On New Year’s Eve or coming up to the end of another year there is always someone who says good bye and good riddance to the last year as it wasn’t overly kind to them or it was just down right nasty. Now, I get it. Maybe that someone lost somebody close to them, maybe they lost their job, maybe they were diagnosed with a disease. Any one of those things would make for a no good year. I always look for the good in everything, or at least I try to. There are times when it takes a while to see the good but it’s always there. It may just be a glimmer at times, a speck, but it’s there. Always.
At the end of 2017 my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and it’s metastasized to his liver. I’m sad. There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by when I don’t feel sad, where I don’t shed at least a few tears. But those days are also filled with good moments, beautiful moments. Moments when I open my bedroom curtains to a new day. A day when the moon is still being dimly displayed but the sun is also shining and the sky is blue. Or, the day is cloudy and grey but there is a lone little song bird sitting on a tree branch singing out so loud you can’t help but smile and call him the busker of the bird neighbourhood, Or the days I just go to see my dad and he wraps me in a hug and tells me he loves me. (He tells me he loves me a lot right now.) He’s always been an optimistic person and that hasn’t changed since his diagnosis. Going to visit him gives me comfort. Going to see him gives others comfort as well. We do cry together (who wouldn’t) but we also laugh and reminisce. Reminisce. That’s another good thing. Moments I had forgotten come back to me or my brothers remember something and share it. And then there are his friends. He has so many friends. They come and visit. They cry, they pray, but mostly they laugh and, hopefully, go away with a lighter heart even though a good friend of theirs is suffering.
The good is always there. It is still considered winter here in Victoria but the cherry tress are in blossom even though I had to scrape ice off my windshield the other morning. The sun shone through the clouds yesterday as we listened to thunder rumble in the distance.
The good is always there. In my little niece who sends beautiful hand-written notes to my dad to make sure her grandpa knows she loves him. In my little nephew who bursts into my parents house bustling with energy and smiles and exuberant love. In the unquenchable love of my mom as she tends to her husband of over fifty years.
So, even though this is the just the third month of the year I do wonder how I will feel at the end of it. I guess I’ll just have to see but for now I hope when it comes time to look back on the year that I will still see the good.
When my husband Rick and I were still dating I decided to make him his favourite cheesecake – it was an Oreo cheesecake, a recipe of his mom’s. The recipe looked simple enough – cream cheese, oreos, a bunch of other stuff, what could possibly go wrong? I made the cake. I put it on a heavy crystal plate of my mom’s and served it for dessert after dinner with my parents, my brothers, and Rick. When cutting into the cake it seemed a little hard so I got a bigger, sharper knife from the kitchen. This should have been my first clue. When trying to put a fork into the cake it was like trying to put a fork into a chunk of hard cheddar cheese. To say it was hard is an understatement. One would want to check their dental plan before trying a slice. To say it was inedible is putting it nicely. No one ate it….well, no one except my dad. My lovely, ever-encouraging dad. With both hands wrapped around his fork he chipped off pieces of the cake and choked down every bite….and declared it good! While cleaning up the dinner dishes I was going to throw the cake away but my dad told me not to rather wrap it up and put it in the fridge. So, the cake was wrapped up, still on the heavy crystal plate and placed in the fridge. Now, you have to understand the fridge I grew up with. Nothing was left to waste, leftovers were kept in various forms of tupperware, and the fridge was always packed. So putting the cheesecake in the fridge meant it was balanced on the various pieces of tupperware housing all those leftovers. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you look at it, the next time the fridge was opened the cake fell off its precarious perch of various heights of tupperware and crashed to the ground. The heavy crystal plate broke but the cake, that hard piece of cheese, stayed fully intact. Pretty sure that cake could have been used as a spare tire.
Now jump forward about 30 years. It’s the Easter long weekend. Dinner is at my parent’s and I decided to make….yup you guessed it….cheesecake. You’re probably thinking “what is she thinking?: Doesn’t she remember what happened last time she made cheesecake?! Does she hate her family?!”
Don’t fear, it was just a no-bake cheesecake….baby steps and all…..and I may have crossed my fingers as I put it together. Really, what could possibly go wrong?
About a month ago my husband, Rick and I went to our niece’s wedding. It was out of town and so I booked a sweet little bungalow at a lakeside resort. We had stayed at this resort a few years ago for another niece’s wedding and even though it is horribly over priced it is beautiful and really is the only game in town. We arrived very late and fell into bed after a long day at work and then a long drive. When we woke the next morning we realized there was no water in our bungalow. I called the main desk where the voice mail messsage informed me that they wouldn’t be in until nine that morning. I left a messsage stating our problem and asking that someone turn on the water. We then decided to go out for breakfast as we had a few things to do prior to the wedding that day. So, without showering, washing our faces, or brushing our teeth we took off to find breakfast. When we returned to the resort about eleven thirty that morning the water still hadn’t been turned on. Feeling frustrated I called the front desk again and was greeted with the same voice mail message. I then decided to walk to the office to get some help. This proved fruitless as no one was in the office that weekend. With frustration increasing I remembered seeing some maintenance workers at a shed so I went in search of them. I found three men fixing a lawn mower. I explained my dilemma and asked if one of them could help. We finally got water, had showers, and made it to the wedding.
Before we left the next day I wrote a note leaving it on the counter in the kitchen of our bungalow about wanting to speak with someone about the fact we did not have water for our first day. I didn’t get a call that first morning back home so I called in the afternoon and left a message. I left messages every day for the first week we were back. I finally received a call the following week. I explained my situation. She apologized profusely and offered a few things to compensate us. They did not meet what I wanted which was one of our nights taken off our bill ($300.00 US). She said she didn’t have the authorization to do this but would get back to me that day. Would you be surprised if I said I didn’t hear back from her? Well, I didn’t. I left messages the following days and weeks. A complete month later I left yet another message, the queen mother of all messages. It was a message that should be played for all customer relations personnel in training sessions. I was riled up. I was frustrated. I was dissatisfied and I made it known. I didn’t swear, curse, or yell (as I’m not that type of person) but I made sure whoever would be listening to this that I wasn’t happy. It was the longest voice mail I have ever left. I really thought I would be cut off given time limits on most voice mails but I wasn’t.
The next morning….I received a call from the resort! I was given many apologies and in the end my wishes were granted. I’m happy….now and so won’t give the name of the resort. But what I would like to know is why did it come to this? Why did I have to become the angry customer that no one wants to deal with before I got a response?
I hate complaining but if something isn’t done right I do expect to be heard and have it corrected. I hate listening to people complain but if I haven’t done something right I make sure I correct it as soon as I know about it.
Do I expect too much? All I wanted was water!
While in Costco in early September I saw stacks of boxes of Halloween candy. There were mini chocolate bars, mini bags of chips, mini bags of fruit chews…you get it, mini snacks. In years past I have always chosen the box of mini chocolate bars – 150 in each box and a few different kinds to choose from: Kit Kat, Coffee Crisp, Aero, Snickers, Caramilk, Butterfinger, Crunchie and in years past I have usually broken into the box prior to Halloween. There may have been one year, may have been, I’m not totally confirming this, when I had to buy another box…..don’t judge me! But, I digress. This year I decided to buy the box with mini bags of Skittles and small packages of Starbursts. Now, to be fair to the Skittles and Starburst people there is nothing wrong with their product it’s just not chocolate and, any of my friends can tell you, I can resist any sweet but chocolate. It is my achilles heel, my kryptonite, my I’ll-tell-you-who-deep-throat-is, I’ll-tell-you-what-happened-to-Jimmy-Hoffa, I’ll-fork-over-all-of-DB-Cooper’s-money just hand over the chocolate. I thought buying something that I don’t crave hourly would be better for me….and it was. That box of Skittles and Starburst didn’t get open until October 31, a few minutes before the trick-or-treaters started knocking on my door. But as I handed out candy to all the little ghosts and goblins and iron men and Donald Trumps (yes, there was a Donald Trump-scariest costume ever) I began to crave my yearly snack. I tried telling myself it was fine, that this was better for me but I still missed those mini chocolate bars. Today is November 1 and even though my blood sugar is probably much better today than a year ago and I don’t feel guilty every time I walk by the garbage can and see crumpled up chocolate bar wrappers I cheated myself out of a nice light snack, biting into bubbles, and wondering how they got the caramel into those little squares and I’m really wishing I hadn’t been so ascetic and was able to have just a few of those mini chocolate bars….now! After all, they’re mini.
Those who know me know I enjoy having people over to my place and feeding them. But, in the last couple of weeks I think my kitchen is trying to tell me something. While friends were over about two weeks ago my kitchen sink clogged. Dinner was pretty much ready so I didn’t stress too much. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “I guess we don’t have to do the dishes tonight”. We all laughed and enjoyed dinner together. The sink was fixed the next night (really, what else does anyone want to do on a Friday night anyway?).
The next day, my fridge stopped keeping things cool. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the job of a fridge, to keep things cool? It was a side-by-side fridge (fridge on one side, freezer on the other). I opened the freezer side and everything had melted and dripped to the bottom. And then, in my infinite wisdom, I turned it as cold as it would go so it didn’t get messier in there. Really, not a good idea. I don’t advise this action – ever! A bag of frozen strawberries had collapsed through the wire shelf and once they semi-froze again I couldn’t get them out. Over-ripe bananas that I had put in the freezer to make banana bread with later did the same thing. So, a new fridge was bought and arrived a week later.
Then, the other day, an hour before people were to arrive, I put some butter in the microwave to melt in order to make corn bread. Not even 20 seconds in a loud pop was heard, then a flash was seen, and the microwave stopped. The next day, a new microwave was bought.
Today, friends are coming for dinner. Come on, new gas range.
I started this blog feeling bitter and wanting to share my bitterness here. It was something that started just before the long weekend and has, at times, hung over my head. But while airing my bitterness through keystrokes I started hearing my grandmother’s voice about counting my blessings. And not being able to turn my beloved grandmother’s voice off I have gone through many revisions of this blog. I say many revisions because at times I’m not a good listener…..and I may be a wee bit stubborn….ok, I’m a lot stubborn. Boots in thick mud stubborn. My grandmother is not with me any longer and yet her wise words will still stop me in my tracks and make me rethink the actions or words I want to do or say. Which is a very good thing as over the weekend I wanted to rail at the ones who caused my bitterness. I wanted to point fingers and say “look at what you did! and because of you I had a terrible weekend.” Upon reflection, this would have caused people to feel very bad and would have caused embarrassment to loved ones. And, I didn’t have a terrible weekend. On the contrary it was quite lovely and fun and relaxing. Over the weekend I was able to express my disappointment and bitterness to a third party, a friend. She made the appropriate sounds, she sympathized, she even provided an answer and she made me laugh when before all I wanted to do was cry. So, now I’m doing what my grandmother taught me to do and I’m counting my blessings….and I’m naming them one by one.
- I have a job where I get all the statutory holidays off.
- My husband is a loving, kind, and wise man.
- I have awesome friends.
- I have a fantastic family.
- I have my health.
- I have the ability to laugh at myself (albeit sometimes it takes a good amount of time before I get to the laughing part) when I’m being stupid.
- I had a wonderful long weekend.
Now, I could list a whole lot more blessings but these were the ones that came into play this weekend.
Thanks Grandma. Your voice is still being heard.