Christmas with Sheldon….it bears repeating

For years and years I too hated Christmas…too much brouhaha in my books…then I had a Christmas epiphany…no small feat for a non-Christian…but here goes

I always put huge store in Christmas…because I was raised in a huge family and I had believed all my life that “family” is what Christmas was about…My Father’s birthday is the twenty-third and my uncle’s is the twenty-fifth and as a child we always did the big Christmas/birthday celebration…but as time goes on things change and you discover that family are people too…and they have foibles…they mess up…and things never quite live up to your expectations.

In the early ‘90’s my Mother moved to BC leaving me to live in the old family home in Thunder Bay. My brother was newly married to woman that put the “C” in control. (and another word that I won’t use here!) She didn’t like cooking when I was around and for many years I thought it was cos she was intimidated by the fact that I have my chef’s papers…turns out she’s just lazy, opinionated and lazy…but that’s another story.

So Mom moves to BC, Dad and my sister are in Toronto and I am faced with the prospect of cooking the whole Christmas shebang at my brother and sister-in-law’s house. My sister-in-law has invited her whole family so I am cooking a 27lb turkey and all the trimmings. Two kinds of stuffing (one for each end) 3 kinds of salad and 4 vegetables, mashed spuds, gravy, pickles etc etc and top it all off with Figgie Pudding…(I’m from a go big er go home kinda family)

Five days before Christmas my sister-in-law calls me and informs me that I am “allowed” to come to her house for an hour between 6 and 7 AM to stuff the bird and put it in the oven…but then I need to leave for the day so she can have some “quality” time with her family.

Can you guess where I told her to put her bird? ~ahem~

So the Christmas dawns and I am alone. I am not answering the phone…and I am depressed….as my Grampy used to say, “I am lower than whale shit and that is on the bottom of the ocean! We are having a good old North Western Ontario blizzard and as I listen to the radio I am overcome both with the concept that I can’t get away from Christmas (it’s just freakin everywhere) and that I am alone. So I jump in my truck and head out to the local truck stop for breakfast. Somewhere where there’s people and noise.

On my way to the truck stop I drive past the Greyhound Bus Depot and while it is closed I spot and elderly man in a summer weight suit huddled in the doorway.

I drive by…then go around the block and drive by again. Something about this situation tweaks my conscience and I cannot get the picture of this man out of my head.

On my third pass I pull into the parking lot and lean out my window. “Are you ok?” I ask. This tiny elderly fellow looks up at me and with tears running down his face says, “I’ll do.”

“Well no…he won’t do.” I think as I watch him shiver and shudder. So I offer to let him in my truck. I’m thinking that if it turns out he’s got a gun…I certainly won’t feel any worse off than I already do this Christmas.

At first he refuses. But then with some cajoling and conversation he eventually climbs in and I take him to the truck stop to warm him up and maybe get him some food. He refuses to eat but allows as I could buy him a “cup of cocoa”.

As he thaws out he tells me his story. He tells me his name is Sheldon Shepherd. He left Vancouver 3 days ago on his way to London ON to spend Christmas with his family. He was traveling by Greyhound. In the bathroom in the Thunder Bay bus terminal he is mugged…robbed…and knocked out. Because he is old school and won’t ask for help when he comes to… he doesn’t tell anyone, his grandkid’s Christmas presents are gone, as is his coat and wallet. He finds himself outside of the depot, the depot closed, in a blizzard with a lump on his head the size of Santa. Areas of his story seem lacking to me…but he’s got this lump and no coat and no money…so…

I am filled with righteous indignation and I insist that he allow me to call the police. They come and after all is said and done I find out that they can get him another bus ticket to London but they have to find a judge to authorize the funds and besides there is no bus running thru till the twenty-sixth. One of the police officers suggests that this sad soul go to the local homeless shelter. I’ve never been there but I know where it is so I agree to drive him there.

Sheldon is quiet on his way to the shelter. He confides in me as we are pulling into the parking lot that he’s never had to accept charity before and not comfortable with it now. I fully understand. I have never been able to look a homeless person in the eye. I have always been consumed with guilt and the thought that there but for the grace of all the gods go I.

In we go. My first impression was that we were entering a jail. We walked in thru the front door to be confronted with locked double doors and a “security guard”. Sheldon is pulling back so I tell the guard his story and the guard opens the locked doors to allow us into the shelter telling us to “find Rick”.

As we enter I am assaulted by a cacophony of sounds and smells….lots of them not pleasant. There is a riot of color and furniture and bodies everywhere…there are people sleeping standing up against walls and on the stairs and tired used old blankets clutched in dirty little children’s fingers.

Slowly as I become accustomed to the “ambiance” I begin to see Christmas in this room. There are bits of tinsel hanging from dirty stocking caps set jauntily over dirty faces. There’s what can only be called a Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the corner and there are new socks and new gloves on many hands and feet…and lots of the people that are awake are smiling. I don’t understand.

Across the room is the big serving window to the kitchen but I see no one on the other side…as I start across the room I hear the unmistakable sound of dishes smashing to the floor and a resounding “Damn it!” from behind the wall. I peek around a see a harried fellow, in half a Santa suit picking up broken dishes and muttering.

“Rick?” I ask. This frantic man turns to me and blesses me with the biggest gap tooth smile and says…”yup…hiya! What can I do for you?”

I explain Sheldon’s story and Rick tells me no problem he can stay here over night. He then turns to Sheldon and says,”I don’t suppose you can cook?”

“Why?” says Sheldon and I at once. Turns out that the volunteer church group that was to cook the shelter’s Christmas dinner won’t be coming because of the storm. Rick says that Christmas is always a banner time for the shelter food wise…”people assuage their guilt by giving at Christmas”. The end result is that he has tons of food and no cooks.

“Hmmmmmm,” says I, “maybe I can help”

Long story short…we have Christmas dinner for close to 200. Sheldon isn’t a cook but he’s a mean dishwasher and clean up kinda guy…and we recruit a couple of people from the shelter and we are off… We have beef and turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing made in pans instead of in the bird and spaghetti with sauce and chocolate pudding.

We have Christmas Carols and laughter and hugs and tears and handclasps from dirty little fingers. By 10 PM I am completely and totally physically exhausted, sweaty and hot, hot, hot… but as I turn to survey the room I have an epiphany.

Christmas is not about receiving the love from my family that I believe is my due. It truly is about the giving. In any way shape or form.

Sheldon passed away in 1996 but I still hear from his daughter Janice…once a year at Christmas. In the many years since this event occurred in my life, I’ve sent this story out to online friends far and wide…and as a result there are “Christmas with Sheldon” parties all over North America designed by people who have been affected by Sheldon’s story to assist people that have “less than” we do. Not people we believe are less than us because we don’t get to judge. But people that have less than us for whatever reason…and they don’t just happen at Christmas.

And here I am all these years later understanding that Sheldon’s plight could have occurred to anyone of us at any time in our lives. Sheldon coming into my life was a true blessing and a life changing moment and my telling of Sheldon’s story to others is not my right but my responsibility.

It is truly the best that I can do

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Comfort food…

Ok
You know you’ve been stuck in the house too long when you get excited about the prospect of making meatloaf…. I am definitely a carnivore and making meatloaf not only warms my house but it warms me and reminds me of my dad who was a regular meat loaf maker!

In other news it’s cold here …colder than usual for the West Coast… which is only scary because we have a very good ice base from the ground being so wet prior to the little bit of snow we got and the top of our driveway is frozen like a skating rink…we have a gate at the top of our driveway now and the sensors are about 20 feet from the gate there also happens to be a little hill there so right now in order to get out we have to drive up to the sensors wait until they trigger the gate to open and then back up down the driveway to take a running start at the icy hill… The landlord drives an SUV so he’s having no trouble the rest of us don’t and I’ve watched the woman next-door and the guy that lives in the other building takes six or seven tries to get up the driveway and onto the road…it’s been a real lesson in patience for me. And i’m enough of a control freak that I want to get out and show them how to do it but I’m not because that would be rude.

Other than that life is pretty quiet here for me right now I’m still not working the union and HR are discussing and sadly the university is about to close for the winter break so I’m likely not to be working until January.

So it’s my electric fireplace a good book and Netflix while I wait for this meatloaf to cook…. I can’t get over how excited I am about comfort food you’d think I was 6 not 61 lol

Doesn’t compare to snow in the north..and I find I don’t miss that at all.

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I’m tired….

I’m tired

I’m tired of having no job; therefore no income
none – since February

I’m tired of robbing peter
to pay paul

I’m tired of being overqualified
for “would you like fries with that?” jobs

I’m tired of feeling
less than

I’m tired of
being depressed

I’m tired of
being bored

I’m tired of not being able to
meet my financial commitments

I’m tired of not being able
to buy the food I want/need

I’m tired of having to borrow
to pay my rent

I’m tired of being worried
about money

I’m tired of wanting new books
and not affording it

I’m tired of understanding that
there will be no holidays again this year

I’m tired of explaining to bill collectors
that I have no income

I’m tired of hoping
this too shall pass

I’m tired of waiting
for my union and HR to get at it

I’m tired of waiting for
Dr appointments

I’m tired of
waiting

I’m tired of feeling
like there is no end in sight

I’m tired of putting on
a stiff upper lip

I’m tired of hiding
so much of this from family and friends

I’m tired
that.is.all.

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Dona Nobis Pacem

Blog Blast For Peace!

One voice
One subject
One day…

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Let there be peace
Let it begin with me…

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I’ve fallen and I can’t get up….

As some of you may know I’ve been sick for a long time, pretty much all my life…the combination of life long health issues and stress that was work-related made me leave work on sickness leave in June 2015. In July 2015 on my way home from the Gathering in Arkansas, I fell and broke my left shoulder which just served to compound everything. I’m still not back to work as I’ve since had several surgeries to correct health issues and now have a cpap machine so that I am sleeping better than I have in years.

I feel good.

What you don’t know is that I’ve been involved with a bariatric program here for 2 years in hope of qualifying for a gastric sleeve surgery to loose weight. The program consists of classes and counseling to find out the why of your obesity in hopes that this preparation will assist you in being successful. You work with an internit, a shrink, an endocrinologist, a dietician and an obesity counselor as well as the bariatric surgeon. Last Friday I was finally approved for surgery…likely in the new year.

This is not an attempt at taking the easy way out…I’ve worked hard and this is a last resort and a tool for me to use.

One of my main motivations for wanting to have bariatric surgery was to lose the weight to relieve my hips and knees and lower back that I broke in the 80’s so that I could start exercising (right now I can’t stand for 20 min without pain…and walking is a very short process) to be able to hopefully develop muscles that I have lost over the many years I’ve been ill (not the only reason but high on my list of many reasons).

This morning I fell in my den.

It was a stupid little stumble that caused me rug burn on my elbows and knees ….however, I was close to an hour trying to get up off the floor… I can’t kneel cos I have one knee cap that doesn’t actually hit the floor due to a crap surgery 30 yrs ago and the other one has a large cyst on it… I don’t have the strength in my legs to push myself up from the floor if I can get my feet under me and I barely the strength in my arms to pull myself up. As a result it took the better part of an hour for me to try different ways to get up and eventually drag myself into the kitchen and use handles on my kitchen drawers to help me get some leverage to get standing. Both frustrating and embarrassing.

It’s humbling to realize that at 61 yrs of age my health is getting better but physically I’m in worse shape than my 87 year-old mother.

I can not wait for bariatric surgery.

In love and light

Wyz💚

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Crab fest Baby!

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Fear…

for the first time
in my life
there is no fall back
no pocket to pull from
truly nothing left

I try and try
to remain positive
to pretend to be
scarlett…
“Tomorrow is another day”

but I’m honestly
at my wits end

just how the fuck
am I going to
make it through
this mess
this time?

in spite of feeling
so much better
for the first time
in many years

I’m stymied
I stand to lose
it all

at what price?

I’m afraid.

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Unauthentic communication or no communication at all?

something has happened
to humanity
under the auspices
of social media…
of full on communication

with Facebook
and Twitter
and Instagram
and Snapchat
etc

it’s all about the memes
and no so much with the
saying what you mean
and meaning what you say

we don’t talk personally anymore
we grab a meme and pretend
it’s what we mean

so when someone
does post something
heartfelt
it comes across
incorrectly
or whether
the person is interesting
and smart
and articulate
or not
we gather
on their posts
like
vultures…

when I first
started blogging
it wasn’t about
making money
or a living
with my smart mouth
and quick fingers

it was about
sharing my thoughts
with whomever wanted
to read them
but mostly
it was about
keeping myself
from losing my mind

now days
most of the “real life” bloggers
are gone
and people that blog
strive to be trendy
pretty
and make money
everyone thinks
it’s easy
but it ain’t
…not so much
with the deep
discussion worthy posts

here’s a couple of things
that have happened
as a result
of social media
in my opinion

people don’t talk
they make assumptions
rather than talk
and often they believe
that their
interpretation
is what you really meant

friends assume
you will be able to
understand their positions
by reading memes
or making your pictures
pretty or goofy

people don’t have
deep conversations
without making
an appointment
or a date for a meal

I’m just as
at fault as everyone else

here’s hoping
I can get my blog
back on

so I can talk
about items that
strike me
when I need to

onward and upward
as they say.

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I dream…

Of wild women
Sisterhood
Fire dancing
Drumming
Chanting
The earth
The air
The fire
The water
Return
Return
Return
Return

I wake
Happy
Relaxed
It will be
A good day

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Hmmmm?

I’m thinking
about
coming back
a
lot…

hold
on
to
your
hats!

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