Becoming Grandparent

Seeing my daughter’s belly grow awakens memories of her and I when we were both young. When I was 22 and she was newborn, when we were beginning the early years of our development. New mother, new baby. Sharp learning curve. If only I knew then what I know now. Then, I didn’t fully grasp the trajectory of my role as mother, I only knew I was a young single woman with a child. We were a pair, her and I, with a close bond.

But I was ill prepared for what I was embarking on. I worked to keep us off welfare. And it’s true in hind site only do I recognize I struggled in keeping us housed, clothed and fed without really identifying with the fact I was struggling, because I suppose I was ignorant, which perhaps I misinterpreted as being happy. A false sense of bliss? No, I believe I was happy. And things seemed to work out in a slip shod way. God looks after children and fools.

It was a bumpy ride. No doubt about that.

I do wish I had slowed down and savored that era a bit more deeply.  A regret that chafes. To have fully understood and embraced my role as mother. I do wish I had had the steely determination to have focused on a career too. To be fair I did attempt, but was met with financial limitations. I just wish I had been a stronger woman, stronger mother.

But that was then and we survived. More than survived, we have thrived.

This is now. I’m going to be a grandmother in a couple of months. I’m getting used to those words, those good words, although I still feel like a twenty-something in my head. I am taking what I didn’t know then but knowing full well now to appreciate what the significance this new role, this new era of my life, will hold. I see my daughter in a different place than where I was at 22.

Maybe because she’s 36. She has a mid-wife, and a Doula, a home with a partner. More prepared than I ever was. Like a grown up. She’s a strong woman, she’ll be an excellent mother.

And I wonder is this what becoming a grandparent gifts us with? I have to say it’s not without some bittersweetness. What I would give to do over again. These saturated feelings of anticipation, excitement, joy, awareness, of bringing a human into the world. But now it’s her turn, my daughter. And I vicariously get that second chance.

I think this is what becoming a grandparent gifts us with.

 

 

 

Summer Time and the Living is Busy- and Fun

The crashing aftermath of an empty, quiet house since our July company departed resonates with a small shush. Bob and I reclaim our space like water spreading back into cracks and crevices. A tiny empty nest sensation pervades, but more the satisfaction of time well spent with these family members from Ontario over the last twenty days. Ten days with my brother-in-law Dan, then a three day turn around before my step daughter Crystal and her cousin Melanie arrived for ten days. We packed on the kilometres showing all of them our beautiful west coast island home.

We covered as much as we could cram in to make their trip memorable, driving out to Long Beach on the Pacific Rim, walking across the Kinsol Trestle,in Shawnigan, Sail boating on our little Auklet, backyard BBQ’s. We did Alpine walks in Paradise Meadows at Mount Washington along with a ride up that mountain on the ski lift. We swam in the Nanaimo river, took in the Sand Sculptures in Parksville, and the weekend blast of our cities Bathtub Race. We took them on the tiny Mill Bay ferry over to Buchart’s Garden in Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula and a tour through the capital city Victoria.

Ah, Victoria yes, walking the historic downtown with Bob and his brother Dan, pointing out the architecture, when what I thought was a gush of water from an overhead flower box -Victoria is known for its flowers-was in fact the faecal bombing of a passing seagull. Oh yes, the splat landing square on top of my head. Feel the seeping into the hair if you will. In all my years living along the ocean with  seagulls wheeling overhead have I ever had such a magnificent soaking. This prompted an immediate return to our motel, driving with all windows down because the high piercing reek of rotten fish permeating the car, and a jump into the shower.

I handled it well. Laughed, didn’t lose my cool. I took it as an omen of good fortune. Ya. (wait it has to be a bald eagle I think…)

Then there was the exhilarating drive following the dictates of our Google Maps when searching for the quickest route back from the Saanich Peninsula to Mill Bay, rather than taking the tiny ferry back across  the inlet or driving back through Victoria and over the Malahat. Google guided us around Mount Finlayson on its thin roads with hairpin turns until at last depositing us down into Goldstream Provincial Park . Close enough.

We were good hosts and ambassadors to our guests and had a ton of fun being tourists ourselves in our own backyard.  Bob and I promising ourselves  we need to continue exploring this big island for ourselves instead of waiting for company to come.

Signage at the top of Mt. Washington, a Whiskey Jack on top of top of the world. These birds are ridiculously, fearlessly social. Put a hand out and they will land on it. Have food in your hand and they are your new best friend.

 

The view dropping over the edge of the top of Mt Washington riding the ski lift.

 

The reaction of a flat lander when the earth drops from under you on the way down from the top of Mt. Washington. It’s OK she was fine the rest of the way.

 

Day at the Kinsol Trestle in Shawnigan.

 

Choosing a route at Paradise Meadows in the Sub-Alpine.

 

Open Meadows of the sub- alpine.

 

The Buchart’s Gardens, well a small section of it. It’s huge, took 31/2 hours to walk its entirety.

 

Swimming in our local river, a first ever river swim for our guests. It was splendid.

 

A must-stop at Ellis River en route to Tofino and Long Beach.

 

Long Beach at sunset. A young woman heading for the surf. One day by gum I’m gonna do that.

 

Dan at Long Beach, contemplating leaving Ontario winters and moving West perhaps.

 

One of several Sand Sculptures at Parksville.

 

Our famous, and this year most treacherous in sixty years due to extreme conditions, Nanaimo Bathtub Race!

 

Warrants two photo spots in my blog. Bone crushing for both tubber and their escort boat. 33 tubs entered and only 4 finished. Last one taking 5 hours to come in. Thanks to a local -unknown to me- photographer for these shots I pulled from our little island community fb page.

 

Another day closed, but we head into town for some music from my sons new band playing at a local pocket cocktail bar called The Nanaimo Bar with Crystal and Melanie ~

 

Kootenay Dogs Life

Into my second week in Kimberley which means I am now dog sitting daughter Roo’s two Rugnuts, a.k.a. her Chihuahuas Dexter and the younger Jackson, (or should it be Jackson the Younger?) while she and CJ take their Babymoon in Puerto Vallarta and while she can still comfortably fly and stand the heat, or at this time of year in Mexico the humidity, which as she texted me yesterday is muggy, muggy, muggy!

The pooches have been very well-behaved contrary to what we were expecting. We braced for LOTS of barking from 2-year-old Jackson being that last year when we were here Bob couldn’t so much as shift in his chair, let alone stand up without Jackson going Baaallistic. Ear splitting barks. The worst kind. Dexter is 8 and has mellowed well. When Roo got him as a pup while working up in Northern Manitoba (not the usual place to find a desert breed!) he was bundled and packed off everywhere she went no matter the weather. He’d be swaddled up warm in a back pack with his head sticking out the top when she went snowshoeing or in a sweater and off leash on spring back country hikes. Turned him into a pretty cool little guy. Jackson still needs work.

We (dogs and I) get out for one long walk or two shorter walks (morning/afternoon) each day on one of the many great walking/hiking trials that are part of the extensive trail system weaving  and winding all over the Kimberley- Marysville mountain area and, oh so conveniently, there is one such trail just outside this door. We only need to walk a few steps that puts us on a wooded path leading into a not too dense pine forest with well-marked trails.

There is also the Trickle Creek Golf Course adjacent to these woods and directly behind the condos and some of these wooded trails meet up with some of the paved paths on the course. The course is closed at the moment so it’s all right to walk it with the dogs, and so many times we’ll start out in through the woods and segue onto the golf course, a great work-out walk by the way due to the very hilly terrain, It’s in the mountains after all! The dogs love it, they get all that nervous energy out of their system. Mostly applies to Jackson.

As a consequence of  the daily hikes, and puffing up the long inclines, I’ve noticed a drastic improvement in my stamina in just this short time. When I first arrived just last week and went on a long walk I was very noticeably winded very quickly, now I notice my breathing isn’t nearly as labored and my legs keep a nice steady gait even up those slopes! Bob says it might be the altitude that was making me winded, and while ascending to  3,670 feet in Kimberley from Vancouvers 269 feet, there may be some affecting circumstances but I would venture isn’t the only reason, being out of shape is. Bless his heart anyway.

Dexter, Let’s go!

Oh and  I should clarify, Jackson is actually a Chihuaweenie or is it Chaweenie? Anyway part Chihuahua, Dachshund and Alarm system.

Quarantine

There are always two sides to every decision, pro’s and con’s, and when my 91 year old mom had to move into a full care facility last summer it was no different. In her new place she would be cared for 24 hours a day and my sister and I could feel a little less concerned about her being alone on her own at night, the upside to group residential care. All of the stress we all went through over the last few years with our mom was greatly lessened, although it was difficult to see her lose her independence. But mom did adapt to her new surroundings with her sense of humor intact, and some of her personal belongings to make her room quite homey.

With the winter season all residents got a flu shot and even still 12 folks came down with the virus, my mom one of them. The procedure for that is lock down. Fortunately my mom has a cell phone so at least we could keep in daily communication with her while she’s confined to her room.  She greatly misses our thrice weekly drives and lunch outings and my sisters evening visits, but she knows it’s a matter of time to get over it and soon enough would no longer be in her words Hog Tied. It’s into the third week.

Now today we get news that the doctor took a swab from my mom to check on her persistent cough and although she feels good and has energy they tell us she has  HA-MRSA, a.k.a. the super bug. She has been fighting urinary tract infections for several years in which antibiotics were frequently prescribed and then with this last flu outbreak was given more antibiotics. Is it any wonder?

Enter the down side of group residential care. It’s a virulent soup for the prone. When she lived on her own she was never sick.

So now it’s serious lock down but only for her. The other residents are free to come out of their rooms. She is highly contagious, the nurses must “suite up” to care for her we’re told. We’re told it will be one month before they can lift her quarantine, even if the new antibiotics seems to work. The only way to visit her is to stand outside her window and have our conversations over our cell phones.

But that is better than not seeing her at all.

 

 

 

Reflection

fullsizeoutput_1757So we soon close another year. It has been one hell of a time, and I wish that meant it had been so great, but this isn’t the case. There feels to be a shredded wake stretching out behind me.

Seeing 2016 close means leaving the year that I was last in the company of my brother, the year I was with him, talking to him, spending time with him, before dying of cancer. He won’t be in this new year.

It has been a year rife with friends passing in early mid-life from cancers, a co-worker who died in her sleep with what was thought to be a simple virus, another young chef co-worker suffering a coronary, spending a month in a coma and now re-learning how to make toast. His memory of his small children nearly wiped out. Another musician friend struck with the same type of attack while working in Edinburgh.

It was a year of watching and being with my mom in the hospital for three months go through some terrible heart wrenching episodes, of moving her out of her own place of independence, then moving her twice more and finally into a full care facility.

Then the seemingly endless string of beloved celebrities that left us.

I seem to recall a feeling of trepidation on the threshold of 2016, something ominous about to happen. It seems my premonitions were correct. As a final salty rub in the wound, the looming political horizon.

I am not a doomsday, pessimistic personality. I don’t look for tragedy or drama. Yet there is no mistake the reality of the last 12 months. These events happened and it was painful. And I have no desire to gloss over. To see the cheery side. It was a dark year.

So I am reflecting, which is what we do at this time, but not without also offering gratitude. And I do. But I can’t yet put into words what for.

For witnessing the strength of the spirit in all who were struck down and in those left standing whose hearts were pierced? For presence? Yes I think so, I think that comes close. Maybe sometimes presence is enough. Mind-full presence.

So I am embracing the hardship of 2016 as a mother tightly holds a fitful angry child until the fight leaves him. Then releasing with unconditional love and hope for a brilliant new sunrise.

 

 

 

A deep breath and carry on

Ok it’s been an emotional time, beginning many months back. While attending our mother through her hospital ordeal and her moving etc. over the last year, my brother was quietly attending to a tumor that took possession of his liver. It won on September 8th. He would’ve been 65 in November.

This culminated in some deep introspection with the grief of mourning my second brother to be taken by cancer. My father too in 2003.

It brought up feelings about family, about fulfilling a life, and brought home what it means to say Life Is Too Short. Because it is.

But with this reality there also must come license to do the thing, go to the places, be your best self, blossom, because there is an end here; the one certain thing for all of us. Grief has given me a greater appreciation for my time here and the people who are still here with me.

So head up, eyes clear, heart full, it’s time to get back on the horse  ~

 

 

During this time ~

During this time~ my husband and I crossed a milestone of 25 years of marriage. Our original wedding rings were silver native art works, and over time the engravings of Salmon and Raven had etched away and my husbands ring was so thin it split. So new Native Art bands of gold to carry us another 25 years were quietly exchanged ~

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During this time ~ my brother succumbed to liver cancer and passed away on the morning of September 8th.