Happy Birthday to my sister, Karen! =)

Karen

Happy Birthday, Karen. Today’s post is dedicated to you! That is my amazing sister Karen in the picture above and our Mother’s arm is around her.

I am so thankful to have my sister back in my life that I really need to celebrate her birthday today. As luck would have it this post (due to my new schedule of posting every third day) lands on August 31st, her birthday.

Since you awesome people that read my blog do not know us I need to explain a few things so you can understand why I am so happy and excited to be able to celebrate with Karen today.

For many years my sister and I never really talked. She knew I was here and I knew she was there but there was no love lost between us.

This was due to misunderstandings and hurt feelings growing up together. These things kept us at a distance from each other even though we shared a bedroom for our formative years.

We have since been able to have long conversations on the phone and work through those misunderstandings and hurts. I am pleased to say that now I share a beautiful and deep bond with her that at one time I never thought would be possible.

I still remember the various decoration styles that the bedroom walls went through over the years. I remember a massive field of yellow flowers on a white background to go along with our bright yellow, orange and white striped bedspreads when we were younger.

I may have a picture of that somewhere still. Happy Harry was on the bed…my yellow stuffed dog with long black ears. Do you remember him Karen?

Then I think it went to a dark chocolate  color on the trim and mint green color on the walls as we got older and more sophisticated. I really liked that one…made me feel like I was staying in a mint Oreo cookie. LOL

I remember the windows on each side of  the  one corner and that Dad made our beds each one on top of a set of drawers. The beds were joined at the head by a desk he built between them so we could study.

I must have had the worlds best-tanned eyelids since Karen was always studying and I tried to sleep with the light on. LOL She is two years and almost three months older than me and I am so proud of her for all she has accompished in her life so far.

I’m not sure if you remember this Karen, but when we were younger, and sharing that bedroom, Mom would come in late at night while we were sleeping to put our clothes away in the closet.

Mom told me once (a very long time ago now) that she would catch us talking back and forth in our sleep! What is really crazy is the fact that we made sense…you would say something, I would respond and vice versa.

Looking back now it saddens me to think of all the years we have lost.I am just so happy and excited to know that we won’t be losing any more time and have been able to reconnect, to get back the relationship that we should have had all along.

I hope I have not embarrassed you, Karen, by writing all this, but I want you to know I wish you a very happy birthday today. May this be your best year yet and may all your dreams come true. You are smart, beautiful and  the best sister a person could ask for. I love you. =)

 

 

Advertisements

I Would Like To Issue A Retraction

A Retraction...Sort Of!

Okay, so I spoke too soon. In my last post, I claimed summer was over and fall was pretty much here. It seems I spoke in haste and there is more hot weather in store for us. The swimming pool is not closed yet. I have taken the heavier blanket back off of our bed.

Long live SUMMER! 🙂

In my own defense, we did have some rather cool days after sweating to death and the stark difference between the two states threw me into a panic. I mistakenly claimed the sky was falling…it is not, however, and I needed to correct that here on my blog.

I was talking to my sister on the phone and her feeling was one of incredulous disbelief when she read my last post. According to her, they are the farthest thing from the end of summer down where they live.

Are you happy now Karen? LOL, I am writing a retraction of my doom and gloom fall is coming post. I must admit that the weather has once again turned hot and humid. We are once again finding ourselves with  daytime temperatures in the mid to high 20s.

I do stand by all that I said in my previous post but my error was that I said it too soon. It is not often that I reverse my position on a matter, as I am doing now, so enjoy it while you can. 😉

We have had quite a few rainy days and thunderstorms lately and the nights are now cooler so the leaves on the trees will begin changing soon if they haven’t started already. The days have been sun and cloud as well as straight sunny for the most part.

Fall is coming, as I stated in my previous post, officially September 22nd this year. So, that being said summer is still alive and kicking… for now. Hooray, as you can tell, I am once again a happy camper. 🙂

While I was talking to my sister she mentioned that the bold on my font came across rather strongly in the emails she receives so I have reduced that now to regular font. I hope that has made it easier to read Karen.

I do appreciate the feedback and that goes for anyone who reads my blog. If something is not quite working for you please let me know and I will endevour to fix the problem. I do not see my posts via email so I would not have known. So, thank you Karen for your valuable input.

 

 

Two Heads Are Better Than One

articulated-male-818202_960_720

Have you ever heard of that saying up there? Yes, the title of this post, that saying. It is true, you know, two heads are often better than one and sometimes more than two heads are ideal. I am talking about all kinds of situations where you really do need more input or information than what is rattling around in your own brain.

There are times in this life where another person’s viewpoint has value like when you are struggling with a decision or trying to figure out how to handle a situation. Those other heads I am talking about can be the ones on all kinds of people. They can be close to you such as family or friends or they could be from a much broader sampling of people like a poll on the internet, or they could be a professional such as a therapist, doctor or psychiatrist.

Sometimes you don’t require an answer from them at all. Sometimes you just need a sounding board, hearing yourself tell someone the problem you’re facing is often enough to allow you to work out the solution for yourself. Again, that could be anyone from a close friend you can trust and confide in to a professional therapist who can give you the guidance you need at that moment or in that situation.

You must carefully consider who to seek out when you want to share something that is troubling you. Is the problem benign, like trying to decide on what to have for dinner? A friend or dinner companion is the perfect choice to consult for this type of problem. If the problem is of a more emotional and heavy sort, like trying to figure out how to go on when you lose a significant relationship or if you are having a hard time dealing with the death of someone close to you…well, for that you really should seek professional counsel. Your friends may be too close to the situation or not know what to say, how to best help you.

Recently I had the honor of helping my sister figure out a certain problem. Let me tell you, it is very satisfying when you can help someone put their mind at ease and make a decision that they feel good about. Most of this post has been from the viewpoint of being the person with the issue but I wanted to show this process from the other side as well. If you can be one of those other heads that someone needs be it a sounding board or fellow brainstormer it is indeed an honor. It means they value your opinion and feel open enough to share their dilemma with you. Never be afraid to suggest seeking out a professional if you feel unequipped to deal with what they are telling you. This can be life saving, life altering advice when it is necessary.

Thanks for visiting my blog my friends. I value each and every one of your heads and would love to hear what you are thinking. Please feel free to leave a comment or question for me. I try to get to each and every one I receive. If you know someone who needs to see this please share it with them. Thanks as well to my sister, Karen, for suggesting I write a post on this subject…turns out I had a lot to say about it after all. LOL =)

Happy Birthday Mom =)

Mom on her 80th birthday

 

I am proud to say that the wonderful, beautiful, woman pictured above is my mother. Cheers Mom! In the picture, she is celebrating her special day with a chocolate martini….mmmm. Yesterday was her birthday and I so wish I could have been with her to celebrate this milestone birthday. I had to settle for a card and a phone call to let her know how I feel about her. My sister, who lives with Mom, is seeing to it that she is celebrating not only on her birthday but the whole week. So thank you, Karen, for that. I am glad you are able to pamper Mom like she deserves.

As I mentioned this year is a milestone for her…drumroll please, she turned 80 years old yesterday. I know, right, she doesn’t look like she is that old! I really hope that those genes passed down to me and I look as great as she does when I get to be that age. Heck, I just hope I get to be 80.  My Mom is following my blog so I know she is reading this too and I want to say I hope this coming year is your best yet Mom.

My Mom has spent her entire life focussing on doing so much for others and I would like to see her be as kind and thoughtful to herself as she is to everyone else.   My Mom used to be the secretary at the schools I attended when I grew up and it was comforting to know that she was right there. When I became a mother myself, my two sons were lucky enough to have the best Grandma ever. They wanted for nothing and made lots of great memories every time they saw her. I am so glad my sons had the chance to spend time with both of my parents and my sister.

This post is going to be shorter than usual but I just wanted to let everybody know how much of a treasure my Mom is. Thanks for stopping by to read my blog again folks, I do appreciate it. If you would like to leave a question or comment below, please do. I try to get to each and every response I get. Have a wonderful day/night…whatever it happens to be when you read this. =)

Remembering Dad

 

Dad on the back deck in Grafton

 

 

Ross Gordon MacKenzie Hume

April 5, 1932 – November 24, 2013

 

The day was warm and sunny with a slight breeze as we set up the tables and chairs along with the displays of Dad’s work and accomplishments. Mom (Gerri), my sister (Karen) and I were getting ready to welcome friends to the house for an afternoon of sharing stories and remembering Dad. Our brother Gord was notably absent. He was supposed to be coming from his home down east but at the last minute decided not to grace us with his presence. He had gotten upset over things that were Dad’s that he thought were his by right. There were miscommunications and assumptions made and although he swears to have been so close to Dad and missed him so much he chose not to come and honor the man that was our father.

We ignored Gord’s absence, choosing to celebrate Dad. To that end, only the food and beverages Dad loved were provided to our guests. Known to one and all as a man who scorned salads as rabbit food and who ran from the house at the smell of pizza, no one was surprised when the dining room table held only ham sandwiches, sausage rolls, butter tarts, and candies; the drink cart only tea, coffee, flat Coke, rye and Drambuie. An iPod of his favorite songs played gently in the background; Nana Mouskouri, Kris Kristofferson, several favorite Scottish tunes done by various artists to name a few.

We had lost Dad to vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s on November 24th, 2013 but we were only now gathering to honor him on June 1st, 2014. My mother, Gerri, did not want us all traveling in the bad weather and so close to Christmas for such a sad occasion. I think my Dad would have felt the same way. Still, it had been a long hard road for me from the phone call telling me he had passed away in his sleep back in November just three days after my birthday to early June. No funeral, no ceremony to mark his passing, no closure. Dad had been cremated and there was no formal funeral planned as he would not have liked that either. Mom had planted a mature blue spruce tree on the property with a view to the pond and house. Here, Mom, Karen and I spread Dad’s ashes in a private ceremony the night before the celebration, just the three Hume women saying goodbye. Here I found the closure I so desperately needed and a closer bond with my mother and sister. Dad said that the property was the most beautiful place on earth; it’s rolling hills reminded him of Scotland where he spent his childhood. It is only fitting then that he be part of that beauty for eternity.

June was not so much a memorial as a celebration of his life. That would have made Dad happy – people gathering to talk about his storytelling abilities, wicked sense of humor, and most especially his brilliance and his gritty determination. Dad invented and patented his two-wheeled solar powered car, struggling mightily although unsuccessfully to get it to market before dementia took over. Dad was a smart man, he thrived on complex projects and finding the correct and perfect solution for each one. This man was not afraid of hard work or of using his brain to figure things out, learn new things and master them. In his lifetime he was a master electrician; a Vice President of Engineering even though he’d been too poor to go to university and become an engineer; a millwright, real estate salesman, owner of several small businesses and, above all, an inventor. I remember the wall in his den being covered with plaques and certificates. That is why it hit me so hard when Mom called to tell me that Dad had dementia.

Dad had battled many health problems over the years. A heart attack when he was 51 then many years later blockages in his arteries that resulted in a triple bypass operation. Although bypass surgery is known to give the patient a new lease on life, for my dad it was too late. A number of mini-strokes had already caused vascular dementia that only worsened after surgery. For a man who spent literally thousands of hours at the computer perfecting his inventions, the dementia was particularly cruel, taking away his vision not because he couldn’t see clearly but because his brain no longer knew how to interpret the signals it was receiving. Dad simply bought more powerful magnifying glasses and worked harder. He let nothing hold him back from doing what he wanted to do.

I wasn’t there for some of what I’ve reported. I missed a lot of years with my family that I will never get back but life takes you places that you don’t expect and sometimes there are lessons to be learned before you can reconnect and actually form a stronger connection than would have been possible otherwise. You see, I live about five hours away in a northern Ontario city and could not make it home often to visit. Special occasions like Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary and a family reunion were the exceptions and I had found a way to be there to reconnect with relatives and friends and to celebrate my parents. I am thankful that before Dad descended into the foggy abyss that is dementia, I was able to repair my relationship with him and enjoy many phone conversations.

Then the phone calls ended. Dad no longer knew who I was and became harder to look after at home. He became paranoid and aggressive; he would wander down the road or out by the pond. Finally, a spot was found at a local extended care home where caring and trained staff could look after Dad 24/7 and relieve the stress and weariness that had become my Mom and sister’s existence. For two years and nine months, to the day, Mom and Karen would visit him in the home. I kept in contact through phone calls and was told of the falls he took, the flu he was exposed to; the laughter and sadness inspired by their visits. My parents were married for 57 years; an achievement I’d long admired and hoped to emulate. How heartbreaking it must have been for my mother to see Dad become a shell of his former self. I am told I should be thankful I don’t remember him in that state, and I am.

I remember a strong, smart man from whom I always sought validation and acceptance…all little girls do that with their fathers, right? I remember a man who could not say the words, “I love you.” The only boy in his family, Dad became an adult at an early age when his father died and he took care of his mother and sisters. I don’t think he heard “I love you” enough when he was growing up, but by his actions Mom and the three of us kids knew that we had his love. He proved it daily by working hard to provide for us, by being there for us when there were problems, by giving his best to us in ways other than those three words. There was a rough patch in my life where I battled with depression and a suicide attempt all while being married to an abusive man. My dad was there for me through it all. He came to the hospital and visited me in the psychiatric hospital and took me for a weekend pass.

As an adult, I repeatedly told my father that I loved him. He would look at me silently and then tell me, “Look, you know I can’t say that Sue.” I would tell him that I know but that doesn’t stop me from saying it. I am so glad Dad knew how I felt about him. It was so important to me that he know.

What a complicated and intricate man my father was but, I would not change a thing. It was all part of who he was and I miss him. Dad’s attitude to life was “Que Sera Sera….what will be, will be.” He said that right before his bypass surgery when I asked him how he could not be scared about what was going to happen. Dad said he believed in taking life as it comes; that there is no sense being scared or struggling against what is; your job is to handle what life hands you as best you can.

I do worry about the future. Is there a gene that was passed on to me, to my sons? Will I eventually lose my mind to dementia? Scary prospects to be sure but all I can focus on right now is to stay as healthy as possible and watch for signs. Ah, the future, I think of all Dad will miss now that my son James and his wife Crystal are about to welcome their first child into the world. It saddens me to think that Dad will never meet his first great grandson, that Mom will have that honor all by herself. But Mom won’t be alone in keeping Dad’s memory alive. We will all be telling the new baby stories about his great grandfather in the years to come. Dad will not be forgotten.

I wrote this article for a chance to have it printed in Chatelaine magazine but it was never published, until now on my blog. I want to acknowledge and thank my sister, Karen, for proofreading my writing and offering suggestions on the wording as well as clarifying some details for me. 

Update Since My Last Blog Post

Laptop [Converted]

Sorry for the delay in making this entry folks life became a little busy for me and other things took precedence. I am pleased to report that the laptop I was working on is done and back in the hands of its very grateful owner. It went back to my customer the day after my last entry as a matter of fact. I uninstalled a lot of bloatware (trial programs that computer manufacturers routinely install on their new computers in order to look like they are giving you a lot). I detest bloatware. If you are going to load programs on my computer then be fair and give me full programs at least….sheesh!! Anyway, I also installed AVG Free Antivirus and then set it up to do a thorough scan of the entire computer. An hour or so later the report came back with an astounding 44 warnings of Trojans, viruses, malware and other nasty stuff. No wonder this laptop was in a bad way. I checked the details on most of these and most were of medium severity but WOW…one was a really nasty, dangerous one…in fact AVG warned that it could not be removed or healed. This, in the end, proved to not be true…I just had to assist with its removal. It took a series of a scan, remove, scan again, remove some more and carefully uninstalling various toolbars and unwanted programs to get the computer back in shape. I thought at one point I would have to Fdisk, format and reload the computer but the problem was that my customer relied on using Skype to keep in touch with family overseas. Now, she is not computer savvy in the least and when asked about the sign in information for Skype I got a blank stare – the person who set it up for her was her sister in Italy when she was visiting last. OK…so now I must find a workaround. I did not want to leave her without Skype which was vital to her.  The end result, I was able to completely clean the viruses, Trojans and malware out of the computer, remove the bloatware and stop all unwanted programs from spamming her with pop-ups. I was able to work with her ISP by providing all security details to them and was able to reset her email password once the machine was clean. This being done, I then set up a shortcut on her desktop that would sign into her email automatically (Chrome browser will remember your passwords if you give it approval in the settings). I also wrote the new password down and told her to put it in a safe place. She was so happy that instead of the $60. I asked for my services she gave me $70. =) Nice!!!

The weather has been annoying, to say the least. First we had snow and a fair amount of it…then it rained overnight and all the next day leaving grass showing in the backyard, then it froze…now it is back to snow. I really wish Mother Nature would stay on her meds and decide to be spring, summer, fall or winter not all of them at once. Gawd!!

My sister has a horrible head cold and a touch of the flu and my mother has bronchial pneumonia (a fairly serious case of it at that – she is 79). Luckily my sister and our mother live together but unfortunately, they live far away and I can not go help them with both of them being sick. That worries me but I keep in touch with them via phone and email so at least, there is a connection there and that feels good. Last time I talked to my sister they were both on the mend thank goodness.

I am hoping life can get back to a normal pace for a while…I so need that. I think I am beginning to get sick. There has been a lot of nose blowing for me today and I feel achy…  I will try to be a little more consistent with my blog entries my friends. Thank you for sticking with me and poking your head in the door every now and then to see how I am doing. I really do appreciate your support and your patience with me as I begin adding this regular blog posting to my routine. Until next time – be good to each other, please. Always be kind to the people you meet – you never know what battles people are facing and you might be the only bright spot in their lives.