Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Ties That Bind Us



I get so many lovely messages daily from my friends asking me how I'm doing, really? And my answer the majority of the time is almost always the same, I'm fine. Really. But I have to admit if you asked me last Saturday, my answer would not have been fine, it would have been cranky. Actually pouty would have been a more accurate answer. I was pouty because I was here instead of being in Petawawa with my friends. When I said I was massively disappointed I had to postpone my trip I wasn't kidding. I was so looking forward to spending the weekend with my friends... countless cups of coffee, a G&T (or two, okay maybe three but no more, I swear I'm still nursing a hangover from New Year's Eve), lots of laughs and many hugs. On Saturday when I should have been flying to Ottawa, I was once again driving to Wolfville to try to sort out the never ending house building saga. And I wasn't happy.

If you have been following the progress (or lack there of) of my house you know it has been riddled with complications and delays almost from the get go. And for the most part I have taken it all in stride and dealt with it with a patience I never knew I had. But I can tell you by the end of last week I'd just about had it up to the roots of my slightly greying (I must make a hair appointment) curls with the whole damn thing. I was so not in the mood to deal with any more issues. 

And then I met the insulator John, and his Missus. I could feel my mood lighten as soon as I started talking to him. He was easy to talk to and I liked him right away. We commiserated about my builders (not surprisingly), we talked about the house, we talked about the weather.  And then he asked me how I was doing, really? He was genuinely concerned. And I was genuinely surprised because I hadn't told him why I had moved home. It turns out my brother had stopped by earlier and filled him in. As I was getting ready to leave John decided (after clearing it with the Missus of course) he was going to work for most of the day Sunday. I immediately offered to bring them coffee (it was the least I could do) in the morning, which surprised both of them. Nobody ever brings them coffee. 

I was there bright and early Sunday morning and by early I mean 9:30 am, coffee in hand. They had clearly been there working for hours. In fact they'd been there since 6 am. They'd left home at 4:30 am and driven an hour and half on a Sunday morning to work on my house. My house. I asked him why on earth he would do that. "Simple. You're living in limbo, you can't move forward with your life like that. You need your house finished so you and your kids can have your home back, I'm not going to be the hold up." Wow. What do you say to that?

As I was leaving he asked me if I missed my military family.  And then I knew what should have been so obvious all along. Why I'd found him so easy to talk to. Why he got up at o'dark thirty to come work on my house. John was retired from the forces, he had served for 20 years. "We're a family, doesn't matter when we served. We're family and family takes care of there own."  So very true.

I brought coffee to John and the Missus (and no I never did get her name though I asked) every morning this week, and I  talked to them while they worked. It turns out I'm the first owner they have ever met in 30 years. How crazy is that? He filled me in on all things insulation (for the love of God people, stop ruining your own houses by putting nails in the walls, it drives insulators crazy). We talked a lot about life in the military. The more it changes, the more it stays the same.  And because I really can't make this stuff up, we discovered he'd served in the Black Watch with my Uncle.

I invited them to come back for coffee the next time they are working in the area. John was quite choked up by that. They've never seen one of the houses they've insulated finished. I hope they come. But shit, I'm really going to have to figure out how to hang everything up without nails or I'll be in big trouble. They finished up this morning. I promised him I'd take care of myself, though he told me he knew I'd be fine "because I was a tough cookie." What a charmer. And then he hugged me goodbye. And while it wasn't the hug I was hoping for this week, it turns out it was just the hug I needed. 

My new friend John is right. We are all part of the same military family, no matter when we served, no matter where we served. The ties that bind us really are stronger than we realize sometimes. And it doesn't matter whether we are in Wolfville (ugh Canning), Petawawa, Fort Sill, Oklahoma or half way around the world, those ties are never broken. And this week I was lucky enough to have a 70 year old chatterbox on stilts to remind me of that.


“The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine, or than any one can who has not felt how roughly they may be pulled without breaking.” ~Anne Brontë
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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Rocking Chair


You know what they say... Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.  (Actually Glenn Turner said it, I looked it up).  Fortunately I don't own a rocking chair, but I may occasionally worry. 

A friend recently suggested that I really should try to worry a bit less. I've been thinking about that a lot, and he's right, but only partially (so there). In this case I was worrying about him and Connor and Sarah all having t0 travel in bad weather on the same day, seriously my nerves. I wasn't neurotic, pacing the floor worrying, it was more the kind where you are relieved when they are all safe and sound where they are supposed to be. I actually think this kind of worrying is pretty natural, and it's something I've always done, even before the accident.  I like all of my people to be safe.  

But he got me thinking about worrying, and I have to admit I was surprised when I took stock of all of the things I have worried about (and not worried about) in the last few months. It turns out that I really haven't spent a lot of time worrying about the big things.  I don't worry about my seemingly never ending house building saga (that annoys me but it doesn't worry me and merits a blog post all of it's very own), I don't worry about bills (trust me I know I'm very fortunate in this one, I've been on the other side of that coin), and I actually don't worry about the future. The future will be what it will be, so I don't waste time worrying in advance.

 Some of the things I worry about are things everybody worries about. I worry about my kids, but that's my job. I worry that I'm not the best parent I should be or can be. And some things I say I worry about but don't really. I worry that I talk to much (Ha, that would never happen). I worry I drive my friends crazy (but they are used to me and really they don't HAVE to talk to me. Gluttons for punishment I say). 

What did surprise me was how much I've worried about what other people think of me. And that surprised me because it's not something I've really worried about before. When I stopped to think about it, I realized it's understandable I've felt that way.  We actually live in a very judgemental society. But I never knew how judgemental people (and by this I don't literally mean all people) are of widows until I became one. Think about it and you'll know it's true. We've all heard it. The whispers about the Merry Widow who laughed too much at her husband's funeral.  Or the woman who God forbid went on a date after only six months. Six months, just imagine! Harlot! The woman who spent too much of her "husband's" money on clothes or jewellery. She went on a vacation where? And with who? OMG! The one who got remarried "only" a year and a half after her husband died. What was she thinking? 
No freaking wonder I've wanted to take up smoking. And no wonder I worried so much about taking off my wedding rings. 

The wedding ring dilemma is one I know my widowed (and divorced) friends totally understand.  Taking off your wedding rings is a big step. Some take them off soon after they are widowed, some leave them on for years. I took mine off in the fall, and put them back on again because I was worried what people would think. I wore them because I felt like I should.  And then I realized how utterly ridiculous that was. Because Dan never ever wore his (which for the record drove me crazy). In fact, I guarantee you he didn't even know where it was. 

It actually took me a couple of days to find it, which involved a complicated process of thinking like he did,  and when I eventually found it, it made perfect sense. In Dan thinking, not in regular thinking. It was in the letterbox on the desk in our front hall, in case you were wondering. Because that is where one naturally would keep their wedding ring, with the envelopes and stamps. Naturally, if they were Dan. 

I'm pretty sure if the roles were reversed nobody would expect him to suddenly start wearing his wedding ring or judge him for it. So I took mine off for the last time, and left them off.  In the end it was pretty simple. I can't move forward with my life if I'm still wearing my wedding rings.  They represent a chapter of my life that is now over. It was a great chapter, but it's time for a new chapter.

 I'm moving forward with my life the only way I know how, the way that works for me. I don't always get it right, but you know what that's okay. Nobody ever gets it right all the time. I don't think I'm doing anything extraordinary nor am I really that amazing (thanks for saying it though, you guys are really sweet).  I'm just being myself. There are always going to be a few people waiting for me to fall on my face (you wouldn't believe some of the things people have said to me). Some people really are just assholes (yes I said that out loud, it seems to be a thing I do lately), and they always will be. And I really shouldn't worry about what they think.

 So one of my new goals for the year is to worry less about what people who don't matter think of me. In fact, I'm going to try to spend less time worrying in general. Except for worrying about my people. Because that's a promise I know I'll never keep. I will always be concerned about the people I care about. So you might as well get used to it. 

And in case you were wondering. ..I  did buy a new wardrobe, but no jewellery. I have bought some new furniture for the new never going to be finished house (but don't worry, I haven't bought a rocking chair).  No dates yet.  Oh, and I actually did plan a crazy trip. I was supposed to go to Petawawa (yes Petawawa in January, I told you it was crazy) this weekend but had to postpone. I'm actually massively disappointed. There's irony for you. Which is probably a subject for another post.

"Worry bankrupts the spirit".~Terri Guillemets

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