Deb and I just came back from visiting my mother, sister and brother-in-law in Calgary (and Radium, BC). It always surprises me how food is such a mine field with my family. Growing up I was placed on diets beginning at the age of 8 years old. I remember going to Weight Watchers meeting with my mother who lost the same 57 pounds over and over again. Food was cast into the realm of good and bad. You either deserved food or you did not. If you didn’t work hard and ‘earn’ it then you couldn’t eat it. But if you had done something particularly strenuous that day then you ‘deserved’ a little something extra. This attitude became completely entrenched in my family when my mother married her second husband. He managed his weight meticulously. He backpacked and cross-country skied several hundred kilometres per year. In fact, we spent many summers backpacking for weeks at a time walking well over 200 km with very heavy packs. He was very concerned about food and how much we ate (or didn’t as the case was). Despite his influence my mother remained overweight the entire time they were married.
Once he passed away from leukemia (which was a shock to all of us given his very healthy lifestyle) my mother ceased to have interest in food. Currently she is about 5 feet 9 inches and weighs about 130 pounds. For the first time in her life she is thin and she loves it. The other morning after I got up I was sitting with my mother and sister (who were smoking their faces off) and my mother starts talking about how she can eat anything she wants now. She said: “If I want ice cream, I have ice cream, if I want potato chips, I have potato chips and I don’t have to feel guilty about it.” My internal dialog was screaming about how silly this was and how food should not have this amount of power in our lives. But I know better than to get into this kind of a discussion with them. So I sat there biting my tongue and wishing it would just stop.
Later that day my mother insisted on watching The Biggest Loser – Australia because she enjoyed the ‘personalities’. I couldn’t stand it. It was so contrived. My mother likes this kind of thing because it makes her feel superior just like being around me makes her feel like she has won because I am fat and she is not. She was so excited that I had lost weight (about 50 pounds). The only reason I lost it was because I was so sick for so long but that does not matter to her. She keeps thinking that I am going to suddenly lose all the weight and morph into an entirely different person. I have news for her – it is not going to happen.
Usually these visits take a huge toll on my self-esteem. Not this time though. I look at my mother and sister (who are like one person as Deb says) and I know I am so different from them (I am adopted). I also know that I will never have her approval unless I weigh 125 pounds. I have long given up on this ever happening. Instead I do other things for her. I am her personal computer support department. On this last trip I picked out a new computer for her and set it up in Radium including installing all of her programs and configuring it just the way she likes it. Deb spent her time cooking and filling her freezer with easy to heat up meals so that she might eat. We are also a little concerned as she is having a lot of trouble breathing. Just plugging something in caused her to breathe audibly for 10 minutes. She complains of having no energy, being tired and generally feeling unwell. I am concerned that she is in the beginning stages of COPD. She has smoked for probably for 50 years and now she is likely smoking more than a pack a day. I hope that she sees a doctor soon about getting a physical and a chest x-ray. I doubt she will ever quit smoking.
Other lowlights from the trip: our flight into Calgary was horrible. There was much turbulence and the landing was very hard. Then we went to get our car from Budget and the call centre had messed up our reservation and we could not the same rate I had been quoted ($43 per day). Apparently, they were sold out but they would give us a car for $170 per day if we wanted. So the question was are they sold out or are they not?? I could not get anywhere with them. So we rented from Enterprise who had excellent customer service and gave us a car for $109 per day. We were very impressed with them. Our flight back to Abbotsford (I cannot say enough good stuff about the Abbotsford International Airport – we will never fly out of Vancouver again!!!) was ok with just a bit of turbulence. We were both completely exhausted by the time we got home and slept until noon the next day. Thankfully, the yearly trip is now over barring any family emergencies.