Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, SoCS

#SoCS, Engraved

I am finally going to be one of the first to get my #SoCS post out there this week.

A few weeks ago, I could not think of something to write – not one thing, with that week’s prompt not inspiring enough ideas for me.

Then, last week, the prompt gave me too many possible choices and I chose to do none of them.

Well, with this week’s prompt I am back and ready to share a little stream of consciousness with you.

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS SATURDAY

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On my sixteenth birthday, my oma gave me a big bar of my favourite chocolate and something in a little triangular box.

“This belonged to my parents,” she told me, as I lifted the lid, revealing an old ring inside.

She always wore them, several rings on her fingers.

“This one,” she informed me, as I touched the band on her finger, “Opa bought for me. I give you this one when I die,” she would say to me, as matter-of-factly as she often could be, but I chose not to think of a time when my beloved Czech grandmother may not be there, rings and all.

I kept the little triangular box with me, not letting it out of it’s home like I did with my other rings.

I often wonder about where my ring has been, what life it lived, long before I took possession of it.

I would sometimes think it is a part of my life, but really I am, for a little while, a part of its’.

I don’t know much about my great-grandparents. I don’t know where the ring has been or what it may have seen during it’s early years.

How had it survived – traveled all those years and miles, from Europe to Canada and from them, to their daughter, to me?

I can not read the engraving on the ring, but I believe (if memory serves me) it is dated 1919 and will soon be 100 years old.

I haven’t been able to wear it often, as it was a little bit too big for my small fingers. I still don’t like to wear it, for fear that it could slip off and be lost forever to me.

I have lost precious things and precious people in my life, never got a chance to meet my great-grandparents, but I won’t lose this symbol of their love.

Okay, so although I do not know their story like I wish I did, I like to imagine things about them and their love for one another.

I keep the ring, securely in its box, hidden under my underwear in a drawer, away from the inquisitive hands of my nephew. He likes to play in my room, looking at my jewelry, specifically putting my many rings on his fingers. This one ring he can not, he must not find, as he is too young now, not able to understand the history and the memory wrapped up in that little ring.

“Tweasure,” my nephew cries, whenever he spots anything even resembling a treasure box. He thinks my mom has one at her place, but in it, to his disappointment, he finds only boring slips of paper and other things.

He has found an old tin chest I have to remember my oma by.

He likes to open it up, like a “door,” he says.

I always remember that same chest sitting on my oma’s dresser, in what once was the bedroom my dad’s two older brothers shared, where I slept any night I stayed with her.

It had a metal rose with a magnet on the bottom stuck on the lid and was often locked with a tiny lock. I was dying of curiosity, but the only treasure inside it was a bunch of pennies and other coins. It was still my favourite thing in that entire room.

Treasures are relative things, subjective to each and every one of us.

I will treasure the ring I received on turning sixteen and I will hold onto the memories and the history before my time, if those who are gone I can no longer have with me.

Those people and their stories and lives will, forever, be engraved on my heart.

1919-2019 – Time will go on, but nothing will ever change that.

***

Linda speaks of treasures here:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/07/10/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-1115/

Every day is to be treasured, I say, as I plan my next post:

https://summat2thinkon.wordpress.com/ten-things-of-thankful/

Thanks to Stream of Consciousness Saturday and Ten Things of Thankful, I love weekends again.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday

Discrimination Happens

First week of February: my birthday month and the month I transformed my writing into something more.

Around here, we are receiving a lot of snow right now, last night especially, and this reminded me of those days when a snow day off of school was a big deal.

Ah, the good old days.

🙂

It’s also Groundhog Day today and I think they are at odds with one another and I am too. Can’t seem to agree on how much more snow is to come.

It’s not like I don’t have a sense of humour, but I don’t really pay much attention to the idea, joke or not, of a rodent telling us when winter will officially end.

I suppose they may know something I don’t, being out there in that environment on a daily basis, but I ride out the cold and the snow because I live in Canada and I’ve accepted it. I even like it.

Last week I took a break from my usual Memoir Monday posts. My last one, from two weeks ago now was:

A Day For Dreams.

Now, here is today’s question.

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Q: Have you experienced discrimination because of disabilities?

A: A lot of times, as I have discussed in previous posts, the discrimination I feel isn’t something outright. It is more of a subtle undercurrent to be felt.

It isn’t appropriate to be directly discriminatory and such behaviours would be generally frowned upon by the rest of society.

However, I have come up against some instances and some people, for whatever reason, that stood out to me, to this day.

First, there were some of the battles and the people my parents went up against to get me into school as a child. This, they met with an expected amount of resistance, but I was too young and unable to witness this, or at least I remember none of it.

Second, there was the time my grandmother took my brother and me out for lunch in our town.

I had a guide dog then. We walked all the way through a restaurant full of customers, sitting at their tables, just to be told that the dog couldn’t be there.

This was a Chinese buffet restaurant. Perhaps there were cultural differences and misunderstandings. I understand. I can be sympathetic.

However, it felt like a humiliation at the time, being told, very quietly I must add, that we could stay but the dog had to go outside.

I did not fight this and neither did my grandmother. She wasn’t really much of a fighter. We ended up all leaving, rather than simply putting my service animal out in the car.

Third, well there was the time a ride operator at an amusement park didn’t want to let my brother and I go on his ride. It wasn’t even one that went up-side-down. I think we got on, but it was another awkward situation.

Fourth, like the Chinese restaurant, there was one more occasion where a pizza parlour did not want my guide dog in and wanted us to tie her up outside.

This time we went home and contacted the head office of the establishment and demanded an apology.

I know not everyone will understand the purpose and the distinction between pet and service animal. There are cultural differences, like the many doctors of Asian or Middle Eastern descent who have walked into my exam room, only to notice the dog there and to be noticeably uncomfortable. This is something I’ve encountered, but they still examined me. I promised my dog wouldn’t attack them and they did their jobs and checked me over and that was that.

🙂

Fifth, there was the recent incident where I wanted to try walking around the outside of the CN Tower in Toronto, only to read on their website that people with visual impairments were on the list of those they did not permit.

This time I wasn’t about to let go and I kept on them, going through the young female operator, her manager, and finally the Operations Manager to plead my case.

I let them know that I could handle it and that I wasn’t about to let it go. I stayed firm and I got through to them. It ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.

And finally, I am working on writing a blog post about the recent experiences we’ve had with descriptive audio services at a local movie theatre. I don’t like to make a scene or a stink and cry “Discrimination” without cause and before I look properly into a situation.

I am learning, as I get older, that I have to stand up for myself and make noise if I want to be heard. If I feel discriminated against, in any way big or small, I need to say something instead of just staying my usual timid, quiet, shy self.

I know most people are good and kind and don’t mean to be discriminatory, but it happens and I want to be prepared and confident enough in myself, for any occasions when it may happen yet again.

These are only a few of the examples I can relay, that I have experienced, as someone born with a visual disability.

***

Next week, for the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

I answer the opposite of today’s question:

Have you experienced preferential treatment because of disabilities?

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Memoir Monday, Special Occasions

The Ties That Bind

When I was a child my grandmother and her younger sister sounded so much alike that I was often confused when they were both nearby. I just couldn’t believe or accept that they weren’t really twins. Their voices sounded so similar and I was sure of it. As I grew I was able to distinguish the subtle nuances that made them separate women, yet still extremely close.

It’s been almost ten years since my grandma died. I used to spend a lot of time with her and other family from her generation. Recently I had the urge to once again spend some time with those who tie me to her and who knew her best. I haven’t seen my two great aunts and my great uncle since my grandfather passed away, since the funeral that cold February day four years ago. There was just no situation in which we had the opportunity to cross paths, but one day I found myself wishing to see them and speak to them once more.

I have reminders of my grandma and grandpa all around me. I have my mother and my uncles, all of whom share their parent’s characteristics in one way or another. I even notice my grandma in myself. I noticed it for the first time a few years ago. One day I heard myself clearing my throat and there she was again, inside of me. However, there’s just something I don’t get from any of this and that is the feelings from my grandparents’ generation. It’s in everything: from how they speak, the sounds of their voices, to the words they say. I realized these people won’t be around forever, just like my grandparents before them and family is what links to the past in a one-of-a-kind way.

My grandma’s only sister was one of the closest people in the world to her and their brother’s wife was a sister just as dear to them as if she had been connected through blood. The three of them spent so much time together and with my grandpa and great uncle too. They loved to get together, to play cards, and to visit and talk for hours. I realized when each of my grandparents died that these three were losing precious family and dear friends all at the same time and that their loss was so much bigger than mine in so many ways.

Now all these years later, on seeing them again, it is as if no time has passed. They asked if I still remembered them and I hugged all three and felt close to my grandparents once more. My great uncle sounded, for the most part, just as he had the last time we spoke. My grandma’s sister always did sound so similar. Once I grew older I was able to recognize the slightly lower pitch. I didn’t know if others could spot it, but I always knew them apart, as my grandma’s voice had a slightly higher lilt to it. As I think about it now, I wonder if I thought today my great aunt sounded more like my grandma, simply because her voice has changed slightly with age or is it only that I have begun to forget, with time, what exactly it was my grandma really sounded like?

A sign of the times – apparent in the photo albums my grandmother’s sister brought with them as nowadays we live in an all-digital photo world on our computers and smart phones. I could not see these old pictures that the rest of them gathered to look through; I instead listened hard to every word my sister read of the poem someone had written for my great-grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was a snapshot into the world I hadn’t yet been born into, but of which I would come into and be connected to always.

Time has passed and the three of them are all in their eighties and slowing down, but I smiled as I witnessed my great aunts talking together about all the people they know and of whom my grandparents once knew. My great uncle may not be related by blood, but his way of speaking and his boisterous chuckle was closer than I’ve been to my grandpa since we lost him.

As I stood and talked with my great aunts, my grandma’s sister asked me what I thought my grandma would have thought about things as they are now. I often wonder what she would think about my house and the life I now live. Since recent events I miss her all the more. I know she would have known the absolute right thing to say, the perfect words to make it all better and the right outlook to have on love and loss, with my grandpa’s jolly jokes and sense of humour there to make me smile.

I don’t think anyone knew how much today meant to me, to spend even a few hours with the three people that knew my wonderful grandparents best. I know how nothing lasts forever and how the ones apart of our families and our past won’t always be here. I needed to take the opportunities I still have while I still can, before the past is unreachable and the ones tying me to my childhood and my history are no longer here. I didn’t want to keep thinking about it and talking about it and never making it happen, regret being all I’m left with. On this Memoir Monday I don’t underestimate the value of family, those who came before me, and the connections to the girl I used to be and the woman I am today.

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