Grief

Well I didn’t think this would happen. I thought I had it all together. I was being strong for my children. First, I lost my mother in September to a severe stroke and dementia. It was difficult making decisions with my father but I am so glad I was there with him. To help him with the decisions. My parents had been married for 62 years.

My ex-father-in-law was at the memorial for my mother. I cared for this man and knew that he was having a very difficult time with my ex-brother-in-law. My ex-father-in-law just did not want to live anymore and I could see that he would just stop living soon. A few weeks later, I was told by my children that he was in the hospital, refusing to eat or talk or try anything. He died shortly after that.

My children were devastated. First their grandmother and now their grandfather. I stayed strong for them. I did not have time to grieve. Then we had to say goodbye to our aging dog, Roscoe. He had gotten into some bushes and eaten the flowers. He was very sick. He recovered but not fully. His condition deteriorated to where he was throwing up and having bloody diarrhea every day. He couldn’t control his bowels and we were having him go out every hour and he would still have messes in the house. He lost over 9 lbs. in one week. It was such a hard thing to say goodbye because you always second guess yourself.

Now I am going through a very difficult personal situation. I am leaning on God but I am crumbling. Having to put up the Christmas tree and making Christmas cookies while listening to Christmas music finally brought it all to a boiling point.

It was like a huge wave hit me in the stomach. A physical force that has left me without breath and unable to move. Do nothing but just cry. The memories of Christmas past with my parents. When I was making the honey lebkuchen, the odors brought memories rushing back of all the wonderful German Christmas treats my mother had in the house. How my mother made Christmas such a special time for all of us. German Christmas songs and my father sang many of them.

Oh Mom, how I miss you. My memories of you are special and close to my heart. I am grateful that my children knew you and spent quality time with you. I am grateful for so many things. I know you are in a better place and I look forward to being with you again. But for right now, it just hurts so much. Especially with Opa and Roscoe gone. And my personal situation.

Mom, Opa and Roscoe. I miss you so much. This is a hard season to get through without you. Mom, please watch over Dad and your grandchildren and great-granddaughter. I love you all.

Reflections

Now that I am a breast cancer survivor, whenever I think about that journey, I am startled. I am a survivor. It is done. It is over. But is it?

While I was going through the treatments, I just felt like I was at a distance. It felt like it was happening to someone else. Not me. I never once was upset or cried about the situation. Wait. I did cry. When I was losing my hair in the shower. I did cry then. But I took care of that when I had my head shaved.

For the most part, I was there but I was not there. It never occurred to me once that the cancer would kill me. It was just all so — not a part of me, almost. I had too much to live for. My beautiful children. My wonderful grandchildren that I wanted to cuddle, and hug, and love and kiss. My new husband who I adore. And my pets. Roscoe, Vesper, Krissy and Bojo. And Gizmo, my beautiful American quarterhorse mare.

Gizmo knew her mom was sick and she took care of me. I took care of her when she had foundered and there was a chance of losing her. But I never thought of that. I went to the barn every day and took care of her. I think that was when our bond became inseparable. I took care of her and then she took care of me. Wanting to take care of Gizmo and our cats and dog and my husband is what kept me going. Wanting to see my children and grandchildren kept me going and kept my thoughts away from the what ifs. I had the best health care team taking care of me and I put complete faith and trust into them. I was never scared.

But now my husband is going through a health concern that has me scared. I am trying to stay strong and hold it together for him. Thankfully the proper tests have been done and now we are just waiting for the results. But I am scared. I can’t lose this man. I am praying. I cannot lose this man. I am so in love with him. I never thought I would find a man I love this much.

I managed the cancer issue for myself. But what if? I can’t lose him. I just cannot lose this special, wonderful man. I will keep praying. Take me God. Not this wonderful man who has gone through so much.

Habit – Not for Me

The Habit opened a few months ago just down the street from us. Every time I drove passed the place, I would see that the parking lot was full and the drive through had a line up that was ridiculous. I wondered what this was all about and was told that this was a burger joint.

Well, I thought. Interesting. I did try to go there once but the parking lot was packed and the drive through was again, ridiculous. I ended up going to Panera Bread which was a few stores down.

I felt betrayed when my husband went there for lunch the other day. I asked him what he thought of the place and he just shrugged his shoulders and said it was okay. He said it was just a burger joint. Now my curiosity was really tweaked and he took me the other day for lunch.

He ordered the double charburger which includes fries and a drink. I ordered the portabello charburger with a Caesar side salad and a blueberry lemon drink. We paid over $22 for our order and I was thinking that this better be good. We did get our food pretty quickly and so we sat down to eat.

My husband chomped into his burger and said it was okay. I started in on mine and said the same. It was okay. The Caesar salad had too much dressing and was slightly too sour. I don’t know if they use vinegar or lemon in their dressing but it did taste like vinegar. By the time I got to the bottom of the salad, it was drenched in dressing. I left the rest of the soggy salad. The blueberry juice drink was good. Just good. Nothing exceptional. My husband’s fries were nothing special. No seasonings, nothing different from any other fries you get anywhere else.

When I saw the cup that my husband had and the words The Best Burger in America. I raised my eyebrows. This was definitely not the best burger I have ever had. The best burger I have ever had was at Mary O’Neills in Waxhaw, NC.

My husband and I won’t be back to the Habit. The meal was overpriced. I would rather go to Wendy’s for my burger or Mary O’Neills where I can enjoy a glass of wine with my burger. I really don’t see what the hooplah is for this place. I guess my husband and I have different ideas about good burgers.

Mkeke case versus Lifeproof

When we first signed up with Sprint and got 4 iPhone 10rs, I wanted to get Otterboxes for all four phones,. But I quickly dropped that idea when I saw that I would have to spend over $200 for the four cases.

I did a fair amount of research and found cases for $8 each which had high reviews. I bought those. My daughter first turned up her nose at the case and I told her, I wasn’t going to spend over $200 on Otterbox cases. She could try this one out and if she didn’t like it, she could get her own Otterbox. She stuck with the Mkeke.

The Mkeke cases were doing all of us really well. I dropped my phone a number of times with no consequences. Unfortunately, the screen protector did get a scratch mark on it.

Then it happened. I was getting swayed by my friend who said Lifeproof cases are da’ bomb and have a lifetime warranty. Yada yada yada. I wasn’t happy about the $70 price tag for the particular model I was going to purchase and my husband was certainly not happy that I purchased it. I think I was thinking, well it’s water proof and it does have a lifetime warranty.

It arrived. But. I couldn’t get the case open. I tried everything and finally ended up calling customer service. I was told to use the key. I asked, what key? The key that came with the case. There was no key that came with the case as I once again looked at the instructions that came with the case but made absolutely no sense. Oh. Then use a quarter. I used a quarter and the case popped open. Great.

But I wasn’t certain I was at all happy that I had to press harder on the items around the edges of my screen because the top of the case didn’t rest completely on the screen.

Then I had no sound on my iPhone. I wasn’t hearing phone calls. No beeps with messages. Nothing. Nada. So being NOT technically savvy with my iPhone, I searched why my iPhone was not making any sounds. Found out finally that the mute button on the left side of the phone was pushed to mute sound. Tried pushing that button which had no affect with the case on. Took the case off and turned on the sound. Great. I was now getting sound. Put the phone back in the case and the case turned the mute sound again to no sound. I think I struggled for five minutes trying to get that phone back into the case without having my sound turned off. Even standing on my head, I couldn’t get it in there without turning the sound off.

So I did what a smart person would do and returned the case to Lifeproof. I told them what the problem was and why I was returning it. They were very good about accepting the return.

I have gone back to the good ol’ Mkeke case for $8.00. Just shows you that brand names are not all they are cracked up to be. I guess I don’t need a $70 lifetime warranty either.

Martha Ida Frieda Patzold

My mother was born June 10, 1932 as Martha Ida Frieda Lampe to Karl and Ida Lampe near Arend Sea in Germany. Karl was a blacksmith who worked hard for his family. Martha was the oldest of five children. Her siblings were Hannelore who lives in Germany, Karl who died in June, Marianne who lives in New York state and Sabine who has passed many years ago.

Martha grew up as a child during World War II in Germany. My mother told us that all the care packages that were sent to Germany for the people in need went to the rich. My mother made sure that there was food on the table for us in Canada because she never wanted to be hungry again.

Life in Germany was difficult during the war and after. My mother actually answered an ad in her local German paper from a German man named Dieter Patzold who was living in Canada. The land of opportunity. This man was living in an area of Ontario that had a strong German presence. My father paid for the ship ticket that would bring my mother over from Germany to Canada in February of 1956.

Both people did not know what the other was like. They didn’t know what they would be getting into but they married February 25, 1956 and had a loving relationship for over 62 years.

I was the firstborn and Martin came shortly after that. My parents bought a piece of land on the outskirts of Kitchener. It was Waldau Crescent and they built themselves a modest bungalow for $10,000. My mother worked for a while at the same skate factory that my father was working at, Bauer Skates. I can remember the large garden that my father and mother had in the back yard. It was huge. My mother would jar and pickle and can and freeze the produce from that garden.

My mother was an excellent seamstress and loved to crochet. Most of my clothes were handmade. An early memory of her handiwork is that she dressed me in this beautiful white outfit for Sunday church, then told me to go outside and play until we were ready to go. Well what is a child to do when she sees a mud puddle except make an angel? My bottom was sore for a few days after that.

My father then decided he wanted to buy a farm. So off we moved to a hog farm. Unfortunately, my parents bought when prices were high and they steadily declined. My parents worked hard to maintain the farm with my brother’s help. I decided to finish high school and found work at an insurance company.

My parents sold the farm shortly after my first marriage and they moved to a house in Kitchener where my father started a landscaping business with my brother. My children remember that house and their dog, Lady. My mother and father loved their grandchildren and showered them with love.

Since we didn’t have relatives in Kitchener as my father’s family was all in what was then called East Germany and my mother’s relatives were all in Germany, we tended to take people in and make them our aunts, uncles and cousins. My mother was called Oma by many people.

My mother did manage to live to quite a good old age. She developed dementia in the past few years. As Andre said, she died a good death which is something I am thankful for. I think my mother waited until her grandchildren and I were at her beside to see her and talk to her before she passed. I am thankful for that.

Who Woulda Thought

I have been wearing my sandals off and on as the weather has been getting warmer but I have been extremely self conscious of my toes. After making the decision to have my big toenails removed, I have been not comfortable wearing sandals.

I used to go every six weeks or so for manicures and pedicures. I loved being able to choose different colors. Getting leg massages with the pedicures was so relaxing. But after being diagnosed with breast cancer, manicures and pedicures stopped. I was concerned with the cleanliness of nail spas and also the chemicals used in the nail polish.

Now that I am a breast cancer survivor, I just decided that manicures and pedicures was a luxury I did not need. But I did yearn for a pedicure. Just not with these toes.

However, my beautiful daughter wanted to go for a pedicure and asked me to come along. I did but I was nervous and so self conscious. The salon we went to was very clean and all the tools were in plastic wrap. I told the technician that I was a breast cancer survivor and that I did not have toenails on my big toes. I told her not to do anything with them – just paint them.

My daughter told me I didn’t have to be nervous and just relax. I don’t think I relaxed at all but I picked out a really nice lavender color and watched the nail technician for a while and then tried to concentrate on the television that was playing CNN.

How many people have cried after a pedicure? I almost did because my nails look normal. It looks like I have normal toenails. Who woulda thunk? For those of you who have all your toenails, this is a big deal for me. This has just made me cherish what I have. We don’t realize the gifts we have until they are gone. And for something as simple as toenails, for a woman, it is a big deal to once again have pretty feet.

Finding Sylvia – Crisp Hallowe’en

In Canada, September indicated the start of fall. School started back up. The days started to get shorter and cooler. My parents would put their large garden to rest. The leaves on the trees would start to change color. We were surrounded by forests and the different colors on the trees were beautiful.

The anticipation of Hallowe’en on our street was exciting. We would start planning our costumes at the beginning of October. Our costumes were all home made. Pirates, princes and princesses. Star Trek was huge when I was growing up. I was always told to be the poor damsel in distress so the boys could rescue me. GI Joes were also popular and the boys would try to dress up like their GI Joe.

Ghosts were easy to do but we never really went the scary route of Hallowe’en. We wanted to be heroes and heroines. Part of the Star Trek team. Hobos were also big as we could just take our father’s pants and shirt and just be messy. There was no intent to be disrespectful to anyone. We just knew that the amount of chocolate and candy and chips and popcorn balls would last us until Christmas.

We went out trick or treating on our street. We could go by ourselves because that was the time. We knew everyone in every house. We knew who always gave the best treats but we each had our favorite so we argued over which house had the best. Everyone looked out for each other. We were not alone and we had no need to be afraid. We only needed to be afraid if we were disrespectful to anyone. Because the adult who caught you would let you know and then would inform your parent.

As a young child, going the entire street as well as the four or five houses that faced the main street, was quite the walk. Then when we had loaded up on our treasures, it was time to head home and check out what we had . My brother always ate way too much on the way home and would end up with a bellyache.

I would eat some of my favorites on the way home. Licorice and chocolate bars. But not too much. I was tired of listening to my brother whine about feeling sick. I wanted to see what all the treats were.

Mrs. Wright always made the best popcorn balls. Then there were other mothers that made chocolate chip cookies. So many different, wonderful homemade treats. I can’t even remember all the treats. My parents knew all the neighbors so there was no need to check the items or throw out the homemade goodies. These were all hardworking families. They were all good people. Most of them were German. A few Italian families. Mrs. Wright and her son were Irish. But a good neighborhood.

There was nothing sinister and nothing to be afraid of. Until one summer, much changed for me. But for now, everything was wonderful and child like. We were so lucky to have this time.

Finding Sylvia – Frohe Weihnachten

As a child, winter was special as it meant that Christmas was coming. Having German born parents meant keeping all the traditions that were German. Christmas started at the beginning of December and we celebrated Christmas on the 24th.

The start of baking traditional German Christmas cookies started at the beginning of December. My brother and I also received the chocolate Lent calendars that began December 1st. Each day we opened up a section of the calendar that revealed a chocolate until the 24th. They were wonderful German chocolates that were so delicious.

My mother started baking Christmas cookies that my brother and I loved. She tried to keep ahead of us eating them all but she did manage to put a fair amount to the side for Christmas day,

The house was filled with German Christmas songs and my father had a beautiful tenor voice. He sang along with most of the songs and I was enthralled. My brother and I grew up knowing all the traditional German songs. I think “Leise reiselt der Schnee” (quietly falls the snow) is my favorite.

Christmas Eve day was magical. My brother and I were told that Saint Niklaus would quietly steal into the house to deliver the gifts as long as my brother and I were well behaved. Oh we were good. Our rooms were spotless and the basement where we kept a lot of our toys was immaculate.

My mother always had goose for our Christmas Eve dinner along with potato dumplings and peas and carrots (from their garden). Dessert was stollen and cookies. Stollen is a German fruit yeast bread. To this day, I need stollen at Christmas time.

We would clean up the dishes and the kitchen then my mother would take my brother and I downstairs to watch the television and wait for the arrival of Saint Niklaus. Yes, it was my father who brought out all the gifts and made sure that we could hear his footsteps as he moved around upstairs. He managed to give a loud ho-ho-ho then stomped out.

My brother’s and my eyes were huge as we would listen to Saint Niklaus moving around upstairs. I think we both held our breaths the whole time. Could anything be more magical than that? I thank my parents for doing this for us. The wonder and excitement is something that I will never forget. Too soon we grow up and face the harsh realities of life and my parents made certain that my brother and I could be children through and through. I thank my parents for that special magic time.

Finally my mother would say that we could go upstairs and see what was in store for us. I don’t know how but when we went into the living room, the Christmas tree seemed to be even more beautiful. My parents were factory workers and they could not afford extravagant gifts but the gifts my brother and I received were special.

We would all open our gifts and then sit back and enjoy them while we listened to more songs. We were allowed to stay up for a while and then were ushered to bed. Falling asleep those nights were easy. I am grateful that I was able to have such a childhood. How I wish it would be like this for all children and how I wish it would have lasted.

Finding Sylvia – Winters as a Child

Ah, winter. The smell of winter. The crispness of the air left your nose tingling. As a child, I loved winter. We would get snow in November and it would last until March. My parents weren’t too happy because it meant shoveling a driveway and then again once the snow plow went through.

But as a child, it meant crisp whiteness until February. Best of all, it meant that Christmas was coming soon. We were in the ultimate winter wonderland. Lots of snow meant no school and time to make forts. Go sledding and skating. Usually our street froze over and we could skate on it.

Our forts were spectacular. We would dig into the huge snowbanks on the sides of the road. Our friends would build a fort on the other side of the road and we would have wars. My brother and I had to protect our castle but try to take over the castle on the other side of the road.

Once one side had declared victory, we would go sledding. The farmer’s fields behind the row of houses opposite to where we lived had the most awesome hills. They always drifted over with the most spectacular drifts. Yes, as children, we would go in a group and sled to our hearts content. As long as our parents could hear us, there was no worry. For them or for us. It was so much more different back then.

When weather conditions were right, our entire street would be covered in a sheet of ice. Sparkles danced when the sun came out and shone on the ice like a mirror reflecting back colors. We would eagerly put on our skates. The boys got out their hockey nets and be world famous hockey players.

I couldn’t be bothered with that. I was a figure skater, don’t you know? We taught ourselves to skate and we were pretty happy with what we could do. I would pretend to do difficult spins and jumps. Actually, on the uneven surface of a gravel lined street, it was pretty difficult to just skate forwards. But I managed skating backwards and doing, what I thought, was intricate footwork and spins and spirals.

Our imaginations were wild and free. It was unlimited and we were allowed to be free spirited and child-like. Whatever we chose to do, we would check with our parents first and then go off on our adventures. We did have to check in with our parents but that was the only limit. We had our imaginations and that was all we needed.

Finding Sylvia

I was born in 1958 in Kitchener, Ontario to German born parents. My parents grew up in Germany during World War II. My father decided to move to Canada, hearing it was a land of opportunity. Hearing that it was a vast country. He traveled to Canada on a large boat and settled in Kitchener. It had a high concentration of Germans. In fact, before World War II, Kitchener was named Berlin. The name was changed after World War II.

My father had Austrian friends who took him in and helped him in this new country. He yearned for a German wife and placed an ad in a German newspaper. So, yes, my mother is a mail order bride. I’m not sure why she decided to answer my father. I know the situation in Germany after the war was difficult. I suppose my mother thought that it would be quite the adventure to travel to this great and beautiful country called Canada.

She traveled to Canada by boat and met my father. My father’s friends helped with the wedding arrangements and my parents settled into a comfortable apartment on the bottom floor of a house. I arrived shortly after that. Apparently, I was a difficult baby as I had colic. My mother probably smiled when my first daughter also had colic. Pay back.

Life was good for my parents and my father yearned to move out to the country with a house and a large sized lot. They found a single street subdivision, at that time, far outside the city limits of Kitchener. They purchased a one acre lot and proceeded to build themselves a sturdy, brick bungalow. We were surrounded by farmers’ fields, bushes and a creek.

Life as a child in the 60s was carefree. No cares or concerns. It was the time of big, sold cars with no seat belts, no child car seats, no helmets. How did we survive through all of that? Our toys were few. I was the only girl in the neighborhood and I did not care about that. Neither did the boys. We had legos, GI Joes, Barbies and our wild imaginations which we used every day. Children were seen but not heard and we were disciplined by all the adults on the street.

Our family was the first to purchase a television. It was a large, brown box that stood on wooden legs. No remote controls back then and a remote was certainly not needed with the three television stations that we could mostly get with the silver rabbit ears that came on the back of the television. To select our channel, there was this small, wooden dial on the side of the television that we would have to get up from the floor or couch and turn.

I can still smell the different seasons that came in that area of Ontario. Spring had such a full, sweet scent and once I could smell it, I knew summer was coming. Summer would have a heavy, wet scent for, at that time, our summers would be hot and humid. Fall had a scent of crispness with a cool wind. Then the scent of winter was cold, crisp and wet of snow. I learned to recognize them all.