So I spent a long weekend in New York. Hubby currently has a job there so it was a quick visit to see him. Of course we have been married forever and in typical unromantic form, he failed to take any days off. So I had a couple of days on my own to fill and somehow that was not a problem. The weather was just beautiful and it was great to walk around in flip flops and complain of being hot.
I did some serious damage at my two favourite shops and saw lots of friends old and new. Saturday night, one of my friends from college organised a dinner and a bunch of us got together. We all went to school together and some I’ve known for 35 years. My that makes me feel old. But the upside to all this ageing is having history with people. We don’t keep up on a regular basis although thanks to Facebook, I keep up with some better than others but every time we see each other, we just fall into a very easy dialogue. It’s just great that I have these friends and great that we still get together after all these years. The funny thing is, there have been gaps of years with some of them, I guess these things happen when you know each other over 30 years but then we just pick up again.
So on the one hand, there was much catching up and on the other, I met someone I was introduced to on Facebook through a mutual friend. It really didn’t feel like we had never met, we sat and chatted for 2 hours in Starbucks and didn’t run out of things to say. The truly astounding thing is, her best friend lived on my floor freshman year. How is that for a coincidence? We did not go to the same school and are no where near each other in age and yet… This year has been filled with so many people coincidences that I am no longer surprised. The world seems vast but in fact it is one global village.
I kept meaning to take photos of all the delicious food I had but I’d forget and eat it. I could never be a food blogger. I would say the highlights of my food trip were the two meals I had at Candle Cafe, a vegan restaurant around the corner from where hubby lives. I’m not vegan but I am dairy free and he is veggie so it was a good compromise. I had a wheat free brownie sundae with coconut ice cream. How great does that sound? On the opposite end of the spectrum, I had a 1 pound lobster for lunch at Chelsea Market. That and a couple of American size martinis made my weekend.
Now I’m back home and dealing with the mountains of things I have to do. But the sun is shining and I can’t complain. Life is good.
It’s been so long, I’d nearly forgotten that I have a blog that I used to write pretty regularly. Life has been extremely busy and I haven’t had any time for introspection let alone writing anything down. I think that’s one of the hazards of having a blog that you write when you feel like it. Maybe it should be themed, I’ll have to think about that.
Anyway, for a quick recap on what’s been happening since my last post, I’m still juggling my cooking and nut business and have signed up to do my first trade show. I did a show last year with my distributor, but this time it’s all on me. I signed up for it without thinking that much about it as usual and have discovered that there are a million details to keep track of, many e mails to read through, forms to fill out etc. I want a minion but only if he looks like this.
But I digress. I went away on my annual summer holiday with the family. It was a nice holiday but also a bit of a reality check to discover how old and frail my dad is getting. He never recovered from his heart surgery 18 months ago and the doctors think he had a stroke during surgery. It is so sad to see him struggle with everyday tasks and for him to be bewildered and confused. This was a man who was up until the time of surgery, as sharp as a tack and still travelling domestically by himself. I’m trying hard to see the positive in this and failing. It’s not fair and it sucks.
On a happier note, my kids really pitched in and helped out during the holiday, I don’t think I could have done it if without them. My 80 year old mother, who can barely use a mobile and had absolutely no interest in the computer has gotten herself an iPad. My sister and I each have one and she discovered that she could do things with them. So she went out and got one and we installed Skype on it. I wish I had taped her introduction to Skype, it was a classic. She couldn’t believe she could see me (I was in a different room skyping her) and talk to me. She woke my dad up who was napping on the couch to show him what she could do. I just hope she remembers when she gets home. She’s had no trouble accessing the games we downloaded for her, but the internet remains a bit of a mystery. I think you should be able to relabel the icons so instead of Safari, I could just label it internet, what does she know from Safari?
Where was the hubby in all of this? He has been in New York on a consulting gig. He did a whirlwind visit on our holiday but really I haven’t seen him since he went away at the end of May. As this is likely to continue for some time I am planning a visit out to see him. It’s been a wonderful experience for him, catching up with friends and living again in the city that he loves.
Now that I’ve written it down, it doesn’t sound like I’ve done much, but I swear I’ve been really busy. I must get back to it now, I have more arrangements to make for the show and I need to place orders to get my Christmas products in place.
I’ll try not to let another 3 months go by, talk soon.
People have long bought into the notion that youth is good and ageing is bad. Some alter their outward appearance to maintain an image of themselves when they were younger. But while you may reach your physical peak in your 20′s and 30′s, is that when you should peak as a human being? Because if you do, it’s only down hill from there, right? That’s many decades of a slow decline because most of us will live into our 70′s or 80′s if not longer. Do you want to keep looking back reliving what was, instead of looking ahead to see what the future holds?
But what if you embrace the idea that you only improve with age? Then every year brings new adventures, new confidence, new skills. They weren’t kidding about this wise woman/man stuff. I find as I get older, things that mattered desperately when I was younger are no longer that important and I am able to put things in better perspective. It is a truly liberating feeling to follow your heart and not really care what other people think. I just saw a trailer for a wonderful new film called Advanced Style. These are some wonderful women who are following their hearts and expressing themselves through fashion. I hope to be like them when I grow up although I have a sneaking suspicion they may always have been like that. All of us have a desire for self expression and growing older has given me the courage to act on it. My current form of self expression is trying to build and juggle two businesses. I did not plan for this to happen. I didn’t sit down and think, “I want a business, what should it be?” They evolved organically and although it took a lot of work to get them started, they are both growing. Growing slowly, because that’s something else I’ve learned along the way, it doesn’t have to happen in an instant for it to count as a success. A major lesson for someone so impatient that I read the ending of the book first and then fill in the middle bits. What I bring to the table now is the experience from many decades of life lived. I’ve been fortunate enough to have very interesting life experiences and they have all shaped my outlook. And so most days I am happy. I procrastinate a fair amount but also gets lots done. I can’t remember what I did before I became this busy. Sure I have days where something sets me off and I have a good rant about it as well as the days of self doubt where I wonder if I’m just crazy to be doing what I do. But I have a wonderful family and friends who will very patiently listen to me and support me.
But most of all, I am proud of who I have become. It’s been a very long time coming but I think I can truly say that I am comfortable in my own skin and with the place I occupy in the world. Okay some of us learn a bit more slowly than others. But who cares as long as you get there in the end. It’s not a race, it’s your life. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
I am writing this in the midst of jet lag. In the last week, we have flown from Honolulu to Providence and have come home to London. It’s a lot of flying and frankly, airports are pretty much the same everywhere so we tend to identify them by what we ate there. It was a 5 week holiday and the theme was family.
For many years now, we have made the trip to Honolulu every summer. My sister and her family live there and my parents come in from Tokyo so it’s a family vacation for my side of the family. This means that while I am in a gorgeous setting with people I love, there is always drama. As my parents have grown older and less independent, the amount of arranging and negotiating that happens every year has increased. This year, with my dad still recuperating from heart surgery coupled with my mom’s fear of doing anything on her own meant that they needed constant attention. I tried to be philosophical about it but I must admit, there were times when I regretted going. My sister works full time and they aren’t on vacation while we are there so the burden fell on me to keep my parents entertained. Add to that two young adult children who are used to living their own lives thrust into a situation where they had to be with each other for long periods – more drama. I know I could have been far more gracious about it, but you can only do what you can do. I hope my parents went home thinking they had a nice holiday.
I also realized that in addition to a generation gap, my mom and I also have a major culture gap. I was raised mostly in the States and haven’t lived in Japan all that much. So while I consider myself Japanese, apparently my thinking is not typical. This led me to being frustrated with my mom’s inability to just come out and say what she wants whereas she thought she was being totally forthright. As far as I was concerned, she was being forthright at all the wrong times and not where it mattered. We were able to have some chats about this which is a first in our relationship. Maybe I’m finally growing up.
But I do realize that every year we get together we come away with shared experiences and memories. The joys and frustrations of being with family are what keep me connected. When you move as much as we have, home is not a location, it is wherever your family happens to be. Mine is messy, crazy and wonderful. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
image from www.Eyedoctorguide.com
I failed the vision test for my driver’s license renewal. This was not as great a shock as you may think since I have been saying for the last couple of years that I couldn’t see. My vision has never been great. I’ve been wearing glasses since the third grade after enduring a mortifying patch for lazy eye which didn’t work. Anyway, I have always envied people who could see clearly and could buy cheap sunglasses that didn’t need prescription lenses. Over the years, the cost of my glasses went up as my lenses became more complicated.
So failing the vision test, while not a surprise, was also a major inconvenience. I only drive once a year when I’m in the States. The thought of having to rely on someone else to get me places made me feel prematurely old. How many people do we know in their 80′s who still drive? And yet I couldn’t? So off I went to get a professional’s opinion on my eyes to see if I could still drive.
The kids have been going to a really nice eye doctor in a shop in Honolulu. Hubby stumbled on them by chance and the entire office is great. I’d never seen the doctor since my lenses are so fiddly I prefer to have them made where I live. But I went to him to fix my failed vision test. He examined my eyes and asked me several times if anyone had ever told me I had a problem in my left eye. After dilating my pupils, he confirmed that I have cataracts in both eyes, pretty bad in my left eye. So at the ripe old age of 52, I am having cataract surgery. I also have a bit of retinal damage and asked if that would prevent me from having lasik later. That’s when he told me the amazing news. When they do the cataract surgery, they can just replace my lens with a corrective one so that I don’t need lasik. I won’t even need glasses!!! Now this was the most unbelievable news I’d ever heard. Not only was I going to see much better, but I may not even need glasses to do it.
I am planning on getting it done when I go home but I didn’t even know where to start looking for a doctor. Then I remembered my good friend G was an eye surgeon in a prior life so I asked her. She asked her friend who came up with three names, one of whom had done the surgery for my ingrown eyelashes. What a coincidence. I was happy with the outcome of that surgery so I hope he can do this round too.
Oh and the vision test? After examining me, the doctor in Honolulu certified me fit to drive so my license is successfully renewed. Of course when I come back next summer, fingers crossed I’ll have bionic eyes. Watch this space.
My dad had heart surgery just before Christmas and I went home for 3 weeks to help out. Even though my dad is 85 and my mom almost 80, they have been very independent and have continued to act very parental. As far as they are concerned, once I’m in their house, I am still their child.
But not this time. My dad came out of surgery well physically. His wounds healed very quickly and he was up and walking around soon after. The mental faculties however, are taking a lot longer to come back. Things have improved significantly since he came home and I now realize the importance of being at home to recuperate. But he still requires a lot of help and it is obvious sometimes that he is searching for words. He has good days and bad days. On the good days, you can have a real conversation with him and it is on these days that mom thinks she is going to get back the man who went into surgery. On the bad days, he doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and the entire thing is exacerbated by the fact he can’t hear all that well even with hearing aids. It is on these days that mom’s frustrations are at their highest. I have to remind her that he is not doing it on purpose and to just walk away when she gets frustrated instead of standing there and making it worse. Talk about a role reversal.
This incident has changed my relationship with my parents. It is now my turn to care for them. This could be a bit tricky since both my sister and I live out of the country. I guess it will just mean more trips home.
I am so proud of both my kids for stepping up and helping out. My daughter came with me and now my son is there picking up the slack for a couple of weeks. My parents have enjoyed having their youthful presence in the house and my kids have had the opportunity to help care for the grandparents who have been so wonderful to them.
I certainly never thought this day would come, I kind of thought of my parents as invincible and one day they would just fade away. It appears reality is a little different and I will have to cope.