Tag Archives: Seniors

Only Child asks: Is honesty the best policy?

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

My late mother was a stickler for honesty. Unlike Gibbs on the NCIS TV series, who had his 10 rules for living written in a small notebook, Mom’s 10 rules were in her head, perhaps some buried in her subconscious. She couldn’t tolerate lies.

Some of the stories spanning out from this, could get complicated, sometimes funny, and sometimes leaving me at a disadvantage some way – but at least I was doing the right thing.

One that comes to mind is when one of my classmates who I hung around with was messing up in marking math exercises. We were in grade three and the teacher had us  pass our exercises to the person sitting in front of us for marking. My friend sat behind me so I got hers to mark. She had some questions wrong and I marked them with an X. When she got the exercise back she changed he X to a tic.

That really ticked me off. But I was too shy then to say anything to the teacher. So I told Mom.

Her solution was for mr to tell the teacher. Mom even offered a 25 cent reward if I did this. I sold my friend out for 25 cents. But, hey, I told the truth.

However, when Mom learned that this same friend and I were cutting through the laneway behind houses and shops to come home from school, she told me I couldn’t do this because it wasn’t safe. But I was more afraid of getting the ire of this friend again, so I followed her like the proverbial Pied Piper, through the alleyway. What the heck. Nothing looked bad. The most menacing thing we saw was a man unloading food from a truck for the IGA store.

When I returned home from school Mom asked, “Did you go through the alley?”

“No,” I replied. And didn’t feel good about it.

Not so with sneaking out the back and dangerous way over to the park the girl gang I hung around with played in. Mom had definitely said I couldn’t take the dangerous route. I was supposed to go the long and boring way along the street and cross the busy street intersection at the lights, then continue walking along the sidewalk to the park.

Nope. I followed the ringleader (my math marker cheating friend) and the others to the end of my street to the dead end street and over to the steep steps down to dangerous, curving and busy Don Mills Road. And this was in the late 1950s before the Don Valley Parkway was built nearby with a major exit from Don Mills Road just a bit north of where we landed on the road. There were no sidewalks there, but if we did continue further south, sidewalks were on the part of Don Mills Road close to the busy intersection. But the shorter back way into the park was before that on the other side of the road. So we waited for a small break in traffic and darted quickly across to the other side. We always made it there safely.

I never told Mom; but she never asked on this one.

Looking back, except for a few of these diversions I told the truth – or more often kept my mouth shut as I was shy.

Fast forward too many years to now in the 21st. century. Not a big truthful world. There are scams, frauds, lies, etc. etc. happening non-stop everywhere. You know who in the States is a master at this. It is hard to think that anyone is honest anymore.

However, I have met some honest people, people who do their best to tell the truth. Which is my policy now, with more complications. For one thing, I am no longer shy and I can be blunt and sarcastic when truthful. Sometimes words seem to come out of my mouth without my mind connecting first. This ties in with my sense of justice versus injustice and people being inconsiderate and doing the wrong thing, often making the situation unsafe. For example if I see someone acting badly, I often just chastise them…in public.

One of my biggest peeves is people who block the subway stairs just so they can stand there and muck around with their digital device. They stand at the top of the stairs. They stand at the bottom of the stairs; and they stand partway down (or up?) the stairs, oblivious of anyone going up or down the stairs.

So, there I come, senior citizen with bad feet and a bad left eye. I’m hanging onto the railing and carefully looking down at the steps and what is or isn’t ahead.

“You’re blocking the way,” I say to the person in front of me. Are his feet glued to the step?

He turns around and we get into a heated discussion.

“I’m a senior and I have to hang onto the railing and not have to go around anyone,” I say.

“There is another railing over there.” He points to the other side of the steps.

“Yes, but that is for people coming up the stairs to hang onto.”

And so it goes back and forth a bit. But he does move out of the way. (I can be persistent as well as honest and blunt). Afterwards I wonder what would happen to him or others who do the same in rush hour when people are zooming up and down the stairs and assume everyone else is doing the same. What if someone accidentally pushed against the digital device fanatic and the person fell? Seems like a hard lesson to learn for being stupid and inconsiderate.

So, I don’t feel bad about being honest telling these digital menaces off.

But I try to use another of my mom’s characteristics, one she may have had difficulty using – being diplomatic. You can’t always be bluntly honest. Sometimes using some diplomacy and tact can go a long way.

I am also working on going up to people I see doing some good and complimenting them. For example, when I was at the CNE in August, the young woman (probably a student doing a summer job) who was cleaning the Ladies Room was doing an excellent job and going about it quietly without getting in anybody’s way. When she was cleaning the sinks, I walked up to her.

“Excuse me,” I said.

She turned around and looked at me.

“You’re doing a good job,” I said. “I know it must be tiresome.”

“Thank you,” she said.

Honesty has many ways to present. Unfortunately so does dishonesty.

What do you think?

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, Ethics, Honesty, Learning Experience, Mother and Child, Only child, Seniors

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

 

 

 

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

Only Child says don’t order me around

My Mom and Dad

When I was a child my mom and dad told me what to do. And so they should – that was part of their job being parents. Fast forward too many years to now and people are still telling me what to do – or trying to. I’m a senior and should be able to make up  my own mind, including weighing in on pros and cons of different situation.

That doesn’t mean I don’t ask for help, for suggestions from friends and family – the big word here is “ask”. It is the unsolicited advice – sometimes almost like orders I’m talking about.

That also doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to experts talk/suggest in well, their area of expertise. For example, with my handyman, Mike, if I call him in with yet another house repair problem. Sure, we can get into a discussion. But I listen to what he says and will probably have him do what he suggests – as long as I can afford it. Sometimes, the work just gets postponed until I can afford it – like the old rec room window that last month just started letting water ub during heavy rainfalls. That’s a closed window, folks.

And for medical/health advice, I listen to the experts and read expert info – although in the end,  a lot of that is up to me. But I don’t pretend to know everything. As a former journalist I am very familiar with the word “research” and do lots of that.

It’s when people who think they know what I should do start in. For example telling me to get the basement waterproofed now. When I explain there is the window to see to first, then they try to draw up a schedule for me to get it all done. They know I am a writer and have my third Beyond mystery novel to promote, etc., etc., so…

News flash: I don’t have a husband or any other type of partner. I’m in this myself so that means I have to do and/or organize everything in my life.

Not that I wouldn’t want some help and sometimes friends gift me their help – but they are not ordering me around. My son is also a big help, not just with computers but with a few practical things that surprise me. But he doesn’t push it.

Tbe big one that really gets my goat is this: If I am having so many house problems why don’t I sell it and move into a condo?

Oh, For you-know-whose sake! Is that the answer for us seniors living in our own homes? To those  who think this, I think “Get a life – preferably yours, not mine.”

Throughout my life I  have lived in apartments, townhouses, two-storey houses and bungalows. I live in a bungalow now and it’s the only type of home that appeals to me. So, I have a short answer for these meddling busy-bodies who ask “Why don’t you sell the house and move into a condo?”

Because I would rather be dead than give up my garden.

That shuts them up.

Sharon on patio backyard garden

Of course I have more practical reasons. But I am tired of going into them.

So, I say, I am a senior and as long as my brain is still working, I think I can decide what to do and when to do it. And I reserve the right to change my mind or move the timing of it and when to ask for help.

What do you say?

How do you deal with unsolicited advice to well, run your life?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Decision Making, Family and Friends, Garden, Help and Support, Life Balance, Only child, Problem solving, Seniors

Only Child on people’s stupidity wasting my time

Your customer service rep today

Lately I’ve been getting up feeling that there isn’t too much to look forward to for the day – or I have one or more nagging problem to face. Even today, on an untypical winter’s day. Sun is shining and it going to be warm – 54 F on the old scale.

I’m feeling better now and I think it is because I’ve been busy tackling my time and getting back on track with starting my workday on time. I also re-recorded my voice mail message – much shorter and to the point – starting with if this call is personal, please call… and I state when – not during my business hours. I also mention when I will take calls for writing and editing. And I finish with “Or leave a brief message. Thank you.” Emphasis on the “brief”.  I don’t want your life story as some do. Now, with long messages, I will delete them once the life story finishes, that is.

I also thought a brief summary of some of the ridiculous problems I’ve been dealing with the past month – at least 90 per cent caused by “outside”, i.e. I didn’t cause them; they were caused by big business, government, other people, etc. But I’m stuck with fixing the problem. So, here is a short summary of the most ridiculous. People can be so stupid. WARNING: I name some names.

1. I belong to CARP – the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (a misnomer as members can be anywhere over 45 and many of us are not retired). But they are good with advocating for our rights as older people, especially to  government, plus you get deals with things like insurance and pharmacies and they publish the Zoomer magazine. But apparently their in-house administration needs some fixing. My membership runs out the end of February according to my membership card. For the first time I did not receive a renewal notice (I’ve been a member for more years than I can remember) so I phoned earlier this month. My “new” card arrived a week ago – dated February 2018. What’s wrong with this picture? i phoned and complained and asked for a correct new card to be sent to arrive by the end of the month, send it priority post if necessary and that because they screwed up I deserve that – this latter after they said it takes two to three week to send it out. Well, they didn’t listen -priority post would have gotten it here before now, which is one week later.

2. Empire Life Insurance Company which has had my life insurance policy for years and increases the payments every year, but never tells me ahead of time or how much. Just sends me “threatening” letters six months or so before the fiscal year is  up or after, stating that my policy will  be cancelled if I don’t pay X$ right now. I have repeatedly phoned them on this, stating I have no problem paying any quarterly increase that starts with each new fiscal year – but they have to let me know what the quarterly increase is. This year I did the math on the amount they say I owed until August 1 (fiscal year end/start) and it works out to the two quarterly payments I still owe when I am billed for each quarterly. I was just going to pay the current quarterly when the annual nasty letter arrived. This time I think I got someone who has some idea what she is doing and she said she would put a note in my file that I requested receiving notice of the actual quarterly increase a month before the fiscal year end/beginning and to just mail in the actual quarterly payment due now and the next one in May. Which I did for the quarterly then due. And I have complained about Empire Life to the Insurance Bureau of Canada and they said they don’t cover life insurance – just car and property insurance companies. I have also looked into getting life insurance elsewhere but have been warned to be careful here. Maybe I’ll go to CARP again on it and see what they have to say. Oh! When I get my new correct membership card.

3. I wasted last Thursday morning on the phone with Dell Canada trying to extend the service warranty on my leased desktop PC for another year. I might have been asking for them to deliver the sun and the moon. Except for instructing me how to do a check on the hardware in the computer to make sure it was all working (it was 100 per cent), the customer service rep in the finance department I got didn’t know what to do (she kept putting me on hold to check with her supervisor) and I had to repeat several times what I wanted and how I was going to pay for it. She finally gave me a quote and transferred me to someone else to take my payment info. Then back to her and after waiting some time she told me that there was a problem processing it but it wasn’t my card – it was Dell but she worded it like the problem was connected to me paying with a card. After being put on hold for more time, I hung up and tried to call back (to get somebody else) at the number she gave me. I got the usual Dell runaround from operator to operator to wrong country to wrong department until I landed back at the original place – but with la different rep who knew what she was doing. She got me a quote and it turns out the first rep had quoted higher because she had included a laser printer. Huh? I don’t have a Dell printer and that was never discussed with rep No. 1. This rep No. 1 had emailed me a “how am I doing?” email – twice – while we were still talking and there was a link to her supervisor. So I emailed him to complain. Got a quick reply and he wins the prize for stupidest person on the earth. He said the first rep. did it right, there was a “tool” causing the processing my order problem (Tool? We weren’t gardening or doing house repairs here? Did he mean software?). His grammar and spelling were atrocious for a supervisor. And he didn’t even apologize. But I may have gotten my just desserts in all of this, though – when I filled in the survey form that came in yesterday.

The list goes on. But that’s enough. People can be so inconsiderate and stupid.

So, I’m looking out the window at the sun shining and hoping I can go for a walk at lunchtime.

What is one stupid problem caused by someone else you had to deal with? And how did you deal with it?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Something to look forward to in a few months

 

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Filed under Complaining tactics, Consumer action, Insurance, Only child, Problems, Seniors, Snafus, Zoomers

Only Child’s thoughts on son turning 40

Sharon and Martin

My son  Martin turned 40 on Saturday and that opens a whole she-bang of emotions and thoughts. Some are probably obvious, like we are all getting older. In this crazy world (and “crazy” is being kind), I’m not sure living to a ripe old age is a good idea. No, 40 isn’t a ripe old age, but getting into and being in seniorville – let’s just say the downs often overshadow the ups.

But, one of the ups is Martin – at 4o or 20. He  may not always answer my emails or phone calls promptly, but he helps me a lot – not just with computers (that’s his line of work) but with some life-threatening events. Events, such as the big unwelcome and uncalled for prolonged ice storm December 2013 in southern Ontario. The storm caused power outages, sporadic in locationa (a friend living near me had no power outage; Martin didn’t either) but I did and so did everyone on my street  for 48 hours. Others were without power for longer. Martin was on the phone constantly to me (I used my old landline phone on the wall which still worked – as long as I didn’t touch the wireless landline extension) to see how I (and the boarder and her cat living with me then) were coping. He told me what to do to remove the ice on the veranda and for a path down to the road without just hacking away with an axe and shovel. And when the temperature was going to dive down he insisted that we go to a downtown hotel and stay – at his expense. I just had to pay for the cab to get there. Martin also took us (not the cat) out for dinner at a nearby restaurant after he got us settled in (the cat, too) and got my laptop hooked up to the hotel’s wi-fi system for guests. He also phoned me when the power had come back on in my neighbourhood. He had found out from my friend next door who had texted  him. And he was there with a leased car and a ham and potatoes for Christmas dinner on Christmas Day. And drove us home. He did stay out of it while the boarder and I pitched stuff still in the fridge that hadn’t fit in the temporary fridge (an old closed up from the outside milk chute) and a very few items from the big freezer. But he did cook dinner and we all exchanged Christmas presents.

He was raised by both parents, despite my ex and I being separated since Martin was a toddler. At first it was dicey, but once some routines were agreed on  – with the flexibility factor included – I think this joint parenting worked. My ex was good getting Martin into things like scouts and soccer   – just as well as I don’t drive, but we both kept tabs on Martin’s experiences in school, including going together to parent and teacher evenings for grade school. One year, Martin’s spelling was terrible (he was seven or eight) and so my ex and I, as a team, descended on the school, prepared to give his teacher hell for ignoring this spelling problem…until we arrived to meet her and saw her leg in a cast. We downplayed our anger to concern. The following year Martin had a teacher very concerned with his students’ spelling.

I wasn’t a harsh disciplinarian with my son, preferring to use what I had learned from a friend who had raise three children – the consequences method – all actions had consequences. Some of my work friends condemned or made fun of this attitude, but that and talking things out with Martin seemed to pay off. To paraphrase another friend, my son turned out well and I am proud of him.

Martin is also an accomplished musician, playing guitar and lap steel guitar with a local Toronto band called Beams. This Friday, Feb.23, Beams is holding the launch party for the release of its second CD at a bar called Little Budda in downtown Toronto. They will play around 11 p.m. but the opening band is earlier. My friend, Carol and I plan to go. Click on the Beams link HERE for their website with info on the CD and song excerpts and go to their Facebook page for tickets.

And oh, yeah he hasn’t missed any of the three book launches for my three Beyond mystery books.

He has been spending time with his dad and his dad’s wife and friends across the pond but now that he’s back I will be taking him and his girlfriend out for dinner one evening next week. I did email him a birthday greeting last week, complete with a 40th birthday cake graphic inserted in the email (e-cards got too confusing for me to work – they used to be easier to send).

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Actions Consequences, Help and Support, Martin Crawford

Only Child says snow and rain four-letter words

The weather outside is, has been and will be horrid this winter. This is not just in southern Ontario, but all over Canada, all over the US, all over the world. We can’t get away from it – no matter where we live. We cannot run; we cannot hide. This is a sad and sorry fact of life. And for those Pollyannas who look on the so-called bright side of the weather, unfortunately there isn’t much of a bright side with weather except for the sun when it is actually shining – not when the weather forecasts call for sunshine. What is called for and what is predicted don’t always match.

But often they do match – and it can get bad as the folks in Florida and other southern states found out a few days ago with the snow and freezing rain and in 2017 with the hurricanes. Then there are all the forest fires, floods, and tornadoes. As an example, if you want to put it in dollars and cents (definitely, not “sense”), the cost for all these “natural” disasters in the US for 2017 was $306 billion dollars. And these disasters also killed people. Read the story here in the Washington Post – story also goes into disasters around the world.

On a personal level in winter I am now in constant alert and have to do so many extra chores to try to protect my  small bungalow and its small property.  I have two sets of heat cables – one on the roof and in the eavestroughs and one around one downspout and its extension where ice jams form in below zero (Celcius) weather. I have snow on the roof to worry about and this year especially one corner where it piled up. This was in the Christmas holidays when no one was around to help me. So there I was standing on a patio chair and trying to remove the worst of it with a light-weight bamboo rake. To paraphrase a saying of a late aunt who was only 4’ll”, “I don’t know why the bad Lord made me so short.” I am only 5 ‘1″ and this is one of the few times I resent my lack of height. At that point I wasn’t concerned if it killed me, but because I was concerned about getting maimed, I was careful. I did manage to knock some off the eavestrough part, but the rest was stubborn – the heat cables were working for the rest of the roof and eavestroughs, but not that one corner  right in front of the chimney. I didn’t want and don’t want water getting into my attic or basement when it melts or my roof to collapse.

And for the first time in 10 years I don’t  have someone to shovel my snow regularly and for pay. Christmas Day, when my son and his girlfriend came to visit, they had to finish shovelling what I had struggled to do earlier that day. I notice some of my neighbours helping other neighbours shovelling some of their snow and without being asked.  But none of them bother with helping me with the snow shovelling when it is heavy. I guess they figure I’m out there shovelling and I can do it. Hah!

We have a warm spell now and it should help some. But not for long as we are going to get hit with a heavy storm Friday into Saturday – depending on where we live it might include ice. And that terrifies me because I remember the big ice storm here of December 2013, including its big power outage.

Monday morning there was a two-hour power outage and it included my area – this one had nothing to do with weather but everything to do with Hydro One screwing up with getting its power supply to Toronto.

Fortunately my street and the surrounding area was spared. A miracle? Does it give me hope for the future? Like snow and rain and hell, hope is a four-letter word. Over the years, and particularly the last 17, I’ve learned that particularly where weather is concerned, it is best not to wallow in being Polyanna. So I expect the worst because a lot of the time it happens. I have learned not to take much for granted. I have learned to be thankful for what is good that happens and to express my gratitude for it. But I have learned that unfortunately life contains a big hunk of darkness. Do I embrace this darkness? Never. But I am wary and try to keep informed.

Maybe that is my old journalist training. But it is more likely to be what I have learned from living. And I am a senior so I think I can truthfully say I have been around for a few decades.

Below are a few photos to recap the horrid weather in 2017

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Backyard patio snowed in

 

Williams Lake fire,photo courtesy of Stephane Livolski – from The Weather Network

 

François Lussier rows along a flooded street in the town of Rigaud, Que., west of Montreal, on May 8, 2017.
GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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Filed under Eavestroughs and dowspouts, Extreme Weather, Ice Storm Southern Ontario, Life demands, Snow, snow shovelling, Uncategorized

Only Child says snow snow – yech!

Last evening and overnight, Toronto, Ontario got blasted with the first snowfall of the year. At 14 cm it is certainly not the biggest snowstorm, but being the first one of this season, it seemed like way too much. Especially if like me you had to shovel all the white stuff. Especially when the two guys you used to hire to shovel your snow the past six to eight years seem to have disappeared.

As a senior, I shouldn’t be shovelling the results of big and/or heavy snowstorms. Especially as I am just now getting over a 48-hour virus – which was probably caused by an allergic reaction to too much dust. I don’t have time to dust my place very often and I certainly don’t have time to shovel snow – repeatedly during the winter season. Cutting the little lawn I have repeatedly in the summer is a different story. Especially using a hand mower as my late dad did.

Dad also shovelled the snow when I was growing up – until he got cancer.

But storms weren’t as bad as now back then (1950s and 1960s) – at least on a regular basis. Yes, we had some doozy winter snowstorms. I remember walking home from school at lunch time (yes, we didn’t stay at school for lunch unless we lived too far away) and the snow was up to my thighs. But I was so much shorter then and not so wise, not so knowledgeable, and well, a kid. Now, I’d just like to skip winter – not just for the snow but we get too much of this mixed precipitation and then there are the ice storms.

Actually shovelling the snow was very invigorating. Lucky my virus seems to have either disappeared or got buried for now. But I would still rather go for a walk…in the freezing cold? Temperatures nose-diving later today and will stay that way for the next couple of days. Brr!

Below my signature are a few more photos  of the snow on my property  before I dug in and shovelled.

Do you shovel your own snow or does somebody else? Or do you live in a rental apartment or a condo?

Do you consider snow shovelling a winter sport?

You can probably guess what my answer is as I don’t take part in real winter sports. But I like to watch figure skating – probably because I used o skate as a child and young adult – nothing fancy, just enough to keep from falling as I glided around the rink – outdoors or indoors.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Recycling bins snowed in back of driveway

 

Backyard patio snowed in

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Dad, Life demands, Only child, snow shovelling, Winter Weather