Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Odds & ends and midweek meltdowns

  • Another week, another funeral. :(  Between my recent cold, two funerals in two weeks (one week apart), getting ready to head off to dh's cousin's cottage, and then to go home, plus all the usual household stuff (cleaning, laundry, etc.)... I am exhausted.
    • Dh & I had a spat en route to the funeral this morning, which resulted in a mini-meltdown from me.  :(  Lately he's just been wearing a cloth mask -- which is better than nothing, of course, but nowhere near as effective as an N-95, or even a medical/surgical mask -- even though we are well stocked with several different models of N-95s & equivalents. He claims he can't breathe in them. (eyeroll) There were a lot more people at this visitation/funeral than the one last week -- the air purifier in the visitation room at the funeral home did not seem to be running, nor the air conditioning, and unlike last week, we were the ONLY ONES wearing masks this time around. I don't care that I'm the odd one out, but I DO care that the odds of me getting sick, even when I've had four shots to date and am wearing a good mask and using hand sanitizer liberally and doing my best to do all the right things, are increased because so many other people aren't willing to do the same. 
    • I feel like I am SO CLOSE -- tantalizingly close!! -- to getting home to see my parents, 10 months -- almost ANOTHER WHOLE YEAR after our last visit (last Christmas) (and after a crappy summer full of heat and humidity and surgeries and staying home to avoid covid) -- and I'm so afraid that one of us is going to get sick, or something is else going to happen to prevent me from getting there. :(   
    • Reinforcing that fear: every time I open my Facebook feed or my blog reader lately, another person is sick with covid -- and quite often someone who has managed to dodge it so far until now -- three today alone. :(   (I wish I was exaggerating.) 
    • Adding to my stress this week:  the federal government announced that it's rescinding all travel and border-related covid measures, including mask mandates on planes and trains. Effective October 1st (Friday). Just BEFORE we are about to fly, of course...! 
    • Then I told my mother (over the phone) that we are planning to fly with just carry-ons this time around, in an attempt not to lose our luggage in the chaos that has been Toronto Pearson Airport recently... we even made a special trip to the mall to buy new ones (our first visit there in more than a year, and only our second since the advent of covid). And she tells me she's cleaning closets, and I need to bring an extra suitcase with me so that I can bring back more of my stuff. (Like I have room for it here in my 874-square-foot condo anyway??)  I'm glad she (finally??) seems to be getting serious about cleaning out the house more -- but even if I brought an extra suitcase (which I'm not, not this time around), there is only so much I can bring back anyway. 
    • (Serenity now...!!) 
  • The bad news just keeps on coming lately.  One of my best friends from childhood lost her husband this week. Cancer. He was just 64. :(   I knew he'd been sick, but I didn't realize he was THAT sick.  :(  
  • From The Globe & Mail:  "We need to talk about the big lies behind freezing your eggs," a refreshingly honest essay by Alison Motluk. Sample passage: 
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay not to freeze your eggs. 

Decades from now, we will look back on this as one of the biggest boondoggles of our generation. We will talk about how we duped our young women, took their money in return for false hope, channelled them toward ruinous choices and left many not just in debt, but childless. All the while, we failed to resolve the real issues behind why many women who want children don’t feel they’re able to have them.

    • As usual, beware the comments...! 
    • Motluk has a Substack newsletter (as I've said, Substack is the new blog...!), HeyReprotech. This article appears to be taken from there (albeit it's behind a subscriber paywall). The archives go back to July 2018!   
  • Thanks to Pamela for flagging this article from The Hill for me on the same topic: "Success of egg freezing depends on these two factors, new study finds:  Patients who froze their eggs before they turned 38 or froze more eggs had about a 50 percent birth rate." 
  • From The Atlantic:  "Why Quitting Is Underrated" by Annie Duke, a former poker player (!), based on her forthcoming book, "Quit:  The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away." Infertility is not mentioned, but it's certainly relevant...! 
  • Those of us who wind up childless not by choice often feel like we have to "compensate" in some way by doing something big and bold and spectacular with our lives. That's why I loved this recent article from the New York Times by Sarah Wildman:  "I Don’t Need My Life to Be Remarkable."  (Content warning: the story involves a child with cancer.) Sample passage: 
Many years ago, before we had children, an old family friend who was a therapist offered a gentle bit of advice to my partner, Ian, who was wrestling with his future after leaving the Peace Corps early: Don’t look for every moment to be a 10, she told him. Sometimes you have to celebrate the fours, fives and sixes.

When Ian repeated it to me, we laughed. It felt like settling, if not an outright failure, not to seek something better. Up to that point we had always looked beyond where we stood to other, brighter moments. It would become a bit of a family joke between us: If something went awry we’d say, “Can you celebrate a one or a two?”

I’m no longer laughing. I’ve come to see the wisdom in not just seeking but finding joy in the mundane, in the unremarkable, even in the frankly boring, particularly in this era of global — and personal — illness. I realize I am far from unique in my efforts to appreciate the moment. It is the essence of mindfulness, the stuff of my (often failed) efforts to meditate. But it has allowed me to stand still when I might otherwise never stop moving.

Monday, September 26, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Heardle

I never did get into Wordle -- but then I discovered Heardle, and now I'm addicted. :)  It's basically "Name That Tune" for the Internet era. 

Did you know there are decade-specific versions too??  (I learned this earlier this month from my longtime penpal (*cough* -- enabler, lol) in New Zealand (thanks, J9!). Heardle 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s, anyone?? (There are probably versions for the 2000s & 2010s, too, but since I suck at anything music-related past the mid-1990s, I don't bother with those, lol.)  The original Heardle is now owned by Spotify;  the decade versions are powered by Soundcloud and tend to skew towards British artists and bands, some of them unknown or not very well known to me -- so I don't always get those either, but I'm still far more successful than I am with the original Heardle. 

Once in a while, the song of the day is "unavailable in your location" (something to do with distribution rights, I suppose?), but they will give you a link to the answer so as not to spoil your streak/stats.  In that case, I click over to the answer... if I think it's a song I would have been able to easily identify, I take the answer;  if not, I pass. (For example, today's 60s Heardle song was unavailable in my area. The answer was "Mellow Yellow" by Donovan. I knew I would have easily gotten that one, so I took the win. ;)  )  

As I expected, I'm doing much better on the decades versions, and the 1960s & 1970s versions in particular.  Current stats (from playing on my cellphone -- the stats don't seem to sync between phone & laptop? -- as of this morning, Sept. 26th):  
  • Heardle (original):  37.5% (21/56) correct, including 6 on the first guess and 8 within 3 (and 35 where I couldn't get it at all..!). 
  • Heardle 60s:  95.7% (22//23), including 14 on the first guess, and only one that I didn't get at all. 
  • Heardle 70s:  79.2% (19/24), including 12 on the first guess and 4 on the second, and 5 I didn't get at all. (Including today's -- "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads, duh. I KNEW I knew the song but just could not place it before my guesses ran out!) 
  • Heardle 80s:  42.9% (9/21), including 3 on the first guess, and 12 I didn't get at all. 
  • Heardle 90s:  20.8% (5/24), including 19 I couldn't get at all. :p   
Do you play Heardle? 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Saturday, September 24, 2022

"The Bullet That Missed" by Richard Osman

"The Bullet That Missed" by Richard Osman is the third/latest installment of The Thursday Murder Club mysteries, featuring a loveable quartet of aging amateur detectives who, instead of playing golf or knitting, are spending their golden years trying to solve cold cases. There's former union leader/tough guy Ron; gentle, well-mannered psychiatrist Ibrahim; tough-as-nails MI5 agent Elizabeth; and slightly batty nurse and diarist Joyce (and her new puppy, Alan!), all residents of an upscale British retirement village. Also returning: handsome Polish construction worker/handyman Bogdan, local police officers Chris & Donna, and local crime boss Connie Johnston, who has sworn vengeance against Ron for putting her in jail (one of the outcomes of Book #2).  

The story picks up shortly after the last one ("The Man Who Died Twice") left off. In this installment, the gang is looking at the unsolved case of a local TV anchor whose car went off a cliff and whose body was never found. At the same time, Elizabeth is being threatened by a mysterious new adversary who is pressuring/blackmailing her to commit a murder of her own. 

In addition to the main and supporting characters we've come to know and love from the previous two books, there are a few new characters thrown into the mix who may or may not become regulars in the future. (I'm hoping they will.)  And like the other books, there's wit, humour, plot twists and red herrings galore. Quite simply, it's a whole huge lot of fun. (The chapter where Ron's new girlfriend takes him to a spa had me in absolute stitches -- as did the chapter where the club confronts a would-be assassin en masse.)

I can't wait for TMC #4.  :)  (Currently due in September 2023... a whole year away!!  :(   )  

I've rated the previous two books 5 stars each. I'm giving this one 5 stars too -- but in some ways, I think it's my favourite TMC book yet.  :)  (My reviews of "The Thursday Murder Club" and "The Man Who Died Twice," here and here.)  

I would recommend reading these books in order, as each one so far has picked up where the others left off, and there are certain storylines that continue from one volume to the next. 

This was Book #38 read to date in 2022 (and Book #2 finished in September), bringing me to 84% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 6 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."  

Friday, September 23, 2022

Odds & ends & funerals for the weekend

  • Last Friday, dh's aunt (his mom's sister) died at the age of 89. (I mentioned it in my #MicroblogMondays post earlier this week.) 
    • I was still dealing with my cold (I'm doing better, but not 100 per cent yet), and of course I don't want to come down with anything worse before we head west to see my family in two weeks' time... so we took our own car to the afternoon visitation on Tuesday (even though we often go to these things together with BIL & SIL), and I kept my N-95 mask on almost the entire time. (I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who also wore masks... nowhere near all who came, of course, but more than I had anticipated.)  
    • There was an evening session as well, and many of the cousins who came to the afternoon session stayed on for that -- heading over to a nearby restaurant to eat in between. They invited us to come along, and if these were normal times, we would have gladly said yes. I miss getting together with them. But we still haven't eaten in a restaurant since March 2020, and as I said, I'm trying to be extra-cautious right now before our trip west -- so we sent our regrets and headed home. We saw them all again (plus the cousins who came to the evening visitation) the next morning at the funeral mass & committal. (We wore masks then too.) 
    • SIL called us from their car as we were driving home from the funeral -- she & BIL, their aunt, her daughter and son-in-law were all going out for lunch at a restaurant near our condo building, and did we want to come? Again, regretfully, we said thanks  no thanks. It was nice to be asked, even though I'm pretty sure they knew we'd say no...! 
    • Dh's cousin gave a lovely eulogy... which of course made me wonder: who (if anyone) will eulogize me when I'm gone? (And what will they say??  lol)  
  • And now, we get to do it all over again...!  :(  This morning, we had a text (not unexpected) from dh's cousin:  HER mother died, age 91. We are just waiting to hear about the arrangements. 
    • This aunt was dh's mother's sister-in-law (married to her oldest brother), and had been living at the same seniors residence as the other aunt for the past several years. She was in good health until just recently, and spent the last few weeks in hospice/palliative care, where she was still asking for Tim Hortons "iced caps" (iced cappucinos) almost to the very end. Her daughter texted another cousin while we were all at the funeral home for the other aunt, saying the priest had been called to give last rites, so we knew the end was near. This aunt said she hoped she & the other aunt would "go hand in hand," and she pretty much got her wish. 
    • Dh lived at their house for the first few years of his life, before his dad bought their own house, a few blocks away, in the Greektown area of Toronto. All the relatives lived near each other in those days, but this family was the closest to them, geographically, and he & BIL were particularly close to the two kids -- the daughter is two years older than dh, and the son is the same age as BIL. (He's referred to elsewhere in this blog as "Cousin/Neighbour" -- he lived (and still lives) a few blocks from us in our old community.)  
    • I was able to wear my dressy capris and sandals to the first aunt's funeral... but I think this one will have to be long pants, shoes & socks! Right on cue on the first day of fall, the weather turned cooler, and since then, it's gotten even chillier! 
  • I know a lot of people who are positively giddy over the advent of fall this week. I like fall too -- the end of the extreme heat & humidity, the beautiful fall colours (Ontario is one of the best places in the world to see them, I think!) -- but it's a hard/sad time of year for me too. Essentially, it's a season when everything starts to die -- plants, tree leaves, the old year, the light (darkness is already coming way too early for my liking). And way too many people I love have died at this time of year too. 
    • Case in point: see above. :(  
    • Last year at this time, dh's cousin's brother-in-law died in early October -- followed by his brother/her husband, a day later (!!) and then their mother/her MIL, with a month after them. Yikes!!  
    • My grandparents both died in October, almost a year to the day apart from each other -- Grandpa in 1998, Grandma in 1999. And Grandpa died just a few days after I had returned to work after Katie's stillbirth. 
  • (*CLUNK!!*) -- That was me, keeling over in shock (lol), after Infertile Phoenix recently pointed her readers to an article on CNN with the message that it's OK to quit doing things -- AND!! quitting infertility treatment is used as one of the examples!!!  
    • I've read articles before with the same message (and they're tagged on this blog as "the Q word," lol), but I don't think I have EVER seen a mainstream media article supporting the idea that it's OK to quit infertility treatments. Wow!!     
  • (*CLUNK!!* -- again! lol) I have Bloglovin' on my opening set of tabs, even though (apart from one brief blip) it hasn't been working/up for a full month -- since Aug. 23rd (!). Lo and behold, there it was when I turned on my laptop this afternoon!!  I'm enjoying it while it lasts....! 

Monday, September 19, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Odds & ends from a busy week

This past week or two has been one huge blur. I am floundering, trying to keep up with email and blog posts and notifications and everything else coming at me, all at once...! 
  • First, being sick -- for more than a week now. :p  It started with a very sore throat, and proceeded to sneezing, a full head and loose cough (which is still hanging in there...). I am feeling better overall, but definitely not 100% yet. I have not been out of the house in more than a week. :p  I was so looking forward to getting out a bit, now that my surgeries are over and I'm recovered from those. No such luck...! 
    • I took another rapid test for covid this morning -- which, like the previous two, earlier on, was negative. But I'm still obviously sick. :p  Bah humbug. :( 
    • Last week, I had to switch my follow-up appointment with the surgeon who did my gallbladder removal surgery from in-office to over the phone. I was supposed to see my optometrist tomorrow as a follow-up to my eye surgery (and possibly get some new glasses), but I called this morning to let them know I'm not well, and now that's been postponed until late October. Sigh. 
  • Second, it was World Childless Week. (You can find all my related posts for this year's WCW tagged "WCW 2022".)  I have waded through about three of the seven days' worth of amazing submissions on the WCW site so far, managed to catch several of the webinars live and watch a few more after the fact. All WCW content from every year since it began is archived on the WCW site
  • Third, of course, the Queen. I was up at 5 a.m. this morning to watch the funeral, and barely budged from my chair for the next seven hours until the last royal disappeared through the gate into the castle after the service of committal at Windsor. Adding to the fun, I spent several hours live texting with my penpal of the past 45 years (!!) from New Zealand (where it was late at night), as we have done for the last several royal events (plus an Oscar ceremony or two, lol). My cousin in Manitoba -- half Scottish on his dad's side, and a retired police officer -- also texted me when he realized I was up -- he was watching too. 
    • NOBODY does pomp and ceremony better than the Brits!! 
    • I teared up a few times. I got the chills when the Westminster Abbey choir started singing "I am the Resurrection and the Life..."  But I didn't lose it until the long walk up to the chapel at Windsor, when the BBC announcer helpfully pointed out the Queen's pony Emma, patiently waiting near the gates for the coffin to pass by. And then the two corgis, which totally finished me off. ;) 
    • Did anyone else notice the Google logo on the search page was totally black today in honour of the Queen?? 
    • Every now & then over the past few days, I clicked over to YouTube to watch a few minutes of the live feed of the Queen lying in state and the people who waited hours and hours (and hours!) in "the Queue of all Queues," filing past (and also to check out the live updates on how long the queue was). Many people paused to bow/nod their heads -- but I saw others doing full from-the-waist bows and curtsies. One man dropped to one knee and crossed himself. I saw one middle-aged woman bow her head & then, with a sad smile on her face, blow a kiss at the casket. That one got me teary.  
  • Fourth, dh's aunt (his mother's sister) passed away on Friday. She was 89. It was one of those deaths that was kind of a blessing, in a way -- her quality of life has not been good the last few years, especially since the pandemic began -- and we haven't been able to see her in quite some time, because of that (although dh & his brother got to see her one last time in the hospital last weekend, before she died). 
    • (His mother's youngest sister lives near us. She's 77, and is the last of her siblings.) 
    • Visitation is tomorrow (two hours in the afternoon and then two in the evening, with a two-hour break in between), and the funeral is Wednesday. I've been debating whether I should go, because of my cold. As I said, I've tested negative for covid, but it's still been a bad cold.... but not going at all seems unthinkable. Dh thinks we should go for the afternoon tomorrow, pay our respects and say hi to everyone, and then we'll just go home. I will certainly wear a mask -- I would even if I didn't have a cold (but I am willing to bet I'll be one of the very few people wearing one). (Most of the cousins will likely be staying for the whole six hours -- the daughters have ordered food for the family for in between the sessions, to be served in the funeral home's reception centre.)
    • When dh's mother died, 40 years ago, both sides of the family rallied round dh, his younger brother and their dad -- none of whom knew anything about cooking or keeping house. This aunt had them over for dinner just about every single night (and she was an excellent cook! -- dh said that out of all his aunts, her cooking was the closest to his mom's), did their laundry and cleaned the house regularly, on top of her own. They all adored her. I did too, once I met her -- 39 years ago, in the summer of 1983. 
    • I'm sure I wasn't exactly what she had in mind for a wife for dh -- I wasn't Italian! -- but she never made me feel anything less than welcomed and loved. Dh's dad asked her to help set things up in our apartment while we were on our honeymoon -- I hadn't been there since we signed the rental agreement a few months earlier, and we did NOT have much stuff!  He gave her some money and she bought sheets & a bedspread and had the bed all made up, and stocked our kitchen cupboards and refrigerator with some staples. 
    • I remember her visiting for the first time after we got back, and exclaiming over how clean and neat everything was. "She's obviously not looking too hard...!"  I muttered to dh. 
    • We had many meals at her house over the years, especially in the early years of our marriage -- always leaving with leftovers or baking or a jar of tomato sauce. 
    • We will sure miss her. 
  • On a related note: it's been quite a while since we've had to dress up for anything (pre-pandemic, certainly! -- and we certainly don't dress up very often at all since we both left work in 2013-14) -- so we pulled a few things out of our closet yesterday to try on before dh's aunt's funeral events -- to make sure they still FIT, for one thing! (lol).  
    • Yes, they fit -- BUT! OMG... the DUST!!  lol  When I took my pants off the hanger, you could clearly see a line where the dust had settled! And dh's dress shirt -- one of the few he has left -- was slightly (but not too noticeably -- I hope...!) yellowed on the collar.
    • Needless to say, everything went into the washing machine. I got out the ironing board and pressed it all this afternoon while watching highlights from the Queen's funeral all over again. 
  • Time is zooming along. A week from Friday is our cottage weekend with BIL, SIL & dh's cousins, and then the weekend after that, we'll be heading "home" for (Canadian) Thanksgiving to see my family. And we have a LOT of things that need to get done before then...!  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Sunday, September 18, 2022

World Childless Week 2022, Day Seven: Moving Forwards

Day Seven of World Childless Week  -- the final day -- is focused on "Moving Forwards." (This has been the theme of the final day of WCW for its entire six-year existence.) 

We don’t need a big Plan B, C or D; we don’t need any plans at all. All we need is the courage to make small changes, the time to notice the positive differences and the acceptance that moving forwards can also include stopping points, roundabouts and u-turns. It doesn’t matter how we get to the final destination, or how long it takes. We just need to love ourselves at each point and celebrate each milestone. 

How have you moved forwards? 

The passage of time and looking back on certain milestones will often bring a shock of recognition of how things have changed, how far I've come and how differently I feel now than I did then. (One advantage of getting older is that fewer and fewer people ask and hint and prod you about pregnancy plans... although eventually, you start getting questions about how many grandchildren you have instead...!)

I think back to one particular incident, at Christmastime, a few years after we had thrown in the towel on infertility treatments, which showed me that perhaps I was further down the road of acceptance than I had realized.  I wrote about it here

Another measure of progress would be my increasing ability/willingness to enter a Baby Gap store. Once, it was a source of pain, to be avoided. I eventually did get to the point where I could go in to buy a baby shower gift (even if was often just a gift card...!). These days, I love to go there (and other children's wear stores) to shop for Little Great-Nephew -- albeit the little girls' racks still have the power to give me occasional pangs... 

There are probably other markers of progress that I've written about over the years, although I can't recall any other specific posts to share here with you right now. 

One thing I remember from our pregnancy loss support group days is that you never realized just how far you'd come down this road less travelled until someone new arrived, fresh and raw in their own grief. I still see that to some extent today when I read social media posts and responses from younger women who are new to the stunning realization that they will not have the children they assumed they would have. 

Check out today's content on the WCW site, including community members' contributions (new ones being added every 15 minutes throughout the day) and FIVE free, live webinars and workshops:  

  • 5 a.m. ET:  "Meditation: Using Gentle Self-Care to Move You Forwards," a workshop with Bindi Shah. 
  • 7 a.m. ET:  "Hello You: Online Body Connection," a workshop with Victoria Robinson. 
  • 9 a.m. ET:  "Is it Possible to Move Forward?" -- a workshop with Helen Segal, focusing on creativity and the healing arts. 
  • 11 a.m. ET:  "The Chanting Circle: Let Flow" with Helen Louise Jones. 
  • 2 p.m. ET:  "Accepting the New Me," a webinar hosted by Stephanie Joy Phillips, with Victoria Firth, Kat Brown, Lana Brown and Lucy North. 

All webinars will be recorded and uploaded to the Day Seven page for anyone who cannot make the live events.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

World Childless Week 2022, Day Six: "We Are Worthy"

The Day Six theme of World Childless Week -- as it has been for the past four years -- is "We Are Worthy."  

Someone recently said to me, “A peacock is most vulnerable when it shows its beauty.” It made me think of the beauty we all hold within us that can be diminished and feel tainted by the pronatalism surrounding us every day. We need to speak up and speak out until every childless person feels equal and confident to shine whilst showing their vulnerability. 

Today, let’s share and celebrate, why we are worthy and beautiful.

Four years ago, there was an online summit for childless people during National Infertility Awareness Week on the theme of "We Are Worthy," and I wrote about it and my thoughts on the subject of worthiness here. I can't think of any other posts I've written about worth/worthiness in particular, but I have pointed out plenty of examples of pronatalism and how the childless/free experience has been marginalized, when I've found them. I didn't know the term "pronatalism" when I first started this blog, so I started using the tag "mommy mania" -- the best I could come up with at the time. I've gradually been re-tagging them as "pronatalism." 

The "bible" on pronatalism from a childfree (by choice) perspective would be "The Baby Matrix" by Laura Carroll (which I reviewed here).  A real eye-opener, and highly recommended!  

On the flip side, I suppose, would be the posts I've written about or touching on feminism, tagged as "the f word." I was brought up thoroughly steeped in the second-wave feminist messages of the 1970s (for good and for bad);  I have always believed and often said that I am more than my uterus. Unfortunately, that's still not the message that society tends to send us or the people around us....!  

Check out today's content on the WCW site, including community members' contributions (new ones being added every 15 minutes throughout the day) and (count 'em!) FOUR free webinars and workshops! 

  • 4 a.m Eastern Time: "Childlessness and Pets," with Judy Graham, Narelle Hudson, Anne Xavier Altamore, Rochelle Trimnell-Ritchard and Sarah Roberts, all from Australia. 
  • 11 a.m. ET:  "Pronatalism May Be Getting Louder, But So Are the Childless," with Stephanie Phillips, Jessica Hepburn and Annie Kirby from England, and Hilary Fennell from Ireland.  
  • 12:30 p.m. ET: "Mindful Yoga Practice," with Sarah Jane Smith from British Columbia, Canada. 
  • 2 p.m. ET:  "We Are Worthy of Your Support," with six childless women from around the world. 

These will all be recorded and uploaded to the Day Six page for anyone who cannot make the live events. 

(On the subject of pets -- dh & I do not and never have had them during our married life -- although I had a puppy and a turtle when I was growing up, and we're constantly being told that we "need" to get a dog. (eyeroll)  I wrote posts in 2013 and 2017 explaining why we choose to remain petless. We do adore & dote on Older Nephew's miniature dachshund. :)  You can find all my pet-related posts here.) 

Friday, September 16, 2022

World Childless Week, Day Five: "It's All in God's Plan"

It's Day Five of World Childless Week, and today's theme tackles the thorny issue of religion. 

Comments referring to religion easily fall off the tongues of strangers, friends and family without consideration of who they are addressing or how their comments may be received. Have you been upset, shocked or angered by the ignorance and cruelty of a religious based comment and how did you deal with the conversation? 

Why do you feel remarks touching on religion are inappropriate? 

Some personal religious background:  I was brought up Anglican/Episcopal, although we attended the United Church of Canada during the five years when we lived in a town with no Anglican congregation, and I attended Catechism classes with my best friend there, who was Catholic. As an adult, my church attendance has been sporadic. We joined an Anglican congregation when we were hoping to start a family, because we agreed that our children should learn something about God and faith and the Bible -- if only because the Bible is the basis for so much of our literature and other cultural touchstones. You miss out on an awful lot if you don't know your Bible stories and verses...!  

The parish we attended was lovely and supportive in the aftermath of our daughter's stillbirth -- we held a small family funeral service there -- but as time went on, and the women in the pews who had been pregnant at the same time as me returned with their babies to baptize -- and then a second, and a third -- it got harder and harder to remain. At the same time, encouraged by the then-minister, the congregation began taking on a more American-style fundamentalist/evangelical flavour, which made both of us increasingly uncomfortable, and we gradually drifted away and stopped going. We have yet to attend a service locally since we moved here six years ago. 

These days, I'm mostly ambivalent about church attendance, and religion generally. I believe Jesus (who, by the way, had no children...!) had the right ideas about how people should treat each other, and think it's sad that so many churches and so-called Christians have strayed so far from those core messages. I take some comfort in the ritual and liturgy and hymns of my youth (some of which I can still sing by heart) -- but I do not believe it's necessary to attend church regularly to be a good Christian, or a good human being. I don't believe any one religion or denomination (and certainly no one person) has all the answers. 

The pronatalism inherent in so many religions and denominations is an obvious and painful problem for many childless/free people.  "Be fruitful and multiply," we are told. The stories of Sarah and Hannah and Elizabeth are hammered into our heads -- barren women whose faith was ultimately rewarded with a child. 

I don't know why some people get babies they don't want and others desperately want babies they never get. I don't know why my daughter didn't get to stay with me. I don't know why I was never able to have another child. "God needed an angel," some would tell me. "It's all in God's plan." (Like that's supposed to make me feel better??) "She's in a better place." (Better than being with me & her dad??)  "Everything happens for a reason... we'll find out, someday." 

Well, vague promises of "someday" aren't good enough for me. What reason could possibly be good enough to justify taking my child from me??  The God I believe in (to the extent that I believe in God) would never deliberately do that, to me or any other parent. 

As I've often said: if there is a God and a heaven, and I get there someday, He & I are going to have a very lonnnnnnggggggg talk....!   

After our daughter was stillborn, someone recommended the book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" to me -- by Harold Kushner, a Jewish rabbi who lost his son. It's been a long time since I read it, but I do remember I found it tremendously comforting. 

Most of my posts on this subject have been tagged "religion/faith" -- although you might find a couple under "WTF?" and "people are idiots," lol. 

Check out today's content on the WCW site, including community members' contributions (new ones being added every 15 minutes throughout the day) and a free, live webinar at 2 p.m. Eastern Time hosted by Stephanie Phillips and featuring four childless women with diverse religious backgrounds. This webinar will be recorded and uploaded to the Day Five page for anyone who cannot make the live event. 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

World Childless Week 2022, Day Four: Childlessness in the Workplace

Day Four of World Childless Week is focused on the topic of "Childlessness in the Workplace."  

Have you been bombarded with mum talk during a Zoom chat, swamped with pregnancy announcements in emails, trapped in a maternity leave office party, expected to work late, denied flexi-time, fallen to the bottom of the list for holidays or just felt embarrassed to approach your line manager or personnel department because you are childless? Perhaps you’ve spoken out and instigated changes or helped to create inclusive policies? Have you run to the loo for sanity and to shed a few tears or decided enough is enough and spoken out for change? 

Let’s talk about the problems we face and what we can do to create positive changes in the workplace. 

I'm retired now -- downsized out of my job, eight years ago at the age of 53 -- but before that, I worked in communications for the same large Canadian bank for 28 years. Most of my work-related posts on this blog are tagged "work/office." I didn't have time to go through all of them in anticipation of this topic, but there are a couple of posts and anecdotes that I remembered and wanted to share with you here. 

I never thought much about it at the time but later realized that, for more than 15 years, my closest co-workers were a core group of older women, most of whom did not have children. I knew that several of them had thought they'd be mothers someday, but it didn't happen for them, for various reasons. They rallied around me and supported me when my only baby was stillborn in 1998. 

And I needed their support: in the first year or so alone after my loss, I had to endure TEN office pregnancy announcements/maternity leaves -- and there were many more to come in the years after that. Over time, those supportive close co-workers all left or retired, and I was left to find my way among new (and increasingly younger) colleagues, most of whom hadn't been around at the time of my loss and knew nothing about it, and who were getting married and starting to have kids of their own. I was fortunate that I never once had to work over Christmas and was able to go west to be with my family over the holidays -- but I still endured umpteen baby showers and office visits, mat leaves (and the additional work they entailed for the rest of us, even when the position was covered), excited chatter about ultrasounds and bragging about grandchildren. Sometimes it was harder/easier than others (and I've written here about some of those times). Whenever it got to be a bit too much, I would quietly slip  out the back door near my cubicle for a tea break or early lunch and/or go browse the magazine stand in the concourse downstairs for half an hour (even if I'd just been for a tea a while earlier). 

Canada's Employment Equity Act came into effect in 1986, just as I joined the company, and it was one of the first things I remember writing about for the staff magazine. "Employment equity" gave way to "diversity" to "diversity and inclusion," and I wrote extensively about these issues over the next 28 years.  There was lots about the four groups designated under the Employment Equity Act (which the bank, as a federally regulated institution, had to track and provide progress reports about) -- women, visible minorities, natives and people with disabilities (some of the terminology may have been updated since I left work!).

In later years, employee resource groups (ERGs) were formed for women, natives/aboriginals, people with disabilities, employees from the Caribbean and Asia, Spanish-speaking employees, LGBTQ+ employees, GenNext (younger employees). These groups were formed for the purposes of networking, education and to advise the company on policy issues. I heard lots and lots about the challenges of working parents and how to accommodate them, but nowhere did I ever hear anything mentioned about employees without children and how to better accommodate their particular issues and interests. Jody Day of Gateway Women has called it "the biggest diversity issue HR has never heard of." 

By the mid-1990s, "flexibility" was the watchword -- flexible benefits and flexible working arrangements (such as working from home/remotely, compressed work weeks, flexible hours and job sharing). Early on in this blog, I wrote a post about work that mentioned an interview I did -- with a childless/free person -- for a story in our staff magazine when the bank first adopted flexible working arrangements. This was some years before I realized I was going to wind up without kids myself. and I've often thought about her and what she had to say in the years since then.  

In 2011, toward the end of my career, I attended a workshop on diversity and inclusion that had a huge impact on my understanding of these issues and how they connected to infertility, loss and childlessness. Here's an excerpt, and here's a link to the whole thing, if you'd like to read it: 

Part of the presentation was to open us up to the idea that diversity is more than just the four groups designated under Canada's Employment Equity Act -- women, Aboriginals, persons with disabilities and visible minorities -- that diversity encompasses all sorts of things about us. Our religion, political views, education, age, education, socio-economic background -- and lots of other, more subtle things about us, too. 

The part of the presentation that really hit home for me (& got me taking notes) was the idea of privilege, of insiders and outsiders....  Life is easy when you're an insider, isn't it? 

...As you can imagine, throughout the presentation, I was thinking about my own particular frames of reference -- bereavement, infertility, childlessness -- and the challenges they present to the majority worldview. About how so much of the world is built with families in mind -- not childless couples (or single people, for that matter). How so many people just assume that they WILL get married, get pregnant within a reasonable timeframe, bring home a live, healthy baby nine months later (and then perhaps another one or two after that)? 

Until they don't. 

And how, when the way we try to build our families falls outside the "norm" -- dead children who are nevertheless talked about openly and treated like the important family members they are -- adoption, IVF, donor eggs, surrogates -- families of two (without children), families with two dads or two moms -- then people who have never had to think about building their own family in any way except the "norm" somehow feel threatened. Their assumptions about their cozy, easy, privileged world have been challenged. They find it difficult to relate to us in the same way they did when they assumed that we were just like them. 

I wonder how many fertile people would think of themselves as privileged or an "insider" because of their fertility? 

And how many of us who have had difficulty achieving what most consider to be a "normal" family structure perpetually feel like left-handers in a right-handed world?

Thankfully, things are beginning to change (even if I'm not going to benefit). The pandemic, while exacerbating the parent/childless divide in the workplace, also seemed to bring about a new awareness in some quarters that non-parents have separate and legitimate interests that need attention too. The Brits, as usual, seem to be leading the way on this front. The University of Bristol, for example, has an entire section on its website dealing with childlessness as a diversity & inclusion issue, and how childless/free colleagues can be supported. Within the Lighthouse Women private community (formerly part of Gateway Women), there's a sub-group for Workplace Changemakers involved in creating systemic change around childlessness in the workplace.

Check out today's content on the WCW site, including community members' contributions (new ones being added every 15 minutes throughout the day) and three free, live webinars: 

  • The first, at 4 a.m. Eastern Time (!), looks at being childless in the workplace "Down Under," with Penny Rabarts and Liz Campbell in Australia. 
  • At 7 a.m. ET, explore "Navigating Networking" with Berenice Smith, Karin Enfield de Vries and Sarah Lawrence. 
  • And at 2 p.m. ET, a conversation about how to advocate for our community in the workplace: "Employers and Policies: How to Bring Childlessness into the Conversation," with Christine Erickson, Julia Forminova, Vita Stige-Skuskovnika and Dr. Fiona McRonald. 

These sessions will be recorded and uploaded to the Day Four page for anyone who cannot make the live event. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Odds & ends

  • I am sick. :(  I woke up Friday morning with a very sore, dry throat. I thought that maybe once I got up and had my breakfast -- some orange juice, a cup of tea -- I would feel better.  
    • I didn't. Saturday was worse. I felt like my head was going to explode. I felt somewhat better (at least in that respect) on Sunday, but my throat was still very sore and I was sneezing and in constant need of a kleenex. By yesterday, my throat was not quite so sore, but I'd started coughing...! 
    • I don't get colds anywhere near as often as I used to, certainly not since I was working, and definitely not since the pandemic began and wearing a mask became commonplace. I guess I'm overdue. :(  It's the worst/sickest I've felt in a while (and certainly since pre-covid times).
    • I took a rapid test on Saturday (day 2) -- which was negative -- and another on Monday (day 4)(also negative). (Yay? -- but I still feel like crap...!)  
    • I couldn't figure out where I might have picked up a bug, since we hardly left our condo unit all week. We'd gone downstairs (cloth masks on) during not one but TWO fire alarms last Sunday, and in & out of a few stores on Thursday (wearing N-95 equivalent masks).  
    • I suspect Little Great-Nephew is the culprit. ;)  We spent Tuesday morning last week with him at BIL & SIL's house, and he had a drippy nose -- still recovering from his week at home with his mom, with hand foot & mouth disease. SIL was trying to teach him how to use a kleenex, and to put it in his pocket so he'd have it handy. He wasn't getting it and kept using his hand, lol.   
    • I wouldn't have worried so much, but I had a follow-up appointment on Tuesday with the surgeon who did my gallbladder removal. I called on Monday morning and left a voice mail message explaining the situation:  did they still want to see me, even masked? (I doubted it...!). Did they want to reschedule? Switch to a phone appointment?  The doctor wound up calling me yesterday morning, and we had a brief chat.  
    • Better now than in a few weeks' time, when we're going to dh's cousin's cottage for the weekend!  and then to Manitoba to see my family!  
  • I'm continuing to watch the coverage surrounding the Queen's death. At least the procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster this morning was at a decent hour, lol -- unlike the funeral Monday, which will be at 6 a.m. my time, with coverage beginning at 5 (which is about par for the course for most royal weddings, etc.). But how often do you get to witness history in the making? (even just on TV!) 
    • I was trying to figure out who was walking behind the coffin today, besides the obvious royals. I recognized Princess Anne's son Peter and husband Tim Laurence, as well as Princess Margaret's son David (the current Lord Snowdon), but the others were a mystery.  This article provides some further information. 
    • The BBC has a live feed online of the Queen lying in state in Westminster Hall, and the public filing past. I've been watching some of it on BBC World, and it's been very moving to see how respectful and emotional people have been. 
  • I'm already having trouble keeping up with everything going on re: World Childless Week this week. So much good stuff to read, watch and participate in!  
  • From the World Childless Week website: A Norwegian filmmaker is crowdsourcing funding to finish her documentary about involuntary childlessness, "The Mum in Me."  Visit her Indigogo page to find out more and/or donate between now and October 28th. The film will have its premiere at a Nordic documentary film festival in Norway in November, and from January 2023 it will be screened at VGTV, one of the major streaming platforms for documentary film in Norway.
  • This article from The Globe & Mail -- about termination for medical reasons -- is a lengthy and difficult read about a difficult and all-too-often hidden subject. It's not for the faint of heart -- it brought back some painful memories for me (our daughter had issues, but her heart stopped beating before we were forced to make any decisions about continuing the pregnancy -- or not) --  but it's very well done. (Beware the comments!) 

World Childless Week 2022, Day Three: A Letter to My Younger Self

Day Three of World Childless Week is about "A Letter to My Younger Self."  

Do you wish you could send your younger self the strength, confidence and love to face the future you’ve already lived? Let them know they are worthy and perfect just as they are, no matter what decisions they make and what life throws at them? Write that letter and share with them everything you can to help them realise how important they are, how much they matter and what positives they bring to the world and those around them. 

A letter to release the negatives and forgive the self imposed judgements. 

Writing letters -- to our younger selves, to our unborn children -- just writing, period (and certainly blogging!), has been proven to be highly therapeutic in all sorts of situations, and I'm a firm believer in its value. I don't believe I have written such a letter to myself in the past -- but I do sometimes look back on the girl and young woman that I was and think about how she had NO IDEA about the challenges that would face her -- the "for worse" part of the marriage vows that nobody ever thinks they'll have to deal with, or just how "worse" things can and sometimes do get. 

What would I tell her now, at age 61?  I think most of all, I would tell her not to be so hard on herself. And that while the life she'll wind up with won't be anything like the life she thought she'd be leading, all those years ago -- and while she's going to have to go through a lot of crap by the time she's my age -- it's still a pretty damn good life, on balance.  :)  

Check out today's content on the WCW site, including community members' contributions and a couple of free, live Zoom webinars on this subject. 

  • At 12 noon (Eastern Time), Bindi Shah is hosting a workshop on "Write to heal -- a letter to your younger self."
  • And at 3 p.m. (ET), Jody Day of Gateway Women is hosting one of her regular quarterly fireside chats with a group of childless elderwomen who will be reflecting on this topic. 
These sessions will be recorded and uploaded to the Day Three page for anyone who cannot make the live event.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

"Tales of the City" by Armistead Maupin

The September pick for my Gateway/Lighthouse Women book club is "Tales of the City" by Armistead Maupin. There's actually a whole series of "Tales of the City" books (and I didn't know this until I went to buy this one online for my e-reader!), but this is the original, first published in book form in 1978. 

I vaguely recall a TV series by the same name, years ago, although I don't think we ever watched a whole episode. (I looked it up-- it was made in 1993, and broadcast on PBS in North America in 1994, as well as in the United Kingdom.) Apparently, there's a new one on Netflix right now... a sequel/followup, I think (perhaps based on some of the later novels)? 

As the book opens, young Mary Ann Singleton (played by Laura Linney in the TV versions) comes to San Francisco from Ohio for a holiday -- and decides to stay. She finds an apartment in a big old house at 28 Barbary Lane, run by the somewhat mysterious Mrs. Madrigal, and lands a job as a secretary at the ad agency where her neighbour Mona works. As the story progresses, we meet and become involved in the lives of the house's other residents, including Mona's gay friend Michael "Mouse" Tolliver; the secretive Norman Neal Williams; and the good-looking waiter/Lothario, Brian Hawkins. (I was amused to see that Paul Gross -- a well-known (and ridiculously good-looking...!) Canadian actor and star of the Canadian classic "Due South," played Brian in the TV versions!) There's also Mary Ann's boss, Edgar Halcyon; his spoiled debutante daughter, Dede; her husband/Edgar's son-in-law, Beauchamp, and many others. 

As someone who grew up in the 1970s, I thought the book evoked the era very well (with frequent references to the pop culture, decor and fashions of the day). I've never been to San Francisco (although it's very high on my travel bucket list!), but I thought it also reflected the San Francisco of that time very well too -- just before AIDS began decimating the gay community there (and elsewhere). 

This was a good read -- but I'll admit, I didn't LOVE it. I didn't DISlike it, but I found it just a little hard/slow to get through. Each chapter is very short -- few are more than 4 or 5 pages long -- a brief vignette from the life of one or more of the main characters -- although there is continuity in the storylines throughout the book, and they do come together at the end. Perhaps that made it just a little disjointed? (Apparently the book originated as a weekly serial in the San Francisco Chronicle -- maybe that explains it??) Also, there a LOT of characters and intersecting/intertwining plotlines, and I will admit I found it hard to keep track of them all sometimes! 

3.5 stars on Goodreads, rounded down to 3.  

We'll be discussing this book at a Zoom session before the end of the month. Our October pick will be "BeWILDered" by Laura Waters.  

This was Book #37 read to date in 2022 (and Book #1 finished in September), bringing me to 82% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 6 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."  

World Childless Week 2022, Day Two: Childless and Single

 Day Two of World Childless Week 2022 is all about being "Childless and Single." From the website description: 

You may have met someone who promised you everything and changed their mind, leaving you walking away from the relationship. Perhaps you held onto the dreams of meeting your perfect partner and they never appeared. Maybe you met your match and circumstances mean they are no longer in your life? 

How has being single as well as being childless affected you? 

I was fortunate enough (and I know I'm fortunate) to meet my dh when we were university students. We've been together almost 41 years (!) and married for 37.  But I know not all women find a good partner, period, let alone find one who wants to have children, in time to start a family. 

Since this is a topic that lies outside of my lived experience, I don't have much content on this blog that I can easily point to (although I have posted links to relevant books & articles in the past). I do know that Jody Day of Gateway Women has championed this segment of the CNBC community, and you can search the GW website for related content and resources. The Gateway Women private community founded by Jody, now known as Lighthouse Women, has a thriving sub-group for singles. 

Check out today's content on the WCW site, including community members' contributions and two free, live webinars related to this subject. Both will be recorded and later uploaded to the Day Two page for anyone who cannot make the live event: 

  • The first, at 4 a.m. Eastern Time (!), is on "The disenfranchised grief no one is talking about" (i.e., being single and childless), with Penny Rabarts of Australia, Bibi Lynch in England, and Naomi Geidel in Thailand. 
  • And at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, Kate Kaufmann, Sarah Bradley, Juli Angelis and Yael Wolfe will be chatting about "Boosting our confidence as childless singles." 

Monday, September 12, 2022

World Childless Week 2022, Day One: Our Stories

The sixth annual World Childless Week is here!  -- an entire week filled with inspiring and comforting things to read, watch, listen to and participate in, focused on a different topic/theme each day (and new material posted daily too). If you miss some of the live webinars, don't worry;  they are posted on the WCW website later in the day/week to be enjoyed and consulted indefinitely. (The past five years of amazing WCW content is also available onsite -- what a great resource!) 

As usual, I didn't manage to get my act together to write something new -- but I'm always happy to promote WCW -- and last year, it occurred to me that I've covered many of the topics in my blog over the almost (gulp) 15 years I've been writing here. So each day, I'll post about the day's topic here, with some links to some of my own writing on the subject (if I have written about it). (Some of the content I wrote last year for WCW may be repurposed for this year's posts.) 

Enjoy! :) 

*** *** *** 

Day One is focused on the theme "Our Stories" (as it was in the three previous years too).  

Whilst we all share the same grief of childlessness, we each have a different story to tell of how we arrived here: the struggles to conceive, the sadness of not meeting a partner, the tough choices that broke our hearts, the circumstances that prevented and blocked our chance to be a parent. The confusion of emotions that left us grieving, the feelings of being misunderstood that made us withdraw from the world. 

This is your opportunity to share your story. 

I'm a firm believer in the power of telling our stories (if only to each other, at least at first). Meetings of the pregnancy loss support group that dh & I used to facilitate would always begin by going around the room and having each person introduce themselves and tell us their story, what brought them to us. Sometimes (especially at first), the stories would be long, detailed and filled with tears. Over time, new details would emerge that we hadn't heard before. And we'd learn to develop a shortened "Reader's Digest" version of our story, which left more time for the longer stories (plus, over time, the "regulars" would all get to know each other and each others' stories pretty well, so it wasn't quite as necessary or important to go through all the details for the umpteenth time). 

Telling and retelling our stories to each other like this, week after week, in a supportive environment among others who had similar stories to tell, was good practice for handling those inevitable innocent questions and awkward encounters that all of us experience, sooner or later. In training sessions, we also learned that telling our stories, or some version of them -- over and over and over again -- helps us to process what happened. 

I think the same principles apply to our stories about our childlessness.  Our stories matter, because they're OURS, and because by telling them, we light the way for other childless women looking for support and comfort.  Our stories remind each other that we are not alone.  

This entire blog, of course, is my story :) (or at least parts of/a version of it) and it has evolved, along with my story, over the past 15 years.  A barebones, thumbnail version of my story can be found in the "About me" Blogger profile near the top of this page on the right-hand side (or in the link here). You can find a slightly longer version in the "About me" page (found just under the title/header of this blog). The "Timeline" page (link right beside the "About me" link) also gives you an idea of how my story unfolded and some of the significant dates & events. 

If you're really interested in all the gory details (and be forewarned, some of them ARE a bit gory, emotionally if not physically), I wrote a series of posts tagged "1998 memories" in which I relived my one doomed pregnancy, 10 years after the fact. I did the same thing with "The Treatment Diaries," all about our foray into infertility treatments, 10 years after we abandoned them and resigned ourselves to permanent childlessness. 

I also wrote a few posts shortly after I started this blog, where I told a condensed version of my story (up to that time): 

If you have some difficulty telling your story to others (and I know I have!) -- especially to parents who might not understand/appreciate the subtleties of involuntary childlessness -- take comfort in the words of Brene Brown -- who emphasizes the importance of telling our stories -- but also this:  

Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.

Check out today's content on the WCW site, including community members' contributions and a webinar that ran live earlier today: "Therapy as a Therapist," hosted by Stephanie Phillips, with Cristina Archetti, Katie Maynard, Jody Day and Meriel Whale. It was recorded and will be soon uploaded to the Day One page for anyone who missed it. 

#MicroblogMondays: Missing Grandma

Since the Queen died last Thursday afternoon, the TV in our house has been tuned to almost wall-to-wall coverage, flipping around between CBC, CNN and BBC World.  (Dh just rolls his eyes, lol. I did relinquish the remote long enough to let him watch his Pittsburgh Steelers game yesterday afternoon, lol.)  Saturday, I watched footage of Princes Edward and Andrew, Princess Anne, and some of their spouses and children, walking from a nearby church service back to the castle at Balmoral, and stopping to admire the cards and bouquets left by the public at the gates of the estate. 

Several of the Queen's granddaughters were wiping away tears -- something that would have seemed unthinkable for a member of the Royal Family to do, 70 years ago. Princess Eugenie, in particular, seemed very emotional, and her father, Prince Andrew, put his arm around her and gave her a little side-hug to comfort her, patting her on the back.  

I was instantly reminded of when my own beloved grandmother died in 1999, at age 85 (when I was 38), almost a year to the day after my grandfather died at age 86 (which, in turn, was less than two months after I lost my baby, and just three days after I'd returned to work). As I said in an earlier post about the Queen's death, it "felt kind of like when my grandparents died... It was a day that I knew was coming, sooner versus later -- but hoped never would." I felt so lucky to have had my grandparents in my life for so long -- but so, so sad to have to let them go. :(  Almost 25 years later, I still miss them every single day. 

I abandoned work and flew out the next day to be with my family. We had a viewing/visitation at the tiny funeral home in the small town in Minnesota where Grandma had lived her entire life. 

I stood by the open casket and stared at what was left of my grandmother. She had lost a tremendous amount of weight during her final illness since I'd last seen her, a few months earlier -- so much so that the undertaker couldn't fit her dentures in her mouth, which changed the shape of her face. Thankfully, he'd put her glasses on her face, or I might not have recognized her at all. I stood there frozen, sobbing and sobbing, while relatives and friends milled around, talking among themselves. 

Then my cousin -- I only have two on that side of my family -- came over and put his arm around me and gave me a squeeze. He pointed to the large photo on the easel beside the casket, a wonderful shot of both of my grandparents, laughing together. "That's how I like to remember them," he whispered to me. My cousin has always been a sweetheart of a guy, and I will never forget that gesture of kindness and solidarity and support. And my mind went back to that moment when I saw Prince Andrew doing the same thing for his youngest daughter -- who is a royal princess, but (like me), also just a young woman coming to terms with the death of her beloved grandmother.

Andrew is about a year older than me, and (while I know it's hard to believe now...!) was something of a teen idol when I was growing up -- especially among me & my peers when he came to Canada in the late 1970s to spend a year at Lakefield College, a private boys' school near Peterborough, Ontario, and also when he accompanied his parents to the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton in 1978. (As the royal car departed the stadium, I remember yelling at the TV, "Andrew!  Come back!!"  lol)  

(My best friend sent him a letter asking if he wanted to be penpals (!) -- and actually got a polite reply from a lady-in-waiting at Buckingham Palace, thanking her for her letter, but telling her that Prince Andrew was not allowed to correspond with people he did not know personally. I think she framed it.)  

Unfortunately, his reputation has gone a looooonnngg way downhill in the years since then (and deservedly so).

But I will give him credit for that loving gesture of fatherly support. ;)  

(It's World Childless Week 2022!  I will be posting more about that later.) 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Friday, September 9, 2022

Odds & ends for the weekend

  • Yesterday felt kind of like when my grandparents died (in October 1998 and October 1999). It was a day that I knew was coming, sooner versus later -- but hoped never would. It's hard to believe the Queen is gone. She's been such a constant my entire life.... most people's lives! and sometimes it was easy to believe she would always be there, because she always had been. If you're under 70, you've never known another monarch. 
    • Dh told me when I got up that the Queen was not well. We flipped around between coverage on CBC, CNN & BBC World all morning. 
    • I was itching to get out, having spent the past several days at home, and we had a couple of errands to run, so we went out shortly after lunch. I went into one store while dh waited outside in the car... got in line for the checkout & got out my phone to text him that I'd be out soon -- and found a text from him from 20 minutes earlier saying the Queen had died. I didn't even hear the notification. 
    • As I've written here before, I've been an almost lifelong fan of the Queen and the Royal Family, at least as far back as when I was in Grade 1 (about 1967):  we had two lovely young practice teachers with us for a few weeks, and they did a unit with us about the Queen and the Royal Family, which piqued my interest in the subject. 
    • A few years later, in July 1970, we saw the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne at an outdoor church service at the fairgrounds grandstand in Dauphin, Manitoba, part of the Manitoba Centennial celebrations. My grandparents came for the occasion, and my sister & I wore the dresses we'd worn a few weeks earlier for our aunt's wedding. :)  They drove by us on the way out in an open convertible, so close that, as my Grandpa marvelled, "I could have reached out and touched her." (There are photos, somewhere!) 
    • No matter what you think of monarchy as an institution, I don't think anyone can deny that she was a remarkable woman who did her job extremely well -- for SEVENTY! YEARS!!  
    • It's the end of an era. :(  
  • I know the Queen's death has hit a nerve with a few CNBCers -- the images of the family rushing to be with her at Balmoral in particular (who's going to be at MY deathbed??).  
  • I had to bite my cybertongue soooooo hard on Tuesday, when a friend posted on social media that she was feeling "a little left out"... everyone was posting their kids' back-to-school photos, and it was the first year she wasn't sending hers off to school.  
    • SHE'S feeling left out??!! 
    • To add insult to injury, she's a fellow loss mom. (!!) 
  • Jennie Agg, who blogs at The Uterus Monologues, also has a Substack newsletter by the same name. (Substack is the new blogging, lol.) Loved this recent repost from her archives, "Sharp objects: when back-to-school week hurts." Here's the opening: 
"It’s back to school season, and that means running the daily social media assault course of first-day-of-school pictures (I can’t be alone in thinking of it in these combative terms, can I?). A week-long parade of other people’s babies – and they do often look like mere babies, play-acting in their Big School uniforms – heading out of the door, grown, growing…
"In the first week in September, the online chorus from mums of ‘please don’t get any bigger!’ and ‘where has my baby gone?’ seems to get louder. It’s unfair of me, perhaps, but I find these declamations hard to hear and even harder to sympathise with. They hurt, frankly, when your doorway is empty."
  • Earlier this week, I wrote about the sad recent events in Saskatchewan. I've been thinking about when we lived in that area, in the early 1960s, from the time I was 2 until I was 5 (we then moved to another town -- still small, but larger -- down the road, where we lived until I was 8, before we then moved back to Manitoba). 
    • The James Smith Cree Nation, where many of the murders took place, was not a familiar name to me -- but I remember my mother telling me about taking us to a rodeo/carnival on a reservation at a place called "Fort La Corne," where there were costumed native dancers, and she said my eyes were as big as saucers when I saw them!  I do have a very vivid memory of seeing a man in a full feathered headdress -- just like the Indians I saw in the movies and on TV. ;)  
    • I Googled to see where exactly Fort LaCorne was and found an article on it in Wikipedia. It was actually Fort de la Corne, a fur-trading post founded in the 1750s (more than 200 years before we lived there!) -- and the area is currently being developed to mine diamonds (!).  And there was this sentence:  "Today the Fort à la Corne Provincial Forest surrounds the site of the old fur trade posts. The site was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1926. The James Smith First Nation is nearby." Both places are almost directly north of the town where we lived.