When I go shopping I always escape to the gym without telling my grandmother, otherwise I'd have to deal with recriminations and resentment. Instead, she's gotten used to me taking an hour and a half to run the daily errands, of which half of this time goes towards my workout.
Today it was sunny, warm and bright day. I felt like enjoying my 45 minutes outdoors, but I still went into the gym to search for beauty and to see if I'd be inspired to workout, but I found neither.
I left the gym and grabbed a bike. Instead of my usual route along the Lachine Channel, I decided that I would pedal up Mt. Royal to Beaver Lake. It would be a good replacement for the gym, as the hills are steep providing a good workout, with my necessary dose of beauty because the views are pleasant.
The way up was intense. It was my first time biking there, so near Beaver Lake I took out my phone to improvise a circular route. I'd just have to turn right and then follow a dirt path which would zig zag down from the mountain back unto the roads. I flew down the dirt road and encountered a turn to the right, but the path looked too steep to be a bike path. I unzipped my backpack to get out my phone, but alas, it was not there!
Oh dear, I don't even have a passcode! "Well, this is Canada, I suppose the most likely scenario is that a good person will find it and try to contact me", I thought. It might not even be worth going back, and someone would have surely spotted it and picked it up. I was running late in my escapade, and I debated with myself if it was worth going back to search for it.
I did. When I got close to the place where I had last pulled out my phone, I heard my name being called out: "Are you Mark? We have your phone". An incredible surge of happiness and relief overcame me, "thank you so much, you made my day, you can't imagine how good I feel right now, perhaps I should lose my phone more often" and we shared smiles and gratefulness. "We were about to call the last person in you texted" they told me. I thanked them and said goodbye.
I sped down Mt Royal, running late. I heard my phone buzzing, they had deactivated the Do Not Disturb mode in which my phone is permanently set, otherwise my grandmother wants to know who is texting me. But I had no time to check the phone, I had to get back home quick.
When I parked my Bixi I pulled out the phone. They had not called but had already texted the last person in my messages, who happened to be a foot care lady who came in to do my grandmother's feet. She had called my grandmother to let her know I had lost my phone and some people had found it. Shit. I called my grandmother and told her I had my phone and I'd be back home soon. I did the shopping while thinking about what story to make up in order to conceal my escape.
When I came back my grandmother was furious "you complicate my life", she complained. "I want you to call the lady to thank her getting in touch", "I already did grandma"--"I said I want you to call her, from this phone". I know better than to contradict under such circumstances. The call got routed to voicemail and I left a message profusely thanking her for calling home, even though I was secretly loathing this fact.
"She told me they found the phone in Mt. Royal. Why was it there?" she asked. I confessed. The day was nice, I grabbed a bike and went all the way up and down. "Well, why didn't you tell me you were having a break?". I was about to tell her any time I ask for personal time I must argue 30 minutes before leaving and 30 minutes after coming back, and then several recriminations of "my breaks", but I muttered some lame excuse and scurried out of the room.
She was angry at me all morning. I was extra attentive. Eventually, she recriminated "why do you lie to me?", "I really have nothing to say in my defense grandma, I understand why you are angry, but the lesson is clear: I can't lie to you and get away with it". "That's exactly right" she answered, satisfied.
Is it cowardly of me to lie so blatantly? I don't care, I cope with my situation the best I can. I can't have an argument every time I go out, so I meet my needs the best way I can. I need a daily dose of exercise and beauty in order to take care of my grandmother. And I also need as much peace as I can have.
In caregiving this is called fibbing as opposed to lying. You avoid upsetting the person because they simply can't handle the truth. Any reasonable person would not only agree that taking 45 minutes of personal time per day is not only reasonable but insufficient. So you have to keep quiet in order to get your way. "John does as John wants, in his own quiet way", is what my grandmother said of my grandfather.
Tomorrow would have been my grandfather's 94th birthday. I barely knew him, but now I'm knowing him through his circumstance.