The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT


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The Last 16th And Honouring The Dead

As families go, mine is pretty damned great. There are just enough of us to gather around a good-sized dinner table, have small group conversations, have one large discussion, talk over each other or eat our meal in complete silence (nah, that has never happened!!). The same scenario goes whenever we get together for a birthday and so it was we gathered to celebrate the last person in our family to turn Sweet 16.

My niece, Zoe, has grown before our eyes and turned into a beautiful, talented and clever young lady. You just might say she’s going to be a renaissance woman. Her artistic talents became very apparent during her early years. A bit of Andy Warhol, Piet Mondrian or Amedeo Modigliani, along with a great sense of style, humour and intelligence. I managed to buy an early piece on canvas named “Owl” which hangs proudly in our office where we can see it on a daily basis.

Now in High School her talents are still expanding above and beyond. With her fabulous grades she’ll be able to name her career whenever she’s ready. I truly hope she finds what she’s looking for. Her 16th birthday was just as eventful and fun as her family is. Zoe and her family are in constant contact with another Aunt and cousins and we sit and listen to their hijinks, travels and tribulations whenever we are together. They really make Nat and myself look and sound like a couple of old fogies – and I suppose that’s what we’re getting to be. At times jealousy rears its ugly head but I know in my heart you make the bed you lie in. We do, however, always have a great time and good laughs.

Another family moment arose when The Welland Canal Fallen Workers’ Memorial was announced. The unveiling ceremony was held on November 12th, the day after November 11th, which was somehow very befitting. A large tent was set up along the Welland Canal Parkway at Lock 3. The turnout was more than expected and despite the slow chill that eventually set in to everyones’ body, the ceremony was lovely and well done. As my maternal Grandfather and his only son (an uncle) were both among the 137 that died while helping to construct the canal and its bridges, the entire familly turned out, including dear brother who travelled down from Sudbury.

We sat amongst other family members of fallen workers, along with a large gathering of interested spectators and a few historians and listened to speeches and stories that brought you back to an historical time in our local history and we all came away looking at the great expanse of The Welland Canal in a completely different light.

The Memorial itself is a pair of canal Lock doors partially opened with each of the names of Fallen workers inscribed in the black granite. After the ceremony the Memorial was flooded with families and guests and our family came to the conclusion that we can return on a quieter day to take pictures and appreciate the memorial in a more peaceful setting.

Claudia had invited the whole gang back to her place for Beef on a Bun, Shredded Pork and salads after the ceremony. As our brother was down from the Sudbury area, and as we rarely get a chance to see him, it was a real delight to sit around the kitchn table and get caught up on family news. The reality has now come down to discussions of medications, aches and pains, along with what we can and cannot do any more. Our childhood memories of the older adults in the family having the same discussions has now come full circle.

Two days after, it was my personal time to face some pretty ugly consequences. After a quiet, long and honest discussion, Nat and I concluded that it was time for me to take care of what has bothered me for years. He was fully supportive and will be by my side at every step. My first appointment was on the 14th. It went well, but we still have to wait and see what the next several months will bring. I’ll try and post as much as I can personally handle.

With a few errands to run in the days following, Nat and I quietly went about our business. We both got our requisite flu shots and then headed into St. Catharines with our To Do list.

Nat has had no luck getting his Nikkon camera to charge, so we dropped by Henry’s Camera Shop where it was concluded that the camera was, in fact, already charged and that he may have had trouble with the connection showing the proper results. With red faces and hands covering our embarrassment, we got the hell out of there. Duh!!!!

We grabbed some lunch at our favourite haunts – Wendy’s and Tim Horton’s – before we drove to the other side of the City for Costco’s. We stocked up on the usual, found a couple of new items and paid what felt like a massive hydro bill. At least this bill will hold us over for severeal months!!

The rest of November and December are going to be quiet with only a few appointments. No shopping for Christmas this year and we’ll give the usual amount of money to each grandchild whenever we get together over the holidays. All four grandchildren are now adults, completing their education, working nine to five or travelling. I feel for their parents in how they’re going to try and get everyones’ schedules in sync. Nat and I will just sit back and wait for when to show up. This year we may also just do our own thing and quietly let Christmas pass us by.

Just in case I don’t post between now and 2018 – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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The Party’s Over!

Every little girl loves to play dress-up, and I was no exception. My Mother’s wedding dress, along with a couple of ball gowns, a velvet cape and some souvenirs from their short time on the Island of Eleuthra, was stored away in a big cedar-lined trunk in the hallway upstairs of our childhood home. I would always take a peek and try something on whenever no one else was looking, especially one of my other sisters (whom I’m sure did the same thing). Naturally the dresses were way too long – the waist of her wedding dress being down to my knees – but I would prance around trying my best to untangle the rest of the dress from my legs as I would walk down the aisle (upstairs hallway) holding the “fan” (a huge piece of coral fan that my parents brought home from the Bahamas) as my bouquet. The only thing I lacked was a good groom – and I found him over 35 years later. Needless to say it’s the feel of that satiny dress, the glamorous look and the longing to be as beautiful as your Mom that draws every girl’s fancy to get “dressed up”.

As I grew, those getting dressed up times soon became a reality. The new dress that Grandma made for Sunday school, the prom dress for graduation, the bridesmaid dress that no girl wants to wear, and eventually the cocktail dress for the office Christmas party. The main event, and I do mean the “main” event, for most every young woman is her wedding. The be all and end all of playing dress up. Each and every time I enjoyed the anticipation of the event, the getting dressed the day of and naturally, attending the event. It was always the sound of the silk or satin material as your legs rustled the crinoline underneath, the gown flouncing around your feet as you walked along in those gorgeous new open-toed shoes you couldn’t wait to get your feet into. Oh, and yes, those were the times that every young girl had a chance to get all “dolled up” – eye shadow and liner, lipstick and blush and an upswept hairdo that made you look years older than you actually were.

Now that I’m about to turn 60, reality has finally set in. I just can’t do it anymore!! I’ve lost my ooomph for getting dressed up. I’ve not even worn a long silk gown since my wedding day 14 years ago, mainly because of my kidney transplant and all of the ups and downs and topsy turvy times your body goes through while getting back on track. I have, however, still gotten dressed up, albeit in long pants with a fancy blouse, and that’s not quite the same, is it?

With the annual golf dinner dance last night it was obvious the party was over. By 10:00 pm I was tired. Even the new shoes couldn’t keep me going as Nat took my hand and led me to the dance floor to swing and sway to the live band playing on stage. The meal was wonderful, the other couples at our table were entertaining and fun and the music was lively. Makes for a great evening if you’ve got the stamina. And even as I looked around the room this year, most (if not all) of the women were wearing sensible clothes – pant suits, pants with fancy blouses and flat shoes hidden in their purses! Most other years it was the norm to wear a long glittering gown, beaded purse and open-toed shows. Only the younger wives last evening were dressed in short cocktail-style dresses with the odd beaded purse and perhaps a shawl or two, and all the power to them. Anyone that can still squeeze into pantyhose has my respect!!!

Being our only social event of the year, I look forward to it, only because I remember those bygone days where I could get dressed up and dance my heart out ’til the wee hours of the morning.  This time around it was all I could do to stay for the awards ceremony and one dance. The awards ceremony is always a treat as there’s a running joke at our table about one of our friends having never won a prize, except maybe a golf trophy some years back. The prize table is laden with golf bags, golf carts, bottles of wine and memberships at the golf course, but poor Jim has won none of it and every year the anguish and disappointment on his face is obvious. This year we also had a chance to talk to old neighbours from St. Catharines that had moved away some time before we did and it was great to see them again to exchange stories about our new old homes and the perils of getting settled in.

Needless to say I quietly nudged Nat when I felt the time was right, to take me home. I also knew that possible snow flurries were in the evening’s forecast and having that long drive home at night, I was worried. Driving at night has also now become a chore. Aging makes you sensible, practical and above-all, realistic. We had had only one dance but at least we did dance to make the getting dressed up worth the while! Maybe next year with a lot more effort and lot of bicycle rides down the Friendship Trail to get myself into shape, I’ll be able to at least dance until 10:30 !!!


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Just Whistle While You Work – Yeah, Right!!!

We cleaned and we cleaned and we cleaned. We cleaned so hard we were getting squeaky. Nat tackled the outside of the house with a power washer and scrub brushed everything that was white, while I tackled the inside with a duster, mop and sponge. Nat had a hell of a time getting the grime off of the siding, but by the time he was done the house looked a thousand times better. Meanwhile I was rub-a-dub scrubbing inside – washing down some walls, scrubbed a few floors and dropped a couple of loads in the laundry. The way we were going you’d think we just moved in or somethin’. By the time we were done we were ‘done in’ – literally and physically – and trust me we couldn’t have whistled a note even if we tried!!! But we felt terrific as they were all jobs that dearly needed doing, and now the weekend was going to be ours to do with what we wanted. We just have to decide what to do!!

After our supper Nat went for a long bike ride, but he didn’t get far!! He made it to the end of our neighbours’ drive where he had a nice long visit and met John’s wife for the first time. She’s the one that keeps waving to Nat whenever he’s outside but he’s really not toooo sure who she is, but he waves back anyways!! Well, he would, wouldn’t he? She’s pretty and just happens to be married to a fellow Scotsman!! So they had a nice chat and sounds like we have a lot in common – second marriages for both, Scottish husband, Canadian wife, love to golf, love returning home, love the small village feel, and so on and so on. This just reaffirms that we’re surrounded by really nice folks. We’ve also learned that our police officer neighbour across the other side of the street just happens to be the son of the Police Chief – so we really can’t go wrong – or should I say “do wrong”!!! We’ll just keep in his good graces!

I’m thinking now that we have the weekend free, we’ll have to check out Old Fort Erie. Not that looking at old Forts is my idea of having fun – remembering when our father use to take us to such places when we were kids and, being a girl, well need I say more! I just hated it!!!!! As you soon discover growing old, somehow you begin repeating exactly what your mother and father did and it begins to scare you a bit. At the same time, however, these activities become comforting but you never admit it out loud, you just say “sounds good” when your wee hubby suggests “let’s go for a drive“.