All my life, for as long as I can remember, I have had an attitude. Sometimes a good one, sometimes a horrible one.
My most startling memories of my attitudes are in connection to those awful things called jobs. I have never ever as long as I worked, had a job I liked. At least not one where I worked for someone else. Since I also ran my own business for 15 years – my attitude towards that was grand – as long as the general public was behaving themselves, not making unreasonable demands or acting like jerks.
My first business, which I did for 6 years, was as a psychic. My business card said psychic consultant. I read the Tarot, cast horoscopes and gave classes and groups. I used my psychic ability and even had to admit that to my parents. My mother was a Bible thumper. I don’t mean that as negative as it sounds, but she did read the Bible every day and always moaned about how “If it wasn’t for God …….” fill in the blanks. Mom actually liked the fact that I was psychic. It was so surprising to me that I often had to laugh when both her and Dad would say “I think I’m psychic too.” Of course they were. We all are. Some of us just let it happen, the rest of us don’t. And I wouldn’t have used my ability if it weren’t for God.
I read so many people during that 6 years. I had at least 30 readings a week, sometimes more. I got awfully tired. Not physically, but mentally tired – to the point where even my hair hurt. I took ginseng tea with me to groups because there I would be reading as many as 17 people a night. My classes had at least 25 people in them and I gave each one a mini-reading.
For years before trotting out my psychic consultant cards, I studied the occult. I read everything. I practiced numerology and became quite obsessed with numbers. I still am. My house had to add up to the number 11 before I would buy it. It does. I live at number 83. My name while I was reading also had to have the right soul number and personality number. I was born with a 22 life path. I followed what 22s follow. I married another power number, a 33. Christ was a 33. Luckily I didn’t marry Christ, but lord he was long-suffering. 😊😊😊😊😊
I started homeschooling my son when he entered 7th grade because the school was full of other people’s children. I did not like them. I went to vote at that school and little 11-year-old girls were using the F-word. Out loud. In the hallway. I got my kid the hell out of that school. Sure, he heard the F word – but he didn’t use it. If I’d used it in front of my mother when I was in my 40s – she would have smacked the heck out of me. That’s as it should be.
When I started the homeschool, I had no free time for anything else. I was also a working and selling artist – with I guess you could say my third business. So I quit reading …….. I was tired by that time and it was time to move on. I found that most people didn’t want to take any actions to improve their lives – they just wanted me to tell them everything would be fine.
So I taught and I put my art together. I made art quilts, participated in shows, sold my work, went through excruciating juried art processes for it and also I was published. I appeared in several books and magazines and I enjoyed it. After we moved to PEI I found a gallery that sold all my work. I would just do it – take it into her and she would sell it. Piece of cake.
I also collected used and out of print books and rare books. Also antique quilts and vintage fabrics as well as anything that took my fancy. My husband loved antiques and art and we spent a lot of time and lots and lots of money hanging around antique shows, flea markets and antique shops. Golly I loved that. But my quilt and fabric and button collection got so big I had to start selling it. So there went the number 2 business which I did for 9 years. Concomitantly I sold my books – bought and sold – bought and sold. I bought complete libraries when I lived in the Maritimes. I would travel to New Brunswick and find books and bring them home. I attended every auction and bought all the books. They were always worth something. I loved that part of my business the most. Who doesn’t love old leather books????????? I wish I had never sold one of them – and I also wish I hadn’t sold my huge collection of African-American quilts. Sigh.
Then my attitude changed. I didn’t like living on PEI. I felt claustrophobic and the place wasn’t welcoming at all. I wanted to come home and we did. At first, that very first year back in America, everything went well. And then my husband started to get sick. I knew that something wasn’t right with him mentally. He was quick to anger – and although he’d never been a person without a temper – this was extreme. And he forgot things or he’d do something silly – I’d send him to get the oil changed and he’d go to the wrong place and have it done even though we had an appointment somewhere else. Little things.
Finally we had a diagnosis of vascular dementia in 2011. Then we had a trip to the neurologist 6 months later. It wasn’t vascular dementia. We were told it was Parkinson’s. When he didn’t respond well to the medication, we were sent to another neurologist who diagnosed Cortical Basal Degeneration. Disgusting disease. His brain was shrinking and the space in his skull was being filled with fluid. He lost the ability to talk first and of course he had dementia already. He couldn’t form the words he wanted to use and then eventually he just couldn’t talk at all. He couldn’t walk without a limp and then he couldn’t stay upright without a walker. He didn’t want to use his walker. He lost everything that a normal person does. Even eating became a problem.
Eventually, in 2013 he had to go live in a nursing home. It was such a relief for me but it was awful for him. I felt bad, but if I’d had him at home one more day I would have had to leave. It was that bad. It was him or me at that point. They don’t tell you – our lovely medical profession – that when someone becomes chronically disabled you are still going to have to take care of them all by yourself with absolutely no help from the time you wake up until you go to sleep. And they don’t tell you that the person you’re taking care of may never sleep.
My attitude suffered then. I was pissed. Pissed that I had to take care of him with no help from any agency, medical professional, etc. Mad that I had to quit work, try to find out how to feed us and pay the bills and get by when I couldn’t work with no help from anywhere. I was pissed that I was an unpaid full-time caregiver who didn’t have a minute to herself. I was pissed.
He died almost a year ago. He finally gave up. At that point I was visiting him around every 4 or 5 days. I couldn’t go every other day because I couldn’t stand seeing him sitting in a wheelchair, drooling on himself and hardly recognizing me. He died 5 minutes before I got to the nursing home that morning. The hospice worker was with him. I sat with him for an hour after he died. I talked to the doctor and the nurse that took care of him and the staff people at the nursing home. Then I left. I haven’t been back to get his things. At first I couldn’t. And now I won’t.
For 6 months I couldn’t do anything but knit socks. So I knit socks. And my son cooked supper because I could care. I watched TV, knit socks and rarely went anywhere. I was in shock. I knew he was dying – I just didn’t know what it would feel like when he did. It didn’t feel good.
Then, all of a sudden, around May or June, I started to get interested in things. I decided I wanted to make quilts again. It was such a huge part of my life for so long but who can be creative in the midst of constant health and financial worries? I couldn’t. So in June I started to think about things I wanted to do.
Our son is an artist and lives with me. He encouraged me to take up quilting again. Using his favorite words “That would be neat.” He let me know he would help with anything I needed for the process – the dyes, the fabric, anything. He bought me yarn when I had no money. I made him socks and he was happy. We started to live like a family again, not two people permanently in fear that the third person would die on us.
I started knitting sweaters, not socks. I made three in a few months. I have plans (and yarn) for more. I have sock yarn.
I bought 25 yards of fabric prepared for dyeing. I got out my fiber reactive dyes, read about techniques and got busy. If you search my tags for fiber art, you’ll see them all. Or almost all – some I’ve just done aren’t up yet.
I dye every couple of weeks and I cut and sew in between. If I see that I need different colors, I take a break and go dye them. I bought 10 more yards of prepared for dyeing cotton. I need more. 😜
My mother, who was proud of me for being a psychic and helping people – people who were lost, dead, people who needed finding …….. was most proud of me because I was a quilter. She loved seeing me in print and she received a flyer in the mail one day about the new book I was in. My picture was on the flyer advertising the book. She called me – on day rates!!!!! You would have to know Mom to understand how extraordinary that was! She was the original miser. Not ever having anything, and only having worked outside the home just a little, money was something she didn’t spend. She went without. I was her child and she made sure I had all the most wonderful clothes when I was growing up. She made them. I had the most beautiful, extraordinary outfits. I loved all my clothes. If she couldn’t make something – during the one time she was working full-time – she gave me her credit card and sent me shopping for school clothes – telling me to get what I needed. This was the woman who had to make a skirt out of her mother’s tablecloth because she was getting her picture taken. She did that.
My attitude now is one of complete wonder. I am in awe of the life I have today. I came through the worst 7 years of my life and now I have my life back. I am me again. I do have responsibilities – I now own my house all by myself. I have to keep it fixed, pay for it, do the maintenance. I don’t have to work though. With just the two of us, we do fine on what we have. We can live with it. It feels good.
Our 37th wedding anniversary is in 6 days. It will be the first one I have spent without my husband. We had an interesting marriage. It wasn’t always good, but it lasted. We fought like cats and dogs – him being the dog who would sit and stare and me being the cat who would claw and hiss 😒. But we lasted.
I don’t even wonder what the next year will bring. I know what it will bring. Me, being the artist I am, doing the work I do …… looking for places to sell my work and participating once again in life. That is my attitude.