Monday, February 18, 2019

Joy, and Obligations

Okay first the Joy. I went skating this morning. The ice was amazing, like glass. And I was almost the first person on it since the last big rain and subsequent freezing. I met the guy who tries to keep it clear on my way in and he said the ice was so good that you really need sharp skates or you won't be able to skate on it. My skates are sharp.

Hapi ventured out but only made it a few feet to a mound of snow that looked like a little island surrounded by a glassy sea. She stayed there the whole time I was skating, she looked like an Eskimo sled dog abandoned on an ice floe. Each time I came around her little ice floe I thought, Just one more time, one more time and then we'll go. It was so hard to stop, I was in skating heaven!

I did finally stop and after changing back into my boots and Lee Valley Icers because the trails are as icy as the ponds, we went for a hike through an apple orchard and then a woodland trail. By the time we got back to the ponds parents and little kids were arriving for skating and hockey because today is a holiday.

The photo above was taken a couple of weeks ago, today it was even better: the sun was shining and the sky a brilliant blue.

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The comments on my last post were pretty unanimous, don't feel guilty and take time for yourself. How exactly one does that is of course for me to figure out. After venting about the problem, I then turned it around from what I didn't want to do to what I did want to do. I had a list of things I wanted to spend more time on. That list made me feel better, I felt justified in staking out time to tackle my list.

I called E to explain about how driving to her place at supper time was too hard, that I would drop by in the daytime if/when I was in town to shop. She seemed to accept that, but three days later there was a message on my phone (I didn't hear it ring) pleading for me to come visit. Ugh!

I called her and said I'd visit soon and she was more than welcome to come visit me whenever she wanted. Next day she got her son to drive her over. It was suppertime of course, but at least I wasn't out driving around in the dark, and her son texted me when they'd be arriving so I was prepared. But OMG, watching her struggle out of the car, up the driveway to my back stairs, then precariously manouevre herself up those three steps with her son behind her with his arms out in case she fell backwards, then across the back deck and through the kitchen to the nearest chair: that was painful!

We had a nice little visit, there was a stack of photos of children and grandchildren on the table by her chair which we went through after she fed her little bag of dog treats to Hapi, and then it was time for them to leave. The painful process of getting from the car to the chair was re-enacted in reverse and they drove away. But not before E tried to nail down the exact time of my visit to her place in the next couple of days. I just said, Soon, soon.

But I don't know which is worse, driving to and from E's place in the dark when I am tired and hungry, or watching her struggle in and out of my place. I feel doomed.

So yesterday I was talking about this situation with a dogwalking friend, F, and he described his own struggle with aging parents. First his father and now his mother. His father died in his 90s and was both blind and demented, his mother is mentally healthy but blind and physically deteriorating, also in her 90s. In comparing notes I realized that my relationship with E is rather like his with his parents, and the sense of obligation is not much different. Although E is only a few years older than me, regarding her as a debilitated and dying parent puts things in perspective. There are obligations I can shake and obligations I can't, much as I would like to.

We commiserated on feelings of obligation and what it did to the rest of our lives, also on our growing desire to withdraw from everyday socializing altogether. I think it's a bit easier for guys to retire from social obligations than for women, there is more of an expectation of women to "take care of people". I can reduce the socializing with J more easily because she is still mobile, has a car of her own, and multiple other friends. But E has none of those things. Plus, her son has been a real lifesaver for me in the past, so I can't just say, Sorry, I don't feel like it. He said to me a few years ago, You are part of our family. Unfortunately I'm afraid that is true.

I spent the last few days tidying and reorganizing my home which was immensely pleasurable. I now have bags of garbage and recycling prepared for disposal and a couple of bags of stuff for Value Village and/or the SPCA. If I take it to VV, they will give me discount coupons to shop there which I could give to E, but E commented that she hates that place and would rather shop at the SPCA. So maybe I'll take my stuff to the SPCA.

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I am going off Facebook. I disabled my account yesterday, if all goes well I will delete it in a month or so. A Facebook friend posted a TEDx video by Tristan Harris on why one should quit social media and most of his reasons made sense to me. There are pros and cons to everything but right now the cons are outweighing the pros for me.

Mr Harris noted that he thought the first couple of weeks after quitting would be the hardest but then one would adjust. We will see. Last night I went through my Facebook friends list and noted three people for whom I have no other contact info. It may be that I will lose those friends, I don't know. Two of them might be able to contact me if they remember the email address I had before Facebook and the third, well, I think I could probably track her down through mutual friends if I had to. All of them currently reside in other countries.


Cheerful Monk said...

I'm impressed you went ice skating. My main interaction with ice is to avoid falling! Andy drove by the ice rink the other day and was tempted because he did a lot in his youth and was very good at it, but then decided no. He too now has to worry about falling and breaking something. We do have enough other joys to keep us busy and happy. :)

I sympathize with you about E, she is family. It's too bad she doesn't live closer.

Annie said...

I learned to skate as a kid, I didn't learn to ski until I was 20. I never got good at skiing, mostly I think because of my fear of falling. But on skates I don't fear falling, even though I sometimes do fall. I think it is because of that childhood conditioning.