Posts Tagged ‘San Mateo’

Milepost 43

November 30, 2013

222px-Mile_Marker_43.svg

I am not sure what I am marking, or is it just a milepost in my life?  I don’t see it as an anniversary or a celebration or anything like that; it’s simply the month I was diagnosed with RA 43 years ago.  I don’t remember the particular date, though I know it was before Thanksgiving.

We had come back from Australia in September of 1970 and found jobs as well as a place to live in about a week or so.  I was working in a nice department store in San Mateo and our apartment was in Redwood City.  As I think back to that time, it almost is as if I had read it in a book or someone told me about it.  43 years is a long time ago and a lot has happened over the years.

I am still not sure what triggered RA – was it bouncing down the concrete stairs on my butt holding an upright vacuum cleaner?  Was it lifting up the wardrobe truck to check for water damage?  Or something else I haven’t associated as a contributing factor?  Then again, it could have been my body trying to throw off the stress of Australia once I was back in my home country.  I have often wondered through the years what happened, but is that relevant now?

Then I began to see myself as a victim, an innocent bystander sideswiped by RA.  But  I now know I am not a victim even though I have spent a lot of years with a victim mentality.  It’s the “Why me?” question.  Did I do something in another lifetime and this is payback?  If so, I hope I had one hell of a good time in that other life.  Or the “What did I do to deserve this?” question.

I’ve thought about it at different times and come up with other possibilities – a preparation for the next life; this is my soul contract; there is a reason and purpose for it; this is my purpose in life; I chose to experience it in this lifetime.  I am sure there are many possibilities; what I have learned after a bit was not the “Why?”, it is the “How?” that is important.

The “How?” is the how do I deal with it?  At the time, I didn’t know I had a choice; I could go get treatment and see what I could do to help myself, or dig a hole and bury myself and not do anything.  Looks as though not knowing I had a choice was a good thing.  I think of all those times I just wanted to curl up in a ball (or as much of a ball as I physically could) and bury myself in the covers.  Then the times when I felt good I was able to do things and have a good time.

When we moved to Connecticut, I became involved with the Connecticut chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.  I started out in a support group, but found it was too “me” centered.  Yes, if I was having a difficult time, it was good to whinge and get it all out.  But I get depressed with constant whingeing, so when I was asked to be a Self Help instructor, I said yes in a shot.  Later I asked to become the Speaker’s Bureau Coordinator.  I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

I will admit both scared me a lot – I always found being up in front of people an agony.  What I learned from both of those was to be comfortable talking in front of people.  Now everything I do tends to be more personal – I can do technical but it’s not comfortable for me.  I put personal things, stories, humor as well as facts into what I do.  If time is limited, I will jettison my stories to be sure I present the important information.  I had a card with the things I needed to cover, so I made sure I followed that.  I will admit I never had a time limit, I just talked until I was finished.  Plus I always told them, any time you have a question, just let me know.

The biggest bonus was feeling I was finding something positive in RA – people would thank me for helping them, saying it made a difference to hear from someone who has it, sometimes it was helping them know and understand “it wasn’t all in their head”.   This from many older women, especially in the class.  There are all the times when I helped someone and I didn’t know it.  I often think each of helps a lot of other people without confirmation.

I loved to hear how wonderful I am, but I was also concerned.  I figured as long as I kept a balance of “feeling I was hot stuff up front” and “do I look stupid standing up here walking back and forth and waving my arms?”, then I would not get a swelled head.  Now there are people in my life who would tell me there is no danger of me getting a swelled head.  A subject for another time.

Ye Gods and Little Fishes!  I am at the end and I am so surprised.  I saw pictures in my mind as I was writing this, a bit of going down memory lane.  Interesting to think about it at this point and seeing it with a different perspective.

P.S.  You have no idea how long it took to find that photo of a mile marker 43.  I wasn’t about to let technology win this time!

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English Muffins and Orange Marmalade

September 8, 2013

We bought english muffins the other day when Eddie grilled big mushrooms for dinner and we ate them like hamburgers.  Then we had some with toasted cheese with our soup and yesterday morning I had the last one for breakfast.  You may be wondering why I am writing a post about them – here’s the reason.

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English muffin and orange marmalade always makes me think of Eddie when I first met him and my Aunt and Uncle who introduced me to him.  I had been invited down for a 2 week holiday by them between finishing my second year of commercial art school and before I went to work for Boeing.  I can see their kitchen in my mind now and every morning for breakfast they would have coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice along with english muffin and orange marmalade – but not just any kind.  The muffins were always Thomas’ muffins and the marmalade was King Kelly.   I was never able to find it when I lived in the Eastern half of the country, I had to take some with me from my visits here or my California trips.

It was a special time in my life, I had fun with my Aunt and went with her as she was helping out with wedding plans for the young people in her life.  She had two sins and then kind of adopted Elle from Ireland and Bill – not sure where.  Eddie was good friends with my cousin Rob, the younger son who was also going to San Mateo Junior College.  When I arrived for my holiday, Eddie was an established part of the family.

Eddie and my Aunt met at the Red Cross doing the Charleston – Eddie was part of the Foreign Student Club and the Red Cross helped them a lot.  My Aunt was a volunteer – not sure how the Charleston came into it.  My aunt took Eddie under her wing and since he would look for room and board with a family in exchange for help around the house, she found him a place with her neighbor in back.  My Uncle also helped him a lot, plus he was invited to parties and family gatherings.

During my holiday I stayed in Bill’s old room, over the garage.  I can see that in mind as well.  I had visited  them with my family 2 or 3 times when I was growing up, but this trip was different, it was just me.  I had a project from my Dad, to copy my grandmother’s diary since my aunt wouldn’t let it out of the house even to be copied.  I also went with her on her errands and visiting, I enjoyed the drive through Hillsborough and looking at all the fancy houses.

I met Eddie about 2 days after I arrived – he came one evening to talk to my Uncle and before he went upstairs, he sat in the living room with my aunt and me.  I felt such an idiot, so when he came back downstairs and asked me out for ice cream, my jar hit the floor, I was so surprised.  So we went out quite a few times, even went to Sacramento for his class there.  I remember going to the Immigration office – he had to spend a lot of time there and had gotten to know a lot of people who worked there.  He not only went for his own stuff, but also to help new foreign students when they arrived.  Even so, there was still a lot of bureaucratic balderdash.

I remember driving around Hillsborough and the back way to San Mateo with him on our dates.  When I went by the golf course surrounded by huge eucalyptus trees, I thought about taking Max the dog out for a walk with my aunt to the course.  There were eucalyptus trees all over the place, something we don’t have in Washington.  My aunt had a lemon tree in her back yard, she always had fresh lemons.  Something else we don’t have here.

On the side of the house she had a lovely patio with a huge tree to shade it.  We would often have lunch outside there or I would just go sit and relax there.  I read the books she had and it was an enjoyable holiday.  So much so, I stayed an extra week, mostly because of Eddie.  He asked me out for most nights – it was painful for him because he would shave a second time that day and I am sure it must have burned every time after a while.  I didn’t realize that until quite awhile later.

When we came back from Australia, we lived in the Bay Area for 3 years and it continued to feel special to me because every where I went, there was a place Eddie took me or we drove by or something we would do.  We also made a lot of new memories as a married couple and also everywhere we went to live.  The memories here of my Mom and Dad, my two sisters and the wonderful times we shared all through the years.  I also would do English muffins and marmalade quite often and it would take me back to ay aunt’s kitchen in 1968.

Now you know why I wrote about English muffins and orange marmalade – it still gives me those wonderful memories of a time that truly changed my life.


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