The Recovering Farmer

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Fear of the Unknown

What is it that scares us most? Something we know will happen? Something we think may happen? Or something that we have nightmares about? Something that in all likely hood will never happen? Often times that becomes the question. What happens that we lay awake at night feeling anxious? What is it that fills us with a sense of doom when we travel on the highway? What is it that when we are feeling happy about our circumstances we have this dread of something bad happening?

For example. Sitting here the day after the September equinox, no clue what that means, but thinking about what it might mean. What I do know is the weather is fantastic. Leaves are turning color. We know fall is in the air. What we don’t know is what is to follow. The Farmer’s Almanac calls for a worse than normal winter. Excuse me. Did we not have that last winter? Will it be worse? Can it be? How can I deal with that? I keep reassuring myself that our day to day forecast is inaccurate. How can someone tell us that the winter will be worse than ever?

But what happens? We plan on lots of snow. Should I get winter tires? It will be horrible. Do I need a snow blower? The questions fly and before you know it you have conjured up a vision of snow falling and blowing. The windows are opaque from the extreme cold. Or is that because of snow drifts? Not sure. How will I survive? Help. I can’t take this anymore.

Then I take a deep breath and look out my window and realize that I have grass to mow. Some weed eating that needs to be done. A tee time in a few hours. Where did that panic come from? It came from runaway thoughts. Thoughts out of control.

Last night, as I lay awake, as I have far too often lately, I was intrigued by some of the thoughts I was having. Thoughts of a conflict I was involved in thirty years ago. A conflict that came and went. In fact, if memory serves me right, it was dealt with at the time. Then I thought further to other events that happened during that time. I became upset. Those thoughts led to others. It did not take long and I was ready to confront someone.

Then I realized that these experiences have come and gone. Most of the stuff I was upset about had either been dealt with or actually never happened. Why was I now losing sleep over this? Does this mean I have underlying issues that I need to deal with? Do I need help? Do I need counselling? Oh my God. I am so screwed.

I stopped myself. I realized my thoughts were out of control. I tried to find my happy place. You know where that is. The golf course. Even that did not work. Not sure why.

Then I thought back to my last month. My one and only daughter got married. We went on a trip to the east coast. We came back to plan a Manitoba reception for our daughter and her husband. My mother died. Had a funeral. Back to planning a happy event. No wonder my mind is in overdrive. It is just trying to keep up to my hectic life.

So the choice is mine. I can bury my head and stew about all the bad things that are about to happen to me or think will happen to me. Or I can look out the window, enjoy what the day has to offer, and actually worry about the unknown when it happens. Who knows, it may not. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Forgive my minor little rant here. I am frustrated. Actually I am mad. Because I did not have many meetings planned for this week I have been able to take advantage of having to deal with my mother’s estate. That involves a lot of phone calls. Particularly government agencies. With OAS and CPP and GST and numerous other acronyms that basically stand for; “you pay in and get didly squat back”, you make the calls and hope everything works out.

Quite frankly pulling up to a Timmies drive through these days is almost as painful.

“Hello, my name is blah blah blah. Would you like a breakfast sandwich this morning?”

“I would like a medium black coffee please”

“Could I interest you in a cookie?”

“NO, if I wanted a cookie I would have ordered a cookie. I want an effing medium black coffee.”

So you dial a government agency. It takes approximately 13 minutes to get to the prompt you need. Please press 1 to talk English. Okay. Now you go through a menu of choices. HELP. I get impatient. Hit the wrong button. Start all over. Please give me a person to talk to. Then you finally do get through and wait a minute. . . what country am I talking to? Sorry. Go figure.

Get through to OAS and CPP. Kind, understanding people. Express their condolences. Really helpful in what I need to do. Then I made the mistake of calling GST. Like honestly. CRA includes OAS, CPP, and GST. Why is this complicated? Does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing? That was a rhetorical question.

After a conversation with them that was enough to push me over the edge I hung up on them. The demands, now that I think back, were rather humorous. They needed a copy of the will. EXCUSE ME. Why? You think you might be beneficiary? Not likely. And while you are at it how much money are you actually sending my mother? Gosh, must be close to $43.67 every 3 months. So what do you need?

My apologies. Just got carried away for abit. I hung up on them. Their choice. Keep sending the cheques. At some point they will probably realize that this person has passed on. Cheques are not being cashed. Perhaps it will involve an investigation. I wish them well. Then again it makes me wonder how many cheques are sent out regularly to dead people. Don’t get me going on that. I know. There are some people paid by government that . . . . oh, never mind.

Thank God the weather has turned for this week. Giving me the opportunity to go out and hit some golf balls. It is amazing what a walk does. Sun warming the back. Good company. Hitting the ball well. As one golf partner said the other day, golfing can be good for the soul. It can be. But it is important to let go of the cares of the world just for a while. Enjoy the sun. Enjoy the company. Because as sure as night follows day the snow will soon fly and then we will wish we had taken advantage of nicer weather. In the meantime I will put you on hold. Just for a minute. Hope you enjoy the music. For quicker service please press 12. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Rollercoaster

I came across a news article today about the world’s tallest rollercoaster catching fire and collapsing. I never have been a rollercoaster fan. If I want that adrenaline rush I just turn or nod my head really fast. Provides for the same uncomfortable feeling. In days of old I could get the same feeling from drinking too much.

However, I find my life being similar to a rollercoaster. Ups and downs. Never sure what is waiting around the corner or over the next hill. But that is life. Those are adaptations we need to make. But, and I don’t like using that word because I have been taught it is a verbal eraser, sometimes adapting is difficult.

Three weeks ago we were celebrating our daughter’s wedding out east. I can’t say enough of the fun we had. Getting together with friends and family. Meeting new people. Re-establishing relationships that have been building over the years as we got to re-acquaint ourselves with our son-in-law’s family and friends.

Then, as you know, we came back to my mother being in the hospital, not doing well. She did pass on. That took me from on top of the coaster to the bottom. Though not unexpected it still takes its toll and thrusts you into another world where nothing seems right. Everything is out of balance. So the funeral needs to be planned and a home cleaned up. A flurry of activity that leaves very little time for reflection. Perhaps that can come now.

As a side note. Although the rollercoaster hit bottom there were certain things that helped with keeping perspective. The support shown by many was incredible. Flowers when you least expected them. Phone calls just to show support. Emails from friends. People stepping forward to help. Quite frankly, renewed my faith in people.

Now that the smoke has settled on that we need to get back to planning a wedding social taking place in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to that although we know it will be a pile of work. Also knowing that if all goes well I will be back on top of the rollercoaster.

I suppose that is simply a commentary on life. We have our ups and downs. Occasionally the ups take us higher than we expected which is a good thing. Occasionally the lows take us lower than we would like to go. Lower than we feel comfortable. Unfortunately we are on a ride that does not always allow us to get on or off. We need to go with the flow.

And as is often the case life does not allow us the luxury of deciding on which ride we are on. I recall many years ago going on the ride called “Drop of Doom” at the West Edmonton Mall. Probably a story for another day. However the point is that once you are strapped in you are there for the ride. I survived that ride although as tightly as my body was clenched I discovered muscles I didn’t know I had. I survived. That is the lesson I am taking from the ride I am on now.

My wife just asked me what had happened to the nights that we could lie on the couch and watch TV. Those days will come again. It will be relaxing. But till we get there we are on the ride. We are strapped in. Nothing can stop us now. Hang on baby. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


The return from the east coast has been bittersweet, to say the least. We had a wonderful time attending our daughter’s wedding. However, while we were there my mother was admitted to the hospital. Not entirely unexpected. Her hope was that the wedding could happen without her spoiling the fun. She can rest assured knowing it happened. Friday I spent some time with her. I showed her pictures of the wedding. When we were done she asked to see them again. A mere four days later she is gone. Passed on.

It is difficult to sit and watch a parent die. There seems to be so little justice in the process. A myriad of thoughts raced around my head. I recalled various memories as I sat there. Ironically I have been eating a lot of toasted tomato sandwiches. It is that time of year. But I also recall swearing off of those a number of years ago. Whether in my school lunches or later in life when my mother delivered meals to the field when we were combining. She had this thing for tomato sandwiches. Not complaining but I suspect you can well imagine the consistency of a tomato sandwich when it is prepared in the morning, wrapped in wax paper and unwrapped four hours later. Does the word soggy mean anything to you?

Monday afternoon my wife took our kids to see grandma. It was an emotional time for all of them. After the visit they all came down for dinner. I cannot say enough of the support I have felt from my kids and their partners. It is awesome. My wife has been amazing as she has watched me jump from emotion to emotion. Thank God for her support.

I really think my grandson noticed that I was feeling some pain. As everyone was eating I took him outside. We wandered aimlessly in my backyard. He insisted on holding my hand. What a gentle, warm reprieve from all the other emotions crowding my mind.

I reflected on the two very different scenarios. On the one hand we have a life that has come to an end. A long life. Filled with ups and downs like everyone else. A journey that involved various challenges. A mixture of cultures, an attempt at mission work in Mexico, (I screwed that up for them as that is where I was born and because of health reasons they had to return), a move to another part of Manitoba to start a farm from scratch, supporting a husband who really was not into farming and changed careers in midlife, to a life without a husband. The whole gambit.

On the other hand I see new life in my grandson. There are times I wonder about what that life will involve. We live in a fast paced, ever changing world. Then again I suspect my grandparents will have had similar thoughts.

In the meantime, rest in peace mom. I know it was difficult for you to leave. You felt that your kids needed you. You have been a support. A cheer leader as our paths took different twists and turns. As my sister said so well last night, we will be okay. Rest easy and say hi to dad. Make it a good one.