Posted in Chronic Pain, Compassion, Depression, Grief, Homelessness, Mental Health, poetry, Stigma Talks

A holiday haibun with a smile

© Clr - Christmas Eve dinner with my children 2014
© Clr – Christmas Eve dinner with my children 2014

Ah!! the holidays are among us, where many families and friends get together. Notice I said “many” but not “most” or “all”. For many people and children, it is a day like any other day except the stores are closed, restaurants are too…eateries and diners where one might want to kill a few hours before going back home alone. What happens to those soliciting for “spare change”? Well, now the only people at subway entrances coming and going are people “usually” going to meet family or a friends or just a friend to share a bit of holiday love…cheer? I worked Christmas Day early in the morning and was surprised to see so many people at 6am on the subway and then it dawned on me that many revellers from the night before were coming home on the earliest subway after 5:30am. No one looked cheery though except the bus driver when I wished him Merry Christmas. And why must everyone be cheerful on this day? That is being presumptuous now is it not? Sure, we can feel blessed, heart warmed by a card or smile that week, we can feel lucky to be healthy enough to get around be if on foot, car, on scooter or wheel chair and able in some way to get OUT of that condo/house/flat. Connecting with people even silently is connecting and that is what I felt sitting in the food court December 23rd.

I needed a few spices to add to my turkey dressing…it tastes almost like my grandmother’s…you see she never gave her recipes. But I taste, add a dash of this and that and taste several times until it seems pretty darn close AND my adult children love it! That IS the strongest motivator to cook anything. Bake? Um, not really because I am not much of a baker but I may try a pie or two this coming week…

I purchased the items at Loblaws and crossed the street to the mall that is situated right across the street from my home. I wanted to get a few small gifts to give to the adults since my majour gift for the past few years is my Christmas meal and gifts for the children, currently, 3 boys and 2 german shepherd sisters. Ah, yes, nice socks are always needed because almost everyone I know gets a sock or two eaten up by the dryer (where else does that lost sock go?) It was already five and I thought I might get a cuppa or get a nice buttery and salty giant pretzel and sit to people watch. A line up at Mr Pretzel made me think of those long dreaded line-ups, Christmas shopping and the whole commercialization or C.S. {croc of shit or capitalism snares…take your pick} so I moved over to Thai Express…one person waiting, so I thought, that would be fine. Wait, wait, wait…I ask the woman at the counter if they were closing, she shakes her head, no smile and does not take my order…wait, wait, wait…a woman goes up to the cash and gives her order…I am stunned, frustrated and just leave…why should I give my hard-earned money to a business who cares less, right? On to another fast food place, order to eat here and find a most comfortable place with chairs with armrests…wow! and relax. I love to eat but you know, it is a social thing…so it is nice to be among people even if we aren’t talking. Not much different from some couples we see sometimes who eat and never look up at each other or talk, not much different from a parent sitting with their teenager who thinks talking to anyone 10 years older is uncool…and the list goes on…so sometimes our own individual self is just fine.

© Clr '14
© Clr ’14

I pretend to be looking at a text message on my camera and take a few photos of the group of men playing cards in front of me. It looked like a serious game and I wonder if they were regulars here. I mean, I see early morning regulars of older adults who come before the shops open to have their walk and by 9:30am. they are sipping coffee, reading the paper and many are in groups chatting about their plans for the day. But now it is after 5p.m. so I figure they are a group of men who are single for a few hours with their wives busy shopping or cooking a day before the eve of Christmas.

I am not much of a card player and wonder what game they are playing with soooo many cards. The only game I know of with that many cards is Canasta but I doubt these men are playing this. When they end the game one of the men who was just watching folds up his book where I wonder if he is entering scores for later payment…I wonder. Now that would be a cool story, eh?

Walking out the food court, I pass couples sitting, staring…no one talking, a woman with her little girl and the woman looks totally exhausted, a bunch of teens giggling and taking pics of each other and at the entrance of La Baie, in the comfortable overstuffed armchairs, two elderly men reading a news paper and one either sleeping or daydreaming. I wonder what their stories are. Being in the suburbs, people are often living with family…but there are many alone and I wonder if aloneness is more painful here or in the city. In the city we are closer to one another; in the burbs there are so many different stories but closeness and collaboration may be in clusters…I don’t know. Where I live in my 8 apartment building, the only people who were friendly lived on the second floor. Three different tenants and they were the ONLY tenants who talked to me, helped me with heavy parcels and always asked how I was….they were from Portugal, Florianópolis, Brazil and the most recent from around here. My next door neighbour never says hello unless I do first, his 20+ yr old son smiles and moves off even when I trying to lug my 17-inch tires with hubs to my car…no, “need any help”…nope…and that same neighbour who asked our landlord to take my parking spot so his son could take his…yeah, well, I must say it is not that friendly here either. Walking to the grocery store last week with bags in hand, that same neighbour just drove by me…could have saved me a few minutes …oh well.

As I left the mall to come home, I used my usual short cut walking down the tiny slope before getting to the sidewalk across the street from my building. It was not slippery at all but my ankles just gave up…down on I felt flat on the sidewalk trying to hurry to lift myself off the sidewalk but no feelings but pain in my ankles, and my right knee was already throbbing from the fall and I knew my left knee was bad enough…{had not knelt on it since last May!}…so wait a few moments, whimpering like a big baby…hearing cars go by and whimpering more for cars who had not EVEN slowed down. All I needed was a hand to get me up and I knew I could cross the street just fine…slowly …but fine.  But no cars stopped even if my winter coat was white…so puleeze do not tell me they did not see a human being flat on the sidewalk. I was careful as I worried I might fall again but this time on the street with my luck no one would stop…even after.

I made it home feeling so sorry for myself, limping and then examining the damage when I got home thankful I wore an old pair of leggings since that big hole could not be mended now.  Sure the aches and pains came later stronger but what hurt the most was the “laissez-faire” of folks…have we come to this now in our world? That makes me very sad and not safe at all.

Christmas Eve was lovely, eating good food…{well, harrumph…I made it (smiles) } and it was nice resting on the sofa admiring the fire, listening to the children play with my son, having my daughter take care of the planning, picking me up, setting the table and taking care of timing everything so we could all eat  and serving as hostess…thankful for my grandsons who were amazing considering the hype and anxiety before Christmas morning…grateful to my son who seemed to have fun playing with the boys and my son-in-law who is an amazing person, man, partner and son.

 

© Clr '14-25 6:40am.
© Clr ’14-25 6:40am.

 

The next day I left for work at dawn and hoped I would get a few pics of the sunrise before getting into the office at 6:45 a.m. …but nope…it remained dark. Well, then at least I made up for lack of nature’s beauty with an amazing sunset at 3:45 p.m…so gosh darn early!! on my way home.

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Today I am relishing the peaceful feel of the day  and missing my mom; wishing I could have been there more, said more things to her, yet I think she is hearing and feeling it now; however sometimes the silence is deafening and wonder how it is for many who have no choice but to sit in this painful dark place day after day even during the holidays. There can be many reasons … financially strapped, family and friends estrangement, a recent loss, a loss long ago that ripped their spirit, physical illness, mental illness and the latter sometimes being such an invisible disease no one can understand…unfortunately, too many do not try.

The next time you are out, if you see someone alone why not smile and say hello, offer him or her a good day…offer your seat with a smile…open a door with a smile…you have no idea how that may enrich a person’s day!   Our good memories are what soothe us, wrap us up like honey for a bee, warm our hearts like a duvet cover and make us smile like looking at a newborn baby or puppy tilt his head to the side.

Blessing and happy holidays to this amazing WordPress community and my readers. ((((((hugs)))))

Cheryl-Lynn

kindness
heartwarming like a duvet
honey to a bee

© Clr 2014/12/26

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Posted in Compassion, Homelessness, Mental Health

Heroes of the city

La nuit des sans abri

They don’t need your pity

they’re heroes of the city,

pounding pavements

searching for hope

some ask for endowments

not all take some dope

yet, helps them forget

their pain for a while

families and friends

employers long gone

just hard on their luck

they don’t hurt anyone

a meal for a buck

never hurt anyone.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/05/06