Reflecting on this Past Year

…..today I’m officially a senior citizen

There has to be a better designation than senior citizen when you turn 65. I know there are many perks when you reach this age but it also comes with labels such as golden oldie, old fart, grandma, oldster, senior, geezer, geriatric, old-timer and blue hair. Even though I’m a proud grandmother to Winnie I don’t feel old.

 

I look back on this past year and am proud of what I’ve done and happy to have such amazing friends and a wonderful family. I knew that this was the year to retire from teaching. I still loved the job but there were days when I was just plain tired and sometimes I didn’t feel that I fit in anymore. I didn’t want to be one of those crotchety old teachers that criticized younger teachers for doing things differently.  Sometimes I didn’t like what went on but I wanted to leave on a happy note so I kept quiet for the most part. The only people I would share my views with were people closer to my age and those who were also retiring. I have to admit that some of my favourite teachers were those much younger than me. I loved their humour and zest for life.

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Of course the students are what kept me going as a teacher. They weren’t always easy to teach and over the years the job grew increasingly more difficult but in the end the love and gratitude I received in the form of cards, art work, letters of appreciation and countless hugs made it all worthwhile.

This past year I’ve seen my own children continue to grow into responsible and amazing adults. They are all married now and our one and only grandchild is growing like a weed. She is my pride and joy.  Last night she kept saying Oma birthday, Oma birthday while rolling around in her crib. She clearly knows everyone in the family now and can say everyone’s name. She picks up at least 10 new words every day and we have to be so careful what we say in front of her.

My retirement is not quite working out the way I thought it would. I was hoping to do more travelling but it is still early days. Last May my father moved into our house. At 90 he’s still very independent but we’re a little worried about leaving him for too long. So far the longest we’ve left him alone is four days. We’re hoping to travel to London, England in November to visit with our son before he leaves to live in New York City in the coming year. Someone recently asked me if Dad was coming with us. We’ve tried to convince him to make at least one more trip to Germany to visit his brother. It looks like that won’t happen for at least another year, God willing, and I’m not sure if a trip to London would be in the cards for him as well. We’ll have to wait and see.

So as I turn 65 today I can honestly say that I’ve had a wonderful life. Now I look forward to my next adventure and hopefully I’ve inherited my father’s genes so that I can enjoy the next 30 years of my life with the same joie de vivre.

Volleyball, Toilets and Trad Music

…..exciting two days

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my personal adventures and daily routines. I don’t know where the time has gone but being sick and dealing with family members who are also under the weather has definitely put my writing for this blog on the back burner. I’m also trying to get my house ready for our new addition. No, we’re not expecting another grandchild or taking in a foster child. My 90 year old father has decided he wants to live with us. Of course, we couldn’t say no.

Since the March Break I’ve been sick with an ear infection and then with a sinus cold. My hearing has suffered greatly and I feel like I’m under water. I can’t tell you how many times I have misheard what people are saying. Sometimes it can be quite comical but it’s also frustrating. I think I’m getting better but in the evenings my throat gets quite sore. Other than that I feel okay and I haven’t taken any time off from work.

Earlier this week, my friend and colleague, P, asked me if I wanted to be part of a volleyball team and play in a tournament against teachers from other schools. I agreed to do it as long as I felt well. By Friday, three people dropped out and that left us with only six players. Regardless of how I was feeling, I just couldn’t drop out, so I went to the tournament.

When I got there I felt somewhat intimidated by the players from the other teams. I think there was only one other player out of 45 players or more who was older than me. On our team, we had two 26 year olds, two 31 year olds, one 50 year old and me, the almost senior citizen.

Once we started playing, I quickly lost any inhibitions and just had fun. My serves were terrible but by the last game I finally worked out what I was doing wrong and my serves improved immensely. There were six teams in total and to my amazement we made it into the finals. In the seventh and final game we played against one of the teams we had lost against. At that point I was happy to place second. It was in that game that I took some chances and I actually dove for a ball and landed on my knees (no knee pads, of course). OUCH!

I got up quickly and assured everyone that I was okay. I kept playing (there were no substitutes) and in a very close game we ended up winning it all. I think we were all a little surprised but ecstatic. Not bad for a group of people that had never played volleyball together. Afterwards we went out with the team we beat in the finals (they were great sports) and had a drink.

Later that evening when I got home I had a bit of a headache and a sore throat. The latter was from the cold and the former might have been from the fall. I think I jostled my brain when my knees hit the floor. Today, however, the headache was gone and I haven’t suffered any aches or pains from the activities of the previous night. Maybe I should look for a senior’s volleyball team to join when I retire.20170331_201317_resized-2

On Saturday, my husband and I spent the day looking for toilets and kitchen cabinets. When we agreed to have Dad come and live with us we knew that the basement would need some major renovations. We bought a toilet, a grab bar and at Ikea we started to plan out the kitchen. They have an amazing computer program for planning out your kitchen. I think we spent a good hour or more just playing around with different configurations for our tiny little space. When you’re done it gives you a parts list and the total cost of your kitchen.

In 8 days our contractor is coming to the house to start the job so we still have a little bit of time before we make our final decision. The tiles for the bathroom are purchased and the living area is mostly cleared so those two areas can be started on right away.

In the evening Kevin and I went out for dinner at a restaurant not far from our house. In the last year we have become quite close with Will, the owner of Sugar for my Honey. He is always trying new things to bring customers into his restaurant. Last night he hosted a great musical event with live Trad music. The group, Nua, is a Canadian trio, featuring a guitarist, a bodhran player and a fiddle player. If music is food for the soul, this group filled the bill. The event sold out and the crowd loved the food and the music. Here is a video of one of their selections from their new CD, Flow.IMG_1524

Flow (click to open)

 

 

Just When I Thought I’d Heard it All Before

……my father throws another gem into the story that he’s retold at least a dozen times

Story #2 for The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge, which is to post a new story each day for one week.

“It was Love at First Sight!”

Everytime the family gets together with my 86 year old dad we are entertained with tales of my father’s childhood, war stories or how he met my mother. This Christmas was no different. In January my father will have been widowed from my mother for 20 years but as with many men, my father needed a woman in his life and he found love a second time.

Dad’s partner, G, is always present when he rallies us around for his stories but when he talks lovingly of our mother I always feel somewhat uncomfortable and can’t help but wonder what goes through her mind when Mom comes up in conversation.

This year, on Boxing Day, my middle sister, her family and I drove to the Schwa to celebrate the holiday with my father and G. Somewhere between dinner and dessert Dad started to reminisce about his life shortly after the war. The first new piece of information that I had never heard before was how my grandfather died. I knew that he had an accident on the job but I didn’t know the gruesome details.

After the war ended in Germany my father’s parents were allowed to stay in their family home which was now part of Poland. Most Germans were sent packing with whatever they could carry on their backs but Opa Winkler was asked to stay because he had a skill that was needed to rebuild the town. His job was working on the hydro lines and unfortunately the pole that he ascended one day was unstable and fell over while he was still on it. He spent three days in the hospital in a coma and eventually succumbed to his injuries.

The other part of this story that I didn’t know was that my grandmother and her two children were then forced to leave their home and were relocated in Bielefeld in West Germany. My father at the time was working on a farm  and had no idea that his father had died or that his family had moved. When he did learn of their fate almost two years had passed. This new piece of the puzzle filled a void in the bigger picture. I now understand why my father left the farm, a job that he loved, and moved to Bielefeld. It was, of course to help his mother and his siblings get back on their feet. Little did he know at the time that Oma Winkler had already found a man who was more than willing to assist her.

My father continued talking about how he moved on and found a great job with an English general as a house boy or personal assistant and eventually made his way to Frankfurt where he worked in an American hotel. It was here that my mother accidentally bumped into my father, looking for her sister who worked in the same place. My father claims he felt sorry for this young girl and initially just wanted to help her out but according to him “it was love at first sight” for my mother. Here was the man who would father her children.

I wish my mother were here to tell her version of this story. I’m sure that it’s mostly true but I have a feeling that there’s another side to this tale of romance.