Tag Archives: aging

Dealing With Technical Difficulties Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Dealing With Technical Difficulties Linda Knight Seccaspina

Dealing With Technical Difficulties Linda Knight Seccaspina

For years my late grandmother, Mary Louise Deller Knight, would repeat her life stories and anything else that she felt she needed to say. At first I would remind aging Mary of the increasing repetition of her tales, and then I would just nod my head and let her carry on.

To add to the situation, Mary also forgot how long she kept things in the freezer. During the years of increasing memory loss she had created her own breakfast specialty called ‘Freeze Dried Waffles’. Sometimes I would hide them in my pocket after she served them, and then skip them across the Yamaska River like stones. Mary Louise never really got any better with her memory, and I hoped that I would not have the same issues.

The year is now 2021 and I am a bit  younger than Mary Louise was in the prime of her ‘broken needle’ storytelling era. I can recall anything right down to the finest detail of whatever happened to me thirty to forty years ago; but ask me what I did five minutes past and I am at a loss.

I began to worry I might be getting Dementia and then someone explained the difference to me. Not finding my keys – that was one thing, but if I did not know what a key was, then that was an issue. This morning I sat down and wrote what I needed at the store, on the top of my hand. I have long rid myself of hand written notes as I can’t find those either, unless I stick them in my sports bra. Cash register receipts, keys and credit cards also store quite nicely inside that spandex athletic bra. Except maybe in the summer when doing anything with a humid sports bra is much like resistance training.

Years ago in the subway, I pulled out what was then the ever popular disposable Tracfone and stared at it. The back looked quite odd and I couldn’t figure it out. Suddenly part of my phone was handed to me by a woman who realized I had no idea what was going on. Of course, the back plastic cover had fallen off!

I thanked her and told her how much I appreciated it and how forgetful I was sometimes. She told me not to worry because she was exactly the same. Her cell phone had broken one day and when she took it back to the store she had literally begged them to replace it with the same model. They told her that her phone was outdated, no longer available and end of story, much to her horror.

She finally received a new phone and told me she sat there for days trying to figure it out. Only when a neighbor loaned the frustrated woman her high school aged son to help her was she finally able to use it. She longed for the days of being able to buy something with only one sheet of instructions. I laughed and told her these days you needed a PhD to operate a food processor. She smiled and said,

“I do have a PhD, and I still can’t figure anything out without calling a 1-800 number to India.”

She continued sharing stories and told me not to worry, as we are not alone in this world of memory loss. I shook my head and realized how I have turned into my Grandmother.

Why do I still keep hard candies in a dish like she did? I have cabinets full of dishes and glassware no one really wants along with a plastic bag full of other plastic bags. My couch is not covered in plastic like Grammy’s was, but I still have company towels in the bathroom. I read stories on the internet, but still long to go through piles of my Grandparent’s dusty Reader’s Digests just for the memories.

I smell like vapor rub now on a daily basis because of knees that no longer have cartilage, and people back in my hometown of Cowansville tell me I look just like my Grandmother. Nothing wrong with that, but what happened and when?  I vowed on a daily basis I would never be like my parents and grandparents, but here I am. No matter what we think, they are always with us– everywhere we go and in everything we do. They are living on through us, and with us– and maybe, thank goodness for that.

Anyways, never let aging get you down, remember, it’s just too hard to get back up!

She Doesn’t have Bette Davis Eyes

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Looking in the mirror this morning I look like Bette Davis on a bad day with a semi swollen face and bags hanging under my irritated eyes. I took a cold drug last night before bedtime which is giving me a drug-induced hangover today.

I decided to write a blog called “I Look Like Shrek” and then chose not to share it with anyone. Do I really want people to have that impression of me? If I really was Bette Davis I would have ‘my people’ helping me get through this awful day. But I am not she, so instead I daydream about how I longed to be a movie star when I was very young.

Most of my friends know that my favourite actress is Bette Davis. There is absolutely no one that can get her point across in three seconds or less like she could. As a child I used to buy Popeye candy cigarettes and flash them back and forth yelling in my mother’s high heels,

“It’s going to be a bumpy ride!”– or something to that effect.

My father would just roll his eyes and say I was living in a “Modern Screen” fantasy world like my mother. Bernice Ethelyne had named me Linda Susan after her two favourite actresses: Linda Darnell and Susan Hayward. From her hospital bed to her wheelchair at home she commanded my father to enrol me in every dance class known to man. Mother Bernice wanted me to become another Joan Crawford as she was her favourite actress and lived, ate and breathed Crawford.

One Tuesday when I came home from school I stopped dead in my tracks eyeing my mother and her canasta club having a Joan Crawford makeover day. Sitting like glamour queens, I am sure each one of them thought they all looked like MGM starlets munching on pineapple squares with bright red lips, short bangs and evil eyebrows. It was the scariest thing you ever saw and I swear I didn’t sleep for days after that gut wrenching experience.
My mother who also tone deaf thought I was born to sing like Deanna Durbin. Every week Reverend Brown would choose one person to perform a solo and my mother called and suggested that I participate.

Sunday came way too fast and barely standing next to the choir I begin to sing.  I hear no bravos in the congregation, but by verse three people are covering their mouths with their handkerchiefs. At the end of my song Dickie Diner in the front pew breaks out into a fit of laughter and ends up on the floor.

 

I go back to my seat and see Reverend Brown look down at me through his bifocals in bewilderment. Miss Smith, age 69, the spinster church organist, stamps on the organ pedals and rolls into the next hymn at death defying volume. My musical career ended that day but Bernice kept insisting that it was okay because they always had stand-in singers for Joan.

 

Daydreaming over, I come to the conclusion that I’m going to use up a box of Kleenex every hour and it’s going to be a bumpy ride for the next 24 hours. I just don’t get it. I am so offended when my body decides to be sick. Like I gave you a vegetable last week.. How dare you!! LOLOL

 

“The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?– Bette Davis

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

Marian MacFarlane — Silver Threads Among the Gold

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If some of us haven’t had our coffee in the mornings we feel like we are 107. Marian MacFarlane is 97, but it seems like she’s really 45. When I came to interview her I had no idea what kind of stories she would have, and imagine my surprise when she had all her thoughts written down by hand on paper.

This woman with 10 Grandchildren and 9 Great-Grandchildren has had quite a life. Her story as a young MacDowall began in the rural area of Pakenham, Ontario. The vivid memories of a childhood friend that came to visit the neighbour every summer on the train made me long for my youth once again. Like a lot of us they would spend hot days swimming in the creek, and making mud cakes for tea parties.

When she was born, her father liked the named Marianne, but her Mother like Marion, so some how Marian with an “a” got the best of both names. Her father was a farmer, and her Mother was a housewife. Marian learned at a young age how to churn butter and make bread. Stories of making rhubarb sauce and muffins reminded me of living with my Grandmother. There’s a certain nostalgia and romance in a place you left. She told me an amusing story of how she once made bread and had issues with the yeast. Unfortunately that day the bread that never rose and got fed to the dog.

Marian first came to Carleton Place with her 1 ½ year old son Douglas in November of 1944 as a RN. In 1941 she met a lovely man named Lloyd Henry Cameron. They married and she lived with her parents in Packenham while Lloyd Cameron went off to war. However Squadron Leader Cameron, a bomber pilot for the RCAF, was killed in the war. He had been on a night mission over Germany when they were shot down on February 20, 1944.

Her sister Muriel was already working as an assistant with one of the doctors in Carleton Place, so it seemed very practical they should board together. It was the days of stove pipes heating the bedrooms and rationing was nation wide. Butter and nylons were in short supply, and corn was selling for 35 cents a dozen. Milk was delivered every day, and sometimes if the ice box wasn’t emptied at night there was an over flow. But her son Douglas was everything to her, and they waited for the end of the war to bring about better things.

On May the 8th 1945, the war ended. That same day would have been Lloyd Cameron’s 25th birthday. Although Marian was pleased the war was over she decided she didn’t feel like celebrating with the rest of Carleton Place. So instead, she gave her kitchen a fresh coat of paint.

Marian spoke often about the love for her cocker spaniel Jeff which Lloyd Cameron gave her. The constant ladies dog as she called him, was not always with Marian throughout her travels in life. However, they always remembered each other fondly no matter where he or she lived.

In 1946 the widow was paid a visit by John Gilman, the navigator, who had bailed out of that Halifax bomber the night Lloyd Cameron was killed. Her late husband had asked his friend to visit his wife if something should happen to him. And that he did, that May, telling her details of that horrible night. He also gave her Lloyd’s boots that they had pried off him after the crash. The four surviving Canadian airmen were captured that same night and spent the next 14 months of WWII as prisoners of war.

Personally I cannot imagine how Marian dealt with reliving the tragedy twice, yet she spoke with pride about her husband and the effort he had made in WWII. Lloyd was buried in the Commonwealth Cemetery in Berlin. but she never had the chance to visit. Her niece did, however, and took pictures to show Marian.

In April of 1946 she bought a house on Frank Street in Carleton Place complete with hardwood floors. They really enjoyed the new space after dealing with three people in one bedroom for a few years. Marian and I both smiled as we talked about the first electric (mechanical) washing machine she bought. I remember my Grandmother telling me the same story about hers and how it made life easier for a lot of women. Her sister babysat and lived with Marian until Muriel married in June of 1947. When her sister minded her son, Marian played cards, bowled, and enjoyed fellowship with women her own age at our local Zion Memorial Church.

In 1947 Marian met the cousin of a next door neighbour named Lloyd MacFarlane. The former Carleton Place resident lived in the city and worked for Foreign Affairs. But, LLoyd would come up weekends to visit and took a fancy to Marian. She talked of renting a boat and picnics on the Mississippi River with Lloyd and her son Douglas. He also loved to write and wrote several pieces of fiction. June the 4th 1949, was the day Marian said yes  and married Lloyd MacFarlane at the old United Church Manse.

Lloyd was transferred to Boston in 1948, so Marian sold her Carleton Place home and they moved to the south side of Boston. It was in Boston that their second child, a daughter, Norma Jean was born in 1951. When Norma was 8 months old the MacFarlane family got orders to return to Ottawa. That is when they journeyed back to Carleton Place and bought a house on Queen Street. As Douglas spent summers with his Grandparents in Perth, it was decided he should go to Cedar Hill to Marian’s sister while the family made arrangements to come home.  Marian and baby Norma Jean journeyed back on the train where her sister and brother-in-law met them in Ottawa. Her mother pitched in and helped everyone get settled so Douglas could get started at the Carleton Place Centre School.

Before the move was final Lloyd made a few journeys to be with his family from Boston until they finally settled down in Carleton Place. But that wasn’t the end of the placements. The family took a Greek ship to London for a few years, and then they were off to Seattle, San Francisco, and Atlanta. During that time they had two other children: Marlene who was born in 1952 and David in 1958.

After a busy life, Lloyd finally retired at age 62 in 1975.  Sadly, he passed away, and Marian now lives in one of our local Senior residences. She is quick, funny, and a lot smarter than me at age 97. She  mentioned she had donated one of her hats to the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, and I remembered it exactly when we did the Bertha Schwerdtfeger’s Hat Show.

I asked her if she had any last words, and she told me she hoped she would go peacefully. These days we watch so many old movies our memories come in monochrome. I am proud to say Marian’s memories are still going full strength in technicolour. And that’s a good thing! After talking with Marian for a few hours I think I understand there is no such thing as aging. It’s all about maturing and knowledge. I call those thoughts nothing but beautiful, and so is Marian MacFarlane

 

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, eyeglasses and indoorDoug Cameron- Marian’s son-

Ray Paquette Doug was a close friend of my brother Tedd. Lloyd moved to CP in the early 1950’s after completing a foreign service posting and bought the large brick house at Queen and Munroe. Marian’s first husband, Doug’s father, was lost in WW2 while serving in the RCAF. Doug was one of the earliest employees of Leigh Instruments.

Behind My Candelabra — The Realities of Now – Zoomers

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Behind My Candelabra — The Realities of Now – Zoomers.

 

“When I watched “Behind the Candelabra” this week on HBO I realized most of Liberace’s life had been a gigantic cover-up.  The one truth he was unwilling to share with his vast and admiring public was finally outed to the public upon his death– never mind the fact that I found out he was on the TV show Batman”