Mother’s Day

Bittersweet day.  A very difficult day for the family.  For my sister-in-law, it is loving the children that are here, but mourning the one that she lost.  For me, it was acknowledging how big of a part my husband played in making Mother’s Day an ‘event’.  This year it seemed as though the two of us hit the crazy zone at the same time and were absolute nut cases going into Mother’s Day.

I know I was a little crazed.  I didn’t really even want to celebrate the day.  I went to bed the night before thinking about how hard it must be for many people, not just for me.  For those women who had lost children, women who never had children, women and men who never knew their mothers, or who had and had never liked them, for those who suffer or suffered abuse at the hands of their mothers.  This ‘one size’ day of celebration could be a nightmare for many.  Fortunately I woke up to the smell of eggs benedict and sausage cooking, an effective way to banish such thoughts!

Through the years Mother’s Day has typically been an awesome day for me.  Because I had my children and their father to make it special.  With Kevin gone it has lost a lot of its lustre, it carries a tinge of sadness that it shouldn’t. Now, what I hope is that my children, each with their own spouses, will make each and every day special for them, for their partners and their children.  Look to their future, love what they have.  I loved what I had and I am thankful that I had it.  But now for me, as to Mother’s Day as an event, meh, I can do without it.

Again

So it has come and gone again.  The anniversary of Kevin’s death.  Year two in the books.  Not easier at all.  I don’t know if it was harder, but I do know it wasn’t easier.  This year Easter fell similar to the year he died.  Kevin died on the Sunday before Easter.  I pushed to have the funeral on the Thursday before Good Friday.  Deliberately so it wouldn’t wreck anyone’s long weekend plans.  It likely/probably did, but at least they didn’t have to go to a funeral on one of their days off.

This year, just the way it fell, I found it hard going into the weekend.  And it wasn’t just me, his sister, my kids, we all felt it.  The memories sit in your heart and hurt with each beat.  But more than ever I realize that this is it, what I have now is on me, and I need to appreciate what I have.  This is what Kevin fought for, why he went through chemo, what he was so desperately trying to hold on to.  Life: to watch his grandkids grow up, to enjoy his family and friends, to explore, create, attempt new things.  To see and to be; to wring every bit of enjoyment out of every single day.  It’s all right there for anyone who wants it.

So, I just have to figure out how to want it.  So far I am not applying myself very well.

 

One foot in the present, one foot in the past

I think about the challenge it is to have a long term relationship end.  In my case it was my husband’s death, for others it may be divorce.  But loss is loss, and who’s to say how it should be, what one should feel, how one will cope. The thing is managing the memories.  Memories that weave through families: in children, in places, in events.  They are invisible, those ties, strands of emotion that can tangle you up before you know it.

I was worried after Kevin died that I would forget.  Forget the times we shared, the life we led, his voice, his laugh, his presence.  I realize now that I will never forget.  The ties are just too strong.  I’ve mentioned before that I hear him in my head, and I do.  Sometimes not loud enough, sometimes too loud.  Just like in life.  Last night I had a dream and I woke up knowing he had told me to do something.  But I couldn’t remember what it was he told me to do. If it was important then I suspect that he’ll be back to remind me tonight. I’d  better put paper and pen beside the bed because I don’t want to piss him off by forgetting again!  (It’s humour folks, I’m not losing it.)

These next couple of weeks will be tough ones.  Our anniversary on the 24th, his death on the 29th.  I find myself flashing back and forth between the present and the past.  Unavoidably.  I never would have ever thought he would have been my past, that wasn’t the deal, and yet now he is.  But he is still my future, because life with him made me who I am, because I will always know how he thought and what he felt.  Because the lives he and I created together continue to grow, more grandbabies – twins.  Because he would have loved that.  So I send you my love Kevin, and I say: ‘How I wish, how I wish you were here….’

About the Cruise

The cruise last month was my third one in the past 12 months.  All three have been with Carnival.  Carnival is considered to be an entry level cruise line or so I am told.  Regardless of where they sit on the spectrum I have to say the food is stellar. Other things not so good.  Communication on board the ship has been an issue.  There’s nothing like travelling with your sister and having a honeymoon cake delivered to your dinner table complete with little chocolate hearts.  Or the towels made into little hearts on the bed.  The cabin steward didn’t believe me when I told her we weren’t a couple, we were sisters.  I got eyebrows raised in disbelief and a sympathetic smile suggesting I wasn’t ready to come out of the closet.

Ah, Carnival.  Lots of fodder to write about there.  The honeymoon mix up was only one of several things, but that’s to be expected I guess when you have 3000 guests in a confined space.  But on the cruise trying to get  cup of hot tea with milk became a personal challenge.  On one occasion a gentleman from an adjacent table, after watching me request the tea multiple times over a period of 20 minutes, finally ordered it for me from the same server. Guess what, it arrived in, oh, three minutes at most.  This wasn’t unique to one trip – I had the same problem for two out of three, hot tea apparently confounds them, as perhaps do women travelling alone.

I really don’t have anything to compare Carnival ‘s service to at this point, but I will by this time next year.  We have already booked a cruise with Norwegian for November of this year.  I think the intent is to always kick off the winter with a cruise (November) which is around the time of my sister’s birthday, and then kick out the winter blues with a cruise in February. Once I have put a little more distance from Kevin’s death in March 2015, I hope to find a way to go away that month too.  Our anniversary was the 24th and he died on the 29th.  It seems like a good idea to run away from reality that week.

Anyway, it will be interesting to compare the two cruise lines.  My understanding is that the staff to guest ratio is slightly better with Norwegian.  They also have a unique offering amongst all the lines – cabins for singles.  In a secure area, some with balconies – but geared to and priced for people travelling alone.  I haven’t booked one of these cabins since I am travelling with the sis, but who knows what the future holds, so it will be good to check it out. A bunch of us are planning on going – the more the merrier.

Invariably though I find I have a little weep when I am travelling.  It was Kevin’s passion to travel.  I doubt he would have had any interest in travelling by cruise ship, they are just too restrictive.  Even the food wouldn’t have been enough.  But it suits me fine, I am not the most adventurous and there’s plenty to do aboard the boat.  And there are lots of cruise lines.  I’ll just keep going as long as I have someone to travel with.

February and March – I need a strategy

I recognize that, quite likely for the rest of my life, I will need a strategy to get through these two months.

Last year, February of 2016, I went off for a cruise with my sister and, despite my reservations, I enjoyed myself.  So we decided to repeat the event again this year, extending the invitation to two more of my sisters to join us (bringing the count to four out of a potential five and a half – yes I have a half sister).  And they did join us. It was the first time in decades that just us sisters did anything together.  My two sisters live in Newfoundland and my other sister and I live in Ontario, so it is not exactly conducive to family outings.  It came together for us though; the weather was great, the sea was calm, the food on the cruise was amazing.  It was a good thing.

We had one small glitch to deal with in Miami Airport.  It could have cast a pall on the vacation but fortunately it just wasn’t important enough to let it.  We had booked rooms for the night at Miami International Airport – paid way too much for inferior accommodations, but the convenience was the deciding factor.  In the morning we went downstairs to eat at Margaritaville, a chain restaurant located immediately beside the hotel lobby in the airport.

Our server was churlish to say the least – she had a chip on her shoulder so big it was a wonder she could lift a tray.  She took her time coming to our table to take our orders.  She forgot a couple of items we ordered.  Refills on the coffee – you’re kidding me right?  Just a gem.  Anyway, the bill came for the meal – it was $60.  We put cash down of $65 and prepared to leave.

The server was quick to grab the bill.  She walked away and opened up the black plastic bill holder and then came steaming, yup, steaming back.  “That’s not enough!” she said and slammed the bill holder on the table.  She flipped the cover open and stabbed her finger at a line on the bill.  It’s a beaut – it says “Recommended gratuity 15% – $8.99.”  She was royally pissed at us and said, “You need to leave more tip.”  And then she stormed off leaving us and the bill at the table!   Are you kidding me?  That’ll do it, give us a yell lovey and then we’ll pay you more.  Needless to say she didn’t get her $8.99, she got her $5.  In hindsight we should have taken the tip away completely, but the reality is that servers in the US typically don’t have a great hourly wage and rely on their tips, but bullying the customers to get it defies comprehension.

That exchange was off-putting until we realized that we were leaving the place behind for a week of sunshine and laughter.  That bitter little server was stuck in a hell of her own making.  She’s not doing much for the reputation of the restaurant though.  I gotta think that if she treats the customers like that she’s probably a nightmare for the manager to deal with too. Regardless,  I’ll never eat at that chain again.