Looking back, I think it fair to say that I come from a family in which being quick witted, independent, and funny reigned supreme. Although raised in the midst of the Great Depression and not formally educated beyond the ninth grade, both parents were quick, and wanted that for their children. In fact, I can recall very clearly taking my mother for dinner in my thirties after my father had died, and having the kind of conversation that cannot be planned and must be cherished, in my opinion. And cherish it I have done through all these years. During this dinner, I learned the importance of a photograph of my only younger brother that Mom had kept on the kitchen window sill for decades, and I learned why my mother chose my father as her husband and father of her children.
You see, Mom was nine years Dad’s senior and after World War II was considerably jaded by the experience of war (and with good reason, I would add). Apparently, as a returning war vet coming home to the relatively small community in which he was born, Dad was asked to speak to the community members. Mom attended this gathering and pretty much instantaneously decided that she wanted to marry Dad because she wanted to create and raise intelligent children. As Mom told me this story, I was taken by her clear direction and maturity, but simply had to interject with a bit of humour. So, I asked simply, “Do you think you made the right choice?” After chuckling together for a while, Mom quietly responded with, “Yes, I think I did.”
Given that people with common interests often attract, my parents became friends with another couple with similar views of encouraging children to hone their intellectual abilities. Even when I was still very young, I appreciated being welcome to add my opinions to the topics discussed, even though my comments sometimes didn’t fit into the conversation. I also fully appreciated that in these instances I was not ignored or ridiculed, but rather asked for clarification and brought further into the conversation. And, as usual, humour figured largely within these often serious discussions, with sarcasm at the top of the list.
Tragically, however, this past year of my life has brought with it a shipment of vision challenges into my life. As a consequence of my difficulties seeing at all clearly, I feel as through I have lost the attributes I so strongly cherish. First of all, I am anything but I independent these days. I need help with reading my incoming and outgoing email messages, with grocery shopping, with cooking without cutting my finders and selecting the appropriate spices for my chosen dinner. At this point I can’t even read the dials on the stove to get the required temperature setting to avoid burning but actually cooking the dinner. One of the debilitating disabilities I am experiencing is that I cannot drive a car except to very limited locations and back, and only if the weather conditions are suitable. As you can imagine, it is very difficult to build a business under these limited conditions. I am happy to report that pretty much everyone I encounter is happy to assist me in whatever way I need, but jeezy peezy it is so difficult for me to ask for help in the first place. I don’t feel I am averse to asking, but rather I don’t think of having to do so.
In case you are wondering why you are reading about this topic in a blog post about menopause, I have decided to include it here because I have learned over the past few years that the condition called dry eye often shows up in menopausal women, with most of us having no idea of what it is or even that we should pay attention to our eye health. I suppose I can excuse myself for taking so long to pay attention, given I have experienced dry eyes since my teenage years. But, I also raise the issue here because menopause is a time of many changes in our lives…changes that we didn’t ever expect would impact our way of being so decidedly. And, while you are at it, rather than constantly feeling frustrated by not being able to finish your list of things to do, try learning to make more reasonable and attainable lists. Good luck with that one!
As you travel through this challenging time of your life, please keep in mind that you still are you, even though you might not be able to be the “you” that you have always been. Whenever possible, when you are upset about experiencing the loss of something you cherish throughout your life, try to pinpoint something you appreciate about the new you, and learn to cherish the new and improved you that you are today. In other, less convoluted, words, try to avoid grieving your losses, but rather celebrate your gains.
Cao for now…