The difference a blue sky makes

Last evening, Pete and I were over at Neil’s for our weekly movie night. We all take turns picking a slip of paper from a jug of titles, then that becomes the randomly chosen film for the next week. This works a treat, and movie night – for us three – also usually involves random conversations about tidbits we’ve gathered in our ADD noggins over the past week or so. Neil mentioned being told about a person who is often deeply depressed because he/she can’t see the colour blue anymore.

Imagine that for a moment.
No blue skies. Ever again.

I’m sitting here in a big, comfy chair with my MacBook on my lap, the birds singing in the hedge just out the window to my right, and I can see the reflection of blue sky and fluffy clouds in the glass of the tv in front of me, and if I turn my head, there it is: blue sky.

There is a marked decrease in depression in the house and I know that part of this is down to the increase in blue skies lately. January was hard. REALLY HARD. Grey, dull, cold, wet, more grey, more dull, more cold, more wet. This weather trend has been letting up a bit over the last week and it is glorious. I worked in the garden yesterday. It was warm, sunny, and felt good.

This isn’t a blog post with a point to make, just an observation- a thought I had about blue skies. Now, I’m going to turn my head and have a look at this one right now. It’s glorious, and I’m fortunate to see it.

The Toothpaste

My housemate has had some dental work done recently. Never one to pass up posh, free toothpaste samples, he grabbed a couple from our dentist. This morning, he was feeling a bit “L’oreal, I’m worth it” and cracked open one of these sample tubes. The stuff inside was unlike any toothpaste either of us had ever seen…

FLESH COLOURED TOOTHPASTE. Who thought that was a good idea? Yeah. Weird. He squirted some on his toothbrush.
The next two minutes were very amusing (for me).

I watched my manly-bearded, 6’2″ housemate wince, whimper, and stamp his feet as he brushed. He nearly threw up after. He gargled Listerine as if it would save his life. He continued to vocalise grunts and grumbles for the next minute or two. There was only one thing I could do… I put some of this devil’s paste on my own toothbrush. Suffer alone? No, I wouldn’t let that happen to Pete. I’m up for the challenge.

The taste of this stuff is unpleasant, truly, but not unlike something I remember from a long time ago… See, I’ve not always been the moneybags high-roller you see before you. Nope, I’ve had hard times. I remember long ago, when running out of toothpaste happened every so often and I’d resort to that very old fashioned formula of baking soda to clean my teeth. That’s the taste of this fleshy toothpukepaste- baking soda and salt (with a hint of minty aftertaste).

I laughed constantly as I brushed my teeth. Pete kept asking what was so funny. I laughed more. Finally, after a sufficient time scrubbing away, I rinsed and mentioned, that yes, it’s not a nice flavour, but a familiar one to me. He’s never brushed his teeth with bicarbonate of soda. I can only imagine the gagging, grumbling, dance he’d do if he would.

Me? I don’t mind the toothpaste sample, but I’d never buy it, not just because it looks like human clay, but it’s formulated for bleeding gums and I’m all good on that front.

I would, however, pay money to watch my manly housemate whimper and gag like a child again. That was tremendously amusing (for me).

LtM – 13 February 2015

It’s your birthday today. You would be 70. I can’t believe it.

So much has changed since I last felt the need to write to you. I have apparently written sixteen Letters to Mom entries since you died in 2010. They help me, and I have clearly healed some with each year, as I didn’t write to you at all in 2014. 2014 wan’t easy though and I’m writing to you from a different house which I share with my best friend, Pete. My second marriage fell apart and Neil and I went our separate ways. We’re friends, and have found a way to have a new kind of healthy relationship. I am grateful.

There’s not many of our family left now, Mom; grandma is gone, Edith is gone. Kevin is our eldest now and he’s only in his fifties. We are a family of children now. I sometimes think about who will care about what I hold of yours, of dad’s and the other memorabilia of our lives when I die. I have no children. My relationships with my remaining family are pretty good for the most part, but not close. We were all closer once, decades ago when we all still lived near enough to see each other and have Christmas or Thanksgiving in the same house, but that’s a long time ago and each has a new family, new groupings. It’s life. My group, by comparison is pretty small; it’s just me.

I have friends, so don’t worry, and remaining, remote family is still family and we look out for each other from our places around the world. What I have noticed in recent years is how families evolve for people who need people. Pete’s parents invited me to their family Christmas. I was away with them for a few days, and though I initially felt strange, I found myself becoming a little part of a new group. They care about me, I care about them. It’s nice. I’ve been accepted into their family.

There was an old woman in the village named Vera who died last year. We were friends, and I thought of her as both a friend and a grandma figure. We didn’t see each other so much over 2013-2014 due to my own difficulties consuming me, but I treasure the time we had. Just before Vera died, I went to see her and to deliver some balls of yarn meant for her from another elderly village lady.

Vera was frail, in bed, and had some family and visitors around. I waited my turn to see her. She flashed a wonderful smile when she saw me; I sat by her side. She held my hand tight with bony fingers and only let it go when I asked if she’d like to see the wool I’d brought. ‘Oh yes!’ she said. We took out ball after ball and made small talk about the weight and colours. There was a particularly soft – almost feathery – yarn and she pressed it to her cheek. I did the same to my own. A little more chat, then the wool was packed back into its bag for her to take with her to the hospice. We hugged, squeezed hands, and I left her to her ‘real’ family. That was the last time I saw her; she died days later. I miss her, Mom. I really do, and I regret getting so wrapped up in my own problems that I didn’t see her as often as I had in the past. I can’t change that, but I know she never held it against me. We’d become a family of sorts too.

I’m on my own this evening. Pete is helping with the local play performances and will be back later. I had to go to him last evening to give him the news that his last grandparent was likely dying. She’s in the hospital now after a stroke, and it doesn’t look good. He was due to travel north to see her next week. He told me that when he saw her last year, she said she was ready to die. She goes through the motions, in a big house, alone. If she’s made peace with her readiness to die, we guess – after this stroke – it will happen soon.

Pete has an elderly computer client outside the village who is housebound; he’s kind of adopting her as a friend/grandparent. She has no one, sees almost no one, and is very smart. They get along great. She phoned him just before he left for the play this evening. She’s very ill and has been on fluids all week. No food. No one comes, and the one person who does check in on her is also elderly and can’t risk getting ill too. The doctor has come to her, but that is all. She called Pete because she knows him, he comes to her, and she trusts him. Her dog hasn’t been taken care of properly since she’s in bed. I think we’re going to go see what we can do to help her tomorrow. She didn’t ask us for help, but we’ll likely be cleaning up after the dog, and keeping a lonely, ill woman company for awhile. I think she’s becoming family too. I look forward to meeting her.

So things are always changing, Mom. People come into my life, people leave my life. Sometimes I’m lonely. I have the same propensity as you for keeping to myself and not going out much. Makes my little ‘family’ of friends and family very valuable to me. I may not see or chat with them nearly enough, but they are vital to my survival, even just knowing they are there. I am so grateful.

I love you and miss you.

[about Letters to Mom/LtM]

sharing too much since 2003