Sunday, 29 May 2016

The planning - the waiting - the impending arrival

About 8 or 9 months ago I received a message from my dear friend Annette; " Anita, how would it be if I came for a wee visit!?"

Annette and I go back a wee way. We are friends for life and I miss her dreadfully. We live worlds apart - She in New Zealand and me, in Nederland. Well actually we don't really live worlds apart but countries - because our lives are still intertwined due to our past, present and future. And distance doesn't come into it as far as 'feeling close' is concerned.

The modern media opportunities are multiple and we make use of those at will. And now after months of planning and preparing - the arrival date is just around the corner.

I am frantically 'cleaning cupboards' as one does when guests are due. Not that my house is a disaster area- but well, I want this visit to be AWESOME and IMPRESSIVE and WOW and FUN and RELAXED and INSPIRING.

And yes, I want to 'show off' my new home, my friends - we have a Meet 'n Greet arranged, pretty sights to see and room for laughter, sleep and wine. Lots of all of those last 3 by the way!

I have a list of 'to do's' before Annette arrives- just like Annette has a list of to-do's before she leaves. I know time will fly - but you can bet your bottom dollar we will squeeze every ounce out of every minute.

Looking forward to Friday Annette! See you SOON. Travel safe!!!!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Ma, I forgot where I put my keys.

Yesterday I spent some time with my mother in law. 

Our relationship is quite a special one which I treasure. 
My husband's first wife died quite young and her mum is now my mother in law.

At 86 years of age she has had her share of joy and grief. Her husband died before her daughter. So she didn't have his shoulder to lean on or his arms to find her comfort in. Her childhood years were in an era that was so differed to ours - In today's world we discuss emotions and feelings. Talk about our problems and seek help for issues beyond our thinking.

Not in those earlier years. One didn't 'go to a councillor' when the going got tough. And yes, they got tough. Large families, small incomes and even smaller houses. Time together as a family was a precious commodity and treated with the utmost respect. You went to birthdays of your grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. ( I am somewhat generalising here - that goes without saying)! It is difficult to describe a sole existence of any one given situation when one wants to 'paint a picture' without actually having been there. I relate as I perceive the information I receive via stories told.

What I want to portray - is a portret of a strong woman - fabricated that way due to her perception of her world, her experiences and her drive to be independent and not 'burden' others with her tribulations. Her reflections and revelations about her youth and subsequent adult life have been a privilege to be audience to. I have a huge amount of affection and respect for this person who I am allowed to call Ma.

Anyway, I spent time with her yesterday and the subject of 'dementia and forgetfulness' was topic of the day. At one point ( we were doing some late spring cleaning) Ma said- " now why did I want to go upstairs?" She returned to the lounge and said, " do you remember why I wanted to go upstairs?" We looked at each other and laughed. "oh ma," I said, "don't tell me you are becoming forgetful!" Because we both get a bit het up when every time someone ( somewhat of age) forgets something- it is assumed this person is traveling down the road to forgetfulness, to dementia or alzheimer.

Now don't get me wrong- it is a horrible and devastating condition. And I am the last person to say that these illnesses are a laughing matter. THEY ARE AWFULL beyond words.

BUT: What I want to draw attention to - is the almost 'threatening' comment when someone, especially an older person, receives when they openly admit to having forgotten where they left their key, their purse, can't remember the long list of shopping or someone's birthday.

PLEASE; don't say " oh it's your age. Many people go senile, get dementia when they get older!" OR especially when you know the person well or the family background, " Oh forgetfulness it runs in the family. Granddad had alzheimer too!" Yes people these are some of the statements I hear around me.

To forget something DOESNT mean someone is 'losing grip on life and reality'. It simply means that one's head is full of information and it is crowded in the grey matter. Buy stating some of these negatives it is more than possible if not likely, that doubt and anxiety starts to creep in- and every little 'forget moment' is taken out of context and thus making the person insecure and uneasy.

When a child forgets it's lunchbox for school- one doesn't straight away come out with a statement pointing to dementia but tells the child to be more thoughtful. So why suspect an adult of 'losing their marbles?' The more doubts about ones sanity- the more likely the 'forgetful moments' are highlighted.

Anyway, Ma (86) and I (62) laughed each time she or I 'forgot' something and decided we were both as sane and as 'with it' as the next person. She remembered my name and I knew where the keys to the car were.

Monday, 2 May 2016

May- full of surprises and happy events

The month of May- ALREADY??!!

Yes, it is May already.

Birthdays - Events and other stuff

The 5th month of the year - 
and just like a Monday each week - it has arrived so fast- I am dazzled by it.

I don't know whether that is because I am older- wiser or maybe not, are involved with a number of activities - or the days and it's hours seemed to have been curtailed just like the pensions, wages and job opportunities.

May- a birthday bonanza month in our family as well as in my circle of dear friends.  

Now many are remembrance days, like that of my mum. She kicks off the month- 1st May 1923, her birthdate ( she celebrated 87 in all).

Then there is 5th May- on which my sister celebrates her birthday. She is 3 years older than I am. Give or take 2 weeks.

Cousins and aunts fill the gaps. I have something with 'dates' and they stick in my memory - better than people's names or places sadly enough.

On the 17th May my dad's youngest brother and my grandmother- on mum's side- 19th May.

Mine the 21st and my dear friend the 25th ( we share the same year as well as the month.)

My girlfriend in NZ managed to give birth to 2 children, 2 years apart on the same date - 29th May.

The month end with the birthdate of my cousin's youngest daughter.

Events- well that depends on where one resides

Religion: May the month of Mary- a Catholic tradition which I personally hold dear.

In Nederland, my country of birth, we have Remembrance Day/Dodenherdenking on the 4th of May- I hang out the flag- half mast! Taking time to be aware that freedom and peace aren't a natural occurrence everywhere- and realising that many died trying to achieve just that.

On the 5th of May we recall the European ( and then specifically our own) Liberation Day. Dan gaat de vlag ook naar buiten!

Our May school holidays are somewhat unhinged as we celebrate King's day/Koningsdag the 27 April- and connect the May hols due to the other celebrations in May. The weather isn't up to speed- so it has been aa bit chilly in the tents and caravans.

Ascension Thursday/Hemelvaarstdag  falls on the 5th of May this year - due to the early Easter we had - this too is a holiday in Nederland as is: Pentecost/Pinksteren on Monday the 15th May. 

People fill in how they want to 'use' this feast day- which in both cases is linked to the weekend- giving extra freedom to many - not all get that opportunity though. Hospital staff, police officers, ambulance personal, firefighters, hospitality services and shop staff are not all free on these 'public holiday days'.

And for those who do hold this day dear - let's not forget to mention the Mother's Day Sunday- second Sunday in May.


Vege gardens ( allotments- moestuintjes) are ready to receive the plants that will sustain meals the coming summer months. Spring cleaning that didn't happen in April due to chilly and wet weather conditions are on the hit list. The seasonal clothing inspection - what fits and what doesn't? Holiday plans are consolidated. The dutch ( generally speaking) receive their annual holiday pay end of May- on what to spend is decided on. A new bathroom or maybe a trip to warmer and exotic places. Or the bills that haven't been paid due to whatever reason- are dealt with.
Concert programmes for the summer months get underway as do the ticket sales. Theme parks have their programmes online and booking agents try to sell 'Last Minute packages abroad.

May, the month people shed cobwebs and show their faces to the outside world, When running in the park becomes a must- to fit back into those bikinis, t-shirts and summer jeans. Convertables are spotted driving on highways and by ways - and skeelers and skates are relaxing ways to get about.

I don't know about you- but I LOVE the MONTH of MAY.

It feels ALIVE and refreshing