Tag Archives: Elderly parents

Only Child on going it solo

Growing up an only child had its peculiarities – some good, some bad. On the bad side, there is the obvious – no siblings to confide in, to help you get through your life especially if like me, you were bullied. Of course, siblings fight and tease each other, but for the most part I would suppose that is normal. There are always exceptions.

Throw in elderly parents – where one (Mom) pushes being pro-active where the Bully is concerned, and the other (Dad) is over-protective and you can be left going from one extreme to the other in dealing with what gets shoved at you in life.

Some only children withdraw into themselves and don’t have any close friends.

Following this going to opposites mentioned above, I did have close friends (besides the Bully) but I also kept my own counsel on many things. And I found I was confiding a lot in my mother – not everything, of course. She didn’t need a blow-by-blow account of my dates as a teenager, although she did almost embarrass me once, when a fellow was walking me home from a teen dance at the church. That was our agreement. I could go to these Sunday evening dances but Mom would meet me halfway walking home. In my memoir I write:

After putting on boots, coats, and hats (well, I did the latter), we amble up Donlands, past the bungalows. While we talk – I have no idea about what, probably about where I live as he thinks he’s taking me there – I dart looks in front. No Mom yet. Are we early?

We cross Plains Road and walk by Vince’s Jewellery Store, beyond the Donlands Cinema. I’m cranking my head over towards Joe, then down, supposedly to watch my footing in the snow. I sneak a look up the street and there she is.

Mom is heading our way and I want to duck into the Donlands Restaurant with Joe but I’m too chicken. Maybe it’s closed, I tell myself. But wait. Mom is doing her diplomatic thing. She pulls into a doorway, Hurst’s Drugstore, I think. Joe and I keep on talking and walking. I can feel Mom’s eyes on us.

When we stop for the lights at O’Connor, I turn to Joe.

“I can walk home the rest of the way myself,” I say. “Yeah. It’s just up there.” I point to my right.

“Okay. I’ll call you sometime during the week.”

“Okay. Good night.

“Good night.”

Fortunately, he doesn’t kiss me. Mom catches up with me. Now I’m in for it.

“I didn’t want to embarrass you so I stepped into the doorway,” she says. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home, Copyright 2014 Sharon A. Crawford).

Growing up solo did give me the background to learn to think for myself. Problem was it took me nearly 30 years to start doing so. When you grow up an only child cocooned by elderly parents, particularly if one or both are protective, throw in losing your dad to cancer when you are 16 and your mother to a brain aneurysm when you are 22, and then you get married three months later, you aren’t exactly prime material for sticking up for your rights. Instead you lean towards others taking care of you.

How can you change?
First you have to have a child; then get separated from your spouse or partner, and then get hit with medical and financial problems.

 

But growing up an only child can teach you to problem solve – mainly because you have to learn to go inside yourself and pull out some possible solutions. The flip side is you may have trouble asking others for help. And when you do, it comes out as a big whine.

 

It didn’t all come right away, but I’ve turned into a fighter- finally. True I’m often cranky and come on strong in anger, but I’d rather be that than a perpetual doormat.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Elderly parents, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, Social skills only children

Only Child focuses beyond the four-letter words

Only Child  rests before doing more battle with companies screwing the consumer

Only Child contemplates then and now

Last week I posted dark. Maybe because a lot of what I’ve been experiencing lately is what is described as “going to hell in a hand basket, ” although the basket keeps increasing in size that it is now too big even for the Jolly Green Giant. My postings, my feelings, are a micro reflection of what is going on in the world today – from terrorism to wars to the weather. I’ve posted about that before, too.

Back in the “good old days” when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s life was simpler but not perfect. In the macro realm, most women stayed home with the kids and didn’t work; there was a lot of racism, and the extreme weather conditions were flukes not every-day occurrences. The only extreme weather I lived through was Hurricane Hazel. Our house didn’t experience any flooding. My late Mom said it was because we lived on a hill.

We also didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, and other social media that get abused today (think cyber bullying) and no Internet. The latter, along with email would have been useful. Instead we had landlines (rotary dialing which I couldn’t do now if you paid me), and transportation – we actually had trains going into rural areas carrying people not oil tanks that exploded.

But I’m a railway brat. My late Dad worked for the CNR so Mom, Dad and I got free train rides, a bonus for our holiday travel.

Behind all these good things in the past, there was underlying darkness. I was bullied but it was the in-your-face type of bullying and despite my intense shyness (thanks to being an only child of elderly parents), I did fight back, often more like a clown. In my memoir which I am currently rewriting, I write:

Mom’s uses subtler tactics. How else to explain our silent collusion when one day the Bully and I get into it with words?

I don’t remember the issue, but we’re standing outside on my front veranda. The Bully is letting me have it; I am burning hotter and hotter inside. Mom must hear us because when I run inside to get a knife, she hands me a ruler. The Bully knows she’s in trouble and she runs down the steps. Brandishing the ruler like I’m Zorro without the mask, I tear after her down the stairs, down the street, and around the corner. I’m steaming with how good it will feel to whack her one across the back and head, but she is too far ahead of me. Unlike Zorro, I have no horse, only my short eight-year old legs. I go right up to the side door of her house after she dashes inside. I yell and shake my ruler. I wish I had the nerve to run into her house and finish the job, but what will her mother think and do?

Maybe Mom is trying to protect me by teaching me to stand up for myself. (excerpted  from You Can Go Home, Copyright 2014 Sharon A. Crawford)

And maybe that has something to do with why I became a journalist.

The biggest darkness of my childhood was when my Dad got cancer. I was almost 10 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. It spread to his brain. Six and a half years later he was dead. Compounding living with this was living with betrayal – I found out Mom had lied about the lung cancer – Mom said Dad had TB. The Bully told me the truth.

So, life is never 100 per cent rosy or 100 per cent crappy.

But the balance of rosiness to crappiness has changed drastically since we entered the new millennium. Something is off there and hence the big big (and growing “basket) taking us to hell or whatever you envision as hell.

Shouldn’t the good be more than the bad? Or am I relying on life “back then” instead of  “life now?”

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family and Friends, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Only child memoir, Railways, Sharon A. Crawford, Train travel, Uncategorized, Weather

Only Child on blogging and ABC award nominees

Only Child reading some of her writing scribbles

Now that I’m one of the recipients of the ABC Blog Award, it’s my turn to nominate a few bloggers whose blogs I like. As far as I know they haven’t been nominated for this award.

But first let’s look at another post that inspired me and I hope inspires you from Bloglovin.

http://www.feelgoodtribe.com/2012/04/30/crazy-talk-the-do-what-you-love-guide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=crazy-talk-the-do-what-you-love-guide  (Sophie has posted an inspirational article by Leo Babauta), I can really connect with the message, especially the number one point: “If you don’t think it’s possible, do a small easy test. Don’t think you can start a blog? Sign up for a free WordPress.com or Blogger.com account and do a short post. Don’t tell anyone about it. Just write a post. It costs nothing, risks nothing, takes almost no time. But you will learn you can do that one little thing, and if you pass that test, you now know your theory of impossibility was wrong. You can do this with any skill, btw, not just blogging.”

That was me. I’ve wanted to blog for years and I knew it had to be something about writing, but what? I am involved in so many areas of writing – writing short stories, writing memoir, writing personal essays, writing a novel (or rewriting, more accurately), writing magazine and newspaper articles, teaching writing workshops and courses, and the other side of the fence – editing books and short stories. Encompassing all that in one blog could put the posts all over the place.

Finally I decided to centre my posts on the memoir which (at that point) I was still writing and fan out from its main focus – i.e., growing up in the 1950s and 1960s as the only child of elderly parents when your Dad is dying of cancer. Sometimes I quote excerpts from the memoir, where appropriate to the post, but often I’m into the fallout of being an only child (now only person) and what I have to face alone. That gets me into health issues, social issues, and well, writing a memoir. And being an “old journalist” I have to do research, so I hit the Internet. My Blog Link list is very long but it’s there so anybody can find more information.

So, with purpose and focus in hand (on my laptop actually) including my About the Blog and a sample first post, I went down to my son, Martin’s for help getting set up on Word Press. He’s the computer expert. That was the beginning of November 2009. Occasionally I still ask him a question about something in Word Press but I’ve learned a lot on my own.

I’ve also learned a lot from my readers, although I don’t have as many as Bloglovin or Leo Babauta  http://zenhabits.net. It is great to connect and share ideas (even though I am sometimes a bit slow getting back). Often what other bloggers write inspires me for my post (like today’s); often it is something in the news; often it is something happening in my life. Whatever it is, as Leo says, it is something I feel passionate about – whether it is gardening or writing or something on the down side, such as when a car hit me in a parking lot  or I got lost in the fog. These things all have deeper meanings than what occurs on the surface. Lost in the fog, for example, also means I sometimes feel lost (and overwhelmed) in what is going on in my life. That is an indication I need to take some action and will probably be learning another lesson.

And these bloggers have taught me much and they are the ones I am nominating for the ABC Award:

Bloglovin  http://www.feelgoodtribe.com/ Sophie has inspiring posts for a healthy mind, body and soul.

Alex Leybourne http://alexlaybourne.com/ He is another author – short stories and novels who posts about his writing – really gets to the gut of it. Inspiring.

Stephanie Miller http://livelighter.org/ She has a scientific background but gets down to the nitty gritty to get healthy. She’s recently tapped into her spiritual side and hopes to live to 120. Disclaimer: I know Stephanie personally.

Happy blogging and reading.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

The ABC (Awesome Blog Content) Award logo

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, ABC Blog Award, Blogging, Fog, Health, Life learning, Martin Crawford, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, Sharon Crawford

Only Child tackles starting the memoir

Only Child at 13 and Dad on veranda of house where she grew up

When I first started writing my memoir I had a very different take on what I wanted to include. I wanted it to be more family history – mainly the dead relatives and my relationship with them – when they were alive. I’m not that weird. Some family flak, as well as some constructive criticism from another writer, steered me in another direction. My memoir is now my story of growing up a shy only child of elderly parents in the 1950s and 1960s when Dad is dying of cancer and the environment is old-school Catholic.

When you find your memoir muse, writing the actual memoir can seem daunting. Where do you start? Where do you go?

In my last post https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/only-child-on-finding-your-memoir-muse-2/ I talked about using the kaleidoscope method to narrow down what the heck you want to write about. When you decide if it is overcoming your drug addiction, your crazy childhood or your travels through the Yukon, that’s the branch of your kaleidoscope you use to create an outline.

But before you do that, you want to write down your memoir’s focus or mission statement. As I did above, try to get it down to one sentence, two sentences maximum. This will help you create your outline.

“Create” and “Outline” seem worlds apart. But if you just write “from the seat of your pants” your memoir will be all over the place. Just remember that whatever you put in this outline may not be what you end up with. Keep an open mind for change because as you write your memoir, things will change – perhaps your perspective, perhaps due to family flak, perhaps boredom on your part. Consider your outline a “work-in-progress.”

Then…

  • Do it as a chapter-by-chapter setup or as subject matter you wish to cover. This is just to get you started – to move you from mission statement to content.
  • Under each “subject” listed, write a few sentences or list (whichever works best for you) what you could cover there.
  • If you need to dig further for information, make a note in brackets (further info needed).

That’s it in a nutshell. And, once you write your beginning chapter, you don’t need to write the chapters in the order listed. Perhaps you are missing some research for Chapter Two or the content of Chapter Five is calling your muse.  Follow it. That’s being creative. Remember, you still have your outline to steer you in…later.

Happy memoir writing.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, cancer, Catholicism in the 1950s, Elderly parents, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, Organizing Memoir, Sharon Crawford

Only Child on elderly parents

Only Child's Mom and Dad

If my parents were still alive they would celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary November 25. Sadly they died when in their 60s (that’s age, not anniversary years). Dad was 66 when he died in 1965 and Mom was 63 when she died in 1971. Contrast that with my friend Carol’s dad who died earlier this month at age 88. Carol and her husband looked after her dad for six and a half years following his head injury from a traffic accident. They even moved in with him across the street from me and also managed to maintain their out-of-town home. I don’t know how they did it and I have only admiration for them both. I also don’t know how or even if I could have done it if by some miracle Mom, at least, would have survived her brain aneurysm. Dad with his cancer spanning almost seven years (including two remissions), is another story.

I was a very immature 22 when my Mom died and I remember thinking just after my then fiance and I rushed her to the hospital via ambulance that I didn’t want Mom to be a vegetable. Despite surgery, she never came out of her coma and died five days after the aneurysm.

Carol and her husband are a few decades older than my 22. But their situation and mine raises questions. Which is the better life scenario?

In my case I missed the stress, time, etc. of having to care for an ill or disabled parent. I didn’t have to go through the “put mom in a nursing home or care for her at home” question. (I’m ruminating on that question  for me – for in the future – way ahead in the future, I hope.) The downside here is I missed having my mother around living to an old age. Sixty-three isn’t old. I have to say that as I’m getting there myself. And I miss her still. Sometimes I think her spirit is around and she is trying to guide me. I say “trying” because I don’t always listen too well. And Dad? I still miss him too. Every time I go to Toronto’s Union Station or ride trains I especially think of him. As some of you may have read in previous posts, my dad worked for the CN (CNR as it was then known when it had passenger service) and Mom, Dad and I used to ride the rails for our summer holidays to visit family and friends in southern Ontario and Michigan, plus touristy trips to Buffalo, Rochester and New York City. In my memoir I write

“Board here for Guelph,” he [train official] says and checks our passes dangling from Dad’s hand.  “Uh huh,” he says and grabs the suitcase and duffel bag from Dad, lifting them up onto the narrow wedge between train coaches. “Watch your step, little girl,” and he takes my hand until I’m standing on the square footstool at the bottom of the stairs.

Dad is already ahead of me and he reaches down for my hand. The metal stairs sound like tin beneath my feet and I am thankful I don’t have to kneel on them. We need an usher because Dad now prances up and down the aisles, checking out the seats. I can’t see any difference in them. They’re all the same pale powdery green with a plastic bib draped over the top of their backsides.

“This one will do,” Dad says, pointing to one on the right, a few rows in from the corridor. He flips the back and now two sets of seats face each other.

I sit next to the window and place Darlene on my lap. Mother plunks herself down beside me and straightens the hem of her dress. After Dad places the big suitcase on the seat across from Mom and lifts the duffel bag onto the overhead rack, he sits down across from me.

“You’re going to ride backwards, Daddy?” I ask. 

“Yes,” he says, but he seems distracted and keeps looking up at the overhead rack. Then he stands up and gives the duffel bag a shove, but it’s already up against the wall.

“These racks are too small,” he says.

(Excerpted from “Riding the Rails with Dad” Chapter 7 from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

But that was back in the 50s and early 60s. Now, with both parents dead and seeing my friends and others caring for their elderly parents, I understand the paradox of our situations. There are good and bad points for each. Probably the best way to deal with either is to accept it. If your parents are elderly and living (even with dementia) be grateful they are still living. If they died younger, be  grateful they may have missed the difficulties of living old. I say “may” because my dad suffered through cancer before he got old.

Count your blessings because there is a lot of elder abuse going on today. Next week’s post will go into this aspect of aging.

Cheers.

Only Child

Sharon Crawford

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Filed under Canadian National Railway, Death and Dying, Eldercare, Elderly parents, Mother dying, Only child memoir, Railways, Uncategorized