On Thursday, January 31 of 1957, the Canadian Parliament proclaimed Canadian Thanksgiving "A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed - to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October".
For most people today, Thanksgiving has little or no religious association or connotation, but despite everything that has happened this year, I would like to thank God...
(Sappy post alert...)
1. For my husband. I know that 'finding your soulmate' is not something you can plan. There is no formula that guarantees you will find 'that person' who will make you happy for the rest of your life - so I can't give myself any credit for Brian. We found each other through no effort of our own, and I am so lucky that I have a man who loves me unconditionally, cooks and cleans for me, adores our daughter and is a perfectly hands-on Dad to her. When I am with him, I truly feel like I'm with my best friend, and I can't imagine life without him.
2. My daughter(s). As a 'motherless' child, I envied my friends' relationships with their Moms and always wondered what it would be like to have a mother who loved you, taught you how to cook and do your hair, and took you shopping. I promised myself that someday I would have a daughter and that I would BE her mother... and now I have that chance - twice!
3. My family. I wish I could have kept my Dad longer, but I am thankful for the 27 years I did have with him, and for the incredible Dad he was despite having had no 'mother' to help him raise me. I'm thankful for my Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles who did step in to help, and ended up being more like parents and siblings to me anyway, and for my Mom who married Dad when I was 8 and put up with me when it took me almost a decade to really accept her place as truly my 'Mom'. For my 'little' brother, who I met when he was 4 and I was 8, and although we are very different and may never be close - I have so many great memories of having a sibling for at least part of my childhood.
4. My church. We found our church family about 5 years ago, and I have never felt so at home and among family anywhere else. Our church experienced vandalism in the form of a building fire this summer, and we are in the process of going forward and will be a bit 'uprooted' for awhile - but I'm so excited and encouraged by how this family has and will hold together to get through this.
5. My home. I'm thankful I live in a (mostly) safe country, with freedoms to speak and believe what I want to - with no fear of being jailed or worse for voicing my views. I'm thankful that I have a house to live in, and that we have jobs that pay our bills. I'm thankful that all of our issues and struggles can really be summed up as 'first world problems', and that our lives really are easy in comparison to many.
I could probably go on and on, but I'll stop there. I missed my friends - sorry guys - you fit into both the 'Family' and 'Church' categories... and I'm so thankful for all of you also!
We celebrated 'Thanksgiving' this weekend by eating a few traditional 'Turkey Dinners', and I don't remember anyone saying a word about actually being Thankful for anything... sometimes the 'point' of these things get missed in all of the shuffle - it didn't really cross my mind until today. My prayer is that I don't forget to take these opportunities to teach my children about more than just gorging themselves on yummy turkey and pie!
Do you have any Thanksgiving (or any holiday) traditions that are about more than just food? Food is great, of course, but are there ways to make these things more meaningful for ourselves?
Happy (Late) Thanksgiving, Canada!
My Dad died on Monday morning. I wrote this to read at his Memorial Service on Friday evening. I am relieved that his suffering is over, but I hate that the end of his suffering required the end of his life. My life will never be the same without him - he is gone, and a big part of me is missing.
In June of 2005, my Dad was diagnosed with Cancer. His response to his family was this: “I’m so glad it’s me – and not you.”
As the oldest of four, he often played that protective ‘big brother’ role. His siblings might tell you that he wasn’t always gentle – like the time when he hit his 6 year old sister Roxanne over the head with a shovel on her birthday. And he was certainly not always patient …. And I’m quite sure there was a stretch of time when he and his brother Rick couldn’t be in the same room together without Rox being quite sure one was going to kill the other.
But despite any of that, he was always ready to gladly accept the most difficult challenges that life threw at him – even if he knew he might not survive them – knowing that he would rather experience them himself than watch someone he loved in pain.
My Dad was my hero. I’ve said that to a lot of people over the years, and I think I forgot to ever say it to him. I was born at a time in Dad’s life when becoming a father was not in his immediate plans, and yet if he was ever afraid of becoming a father, or if he ever had regrets, never for a second did I know about it. He chose to be a single Dad, and he stepped up to parenthood – which I’ve learned can be one of the most challenging and thankless experiences – like he stepped up to everything in life – with the determination to excel. He always encouraged me in everything I did to put every ounce of effort into being the best. He taught me how to read when I was four years old. He taught me how to play the guitar when I was ten. When I was fourteen, I worked alongside him in his woodshop and he taught me how to build a hurdy gurdy among other things.
Dad worked at the Saskatchewan Abilities Council for 26 years, but his real passion was carpentry. I remember the summer he spent building a house for a friend – he came home every day sweaty, tired, and so darkly tanned you would never guess he was white – yet I don’t remember ever seeing him as happy as he was that summer. He loved creating, and he loved stepping back and admiring what he had created. He built and repaired musical instruments, and had plans for creating more. I believe a harpsichord was on his to do list – and if you know what that is, you'll know he had ambition.
One of my Dad's greatest traits was his humility. Despite what he had accomplished, he was never arrogant. He was ready to learn from others' experiences, and sought out those who had skills he hadn't yet mastered so he could learn from them. Dad was also always ready to laugh at himself. He had a number of... eccentricities... and was often doing or saying funny little things that were very distinctly 'Randy'. Like when he got our car stuck in the parkade, or when he walked into a hardware store and demanded to know where they kept the hardware, or when our order at a restaurant was taking too long and he went next door to the grocery store and bought chocolate milk -bringing it back into the restaurant to serve his impatient children. He also had a very distinct aversion to going 'in' the 'in' door, or 'out' the 'out' door. But he laughed at himself even more than the rest of us did, and despite how much he embarrassed me when I was a teenager, it sure made our lives more interesting.
My Dad constantly challenged me to learn more about everything, and to get better at everything. He taught me that I could never control how another person acted in a given situation, but that I was still responsible for how I acted so I could make no excuses. I am who I am because of who he was, and who he taught me to be – in that way, at least, he will never be gone.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything...
Lately I feel as though I'm spinning in a vortex of anxiousness - and much of it isn't my own. In the past few days I have spent upwards of 3 hours each day talking on the phone, and at least another hour a day texting various family members. I'm exhausted.
In many ways we have lost my Dad, but he is still living and breathing among us. He still requires care and companionship and 'stuff'. His brain is almost entirely gone, however, due to massive blood pressure that could be cured by nothing short of a miracle from God. No doctor has suggested a cure, because they know there isn't one. Some members of my family, however, are convinced that there must be a solution - the doctors are simply not looking far enough or trying hard enough. These same family members also seem convinced that we - as immediate family - are therefore not doing enough to push the issue with doctors and medical staff.
This is causing an unbelievable amount of stress on the immediate family - some of whom have spent a great deal of energy trying to make everyone happy - as well as an irrational amount of stress and anxiety on themselves. It's time for me to step back and breathe.
I have a husband, a daughter, a house to keep, friends who's support and love I truly need at this juncture, a job... I also need to be a daughter, and a granddaughter and a niece, but these things must come second to my roles in my immediate family - which includes my husband, daughter and unborn child. My Dad may remain as he is now for many years into the future, and I can not allow my children to suffer for this. My Dad would be completely offended to know that I had allowed this situation to harm my family - and it's time that I make the conscious decision to not let that happen.
I love my Dad. I will always love my Dad. My Dad has been my hero, and for many years of my life I felt as though he was all I had in the world. None of this changes. But when his life ends - and it will, eventually - my life will (God willing) continue.
I believe in a loving God who is in control of this and every other situation. I may not understand His methods, but I understand that it is not my efforts, or doctors, keeping my Dad alive right now. It is only God. And only by the Grace of God will my Dad be healed if God so chooses, and I believe it would be the Grace of God that would eventually take my Dad home. I am not in control.
One particular family member - someone who has always seemed so strong to me, spiritually upright and faithful - has suddenly begun to let bitterness and anger rule in her life. She has become mean and condescending, and is allowing herself to believe that she is the only one who feels pain in this situation. She is letting the enemy into her thoughts and her mind, and allowing it to take control. I have found myself hurt and confused by this. When I so desperately need her help and support, I am feeling the need to take on the role of helping her as well as my Dad.
We all need so much prayer.
I am quitting for tonight. No more phone calling, and no more texting. I will retire to my basement and sit in front of the TV and allow my brain to turn off.
I need a rest.
I feel drained today, and I'm struggling to really put my finger on 'why'.
Brian and I had a beautiful day together - his parents took Celia for a few hours this afternoon while we went out for supper together using a gift card that some friends had given us a couple of weeks back.
It may simply be because of everything that is going on in our lives right now...
We have been dealing with the process of getting my Dad into a care home in my city, which can be a somewhat frustrating process, and we have no idea yet what to expect.
I think I had posted awhile back that my Grandfather was expected to pass away any day - he did - on Friday morning at about 11:30, and I got a call from my Aunt about fifteen minutes later. This is my maternal (by birth) Grandpa, and despite how little I really knew him, I found myself seriously mourning him in the hours that followed this phone call. For those of you who know my story, these Grandparents refused to lose contact with me despite my parents' divorce, and in effect they 'adopted' my Dad as one of their children and when he remarried 8 years later, they treated my step-mom and step-brother as though they were just as much a part of their family as I was. I am so indebted to them for this - they are the reason I was able to remain in contact with my birth family, and I'm so grateful for their graciousness towards my Dad.
I am apprehensive about the funeral, however, because in the past few years my relationship with this family has faltered. My Grandparents moved to a city quite a distance from my own, and with five total sets of Grandparents to 'juggle', we were simply not able to see them very often. I do feel a lot of guilt for this, because I feel as though I have fallen into the ridiculous 'suburban busyness' that drives me crazy. I firmly believe that no one 'doesn't have the time' - they choose not to have time, because their choices make them too busy. This is a more difficult concept to deal with when my finger is pointing back at myself. I HAD time, I just chose to do other things with it.
Anyway, on Monday I will drive nearly 4 hours alone to go to his funeral. My husband isn't able to take the time off work, and considering the long drive and having no one to watch Celia - it doesn't make much sense for me to bring her along. This is difficult for me also, because no one in the family has met her, but I suppose a funeral is not an appropriate place to 'show her off'.
This week, Growing up Geeky and Love, Lattes and Lullabies are hosting Toddle Along Tuesday with 'A Day in the Life'. I find this theme to be quite daunting - and I'm nervous to admit what I do (or don't do) on a given day.
A typical day for us starts at about 8am (my husband has flexible work hours, so he lets his alarm go off until he feels like getting out of bed...), which is about the time Celia wakes up and starts talking to us through her bedroom door. Brian grabs a bottle of milk for her, and brings both Celia and bottle to lie next to me in bed while she drinks. I love this almost-cuddle time, but it often ends up being more of a wrestling time, since Celia seems unable to stay still while doing anything.
Celia then rolls herself off the bed (with a little help) and I reluctantly follow. Then I typically forget to change her diaper and settle her in to her booster-chair to have some breakfast - usually oatmeal, cream of wheat, waffles, or pancakes.
Then it's playtime with her toys.
I'm hoping to change her schedule a bit, but recently, Celia has taken her long nap from about 10 or 11am for about two to three hours. For this reason, I rarely tackle leaving the house in the morning, so I have to admit that we don't get out much. During her nap, I spend some time online, do some house cleaning and since being pregnant I often have a nap myself.
After Celia wakes up, it's lunchtime, and then playtime while I clean-up.
Then, we don't have much time until one of Celia's babysitters comes to watch her while I teach piano. I have three different pre-teenage girls (two of whom trade me babysitting for piano lessons) who watch Celia in her bedroom or downstairs while I am teaching.
Then when Daddy gets home, it's supper time (which I've hopefully prepared before I began teaching), and then playtime with Daddy while I continue teaching.
Every two or three days, Celia has a bath before bed (she's started really disliking them, so we don't push it). Then at about 7:30 or 8, it's time for another bottle of milk, followed by tooth brushing. Then storytime, prayer and bedtime.
If I have energy after that, I do a bit more house cleaning and read a book or watch TV with Brian. Then I have a bath, and go to bed!
I'd like to say we go out more, but I don't have a vehicle while Brian's at work, and the weather here has been a bit too cold to go outside even still. I can't wait until it warms up!
Does it ever feel like 'bad' things in life pile up? Sometimes they seem to all gang up on you and hit you at once...
Two nights ago, I received a call from an Aunt about one of my Grandpa's. I knew he was dealing with cancer, but evidently he has become much worse and they are expecting him to die any day now.
Last night, while I was teaching piano, suddenly my husband runs up the stairs and asks 'How long have we not had hot water?'. I said I hadn't been aware we were without hot water. It turns out, he had just been downstairs to see the basement flooding with water from the water heater, and he was wondering how long it had been pouring out. The plumber showed up and said we needed a new water heater, and it would cost him $1400 plus tax to do it. We don't have $1400. We don't even have $400 right now, so we will be without hot water until we can find a cheaper alternative or can come up with $1400.
While we were waiting for the plumber last night, Brian got a call about his Grandpa saying that he had just received news of a potentially life-threatening health concern. Nothing confirmed in this regard, but it's a scary situation for the family nonetheless.
Top all of this off with the fact that my Dad remains in his bed at the hospital, unable to really communicate with us and unable to do really anything, including eat real food. The doctors have advised us that he should have a feeding tube 'installed' directly into his stomach, and that we should discuss our 'wishes' about resuscitation, etc.
Someone told me that bad things always happen in three's, and although the water heater isn't nearly as big a deal as the other three things, it still seems to tip the scales in the 'too many bad things happening' direction.
It's been a long week, and I still don't have any idea what the next few weeks will look like where my Dad is concerned. He is still in the hospital, and not much improved since he arrived there over a week ago. My aunt was here for the weekend, and I was able to spend some time with her as well as the rest of my family - at the hospital and at home, supporting my Dad and each other.
Poor Celia spent so much time out in her stroller and not able to crawl around and play, that I've decided to stay home today and let her have a 'normal' day instead of trying to find a ride to the hospital again. My mom has the day off today, so at least my Dad won't be alone.
And try to get back to blogging, even though it's hard to think about anything besides my Dad at the moment, I'll give it a try...
Thanks for all of your prayers and support for me and my family during this time.
I've been a bit flaky with posting lately - between teaching piano, going to doctors appointments, trying to keep my house at least somewhat in order, look after my daughter and spend as much time as possible at the hospital with my Dad, I haven't had a lot of time to sit down at my computer...
Last week, the 'Toddle Along Tuesday' post was about traits you hoped your child did (or did not) inherit from you. Since my Dad has been on my mind constantly lately, I started thinking about the traits I inherited from him. I am proud of these things - even the ones that are not always flattering, and I hope that my daughter inherits them also...
1. Educating Yourself - Always.
My Dad taught me to read when I was 3. Really and truly, I could read full-length books before I entered kindergarten - there's a University study out there somewhere on me to prove it. My Dad never attended post-secondary, but always voiced that he wished he could go back - as an adult, when he understood the importance of learning, and had developed a passion for learning that he lacked in his earlier years. He was extremely self-educated, though. Although he had mild dyslexia, and had trouble reading, I remember him reading constantly. He learned how to build guitars and other musical instruments by reading books. When he watched tv, he watched documentaries and how-to videos. He spent all of his spare time learning. Recently I've discovered the same desire in myself. I've had to admit to myself that I rarely enjoy watching a movie - because it doesn't get anything accomplished. I'd really rather do laundry, or do some writing, or play the piano - because these things are productive - than watch a movie. Even when I'm watching a movie, I enjoy it much more if my hands are doing something at the same time... It's annoying for my movie-loving husband, but I'm ok with it. It's a good trait, and when it comes to my children - the desire to learn and 'do' will always bring more success than sitting around and waiting for things to happen for them.
2. Attention to detail
This sort of goes along with the first one. My Dad builds (or used to, anyway) musical instruments, which requires a lot of dexterity and patience. My Dad is not the most graceful person, and he sometimes makes a lot of mistakes when he's building, but he will always go back and fix it.
I remember my Dad learning specific songs on the guitar or banjo, and he would spend hours playing certain riffs over and over, making sure his fingers learned how to move exactly as they needed to. Sometimes I feel as though I could use more of this particular persistence to perfect things, but I also look back at things I have done - projects I have completed and songs I have learned - and realize there must be some of that in me after all.
This is also part of the first two... My Dad has an almost unending amount of patience. Actually, I don't think I can recall a time when he really ran out of patience. He had patience for himself when he was working on things, and he had patience with me when he taught me how to build with him, or when he was struggling through a particularly difficult book. He didn't give up, for anything.
I hope I have inherited this also, although sometimes I don't think so...
I almost never remember my Dad yelling at me. When he was angry with me, we would 'discuss' things. He has a bizarre ability to remain calm in almost any situation.
I was in a car accident when I was a teenager, and my then-boyfriend voiced his disappointment later at how calm I seemed, when he was hoping to comfort me but I really didn't seem to need it. Internally I was panicking, but I guess that didn't come across. When I called my Dad later that day to inform him of what had happened, the tone of his voice didn't waver. I heard a very calm and collected 'ok....ok....ok' as I explained to him that I was alright, but had been in an accident. My Mom told me later that she could see the look in his eyes and knew something was very wrong - but he was able to keep it together for me.
This has served me well over the years, as nothing can shake me. Sometimes I almost wish I could lose it - throw a huge, angry fit just to let off steam - but I know too well that it wouldn't really make me feel better, and I'm just not that kind of person.
5. The ability to laugh at himself.
My Dad never failed to embarrass me in a public place. Remember Mr.Bean? I hated that show. I hated that show, because so many of those situations had happened to my Dad when I was with him, hoping that no one I knew would walk by and see us. We were entering (or exiting?) a parkade once, and he had gotten his ticket and the arm should have lifted to let him drive pass, but for some reason it didn't. I don't know how long he waited, but there were people behind him so he got the brain wave to drive around the arm (we had a small car, he figured he'd see if it fit... or something... I don't actually have any clue what he was thinking...) and as he was trying to maneuver the car around the arm, it lifted and then lowered again - directly into the driver window. I have no idea how... I just remember how embarrassing it was as Dad tried to drive the car forward and backward in an attempt to free us from the parkade arm... I actually don't remember how we got out of there, but I was mortified - I remember that.
But Dad was never embarrassed. And you could always bring up the story later and he would laugh. There was nothing you couldn't bring up, actually. Once (when he actually did get really angry...) he started throwing apples in the house. (That's what was easily accessible, I think...). Mom jokes about how she was cleaning up applesauce for weeks afterward, and Dad laughs too. It doesn't bother him to bring it up - it's funny, why not laugh.
I think I'm this way too - mostly, anyway. And I hope my kids can always laugh at themselves also. Nothing is so serious in life, it's better to be able to laugh.
I'm sure I could think of more, but it's a pretty long post already, so I'll be done here. I just wanted to talk about my Dad a bit... Thanks!
I just read over my interview with my Dad from last Thursday, and it almost brought tears to my eyes. This Sunday afternoon, he returned to the hospital and when I went to see him later that day, I wasn't prepared for what I saw.
I should be prepared for anything by now, but I wasn't.
Lying in his hospital bed, all I could think of was how old he looked. Ancient, even. Like a 98 year old man. He was hardly able to speak because the effort was too great, and his whole body was vibrating as if the strain of being awake was almost too much for him also.
My Mom told me that he had been quiet all day, and I was told by other family members that even the day before he had seemed very quiet - seemingly unable to give more than one or two word answers to questions. I think Thursday morning was the last time I spoke to him.
All I know is that my Dad needs prayer - and a miracle. We still don't have a clear picture of what is causing his brain to spontaneously bleed and clot, and the doctors don't seem to know any more than we do.
This week (hopefully) I will find out whether or not the latest round of clomid has been successful.
I have one more month's worth of pills to take if this one hasn't succeeded, but since that will be my 'last chance' for what may be quite awhile - I think you have to wait a number of months before going on a second stretch of clomid - I will feel significantly disheartened if this round has not worked.
I have been feeling exceptionally tired, although I felt similar last month, and I've even had a few belly pains that felt quite a bit like muscle aches a few inches below my belly button. The one symptom I'm waiting for, however, is nausea in the morning, and so far that one has eluded me.
I've been thinking about what to do if this round of clomid fails, and I still feel quite uncertain. I have always wanted to adopt, and I still do, but I have always felt drawn to international adoption as opposed to local adoption, and the costs can be astronomical which is just not an option for us right now.
I may be completely incorrect, but my views on international adoption are based on the fact that to adopt from Canada there is up to a seven or eight year waiting list. This gives me the impression that there are no children available for adoption here who are unwanted. So, my thought is that if I adopt internationally, I am choosing a child who may not have a home otherwise. Is this logical? I am starting to question my knowledge on these things as I investigate the numbers of children adopted from various countries - they are quite small, which makes me wonder if there is less interest in international adoption than I thought, or are there less children available than I perceived?
Anyway, besides any of that, my husband is not so interested in adoption that he is willing to say 'damn the cost' and go ahead with it. I would probably consider selling our house if it meant we could have another child, so we don't exactly feel the same way about it. I certainly agree that it would be stupid to enter into any financial struggles unless we were both completely in support of going ahead, which means we should probably not go that route until we are pretty sure the money will work out.
That being said, the preliminary costs associated with adoption are the same regardless of where you adopt from, and are relatively small. A large part of me would like to go ahead with the preliminary stuff and see what happens, but I run the risk of suddenly having the option to adopt and feeling pressure to come up with money if it happens to be international...
Being an only child until I was eight, and then having a 4-year-old step-brother who I never became very close to has always made me speculate that a sibling - particularly a sister - who was closer to my age would have solved some of my child-hood loneliness issues. Maybe I'm wrong, but it has become important to me to give my daughter a sibling who is as close to her in age as possible. And I honestly feel at this point that 3 years is too much. I worry that if this round of clomid fails, it will be too late to start the next one for me, and I feel now as though I would rather just adopt, and try to find a child within 2 years of my daughters age.
I promised my husband I would leave it alone until I'm sure about this round of clomid.
And... Who knows? Maybe I'm already pregnant...
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