Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy happy happy! New Year.

Happy New Year! Here is your annual onslaught of ALZiemer anecdotes and exaggerations.

Think happy. Be happy.
It's a motto I have tried to incorporate into my life this past year. Although I am still a firm believer that Albert's motto should remain "Happy wife, happy life."

Each year at this time I pour a glass of wine and sit in complete silence and prepare to recall and put to words the past 365 days. Others may require a therapist's sofa, however I find this to be a cheaper alternative.

 I often start with re-reading my past "annual review" posts. (An advantage of blogging.) I always chuckle at how I end the letter with some form of "excited anticipation" for the upcoming year - having no idea (thankfully) what the year has in store.

New Year's Eve 2012 had me mostly focusing on Brandi and Kore's upcoming January wedding. And I was excitedly anticipating with good reason. It was a beautiful, intimate moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life. This is in part due to the fact the groom forgot to bring any pants on our 5-day excursion to the ski lodge.

The brave couple capturing unique wedding moments and photos

With the exception of the Officiant and Photographer these are the wedding attendees in their entirety

 While I cherished the moments, not knowing what the future held, part of me wishes I had known so that I could have taken fuller advantage of the moments we had. Lesson learned. Just be happy. Love your family. Be kind. And take pictures.

Of course, I had no idea that on February 14th I would be driving off to Kamloops to be with my Mom while she had a biopsy the following day. (Yes, I know - me, driving. In winter. By myself. I'm a big girl now!)

No idea that 10 days later we would get the crushing diagnosis: pancreatic cancer, stage IV, advanced to liver. No treatment. Weeks, not months, to say goodbye. 

No idea that I would look back on my 2012 experience of walking my father-in-law through the gates of eternity as an incredible teaching tool that would allow my Mom to follow him with dignity, fulfilling her wishes to stay at home in her own bed until the end, March 14, 2013. 

Had I known, I'm certain I would not have looked forward to 2013 with such anticipation. 

But, living one day at a time lets us experience good without dreading future pain, and helps us endure suffering with assurance that good things are surely coming our way. 

While I would give anything to not have the experience of losing my Mom, I feel so blessed to have been an integral part of Dad and Mom's lives during those final few weeks. 

I am still shocked and amazed that God gave me the determination, will and bravery to deliver the eulogy at the memorial service. Simply put, I do not public speak. 

For our 31st anniversary, on January 23rd, I bought tickets for Albert and I to see Bob Seger in concert in Vancouver. For 20 years we have said if Bobby ever comes to Edmonton or Vancouver, we are so there! At the time, I had no idea how badly we would need a little 'us' getaway on March 27, a week after Mom's funeral. 

My employer had graciously given me time off, both in the fall of 2012 to be with my father-in-law, and February and March so I could be in Kamloops. Surviving those extended times of no paycheque, coupled with life-changing events that force one to re-evaluate things, I showed my appreciation by giving my notice when I returned to PG. I feel a bit bad about that. After nearly 13 years, on April 28th I worked my last day for Tropical Pool & Spa. I miss the girls, but am enjoying life as a 'kept woman' as Albert continues to supplement our household income by slaving with Davin and Grounded Electric. 

In May, my goal of being the Relay For Life top fundraiser in PG was met - thank you so much for all the overwhelming support from you, my family and friends. With your help I raised $10,730 for the Canadian Cancer Society. As a team, the Pink Panters raised about $14,000 - I am so very proud of my team!  

As top fundraiser I was awarded a trip for 2 courtesy of Uniglobe Travel. We will finally get to take our Newfoundland trip in 2014! I also got to take a helicopter tour over the city on Relay day- that was cool.  

What fantastic weather we had this summer! It was the perfect year to take the trailer out to Vivian Lake and leave it there from June 1st to October 1st. We feel so blessed to manage to score the only site at the lake that also has a cabin on it. We are so excited about this waterfront property that we reserved it again for next year and left the trailer out there for the winter. We are looking forward to many more impromptu parties and reunions - consider this your official invite for summer 2014.  

Throughout the summer and fall while working two jobs and squeezing in as much lake time as possible, Albert managed (with a little help from our friends) to rebuild his shop and re-roof our house which was raining on the inside this spring. He is still picking away at finishing his music room above the shop. Time and money are always such downers on our grand plans. 

October marked five years as a cancer survivor for me. Yay me! I'm eligible to buy life insurance again :)  Coincidentally, I was asked to share my "Relay Story" at a Canadian Cancer Society volunteer summit in October. Did I mention I do not public speak?

Through no fault of his own, Jed's moving-out-with-two-roommates adventure lasted a grand total of a few weeks, and in January we moved him into his own two-bedroom place in the same apartment complex. He is doing quite well - still giving his phones a good work out and managing to get himself all over town keeping up on all the comings and goings in the city.

Lucy is still providing life skills help for Jed and we are truly blessed and thankful beyond words for her input in his life. I choose to "think happy, be happy" and not dwell on the fact that retirement for her is not all that far off.

Jed is looking forward to the Tim Horton's Brier in March in Kamloops where he will work as a program distributor - a role he has had for the last couple of summers here at the World Baseball Challenge in PG.

We enjoyed the extra room that Jed's empty basement suite provided for nearly a year, and on November first we filled it with Jody, Jayme, Gus-Gus (and Eric when he's not at camp) while Jody finishes her final semester at the university. Because they are familiar and comfortable with small spaces, it's working out great.

We are so thankful for having Ken and Jade live so close. They continue to be great parents for Xander and Maeve, who are the light of our lives. Maeve is PaPa's little 'Boopsie' and I love to watch how much she adores her PaPa. Xander continues to attend Cedar's Preschool three days a week. It's hard to believe that he soon will be five years old and attending kindergarten in the fall.

In a 10-day whirlwind of events in November, Brandi and Kore managed to buy a house, sell the townhouse, take a Hawaiian vacation and make a baby. Yes, make a baby. Possession date of the house is tomorrow, January 1st. Baby Connolly is due to arrive August 12. Granny's heart is bursting with happiness!

Recalling the year's events always shows just how much our Father loves us and blesses us. We are so grateful for the enormous circle of family and friends (who are generally really good people) who surround us. Being surrounded and supported like this brings us much comfort, joy and happiness, seasoned with the occasional drama and frustration to keep us humble.

Even in a year when devastating life-changers are thrown at us, the blessings still far out-number the pain and heartbreak. And this is what causes us to once again look forward with eager anticipation to the New Year.

May God bless you more than you can imagine in 2014,

Love Albert & Liana.

PS - did I mention that we have a new grandbaby coming in August? Pretty stoked about that.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nailed It!

Until two years ago women everywhere who aspired to be Suzy Homemaker or the Craft Queen could feel reasonably good about themselves. Martha Stewart was the only real public source of perfection to compare ourselves to and subsequently feel like a failure. But it was easy enough to convince ourselves that Martha is freak of nature, with unlimited funds, capable of doing things unimaginable to us mere mortals. 

Along came Pinterest.... 

At first glance it was the most amazing social network service ever. Millions of women across the world began pinning wildly as creativity and inspiration abounded at previously unheard of levels. 

We pinned and pinned - our inspiration and confidence building with each passing day that we found ourselves awake until the wee hours gathering ideas. At times we were even giddy with excitement at the possibility that perhaps, just perhaps, Martha wasn't so special after all. 

And then we started attempting... 

This week was my 4-year-old grandson's year end party for his preschool class. Parents, Grandparents and siblings were invited to join the activities and participate in a potluck style lunch. Xander's mom signed up to bring a veggie tray. But I, Granny, was far more adventurous. I have a Pinterest account! 

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes would be sure to thrill the kids and impress the adults. I'd seen pictures on Pinterest, so I knew how impressive they would be.  

The four-year-old wasn't so impressed when Granny substituted coconut oil because she didn't have the vegetable oil called for in the Betty Crocker cake mix recipe. 

And after the fact, all I can say is, "Thank God I took pictures along the way so I can blame the four-year-old for the less than stellar outcome."

We used mini cones for the mini mouths we would be feeding.

Nailed it! Don't ya think?

We may have overfilled them with too runny batter. 

 A little Betty Crocker whipped frosting and sprinkles and candy and voila! Specimens of perfection.

 I went the theory that candies and sprinkles will make anything edible to a preschooler.

And the theory was proved correct when there were no leftovers to bring home after the party.

Okay, I may have had to force feed the 14-month-old to get rid of the last one. 

I'm starting to think that Pinterest is actually a curse, worse than Martha, sent to deflate confidence and squash creative boldness for fear of failure.

However, on the flip side, comedy and laughter are good for the soul. And without Pinterest we would never have gotten access to hundreds of NAILED IT! sites. And if you have never failed a Pinterest attempt you really don't get the same tears-down-the-face-stomach-sore-face-hurting kind of laughter and satisfaction from failure.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Am Fearless!

Well, actually I am NOT fearless. I am filled with fear. Which is why I was forced to commit this ultimate act of bravery. 

As I blogged earlier in the week, the tent caterpillars have arrived in our neighbourhood and I am taking whatever steps I can to prevent them from eating my weeping birch tree and keep them from covering my house and deck.

I took this photo the other evening as I was walking home from a visit with my kidlets who live 6 doors down from us. Their house and yard are crawling with the little vermin: 

Daily I have been giving my two infested trees a soapy shower with a hose sprayer attachment filled with Dawn dish washing soap. Here is the results of the first soapy shower when the caterpillars will small and still tenting at night: It's really quite amazing how quickly they die when they come in contact with the soap. There is no wriggling and squirming to possibly evoke slight pangs of guilt for torturing living creatures. There is no thrashing about to possibly have them fall from the tree and thereby landing on me. It's just like instant electrocution. Creepy yet awesome. 

I love my weeping birch tree. It's branches are long and flowing and drag on the ground. It's leaves are hardy and remain green and clinging to the branches long after all the other trees turn yellow and drop their foliage in the fall. It often remains green until it gets covered in snow. And if you crawl underneath it is the coolest natural fort you can imagine. 

Every day I pray for my birch tree's protection from the caterpillars. Oh, I know if they attack and strip its leaves, it will rebound and regrow them. I think it's an emotional thing with my tree.

I am also hoping if I can ward them off from full attack on my yard then perhaps my house and deck will emerge unscathed. So far we are still able to sip a glass of wine in the evening sunshine without fear anything crawling on us.

So while I am depending on God to help me in my fight, I'm doing what I can. My husband, while supportive of my efforts, suggests that it's probably easier to just let nature take its course. And I may eventually have to relent and admit defeat, but I refuse to go down without a fight!

My fight included giving the tree a haircut so the branches don't touch the ground. This takes away the million little built-in ladders should the creepers come crawling by.

The word "fight" is defined as to harm or gain power over or defend against an adversary. And it takes bravery and courage. And having bravery and courage doesn't mean you have no fear. It means you conquer your fears! And you do what you gotta do to harm, gain power and defend. 

And as such, with a gazillion caterpillars in my neighbourhood, I reached out with my bare hands and parted the birch branches and crawled underneath! Bravery at its finest! 

I wielded my weapons of tinfoil and vaseline.

 And as an extra measure of defense, I sprinkled a ring of cinnamon around the perimeter of the tree. It felt like some sort of spiritual ritual of exorcism and I'm sure the neighbours all thought I was crazy. Or perhaps they were jealous of my bravery.

My final line of defense and protection to ensure vermin-free deck sitting was another ring of cinnamon around the house, should the critters make it past the birch tree.

I am counting on my tactics to be successful. However should they fail, I'm fully prepared to move out to the lake for 3 weeks and live among the blood sucking mosquitoes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

We should be safe from vampires for a while

I thought about blogging the other day about how absolutely fabulous my yard smells. I didn't get around to it, but my next door neighbour's giant lilac bushes are in full bloom and it's like intoxication for the nasal senses when  I step outside. 

Or I should say, it WAS like nasal intoxication. 

We took proactive steps to combat the tent caterpillars that have appeared in the cottonwood tree in the backyard and cherry tree in the front. They did not crawl there from other sources, they were hatched in those trees and started out a little tiny wigglers. 

They are fast stripping my trees and growing larger by the hour. And once the leaves are gone from the said trees, I know the little critters are going to crawl down in search of a fresh source of leaves. And in doing so, will cover my house and deck with creepiness that makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. 

Even though I have lived in Prince George for 37 years, and this area has had some wicked caterpillar cycles in the last couple of decades, I personally have never really experienced them on my own home. In the eight years we've been in town this is the first they have made it into my neighbourhood. And all those years out at the farm, people may have felt sorry for me living on five acres of sand in the muddy spring, but the caterpillars hated crossing the sand and it created a great natural barrier around our house and yard. (Although I had convinced myself and others that we were actually God's favourite and we lived in a special ring of protection) 

It appears our status as God's favourite has expired and we have joined the ranks of other mere mortals.

It is time for action!

Using Google and other's experience, the best advice I could glean was Dawn with garlic and cinnamon. The Dawn kills them and I believe the garlic and cinnamon act as deterrents to keep them from invasion.  Even though there are no critters on it, as a preventative measure, we sprayed the weeping birch (Which I call my tree from God because it stays green long after all other trees have turned colour and lost their leaves in the fall.)

I'm not sure what makes Dawn different from other dish soap, but it certainly has a reputation. Kinda makes you wonder how healthy it is to be cleaning the things you eat off of with it. And a visionary person would have bought shares in the company before Pinterest went rampant. Ah well, I digress. 

I'm not sure what the neighbours thought when they saw my hubby up on the roof and on very tall ladders spraying the trees at 9pm. And I have no idea what they will think this morning when they step outside this morning with the heavy smell of garlic and cinnamon hanging over the neighbourhood. I'm sure they'll blame the pulpmill. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's camping, not a magazine feature article.

I will never be a seamstress or a quilter.

I'm more of an adequate short-cut taker, who knows how to wield a pair of scissors. 

Oh, I can sew. If I want to. And sometimes I do. But I don't sew because I want to sew, I sew because I want the finished product. And by finished, I don't really mean "finished". 

My motto has always been "Good enough." 

Today I made curtains for the trailer in preparation for camping season which will start on the weekend. 

Our well-used trailer came to us with frayed blackout fabric pinned to the fabric valance with large diaper pins. It worked well for two summers. But this year we have booked a site at the lake for the entire summer. And the site comes with a 15x20ish cabin. 

I'm quite excited about this summer venture and am already planning the decor of the cabin.  We take possession on Friday when I will measure things up and then dig through the absolute mountains of fabric I inherited from Mom to make new curtains for the three windows in the cabin.

It was my full intention to go to Fabricland tonight to purchase new blackout fabric. I was just headed out the door when I thought that I should Google the store for it's hours - I'd hate to drive all the way up the Hart and find out it wasn't open in the evening. Good call. It closes at 5:30. 

Since I was already focussed on making curtains this evening, I decided I could just work with the frayed blackout fabric and add a layer of Mom's fabric to freshen it up. 

I successfully finished my project. And by "finished" I don't mean I have beautiful hemmed works of art. I mean I used pinking shears to cut them out so I didn't have to hem the sides and I made sure the bottom edge lined up along the finished selvage of the fabric. I didn't get all fancy-like and make rod pockets or anything, I opted to thumbtack them to the underside of the built-in valance in the trailer. 

We are camping after-all, not looking to be featured in a Better Homes and Garden magazine. 

And voila! 

One side of  one of my Mom's fabric closets.
And I'm proud to say I used up about 4 meters of it! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The trouble with blogging...

The trouble with blogging is that most every topic that I could turn into a post, I've already blabbed about on Facebook. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It's my right not to exercise my right.

I neither exercised my right nor fulfilled my obligations as a citizen yesterday.

It was voting day in British Columbia. I'm not sure why, but I rarely vote in the provincial elections. I always do in the federal election, and usually do at the municipal level.

To be honest, I had to Google what party Christy Clark is from when I heard she won this morning. Kinda sad isn't it.

While my history would indicate that I probably wasn't going to vote anyway, I am blaming my lack of action on my frustration with the number of political phone calls we received in the past month. From all parties.

This invasion of privacy and what bordered on harassment occurred pretty much daily and sometimes as many as three times a day. And it's not like it was even a real person calling. The computer generated call playing a recorded voice didn't respond to swearing, hanging up or politely asking them to remove my number from their calling list.

The final call I received was at 5:50 yesterday morning. Yes that is 5:50 AM. On election day - for some reason I thought that advertising on the day-of was illegal. It's possible they changed the rules, I'm not really up on these things.

One of my final thoughts last night was "Thank God it's over. They will quit phoning."

Guess how I was awakened this morning? To a ringing phone. I didn't make it to the phone in time to answer. But guess what the call display showed - "Province of BC." Seriously. Do they really think this is going to make us like them??

Enough already people! Get on with your squabbling in Victoria and leave us citizens alone to complain about the job you are doing.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Brain Has Retired.

"One day blurs into the next. I never know what day of the week it is."

I've heard the phrase many times over the years from people who are retired. Frankly, I thought it was just an overused joke, and I didn't find it that funny.

Guess what? It's not funny. It was never meant to be a joke. I am 10 days into retirement and I can attest.

I rolled outta bed at 9:15 this morning. I knew today was Pink Panter Preparation Day. I needed to haul out the buckets of decorations, prizes and costumes and get everything gathered for this weekend's Relay For Life. But I was feeling pretty chill.

I made a coffee and plunked myself down in front of my email and Facebook.

My daughter-in-law greeted me with "Good morning?"

"Weird, for her to question that," I thought to myself. "It's another sunny day of retirement. Why would she question it?"

Followed quickly by, "OH CRAP!"

I had completely forgotten to take Xander to school this morning. I apologized and promised to pick him up.

After picking him up, he and I said goodbye to Mrs Phillips and I said to Xander, but with the intention of aiming it at Mrs Phillips, "Next school day Granny will be the helper. Won't that be fun?"

Mrs Phillips looked a bit confused and pulled out the calendar that sits on the table in the foyer.

I pointed to May 14 where my name was clearly written.

She responded, "Oh yes, that's not til next week, Tuesday."

"Yeah," I said. Wondering why she was confused.

"We still have Thursday," she added.

It took me another embarrassing moment to realize that today is only Tuesday. We still have Thursday this week for school. And NEXT WEEK Tuesday I am scheduled to be the classroom helper. Let's hope I can pull myself together and get there.

And on a completely different note, isn't little Maeve Liliana the cutest thing ever???

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Committed Mom

Never say never.
It's such a cliche. However I try to make it a general rule. Because sure as anything the moment you say "I will never...." you end up doing it.

And sometimes you don't even have to say it, or even think it for that matter, and before you know it, you end up doing it.

One thing that I could easily have said "I will never" to in the past is delivering the eulogy at funeral. And more specifically my mother's funeral. Not in my wildest nightmares could I have ever imagined that situation coming to pass. But as the day approached with obvious inevitability and incredible speed, I found myself more and more confident that I would never forgive myself if I didn't.

It's not like I had some profound speech that needed to be said, but I could not leave the task in the hands of just anyone. Okay, okay, I may have a few control issues. I did try to offer the experience to my siblings and children. No one else was chomping at the bit to participate. So I did it.

I didn't exactly sign up to "do the eulogy". When Mom's pastor was making arrangements I said, "I think I'd like to say something." He slotted me in for the eulogy.

I wish I'd known beforehand that I was going to do it. I would have liked to talk to Mom about it. Y'know, get her approval.

There wasn't a lot of planning necessary for her funeral. She had it all decided. Even though she didn't have a lot of time to organize, she dictated exactly what was going to happen. I will cherish the conversation forever... (Notice I didn't say "I will never forget")

We laid on her bed, me crying like a baby while she talked - taking micro naps between sentences.

"There will be three songs. The service will be no more than half an hour." She wagged her finger at me.
"Forty five minutes, tops."

I kissed her hand and held it to my lips.

"Your breath is too hot." She pulled our hands, still clasped, away from my mouth.

"There'll be a song. Then Don will speak. (nap) There'll be another song. Then the eulogy. (nap) Then. Then if  you do one of those picture things..." (nap)

"Yes Mom," I think, "I will be doing a slideshow." But I don't correct her wording.

"If you do one of those picture things - keep it short." She opened her eyes, which had been closed during most of the rest of the conversation. "I don't want anyone zoning out."

"And don't get carried away decorating." (nap)

I asked, "What about your 'quilt that you are taking with you'? Can we display that?"

Days earlier, while we were sorting through and designating her quilts, she had pulled one from the stack and snuggled it close to herself and exclaimed, "This one I am taking with me!"

"Well, yes," she responded, "maybe you could drape it on the steps or something. But there's no need for a bunch of fuss. No flowers. (nap) No flowers by request."

She was fading, but added, "Well maybe some roses. Some dark red-burgundy roses would match the quilt." (nap)

It was amazing to witness how weak her body was yet how sharp her mind remained.

She woke from her momentary nap and stated, "I guess that was only two songs. I guess there'll only be two songs."

She continued, "Sing No One Cared For Me Like Jesus. And Safe in the Arms of Jesus." And she succumbed to sleep.

I knew a slideshow was impending during her last few weeks, but I just couldn't bring myself to get it started until after she drew her final breath. I clung to my hope for a miracle. I wish now that I had it finished so I could have shared it with her. I think she would have approved, even though I probably stretched what she would have considered "keeping it short."

And on March 18, 2013 I stood on a stage in front of an audience of a couple hundred and shared the following:

They say the two things people fear most in life are death and public speaking. A number of times in the last few years, my mom and I have told each other that we are not afraid to die.
The same cannot be said for public speaking.

The reason my mom was not afraid to die, is because many years ago she put her trust in Jesus. And that trust remained unwavering until her final breath. It’s incredible to witness the peace that comes along with an unwavering faith in Jesus.

Anyway, I think I sorta signed up to “do the eulogy.” For some reason I’ve always understood that “eulogy” meant giving a chronological point-form listing of the major events and places one lived.
But just to be sure, I Googled it. Dictionary dot com says it’s “a speech or writing in praise of a person.”

Well, that should be easy. Because one cannot speak of my mother without speaking praise.
Oh, I could just give you the facts and stand up here and share that my mom, Jean Cutting, was born in Regina Saskatchewan in 1943, married Ed deBalinhard in Nanaimo in 1962 and lived in 14 different places by 1972. They finally settled and grew roots in Prince George in 1976 and moved to Kelowna in 1990. Then in 2006 they moved to Kamloops to bless the lives of those here at Westsyde for her final 6 ½ years.

But  what I really want to tell you about my mom could really be summed up in one word. Committed. Really committed.

Whether this meant saying “I do” and then following my father to live in the mountains with 3 toddlers and another on the way, or embracing her step grandchildren and cherishing them with 100% equality with her own flesh and blood.

Everything Mom put her mind to, she excelled in. Because she committed to it.
I remember her first wedding cake. She hadn’t previously been a cake decorator and I’m not sure of the circumstances that had her take on the challenge, but she produced an amazing wedding cake for Beth and Peter.

Who does that? – Just decide they are going to be a cake decorator and start churning out wedding cakes. It was an instant career and throughout my teens our home was filled with cakes – spectacular cakes.

Who remembers the knitting machine? Oh. My. Goodness.  The sweaters that thing produced under my mother’s guidance! Hundreds and hundreds of sweaters in the 90’s.
My heart was blessed when my Grandpa came for his final visit with Mom wearing one of her famous sweaters.

When Mom moved on to her next venture, she offered the knitting machine to anyone in the family. I will admit, it crossed my mind to take it. I knew the great masterpieces that machine could turn out. But… I also knew my mother and the level of commitment it took to gain the knowledge to turn out such masterpieces.

My daughter, Brandi, just entering adulthood, was a little more na├»ve. She said “Yes” to the knitting machine, somehow thinking you sit in front of this contraption and a few hours later were wearing a beautiful sweater.

Uhhhh, yeah.

The machine arrived at our house. Boxes and boxes of machine and attachments and books and thing-a-ma-bobs and wool.

They sat piled up on our basement for a long time.
 And we bought our sweaters from Sears.

Who remembers going to church with “Aunt Jean” before she became “Grandma Jean”? Children could hardly wait for the last amen so they could race to gather ‘round Aunt Jean’s chair with their hands outstretched to receive whatever treat she’d stashed in her pockets. Chiclets, licorice, peppermints. There was always something stashed in those pockets, along with a balled up Kleenex.

All of her 51 years of married life, my Mom was teased for her dedication to serving my Dad. Whether it was a buffet dinner or simply a cup of coffee, Mom could be counted on to dish up his plate or fix his coffee and serve it to him.

While I know I don’t quite measure up, I do know my own marriage has been positively impacted by her evident commitment to my Dad.

A few years ago, she was getting my dad a coffee and someone remarked, “He’s perfectly capable of getting his own coffee.”

And she replied, “Yes. I know. But I like doing it. And y’know, I am in my 60’s and I could count on one hand the number of times I have ever had to put fuel in my car.”

51 years ago, my parents committed to love and respect each other. And they remained committed. Really committed.

When my mom committed, it wasn’t always serious and somber. She could be crazy fun when the occasion called for it.

When they lived in Prince George, there was always a lot of weddings and babies being born. Lots and lots of weddings and babies.

It never failed, when there was a shower for the bride or new mom and it was time for eating, the women would all remain polite and resist getting in the line-up for food.

My mom took it upon herself to prove this polite restraint was ridiculous.

It soon became customary to let the bride or new mom go first and then the two women sitting on either side of Mom would get a friendly slap on the thigh and she’s say “Mark, Set, Go!” And the race was on as the 3 of them would scramble across the room to be next in line at the food table. That would always break the ice for the rest of the room to follow suit.

The women all secretly hoped they’d get to sit next to mom at those showers. They said it was so they could cheat off her during those silly little shower games. But I knew. They just wanted to scramble first for the food line.

I could write a book (and one day I might) about my “fun mom”. Fifty year old women, to this day, still speak of our childhood games of hide ‘n seek in the dark house, while Mom chased us around with a giant wooden spoon. (I think that spoon started out as Daniel’s spankin’ spoon)
During her years working at Value Village, she put enormous effort into her dress-up days. There’s an entire photo album back there dedicated to it.

Mom always had a predominant hobby that seemed to cycle through stages. There was a time between the knitting machine years and the quilting era when craft production took a break.
And Gameboy was discovered. Yes, Grandma Jean was a Gamer for a couple of years. Betcha didn’t know that about my mom, did ya.

I remember being at Dad & Mom’s in Kelowna in 2002 – just 11 years ago. She had just painted and was in the process of decorating their spare room. She was on the hunt for “the perfect quilt” to finish it off. We searched every store in town – even Value Village.

She finally settled on a comforter she found at Saan Store. And that comforter became known as “the perfect quilt”. Even the room was often referred to as “the perfect quilt” room.

However, my mom, being my mom, knew in her heart that a mass produced comforter churned out in China really couldn't justifiably remain “the perfect quilt” for long. And so began her quest for quilting knowledge.

I’m sure if you know anything at all about my mom you know she committed to quilting. Just look around the room and you’ll see samples of it. She committed to quilting. Really committed. And excelled.

My mom took pictures of every quilt she made.

Connie, Jennifer and I made copies of those pictures to share with you today. Back on that table are albums containing quilts, wall hangings and table covers. We quit filling albums when we got to 200 photos. Yes, my mom committed to quilting. Really committed.

Whenever my parents moved to a new town or would start to get settled into a new church, my mom would always say, “Oh, I think I’ll just sit back and not get so involved.” And we would snicker silently.

And anyone who belongs to one of these churches will have to agree with me, if my mom committed to the church, she committed to the church.

It was never long before she was organizing the kitchen and decorating the sanctuary.
Those of you who have attended Alpha here at Westsyde know that when my Mom “set up for Alpha” she didn’t just arrange tables and chairs. She committed to the program with incredible creativity.

That’s just who she was. My committed Mom. My really, really committed Mom.
And she will be terribly missed. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Oh Mama

The phrase I have uttered most often in the past six weeks is simply, "Oh, Mama."

I utter it when I'm tired. When I'm sad. When I'm happy. When I don't know what I am, but just need to utter...

I'm not a talker, but I am a thinker. I imagine scenes and what-ifs and shoulda-coulda-woulda's. I'm never bored, even if I have nothing to do, because I always have something going on inside my head.

I've experienced some pretty traumatic life situations. And survived. Sometimes I think part of the reason I'm a pretty even keeled person (yes, I am... stop laughing) is because I've already imagined and planned how I might react in different situations.

But there is one situation that over the years I never could successfully imagine. Living without my Mom. It was almost like if I don't pre-imagine it, it will never happen. So here I am fumbling through life unprepared for this predicament I find myself in. Oh Mama.

It's not like I had daily contact with my Mom. Sometimes it wasn't even weekly. But I knew she was there. Her picture is pinned to the side of my computer and when I look at it, I still don't really believe that she is no longer here. Oh Mama.

Today is your birthday Mama. Seventy. Seventy somehow seems a threshold. A crossing over into "old" (although, in another decade, I'm sure I'll move the threshold to 80) You never became old, Mama. Sometimes I console myself with this thought. Other times it torments me. Oh Mama.

Oh, there are things I regret. Like not being freer to say "I love you" more often. Like not thanking you enough. Like taking you for granted. But I know you understand. Truly, I do know you understand. Not just because you are living eternity with Jesus now, but because I know you understand. You always did. Oh Mama.

But more prevalent than regret, there are things I am thankful for. Mostly for your example. Oh Mama. As an adult woman, I consider some of the situations you have experienced. And to be honest, I struggle with anger and offence over some of it. But you didn't. Mama, there is no finer example I could of had.

I am so very thankful for the amazing man God has provided as husband for me. But if there is anything in our 31-year successful marriage credited to me, I share the credit with you Mama. While I hold my Mother-in-law in high esteem as a wife, truly it was you, Mama, who gave me no finer example. Pretty much daily I think WWMD. What Would Mama Do?

Oh Mama.

May 4, 2013 is the 70th anniversary of your birth, Mama. I choose to celebrate and honour the enormous gift you were, and still are, to all who had the privilege to cross paths with you. I choose not to mourn my enormous loss in  your passing into eternity. I choose gratefulness. Oh Mama. 

Today, in honour of your birthday, I assembled a shadow box of roses from your funeral and a picture of you exuding joy in your "happy place".
I love you Mama. And I miss you. Oh I miss you. Happy Birthday. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Kinda girly

Day two of my return and I'm already staring at the screen and drawing a blank...

I think we're in trouble.

However I do recall my first weeks of blogging way back in 2007 were tough going. I believe one early entry was titled, "Four Days in and I Already Want to Bail". But let's try to persist, shall we.

Relay For Life is coming up in just seven days and Pink Madness will be upon us. In the weeks preceding Relay my mind begins to Think Pink and everything pink catches my eye, unlike the rest of the year when pink and I don't really hang out together too much.

Walking through the mall a couple of weeks ago a male mannequin in the window of District Clothing made me stop in my tracks. Bright pink underwear. For men.

"Gotta have!" my inner voice screamed at me.

I buy all my husband's clothes. Always have. Always will. So I know that men's underwear, even basic tighty-whitey's, are expensive so I fully expected to find a $19.99 or more price tag on these stylin' specimens.

"I'll pay $24.99 tops" I told myself, then added, "Even if they are $25.05 I will not buy them." And with my firm resolve I entered the store to inquire within.

"Ten dollars each or two for fifteen," the young skinny tattooed child informed me.

"Bargain. I'll take 'em. In pink."

Later that afternoon Xander was playing in the playroom when PaPa arrived home. He overheard me say, "I bought you a present," as I handed the bag containing the underwear to my husband.

The word "present" had him come running to watch PaPa open his gift. He was all excited, dancing and trying to stand on his tippy-toes to see inside the bag. He came to a sudden standstill as PaPa pulled the bright pink underwear from the bag.

Without moving anything but his eyes, Xander flashed me a look of disbelief. His eyes darted to PaPa to see if PaPa was going to cry, or complain or show disappointment in some other way.

PaPa said, "Cool." Xander's eyes dart back towards me and he realizes that, yes, Granny really did buy underwear for PaPa and call it a 'present'.

Still standing still he responds, "Awk-ward."

A moment of silence passes and he adds, "AND they're kinda girly, PaPa." And off he skipped to play again.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Albert! Albert! Albert!"

Do you remember this Canadian Tire commercial from the 80's?

I don't think the only reason I remember it is because the kid's name is Albert. (Although in my heart, I am convinced the final phrase is repeated often among acquaintances far and wide ... "I sure wish we had a guy like Albert")

Over the years this commercial has been brought to my mind on numerous occasions.

I think of it every time a crowd of people are cheering and encouraging an individual on.

The feel-good nature of the commercial has us all feeling warm and fuzzy because the individual who was previously down and out is now the hero whom everyone wants.

I heard the "Albert! Albert! Albert!" chant ringing in my head this week.

Sunday April 28, 2013 at 4pm I retired.

Monday morning the chants began. Resurrect the blog! Resurrect the blog! Resurrect the blog!

Geez. I retired to relieve pressures and deadlines and expectations. But truth be told, I had been considering the resurrection even before the chants began. We'll see what reality brings.

It's not often one can suddenly decide "I don't want to work anymore" and get the full support of their spouse to become a kept woman. But that's my reality. I'm a kept woman. I am blessed. And I'm so glad I have a guy like Albert.

Consider Yourself Reminded.

Ten years. It's been 10 years today since I was branded with that title that no-one ever wants to wear. That is until you receive it. ...