not on a bus.  No way on a bus.  I would fly for sure.

My world just got bigger.

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Shopping…


I’m about to test the strengths I’ve learned these last few weeks/months/years.  I’ve planned a great adventure with my daughter which is totally out of my comfort zone.  One that will include a Greyhound bus full of strangers, bad food and poor sleep.  And then…

Destination:  West Edmonton Mall

We will be shopping pretty much non-stop for 3 days then head home again.  loveshoesWell, the girl will be shopping with her money, I will be the one behind her carrying her many purchases and stressing over how to save a nickel (could we have popcorn for supper?  I really don’t want those shoes.  Yes I do.  No I don’t.).

Does this trip fill me with anxiety?  Oh yes, you bet it does.  As a matter of fact today I had to drive to the airport where the bus depot is to purchase tickets and I felt so much panic as soon as I couldn’t see downtown anymore.  Will I get lost?  Will my bank card not work?  Maybe I don’t have any money.  Will my heart decide to stop beating?  Will there be an accident while I’m driving my son’s van?  Watch out for that old lady!!!!

Remember, this was just on the way to the bus station.

The original plan was for me to rent a car to get to Edmonton.  This wouldn’t work out because I don’t have a credit card and also because I would have to sell my body 541,000 times just to get the $1,000 I would need.  So Greyhound it is.  I’m relieved I’m not driving the 15 hour trip.  I would really be scared of getting horrorlost among other things too many to list here.  I’ve watched way too many movies where a car breaks down and weird-looking strangers make sure the passengers are never seen again.  The mom always gets killed first.

So once I conquer the bus and the inevitable motion sickness I’m prone to, we hit the hotel and then the mall.

The huge, incredible “mall”.   mall

 

This is bigger than anything in my city.  There aren’t just stores; there are amusement parks and restaurants and lots and lots of people.  Lots of them.

I want to do this though because this is the last year my last child is a child.  Next summer she will be an adult and making her own trips with her friends.  This way I get her all to myself for a few days with no computer in my face.  I’m really looking forward to it in spite of the gnawing in my stomach.  After all, I made it out of the bus station with a few wrong turns on the way back but made it home, unscathed, just the same.

I take heart in these small steps as they are leaps and bounds to what I could do 5 or 6 or 7 years ago.

Huge.

Like the mall.

Oy.

Better Late…


Oh I have been a bad girl, missing at least 3 posts I had committed to writing.  Things are so busy with summer and all.  I find myself getting out of the apartment just about everyday now except maybe for most weekends.

Summer is always special.  I’ve written about it before and now you can read it summeragain:  The smells (on my skin, in the air, my granddaughters’ hair), the beach when I can get there (which smells totally different by the way), walking and walking even though my knees are older than dirt and so are my hips but I still walk when I can.

I just came back from 5 days at the beach with my daughter and my sister’s family.  I also was able to bring out my oldest granddaughter for the weekend.  It was “Gamma Gamma” and some new words and lots of new dance steps as well as our old favourites.  Even the nephews got into The Wiggles!  Our little gal had lots of fun.  I miss her now.

I also met a guy about a month ago. Things are really good but I won’t jinx anything.  We will just see how it goes.  🙂

It’s been great to feel the freedom from the isolation I had for the last few years.  This getting out everyday sure opened my eyes to my city.  Buses are still the fun buspart of the day with screaming babies, drunks who want to smell my hair and sometimes meeting up with old friends for those brief moments until whoever’s stop comes first.

I’ve been handling the death of my dad by keeping very busy.  It’s been kind of strange helping my sister do inventory on his estate and seeing some things for the first time and yet see the things he used every day too.  I love how he and my mom are now both in my dreams at night.

I still smoke in my dreams every night too.  Crazy.

One thing I am happy to say is we found my missing sister!  Alive and as well as she can possibly be and in touch with another family member.  Such a relief when I found out.  I was in tears knowing she still walked this earth even though her demons are still chasing her.  I don’t think I will ever see her again as it would be too difficult for her but having some contact through another trusted person makes it okay.

All that weight I lost is slowly coming back and Dr. G wants blood work done before I have my next appointment.  Fasting blood work.  Meanie.  He’s glad I seemed to have met a really nice man and also finally made my connection with a mental health worker.

Not that the new guy is my mental health worker.

Oh no, now that’s just confusing.

Dr. G is so pleased with my progress these last few months.  I do feel so much better with more positive things in my life.  These help me handle the negatives going on.

So I hope to get another post in during the next couple of days.  See you in my dreams!

 

Where Did You Go?


I have a sister who has been absent from the family for several years.  No one has heard from her for a very long time.

My sister has schizophrenia.

Since my Dad died a month ago my family has been hoping she will show up or call.  She hasn’t made any contact and my younger sister has gone to extraordinary lengths to locate her, short of hiring a private detective.

It amazes me how someone can disappear like that.  No Manitoba Health card for over 5 years so no medical treatments in that time.  She didn’t even have a card when we know she lived here for sure.

I feel so sad.  Where could she be?  I don’t want her to hide from us, to be afraid of us.

I remember going to see her at her old apartment about 3 years ago and knocking on her door and hearing her drag furniture and boxes away from her door.  After being allowed to enter, seeing her Spartan ways overwhelmed me.  She was scared, lonely and very, very ill. She couldn’t wait for me to leave and when I did, I heard all the boxes and furniture being barricaded on the other side of the door once again.

The last place she was known to live over 2 years ago the landlord said she snuck out of her apartment in the middle of the night, not taking much with her.

The fear.  I can’t know the fear she must live with every day.  All I know is the fear I have for her.  She won’t have ID so if something should have happened to her we might never find out.  No hospital stay information or death certificates would be available because no one will be able to know who she is.

This sister has become a ghost.  I know she might not want to be found but now it’s not about estates and letting her know the news about our Dad.  Now it’s about knowing she still lives, in whatever world she might find herself and hopefully still on the same earth as me.

Mental illness…another one allowed to slip through the cracks.  I can’t blame anyone for that though.  As her family we tried.  Her illness was so frightening.  I couldn’t even let my son drive her home at one time (for which he kindly volunteered) for fear of anything she might say he did or what she might do to him.  Her actions and words struck terror in my gut many times.  The medical community did their best short of locking her up for the rest of her life to make sure she took her meds. The one time she was on meds she was our sweet sister again but it didn’t last long.  Now it must have been years since she’s even seen a doctor.

I remember her when I was a very little girl.  I was very ill for the first few years of my life and still see her lovingly mothering me; taking me for walks in the carriage, scratching my back (which calmed me very much) and giving me treats.  When kids bullied me in school later on she went out and had a T-shirt made for me that said “Marie Boomer – Superstar”.  I wore that thing until the letters fell off.  It made me feel like a superstar.

I’m trying really hard to remember the wonderful sister she could be.  She left home when I was very young though and I rarely saw her until I was an adult again and her illness had progressed so much.  It’s not easy to keep the good memories alive since there are so few of them but I will.

I just hope she knows we are still here for her.

Please come home Sue…

The Search…


The search continues in my life for many things.  One of them is for love.  I keep thinking there has to be a guy out there for me somewhere.  I know I don’t need a searchman to make me feel good about myself or make my life complete or any of the other things my friends and family keep trying to pound into my head and I totally agree.  Not having a man in my life is NOT causing me great anxiety.  Just so my readers know that.

I like men.  That’s it.  I like the company of a (good) man.  I like doing things with a (good) man.  I don’t mind going alone to places and I do.  I also go out with some women friends and that’s nice too.  Male company would be great though.  I’ve had enough of just me.

I joined a different dating site this past week and was inundated with messages the first day.  Great!  The problem was I couldn’t read any because the site wanted me to pay them to read the messages!  What was the point of having a “free” site?  I don’t know.  I know I was on this site last year and it wasn’t like that then.  So what I did was pick a couple of the guys and messaged them backonline telling them of my dilemma and to email me at an email address I made just for this purpose.  Only one responded and we had a great back and forth email conversation for the last 2 days.  He said he’s been on the site for a while and has never had to pay a dime.

It’s a ridiculous way to get to know someone but, for someone my age, there aren’t many options.  Some of my family and my married, well-meaning friends and acquaintances suggest “meet someone at the grocery store” or “borrow a dog and go to the dog park” and my daughter says “Well. you don’t go anywhere!”.  Well, the men I meet at grocery stores are in there to dog pooquickly get their pork and beans and bacon to go with their beer and as for borrowing a dog, that would mean picking up their poo.  No thanks to the poo especially.

I had supper with a friend tonight who told me I was a beautiful person.  I believe that.  I know guys are looking for Barbie dolls and I have never been, nor will I ever be one.  I forget sometimes that I’m a beautiful person.  My outside is a bit worn and chubby, but I continue to grow inside and I can feel that every day. I’m stronger and more able to handle stress in my life than ever before.  I would love to share that with someone who appreciates it and would be proud to be with me.  Hopefully around a bonfire, or on the beach or on a couch watching movies.

So who knows what will happen.  I’m not in any rush and know whatever or whoever will happen will happen. Or not.  In the meantime, I’ll keep my eyes open in Aisle 4.

Ciao…

I Need Naps


This week I finally had the chance to do a decent grocery shop.  And I went with my girl, Carly.  We haven’t been shopping together in close to a year.

It seemed that I could never get the shopping quite right; Carly wanted “healthy” things.  Well, so do I but our versions of “healthy” are two different ideas.  I had to teach her about balance and budget.  Since she was complaining so much I made her come with me.

So there we were with a borrowed van at the store and a good wad of cash.  I needed prescriptions and headed to the pharmacy while sending her to the fruit and vegetable section.  While my prescriptions were getting filled we met up again and started cruising up and down the aisles. I don’t usually cruise but I had a list too.

We agreed on some things that didn’t have much to do with food.  The most challenging was a new razor.  Ours was gross already so we agreed to buy a new one.  I was checking out the ladies and Carly insisted we get a men’s razor style.  I wasn’t too sure about that until she found a weird shaped one.  She was reading the package and exclaimed “It has a battery!?”  That perked my interest and it was only $7 on sale, half price.  Carly said she didn’t think we should get it as we probably were too technically challenged to use it.  It had an attached trimmer for heaven’s sake.  That must explain the battery, right?

I ignored her and got the last 2.  She has no faith.

Then it was groceries…she read every label on every box or container of food and exclaiming in a horrified voice every time; “OMG the sodium! …the saturated fat!…the CARBS!” and would quickly put the item back on the shelf.  I would pick it back up again horrifiedand show her what we had to do to make a balanced meal.  She had to realize it was OKAY to have fat, sodium and carbs to a certain degree especially since my cart was full of fruit and veggies too.  We picked up whole grains as alternatives to what we would normally buy.  We also bought a little more organic fresh food as well.  It was all starting to come together.

I must say, shopping with her took twice as long (at least) and three times the cost.  I’m just lucky we  had the money for this trip.  I asked her if she saw how much it cost us and she said she did and was shocked at how much we have to pay to eat healthy.  I warned her that, on our normally very limited budget, this shopping trip would rarely be like this.

I’ll let you in on a little secret though…I did manage to sneak in my Cheez Whiz.  🙂

Boy, I had my exercise this week too.  I’ve been looking after my oldest granddaughter while my youngest granddaughter gets her eating habits in order.  I swear I’ve never been so tired.  It’s a really good tired though.  I go to bed before 11:00 (!!!) and get up for 8:00 am.  Amazing.  And she  has me running.  Running after her, ahead of her, beside her and with her.  In between we watch inane children shows that make me get ridiculous songs stuck in my head which have replaced the songs we played for my Dad while he was on his death-bed.  I don’t know which is worse.

We also nap.  Grandma needs her nap.IMG_0985

So a good week all around. Thank you to all who gave me their support the last couple of weeks.  I really appreciate it as it had to one of the worse times in my life.  I don’t feel as alone as I did.  I feel better being busy and productive.

Until next time….

A Room Packed With Boomers


Well another week has gone by and my Dad’s memorial service is now behind me.  So was seeing some creepy family members I could have done without but I got to see some very beloved ones as well.  Especially cousins I hardly know but love.  The plan is to get to know them better.  It was rather a unique time…a room packed with Boomers is not something you see everyday.  I just ignored the creepy ones as best as I could.

dads finalIt was a glorious day filled with stories, the wind off the lake and my Dad’s ashes scattered at his final resting place.  It was banana cream pie, conversation and hugs.  It was sadness, relief, connections and my grandbabies.  It was seeing my Dad everywhere and hardly having to look.  My Mom too.

It was having to hold in all these emotions until leaving for home and reaching a short way from the cottage and then sobbing, uncontrollably, on my daughter’s supporting shoulder.  We held each other in our borrowed vehicle and cried for the loss of a great man.  Our ride the rest of the way was filled with silence but we could hear the songs and his voice in our heads.

That man was my Dad and I’ll miss him and my Mom so much.

Today was the 70th anniversary of D-Day and I found out more about my Dad today than I ever knew before.  My eldest sister sent out an email:

He said that he was suddenly put onto the minesweeper HMCS Minus & it was very much a secret as to where they were heading.
That Canadian ship was part of the huge armada of Allied ships that assaulted the Normandy beaches in order to invade Europe.
Dad was 2nd in command of the landing craft that took troops from the Minus to Juno Beach. He said that it was heartbreaking. The seas were
very rough & a lot of the other landing craft were letting the troops off too soon. He saw lots of men drowning & struggling in the water. He said
that they made sure that they went right to the beach to let off their troops.
On one of their trips into shore the captain of their landing craft (who was standing right beside him) was shot in the head by a German sniper. His head & brains exploded all over Dad.
Dad was now in command of the landing craft that was also now damaged by German gunfire. He could not turn the landing craft around to head back to his
ship so he had to take it in backwards. When he reached the ship the captain on the deck yelled at him for coming in backwards whereupon our father told the captain to “ fuck off”.
Dad said that one of his enduring memories of June 6, 1944 was simply the huge booming noise from the guns on all of the Allied ships that were there that day.

I know he experienced much more pain than even on that day.  I’m proud of him and can’t even comprehend the horrors he faced, even during the years following the war.  The nightmares never left him and he tried so hard to not let them into his daytimes.  He did a fantastic job.

I also said goodbye to a guy I was dating for 7 months who decided he wasn’t “that into me” and broke up with me, by text, the night before my Dad’s memorial.  I sure can pick ’em!  I don’t feel a great sense of loss though.  He was obviously emotionally challenged and I’m pretty sure I was the “interim woman”.  My life certainly moves on.

Well, another week is ahead of me with plans to be with my family and some friends who have been so great helping me get though the last few weeks.

I’m looking forward to looking ahead.