Thursday, July 23, 2009

Go West Young Woman

Which could be sub-titled "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly".

Sunday be the day we pack up the family and head out. West, that is. I'm not so sure about swimming pools and movie stars but rumour has it that my brother is the proud owner of a new hot tub. Which is always a good thing, me thinks.

We are flying out to Manitoba to visit my brother for a few days, driving down to Osh Kosh for the world's best air show (or so I am told), back to my brother's for a day, then onwards to my hometown in Saskatchewan. Which, you could say, we will have fun, fun, fun until we get there. Because that is where we will bury my Mom's ashes next to Dad. Then back to my brother's for a bit before we return home. Two weeks in all, give or take a day or two.

Hence the subtitle.

So I'm really looking forward to some parts of it. And others, not so much.

Although I'm valiantly attempting to convince myself that this 'second funeral', so to speak, will be a good thing in that this one will be much less formal and will give us more of an opportunity to do some things we might have wanted to do the first time but didn't couldn't.

Like give any among us who might be so moved a chance to get up and speak, for example. Which both the Kit Kat and the Blue Jay plan to do. As does their mother. Still, not exactly something I'm looking forward to, if you know what I mean.

But a vacation (of sorts) is still a vacation, I suppose. No small feat these days. Especially for the family who never strays too far from home.

So wish us luck. Send us good vibes. And most importantly, keep us in your thoughts and prayers, please.

Oh yeah, don't forget to come back in a few weeks. Well, come back before then if you like. You never know when or where I may just drop a post. But we'll be back home the second week in August. Hope to see you here then.

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Beauty of the Games

The beauty of the Special Olympics isn't found in the ceremony and pageantry. It's not in the visiting dignitaries or those waiting to be introduced on the main stage. It's not even in the medals (purty as they are).

No, the beauty of the Games lies in the fact that it's the one place in this world of so-called "normal" that these youths and adults not only get to just be themselves but are celebrated for being themselves. Where, for once, they are not trying to 'fit in' to what everyone else thinks is acceptable, appropriate behaviour. It's the one time a year when they are celebrated for who they are. And celebrate they do.

I will never forget the first time I attended the Games, three years ago. The one thing that struck me so much on that occasion was how every single athlete was roundly cheered through to the finish. How that very last swimmer, who could still be a very long way behind after his fellow athletes had finished the heat, was still cheered just as heartily on to victory as was the first-place finisher. Cheered on to his victory.

And yet it's not just the athletes who flourish in such an environment. Rereading one of my favourite books this past weekend, I came across what struck me as the perfect words to describe why the Special Olympics are so vital, not just for the athletes but also for their families.

In the chapter aptly-titled "Acceptance", Barbara Gillis writes:
We all need people who see us as good and competent parents and who do not blame us for wrong is 'wrong' and difficult about our child. We all need places to go where people look past the fact that our child doesn't talk or doesn't respond to our directions. We need people who admire his physical beauty and his curiosity, or who recognize how clever he is in his mischief. We all need to go where our family is accepted as it is, and delight is taken in us and each of our children. And we all need people who show us the way, leading us by their example to the confidence or pride we have been struggling for. An ounce of this love can offset a pound of criticism and hostility. In its presence we open up like a day lily to the sun. If it isn't there, we have to find it...

The day lily survives the night, closing its bloom, protecting itself until morning, when it again shows its fullness to the sun. We can protect ourselves and exist in the places where people deny our child and us the sun of acceptance, approval or praise. But we and our child must have our sun. We must have people who shine on us and places where we can relax, open and grow.
This past weekend the Blue Jay and our family basked in the warmth of the sun. There are no better words to describe it.

Cross-posted on A Primer on Special Needs and The Law

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Off To The Games

We're off to Special Olymnpic Summer Games this weekend. And hope to make a big splash. So wish the Blue Jay luck, please.

And, in the meantime, I leave you this.

To keep both your spirits and your energy up.
Sheesh, I should have half as much of either.

Maybe I need more water?

H/T to Kris for the video link

Monday, July 13, 2009

No Dogma, No Doctrine, Just Faith

Which is what I am sorely in need of at the moment.

At first I thought that perhaps I had been so focused on rejecting anything even remotely resembling dogma or doctrine in my life for so long that I had cast aside faith at the same time. But then I realized that wasn't quite so. That irregardless of dogma or doctrine, I have no faith. None.

That wasn't always so. As a pre-teen, likely into my early teen years, I had a very strong faith. A very strong belief in and love of God; a deep, sure knowledge of what He wanted from me and an absolute desire to live my life that way. And, in return, I knew the final result. I knew that He promised would come to pass. Wasn't life simple then?

But that was before I drifted away from the Witnesses. Away from the Witnesses, but towards nothing else, I guess.

Yes, I believe in God. Yes, I believe that He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die for our sins. Yes, I believe the Bible is God's word. The problem is that it all seems to end there. That although I do, honestly, *believe* all that, it seems to have no connection to my life. That what I know with certainly in my "head" does not resonate in my "heart".

Okay, it may not be quite that simple, not quite that cut and dried, but it's close enough for the purposes of this post.

As a child, I was taught that "Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for". And yet, over the course of the last several years, I have come to believe that hope is bad for the soul.

Born out of the Blue Jay's health issues, I learned that when you actually begin to hope for something, you truly begin to believe that it might just be true. And then, when you find out otherwise, it's devastating. But if you have no hope, if you expect nothing, anything good that comes your way is gravy. A blessing. Something to be treasured and appreciated. All up the up, none of the down.

When Mom was so sick in the hospital last year, I struggled with the concept of "hope". Or, more accurately, with the idea that there could be some form of good, some form of hope, to be found in the situation. That there was even any point, any value, in looking for any.

I recall reading one of the books the palliative care team provided me, entitled "Finding Hope" and mulling over a blog post on the subject. The book that promised to help me find and nurture hope in my life came up short.

But to cut to the chase (a little too late for that, I suppose), the bottom line is that I have no faith that I will ever see my Mom again. It's not just that I don't believe I will ever see her again. It's that I believe I will never see her again.

And that ... that just hurts. Indescribably so.

In a few weeks, we will take a trip out West to visit my brother, do some traveling and then, finally, bury my Mom's ashes next to Dad. And as that time draws closer, I am left with a renewed sense of overwhelming longing and loss.

This, my friends, is not closure. It's agony, pure and simple.

It's life without hope faith.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Quintessentially Canadian

I had been following this story in the newspaper over the last few days but never bothered to go find the YouTube video until a friend emailed the link.

Now having viewed the vid, I have no choice but to blog it. Not because I particularly like the song (it's a little too country for me) but because it's so quintessentially Canadian.

Some people, they say, get mad.

And some, they say, get even.

But Canadians, well, we'll get even eventually. In a round-about sneaky nice kind of way. When and how you least suspect it.

Just ask United ... $3,000 later. After all, doing the right thing and repairing the guitar in the first place would have only cost them $1,200.

But all is not lost for United. Apparently, the video is now going to be one of their training tools. According to Rob Bradford, managing director of customer solutions at United, “It could be used to improve the way passengers are treated around the world”. You think?

One Taylor guitar ... $3,500

Repairs for said guitar ... $1,200

Amount of United's donation to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz ... $3,000

Publicity generated for Dave Caroll's band (after over 2,000,000 hits on YouTube) and the sight of United's mad scramble to save it's public face ... Priceless!

Ooh La La

Why is it that every time the kids go away for a few days ... I feel like I'm on an instant vacation?

No matter how busy my week might be, no worries about what I might actually need to get done while they're away. Forget the fact that my own vacation isn't until the end of the month.

It's instant vacation. Vacation-in-a-bottle, like.

And now? Now, I'm heading off for a nap.

Just because. I. Can.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

An Open Letter to Mr. Harper

Dear Mr. Harper,

Please find below my suggestion for fixing Canada's economy. Instead of giving billions of dollars to banks and car companies, that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan:

There are about 20 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Twenty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.

2) They MUST buy a new Canadian CAR. Twenty million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed.

4) They must send their kids to school / college /university - Crime rate fixed

5) Buy $50 of alcohol / tobacco / petrol a week... there's your money back in duty / tax etc

It can't get any easier than that!

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances.

H/T to Kathleen

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tinged With Sadness

I AM Canadian.

And Proud of it.

And yet, today, that pride is tinged with sadness.

A few days ago, musing that I could not believe it would soon be July 1st, I suddenly got a clear, vivid image of Canada Day last year. And it hit me like a kick in the gut.

Every year since we have lived in this house (16 years) we have spent Canada Day with the kids at the park. To enjoy the festivities. While they ran and played (and later hung out) with their friends, munching on hot dogs and free cake, while they enjoyed the soap slide, I would stretch my picnic blanket out on the side of hill and revel in the sun, while reading a book and enjoying the music.

Every Canada Day except for last year's, that is.

My brother and his wife happened to be down for a visit. And as it turned out, it was three days before Mom was admitted to the hospital. For the last time.

I didn't know that was to be then of course but I do know that I was not in the mood to go to the park. HWWLTBO and the girls went, as usual. My sister-in-law went to. But I just couldn't get up the ambition. Despite the fact that, unlike today, it was a beautiful sunny day. I wrote a Canada Day post and messed around on the computer for a while.

I kept saying I would go. A little later. Eventually my brother sat down at the computer and tried (key word, tried) once again to teach me to fly on the simulator. So the two of us stayed home with Mom.

I remember that Mom was laying down and my brother and I were on the computer, when there was a knock on the door. A close friend had recommended a friend of hers (actually her ex-husband's ex-wife, but why get technical?) as a possible respite-provider for Mom and I had asked her to drop by.

I took her into the bedroom to meet Mom, who was laying down at the time. When Mom opened her eyes, I introduced them. She smiled sweetly, said "So nice to meet you" and promptly closed her eyes. Gone again.

I was very taken with Marg though. Stood at the door and chatted with her for quite a while, getting a real sense of who she was. And how she seemed made for this type of work. Turned out I was right, we had her stay with Mom a few different times in the hospital when we were away for a weekend and she was truly a gem.

But thinking back on last year Canada's Day, I feel a deep blanket of sadness settle over me. I put on my "Canada Eh!" T-shirt this morning and I know I should, I know I will try to go to the park this year. And try to forget last year.

Try to forget that in a few days will be the anniversary of Mom leaving our home for the last time. Try to forget how sad that makes me and how truly I sorry I am that I couldn't keep her home any longer. Because even though I know I couldn't, I still feel bad about it. For her and for me.

Some would say that life goes on. Indeed it does. And on and on and on. So Happy Canada, eh.