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Showing posts from 2012

Metamorphosis

By Belinda

Mum made it safely through the night, and once I was up myself, I helped her through a wash and getting dressed in "real" clothes!

As she took off the pink, cotton hospital gown that she had come home in, Mum said, "I won't be wearing that any more!"

I gave her a bowl of warm soapy water to soak her feet in properly before putting on her pantyhose as I was sure she hadn't been able to do that for a while.

There was a special seat to aid in getting dressed, which I learned was called a perching stool. It was a great help as Mum could sit while semi-standing.

Once dressed, and enveloped in a spray of perfume too, I gave Mum her face cream and powder compact. She gave a little laugh and said, "Oh!" as if surprised by this perhaps forgotten ritual. Those were the final touches to Mum's toilette!

Although I longed to wash her hair, getting washed and dressed was a big enough event for the first day.

I gathered up two loads of laundry and washed…

Mum's Recovery Story Continued

By Belinda

I had arrived in England on January 29th, 2004, and found mum disheartened and depressed after a stroke in the fall of the previous year. The stroke had been followed by several gastrointestinal infections, which had sent her back to the hospital where she had remained through her 77th birthday in December; Christmas; and the whole of January. 

She knew that she had to accept the physical and neurological losses that resulted from the stroke but she seemed to be in a dark place with no hope for the future.

But a spark had come back as we began plans for her return home. On Wednesday the 4th of February, I spoke to the social worker working on her discharge, which was planned, complete with "package of care," for the following Monday. I had asked if she could come home sooner, since I was there and could support her. It didn't make sense for her to be in the hospital when she was no longer sick. It felt strange to have to ask to have our mother back from a system …

The Parcel

By Belinda

One day last week I stood in the post office, with my parcels wrapped at last, the night before. I knew that it was too late to hope that they would get to England for Christmas but I also knew that I had done my best to do, one by one, the many things that are labour intensive but which mean "Christmas" to me.

I didn't stress over them, and left the accomplishing of them in God's hands, but I did keep going until they were done. 

I don't do baking any more. I learned long ago that no one eats as much of it as I do, especially the left overs. I don't kid myself anymore that I'm doing it for others! Besides, baking flows to this house like iron filings to a magnet, and my cupboards overflow right now with other people's yummy baking.

Sending a parcel to my brother, a little surprise for him, was on my list of important things to do though. The contents were an odd assortment of items. Here is what was in it. There was a packet of six rawhide &qu…

Computer Accessories and Other Such Items

By Belinda

The day ends as it began, in the peace and quiet of my small sitting room, the clock measuring the heartbeat of the hours in between with its tireless metronome rhythm.

 We celebrated Christmas with family today; Boxing Day. 

Pete and Sue had planned to arrive with their 4 children at 10.00 but at 10.00 the phone rang and it was Pete's deep voice on the other end.

"Hello, you aren't here," I observed.

Pete laughed, "I know," he said, "the kids are sluggish. We wanted to let you know we'll be there soon."

When daughter and daughter-in-law came they were bearing platters of their baking to add to our feast: haystack cookies, shortbread, ginger cookies, sugar cookies and fudge. Our house was soon full of more sugar than an army of sugar mice.

We started the opening of gifts by attempting the orderly one at a time method, where each gift is duly admired before the next one is opened, but with 12 humans of various ages around the tree that didn…

Hosanna in the Highest!

By Belinda

I feel like a stranger! I have missed being here to chat--to share thoughts and laughter and awe. I've been down with a really bad cold--but woke up thankful this morning for returning energy and a voice that is croaking less with every minute.

I will be returning to the story of Mum's stroke, which I was part way through. Thank you for hanging in with me in my circuitous story telling. I so appreciate you being there to listen, and I promise a brief re-cap, to remind you where we were when I start again.

But tonight I'm thinking of those who are Home for the holidays; Mum is one of those and I know other blog readers also lost loved ones this year. I'm thinking of them too, knowing that our first Christmas without them we are aware of an empty place at the table; or in our bed; or a phone call we'll miss having to make. 

I spoke to Rob on Saturday, just checking in. I know that he must miss her. Oh, he is still noticing the things he doesn't have to do …

Another Friend Hits 60! Happy Birthday Dave!

By Belinda

29 years ago one of our big life transitions was happening. We had spent the past 9 years, from August 1974 to December 1983, raising our children, living in a farmhouse between Aurora and Newmarket and supporting 12 men with developmental disabilities. Paul was also working in upper management in an institution and was now helping the final few people left there, to move to the community as it closed.

It was a big transition for the people moving into the community, but my transition was from living with people as a house parent, supported by a multidisciplinary team of professionals at the institution, to moving out of the house we had shared with them, and working for the community agency that took on the care of the people we had lived with.

From mid December to early in 1984, I hired staff for the team I would manage as a program director, a role at which, for all my years of experience with people with disabilities, I was a greenhorn.  I had never led a team of people be…

Happy Birthday to Susan (December 18)

By Belinda

We gathered last Friday evening to celebrate--just a few of the people who know and love Susan; my friend, and a mother of nine; with a rapidly increasing flock of grandchildren.

All she wanted to do to celebrate her milestone birthday--60 years on December 18, was to have dinner with a few of her girlfriends--so that's what we did, we gathered at The Whistle Stop in Beeton and we just hung out for a few hours laughing and enjoying one another's company.

Susan and I have known one another for a long time; she would know exactly how long--but I just know that in 1997 we met again after being out of touch for a gap of several years, and have been very close friends for the past 15. 

"Close friends" means knowing  each other extremely well. As with spouses, so in friendship, often opposites attract. We have had our share of crazy times, when the opposite parts poked our tender spots, but mostly we fit together like puzzle pieces meant to be together, making one a…

Old So Fast, Smart So Slow

By Belinda

I was driving to a Christmas party yesterday morning. In the bright winter sunlight I stared at my hands on the steering wheel. Seriously, I thought, what has happened to these appendages at the end of my arms? They have turned into "old lady hands!" The skin has that shiny, slightly wrinkly look that tells me what my mind and body try to forget. My body is aging--okay, "I" am aging-- and there is no denying it! 

Later in the day as I puttered in the kitchen with friends, getting ready for another Christmas party while relating the story of my realization, my friend Magda tried to console me. "At least you don't have these brown age spots," she said, holding out one of her spot dotted hands.

I wryly held out one of my hands; the one with a big brown spot.

"And you know," I said, "it is too bad! I feel as though I'm only just getting some things right. It has taken me so long to learn the important things, and now I'm gett…

Treasure

By Belinda


The house waits; spruced up in the  finery of the season. Christmas lights twinkle and admire their reflections in window panes and shining floor.


Fragrant candles scent the air with cinnamon, allspice, apples and vanilla; blending with the delicious aroma of turkey, and sage and onion dressing. 

The Christmas cake's aroma is deep and rich with fruity goodness. Baked into it is the love with which it was made by a dear friend who insisted on making it in England in July, so that we could bring it home with us and she could keep her tradition of baking our cake.

The turkey; dressing; potato casserole and coffee; my contributions to tonight's feast are made; the food ready in the warming oven.

At 6pm the first friends arrive; Magda and Debbie; with cold drinks, and casseroles filled with squash and plump, green beans.

Magda hands me a bag containing mysterious frozen lumps. "These are for you, to go in the freezer, but first you must open it," she says. Inside I f…

Snow in Heaven

By Belinda 
(Friends, this is another post from the past, but one I love myself because as the story unfolded, I truly felt a Divine whisper in my ear. This grandson is now much older. I wonder if he remembers his question of Miss Cheryl, so many years ago! :))
"Miss Cheryl,” asked Stephen “is there snow in heaven?"

Stephen’s question took his school bus driver by surprise. Her young passenger, whose short, dark hair was as hard to tame as his spirit, looked up expectantly. His brown eyes, normally dancing with mischief, were serious and shining with curiosity.

Stephen; named for one of the saints of the Christmas season; knew that Miss Cheryl could be counted on as a source of reliable information. This warm, kind hearted woman, had the biggest of gentle, blue eyes that twinkled with good humour. She had forged a special relationship with the children on her bus. This question though, was out of her league.

"I don't know, Stephen. You could ask your dad--he's a past…

Leaving Sally

By Belinda

I am surrounded by tape, boxes of Christmas cards and general Christmas mayhem. It will save my sanity tonight to share a post from the past that I hope makes you smile. I soon will be getting together with Irene again to celebrate Christmas; this is a window into our 2010 supper together: 

One night after work last week I drove into Newmarket for one of my Christmas rituals, dinner with my zany friend Irene.

I circled the parking lot of the plaza. It was packed full with cars belonging to the Christmas shoppers. I was thankful to find a space not too far away from the restaurant.

Irene was there already, waiting at a table. I slid into the booth, unbuttoning my coat and unloading my purse and bags onto the seat beside me.

As the server handed us menus, Irene, who'd had the day off, mentioned that she'd had her hair trimmed that afternoon.

"Sally (not her real name) was asking for you," she said.

I groaned. Sally and me, we have history. Sally is my old hairdress…

Viral Kindness

By Belinda

One of my granddaughters posted this on her Facebook profile. Today's post on my friend Dave's blog, was titled At the Heart of Kindness. He wrote about patience being at the heart of kindness, and I think that so often it is. This video shows how infectious a small act of kindness can be, spreading good will and pulling out of us our best selves. At this season when impatience can prevail due to the added stress of crowded parking lots and malls, honking car horns and the pressure of pages that seem to fly rapidly off the calendar leading up to December 25th; I appreciate this reminder that small things make a big difference in the world. 

That Awkward Moment When...

By Belinda

The current meme, "that awkward moment when," is a great device for those universally hilarious moments we can relate to.

It has set me thinking about some of my own "awkward moments" and laughing out loud as I do.

One tradition in our Christmas party gatherings is reading a funny story out loud as a group. Even though we know the story well, (Dave Cooks the Turkey, by Stuart MacLean is a favourite, and you can listen to it here,) we laugh at them over and over again.

So tonight I am retelling one of my funny "awkward moment" stories.


I was on my way back to the office from a morning meeting; a trip that went right past a Jones of New York store at lunch time. What could I do?

The lure of the January sale was strong, so I pulled into the large parking lot of the strip mall, deep in melting slushy snow left over from the morning's snow fall. I parked my car as close as I could to the store, and splooshed my way across the parking lot with all spee…

To Celebrate the Season!

By Belinda

A wonderful Christmas Flash Mob that was shared by my friend Brave Raven on Facebook and which I had to share here. I know many will have seen it but it is so uplifting and wonderful that in case even one person hasn't, they won't miss it ! :)

The Spark

By Belinda

Monday, February 2nd, 2004--only day 4 of my trip to England to help Mum get her life back her stroke on October 20th, but it felt as though I had been there so much longer. 

When I first saw Mum in the hospital, changed on the outside: depressed; resigned; disheartened; slowed and limited in communication and physical abilities, it had been very hard.

I agonized over encouraging her to make the trip to Canada that I suspected had compromised her health. Had the risks been worth the wonderful memories we had made together over our four precious weeks together? Had my selfish desire to have her with us, exacted a terrible price that she had to pay?


I prayed that in the four weeks I now had to spend with Mum, I could make a difference for her. 

Already a first sign of life--a Cadbury's Flake bar eaten--the whole thing! With enjoyment. Such a small thing--how could that be significant? But it meant a step back from depression.

Rob had to work, so in the afternoon I caught a  bus…

THANK YOU!!!

By Belinda

I arrived home late tonight after a long but awesome day, and collapsed in a happy heap, promptly dozing off in front of the television. It had been our wonderful Christmas party--the one I love so much each year, at which 80 or so people supported by our agency gather to celebrate. There is so much intense, unbridled JOY at this event; enough pairs of shining eyes to light up the night sky and smiles that would warm the world.

When I woke up from my doze, I checked email and found an excited email from my friend Dave, congratulating me on Whatever He Says winning first place in the Canadian Blog Awards in the Best Religion Philosophy Blog category. Dave's blog Rolling Around in My Head won first place in the Best Personal Blog category and tied for third place in the Best Health Blog category.

I also congratulate Lynn Dove of Lynne Dove's Journey Thoughts who came in second in the Best Religion and Philosophy category. It was a close race and her blog is marked as a f…

Ere Zij God--Glory to God in the Highest! A Dutch Carol

By Belinda

This beautiful Dutch carol was shared today by a friend of Dutch ancestry, on Facebook. I had never heard it before but absolutely loved it. It moved me deeply, especially at the end after the crowd leaves the church and then breaks into spontaneous singing again around a brazier, with the sound of chiming church bells in the background. Listen to it with headphones or a good speaker to get the full effect of the harmonies. And happy first Sunday in Advent!

The Real Truth About Housework

By Belinda

Mum belonged to the generation of women, which after keeping the country running while the men were away at war, continued to work outside the home when they came back.

When I think back now, I don't know how she managed, without even a washing machine, let alone a dryer! One way was by having an after-work routine that she did not deviate from: 

Every evening the grate in the kitchen, which held the coal fire that heated the house, had to be cleaned out. The grate would be shaken vigorously with a poker and the ashes that fell through the iron bars would be swept out with a brush into a dustpan and a new fire built. The red flagstone kitchen floor, dusty with all of the ash floating around, would be swept and mopped daily.

Monday was washing night. On cold winter evenings while the washing boiled in a dolly tub, the kitchen windows and doors were open wide to the elements to let out the steam. I would shiver in our breezy house, hoping that it would all be over soon, that …

The Next Day

By Belinda

The next day in Mum's story of 2003/04...

Rob and I had visited Mum at the hospital the day before--my first time with her since her stroke. This had been so different from all of our previous reunions. She expressed resignation and acceptance and I saw sadness in her eyes and on her face. 

Before going to see her again we went shopping for a new pillow, duvet, and sheets for Mum's bed, and then we headed for the hospital.

We found her asleep again, as she had been the day before when we arrived, but this time she was sitting up in a chair, and she woke as soon as I touched her arm. Her eyes were sunken and tired, and she said that she hadn't slept at all that night.

Even so, I was struck by how beautiful her dear face was; those beautiful eyes; looking more like her own mothers' with every passing year; and her lovely complexion, and her abundant silver gray hair, simply combed back. 

I grieved for what she and we had lost, but was so grateful for what and who we…

Voting Almost Over in the Canadian Blog Awards

December 1st Voting is DONE! Only 4 days left to vote in the Canadian Blog Awards

If you enjoy reading here, PLEASE click the link above to vote for this blog under the Best Religion Philosophy category.

And  please consider voting for faithful reader, fellow writer and blogger, Dave Hingsburger's blog, Rolling Around in My Headin the categories of Best Personal Blog and Best Health Blog,

You can only vote once, but do not have to be Canadian to vote.

Best Before

By Belinda

I grew up post-war Britain and rationing did not end until 4 years after I was born. I absorbed a sense of food's value, learned not to waste it and also love to cook. 

This combination of factors is my excuse for the fact that we have two fridges in our home--both usually packed to the gills with left overs from dinners I have cooked for family or friends. 

Since  I work full time, cleaning out both fridges usually only happens at crisis point, when food items begin to ambush unsuspecting people when the door is opened.

At this busy time of the year, fridge cleaning slides more than usual, but rose to the top of my To Do list on a recent Saturday morning when I could stand the food commando raids no longer.

This was just after I told a friend that there was some applesauce in the fridge that would go with the pork we were having for lunch and she asked, "Belinda did you want to serve this?" when she opened it. 

Let's just say, it must have passed its "best…

There

By Belinda

I arrived in England for a four week stay, late on a cold January evening in 2004. After a 25 hour long journey, due to closed airports in England, when I finally got to Mum's empty house in Alvechurch, I slept deeply and woke up the next morning feeling well rested and refreshed.

Rob had to go to work, and I spent the day quietly, waiting impatiently for him to come home so that we could go to the hospital together. It felt like I had waited so long through the months since October and her stroke, and I just couldn't wait any longer to see her.

Night falls early in the winter in England and we arrived at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch in the dark.

A sense of deja vu flowed over me. A year ago to the month, I had made many visits to this very hospital as Dad lay dying of pneumonia. The beeping of life support machinery; the very hallways I had walked at that time; and the smell of the place, all were part of my memories of "then."

I had already asked Rob if…