It’ll Be Okay, Mom – Fingers Crossed

It’s a different sort of summer. For months (years) we’ve been encouraging (harassing) my parents to change their living situation. I sugar coat all the words to make the struggle easier. And I can’t stop myself from thinking about myself and my husband, and our same age peers – what living situation will we choose in our ‘golden years’?

Without doubt we will all want to stay in the houses that we’ve renovated and refitted with carefully chosen granite and then more fashionable quartz , where we’ve taken down walls making great rooms as great rooms became the fashion. But when the time comes, as it has for my mom and dad, when that big yard, the staircases, even the meal preparation and bringing in food, has just become too much – where will we land?

It’s taken a while for my four siblings and I to all be on the same page agreeing that, as proud as we may be that these people that raised us have managed to keep their own household going for all these years, (65 years in fact) but now it’s time for them to have an easier life. My dad has various health issues now and simply put – they need a supported living situation.

I could write a book on the journey involved in searching out the right – what I call – ‘retirement residence’. I call it that because it sounds nice and (fingers crossed) hopefully it will be. My parents will have their own apartment- we are not talking about a nursing home or the dreaded ‘long-term care facility’ that one might need some day. They’ll have a bedroom, living room ‘kitchen area’ and the oversized bathroom these places feature.

It was that tiny kitchen that we all wished was something more. They’ll have room to bring the dining room table we’ve told our stories around, but there are just a very few cupboards. Where to put the platter that’s held the turkey for decades of Christmas’s , or the collection of vases from years of bouquets, what about the big bowl for popcorn with a movie on tv, or the big lemonade pitcher for drinks when family arrive with thirsty little ones?

Because of that tiny kitchen ‘spot’ we took my mom and dad to view a higher end retirement residence this week. No question that it was attractive and, despite it not being necessary – with three meals provided in the first floor dining room- it featured an actual kitchen, complete with full fridge and dishwasher. This brand new building, with residents moving in for the very first time was lovely, but when we returned to the place more comfortably within their budget we saw folks already friendly with each other chatting on a Sunday afternoon outside, and in the dining room an elderly woman was playing the piano loudly and with spirit, for whoever cared to listen.

We went up to take measurements to see if perhaps the china cabinet might fit, to hold special treasures and more practical items (it will) and I stared down the mini fridge.

I know my parents will only need to keep a quart of milk, or a few refreshments for when they don’t want to walk down the hall to the ‘bistro room’ that is always open, but it is the idea, that after a lifetime of taking care of themselves they don’t need their own butter or mayonnaise or a dozen eggs, that is bothering me.

That will be okay, mom, I think. We’ll go out to shop for what makes you happy in that puny fridge. In the next few weeks we’ll get busy choosing how to make this home. We’re putting our trust in the good we see here – the supportive kind staff we’ve met, the opportunities to socialize with your peers around new tables, and that wonderful woman playing the piano.


……To read about another sort of leaving home click here for My book Text Me, Love Mom on Amazon

A Different Sort Of Summer

It’s been a different sort of summer. I’ve been living the dream, as they say, staying four long weeks at our lake place in the North Shuswaps. We’re on the shore on a stretch of water that carves up this forested place with arms that go off for miles in a multitude of directions.

My kids, and granddaughters, and my younger brother, a niece and a nephew, a dear cousin, and good friends have circled round this stretch of lake this summer, through little villages that burst with seasonal energy – to swim and boat and break bread with me. Odd to say me, not us. But I’ve had to host alone this year as my husband’s had a strange summer too – an extremely arduous aspect of his work has unfortunately landed smack in the middle of normal holiday time.

And the summers had another weight to it – my elderly parents have had a lovely family member as the live-in caregiver they require, but she needs to move on now. My siblings and I have all spent time trying (oh man, we’re trying) to convince both our mom and dad that moving into the nice, comfortable, sociable, well managed … seniors residence we helped my mom find will be a better choice then the house they can’t manage any more. Honest dad, it will be.

So I’ll bring up the beach chairs, tie the kayak high on the shore, wash one more load of towels, close the blinds, pack the hanging planters into the car with my suitcase and big box of BC peaches and wind my way around this giant lake towards home.

It’s been a different time as times go. And I’ll surely blog about the time to come.

Looking for another read by Candace Allan – check out the book Text Me, Love Mom, Two Girls, Two Boy’s, One Empty Nest.

For My Mom: She Said, He Said Mother’s Day Quote Quiz

Text Me, Love Mom – Mother’s Day Week:

This blog is dedicated to my mom, aka Gramma or GG. In her honour it’s high time for some fun, some merriment, some exuberance even. My wonderful 86-year-old Mom just settled back into her home after 4 weeks of rehabilitation from knee replacement surgery.  Along with all sorts of health care professionals my four siblings, my daughters, and I have been mothering the mother, and even more than that we’ve had all hands on deck taking care of our dad (Grandpa) whose whole world was rocked not having Mom in the house they still abide in.

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But hey, it’s the first week of May – Mother’s Day approaches and I’ve decided to have some fun with my book Text Me, Love Mom in celebration of Mama’s everywhere.  Text Me, Love Mom; Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest is about that time in a family when the kids are leaving home and the folks are striking a new balance with them. But kids do come back, like my fifty-something siblings and I are doing, and the mom is always and forever the mom.  So let’s have some fun ….

If you answer all five quiz questions correctly (there will be one a day until Saturday) I’ll send you a signed copy of Text Me, Love Mom. So drumroll for Tuesday’s question:

Which of the book’s eccentric characters is the narrator referring to in this line in the opening chapter:

“He didn’t even like it when we got rid of an old couch, let alone his sister?”

And this one’s for GG, an avid gardener- Anyone know what type of pink blossoms Text Me, Love Mom is nestled up against in this photo?

You can answer both questions in the comments section.  Happy Mother’s Day Week!!

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Text Me, Love Mom is available at all your favourite on-line book sellers and right here print or on-line:

http://www.amazon.com/Text-Me-Love-Mom-Girls/dp/1771800712

How To Be Married For Sixty Years

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In just nine sleeps my family will all gather at our lakeside cottage to celebrate sixty years of my husband’s parent’s marriage – a remarkable anniversary to plan a three day party around. Only two years ago my side of the family joyously gathered to mark my mom and dad’s union of sixty years, as well. As we plan meals, count air mattresses, and life jackets, text directions and shopping lists for next weeks celebration – I wanted to re-post the blog entry from July 2013 – the year of the flood and the first big party…

My parents were married on June 22nd, 1953 in a small wooden church in central Alberta.  All that day the rain poured down filling the country community yard with mud, so much so that the bridesmaid and her mother photographed their own muddy dress shoes after they pushed their car out of the muck leaving the dance that evening. Sixty years later on June 22nd Calgary, Alberta was waking up from one of the worst floods in its history. A week after, my parent’s children and their spouses, the grandchildren and two great grandchildren, drove and flew from three provinces to laugh under the sun umbrella,

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skunk each other in cribbage,

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jack knife into the cold lake,

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and then they strung the cottage with streamers, set the fanciest table it had ever seen, bedecked the table with wild flower bouquets and finally broke bread together (along with roast beef and piles of local steamed vegetables).fam at table

     After being presented with congratulatory letters from Stephen Harper and none other than her majesty, the Queen of England, the anniversary couple cut their cake, which was festooned with a miniature wedding couple that closely resembled the bride and groom during that year when ‘How Much is That Doggie in the Window’ was a hit song.  As my dad placed his hand over my mom’s along the edge of the knife handle and sliced into the butter cream and chocolate cake, we asked them to reveal the secret to being married for these six decades. My dear, sweet mommy replied, “Tolerance.”  And my funny dad said, “She kept the back door locked, so no escaping that way.”  But really it has been love and admirable devotion, and really and truly having each other’s backs.  I recently read a quote by the actor Jeff Bridges, who was also asked to explain the success of  his long marriage.  He replied that the secret to staying married – is staying married. And maybe you have to be into for a few decades to understand the meaning of that seemingly simple answer.

Rocking the Sixtieth Anniversary Countdown – continued from last post

Our whole lives my parents and I have been traveling by the little town of Field, B.C.on the side of the trans Canada highway as we have climbed or descended through the Rockies on various vacations. This morning, on the second day our travels to their Sixtieth Anniversary weekend destination, we all woke up in this, oh so picturesque, tiny town. I’d learned, googling on my iPad the night before that, “ Field was established during the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) as a locomotive depot for pusher engines required to help trains over the nearby Field Hill and Big Hill.”   train yard

While I waited for Mom and Dad to meet me for breakfast I strolled the mountain streets above the train yards, clicking away with my iphone camera, wondering if I had what it takes to start up a guest house- which appeared to be the main occupation in Field – could I bake a scone, turn down a bed, put up with guests ridiculous questions – like mine, “Hey, anyone know when the TransCanada will open?”

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Finishing off the fat sausages and thick toast with our coffees, we could gaze from the restaurant out to the highway and see that it would be a different sort of drive to the cottage and anniversary weekend.  It would be a drive completely void of the hundreds of big transport trucks normally taking this route to the coast, with the highway still closed at that crucial point behind us.

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As we motored along, winding through the mountains at a relaxed pace, we were stocking up for the weekend, purchasing early B.C fruit at one stand (sweet little strawberries), discovering a new baker at a Salmon Arm coffee shop (whole wheat sourdough), and finally buying the very last of a crop of asparagus to add to our haul – as long as three asparagus a piece for twenty-seven people would work out.

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We drove through Golden and Revelstoke, Sicamous, Salmon Arm and Sorento, traveling in and out of storms, through sunshine and under rainbows, before turning down our steep driveway to the cottage on the lake – where my dad took my mom’s hand, his lovely bride of sixty years, and helped her down the walkway to the party destination.

With my daughters and husband following behind us we’ll all have twenty-four hours  to prepare coleslaw and beet and rice salad, saute Alberta beef, bake nanaimo bars and ginger cookies, blow up air mattresses and freshen rooms, sweep the decks and buy the booze, twist the streamers and pick bouquets…stay tuned – will the ‘bridal couple reveal the secrets to seven hundred and twenty months of wedded bliss?

I Imagined that We Get Hot, Fat, and Grow Mustaches But I Need to Know More

I’m not freaked out about my age.  I worried more turning thirty-nine than I did fifty.  Thirty-nine seemed the end of youth.  No kidding.  At fifty, while I sometimes long for my mom on Sunday mornings to be making pancake breakfast in my kitchen, complete with juice in silly little glasses, I get that I’m the matriarch in the house.  My first kid left home when I was – just a sec – math is hard for me when I haven’t slept all freak’en night –eighteen plus twenty-five equals forty-three – holy shit (excuse the language, I’m tired and cranky) was I only forty-three?  These days women are having babies at the same age that  I was all boo hoo over mine packing her bags – no wonder I’ve been blogging on that subject forever.

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Where was I?  Right, I’m not upset that I’m fifty – something-in-the-first-half-of-the-fifties.

Okay you guessed it – it’s this menopause bit that has me feeling crazy.  (Acting crazy?)  And somehow it seems aside from information gleaned from all those stupid email jokes with pot bellied old ladies with saggy boobs threatening their ill-prepared husbands, I don’t have the hard facts on this hormonal upheaval.  I kept meaning to buy a book about it – seriously, this isn’t a dumb menopause joke – but in all the hundreds of times I was in a bookstore, I forgot.  Right now I want to mention something really basic, almost intuitive, that I couldn’t remember the other day, but I can’t remember what that was.  I did finally buy a book, and somewhere in the pre-amble to how for the next few years my life would be wacked, it told me I’d have trouble staying on task, and true enough I have, so much so that I haven’t been able to read the manual.

Just after I had that daughter of mine who left home eons ago – and is currently hormonally challenged herself – but at least she gets a baby out of it – I ran off to the mall for baby nail clippers and rubbing alcohol for that nasty umbilical cord bit and left her with her daddy.  I thought the boys (boys, not men, I was just a girl back then) were staring at my voluptuous-as-never-before breast feeding body (I actually felt like a cow), but was shocked to look down and see I was leaking milk through my light cotton dress.  Being almost the first of my friends to have kids – no one had informed me about how I might  leak while out in the mall.  I could never figure out how I missed that fun fact of how being a new mommy involved having boobs with no self control.  And now I can’t figure out why I don’t know much of this menopause stuff.  Yeah, I guess I always imagined that we get hot and fat and can grow mustaches.  But where are the women warriors that are supposed to inform me about all this not sleeping (leading to hormonal blog writing), the ridiculous benign, yet annoying, restless legs,  the lost of nouns and names and the further hindrance of my limited ability to do math.

And what was the evolutionary purpose I wonder, as the moon continues to rise on a November morning with me wide awake at 3:56 a.m.?  It had to be that back in the day, having outlived our reproduction purposes the grand plan was that, not sleeping, we would wander out of the cave to rub sticks together and be eaten by a dinosaur –  leaving more berries and wild animals for the younger women (my timeline might be skewed but you get the picture.)

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Sometimes I see a women near my age who looks serene and calm, or maybe even a little giddy.  And I think – she’s done, she’s been through it and come out on the other side, maybe she’ll tell me the brand of cream I can buy at the health food store that I can rub on my forehead and I’ll be able to remember the names of my four kids again.  Help me, women friends out there in blog-o- (oh, God – I can’t remember how to spell what I want to say, my spelling was never top notch but it’s leaving me with my math and my nouns) okay, tell me just this, this could go a long way – how do I sleep again, like a baby (well, not my daughter’s baby) but those other babies that sleep all through the night?

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