Category Archives: Mother

Only Child explores senior living past and present

Only Child and Mom mid 1960s

My late mother had a saying – “you can’t win no how.” Which sounds negative, but when you look at how people’s lives pan out, Mom maybe had a point. Especially as her life was cut short  by a brain aneurysm at age 63. She was also somewhat crippled by arthritis and scleroderma. All this happened after my dad died of cancer at 66.

Perhaps I should consider her somewhat lucky that she didn’t live longer to have to deal with more bad things happening in her life. At the time of her death she and I shared an apartment. However, I was engaged and the wedding ceremony and reception were already booked – the latter by Mom herself. She was scared to live alone and pondered whether she should spend six months (late spring to early fall) annually at her younger sister’s on the farm. Maybe not a good choice as Mom fell on the doorstep outside my aunt’s farmhouse. This was a new house and these entrance steps numbered two.  It was the damn arthritis.

The damn arthritis really was what killed her. It made her fall off the vanity dresser chair  (in her bedroom) onto the wooden floor and bang her head. She got headaches but thought they were because of her eyes – maybe new glasses – and she had an ophthalmologist’s appointment in mid-September.

She went into a coma overnight the end of July and had to be rushed to the hospital. Despite surgery, she never woke up and died five days later.

When I look at my life compared to hers, I begin to wonder. First, about her saying “You can’t win no how.”

I certainly am not going through my senior years without a fight despite my health issues of diminishing eyesight in my left eye and getting worse, a digestive disorder, living on low income, and  having to deal with more problems than well – let’s just say that the phrase about God not giving anyone any more crosses than they can bear is a myth.

As a child,  I was meek, mild and shy  and didn’t really get my courage legs until in my 30s. My writing and being a single parent then forced me to change. It grew gradually. But I have one trait ,which I think comes from my Dad – I am a stubborn senior and God or somebody help those who make my life miserable. On the other hand those who are good to me and help and treat me well, I try to do the same for and to them. “Do onto others as they do onto you” is more my saying than “you can’t win no how.”

Perhaps besides the stubborneess, my saving graces are my writing, my garden, my son and his girlfriend, my cousins,  close friends, reading (despite the bad eye) and even watching favourite TV shows, and walking. A keen interest in life and a desire to see justice done doesn’t hurt either.

Now, if I could just find time to get to bed early enough to get enough sleep…

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What is your story – along these lines?

Sharon

Only Child Writes

My son, Martin, me, and Juni by my garden

 

 

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Arthritis, Assertiveness, Health, Mother, Only child, Seniors

Only Child asks: Are Toronto buses missing their schedules?

TTC bus today

 

When I was a child, my mom and I would play a mild form of roulette to catch the bus. Our street was halfway between two stops so we would walk the very short half block to the main drag, look both ways, and decide which bus stop to go to. Sometimes we could actually see the bus coming and sometimes we couldn’t. But there was always the chance the bus would show up as we walked (or ran) to either stop.

Fast forward to today. Bus schedules for each route are shown on the TTC website. Any “alerts” as the TTC calls schedule interruptions or changes are posted and continually updated. Those with smart phones can get an app so they can get up-to-date bus arrival times. A few bus stops have digital information with arrival times for the next two buses. Subway station bus levels have electronic times posted that change to match the actual bus schedules.

So all should be working well – even when buses are delayed for some reason. AND WE BUS RIDERS SHOULD KNOW ALL THIS BECAUSE THE INFORMATION IS ACCURATE.

Hah!

Here’s my experience… or some of it.

From where I now live I can take four different bus lines – two stop at the stop near my home and all four stop a long block away. Usually I check online before I leave to see what’s what with the schedules and any alerts including construction nonsense.

Might as well save my time and eyesight, though because…

The Woodbine bus does run to schedule – its own schedule which seems to be timed about halfway between the actual schedule posted online..

The O’Connor bus – well it will take you for a ride (or not). Even on Sundays when there is no construction in the way, the drivers (and in some cases their supervisors) can’t get it right. Last Sunday I was coming home from some grocery shopping – no problem with the subway, but when I landed at the subway station to switch to the bus, it was “fun and games”. The electronic schedule said that one O’Connor bus was now due. I can take either one to get home. So, that was good. A bus did come in right away and stop on the O’Connor side of the bus platforms. But its sign said “Coxwell 22” bus, which means it was going the other way on Coxwell Avenue. So after unloading the passengers, it drove around to the other side of the station where the Coxwell bus picks up passengers (and unloads them too). Furious, I returned to the electronic schedule on the wall. Now the O’Connor C was scheduled to arrive in 14 minutes and the O’Connor A in 18 minutes.

Guess what probably happened. The a****** supervisor probably gave the O’Connor bus driver instructions to switch to the Coxwell south route because of the bridge work there and a festival being held by the Lakeshore. Meantime the Coxwell buses were arriving okay and people got those buses. So what was the problem?

The O’Connor buses? The C was late and arrived a couple of minutes before the A. I boarded the A. Both buses took off right away from the station like a herd of elephants was after them. (Maybe that should have happened earlier). As the A bus beetled out of the station, another A bus was entering. My A bus was right behind the C bus, until the C turned down one street.

This is a regular occurrence. So is the change of drivers’ nonsense. I don’t know if the drivers themselves are arranging to switch at stops partway along the route instead of the subway stations (or wherever the end of the line is) like they should – just for their convenience, or some you-know-what supervisor in his or her “wisdom” is telling them to do so. But it is annoying to have the driver suddenly grab his bag and leave the bus – often with not telling us why – because his shift is over. Sometimes his replacement driver doesn’t arrive for some time.

Customer service?

I have sent in complaints to the TTC before on these shenanigans, but is anybody doing anything about it?

It would appear not.

I have a courtesy rule. When I get off a bus, I say “thank you” to the driver. But not when they are late or do the driver switcheroo mid-route – especially if it is after dark.

Too bad I can’t afford a cab or Uber.

Will I be forced to hitch-hike?

As for my late Mom – she is probably rolling around in her grave. Or her spirit is frowning. She definitely is not laughing.

Anybody have similar experiences with public transit where you live.

Let’s share stories.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Customer Service, Mother, Only child, Public Transit, Toronto, Toronto public transit, TTC buses

Only Child – my health continues to eat my life

Saturdays are supposed to be days to relax – well maybe catch up on some errands and/or housework. But not for dealing with health issues. That is how I seem to spend most of my Saturdays and I end up cancelling right and left what I plan to do – including social comittments. At least my friend and I had decided (at the last minute) to go to Canada Blooms the other week on a Sunday.

Saturdays I drag myself around the house, trying to get some chores done, but lying down part of the time. If the weather is bad, I wouldn’t be doing errands anyway. But if I am to relax, to read, I want to feel good when I do. Not have aches and pains, etc. I do not want to be like my late mother in this way – constantly having lots of health problems and going to multiple doctors’ appointments simultaneously. At least my weight is now back up to normal – it went down on my abbreviated liquid and semi-liquid diets for a few days or so after both dental surgeries.

Except for the daily eyedrop dose for my glaucoma, and constantly dealing with IBS symptoms, I try to focus on one health issue at a time. This week it is my eyes – two appointments, the regular annual eye examination, one and half months late thanks to the dental issues. And the quarterly appointment with the eye specialist on Thursday.

I’m hoping both give me good reports, new glasses not needed this year (I can’t afford new ones anyway  – I’m still paying off dental bills and there are things that have to be repaired and replaced in and around the house this spring, which are not optional. Then there are the dreaded income taxes. Even living below or around the poverty level the government stills comes at you to pay taxes.) And also hoping the double-prescription eyedrops the specialist prescribed from a year ago, are still doing the job. That is one thing I make sure I do daily – squirt the eyedrops in my left eye.

But experience has taught me the hard way to not expect the best. When I do; when I take it for granted that things will be okay; when I go merrily along as if they will – SNAP – I GET A RUDE AWAKENING. Better to follow the Brownie motto – be prepared.

And shake my fist up at the sky.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, finances, God, Health, Health Seniors, Income Taxes, Life demands, Mother

Only Child deals with doing too much

Sharon CLB mid 1990sSometimes we bite off more than we can chew in all that we do. It is a life variation of the old eating too much axiom that my late mother used to say – your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

This time, my eyes and my mind too, are presuming I can do much more than is realistic. So, I’ve been slowly pruning and putting in pending some of what I do. Lately, I have been doing this with my business.

I am a writer, editor and writing instructor and as such there are specific things they encompass and specifics I wouldn’t touch with anything. Having said that, I am still trying for gigs, particularly in the instructor and presentation area. But I am cancelling going to a few business meetings and not taking on some new work. So, the tally right now is:

Cancelled one business meeting for sure this week but presented via email some suggestions within the topics on the agenda.

Went to one writing organization Christmas party (this is fun too) last evening,  but not the other one on the same evening. Having gone to both a few years back when both also occurred the same evening – never again.

Am being approached for editing work from potential new clients and I am grateful for that. But I will be meeting with only one of them in the New Year as what she wants is what I do. She is also connected to me on Linked In and Goodreads. The other one emailed me out of the blue and I am not sure where he got my name from. I don’t think my website because it lists very clearly what I will do in writing, editing and teaching and what he is asking for is not there. And I double-checked my website just to be sure. I do not ghost write or rewrite somebody else’s story, somebody else’s manuscript. I do copy editing, manuscript evaluation and one-on-one writing tutoring in person or by Skype. So I will email him back with a polite refusal and send him to the Editors Canada website to find an editor who will do what he wants and needs.

I do have current clients and it is important to do their work.

So, if you are living your life in overwhelm – business or personal or both – remember  my mother’s axiom – your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

Otherwise you might bite off more than you can chew.

And that’s enough of cliches from me.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Gratitude, Life Balance, Life demands, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management, to do list

Only Child’s financial woes continue – thanks to outside sources

Only child stews about financial woes

Only child stews about financial woes

Despite inheriting some of my mother’s ability to live frugally and have a financial budget, I am still having too many instances of running out of money the last week of the month. What really ticks me off for this month is that all the financial woes are caused by other individuals or government departments or banks screwing up.

Take yesterday as a big example of what can go wrong:

I was (and still am as of today) waiting for Service Canada, the GST people, Ontario Government and the like to sort out three payments I’m supposed to receive from forms filled in on my tax returns for 2015. So far I have not received the once a year Seniors grant all seniors get if we apply for it annually  (which I did). And for us low income seniors there is the property tax and energy credit – this one goes into your bank account once a month for 12 months and the GST rebate, put in your account quarterly. All should have been put in this month of July and they usually are. You have to have your assessment from the CRA first – well I got that over a month ago and had filed my 2015 income tax returns same time as every year – last week in April. But the money hasn’t been put in my bank account for any of those three.

To add insult to injury, I couldn’t access my bank account online yesterday to see if anything had been deposited. Neither could any other Scotiabank customer. Scotiabank was having computer server difficulties from an upgrade done over the weekend. I didn’t check my account on the weekend so don’t know for sure if the inaccessibility was all weekend or all Monday. What I do knowis  that when I checked – mid- morning Monday and several more times during the day to about 4.45 p.m., I still couldn’t sign into my account.

I wasn’t going to waste my time with a trip to my bank branch with nothing to deposit and no idea if there would be enough there to withdraw anything. (more on that first part shortly). Okay, so I decided to do the telephone banking. Wouldn’t hurt for once. But I couldn’t get very far there. When you get the recorded voice it tells you to press 1 for text and press 2 for screen. No option for land line phones. Excuse me – we don’t all have smart phones. So I pressed nothing and got a repeat of the recorded message. I hung up and had to call customer service. At least I got a good service representative who knew her stuff and not only gave me my bank balances (Nope! No government deposits then or today either when I was able to access my accounts online), she also agreed to pass along my complaints to her supervisor and from there it would go to a manager. I requested that manager call me back about it. Besides the complaint about the telephone service missing the third option, I also complained about the misleading pop up on the bank website when you tried to sign in to your account. The pop up had Scotiabank’s apology for the inaccessibility online but suggested bank customers could use their mobile apps as that function  was still working.

Is all this access setup (excluding the outage) discrimination for those who don’t have all the latest technology?

And being a former journalist, I dug further. At the Canadian Outages website  I found out more information including a lot of other disgruntled Scotiabank customers. And some of them like me have computers and land lines. No smart phones with mobile apps, not that everybody with a mobile could connect to their Scotiabank with the mobile app – it wasn’t working all the time either. Check out the Canadian outages website – there are more comments on the bad Scotiabank service. Even though I am not for all of this excess technology, the basic online account and being able to access it I find is necessary. If you think I’m lazy, think about people with mobility issues who can’t exactly dash off to their bank branch.

And I am still waiting for one of my major business clients to pay me for a writing course I taught for them (and their patrons) in June. I’m still waiting for my cheques despite submitting signed contract copies twice (one as far back as the end of April)  – the second submission (all by email) was because the client’s administration department had lost one of the first submissions. The person I was dealing with in person for the course did his part re getting the process going for my cheques and has been diligent in following up on all my inquiries. It’s the administration and financial departments there that messed everything up.

So that is why I am sitting (and fuming) with less than $75. to buy necessary health supplements and food.

Now if I was a lazy bum and not a senior, maybe I could blame myself.

But it’s not my fault and I’m doing all I can to get things fixed and moving.

No wonder I’m cranky a lot.

At least I did receive notice from Service Canada (via regular mail) that my GIS is being continued for 2016 to 2017 and it and my OAS (both for seniors) have been increased. They gave me the amount. Supposed to start with this month’s payment – tomorrow – in my bank account.

Now, let’s hope it gets deposited July 27, 2016 and I can see it online.

Seeing is believing – that’s my motto for living. “Hope” is a four-letter word.

Cheers (I think).

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bank service complaints, Banking, Clients, finances, Life demands, Mother, Old Age pensions, Poverty

Only Child stranded by public transit

Only Child and Mom

Only Child and Mom

When I was a child my late mother and I used to travel on Toronto’s public transit (TTC). We t00k buses, streetcars and the subway. It was like an adventure with Mom leading the way. I always felt when travelling with her we were good, and any problems that arose, she could fix them.

I wish Mom had been with me last Thursday when I ventured onto the TTC to an area I’ve only been to a couple of times before. These previous two times I returned home a different way from going there because I had errands to do. This time I wanted to come right home.

In preparation I did a trip planner on the TTC website. I might as well have mapped out a trip to Mars – the angry red planet – for all the good my planning did. And Mars would have been appropriate for some of what I felt when I finally returned home. The problems were caused by stupid bus drivers and even stupider bus schedules on the Woodbine C and D bus lines.

When I boarded the bus near my place I tried to verify with the driver that this Woodbine bus at some point goes all over Hell’s Half Acre in residential land instead of straight up to Lawrence Avenue. Bus driver verified that and told me to get off at Underhill. When I mentioned the trip planner online suggested another street beginning with “C” he had no clue. When the bus was arriving at Cardiff (voice and digital stop announcements are done electronically on Toronto buses), I rushed up to the front and told the driver “that’s the street.” His reply was how complicated it was to get to the stop going west on Lawrence as where I actually saw the bus stopped on Lawrence was going east (it appeared to be going west).

So, I stayed on to Underhill and got off. When I asked about getting on around here to return home he said I could get on at Underhill but it was better to stay on to Victoria Park and transfer there from the Lawrence bus. That was going out of my way and made no sense because it’s the Victoria Park bus line there and why would I want another bus change (and another transfer from the Victoria Park bus) to get home when the Woodbine bus was supposed to take me right home?

I noted tha on the south side of Lawrence the street was called Railside, and boarded the Lawrence East bus to my destination – the Toronto Botanical Gardens library to do some research for a personal essay. After that I walked back to Don Mills Road to the public library to pitch my writing workshops and crime writing talks to the librarian.

Then I walked to the nearest bus stop on the south side of Lawrence just east of Railside. Common sense told me that the Woodbine bus that turned up Underhill when I was going west, would come back that way and turn east on Lawrence. What goes up must come down.

Not exactly. I waited for almost half an hour. I talked to another woman waiting around and she said she thought the Woodbine bus came back down Underhill and turned left onto Lawrence.

Wrong!

Imagine my surprise and horror when I saw a Woodbine bus (C or D – couldn’t make that out on the front from the side) come barrelling down Underhill right across Lawrence and down Railside. It stopped at the stop just below Lawrence. I ran there – but I had  to cover part of a block on both streets and missed.

There was a map of sorts on the post at this Railside stop. Very confusing as it didn’t show where the Woodbine C and a B came back from Underhill and York Mills. A D bus  route was drawn in using broken lines – but only for the Railside portion. Times given for its arrival at “my” stop were only for rush hour and didn’t coincide with when the bus I missed had arrived.

I felt scared and alone. How was I to get home? I couldn’t afford a cab – even if one came by. None did. But several Woodbine C buses came by along Lawrence going west and turning north on Underhill. None of them came back.

The Woodbine D finally did (and not at the scheduled time) and I got on. I asked the driver  where does the C bus gets back to Lawrence.

He said “Cardiff.” The same bloody intersection where the C bus driver when I was going to the TGB library told me not to get off at. If I had, this would not have happened.

This D bus driver wasn’t all that knowledgeable either because when I asked him how often the D bus ran he said “I don’t know.”

And this D bus did get me home but not before going over to Victoria Park Ave. – which is not on the route going the other way. So I panicked and charged up to the front of the bus to make sure the bus was going to my stop. Now it was clear what the bus driver going had meant by taking the Lawrence bus back to Victoria Park. I have also noticed on previous Woodbine bus rides from the south end to my place that sometimes the bus drivers take 20 minute breaks at the south end. From what I can figure out, it’s not all their fault. It’s the wonky schedule.

Of course I put in an online complaint to the TTC, including the Woodbine bus schedules need overhauling so that routes going and coming travel the same way (well in reverse order to each other of course) to avoid confusion. Only exception would be extra rush-hour service (like the Railside diversion). And I suggested they fix the bus time schedules and the map signs at the stops.

Now if my mother had been there….

I’ll write in a future post about my experience at the Toronto Botanical Gardens library. Only good thing happening last Thursday.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

3 Comments

Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Mother, Mother and Child, Only child, Public Transit, Toronto, Toronto public transit

Only Child on Seniors and Falls

Only Child and Mom before the arthritis took its toll on Mom

Only Child and Mom before the arthritis took its toll on Mom

My late mother had a few scary falls as she neared senior’s age and the short time after when she was still alive. I remember her falling going up the basement stairs. She was watching a TV show and they were offering a prize. You had to phone in right away to win. So Mom charged up the stairs.

Shortly after she had a phone extension put in downstairs.

But the really bad falls came after she got arthritis, particularly the last year of her life. She fell on the three steps at the entrance to her sister’s farmhouse. This was a new house, not some rambling old structure. The killing fall came a few months before her death. I was out with friends and when I came home she told me she had fallen off the vanity bench in her bedroom and banged her head.

Flash forward almost four months. One Saturday morning I got up – not early – and found no coffee on and Mom not even up. She was still in her bed and as we later learned in a coma. I called the family doctor who rushed over. He figured she’d had a stroke and called an ambulance. By that time my fiance had arrived and the two of us rode in the ambulance with Mom. The doctor followed.

Mom had a brain aneurysm so the doctors operated on her brain. She never came out of the coma and died five days later.

The official cause of death was brain aneurysm, but I know her falls from arthritis killed her.

Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees with my falls assessment. According to them, 2.5 million get treated in hospital emergency because they fell. Hip fractures aren’t just from old arthritic bones but 95 per cent of the time it’s a fall that causes the hip fracture.

Scary stuff. And I’m well on the way in the falling down department – even going back to soon after I moved back to Toronto. It seemed that every winter I fell outside – in slush, on ice. And I was in my early 50s then. Of course I complained to the city, to the Mayor, about the city workers not doing their job cleaning the streets and sidewalks property (one was at a major intersection).

Now, I’m falling in the summer. Tripping over paper hanging wire left by some careless jerk on the sidewalk. Even tripping over the large black walnuts dumped by squirrels in my lawn. For the latter I landed on soft grass and in a bed of black-eyed susans. But both the squirrels and the unknown jerk got cursed.

Inside the house I’ve fallen a few times, missing a step – on carpeted stairs. Then there is the bathtub. When I finally got my main handyman Mike here on Friday, I had him install two hand bars on the tub wall. And I will continue my practice of holding onto railings when going up and down stairs at home and in subway stations. Particularly the latter as my son fell down a few subway stairs and broke his ankle earlier in the summer. He is 37.

The CDC offers several tips to help prevent falls. Besides the bathroom bars, they also include getting your eyes tested annually (which I do), check for carpets you could trip over; check with your pharmacist for any medications you are taking that could make you sleepy or dizzy. And take extra Vitamin D. We don’t get enough in the nearly sunless winter months. I know that for a fact as three years ago I suffered from Vitamin D deficiency. Some days the pain in my bones was so bad I could hardly walk. I knew it wasn’t arthritis as the pain wasn’t in my joints but in my calf bones. Upping the Vitamin D dose a lot fixed that one.

So, you need to be vigilant about falls and possible causes. That won’t cover the weird like picture  hanging wire. Maybe the action here is to make sure you don’t just leave loose or carelessly throw something that someone could trip over.

God won’t necessarily have your back. That 95 per cent statistic proves that.

Read more of the CDC article at

http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, Falls prevention, God, Health, Health Seniors, Mother, Old Age, Only child, Seniors, Seniors and falls, Vitamin D Deficiency, winter falls