IntrepidWoman's Journey

The Journey Continues

Posted on: August 9, 2018

It has been a long while since Intrepid Woman ‘picked up the pen’ so to speak. Life continues to be a roller coaster and I write this a few hours before I turn 70.

In the cycle of happy birthdays and not-so-pleasant ones, this is turning out to be one of the latter. To me, turning 70 is a big deal. I honestly did not think I would reach it. My long list of chronic illnesses has made the journey difficult. My father died a month before his 66th birthday and my younger sister died at 66. Then just before Christmas last year, two long-time, very dear friends, my age, died 10 days apart from cancer. I have had cancer twice and survived, so far.

All this leads to me wanting to make a big deal of my birthday this year. I wanted my two sons and their families to spend time with me on my birthday. My middle son has been agreeable but oldest son and family have plans elsewhere, every year, elsewhere on my birthday. They did offer to take me on a swimming, boating weekend for my birthday in the US where they usually go, but I use a walker and don’t swim or boat.

My family has never gotten together to give me a party or been together for even dinner and a cake, but every Boxing Day they rush to Calgary to see their dad on his birthday. He was not there as my 3 sons were growing up in a single-parent, poverty-stricken home with me, but they jump as adults when he calls.

When I turned 60 I wanted two of my sons and their families to join me for a picnic for my birthday, but they had had a rare falling out and the oldest would not come. At 65, they helped finance a trip to Vancouver island for a few days where I celebrated by myself. Only at 50 did my middle son go with me to Tofino, BC  for a few days to celebrate. His brothers were living in China at the time.

Last year my ex married for the third time at age 70 and all 3 sons and their families went to the combined birthday-wedding celebration in January. Youngest son came from his home in Hong Kong. He spent Christmas with me and his 91 year old grandma and it was obvious he would rather have been on his usual holiday in a warm place. I cooked a big turkey dinner with no help from him or my mother and it was most difficult as I have chronic, debilitating pain. He arrived on Christmas Eve, we drove to the Pass and returned on Boxing Day morning and he immediately left for Calgary. I was left exhausted and vowed it was my last turkey dinner.

Yesterday I was asked what gift certificate I would like, then told I should get something I need instead of want (referring to card making supplies. I am not even valued for the hundreds of cards I have made for cancer patients and seniors.)

I guess this all sounds like a pity party. I really do feel sorry for myself, but I also remember an important piece of advice I had heard but obviously did not learn from: “You need to teach others how you want to be treated.”

I have not been a good teacher. I put myself out there to babysit kids, dogs and houses, go to things I don’t want to go to, offer emotional support during their life crises and in return, have not asked for respect and to be valued. I have spent my adult life putting others needs before my needs.

I have failed myself. I am a kind, loving Nana, and a helpful, supportive mother and daughter, but I have not taken care of me. On the eve of my seventieth year, I feel sad and lonely and very unworthy.

I can continue to wallow in this pain or I can get off my duff and find ways to help others in my community who are less fortunate than me. In helping others, I will feel valued. It is too late for my middle aged children. Perhaps they will value me when I am gone, but it is not too late to help others in need and therefore value myself now and in my remaining years.

There is no doubt that the next post will be better; happier and full of good news. That is a promise. That is my birthday present to myself.




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