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Donna Thomson

Making Friends With Solitude: Learning to Like Being Alone as a Caregiver

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Making Friends With Solitude
I used to hate being alone. I remember as a teenager, aching for the phone to ring, rifling through my closet for something 'cool' to wear, wandering the halls of my university residence listening for signs of music and laughter. I was restless and bored being by myself.

But not anymore. My searching spirit was quieted by years of solitude caring for my children. Nicholas is 25 now and Natalie is 22, but for many of their growing up years, I was with Nick in the hospital or I was home waiting for the next crisis. This forced confinement prompted me to name my book "The Four Walls of My Freedom" because although I was within the four walls of my caregiving duties, I learned to be happy without the company of others. Once I succumbed to my destiny, I began to look carefully at my garden, my home, my children, my husband and I looked very, very carefully. Suddenly I saw that contained within the ordinary is the whole world and all the emotions in it. I reflected on the meaning of peeling a potato, of planting a spring bulb, of bathing my children and of folding warm sheets.

So now, I am sitting at my grandparents' family cottage on our lake in the Quebec Laurentian mountains. I gaze at the portrait of my Nana - her knowing eyes look proud and comfortable. She made peace with solitude and caregiving too. Her son, my father, had three strokes and died young. Many of her brothers and sisters perished as children in the harsh farming life of Northern Scotland. When, as a honours student, she was offered a scholarship to attend senior high school in the nearby town of Wick, her parents said "No. You must stay home and look after your younger brothers and sisters. You must do your chores here." Like me, my Nana made peace with her destiny. She was a happy and strong person - a true survivor.


I delight in the company of others, but I savor being alone too. Not everyone is able learn how to make friends with solitude, but caregivers often are. Aren't we lucky!

THE FOUR WALLS OF MY FREEDOM: LESSONS I'VE LEARNED FROM A LIFE OF CAREGIVING by Donna Thomson (The House of Anansi Press, 2014) is available in Canada and will be released in the USA on August 12.

Updated 07-15-2014 at 04:55 PM by Mike Weins (tweaked spam filter and fixed reference in blog)

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Comments

  1. Donna Thomson's Avatar
    Sorry guys, the photos wouldn't load and I don't know why it blocked out the name of my home mountain range. Strange!
  2. funnylegs4's Avatar
    Again a lovely post Donna. I deeply value friendship but am happy alone sometimes. If your daughter is 22 you should change your sig since it says she is 21, not 22. hmm the mountain block is weird, maybe it is a safety feature?? Like something to prevent people from saying their exact location? I don't know.
  3. Moderator #7's Avatar
    Dear Donna,

    I did a little searching and think you are referring to the L-a-u-r-e-n-t-i-a-n mountains?

    If so, I think the word "L-a-u-r-e-n-t" is part of the spam catchers list of words that cause part of the name to be blocked (****) off. I think this one is blocking the name of a famous designer.

    If that's it, just drop a note to Mike and if it's not, drop a note to Mike, also .
  4. Donna Thomson's Avatar
    HaHa, yes Mike, those are the mountains, funny to be connected to a designer! But I'm so glad that you are on the lookout for those annoying spammers. And yes, I must change my signature now! Natalie turned 22 last January! :)
  5. Donna Thomson's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Donna Thomson
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    HaHa, yes Mike, those are the mountains, funny to be connected to a designer! But I'm so glad that you are on the lookout for those annoying spammers. And yes, I must change my signature now! Natalie turned 22 last January! :)
    Oops sorry, Mod #7, I thought you were Mike. Just read 'recent visitors' and saw that you are, indeed, NOT Mike!
  6. Mike Weins's Avatar
    I deleted Lauren from the filters and re-entered Laurentian into the blog :) Not sure why the photos aren't showing up.


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