Thursday, December 31, 2015

Count your blessings, name them one by one...

It’s New Year’s Eve. That means 365 days have gone by since I last sat with a glass of wine and plate of munchies and blogged the incidents and accidents that weave together to create intricate picture that is the lives of Albert and Liana. I present to you now the 2015 thumbnail of the masterpiece still in production.

 As I often do on December 31st, I reread my annual review letters that I have posted since 2007. One can’t help but conclude that we are truly blessed beyond measure. And it’s good to be reminded of these blessings before launching into a review of a year in which one is blindsided once again with loss.

January had us celebrating our 33rd anniversary apart as I was in Kamloops and then Portland for a 2-week period playing the role of granny nanny for Beatrice. What a great way to initiate my shiny new first-ever passport.

Amazing how fast they grow. 

We had a remarkably mild winter last year which caused some initial concern for the Canada Winter Games. But with the exception of the speed skating tracks being relocated to Ft St John, Prince George did a fantastic job of hosting the nation. And if you don’t count Jed getting arrested one evening and spending his first night in jail, I was pretty proud to call PG home during this period.

Jed had full passes to the sporting events and took in a lot of the action. Albert and I participated in the festivities, concerts and food trucks. We enjoyed fireworks shows which were clearly visible from our back deck. I could even stand in the hall and watch out the back window.

Indulging at the poutine food truck during Canada Winter Games
They had the most amazing photo booths at the Winter Games. 

At the beginning of March, Jed and I headed off on a Texas adventure, taking Aunty Connie and Aunty Barbee with us. It had been 20 years, just about to the day, since Connie and I last visited Jennifer at her home. Sad but true. I blame it on the passport requirements.

All buckled up for our first lift off

We had a great time in Texas and I even managed to put on my big girl panties and do a couple of firsts. I ate alligator. Yes, alligator. And yes, I voluntarily ordered it from the menu. And you guessed it, it tastes like chicken –but rubberier in texture. I also tried zip lining. Zipping the lines at Whistler is still on my bucket list, but I am one step closer to being brave enough to attempt it.

That is a grimace of terror. The girl behind is laughing cuz she may have just heard an f-bomb with a Canadian accent. 

At the end of March, Brandi brought Beatrice and my Dad to Prince George and I babysat Bea while she took some training at a denture clinic here. It was great to celebrate Dad’s upcoming 75th birthday with all his great grandchildren. Before arriving he specifically requested that we make sure and get a photo of him with all the greats. This was slightly out of character for him, but we were starting to get used to him doing out of character things in the two years since we lost Mom.

Landon, Jesslynne, Xander, Maeve, Great Grandpa, Beatrice, Joseph

Jed moved into a homeshare program at the beginning of April. He is living with Devin, a single dad, and his 7-year-old daughter, Shayne. While there have been a few issues, as life with Jed will always include, we really couldn’t have hoped or asked for a better situation for him. We are so thankful to God for Devin and his patience and acceptance and it is our continued prayer that things will only continue to get better.

After putting very few kilometers on Betty, the Goldwing, over the last couple of years, we decided she and we would be better served if we found a new home for her. In April we delivered her to Coquitlam and picked up Felix, our new-to-us side-by-side in Kamloops on the way home. (Doesn’t everyone name their vehicles?)

While in Kamloops we stayed with Dad and celebrated his 75th birthday on April 11 with him.

Goodbye Betty

Hello Felix

In May, Barbee, Jed and I once again walked the survivor lap at Relay for Life. While I still donned my head-to-toe pinkness, this was the first year we did not participate as our Pink Panter relay team.

We are so thankful to be counted among the survivors of this terrible disease. This year marks seven-year survivorship for me and five years for Jed. Barbee is still battling hard and I am so proud to call her my bff. 

Doing laps with Elvis

Victory lapping. 

Right after Relay I  headed down to Kamloops with my good friend Darlene to spend a few days just hanging out with Beatrice, Brandi and my Dad.

One of Bea's final photos with Great Grandpa. They had an almost daily relationship. He was so good to her and she renewed his zest for life and brought joy to his days. 

At the end of May, Albert and I headed to Vancouver Island to spend some time nannying Beatrice in Parksville and then hanging out in a vacation house in Tofino. We celebrated Brandi’s birthday in style with a week of seafood, sand and sights.  

One of several magazine-worthy meals prepared by chefs Kore and Jason. 

Hanging out on Long Beach

Cruisin'' on the ferry

On the way to the island, we also got to spend some time with Jack and Barb for this first time in years. It was great to catch up and it’s amazing how it was as if 30 years hadn’t passed.

While on the island we also got to spend a day and a half with our dear friends Maureen & Darryl. This was a bittersweet time as we knew it would be our last visit with Darryl, who lost his heroic 7-year battle with cancer in September.

It was our intention to stop in to spend the night with Dad on the way home from the island on June 3rd but we were making good time and we had been gone from home for nearly two weeks. Because I had just been to Kamloops the week before our Island vacation and Dad was going to spend a week in Prince George with Jennifer and Andy at the end of June, we opted to just carry on home. We will never know the answers to “shoulda, woulda, coulda” but a part of me will always regret that decision.

Because Albert was still on vacation time, we spent one day and night at home before picking up Jed and heading out to the cabin at Vivian Lake, where 2015 was shaping up to be a banner year. The ice was off the lake a month early, and camping season had started by the middle of April.

Friday afternoon, June 5th, Albert got a phone call that would bring my world crashing down to lay in splinters at my feet. Within the hour we were headed to Kamloops where Brandi and Kore had found my Dad on the floor after a major stroke. Time is the greatest enemy for stroke victims and we will never know what the outcome might have been had we diverted to Kamloops that fateful night of June 3.

Connie also arrived in Kamloops that night and Jennifer bumped her flight up a couple of weeks and arrived the next day. The boys both live in Kamloops, and we all spent the next 5 days saying goodbye to our father and releasing him to enter eternity with Mama and Jesus. On June 11th their union was complete. We laid him to rest, together with Mama, on June 19, the day before Father’s Day. And yet again I found myself public speaking as I had the privilege of honouring my Dad by delivering the eulogy.  

The 5 Little Orphans. Okay, not so little orphans. 

As co-executor with Brandi, I spent the rest of June and a good part of July in Kamloops while Albert held down the fort here in PG. There were a lot of A&W mozza burgers on the menu over the summer for the poor guy.

I missed Xander’s kindergarten graduation while Dad was in the hospital. I’m so thankful for technology that allowed me to witness from afar.

Proud of his Kindergarten Grad certificate

Jennifer and Andy came, as originally planned, to Vivian Lake for the week surrounding Canada Day. It was a nice break from dealing with the estate, however I found it difficult because Dad was supposed to be there with us.

We spent more time in Kamloops during August celebrating Beatrice’s first birthday and continuing to work through the affairs of the estate. Through all the comings and goings and travel back and forth, we spent as much time as possible at the lake enjoying a summer of super fabulous weather. If it wasn’t for the boarder living in our suite, our poor home probably would have looked completely abandoned all summer. But as it was my flower gardens looked better than they ever have and they bloomed well in to November. Yes, November. Here in PG. Unheard of, I know.

As great as it was to have a live-in gardener and care taker, she gave notice and moved out of town by the end of August. We had a few people inquire about taking over the suite but we have opted for now to keep the space for ourselves. And while that extra little chunk of change was nice at the beginning of each month, it has been really great having the extra room in our little house that still stores most of the contents of Jed’s apartment (which we are slowly weeding through) as well as the truckloads of inheritance I managed to haul home with each trip from Kamloops over the summer.

The resort at Vivian Lake was host to Woofstock Music Festival in late August. The event got off to a late start for advertising and met with some mishandled management as well as being held on the only rainy weekend we had all summer long. This is unfortunate, as the music line up was fantastic, but the event was very poorly attended. As seasonally permanent residents out there we had weekend passes and, despite the weather, had a really good time. 

A quiet moment on the dock listening to the music in the distance

Hangin' out with my friend Patti and the band Chilliwack

In September our little Maeve Liliana started at Cedars Preschool and Xander entered grade one, although he leaves the classroom for Math which I believe is gr 2-3. His reading and comprehension were recently tested and he comes in at a solid grade 5 level, and his teacher suspects it’s more like grade 6. Socially he is actually a bit young for his age so there is a bit of a disconnect there that keeps the teachers challenged. 
Our smart little 3-yr-old already shows signs of being a good reader, loves drawing, is very social and quite opinionated about fashion. 

Probate was granted in September, and from all reports from others, this was extraordinarily quick. For this we thank God (and Chris, our lawyer who just may have shown us a bit of favouritism). We got Dad’s house listed and signed a 6-month contract with an agent we are slightly less than pleased with. As of now the house is still listed and sitting empty with 6 weeks left on our contract with the agent. Here’s to a sale soon or a better relationship with a new agent come February.

We joined the ranks of the new generation and cancelled our landline in September – mostly due to my lack of patience and tolerance for political lobbyists who seemed to think they needed to contact us daily to ask how we were voting.

We had another quick trip to Van Isle in September to celebrate our friend Darryl who left behind a legacy of life and example of how to do relationships; how to repair them and how to sustain them.

At the end of October, I took a 3-week job nannying for Ray and Jesse as she recovered from surgery. It was great to get to know their sweetest little girls, aged 3 and 5. And I even survived the 7am-get-dressed-and-leave-the-house mornings.

November 5th my grass was still green and my flowers were blooming. This is really an incredible feat for us here in the north.

Yes, this is November in Prince George.

Sometime during November, Ken and Jade had a developer knock on their door and ask if he could buy their house. He agreed to pay more than the house was worth and it was really a great opportunity to get into a bigger house that they couldn’t refuse.

They found a house with a quick possession available and spent their first night in it on Dec 23. They handed over the keys this afternoon and so ends the era of the wee shack down the street. While I am certainly going to miss having them just 6 doors down, I cannot begrudge them the chance to move on up, and will have to accept the 10-minute drive. At least they are not up the Hart. Or way off in Kamloops. 

On November 24 Connie and I headed to Vernon to visit with Grandpa Cutting who was in the hospital and not doing well. The next day, November 25th, he left his weary 93-year-old body behind and took his quick wit and sharp mind with him as he entered the gates of heaven. Our hearts break for Grandma, yet we rejoice with him as he receives his eternal reward for a life well lived. Once again I found myself in front of a grieving crowd, public speaking on behalf of all the Cutting Cousins. Oi. This is so not my cup of tea, and I stumbled my way through reading my notes only to realize a couple of hours later that I had forgotten to put my glasses on.  

By the middle of December our grass was still green, although the flowers had become frost bitten, and I began to dream in earnest of a green Christmas along with a nicely finished new main bathroom and pantry that Albert had been working diligently on for weeks. The green did not happen. But the bathroom and pantry did so it’s all good. We currently sit under about 12 inches of snow. It’s pretty but it’s still snow.
The bathroom is small but completely functional and allows for a large pantry. 

This room brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart. I love it! It even fits an upright freezer. 

It was so awesome to have Brandi, Kore and Beatrice come stay for a week over Christmas. And it was great having the extra space in the empty suite to fit everyone in. It was my intention to have Jed come and stay here for the holidays but he opted to stay at his home with Devin and just day-trip to our house. I cannot express how much this blessed my heart. Not only for the extra peace :) but it really shows how settled he is at Devin’s and that it really is ‘home’ for him. 

So very blessed by these three little wonders of delight whose personalities are so varied and unique.

We had so much to be thankful for in 2015. Even in a year of great loss, the blessings always always always far outnumber the heartache, and we are expecting the same for 2016.

Peace and love to you all – each of whom we count among the blessings.  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Grandpa One Eye

My name is Liana, and as the oldest granddaughter I am elected to represent the 23 grandchildren in honouring Grandpa today.

I have a few memories and stories to share with you.

A few years ago, we were having a bbq at Grandpa and Grandma’s. Grandpa had grilled up some burgers and we were sitting at the table in the back yard visiting and enjoying the feast.

Grandma had gone inside to make more ice tea or something. I looked across the table during a moment of silence to see Grandpa staring at me with tears rolling down his face. Feeling a bit uncomfortable, I asked, “Are you okay Grandpa?”

“Oh honey, you look exactly like I last remember my mother. You are about the age she was when she died.”


However, I have to say, that even in the awkward moment, I have never in my life been so proud… of my varicose veins, this hump on the back of my neck, my hanging bottom lip, and this double chin. (I somehow managed to miss out on the boisterous laugh – maybe it didn’t come from the Watterworth genes.)

My sisters and I were reminiscing the other day and recalling going to a Kiddie Land Park when we went to visit in Regina. It might as well have been Disneyland to us kids from the boonies. Grandpa opened his wallet and handed each of us a FIVE dollar bill. An incredible amount of money to us in the early 70s. But it taught us what a generous man our grandfather was.

Most who know our family, probably know we didn’t celebrate Christmas when we were young children. The first time we remember receiving Christmas gifts was 1973, just after Grandma Margaret passed away. It seemed to us Grandpa sent one of everything in the Sears Christmas Wish Book.

Again, solidifying in our minds the generosity of our Grandpa. And through the years this generosity of both Grandpa and Grandma Gloria has continued, as they faithfully remember the special days and events of all – generation after generation after generation. What a heritage of blessing we have been given.

What a treat it was for me in 2009 to present my grandson to my grandfather and get a 5 generation photo.

Grandpa graduated to heaven on November 25th – Jennifer’s 45th birthday. When her birthday card arrived, signed in Grandpa’s handwriting, with his legendary smiley face in the “G”, she was beyond thrilled to realize she probably got his last written card.

The following note comes from Laura:

Today is a sad day for us, saying goodbye to Grandpa. But today is also a day to remember that his love for our Lord Jesus Christ shone through him. We all know where he is and that he is happy.

Grandpa, or as my children called him, "one eyed Grandpa", always had a gleam in his eye and such quick wit with his humour.

That is one thing that he passed on to his children, and through the generations: a sense of humour, although quirky, and a tremendous laugh to go with it. You know when you are at a Cutting reunion because the laughter is intense and loud!

Grandpa and Grandma came to my wedding in 1993 in Calgary. One of the regrets I have in my life, is that our Best Man drove too quickly to the pictures, and Grandma and Grandpa couldn't keep up, and they never made it to the pictures.
But luckily, we were able to spend many more years with Grandpa. 

Grandpa enveloped Darryl, he took him in and treated him no differently than he did the rest of the family. This was a great comfort for myself and Darryl. There were times that Darryl even called and asked Grandpa advise. 

When our children were younger, we would vacation in the Okanagan Valley and always loved our visits with Grandpa and Grandma.  They were both always so happy to see us and enjoyed seeing our children grow up. 

This past June, I went with my parents to Uncle Ed's funeral in Kamloops. After the funeral, we all gathered at Uncle Ed's home and we visited for a few hours.

Eventually the cameras came out and everyone had their picture taken with Grandpa and Grandma. It took quite a while to get through the picture - this is not a small family. 

At the end of all the picture taking, I helped Grandpa to his feet. I said to him "Look at what you created! If it wasn't for you, none of us would be here". He looked around the room, then back to me. He had a tear rolling down his face and he smiled. He couldn't speak. It was a beautiful moment and I will never forget it.  I am so glad I was able to spend that time with him in June. 

You were a wonderful man, Grandpa, and I know that all of us love you deeply.
I will see you again one day!

Love always,

I also have a note from Nastasha to share with you, that blesses my heart more than I can say:

George Harvey Cutting was better known as "Grandpa One-Eye" to me, a title he wore proudly and had great fun with.

I am sure none of us will forget him teasing us with the toy eye ball at the family reunion at Aunt Jean and Uncle Ted's. ……( I dunno, Nastasha, I’m not 100% convinced it was a toy)……

I always looked forward to family vacations west to visit him and Grandma Gloria. There were raspberries to pick and always crafts to be made. I will never forget how terrified of that bear skin rug I was; fearing it would somehow come to life while I was sitting on it.

I have these wonderful memories to hang on to always, but none of them compares to the peace and joy we brought to each other recently without speaking a word to one another. 

Grandpa had incredible faith in the Lord and walked his journey on this Earth hand in hand with Jesus.

Two words that didn't enter my life until recently (the past year or so) are “God” and “Jesus.” On my spiritual journey to finding the truth in Christ, there were many ups and downs; all of which the Lord guided me and carried me through.
After spending much time studying God's word, I began asking questions about baptism. Eventually the holy spirit provided me with answers to my questions and I was baptized into Christ in August.

My mom told Grandpa and Grandma of my decision to be baptized while she was visiting them in October. When my birthday rolled around in mid November I received the usual card and letter. This time the letter read how over joyed they were to hear I had given my life to Christ and that it was an answer to fervent and frequent prayer.

I contemplated picking up the phone and calling to thank them for the uplifting note; as many people had removed themselves from my life upon me becoming a Christian. But life was busy and I never made that phone call.  

Later I was informed of Grandpa being in the hospital.  I finally picked up the phone and called, only being able to speak with Grandma. But it was enough to hear her tell me of the joy it brought Grandpa (and her) to know I had come to find Jesus, and Grandpa’s fervent prayer was not in vain.

But being the man of faith he was, he knew it was not in vain; "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers." - 1 Peter 3:12
He knew God would answer when it was His will and the time was right. 

It brings me great happiness and peace to know that I could bring Grandpa such joy with one decision, and to know he was proud of me and the new path I have chosen to walk. This I will always hang on to.

It does not make me sad to know he has moved on because its not "good - bye", it's just "see you later." For I know he has received eternal life and is only asleep in Christ. I will see him again at the coming of the Lord. 

"Brothers and sisters we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus, those who have fallen asleep in Him.
According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive and are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

 Therefore, encourage one another with these words." - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

So I, Nastasha encourage you all with these words; and I encourage you to seek out the truth.

Grandpa would not want us to grieve and mourn, but to rejoice that he has moved on from this world and that we will be reunited with him again through Christ someday.