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.

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. ...