Category Archives: Family

Only Child has hearing problem terror

Only child ponders new disability

Only child ponders new disability

I have another big medical problem – I am now hearing impaired, particularly in my right ear, my better ear. Had been having a few intermittent problems with the left ear with my respiratory problems. Now the right ear has joined in the whole bad occurrence.

I have been back and forth to my doctor’s. He has flushed out my ears (which helped some) and he gave me a prescription for ear drops and will do more flushing on my next visit there later this week. May have to see an ENT specialist, an audiologist and get allergy tests as that might be at least part of the problem. This medical clinic has an allergy testing clinic and the clinic is about 10 to 15 minutes walk from my house.

The big scare came Saturday morning when I woke up and could barely hear out of my right ear. I couldn’t hear people speak (in person) unless they faced me and shouted. I couldn’t hear a lot of peripheral noises and felt congested. Strangely I had (and still have as of this posting) no problem hearing people when talking on the phone and I can hear myself speak. It was strangely eerie and very scary walking through No Frills to get some groceries and I could hear nothing except a couple of guys yelling at each other.

Since then some of my hearing has returned in my right ear, thanks to the ear drops and not sleeping on my right side. I can now hear hear people speak as long as they face me and don’t speak in low soft tones. And I can hear others speak on the buses. But I don’t know if my hearing will ever return to what was normal for me. Some of it may be also due to age and what I have to say to that is – if your health deteriorates too much with age is there any point in people living really long? From what I see around me, with few exceptions, most people who live long do so with a lot of medical problems.

Still, I will keep on writing (and gardening in the spring, summer and fall). My saving grace perhaps.  Another saving grace is that both my son and my ex are going to help pay for hearing devices – the balance of what an Ontario program doesn’t cover.

And yes, one of my terrors from last week’s posting happened – some water did get in my basement from all that rain – started coming in just before I had to leave for my East End Writers’ Group 15th anniversary presentation, so I was scrambling around the neighbourhood to beg someone to please check on my basement a couple of times during the evening. I found someone although not the usual person.

On this note I will leave you with a link to info about seniors and hearing loss. Heck anyone and hearing loss. http://www.chs.ca/facts-and-figures

Getting old is a pain – in the ears apparently.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family, Health, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Helping Others, Life demands, Only child, Problems, Seniors, Uncategorized

Only Child give kudos to Hudson’s Bay optical dept.

Only Child and son Martin - glasses run in this family

Only Child and son Martin – glasses run in this family

One of the few, maybe the only corporate entity I have dealt with lately, who has been exceptional in customer service is the Hudson’s Bay Company’s optical department. So, today, I’ll tell this story and leave the start of dissing the companies and organizations who are and have been maligning the phrase “customer service” to future blog posts.

Like my mother and father before me, I have been wearing glasses all my adult life. When I reached my 21st birthday (back in the grey ages), I was suffering from a constant headache. My mother was in the hospital for tests for her severe arthritis, so I was worried about that, so much so that I barely ate anything and lost a lot of weight. The other three ladies sharing a room with Mom suggested I go across the street to the optical company and get my eyes tested. So, scared, I did. I made sure I told them I didn’t want drops in my eyes because back then the drops left you temporarily sight challenged. I had first experience with this when my then fiance had his eyes tested and I had to literally lead him back to work because he had trouble seeing – except for pink elephants.

That optical company was not Hudson’s Bay. Over the years I have switched optometrists and opticians, depending on service and depending on where I lived. Last December, when my annual eye tests at my optometrist’s showed I needed new glasses, right away, I decided to go to the Hudson’s Bay Optical at their Bloor/Yonge Streets store in Toronto. I had gone to Sears the past four years and although their optical service was good, Sears management in its infinite wisdom decided to close their big downtown Toronto store. No way was I going to (and fro) the optical department in the Sears store in a mall in North Toronto – too far and too many transit changes for return visits.

So, I switched to Hudson’s Bay optical and I’m glad I did. Here is my story as I sent it to their customer service department.

This is praise for all the opticians at The Bay optical on the lower level at the Bloor/Yonge Store. I don’t have their names but they have been very courteous and helpful from when I brought in my eye prescription last December to last month and Wednesday when I had a problem with the frames on my prescription sunglasses.

 

Very helpful in helping me choose my glasses in December, even making sure the receipt was dated then (well, I did pay by credit card then) instead of early January when the glasses were ready (the date for tax purposes).

 

Early September when the arm of my sunglasses fell off – first when I called and said I couldn’t find my receipt and the optician said not to worry, we have you in the system so just come in. I did find the receipt anyway so brought it in.

 

Great service – even though the glasses frames were no longer being made I was told if none were still in stock I would still only pay the $20 (percentage not covered by the warranty for the price of replacement frames) because that wasn’t my fault that they didn’t carry the line anymore). They even glued the arm back on for the time being as I was going on holidays in a few days.

 

This past Wednesday (Oct. 7) I decided to get the frames replaced or whatever was necessary to be done. Again I couldn’t find the receipt, phoned again and was again reassured I was in the system so come right in. This time I did not find the receipt. The optician said that there was still brown frames (I had black originally) for my sun glasses. I tried that on and decided to take it. Only had to wait about 10 minutes for the lenses to be put in the new frame. And the optician, at my request, even wrote out a replacement receipt for the original order.

 

Now that’s customer service. I would like this put into each of the opticians’ personnel file.

 

A satisfied customer.

 

Now onto dealing with the idiots from other companies who have screwed things up for me. Next week, I plan to write about one of them.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Arthritis, Consumer action, Eye gkasses eye tests, Family, Hudson Bay Company, Mom and Dad, Only child, Opticians and Optometrists, Sears

Only Child’s thoughts on living below the poverty level

Only Child  contemplates living in poverty

Only Child contemplates living in poverty

A Google search on poverty levels in Toronto brought up this shocking information. The poverty level for a single person is $19,930 a year. That’s after taxes. Depending on your sources, that figure pertains to somewhere before 2014. See http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/poverty-in-ontario/status-of-poverty-in-ontario/

Before or after 2014, that figure really hit home with me.

I just finished doing my 2014 income taxes in late April, so income before and after taxes was still in my mind. It turns out I am living around the poverty level for a single person – but before taxes, so I guess after taxes it is below the poverty level.

And that’s with having a boarder here most of last year – until late October – I kicked her out – with a few months leeway because according to her plan she could be here indefinitely until she found a job and was secure for six months in it. She is/was on social services (called Ontario Works here in Ontario). So the extra low monthly boarder rent income wasn’t making much difference to me as the poverty-line figure shows. My friends told me this boarder was just taking advantage of me anyway. But that’s a story for another post. At least my hydro and water bills are much less now.

I am also a senior and while I am grateful for the Old Age Pension and Canada Pension Plan, they aren’t high enough. Especially the latter, which varies with each person depending on how much you put into it when you worked. And being self-employed for the past 18 years, and before that, sporadic full employment from the late 1970s, doesn’t help increase the CPP. The Federal government does give you some extra CPP allowance (seven years I believe) to allow for raising a child from birth. There are tax credits that are doled out monthly and one in a lump sum – some are senior-specific. And I do get some alimony from my ex-husband.

My self-employment? Not as lucrative as even a couple of years ago.

The Feds also have something called the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which I signed up for when I signed up for the OAS. But I haven’t heard hide nor hare back about that – probably because your income has to be under $17,088 annually. See table at http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/services/pensions/oas/payments/index.shtml

That’s  $2,842. less than the poverty level income for a single person. Something is wrong here.

All that isn’t enough for the rising costs of living. I have health issues and take natural supplements because drugs don’t agree with my body. Yes, there are drug plans for seniors and others but you are on your own with natural supplements. The basic Ontario medical coverage gets skimpier and skimpier in what it covers and purchasing extra health coverage from private companies is too expensive.

So I end up using my line of credit to cover the more monthly expenses than money coming in. And I don’t go on shopping sprees for anything and take only one holiday a year – visiting family. I forgo a lot of entertainment (like plays and movies and some concerts) I would like to go to because I can’t afford it. Free entertainment is what I look for. Street festivals and other free events and lectures outside home. I walk a lot, garden, read (mostly books from the library but I do buy a few from writing colleagues) and do readings and other presentations with other crime authors for my Beyond mystery series. I socialize with friends, an occasional meal out – sometimes they pay – and sometimes we go to garden events (free ones) together. I am fortunate in that I have a son who helps me with computer problems and takes me out to dinner for my birthday and Mother’s Day. He is even paying for a new chesterfield for my living room – his idea at Christmas – if I can find the time to finish looking around for one.

This all makes me wonder how others with less or even the basic poverty level income, can manage. I don’t have to pay rent as I’m a homeowner (and fortunately no mortgage), although with all my utility bills needing paying this month, plus other regular monthly bills to pay, the total here came to above what my May income is. And that’s before the cash items such as food and health.

So I grow some of my vegetables and fruit in the garden.

That is if I can get someone to take me to the garden centre to get some topsoil. Another long story here for another post perhaps.

No wonder I’m cranky a lot of the time. I think I have a right to be cranky.

Cheers.

 

Sharon

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Filed under Family, Gardening, Health, Health Insurance, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Income Taxes, Money, Old Age pensions, Only child, Poverty, Seniors

Only Child on quality versus quantity of life

Only Child  contemplates quality vs quantity of life

Only Child contemplates quality vs quantity of life

Yesterday I attended the funeral service for the mother of a friend. The mother was in her late 80s and for the past 10 years had suffered from dementia. Her quality of life was not good. My friend had to put her in a nursing home eight years ago but she spent a good part of her days with her mother.

It got me thinking of quality versus quantity of life. For those of you who have been following this blog you may remember that my parents did not live to a ripe old age. My dad died of brain cancer at 66 when I was 16 and my mom died of a sudden brain aneurysm at age 63 when I was 22. Here we have my dad suffering from some form of cancer off and on for six years before he died. He was not in a good place (and I don’t mean the hospital) in the last few months. Mom, on the other hand, had a few headaches, then the aneurysm and despite surgery, she died five days later.

Two of my maternal uncles and a first cousin once removed (I hate that ancestry categorization – sounds like they are getting kicked out of the family) lived into their 90s. When the cousin died at 90, she was blind, had dementia and a bad heart. One uncle, my godfather, died at the same age. He had dementia and heart problems. The other uncle, not a blood relative, died at age 98 and was healthy – mind and body – almost up to when he died.

My paternal grandfather died in his early 70s the same year my parents were married – so before I was born. My paternal grandma died in her mid-80s of a heart attack. She still had all her mental facilities and was able to get around okay.

That’s my history. But I’ve seen a lot of other suffering from illnesses and from my observations I truly believe that quality of life trumps quantity. If your mind is gone; if your body is filled with sickness that will kill you, is there a point in carrying on?

However, having said that I believe it is up to the individual to decide if they want to end their life sooner than later if they are terminally ill (of mind and/or body). It is not up to God’s will (and how often has that term been mis-used – from the family of terminally ill people praying for a miracle, to if the person dies well, they say, it was just God’s will.)

Excuse me. It is not God’s life but yours, mine – the person who is terminally will. If God gave us free will then we should have the right, if terminally ill, to decide if we want to die sooner than later. Quality over quantity.

And that’s where the problem arises.

Canada now has given the okay to assisted suicide, although the details have to be worked out. I have a problem with that, not because it will still be up to the dying person to decide, but because another person has to get involved. For every other medical procedure and the like I believe medical doctors have to go by the letter of the law – whatever their beliefs. But not here. I think they should be allowed to go by their conscience as long as they recommend a doctor who will assist in suicide. And not interfere with the dying person’s choice.

The other problem is often a person is too sick to decide and unfortunately hasn’t made a living will. So the family members try to impose what they want and believe to be right, not necessarily what the dying person wants. And not all family members agree.

So, it is a dilemma. Maybe we should have had it built into our being that if and when we become terminally ill, we just die right away.

Of course, some won’t make it that far because of other people’s actions, from vehicle crashes to plane crashes like the German plane crashing over France because of the co-pilot’s deliberate actions.

Perhaps the only thing to do is carpe diem – something I struggle with because of all the problems in my life – and I don’t mean just health-related.

What do you think?

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Assisted Suicide, cancer, Carpe Diem, Death and Dying, Dying with Dignity, Family, Family and Friends, Mom and Dad, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child celebrates her son’s birthday

Martin outside Allans Restaurant on Mother's Day

Martin and I outside Allans Restaurant on Mother’s Day

Today is my son’s birthday and we plan to celebrate this evening over dinner. Just the three of us, including his girlfriend, at an Italian Restaurant. Wine and pasta or maybe wine and pizza. And conversation.

My son, Martin, gives me a lot to be thankful for. Too much to list, so just a few. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but he paid for a hotel room for my then boarder, her cat and me for a couple of days in late December 2013 because of the ice storm in Toronto and its resulting power failure at my home. He’s there when my computers and their programs act up. He helps financially with some of his gifts – things I wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. He doesn’t forget my birthday or mother’s day and takes me out for brunch or dinner. And we always celebrate the Christmas season with dinner here.

It’s not just a lot of food and meals. I think deep down it’s the mother-son connection. Some mothers and sons (or mothers and daughters for that matter) either have severed connections or the connections are shaky or gone sour. Perhaps the child grew up to be a criminal or drug addict, or worse. Perhaps the mother abandoned her child. You can probably imagine all sorts of heartbreaking scenarios.

Many of us raise our kids the best we can and sometimes are surprised when they turn out okay. In my case, Martin’s father and I split up when Martin was quite young. But – and it’s a big but – neither of us abandoned him. Martin had equal time with both parents. Not easy at first when my ex and I were fighting, but it smoothed out after a few years. This time with both parents gave Martin a more rounded growing-up period and hopefully with no feelings of abandonment. For my part, I tried to be fair and let my son work out a lot of his growing-up pains himself, often offering the listening ear and a few suggestions.

Not that there wasn’t some discipline involved when necessary, but never extreme. For example, when I had to ground him when he was 16 for something (for privacy’s sake, I’m not saying what, except it wasn’t drugs), I used common sense. He was grounded, except from school (obvious) but the other exception was he could still practice and perform at gigs with the rock band he played in. Why? Because there were others involved here and it wouldn’t be fair to them. Parenting is give and take – on both sides. I’m not saying I was the perfect parent. Far from it.

Something that came out of his growing-up years – he matured in thoughts and actions early. Others have commented on this. And he has a lot of common sense and logic in him.

But also lots of creativity.

Now he plays in another band (Beams, see http://beamstheband.com/) and is a computer programming expert.

But when you get right down to it the continuing love, the continuing bond is what’s important.

Happy birthday, Martin.

Cheers.

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family, Martin Crawford, Mother and Child, Only child, Parenting, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child searches for Dad’s history

Only child's Dad when he worked for the railway

Only child’s Dad when he worked for the railway

I am trying to piece together my late father’s history – his ancestors and his life in Toronto before I came along. Not too easy when Dad was born in Montreal and the family moved to Toronto when he was a child.

A year ago I began this quest – one of my cousins had started a trace on the Langevin (and Verey – the latter her direct family connection, not mine) ancestry on www.ancestry.ca. I’m not on there yet but one of my friends is and she offered to do some checking there. She found my cousin’s partial family history and also an anomaly – further digging by my friend found another last name (maiden one) for my paternal grandmother. Which is the correct one?

I am not close to my Dad’s side of the family and it has been over five years since I talked to some of my cousins. But I emailed the family genealogist using an old email address. You guessed it – the email bounced back as no one at that address.

However, life jumped in, including dealing with the horrible boarder living here last year, house and house-related problems, plus one pleasant thing – finishing rewriting my first mystery novel Beyond Blood (published fall 2014 – Warning: plug coming. See my publisher’s website www.bluedenimpress.com for more info and my other blog www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com).

As 2014 drew to a close and 2015 rushed in, I feel much urgency to continue on this quest for Dad’s history. I have been spending some Saturday afternoons at the Toronto Reference Library looking in old City Might Directories to find where Dad lived and to try to nail down when the Langevin family did move to Toronto. (I had some idea what street so that was a start.)

And found myself on a very enjoyable but puzzling journey.

Picture me sitting at a table on the library’s second floor with Might Directories piled up in front of me. The shelves where they are stored are behind me, but I can only carry four books at a time. It is difficult with my health issues to get down to the floor to pick out the directories on the bottom shelf but I am compelled to do so.

You are not allowed to photocopy the contents – not a copyright issue but the delicate nature of the pages. These are old directories, circa early 1900s (Dad was old enough to be my grandfather) and the pages are amazing. Almost like parchment with back to back pages which appear glued together. Back then, the “technology” did not allow for any other way to do this. The print is around the same size as print telephone directories, perhaps a smidgeon larger. With my bad eyes and old glasses I have to use a small magnifying glass to read the type.

It is worth it – this going back and forth from the street listings to the name listing and I finally find my late grandfather. Thanks to my cousin’s information on ancestry.ca I now know his first name. But another Langevin surfaces in the Might Directories – a Charles Langevin and I have no idea where he fits in, except my grandfather and grandmother and their offspring lived with him for a few years. My grandfather (Eugene Langevin) shows up in the street address listing at some point and then in a later year, Charles has disappeared. Then my aunts and uncles and my dad show up living at the same addresses, including my cousin’s great grandfather (she is a cousin once removed to me). And it lists where they worked and the position they held. The listing criteria seems to be it didn’t matter if you were male or female as long as you held a job.

I find my father not only worked as a clerk at Canadian National Railways but that previouslyhe worked with the Grand Trunk Railway before CNR gobbled it up. I finally find where his office was located – as I suspected right in Union Station in Toronto. One of his brothers, Uncle Paul also fought in World War 1, which I never knew. The directory has him still at the address but they classify him as “away on service.” And yes, he came back from the war. I also discover the Langevin family moved to Markham St. (where my cousins, their parents and my late maternal grandmother lived when I was a child) many years earlier than I suspected.

Then I get carried away and start to trace my mom’s time from when she moved to Toronto from the family farm near Mildmay, Ontario. Not sure which year so I’m working back from 1938 the year before she and Dad married. The address she lived at then (renting in a house) is in the area of Toronto where she and Dad lived when they were first married. Next investigation is to find out if the addresses are the same. An old photograph I have might give me the answer.

I can see my memoir will need some changes.

And I finally realized why I am compelled to do this family history investigation now. 2015 (November) is the 50th anniversary of Dad’s death.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Only Child and her late dad on the veranda of 139 in happier times

Only Child and her late dad on the veranda of 139 in happier times

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Filed under Beyond Blood, Beyond the Tripping Point, Canadian National Railway, Dad, Family, Hereditary, Libraries, Memoir content, Mom and Dad, Nostalgia, Only child memoir, Railways, Research memoir writing, Toronto

Only Child and the non-Thanksgiving holiday

Only Child's Garden one of the things she is thankful for.

Only Child’s Garden one of the things she is thankful for

Yesterday was the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday. But it didn’t feel like it. Maybe because I didn’t do a family Thanksgiving dinner because my son was touring with his band Beams over the weekend. Maybe because my son, his girlfriend and I met for dinner instead – last Tuesday evening. We didn’t eat any kind of Thanksgiving dinner. We ate at an Italian restaurant and the closest to a bird was the chicken cacciatore I ate.
Maybe because it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving last Tuesday. We did talk about family matters but it’s not the same as our traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the roast chicken (I’m allergic to turkey). Maybe it’s because the bad still takes over the good in my life and except for a few things I don’t feel that thankful.
Don’t get me wrong. Each day I give thanks for what is good in my life. But I also do the opposite for what is bad in my life. I follow a variation of the rule learned from my Grade 6 teacher – give credit where credit is due (her rule) and discredit where discredit is due (my variation).
The odd thing was that over the weekend as I walked along the streets near home, strangers would wish me a happy Thanksgiving. I didn’t pull the snarky reply but smiled and wished them the same in return. If some people are 100 per cent thankful, I’m not going to burst their balloon.
However, I know that life is not all rosy. Bad happens and I’m still getting more than my share of it. For example, last week, despite my asking God daily to have all the six utilities work 24/7 with no disruptions in service, he didn’t listen. He is not responsible for the services going off, but he is responsible for not listening. “Ask and you shall receive” seems often to be either a crowd thing or if one person asks, i.e. me, I have to shout and shout to be heard. I am told I have to be specific in my requests, what I put out there and I am and what do I get? Nearly two days of no phone or Internet service because of Bell Canada. The ding-a-ling company had a corroded cable up a pole. That’s all I’m going to say about that now as it is fodder for another full blog post.
Like I said above I am thankful for a few things – my son and his girlfriend, my house (except for what needs fixing), my garden, this lovely summer-weather day today, my health (what is still good about it), my writing, editing and writing teaching/tutoring business.
Speaking of my writing, I am really really thankful that Blue Denim Press just published another book of mine this fall – my first mystery novel Beyond Blood. The book launch for it is this coming Sunday, October 19, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Paintbox Bistro in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. If you are in the area then, please come to the book launch, which also launches another first mystery novel – Dead Wrong by Klaus Jakelski. More details at http://www.bluedenimpress.com
I will be blogging more about it this Thursday on my author blog http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com
And check out my son’s band Beams at http://beamstheband.com/

Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family, God, Health, Only child, Prayer, Thanksgiving