December 20, 2018
We were very fortunate to be chatting indoors at the Operation Friendship Senior's Society (OFSS) on this very wintry morning. Surveying the common area we catch sight of a woman playing solitaire a couple tables over. She graciously lets us interrupt her game, and we get to chatting.
We always try to start by asking people if there’s a moment in your life that’s really awesome or that made you really happy or that you were in awe of?
"Probably the birth of my son, I would guess."
And how old is he?
And is he in Edmonton?
"No, he’s in Dawson Creek and he has four children."
Do you see your son often?
"That’s one of my saddest parts, I haven’t seen him for 5 years. I’ve never met my grandchildren, and I’m planning on trying to open that door. Whether it will open or not, I don’t know. ‘Cause I was with some very violent men when he was little. I had him and at 4 years old I sent him back to his dad because the fellows were scary. The safety of my child was first and foremost. And my family rejected me. And yeah, I was quite rejected, by the community also, because women didn’t do that. But all I knew was that I had to get my son out of the mess that was happening and his dad was a good man. So that’s what I did."
How did that feel? That’s a heavy question, I know. But I don’t think many people our age know how it feels to be condemned by a group. You know, you’re usually accepted by the group because you live in a bubble. But as you grow up you start to make decisions that go against the group.
"Well, terrible. Horrendous. Especially about my son. But even prior to that I was the 'bad girl' in the town. There were a few of us. But my dad being the boss of all the men in town made it doubly as shameful. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty."
How did you get through that?
"You know, I can honestly say that I probably really didn’t. That’s why I ended up down here because all of that."
Do you think now you have a little bit of perspective?
"Oh yes. Much. This landed me in a — because I was always saved, eh. Whether it was by a friend or by a … somebody. Somebody. Somebody was always giving me money, so I always had a way out. This time I didn’t. But my brother did come, I was in hospital for a few days, and he rejected me. Now I’m left… and I’m scared, I’m really scared. You know I’ll be 70 and I’ll …"
What’s hopeful though, even a little, is that you have perspective and awareness.
"Oh well thank God for that!"
"There are a few senior places where there are seniors who are in trouble like myself. But I went there and there were all states of brokenness. Physically and … It made me ill so I had to get out of there."
So why do you keep coming back here [OFSS]?
"Because this is … it’s older people and it’s a safe haven."
Well, at least I’m glad you can come here and feel safe. And I think it’s important to cultivate those spaces.
"Oh absolutely. I feel very safe here. And I really need that now. I do a lot of journaling, and a lot of stuff has come out that has even surprised me. Well because I’m in a different space in my life now."
Are there any people that have been allies for you here?
"Oh yes, plenty. Well, this gal here *points to Giselle*, she’s at the Hope. And I met her a long time ago at WEAC, Women’s Emergency Accommodation. There’s been a couple. It’s comforting to have a little bit of something."
So how did you start reading cards?
"Well, there was a woman in north Edmonton and I befriended her. Her name was 'just Mary' — that’s what she called herself— and she lived in a big beautiful house. And somehow and I grasped it from there and I started reading."
So it’s tarot cards?
"No just ordinary playing cards."
Can you do it for us?
"Well… I really don’t [feel comfortable]. Sorry."
No don’t you talked about how the right energy has to be there!
"I’m all buggered up right now, I’m all over the map."
Can you explain the process?
"People choose cards and they represent different things and eventually, the personality comes out. And then eventually the person starts talking, and the cards correlate with what the person is saying."
So you must be able to read people really well?
"Well, they tell me that I am. I’m a channel I guess, they tell me. It’s what I’ve been told. I’m not saying that it always, always works. Some people never open up. They’re just shut and that’s it. If I’m not aware of my own — during reflexology or reiki or any of that — you can’t get any of your energy in there or you’re dead in the water. You can’t do it. Because you’re taking on the other person’s energy now, plus your own, and you’re dead. You have to put a — some put a white circle around themselves. There’s a bunch of methods, whatever works for them."
That’s such a good metaphor for life [and relationships], because you can’t give someone all of your energy, you need to have your own barriers. Or else you get lost.
"Oh absolutely. Even you girls interviewing people, you have to be aware. The word “closed” isn’t the word I’m looking for, but you can pick up other people’s energies and you can become very ill. So dealing with people you have to be very aware of your own stuff. And if something is cropping up you have to deal with it. Because inevitably you’re working with people, you’re going to get something. Something is going to trigger something else. So you have to be fully aware."
And I think that takes knowing yourself fully.
"Absolutely, you have to know is triggering for you and not push it aside. Because you can become very ill with all sorts of things."
Well, hopefully, you can get back to practicing soon. We really hope that for you.
"Oh thank you girls, I hope so too."