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Remembering Mom: The Leader of all Things Wild and Crazy

This week, my friend Janine shares memories of her mom.

Mary Lynette Franklin (nee Foster) 

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This is my favourite picture of her.  It captures her essence, her smile.  And the pearls…she had a flare for the fancy amidst the country bumpkin!

 

Someone once told me that time heals the hurt of loss.  I think time just changes the hurt.  

Missing my mom sometimes comes in waves of pure happiness when I think of the little nuances of her—her smell, the little bump on the side of her nose (from when she was bit by a dog as a little girl), and her face after she found me curled up in the back of our turquoise Volvo wagon.  I had popped the most enormous bubble for an 8 year old and had bubblegum stuck on many parts of my hands, face and hair.   

These memories can and often do turn to sadness when I think of her not being here.

I often wonder what we would do together now that I am a woman—springtime walks where she would teach me all the names of the wild flowers, baking lessons perfecting pastry, afternoon chats over tea, family meals filled with laughter and storytelling, my wedding day, and sharing tears over life’s mistakes and lessons.

Mother’s day, her birthday, the day she died…are little moments when I exhale.  I try not to stay in this place because it can quickly overwhelm. Instead my heart shifts to a place of gratitude and love for the incredible women in my life that have become second moms to me. It is like God knew and placed the most wonderful women from diverse backgrounds to teach me about strength, dignity, love and hope, while my mom looks on from heaven.

Parents often talk about their children as precious gifts. For me, my mom was my precious gift.  For a short 13 years, she was in my life—guiding, nurturing, loving, and providing places of safety, curiosity and fun.

Lessons from Mom

Ask the ladybugs to stay, they kill the bad bugs of the garden.
Say sorry when it’s your fault, and sometimes when it’s not.
Girls have 3 holes.  Babies don’t come out of the same place as you pee.
Honesty is the best medicine, even when it hurts.
Live as if today were your last.
Love with all your heart.

I loved the unashamed, unconditional love and passion she had for people.  She was fierce really — passionately pursuing people and letting them know their value.

She was a woman who picked up strangers on the road to drive them to their destination and would deliver meals to families in need. Our door was always open for friends and family to stop by – for tea, lunch, or chat.  Always giving of her time, she valued family and did her best to bring us all together.

Every summer, we would go to Camp Mini-Yo-We.  This camp has heaps of history in our family. My grandparents helped build it. My aunt and uncle were married there. All of us (cuzzies and all) were campers, counsellors and program directors of some sort. We spent anywhere between 2 weeks to 2 months on Mary Lake enjoying the fun, adventure and camp festivities each summer. Camp was the best part of our vacation.

When I was a young camper, I remember my mom helping us pack, taking us to get bags of candy from the Bulk Barn, giving us letter writing material (Holly Hobby and Hello Kitty were my favourite), dropping us off, and visiting us on Sundays.  Throughout the weeks, I’d discover little love notes from my mom. She was so creative in using pictures, designs, and symbols to code her sweet messages. It was seriously awesome!

She was the leader of all things wild and crazy. She organized the most sophisticated camp pranks and raids…

My mom was the camp nurse for a few summers, while I was a senior camper and counsellor in training. I remember one morning heading for breakfast only to realize she had stolen a number of items from the different sections and used them to decorate the nursing station.

From the Minis, the youngest campers, she took all the shoes. From the Yos, middle age campers, she took bathing suits. And from the Wes, the older of campers, she stole all the training bras. How she did this, I have no idea. They talked about this mischievous raid for years.

She was a legend! 

 

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My Mom was beautiful.  She had thick black hair and was tall with legs that stretched for miles.  She had an olive complexion and a contagious laugh.

 

God tells us that we are all masterpieces—unique and created for a destiny designed only for us.  My mom believed this.  

She held tight to her love for God and was a woman who knew how to shine His love!  That made her incredible. 

 

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This picture holds a special place in my heart.  My mom was 6 months pregnant with me in her belly!  A few years back, while I was visiting my auntie and uncle in England, my uncle went to his study one evening and returned with a little box of treasures to share with me – little trinkets and photos my mom shared with them across the ocean.  This photo was in that box.  It took me by surprise, as I had never seen my mom pregnant before, and with me no less.  Together we had a cry and spoke of how elegant and graceful she was.

 

I focus on the excitement of reuniting with her for the eternity we will spend together.

Writer’s Note:  This piece was written by Mary’s daughter, Janine.  Janine and I met about seven years ago through work.  Through the years I have always enjoyed hearing stories of her mom.  She sounded like such a character and I could see where Janine and her brother Mark got their silly and fun sides from!

Thank you for sharing your memories of her, Janine.  The leader of all things wild and crazy, her love for God, passionately pursuing people and letting them know their value… you share so many similarities to your mom.  I think your family continues to have a little piece of her, through you.

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment for Janine or click ‘like’ to let her know that you enjoyed her writing!  Thank you!

Remembering Mom: She was My World

I remember as a child, I was always scared of being alone as it was just the two of us.  I always said to her…”don’t ever leave me.”  She always promised that she’d be with me.

I was 20 years old when she died.

This week’s Remembering Mom post was written by a close friend of mine.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

Joyce Hylary Pitter

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My mum and I having dinner at a restaurant in Paris, France.   I was 10 years old and this was such a memorable trip – getting to see the Eiffel Tower for the first time with her and doing what we loved – eating good food!

 

 

As a child, she was my world. I didn’t grow up with any siblings and she was the only parent in my life.  She meant everything to me.

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This totally showed our life.  With no siblings, Mum always played with me…even in the tiny blow up pool!

 

My mum had a very kind and gentle nature. She was very soft-spoken and caring but inside a very strong and determined woman as she faced so many obstacles in her life.

From her late 20’s, she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis which took a toll on her body. In later years, this brought on several other ailments, but in spite of her weak body, she was the strongest person I knew.

I don’t know how she did it, raising a child and running a school all on her own.

I remember my Grandma and my Aunt telling me stories about my mum when she was a little girl and how she’d line up her dolls and pretend to teach them. She was born to be a teacher. 

She later became the principal of her school.  I remember watching her interact with the kids and how much she cared about each and every one of them. In the small island of Antigua where I grew up, so many people knew and loved my mum, and appreciated the positive impact that she had on her students.

When I was a teenager, she would work full days, come home to have dinner with me, and then head off to spend time with a couple of little boys who needed some care and support.  I’m honoured to say that my mum was that person. She was just amazing.

I remember us participating in a garage sale when I was around 17 and selling our items out of the trunk of her car.   The plan was to put the money we had made towards something that we needed.  We had so much fun and by afternoon, our plans had changed.  After the garage sale we took that money and treated ourselves to a fabulous meal at a restaurant instead!

My mum and I shared a love for good food.

We enjoyed going out to try different restaurants and I loved coming home from university to find that she had cooked one of my favourite meals. She was a great cook.

I often came home to spend weekends with her.  On one particular Sunday, I remember sitting and working on a puzzle of her favourite movie.  Sitting, chatting, eating and laughing the whole afternoon and enjoying the time with her.

Before I knew it, it was time to head back to school.  I jumped up to pack my things, while she continued with the puzzle.  When I came out to give goodbye hugs, Mum said to me, “Come on, just stay a bit longer and finish this with me…it’s almost done.” I did, even though it was late. I remember her being so happy.

When it was time to go, we hugged and I rushed out the door saying goodbye and see you soon.  She died two weeks later.

I’m so glad that I stayed to finish the puzzle that night.

I think of her every April 4th. She was only 46.  She had the prettiest green eyes.

There have been so many moments in my life that I have deeply missed her and wished she was by my side: special birthdays, my wedding day, the day I followed her path and became a teacher, the births of my 2 children, and many others.

Her love as a mother was the deepest and most genuine.  My one hope is that my boys will know this same love from me.

I loved how she made me feel.  I miss her so much.

 

 

Writer’s Note:  This piece was written by Joyce’s daughter, Nika.  Nika and I met around 10 years ago when we began teaching at the same school.  We have been friends ever since. She even made the trek to Northwestern Ontario to be in my wedding party.  Although I didn’t get to meet her mom, I’ve always thought that she was an incredible woman.  As a single mom, she left everyone she knew, family and friends in Antigua, so Nika could have a good education in Canada.  Naturally when I thought of someone to write about their mom, I immediately thought of Nika.

 

Thank you for writing about her, Nika.  You described her beautifully.  You’re an incredible mom to your boys.  She would be so proud of you.

 

Please take a moment to leave a comment or to click ‘like’ to let Nika know that you enjoyed her writing!  Thank you!

Remembering Mom: The Smell of her Lipstick

Last week as I looked forward to spending Mother’s Day with my boys, I thought about those who no longer have their moms.  What is Mother’s Day like for them?

I reached out to three friends who lost their mothers as young women and asked if they’d be interested in writing about their moms on my blog.

I’d love to!  She has been on my mind lately.

I would love to share about my mum…will be emotional but wonderful at the same time.

I’d be honoured!

So after a teary editing session, here is the first of three stories to be shared this week.

 

Cynthia Darby Maxwell

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I chose this photo because it shows three generations of my family, and my Mom during one of the happiest times of her life.

 

I remember the smell of her lipstick and perfume, the way her scarf was soft and warm on my face.  

My mom used to kiss me goodbye every time I left the house. She would hold my face in her hands and kiss me quickly as I squirmed to get free… saying, “I love you, see you soon.”

She was a single parent to my brother and I.  We were definitely not the easiest of children. My brother had special needs and my mom had to work hard to support him through his education. She had taken thalidomide during her pregnancy and was determined that Andrew would never be at a disadvantage because of it. She wasn’t a feisty advocate.  She was supportive, persistent and involved.

My mom always said that we could do anything we wanted, anything we set our minds to. She valued education and went back to university when I was ten to finish her degree in Geography. Unfortunately, the year she graduated there were no jobs in education.  For every trial and tribulation, my mom would persevere. She’d just pick herself up and move on, never looking back.

My mom fought a 20 year battle with cancer. She was incredible, never losing faith that things would work out. She believed in the people taking care of her and never said why me. When we first found out, she was strong and invincible, and I fell apart. She held me up.  

She had such dignity. Nurses and doctors were always commenting on how lovely she was.  She was kind and polite, even when she was feeling poorly. She would never let someone else feel her pain.

I watched her strength dwindle and wane.  She leaned harder on me. I was so proud to be her daughter, to look on as she fought hard to stay with us.  She waited so long to see us safely into the world without her. I had to tell her it was okay to go, that I would take care of Andrew, that I would be okay. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do… but my mom would have done it for me.

She was my everything.  I miss her every day.

 

Each night, my mom would gather me into my bed, read me a book, tell me stories and sing to me. The day would just drift away.  She’d brush my hair oh so gently off my forehead and kiss me saying, “Goodnight and God Bless” as she turned off the light and slipped down the hall.

 

Writer’s Note: This piece was written by Cynthia’s daughter, Aynsley.  Aynsley and I met each other through work about six years ago.  In those six years, it’s hard to think of a conversation with Ayns that hasn’t included a special anecdote or memory of her Mom.  It’s been 15 years since she lost her Mom and she is still very much a part of her life.  

Ayns, I know this wasn’t easy to write.  Thank you.

 

Welcome to Red Rocket Coffee

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Baristas, Kirstin and Kayla, pose for me with their ‘tough look’.  They’re too friendly to pull it off.

 

Sorry, Starbucks.  I won’t be coming to hang out anymore.  It’s not you, it’s me.  I’ve found someplace new that’s a better fit for me.  Red Rocket Coffee.

 

Scones baked fresh every morning.  Cranberry lemon, strawberry coconut, white chocolate orange…  The best I’ve had.  Favourites are usually sold out by afternoon.  Specialty drinks like Dirt n’ Worms Hot Chocolate, apple cider (caramel or apple pie), and the best tea lattes.

 

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There are little corners to hide away.  A long bench stretches along the back, dotted with small tables.  There’s a spot I like near the corner, next to the little side table with a lamp.

 

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There’s also a great spot that backs against the fireplace and faces the street.  I love the openness of seeing the street and still feeling like I’m tucked away in my own little space.  

 

It’s here where I sneak away for a little time for myself – to write to my boys in the journals I keep for them, to work on my latest online course, or to write in my notebook.

 

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This week I’m going to share with you my new favourite coffee shop.  This place has a small community feel, complete with its own cast of characters.

 

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First, there’s Mrs. Tate.

 

A sweet, older lady who I ‘met’ one Saturday morning.  She came into the shop with flowers.  She had remembered it was one of the barista’s birthdays.  Her gift was met with “aaawwws, thank you’s, and you’re so sweet.”  

I assumed that Mrs. Tate owned a flower shop as she told the girls that on Easter weekend, it had been the busiest it had been in 30+ years.  “I feel so supported by the community.  Everyone came out.”  They were yelling out goodbye’s to Mrs. Tate as she walked out the door.

I am loving this neighbourhood more and more.

 

Then there’s the eclectic graphic designer who roams around, striking up a conversation with anyone – staff, complete strangers, and people he seems to know.  He hasn’t approached me yet but I bet it would make for a great story afterwards.

I found him so entertaining that one morning I flipped between my online course and an open Google doc so I could jot down the things he was saying.  People must have thought I looked strange.  Sitting there quietly with a smile on my face. I found him hilarious. Interesting. Smart.  A total character.  

 

——-

 

He approaches a young family with a little girl.  He tries to talk to her but she’s shy and unsure of him.

Good to be suspicious of old men.  We’re up to no good.  

I like kids and dogs.  They are the only things that get along with me.  I’m just the guy at the end of the street.

Drinks are ready.  Names are being called out.  Not forced or fake feeling.  They actually know people’s names.

The designer begins talking about his niece and nephew, and when they play music together.  The jazz trio of crazy.  

She’s only shooting at people who are mean to her.  Marlow – shotgun apocalypse.  My Ted Kennedy impression.  

At this point I have no idea what he’s talking about.  Apparently his niece has a great imagination that’s fuelled by her uncle.

Hey Kayla…

He’s in mid conversation with someone and is now yelling out across the room to strike up a conversation with one of the baristas.

He joins a father and his young son playing battleship.  They’re sitting in the comfy couch area near the fireplace.

Do you have a strategy for where you put your guys?  The fog of war.  I’ve studied the art of war. Sun Tzu.  I’d be trembling in some trench somewhere.  I don’t think I could kill anyone.  I don’t think I’d like the threat of being killed.  I’m sure I’d find God somewhere along the way.  Bahaha.  

Ciao, Dominique!  


He’s now yelling at a man leaving the coffee shop.  The man smiles as he leaves, throwing his arm up in the air to wave goodbye.

The young boy gets up to leave the battleship game for a moment.

Your dad’s not so dumb.  He’s going to cheat while you’re gone.  I’m a provocateur.  That’s what they say in Francais.  I play both sides.  I’d be a spy.  I’m too flamboyant to be a spy.  

He continues to roam around the small shop for another hour or so, before leaving.

———

On a different day, I ran in for a tea.   A lady came in after me to order a drink and something to eat.  She told Kayla that she hadn’t been feeling well and was going home instead of into work.  Kayla’s response, “Coffee is on Robin and I.”  

 

I love this place.  The people, the small community feel, and the constant hum of life.

 

I’m glad my hubby had me venture away from my usual tea at Starbucks. I haven’t been back in months.

It’s nice to support a local business where you begin to recognize familiar faces from the neighbourhood.  A place where knowing your name isn’t a corporate attempt at creating a false human connection.    

 

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Maybe you have a great little place near your home too.

 

 

 

5 Signs You Have a Toddler in the House

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You open the fridge to find saws with your condiments.

 

 
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You can find your shoe in the kitty litter on a daily basis.

 

 

 

IMG_3387.jpgYour laptop becomes a place where animals hang out.

 

 

 

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You have to look inside your boots before putting them on.

 

 

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The cat food is out of reach because someone likes to snack on it.  

Grandparents: She was my Best Friend

We all have a soft spot – that person who is such an important part of our lives.  This week, three people opened up and shared that person with me, and in turn many others.

Thank you Emma, Betty’s grandson, and Char.   It’s not easy to write about someone you miss.  I hope you enjoyed the process of sharing them, who they were and what you loved about them, with others.

Here’s the the third story…

Joyce Hendry

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I chose this photo because the way I feel about my grandma has never changed.  She meant as much to me when I was three years old as she does today (even though she’s passed on).

 

My grandma was my best friend. I knew that having a best friend that was older was going to be very difficult at some point in my life and the closer I got to her, the harder it would be to let go.

I was right.

She was a strong and independent woman who carried herself with grace and held the family together. She was logical in her reasoning and always knew the right thing to say or do in any situation. Being around my grandma put me at ease knowing that I had someone in my life I could always count on.

She was the feeling of ‘home.’

Even when I was going through something I didn’t think she could relate to, my grandma was always there.  Without judgement and an open mind.

She had a sense of humour. You wouldn’t think of pranking just any grandparent, but with a grandma like mine, it was okay.  Here’s a story…

I was a teenager standing in my grandparents’ kitchen grabbing a glass from the kitchen cupboard. I rinsed out the glass using the sink spray hose and had a eureka moment:

(1) I noticed I had a black hair band around my wrist

(2) the spray hose handle was also black and my hair band would easily blend in

(3) if the hair elastic blended in, someone would eventually need to go to the kitchen and turn on the sink

(4) if someone turned on the tap with the spray head, it would be priceless.

I urged grandma to turn on the tap.  “Drink more water…Wash your hands…”  along with a bunch of other subtle hints but with no success. So I gave up on the idea and just forgot about it.  I left the house and went out to meet up with a few friends.

About four hours later I got back to grandma’s house.   She was standing in the middle of the kitchen. Beside her, on the floor, was a tool box, a disassembled kitchen drain pipe, and a few tools scattered around.

She said with a smirk, “We spent two hours trying to fix the sink.”  

I’m not sure how other grandmothers would respond to such a prank but my grandma just laughed.

We had a similar sense of humour; our sense of humour often got us in trouble.  

When someone would fall down or get mildly hurt (kind of like in America’s Funniest Home Videos), we wouldn’t be able to hold it in.   We would burst out laughing in synchrony and wait for that ‘someone’ in the room to say, It’s not funny you know. It’s not nice to laugh at someone when they’re hurt.

She was my best friend.

My grandma taught me to have faith, to pray when I’m lost and when I’m not, to help others more than myself, not to compete with others but only strive to be better than I was yesterday, to have understanding and empathy for other people, to be patient, to build character, not to be afraid of the future, to always do the right thing especially when no one is looking, not to value money but to know the value of money “because this will you further in life,” to save money for a rainy day, to follow my heart but lead with logic, to have patience, that I should never “sleep with a hardened heart,” to forgive others easily, to be cautious, not to say anything if I don’t have something nice to say, to protect other people’s feelings, to pursue an education, to be strong, and to always have a sense of humour.

I miss her.

I miss her hugs. I miss her advice. I miss baking with her. We used to hum together while we baked. I don’t bake anymore because it makes me sad. I miss sitting beside her in the sunroom just talking. I miss waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning and sitting with her in silence. I miss her scent and I really miss her voice. I just really miss her.

I miss you grandma.
I just wanted to say ‘I love you’ one last time.
But I never got the chance.

 

Author’s Note:  This story was shared by Joyce’s granddaughter, Charlene.  Char was a stranger I met three weeks ago in a coffee shop.  True story.  We talked for two and a half hours about work, travel, and our grandmas.  I knew her grandmother was special to her when she shared that it’s been almost 9 years since she passed and I could see that she had a hard time talking about her.  I could relate.  So when I thought about writing this grandparents series, the first person who came to mind was Char.  I hope you enjoyed her writing.

I’ve really enjoyed the process of sharing others stories.  Learning more about their families, hearing the great little stories, and putting their writing together in a way that will hopefully touch others.  I think I’ll continue to do little series like these as I continue to do my own blogging.

If you have great stories to share, I’m sure you do, send me a message.  I’d love to write with you.

 

Grandparents: She was a Firecracker

This week I’m sharing stories written by three different people each describing what they loved most about their grandparents.  Here’s the second story…

Betty

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This is the first time Grandma met her great-grandchild.  She was so excited to hold him.  “I’ve been waiting for him a long time.”  She was 89.

Grandma was a firecracker. She spoke her mind and mostly spoke the truth. You didn’t know what she’d say next.  Even as a frail lady of 90, her brain just worked faster than yours.


She’s gone now and it sucks.


She loved to sing. She would sing around the house, in the car, outside, it didn’t matter. Sometimes it wasn’t even a song, just words she said to a tune that sounded like a song.

She taught me the words to O Canada.  I have a vivid memory of riding in the backseat of her burgundy Buick sedan. Grandma was humming music. I asked her to teach me the part:  ‘we stand on guard for thee.’  I pictured Medieval knights defending our borders.  I remember being so excited that she had taken the time to teach me.

She was funny. She made up words and said outrageous things for a reaction.  She liked to tell a story about being a kid and getting a bunch of goats drunk by feeding them fermented fruit.  Visits were always spent sharing laughs.

She couldn’t cook although she tried. She preferred berries from the source and tomatoes from the vine. In her younger days, she kept a large garden. It bloomed with fruits and vegetables each spring; gifts that would make their way to the neighbours, especially the seniors who lived nearby. As she grew older and less mobile, so did the garden. Eventually only a rhubarb patch was left.

She was born in an old house and lived her whole life in a little village that grew. And yet her perspective was impressively worldly.  She was smart and knew about politics, investments, and business.  Her sister was her best friend.  Together they travelled to different parts of the world.


We would get up early, or stay up late, to take advantage of inexpensive long distance times so that we could call her to chat or say good night.

She helped raise us. Our family didn’t have a lot of money growing up.  We left our home when my parents’ business failed and she took us in because we had no place to go. We always felt welcome. We lived there for a few years before moving again. But even after we left, most available weekends were spent at her house. Whenever one of us was sick, she was the first call.

She was meant to care for others – she was a registered nurse who was a mother to five children and 18 grandchildren & great grandchildren. She adored kids and loved animals.


She’s gone now and it sucks.

 

Writer’s Note: This story was submitted by Betty’s grandson, who wishes to remain anonymous.  We’ve known each other for eighteen years.  His grandmother was the one who asked about school, about roommates, and if he had a girlfriend.  She always said ‘love yah‘ and never let him out of the room without a kiss.  It hasn’t been a year since she’s passed and she’s greatly missed.

 

Grandparents: I had a Soft Spot for Grandpa

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  ~A.A. Milne

The love between a grandparent and a grandchild is something special.  It’s something quite different from that of a parent and child.  Grandparents often hear our secrets, spoil us rotten, and understand us in ways that few others do. We believe we can do anything and it’s because they told us so.

I recently reached out to three people I know to share what they loved most about their grandparents.

This week, I’ll share their heartwarming stories in three separate posts.

Get your kleenex ready.

 

 

Alec Whitfield
Stories shared by his granddaughter, Emma

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A favourite picture of the two of us.  This photo reminds me of how consistent my Grandpa was in my life.

 

 

Grandpa was the kindest, gentlest, loving man I have ever met.  
It’s not something that I can easily explain, but there was an extra special bond between my Grandpa and myself and it was just “fact”–and I think we both liked it that way.

I had a soft spot for Grandpa and he had a soft spot for me.  

He was quick with his humour, often rolling out pun after pun with a quiet giggle to follow. He was always searching out a new joke to share at Rotary, usually so full of low brow humour that the groans were as loud as the laughter.

One thing that I especially loved about my Grandpa was that he was always playful.  He was known on one occasion (and with some help of my Grandma), to show up as the 4th player at a ladies’ bridge lunch in a dress and bonnet.

For weeks I would get a call here and there…”We found another one, you rascal!” followed by giggles of laughter.

On many occasions as we were leaving London to head back to our home in Toronto, I would take it upon myself to run around the basement hiding pictures of my sister and I (taken from the photo boxes) in drawers, on the laundry line, under cans of soup–wherever Grandpa might find them.


When my Grandparents came to Toronto–I was moved into my sister’s room so that they could use my bedroom.  And once they left, I returned to my room, only to find a picture of Grandma and Grandpa tucked under my pillow, left by Grandpa.

 

My Grandpa wrote my sister and I letters from about the time we were 8 and 9 years old.

 

We received these letters on our birthdays and while we attended summer camp. The letters were like mini history lessons. My Grandpa had pretty much a photographic memory (which actually kept him from being enlisted in the war because the company he worked for, Emco, was being used for ammunitions and he was the only person who knew all the parts codes from memory!)


He knew how to work hard.
He was one of 13 children, in a family raised in South-Western Ontario, mostly in London, where he was responsible for peeling potatoes at a young age and walking the railway tracks to look for coal or wood that had fallen off the trains so that he could take them back to help heat the family home.

 

I will say that the person who reminds me most of my Grandpa is my husband.

 

They only met once for a short afternoon in the winter before he passed away, but my husband and Grandpa share so many similarities when it comes to humour and disposition that I swear in another life they must have crossed paths!

Grandma and Grandpa both died in 2013. Grandpa passed away on April 1st (perhaps fitting that it was April Fool’s for a man who loved a good laugh) and my Grandma the following August.  I take great comfort in knowing they are together, hand in hand, exactly how they’d like to be.

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After he passed away, and before my wedding day, I got a tattoo of his signature on my wrist.  A reminder of the imprint his words and his stories and his wisdom have had on my life.

It is rarely a day that goes by that I am not reminded of something he did or said.  I take those moments as his way of letting me know he’s always with me.

 

Writer’s Note: This story was shared by Alec’s granddaughter, Emma.  I met Emma when I was in university at Brock.  We were both in the education program.  We haven’t seen each other in 15 years and only connect by seeing each other’s lives through Facebook posts.  

But I remember when Emma’s grandpa passed away.

She wrote the most beautiful post, sharing all of the things she loved about him.  How he was the first person to teach her how to write a cheque, how they played competitive games of scrabble together…her words were simple and honest.  I could tell how much he meant to her.

So when I decided to put together this blog post, I immediately thought of her.  A quick message through Facebook and it was as though 15 years hadn’t passed.  Within the day, Emma sent me her story about her grandpa.  I hope you enjoyed reading it.  

Where Writers Write

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Scraps of paper from a purse during a morning commute, napkins from a little coffee shop, paper menus from a diner late at night – the beginnings of some of our favourite books.   Likely scribbled in haste to capture the thought before it was gone.

Yet it’s funny that we have a romantic view of where writers write.

We might picture a beautiful mahogany desk.  From the window, light spills across papers and there are books stacked on every flat surface.  There’s soft music playing in the background as they punch away at their computer, or even better, a typewriter.  Or maybe they slide a beautiful pen across paper.  

Not in my world.

This is just a little post to share where I do my writing…

 

Being “Innovative” is Easier than you Think
On my iPhone 6, it’s 3 a.m., and I’m writing in my Notes app.   Our son, who’s a month and a half old, is lying in my lap.  I’m just waiting for him to fall asleep so I can put him into his space pod (what we lovingly call the 4 Mom’s swing – the only thing he will sleep in).  It’s been two hours of waiting so far.  Every move I make triggers a flailing of his arms and legs.  I keep writing.


The Best Job Posting I’ve Ever Read
Standing near the stove in the kitchen.  Our youngest is in the Baby Bjorn and the fan above the stove is on high.  The rumble puts him to sleep and I write.  Our oldest is running around the house playing like a madman.


I Still Find Her Letters
Standing near the stove again.  God I love this fan.  Our little one is sleeping and our oldest is snoozing comfortably upstairs in his crib.  Good thing.  He’d be wondering what’s wrong with Mom?  Why is she crying?


Coffee Drinking, Bacon Inhaling Ninjas
Hello fan, we meet again.  Yes, my writing time includes a stove top, 14 pounds strapped to the front of me and a napping toddler.  But I’ll take it.    


Reckless, Stupid, and Irresponsible: The Pursuit of Dream Jobs
Paw Patrol.  He LOVES it.  One is sleeping on my chest and the other teething, grumpy, and in need of a little down time.  He has his blanket and the only cartoon he’ll watch.  


Where Writers Write.  

Anomaly.  One in the crib and the other sleeping in a swing.  I have no child attached to me.  This feels strange.  I sit on the floor, computer on coffee table. I might actually have a cup of hot tea.  


Don’t get me wrong, I love being a Mom.  Toothy smiles, belly laughs over the silliest of things, and days filled with play and trips to the park.  

I also love when they sleep.  When the house is unusually quiet and I can sneak a little bit of time for myself.  It’s then that I write.


The title of this blog was inspired by an article I recently read:  Where Writers Write: Discover the weird and wonderful writing sanctuaries of some of your favourite authors.  It’s a great read and I think you might like it.  

Some set up camp in a bathtub to do their writing or in a shed outdoors.  Although a bit unusual, they were able to find quiet places to think and get away from it all.

Maybe my stove top is more romantic than it seems.

 

Reckless, Stupid and Irresponsible: The Pursuit of Dream Jobs

I recently asked a friend, “What is your Dream Job?”   It’s always fun to hear what people would love to do.  Here’s what he said…

I’m pretty lucky that I’m doing exactly what I love and if I were independently wealthy I likely wouldn’t change much.

Lucky.  We have this belief that somehow there are a few people out there, the lucky few, who get to do work they love.  But I don’t think it’s luck.  

There was a lot of ‘background noise’ from family, etc. who thought someone starting a PhD at 30 was crazy, irresponsible, etc (stupid was the word most often used) but I just let that noise fade into the background.

The funny thing is that once people saw how passionate I was about my area, how much I loved working hard on something I loved, the laughter ended and I think people got a bit jealous that they didn’t have that same passion for their own work.  

-Wyatt Simmons


So why is it reckless to pursue something we love?  

Stupid isn’t a word I’d use to describe someone with a PhD, who has published multiple books and articles, and travels around the world to speak at conferences about his research.  What if he would have listened to them?

This week I asked five people to share their dream jobs and explain what’s holding them back.

 

Dream Jobs

If there was nothing holding you back, what would you love to try?

My plan is to get a used Mini Cooper, paint it, and drive around Canada and the US making street espressos, lattes, and flat whites for some lucky people. My car will be a beacon of rich, creamy caffeine for unsuspecting souls in dire need of a double shot.
– The Espresso Dragon

My dream job would be a travel blog writer (and get paid to do it).  It combines three things I love to do:  travel to new and exciting places, plan, act, reflect, and write, and finally to help people by giving good advice.  -Brooke Daniels

I would still love to do my PhD and over the past few years I’ve been very drawn to entrepreneurship. I’ve gone through a few iterations of what this might look like, ranging from very unique C2C solutions to more straightforward service & product driven businesses. I’m still undecided.   -Sarah

My dream job would be with the FBI on their behavioural analysis unit…yes like Criminal Minds!  I studied some psychology and actually majored in criminology for two years.  -BAUgirl

 

Why Not?

What are some reasons why you wouldn’t give it a go?

By the time this occurs, I hope to be a grandfather and have my espresso-mobile double as a babysitting vehicle.  – The Espresso Dragon

I don’t know who would hire me to do it and I’m not sure I would have enough followers if I started my own blog since I need this to pay the bills for all the travelling I am planning on doing.  – Brooke Daniels

I’m risk adverse by default, and that doesn’t always jive well with entrepreneurship! Perhaps it will be something I explore while I’m also working full time, or maybe I’ll luck out and get fired which would force my hand! – Sarah

I stopped pursuing my dream because of “the” guy. I met a guy with whom I was engaged to and he really did not see himself with that kind of career woman…so, I switched!  Regrets…I have a few….  -BAUgirl

To me, these jobs aren’t out of reach.  They’re not impossible.  Especially when I know this group of people.  

They are intelligent.  Driven.  Always challenging themselves and always learning something new.  I admire each of them for different reasons.  If anyone could make their dream jobs a reality, it’s this bunch.  

And yet, I don’t know if they will.  This may sound harsh and that’s not my intention.


We love how dream jobs sound in theory, myself included, but according to the Huffington Post, only about 30% of us actually do it.  Why is that?

Because there’s a chance that it won’t work out.  We hear stories about people who went bankrupt.  Stress that broke up marriages.  Best friends who were once partners but haven’t spoken in a year.

Our imaginations take over and we picture the worst.  And when those closest to us, family and friends, begin to doubt the possibility of us being successful, it seems downright impossible.

And yet around 30% of us still do it.

I spoke with a few friends who are retired.  I wanted to know what advice they’d give.  What would you say to someone who plans to pursue their dream job in retirement?  Should they wait?  Is retirement all it’s cracked up to be?  

Deep down, I hoped they’d say, Do it now.  You never know what’s going to happen.  Retirement isn’t what people think it is…[insert personal story that would inspire me to take a leap].  

But here’s what they said…

[In retirement] we have more time and security to think about what we want to do.  We can exercise more care and caution when it comes to making personal compromises.  I think this inspires a new kind of energy to whatever becomes the “dream job” because it’s not the job itself, whatever it is, that is the ideal but how it is achieved in the balance of a new, more carefully examined life.   -Cate

I retired, spur of the moment.  I had no plans.  I find that of all my friends who retired, I apparently am the only one not dealing well with it and that’s probably because I loved working.  I find I sit on the couch and watch TV or I am on the computer all day.  I do volunteer twice a week at the Hope Centre but that does not give me the excitement I had when I worked.  It just kills time.

I would say go for it.  The only thing that can happen, is they either make it or they don’t, but at least they tried.  Who knows, if it fails, something different might come out of it and it becomes something better. Time, well, there is nothing but time.   -Connie

Life is unpredictable.  Achieving your dream job at any time of your life is contingent upon what rightly requires your best energy and attention.  Your dream job needs to fit into the vagaries of what makes up your very real life and it’s immediate demands.  This is not terrible.  This is in line with a new kind of personal growth; something that evolves organically and from within rather than being imposed upon you from some external source.  This is life-affirming and personally enriching if it is successful.  – Cate


Life-affirming.  Personally enriching.  

Yes, you need to be smart about the decisions you make and think about the best interests of those around you.

Yes, you are your worst critic.  And you may have others join in to share how “stupid” you’re being and suggest that you think it through.   

And yes, it is scary.  You don’t know how things will turn out.

But I still want to be in that 30%.  

Reckless, stupid, irresponsible, and happy.