" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

July 31, 2009

Polar opposite lives like"A trip to the zoo"

Last night I had dinner with someone who I don't get to see often enough here. She considers our lives to be polar opposites. "Talking to you is like a trip to the zoo" she says, and I know she means that in the nicest possible way but I had to laugh at her ability to find the most interesting use of such an expression.

She grew up in a family of four children where her father was absent and so from a very early age she had to take on a lot of responsibility and that has never stopped in spite of the fact that at heart she is very much someone who needs a lot of space (which she almost never gets) and likes a lot of alone time.

She makes her living at something creative and even when she was off on assignments in Paris or Italy, her family always accompanied her. Those of you who know me know that as the youngest in a family of older people, I have almost never been responsible for anyone but me and I've always really liked it like that.

Ironic was the word of the evening. I've been finding it ironic lately that I've spent the first half of my life wondering why I couldn't have what everyone else takes for granted: husband, children, relationship that works. I often wished, especially in my 30s when life because of my choices was throwing me some pretty heavy duty stuff, that it would all fall into place.

And, now, at a time when so many people who had that are questioning what they've got as their children begin to leave home, I am revelling in my freedom, the freedom I've always had and recognizing that freedom is actually much more a construct of the mind than a physical reality and being with someone who may no longer fit is so much worse than being on one's own.

We clinked glasses last night to acknowledge that last night was the first time in 23years that she has been alone for any extended period of time because her two teen-aged children and her husband are away visiting family. Talk about trip to the zoo. It's a two-way street. I can't even comprehend that. Just thinking about it makes me claustrophobic.

So, now at this time in her life when she is excited to be looking into the immediate future and finally beginning to create some boundaries around her own time and space in a way that she has never done, I am about to embark on a journey that will demand less "me" time and more responsibility for someone else's well being.

It has come out of the blue. It certainly isn't something I would ever envisioned me choosing to do but when I met this woman, I instantly felt that there was something she had to teach me. I felt that doing this would be a very spiritual experience in much the same way that my volunteering at the cardiac wards at St. Paul's in Vancouver was.

I am going to be a companion for an elderly woman four week-nights per week beginning at 9pm and staying in her home overnight and making her breakfast until her main careprovider comes at 8:30 am. She has had a few strokes and although her mind is completely there, her speech and ability to speak has been affected and she pretty much has around the clock care. In exchange, I will have a small suite free of charge to live in.

I'm nervous. I've got trepidation. But, I'm also excited about this. My sense is that until the past couple of years, her life has been rich, diverse and she has been a little powerhouse, fiercely independent, well read and lively. There was just something about the way her sparkly blue eyes examined me during our meeting that made me feel some sort of instant connection to her.

I start Monday night. My friend says I really need to keep a journal or at least write down some thoughts - not on this blog - about the experience. Maybe it will be my very own Tuesdays with Morrie.

Happy Weekend.

1 comment:

Ben Anderson said...

Tuesdays with Morrie - a great read. All the best on your new adventure - keep the journey alive.