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Archive for May, 2013

DSCN2078cr DSCN2082cr2Last week I made a goat milk soap. The lovely caramel colour of the soap looks soothing and nutritious. I wanted to try another skin beneficial food additive – honey – and on the weekend I incorporated it and calendula into a batch. I’m looking forward to trying it, and the goat milk soap, once they’ve cured. Too soon to know yet but I suspect this may end up being my favourite!

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My mother, Leona

Mom & me, summer 2012

Today is Leona’s birthday. She has Alzheimer’s Disease and has been living in a long-term care facility for awhile. Happy birthday Mom.

Photo-0009cropMy mother’s thing was walking. She walked everywhere. That love of recreation and movement is something I inherited from her. The picture of her in the woods is from a hike in 2009. She had gotten to the point where she wasn’t comfortable being around a crowd but out here in the woods she was filled with joy. Skipping, kicking leaves and smiling. At least until her feet started hurting. Her running shoes, she always had numerous pairs of white sneakers, were fine on pavement but not on a trail. We didn’t really do much together but that hike is a nice memory of our last outing.

When I saw her last summer I was startled by how pale she looked. She recognized me as someone she knew but not who I was. I reminded her that I’m her daughter and she asked questions. We sat outside and watched a new patient running back and forth with his daughter. He had been a marathon runner and still seemed to be full of energy. Most residents are much older and much further along in their deterioration.

It was the first time I had seen her since my father passed away the previous fall. At that time, when I told her he had died she seemed to have a moment of clarity. She understood that he wouldn’t be visiting her anymore and I could see the sadness in her eyes but rather than convey her feelings she quickly reverted to her old usual persona of pleasantness commenting that he had had a good life. Towards the end of the visit I sensed that she had forgotten who I was.

Leona was born in New Brunswick. For a few years, in her youth, she had been a teacher. This was before you needed a degree to teach. She had kept a few momentos from that time and showed them to me when I was a child. I don’t know much about her youth – she had skied to school in the winter, ridden on motorcycles and was devastated when a boyfriend decided to become a priest and thought of becoming a nun. She moved to Ontario in her early twenties and shared a flat with her best friend. This is where she met my father. They were next door neighbours.

Al & Leona, September 1959

Al & Leona, 1959

She had always liked going to the beach, this was a fairly regular summer weekend event, and she was an Elvis Presley fan. She wore jeans in the 60’s, one of only two moms I knew that did, told me I could be anything I wanted to be but she basically had traditional sexist values. She worked until she was about sixty, in a factory, and once she retired, now living in a smaller community, she took up lawn bowling, became the club’s treasurer, joined a senior’s group, befriended an older woman in the neighbourhood, started watching soap operas, went on bus trips to the casino and, of course, still went on her daily walks. Mom, I hope you get a chance to go on a walk today.

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DSCN2037Another lovely summer-like day! I spent a couple hours at Commissioners Park checking out this year’s tulip festival. The festival runs May 3rd-20th.

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