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Reply by Jimmie
06 Sep 2014, 11:38 PM

I take the worn toque off my balding head and respectfully salute the both of you:

My Two Lovely Oldbags:

Let me begin by saying that my father would have kicked me hard enough in the arse for addressing any lady in such an "impolite" manner to permanently rearrage my buttocks. Let me also suggest, with obligatory apologies to Dad, that you both address me as "Old Fart" since you have set the tenor of these conversations so firmly on the informal.  Finally, may I say that I am very appreciative of your recent posts both in terms of what you say, and also in terms of the emotions with which you say it.

You ask for our patience, Oldbat, (perhaps that could be your Christian"first" name followed by the surname "Oldbag"), while you work through  your thought of being "wedded to an image" which might in fact prohibit us from a certain kind of "liberation".  Here on the east Coast, lobsters molt - there comes a time when its growth, its life requires a painful cracking through the shell that has until then defined, protected and increasingly limted it.  By choice or circumstance or both - life sooner or later demands the same of us.  I am eager to see where your thoughts might take you, Oldbat. 

I am also eager to celebrate the virtue of the "belly-laugh".  I have been blessed with good friends both near and far who have supported me in my own trails for years and years. They have rarely disappointed me, and often saved me.  They have done so though I have thogoughly worn them out with my own weariness and litany of complaints.  The words of solace, the wisdom of the professionals, the comfort and companionship of good books are all to be relished throughout such times of loneliness and exhaustion.  However, sometimes as I think OLdbat suggests, what is most needed is a genuine breeak from the weight of so much sadness - what's needed is an uninhibited, deeply resonating  belly laugh that at least momentraily revises a sense of joy within us. And I think, remember - this is "Old Fart" speaking - I think such a letting go into spontaneous moments of joy takes courage: the courage to abandon our weariness, our despair, our grief, guilt, and anger, in a sense our very publicly constructed and affirmed identities along with all our necessary and noble  resposnsibilities and let ourselves be embraced by joy -  before returning to our lives as care givers.  Not always an easy thing to do: to suggest, however briefly, that we have a life - perhaps even a right to a life of our own - aside from our life as a care giver. To suggets - above all else to ourselves -  that we might be an "I" as well as a "we".

Being an "Old Fart" that might be a crock of beans, but maybe not.  I know that a couple of beers, and a crowd of singers raucously hollering out Stan Roger's "Barretts Privateers" would do wonders for me from time to time.

Take care, m'ladies.  You sound like lovely, lovely individuals.  It's good to be in your company.

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Reply by Xenia
07 Sep 2014, 3:53 PM

Good Morning All:  Jimmie, Old bat aka Old bag, etc.

Sending greetings from the sunny West Coast where another day began at 5:45.  Did the usual thingsgetting John's breakfast, meds,bed changes, etc.  back to bed and asleep. Daughter just called and said she was more worried about me as I looked tired yesterday during their visit.  Old age, I replied and besides it was so hot.  At my age, one day looking tired and old is a winner.  

Glad to hear you enjoy Oldbat and my messages, Jimmie and you are a true gentleman calling us, m'ladies.  Been a long time since such endearment was sent my way, I can;t speak for Oldbat-aka Old bag but I truly appreciated your sense of humour and being an East Coaster you have so many idioms in your speech that it makes me appreciate the diversaty of our country.

I am thinking of changing some of my respite care days for the upcoming winter and fall season.  I haven't been to the pool for a year  (yes I am a bathing beauty) since John came home from hospital.  I need to get back into the water and do the aquafit exercises as sitting at home and not doing much in the way of keeping fit I have come to the conclusion I need to look after me more.  The dr.(went for an appointment Friday for the first visit as my dr. had a stroke ..am I repeating myself, if so,old age) and she tells me my heart and blood pressure are excellent.  Therefore, I need to keep moving or else I will freeze up with this old arthritis who has become more prevelant since I am not moving so much.

I believe becoming more proactive in John's care and looking more outward I am not feeling the fear of loss as much as I did in the beginning.  I do not want to lose John but I don't want to see him enduring the COPD (real loss of breath) and his constant fatigue and pain.  I have learned that I need to let go of looking for more symptoms he is having and let him tell me what is going on.  He is very stoic and doesn;t talk about his pain or loss of breath until after the episode and if that is his way of accepting his passing that is up to him.  It will be hard as we have been married 58 years, which is a lifetime of togetherness.

Oldbat, Vancouver is a lovely city, I lived there for many years then moved to the Cariboo, if you know history that is where the gold rush was in Canada, built a log house and lived off the land for a number of years, then John got sick and we had to sell 25 acres and the log house and go to the Valley in B.C.  Took a while to get back into living with neighbours but I survived and I seem to be able to get in touch with others and became active and started a Chronic Pain group and life went on till we had to move, kids made us move as the home we had was too large and I was doing all the work, gardens, etc.  Into a condo and here we are.  That is my partial life story.

Jimmie I would love to visit the East Cost once more, did that trip 20 some years ago with husband and two friends.  Went to many places and enjoyed the East coast hospitality tremedously (spelling).  Took many videos and watch them quite often as we went right across Canada, except to Newfoundland.

Well, here I am writing a story but all is quite on the home front so I will now sign off, check John and begin some breakfast clean up and see what needs to be done for the rest of the day.

To all be good to yourselves, Jimmie you can put your hairpiece back on, Oldbat-Oldbag sorry about my finger slipping onto the wrong key but since you had a good belly laugh it was meant to be.  

Take care

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Reply by oldbat
08 Sep 2014, 2:24 AM

Greetings OldBat/Bag #2 and Old Fart #1:

More belly laughs from your "come from away", Jimmie .  And Xenia,, how great to find another water baby.  Let's make a deal:  you get back to it and so will I.  While Jimmie serenades the  two of us with a rousing sea shanty (sp?!).  We'll just have to make sure that neither of us moults!

So, Jimmie, where's you from Bye?  Karl and I fell in love with the Maritimes (all of them) and went back several times some years ago.  Special memories of the Red Shoe pub in Mabou and Mac Morin.  We went there for lunch, and were still there in the early hours of the next day. That was some party.

I checked out Barrett's Privateers by the way.  Good one.  And I've bookmarked Stan Rogers for one of those bleak days that do come round from time to time.

Interesting thought, Jimmie, that we "might be an I as well as a we."  Turned my thinking right on its head that did!  I've been struggling mightily with the "I" thing.  It took me so long to become a "we" that I've wanted to hold fast to it.  Not reasonable, I know, but there's very little that's actually reasonable about any of this ******* we're all going through.  It seems to me that you both are doing quite well, at least in terms of family and friends.  Good for you, and them. I have no family - never had, and Karl's daughters want no part of me.  As for friends, we used to have many but, as life got harder, I believe that the sympathy-fatigue kicked in and there were quite a few fade-outs.  

Sorry - had to take a "me" break:  there was an hour-long retrospective on Pavoratti on radio - and I couldn't resist!  It made the perfect ending to the happy afternoon Karl and I spent watching Germany beat Scotland in European soccer!

There was another good time this week, too.  I joined him at his nursing home, where they were holding "A Night In Paris."  They do these, variations of them, about four times a year.  This time the room was decorated with murals of scenes by the Seine, there were pretty lights dancing around the ceiling, and each table was decorated French -style, as was the excellent food.  They had a pretty good violinist and had "imported" two can-can dancers - one from Australia!  The highlight for me was when they played Bill Hayley's "Rock Around the Clock" and a woman who's in Karl's swimming group, got up and rocked her heart out.  She has advanced dementia and I had NEVER seen her interact with anyone except her husband before.  The joy on her face was a wonder to behold.

I am learning to treasure moments like these.  I call them "small pleasures" and often don't realize them until i review my day.

O.K. Jimmie, as OBOB2says put your toque back on. Xenia, you be specially good to yourself this week.

Hugs - big ones - to you both from OBOB1.  And thank you so, so much for sharing some of your stories.

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Reply by Jimmie
08 Sep 2014, 1:25 PM

My dear Old Bat, and Old Bag#2:

Please note the scandalous tone of familiarity and fondness suggested in that salutation.  What a refreshing delight for me to have met the two of you.

Since you asked, Old Bat, I grew up in  Halifax, taught in Newfoundland, moved to a small fishing harbour in Nova Scotia called Ballantyne's Cove - the hills of Cape Breton a good skipping stone's throw across the bay - and now we live in Antigonish, a small univeristy town on the same shoreline -"The Highland Heart of Nova Scotia" - or so it claims (which means very big men - for a few days each summer - get to wear colourfull skirts and throw very big logs around for an afternoon or two much to the delight of other very big, skirted men and their somewhat bored and sunburned wives.  Mabou and the Red Shoe are a pleasant afternoon's drive away across the causeway.  We did two shows ourselves (I work with a small theatrical troupe of adults living with schizophrenia) in Mabou a while ago and had a fabulous overnight at the convent there which the sisters operate as a kind of hostel/ brothel - (Not actually a brothel!! You have to forgive my occasional slips into impropriety.  My multiple chemo regimens have weakened the "editing" function of my brain and I sometimes find it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality.  It's a curse I have lived with since adolescence - truth be told.)

Anyway, to bring these biographical notes up to date, I have had two bouts of cancer, and am now the principal care giver for my wife, Sarah, who is in the latter stages of Huntingtons.  W are still together (for the moment at least) in our home. Her illness is progressive and global in its affects upon her.  A difficult life for her, a miserable illness to live through and to care for. Completely unanticipated and a curse for our family to live with.    

I have yet to step outside, but it seems to be a brilliantly clear morning here - the air absolutely still, Sarah still asleep after a crummy day yesterday and a restless night. I have, perhaps you share this, a special fondness for the fall and for sunlight on salt water.  Small pleasures as you say.  You are wise to collect such pleasures at the end of the day, and if you can find the proper stillness (which I rarely do) let your spirit steep in them.  There is a joy to be found on a morning like this one, and a joy to be found as well in the absolutely uninhibited, and absolutely unreasonable dance of that lady in the nursing home.  My mom used to sing for the troops leaving for overseas from Halifax during WW11.  In her latter days, lost in the oblivion of dementia, she could still sing those songs - on key - word for word - with obvious delight - each song holding a host of memories and emotions.

It has been - if you'll pardon my boldness (this being only our second date) - a joy for me to have met the two of you. I salute you both anchored as I am on the shores of the Atlantic. That we have met on this "internet cafe" rather than at some fine little eatery on one coast or another makes no difference.  WE have met.  And that has made a great deal of difference to me.  Spirit is not bound by space or time 

The wind has come up now.  Each house on my street holds its own stories, it's own tumble of tragedies and joys.  The path I took to get to school - up and over the ridge has grown in - the neighbourhood is aging.  Nevertheless there are things to be learned.  It is such a delight for me to be permitted the pleasure of your company, one of the paradoxical gifts of what can be a difficult and demoralizing time.

I shall hold some East Coast seaweed up in the air that some fortunate wind might carry its envigorating smell to the both of you.  Mr Harper tends to dismiss us as "have nots", but that is his folly. Anyway, from one part of Canada to another and another - take care - hope your day goes well - may you both haved have a moment or two of dancing yourselves within this day, and the ones to follow.  Hard times. I'll do my best to do the same in hoour of the both of you, and for my own heart's ease.

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Reply by NatR
08 Sep 2014, 1:50 PM

Dear Oldbat 1,2 and Jim:)

i am am following your  chit chat and am blown away by the instant cameraderie that has developed :)

this is is the magic of caregivers who can see each other for who they are, revel in conversation about experiences you have had  and places you have been.

there is a subtle lift in these words you share - even for me listening in:)
as caregivers we struggle to care and forget to give ourselves the small but necessary gift of relating to others as - well, just Us!

keep doing what you are doing, it's wonderful support in the face of the seriousness that consumes our lives when we focus on giving care.

jim I know how difficult your wifes condition is  - and she has a good partner in you - and as you travel your journey - please keep sharing with us  

you are so right - this is a global friendship room - this Forum is indeed an Internet Cafe for families  and through the support we become friends;)

i am am grateful to you all for sharing your journey and in return getting understanding and virtual hugs! It's forums like this that are changing the path for caregivers around the country and across all borders - the language is the same - Love, Caring, Support, Sharing, information and Affirmation.

now I have gone on way too long, please forgive me - I wish each reader a good day, and know you are being thought of ;)
best wishes to all,

ps Jim I enjoyed your description of your life on the east coast;)  
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Reply by oldbat
08 Sep 2014, 2:22 PM

Dear NatR,

I'm so glad that you are enjoying our exchanges as much as we are.  Opening up my mailbox to find something from Xenia and/or Jim can turn a potentially black moment into something that is purely purple, for me.

XENIA;  I hope that your day has started as well as mine.  And JIM, stay tuned for a reply to your endlessly interesting missive.  Like NatR I know, not as much as she does, but a little about Huntingtons.  Enough to understand its depredations and  the extreme difficulties that you and Sarah share.

I wish all of us a day that contains more than one small pleasure, and look forward to our sharing.  the moments of joy certainly, but also the not-so-good ones.  Somehow my life has been lighter since I met you all.  You have no idea (or maybe you do!) how much that means to me.  And also to Karl.  He has an uncanny empathy for my moods and, if he senses pain in me, cries so he can share it.  Just as he shares my joy.

I am so lucky with him, and count myself even more fortunate for now having you all in my life. 

Not sure where you Live NatR, but am sending BIG hugs to east, centre and western Canada.  But none to Ottawa!!!! 

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Reply by NatR
08 Sep 2014, 2:27 PM

Hi again
i am in northern Ontario - 600 air miles north of Toronto!
we had a foggy morning - but I see on the news that northern Alberta got a skiff of snow overnite!
its just Too Early
good day all:)
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Reply by Xenia
08 Sep 2014, 2:43 PM

Good Morning Oldbat and Jimmie:

Guess it is Top o the marnan to you both.  Happy to see that you are both up and around and welcoming the new day.  I too have been up, 4:00 a.m BC time that is 7:00 a.m. Ontario time and who knows what time in the Far East, oy, that is not the far East that is just Eastern Canada. Nova Scotia.

Our morning is beginning to take on a sunny hue, it is a bit cloudy and we can feel the Fall or do we call it Autumn (never know with this English Language and being politically correct) or Indian Summer (here we go again..Politically correct?), It is cool in the mornings and then gets warmer as the day moves on.

I too love fall, read John Steinbecks - Travels with Charley and someone described fall as a gracious old lady putting on her colours before she fades to the winter whites. Or something like that.  We travelled the East of Canada during the fall a number of years ago and were in awe of the colours of the trees.  Now if we could keep the mountains, put in some prairie openess and the colours of the East in the Fall we would have a perfect province, not that we don;t have now but that is left for further discussion for better minds than mine.

Jim:  I can understand somewhat the affect your wifes, Sarah, illness has on you.  It takes a lot to look after someone when you too have and are having various health problems on your own.

This morning I was not so cheerful in my mind.  I looked around the condo and said to myself I want to scream.  I am tired of seeing oxygen cylinders, waiting for oxygen delivery this a.m., wheel chair, lifted toilets, medicine and all.  I want outa here.  Then, I just took a big breath and let it out slowly and sat down for a moment or two to see John asleep in his chair in the living room, oxygen on him and he seemed at peace so I thought what are you complaining about.  Then I went to the computer and found the messages here and my day has been lifted. 

Nat:  It is great you are enjoying our messages and that you have seen and know about what makes us tick.  Ups and downs and all the rest.  Thank You for being here for us.

Jim:  When you describe the houses on your street I do declare (my southernness coming out) we are a kindred spirit as I often look out to see houses lit up and wonder what is going on there, who lives there and what is their story.  Wonder if they wonder about our condo as well.  

Oldbat:  Good Morning to you, you must be just turning over in your snugly bed and waiting to get up since we do not see you on line.  Trust all is well with you and that you are and will have a great day.

I have to sign off now, waiting for the oxygen lady and the care person who will give John his shower and change his bed.  All for now.

Take care.

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Reply by Xenia
08 Sep 2014, 3:00 PM

An addendum to my email.  Sorry Oldbat aka Oldbag, you are up and around already, I think I have what they call brain fog or for another word something less delcate.

I read the messages but sometimes my brain isn;t in gear before my hands hit the keys.

Take care.

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Reply by oldbat
08 Sep 2014, 3:37 PM

Not to worry, Xenia.  My "morning" brain fog lasts well into the afternoon.  And then I just want to dance into the early hours.  Although dancing is not exactly an apt description for someone who walks with a cane and/or walker.  WTH, I'm dancing in my heart!

Glad our messages made your day better.  

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