Tag Archives: life changes

On the other hand, or it’s being so cheerful what keeps us going


My last post was one of my Pollyanna type ones about the past few years. I don’t like to bleat about my life’s sorrows…I know everyone has a sackful of their own…so I can sound a bit like I’m living the life of Riley*.

I’m not.

I’m trying to give myself relevance as I struggle with MS, depression, and isolation.

It’s keep busy or give up, really.

And, of course, thank heavens for better living through pharmaceuticals.

There’s been a fair chunk of grief. Losses. Of relationships, of work, of the ability to move without knocking things over. There’s a reason why everything I wear is machine-washable.

Hugely, I’ve lost my firstborn- he’s still alive, just not speaking to me. It is wrenching. Years of therapy haven’t made that hurt go away. I doubt it ever will.

Thank God I still have my brilliant and funny other sons and their delightful partners. They brighten my heart.

MS isn’t a pleasant thing to live with – the fatigue can be overwhelming and even given my relatively benign course, it’s like aging at speed. I live alone by choice, unwilling to inflict my challenged self on others. When I’m tired, I say things I don’t mean to say. I am moody, depressed, grumpy as hell. I walk funny. I sleep funny. I can’t speak properly. I develop terrible things like trigeminal neuralgia.

Sometimes a mere conversation can require I rest for the next day or more. I can fake normalcy as long as I can slip back to my den and rest up between outings…but I need that respite.

As someone who was raised to define people by what they do, all this resting is demoralizing.

I’m not complaining, truly. Life has been gentle with me overall. But it hasn’t been easy, and I do my fellow MS folks a disservice if I pretend otherwise.

It’s Thanksgiving, so in a brief return to Pollyannishness, I’ll add I am intensely thankful for the adventures I’ve been able to have, the ones still ahead (I will learn ukulele or perish), and the wonderful friends I’ve met on my travels. I’ve been incredibly fortunate.

The sun is shining, and as Emily Dickinson wrote:

I dwell in possibilities…

* I went and looked up “The life of Riley” on Wikipedia to see if My mum used the phrase to describe a life of no care, just fun. Turns out it wasn’t about that, more about a goon who stumbles through life as those around him prevent him from his worst errors. So I guess I am living the life of Riley. Grateful for those who guard me from myself…

Ant sac, or disturbing my nest again…


You probably have seen what happens when you kick over an anthill and all of the ants panic and run all over the place, carrying the egg sacs, looking for safety?

Back in the days pre-divorce, the ex and I used to call our regular sorting and rearranging of stuff “ant sac” activity – we’d be grabbing our things and rushing back and forth between floors of our house, through rooms in a panicked, not quite sensible manner…

Now I am ant-sac-ing again, carrying my stuff there and back, up and down, in and out…

You see, the pandemic disturbed my anthill.

I live in the glorious Maritimes. In fact, I am writing this from the balcony of *the best apartment ever*, overlooking the Halifax harbour, pausing now and again to gaze at the ocean. I’m seizing the quiet moment before the heat of the day begins and I lose all sentient thought…ah, maritime humidity. I remember flying into the airport from Ontario and the air here felt like breathing through a water-soaked sponge…

(Pause to gaze at a container ship easing on by, seemingly silent…)

But see, the pandemic. I do love it here, but the enclosure of Covid-19 has left me with a slightly lonely tinge to my thoughts – my family is all so far away. And the Maritimes is all about family. If you don’t have one here, well,…

And yes, ‘friends are the family you choose’ – and I’ve been blessed to meet so many wonderful people here and I am going to miss them all madly, but as I creep towards my dotage, I realize I need to be a bit closer to my relations- my kids, my cousins, my sister…Nova Scotia is just that little bit too far away.

So I am busily sorting my stuff, carrying it here to the “for the recycler/junk people “ (a large pile) and there “for the move” (an unpleasantly large pile still). I feel like the panicked ant, trying to save my babies but also wanting to give them all away, start a completely fresh nest elsewhere…

But I just have to keep this book, this piece of art, this crafted coffee mug, the cat…and so I continually sort through the piles, tossing more things, packing and unpacking, trying to squeeze my stuff into smaller spaces.

Just heard a voice from the BBC (which I always believe because…British accent…) counselling people not to make any irreversible decisions during this time of oddness. As my father in law would say, “‘Too late,’ she cried, and waved her wooden leg.” It’s all in motion and I am on the highest point of the roller coaster, waiting for that exciting swoop down into the loops.

I’m not regretting my choice. I’ve had a lovely ten years here, way more than was originally planned. Its been like an extended holiday, with a bunch of new and exciting travel partners. But it is time to go home, and much as I tried to claim Nova Scotia as my home, it just won’t take me.

I blame the fiddle music. Lord, I do hate a fiddling jig.

So it’s farewell to Nova Scotia in about a month. I’m hoping it’s not a permanent farewell- I have the sea in my bones (and in my lungs- how I long for a good dry-out in the prairies!) and will likely have to come back to visit. Good friends are hard to leave.

The sun was setting in the west
The birds were singing on every tree
All nature seemed inclined to rest
But still there was no rest for me

Farewell to Nova Scotia, the sea bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I’m far away on the briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me

I thought you were dead!


It’s funny how the expressions you hear change when you see someone you haven’t seen for a long time.

Things shift from “You look great!” (even voice) to “you look GREAT!” (surprised voice) to “you look …great!” (artificially bright voice). It’s all in the diphthongs, which, contrary to popular belief are not how you describe those underwear you wear when they are trapped in an uncomfortable place. Although those can cause upward diphthongs, true.

There’s the query shift from “How’s work?” to “Still working?” to “STILL working????”, and “When’s the wedding?” to “Still married?” to “Still married, eh.”

There’s “How are the kids?” to “The kids at school yet?” to “Got grandkids yet?” to “How are the grandkids?”

My hair went grey when I was in my late 30s. Once I took my wee group of kids (youngest was 4) to church and was invited to join the line dancing group. I explained I couldn’t line dance. The sweet woman said, “Oh, that’s no problem – all you have to do is be over 50 and you’re welcome!”

I blame the hair care industry and the fact that women colour their hair until they are 107 and shrivelled into husks. People seem to assume that I, even with my young face and unshrivelled body (alas), am a centenarian just because I don’t dye my hair. Somehow, naturally grey hair is wrong, while  glaringly brassy red hair or gothic black hair is fine after fifty.

I met a long missed auntie once and she told me flat-out she wasn’t going to tell anyone she’d seen me with my hair “all grey like that.” I loved her. Outspoken, yes. Tactful, not so much.

But you know life is starting to get grim when someone says “Wow! I thought you were dead!” like the person I overheard in the coffee shop the other day. To a sixty-ish-looking guy…

I haven’t heard that one, but with my lack of communication with folks as I try to rope myself into my novel and writing, I feel sure I’ll hear it, soon.

Provided someone sees me. I think I’ll just hide for a few years yet.