Half a century…

me and my cake croppedFifty years old. I’d counted ahead years ago and knew it was going to happen in 2020 but that seemed so far away… sometime in the distant future. It was so unreal, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. To be honest, I never thought I’d make it this long. And here I am, halfway to a hundred.

Fifty doesn’t feel like what I thought it would feel. I don’t feel that old. My shoulders hurt occasionally but that’s it for pain. I love to go for hikes. And if my local mall ever offered a slide as an option instead of stairs I’d be first in line.

But little things trip me up. I can’t believe 1990 is 30 years ago. How did it get so far away so fast? And I’m finding techy things more and more confusing, which feels weird as someone who once worked in technical support. I don’t own a television and have no clue how to operate modern remote controls. I don’t even know what half the buttons are on my microwave.

My birthday was yesterday and I had my parents, sister, and nephews over for dinner. We had curry, pizza, and vegan cheesecake then opened presents. It was a lot of fun and so nice to have everyone over. My place might not be large but it’s welcoming and I think that’s more important.

The presents are put away, the couple of cake slices are in the fridge along with the last serving of curry, and the wrappings are down the chute. My celebration is done for another year. Now it’s time to get on with life and living. I’ve got another fifty years to work on!

Being the memory keeper…

My parents and I went to visit Colin today. We met in Elgin Park and ate A&W burgers at a picnic table under one of the shelters. While we were eating my Mom looked around and commented on how different it looked with everything tucked away. No food stands, no animals, no rides, no crowds.

Colin looked at her blankly and asked, “What do you mean?”

“Don’t you remember?” my Mom replied. “We used to come here to the fall festival with Daddy Harold.”

But Colin couldn’t remember, not even with me bringing up specific events. And that’s when it dawned on me. I thought I was making memories for them when they were growing up but instead I was making memories for me. They enjoyed the experiences but I’m the only one who remembers. They don’t remember being preschool aged and playing The Grand Old Duke of York in the backyard. They don’t remember putting the slide in the living room. I do.

In some ways I find it sad. I’d love for them to remember all the little things they’ve now forgotten but now they’re adults and will make memories of their own. And maybe someday they’ll want to go through the family albums and revisit the memories they once knew.

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The kids are in the green one

Happy birthday Colin!!!

Twenty-three years ago, in the middle of a thunderstorm, I gave birth to a chubby 9lbs 11oz baby who looked remarkably like Winston Churchill. I resisted a sudden urge to name him Winston (probably for the best) and named him Colin. Time went on, as it does, and he grew and continued to grow quite a bit beyond what I thought was necessary. He thought his height was great and proceeded to call me his “pocket sized Mom”.

When you get right down to it you go into the hospital and, after a lot of pushing and pain, you’re handed a baby. There’s all sorts of advice for what to do when they’re babies and toddlers and when they’re talking back in elementary school but a dearth of information on what happens once those babies are gone and moved out. I think today, going to Colin’s place, it really hit me that my children, the skippers on sidewalks and hunters of ladybugs, have well and truly left the nest and built homes of their owns. I’m so happy for them but I hope I’ll still have family dinners and visits for years to come.

Today was the first day visiting Colin at his new place, which is right out in the middle of nowhere, a very lovely nowhere by the way, I love what they did with the place. Colin was happy to see us and thoroughly enjoyed his lunch and his presents. As always, it was over too quickly but hopefully we can stay longer next time.

Colin opening present1

Colin opening one of his presents. I believe this one was pjs

Colin and my card

Colin reading the card from me

Dad, Colin, and Mom

Colin and my parents

Colin and I close

Colin and I

Call me Colin…

Colin and his pierced ear

Colin with his first pierced ear

Colin has a way of edging topics into conversations and this time was no different. I can’t remember what the original conversation was. Computers? Video games? Politics? But I do remember the rest.

“I really like the name Colin,” he mused. “I think I’m going to keep it no matter what gender I am. Even as a girl.”

I get the feeling that most people figure Colin just “got over” being trans like he’d get over a bad first date or a friendship that drifted apart. It’s not the same thing, it’s not something you just get over. It’s a part of him, like his eye colour or shoe size. Not something he can change.

Earlier, in another conversation, Colin started talking about stopping being transgender. I asked him if he still struggled with gender dysphoria. His response?

“Not anymore. I pushed it down as hard as I could and locked it away so now I don’t feel it anymore.”

I’m no expert but I don’t think that’s how it works. I have a feeling that someday that locked away dysphoria is simply going to explode and I don’t have a clue what to do about it.

He’s not male, no matter what pronouns he uses, and he’ll continue to not be male. All I can do is hope that he accepts it when it blows up in his face and can no longer be ignored. I’ll be there the best I can. The rest is up to him.

Good luck Colin, my hidden daughter. You are loved.

A covid conundrum…

Colin and Chinese foodI got a call from Colin’s case worker yesterday. The good news is he really, truly should be moving on April 30th. The bad news is they need his banking information. He can’t give them the banking information. He can read a bit but he can’t write and he doesn’t have any internet right now. His banking information is all online. That means he needs to come here.

I know the strict guidelines for covid-19. Stay home… stay safe. And allow no one inside your home except immediate family members, the ones you’re already living with. Having a special needs child makes that difficult, if not impossible.

Colin’s not supposed to be living on his own right now. I moved at the beginning of February and he was supposed to move within a couple of weeks after me. We gave notice to the building and booked the moving elevator. Then came covid and both were cancelled… then and again at the end of March. Colin’s supposed to be living in a group home with six hours of support a day. Not sitting by himself in an almost empty apartment. Everyone has been telling him to stay home. To only shop when necessary. He still goes to Dollarama and Metro every single day to window shop. He still asks me almost every day when we’re going to visit. Can he come over soon? We’d been living together before, he doesn’t understand why we can’t see each other now.

So he came over once for Chinese food and to download some videos to watch when he’s all alone. And I went over to make sure he was keeping up the apartment to the best of his abilities. Then we went grocery shopping together, with me stressing we had to stay 6ft apart. And now he’s coming tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to seeing him and sharing pizza tomorrow but I can’t help but worry that I’m putting him in danger (or he’s putting me in danger). It’s not like covid-19 has a neon sign. I’ve got soap and Lysol wipes so we’ll muddle through as best we can. Having a special needs child is hard and covid’s made it so much harder.

I don’t know when I’m going to see him again after this. He’ll be moving (fingers crossed) in a couple of weeks and will be at least one hour’s drive away. But he’ll have his own apartment and loads of support. It’s just getting him to that point.

What about the kids?

I wrote a blog post a year or so ago about The Transformed Wife, back when I thought she was a small time blogger like me and not a bigger blogger with a book under the same name and a very active Facebook page. She’s one of many Christian bloggers who feel they have God’s ear and a need to speak for him. Apparently that big Bible isn’t big enough. She’s a Mommy blogger as well, which means she’s also speaking for the children. What she feels is right for them… how children should behave (straight, cis, and obedient).

There’s one group that tends to be voiceless, especially under the weight of those fundamentalist Christian words, and that’s LGBTQIA children. Fundamentalist Christians are very big on marrying the opposite sex and raising yet more Christian children. Be fruitful and multiply. LGBTQIA children don’t fit into their plans. Fundamentalists tend to be rigid in their thinking so, instead of changing their thoughts they try to hammer the child in place.

Remember Leelah Alcorn? She was a transgender teenager being raised by fundamentalist parents who would not accept her for who she was. They did everything the Christian right said they should do. They got her into counselling to try and convince her she was both male and straight, blocked her from liberal influences (especially any that affirmed her as trans), and banned her from seeing her supportive friends. And she died right after Christmas several years ago… walked in front of a transport truck because she couldn’t handle being seen as male anymore and didn’t think she’d ever be seen as female.

Fundamentalists think being LGBTQIA is wrong… flawed… demonic. They take great pains to claim they love us but they don’t. Their so called love is tainted with hatred. I watch it in the States, where people who claim to be deeply religious trod on the rights of the LGBTQ community regularly (especially the trans community). They forget the little eyes watching them, presuming their innocence must mean they’re straight and cis. All the children learn what they’ve been taught. The LGBTQ children learn they’re wrong, flawed, demonic, and hated. Do the fundamentalists know they’re teaching their children this lesson? Do they care? I know they love their kids, the straight ones at least. But that’s one hell of a lesson.

Love is more important, and stronger, than hatred. Love is what’s important. You love the child you have, not the one you assume you should have. And you care for that child, doing your best to raise them with their spirit and soul intact. They aren’t toys to be discarded curbside when they no longer fit your narrative. And they aren’t clay to be moulded into your ideal shape. Love your children, accept your children, for who they are. And, Lori Alexander, if you’re reading this, be the mother your children needs… not the one you think your audience wants.

Colin on a spring walk

Colin when he was using zie/zir pronouns

What a difference a few weeks makes…

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My self isolation selfie

A few weeks ago I went back to the mall in Oshawa and met with two of my immunocompromised friends and my son. We did a bit of shopping, stopped off at the food court (mmm Good Karma’s chana masala) and bought our bus tickets and passes. Then we made plans to get together for karaoke yesterday and at the mall again on the 31st. You know, the usual stuff.

Meanwhile my parents were on a bus tour in the southern States and had been for a couple of weeks. They got to see such scenery as the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon and weren’t due back until the 10th. We figured we’d see each other the weekend after they got home.

Then everything escalated. My parents are in quarantine. My Dad’s being tested for covid 19. He’s 76 years old. Karaoke switched to Facebook Karaoke because it’s not worth the risk. The mall is pretty much closed. I’m not sure if I even need to buy a bus pass because where am I going to go? And it’s so hard to believe I was hanging out with friends a mere double handful of days ago.

But it’s worth it. It’s worth only going out for essentials if it helps keep our seniors and immunocompromised friends safe. It’s worth washing our hands dry (skin cream is a life saver) if it helps slow the spread of the virus. Remember, we need to slow the rate of infection down enough to give medical professionals time and space to do their jobs. All we need to do is look at Italy to see what an unchecked rate of infection looks like. Basically no beds and no ventilators.

I wish I could see into the future and see when this is over so I could reassure my family and friends but I don’t have that gift. I do know it will come to an end. All pandemics do. We just need to ride out the storm and hope the ones we love stay safe.

As for me, I’m going to sit and sip a mug of hot chocolate in my swing chair before making lunch. Mmm homemade soup.

All of you, please stay safe!

Everything’s coming up roses…

First we had my apartment. It was being built so I couldn’t see it, I had to move in sight unseen. Then they gave me a Walmart gift card with a surprising amount of money on it and a brand new double bed and bedding set. The only hard part was that Colin didn’t have a place yet… and now he does.

I was talking to his case manager today and Colin can’t see the apartment because they have a construction crew in there fixing it up. He’s going to have a full apartment; living room, dining room, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. It will definitely be bigger than mine. Plus he gets six hours of assistance a day. Help with dishes, cleaning up, laundry etc. They’ll be taking him out for excursions too. He can only bring a certain amount of belongings with him but that’s mainly because they are buying him all the furniture he needs… his choice. The paint in his room and his bedding are also his choice.

Colin can be extremely hard to live with (and conversely can be a delight). Just because I didn’t want to live with him anymore doesn’t mean I want him on the street or some scuzzy room. So I am absolutely amazed and delighted by this turn of events. I am so very happy for him.

Tomorrow I’m meeting up with family and friends to repaint the bedroom walls that I painted four or five years ago. And I’m going to collect everything I forgot. Brain fog and short term memory problems are a blast. Colin has laundry and cleaning up to do. Then I’ll be back there on Thursday to meet with his case manager and discuss the upcoming move.

Thanks to my anxiety, I won’t feel 100% settled until he’s in his own place. But for now I want to sing from the rooftops that Colin has an apartment!

new-apartment

I don’t have a picture of Colin’s apartment so here’s the scrapbooking layout I made for mine.

Colin’s good news…

Colin called me yesterday to say he’d been offered a room in an assisted living facility, which is great but doesn’t leave much space for his stuff. Then he called me back to tell me it actually was a one bedroom basement apartment, still in assisted living.

Today he called and sent me a Facebook message to say where he’s moving. I won’t say the location, just that it’s north-ish of Toronto, but he’s happy. Apparently he’s getting the whole basement so his apartment is going to be huge.

I hope this is a positive step for him, a place to sort himself out, and a place he can learn without me. He tends not to listen to me anymore, he already has all the answers and knows everything. Having other people around who don’t know me or our family should give him a new perspective.

I wish I had more to say, more information to share, but that’s all I’ve got. I’m sure we’ll all have new information soon… we just need to wait (and I’m not good at waiting). In the meantime I’m so glad Colin’s found a place!!!

Eight years later…

Colin posing

Colin posing on one of our walks after the move

It will be eight years in May that Colin and I moved to Oshawa to live in my dream apartment. Two bedrooms, two balconies, and a tonne of storage space… including our own walk in pantry and a storage locker downstairs.

The library and community centre were just a short distance away plus we were surrounded by shopping. Three grocery stores, several drug stores, and enough fast food restaurants to make our livers cry. And then there was the gym and pool downstairs. Talk about bliss to be able to just head downstairs and swim.

I’d picked the apartment for one important reason, there was enough room for both Colin and I. I honestly didn’t think Colin would be able to live on his own. I made sure he was learning life skills like grocery shopping and, later on, paying bills and rent, but I figured this was it. Our final stop. Colin would remain safe with me.

What I didn’t count on is Colin. We just aren’t compatible for living together. I like quiet and order. I find and display a wide assortment of pretty things that I like. My cutlery is from Pier One and is made to look like bronze branches. None of my dishes match, I simply pick out my favourites. Colin, on the other hand, finds my style boring. He loves clutter and computer parts everywhere. He decorates with the computers he’s repaired. They all work and he uses them for various tasks. Clutter makes me uncomfortable and anxious. Plus Colin’s pretty thoughtless. He’ll wake me up at 1am (like last night) to tell me about something, usually men’s rights, and keep waking me each time I fall asleep. After 10 or more minutes I’m awake and he’s done talking. No apology, just an “oh well” before he goes back to his computer game.

I just can’t do it. I love him dearly but I can’t live with him. I’m hoping the move will do him some good, that he’ll find a place and respect it. Meanwhile I’ve got a place of my very own… for the first time. Which is exciting, terrifying, and nerve wracking all rolled into one. I’ve never lived on my own before. I’ve always had parents, a spouse, or kids.

Just one more week and my move should nearly be over. It’s twelve thirty now and I’ve got the 20200129_105252_hdr-01moving elevators booked at 9am in our current place and 11am in my new place.

One thing I’m panicking about is packing. I keep thinking I’m doing well but my eyes skip over stuff because that’s where they go. Except they can’t stay there… and there are so many little things to sort. It’s only a week but will we need medical supplies before then. Is it safe to pack the bandaids? I don’t want to pack too quickly but I also don’t want to be frantically packing at 7am next week.

My new apartment (and building) look good. They aren’t what I planned but they’re still nice. It will be wonderful to have a place of my own that’s clean and safe.

But as I watch Colin’s belongings either get packed or turfed, the bare bones of our apartment show themselves again and I remember my blind optimism that this was going to be my very last home. And then I get back to packing again.