Farewell Dad

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I know your strength is fading,

I wish it wasn’t so,

I wish we had more time,

Before you have to go.

 

The road hasn’t always been easy,

Life has had its ups and downs,

But one thing has never changed,

And that is that you are my dad.

 

I’m trying to find the words,

To tell you how I feel,

But in this very moment,

It all seems a bit surreal.

 

Though I haven’t said it often,

Or shown it in ways I should,

I hope you know that I love you,

In the very best way that I could.

 

A lifetime of memories seems not enough,

As our time together draws near,

But, I want you to understand that,

‘Our’ journey does NOT end here.

 

When it’s time for you to move on,

I will reluctantly let you go,

Only because I know,

That we WILL, once again,

Bid each other a very warm, “Hello!”.

(Written for a dear friendūüíē)

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And The Lava Flows….

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Image courtesy of Hawaii Magazine, USGS

Chances are that you have heard about Kilauea’s recent and ongoing eruption on The Big Island of Hawaii. ¬†Indeed, the media coverage has been extensive over the past few weeks and certainly the number of evacuations and repercussions has been notable. ¬†Watching the fiery lava spill across roads and homes and precious land freezing everything in its path is scary. ¬†While native Hawaiians and travellers alike have always been aware of the steady volcanic activity in the area, I am not sure that anyone predicted the number of fissures that have since opened, the countless earthquakes and the flow’s most recent encroachment on the nearby geothermal power plant. ¬†Needless to say, the situation at hand warrants careful and continuous monitoring as the volcano’s volatile activity reaches heights not seen in the past one hundred years.

Interestingly enough, my husband and I heard on the morning news how tourism has since been affected with less and less people venturing to the usually well-visited island. ¬†Businesses have really noticed the drop-off in vacationers and they are hoping to spread word about the reality of the size of the area that is/has been affected by Kilauea. ¬†In fact, some Hawaiians are really upset that the media has blown the issue out of proportion, no pun intended. ¬† As a frequent visitor to the South Pacific Isles, I can understand why many locals are upset, since a good percentage of their economy relies on those of us looking for some fun in the sun in amongst a paradise like no other. ¬†However, I am left to reflect on those who have remained steadfast over the decades that tourism has negatively affected the Polynesian’s true culture and ways of the land. ¬†I truly wonder how these oppositioners feel now. ¬†Separate from the four square miles of the volcano’s reach, are they silently relieved that they are temporarily able to reclaim some of their spaces, or are they now rethinking foreigners and their role? ¬†I ask the question with not the faintest of ideas, prejudices or judgements about what the answer would be. ¬†It is something that I honestly ponder given the current circumstances while knowing that the travel industry plays and has played a huge part in Hawaii’s state of affairs, like it or not, visitor or not.

Having been to the islands half a dozen times ourselves and knowing how busy it gets, especially during peak times, I can certainly empathize with the Hawaiian people who are trying to life their lives simply. ¬†The truth is that when out and about during our own visits there, WE have even been frustrated at times with respect to the number of people crowding the beaches, the streets, the vendors and all of the usual touristy-type attractions unique to each island. ¬†Having said that, we have always been treated with kindness wherever we have gone–one of the many reasons that we have even considered relocating there.

All I know is that despite what’s going on now and our well wishes for all of the people who have been affected by the volcano’s latest developments, we northerners have very much appreciated being able to visit one of Mother Nature’s true beauties on Earth and we certainly plan on going back to Hawaii the very next opportunity that we have. ¬†Hopefully, our respect for Hawaiians and their connection to the land will be honoured as always. ¬†Aloha and Mahalo!

 

Small Kindnesses DO Matter

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She may not have been Famous, but she was well-educated and very well-loved throughout her short life. ¬†When asked, in her dying days, what was the one thing that she wished she had done differently, she bravely admitted that she wished that she had been kinder to people along the way. ¬†I thought that was a very profound statement. ¬†Her friend, who was officiating the celebration of life yesterday, went on to mention how in her last weeks and days, *Sherry gained a whole new appreciation for the little things that people said/did for her and that she had never really realized before how meaningful the smallest of exchanges were. ¬†Hmmm…I will admit that for those of us who were listening to the Ceremony, it certainly gave some pause for thought.

Sherry’s celebration of life is the fourth of its kind that I have attended in the past year. ¬†A bit sobering, without a doubt. ¬†What was different this time, however, was that the person knew that they were dying from a terminal illness (first diagnosed this past November), and though in an otherwise uncontrollable situation, decided to take control of something and plan their own funeral. ¬†Once again, how extraordinarily brave to be faced with the end of one’s life at age 50, and to take the bull by its horns, so to speak, and put together your own slideshow, an outline of your service and to choose your final resting place. ¬†I am not sure that I would have the courage to do the same, but as an old friend/neighbour of Sherry’s and as an attendee, I will tell you that knowing that she had chosen her very own music, the photographs, the officiant, the person to do her eulogy, the type of flowers, etc., was very powerful and moving in so many ways. ¬†I felt privileged to be there as she reflected on her life through the medium of close family and friends, and I would venture to guess that those of us in attendance all felt Sherry’s presence in one way or another–I mean, how could you not have knowing that she had a hand in it all?

As Sherry’s service came to a close with Sinatra’s, “Fly Me to the Moon”, an occasion that seemed so sad in ways also seemed joyful in the sense that she¬†chose to leave her final mark in this world with Frank’s upbeat lyrics and the last line of the song ringing out with “I love you.” ¬† Her song choice actually left me smiling. ¬†Beyond the aforementioned, it was no coincidence that she chose the song for when her father passed twenty-one years earlier, from the same disease as her, she bought a star and named it after him as a tribute; hence the significance of, “fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars”. ¬†I felt it was a more than fitting ending since my belief is that she and her father have now been reunited to ‘live’ out the rest of their unencumbered days together in much a happier, more peaceful place.

Once her ashes were put to rest and tears were once again shed, the laughter, the love and the diversity of people who¬†filled the refreshment room was clearly a reflection of Sherry’s full and meaningful life. ¬†In another unique twist to things, at her request, we all raised a glass of carefully chosen champagne while her mom spoke a few words and thanked everyone for coming. ¬†Indeed, it turned out to be quite a celebration–exactly what Sherry had wanted. ¬†If she had come to terms with the fact this part of her journey was over and she was grateful for her time here, as was¬†shared with us yesterday, then we, too, would have to accept it as well. ¬†Maybe her choice to leave us with such moments of clarity and joy was her final act of kindness? ¬†I would like to think so….

Cheers and rest well my dear, old friend!!

*Name has been changed out of respect for the family.

 

Death is Real, Even on Mother’s Day

At the¬†Core¬†of it, death is a funny thing….not literally obviously, but it is one of those controversial topics with respect to what happens leading up to, during and after the passing of an individual. ¬†Religion aside, it is hard to argue that the subject of death can leave one feeling mortal, without control and often mystified; yet, we know that each one of us will face it ourselves, along with the other many times that we will encounter it throughout our lives as loved ones pass.

Death is not a new topic for me. ¬†My earliest memory of it was at the tender age of nine when my Baba passed away peacefully (thankfully!) in her sleep at aged 84, after some time spent in a Senior’s home. ¬†All I knew then was that even though I could see her body in the casket at her funeral, she wasn’t really there and I had been told that she wasn’t coming back. ¬†It made no sense, it usually doesn’t. ¬†I also remember how devastated my mom was, as were the rest of us, and to be honest, some thirty-four years later, I don’t think she has ever fully recovered. ¬†I am not sure you can and actually, I am not even sure that we are meant to ‘recover’, whatever that is. ¬†Our lives are indeed forever changed when faced with such a close loss of life, if for no other reason than the clear physical separation. ¬†Beyond that, however, we are human beings and by nature, we define ourselves based on those around us–when someone is no longer in the here and now, it leaves a space, usually in our hearts. ¬†Sure, markers of time may come and go, and we are told that time can heal, but the rawness of those kind of emotions never truly go away. ¬† It doesn’t always have to be bad in that we can use grief and sorrow as an opportunity to grow and change in positive ways (i.e. learning to value the small moments in life, getting out of unhealthy relationships, motivation to pursue our dreams, spending more time with our loved ones, prioritizing one’s role), but at the heart of it, a piece of us will always be missing that nothing or no one can EVER replace. ¬†Some of us learn this the hard way and get caught up in trying to fill the hole(s) with all sorts of things, many unhealthy. ¬†Here’s the truth: ¬†We are individuals and while we may be expendable, we are NOT replaceable. ¬†Our souls are connected and we are one because of that (remember that I am choosing to keep religion out of this), but the oneness changes.

Since my Baba’s death, my extended family and circle of friends has slowly become smaller and smaller, as I reach middle-age. ¬†Many a death have happened, both young and old, expected and unexpected, self-inflicted, accidental or otherwise and all have been tragic in their own way. ¬† I have attended more funerals than weddings or celebrations by a long shot, and each time, it is all the more sobering than the last. ¬†Daily life goes on for the rest of us who are left behind, but in that instance of loss, the world becomes a different place than how we knew it the day before. ¬†We evolve the best we can, but sometimes it just isn’t good enough and that is because it is not enough. ¬†It never will be. ¬†Good enough would be to have our loved ones back with us again in this world, but….

As I read through many of today’s posts, I saw tributes to many moms who have passed on. ¬†So many people wishing to see or talk to their mom one more time, remembering often the good times, but sometimes the challenging ones too. ¬†It is sad and thought-provoking and very real. ¬†At brunch with my own mom today (for whom I am most grateful is here to spend Mother’s Day with), I learned about a close family friend of ours who died this past Thursday. ¬†She just celebrated her 50th birthday in February, first learning of her cancer diagnosis six months ago. ¬†Time froze when my mom told me. ¬† Goosebumps rose and my racing thoughts began…

But how? ¬†Why? ¬†*Sherry? ¬†Can’t be!!! ¬†What? ¬†Why? ¬†She’s only a few years older than me. ¬†My brother will be 50 in a month. ¬†What if it had been him? ¬†(Selfishly), thank God, we are all here. ¬†Oh my God, her family. ¬†How is her mom doing? ¬†Why didn’t anyone tell us? ¬†What can we do to help? ¬† When is the service? ¬†How did she spend her last few months? ¬†Was anyone there at the end? ¬†Will she be reunited with her dad again? ¬†What kind of cancer? ¬†I hate cancer.

Sherry.  50.  Gone.  My next door neighbour in early childhood.  Her family, my family, friends, ALWAYS.  Camping, laughing, fishing, travelling, birthday parties.  Forever changed.  Funeral this coming Saturday.  This is real.  Death is real.

I will do my best to celebrate Sherry’s life. ¬†I am sure that that is what she would want. ¬†I also take comfort in somehow knowing that she is with her dad. ¬†‘Maybe that is why this was her time?’ ¬†still thinking…. ¬†After twenty years apart, it must have been time to be with him again. ¬†Now, they will be together forever. ¬†I think that’s it. ¬†I can only hope that’s it. ¬†

*Name has been changed out of respect for the family.  

My Own Canvas

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Like a blank canvas,

On which I get to write my

Very own story.

That’s why I keep going back

and back,

& back:-).

 

Place in the World

Slices of Lemon Sky

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While there are a few interesting lines in this sunset picture, it is the seeming appearance of lemon slices in the¬†cloud that really caught my eye. ¬†Then again, maybe I am just a ‘sucker’ for all things cumulus? ¬†Ha, ha. ¬†Either way, my hope is that the imagery above has the ability to pucker up a smile on your face, even if it has been a sour kind of day;-).

A cumulus cloud’s,

Sour-like appearance leaves me,

Craving meringue pie.

Lines

Spring Awakening in Two Dimensions

Looking outside our front windows this very moment is a bit depressing, I am not going to lie. ¬†Even though it is the middle of April and ‘spring has (supposedly) sprung’, you would never know it here in the Great White North of western Canada as a lovely blanket of snow STILL covers the ground, with drifts as high as half-way up our fence-line. ¬†We are nowhere near where we should be temperature-wise for this time of year and a fresh bit of snow fell again this morning to remind us that Mother Nature is not done with the white stuff yet. ¬†Really?! ¬†Isn’t six months of winter enough?

After spending the last two weeks in Hawaii on holidays, there is a part of us that is grateful that we were away for the bitterly cold records set (close to -30 degrees Celsius) and as such, we feel somewhat unjust in complaining about what is now wherein the thermometer hovers around zero; however, the other part of us is left craving the sights and smells of freshly mown, green grass, the sun and its warmth shining on our faces, and the various songs of birds carrying from newly blossoming tree to tree.

Now to focus on a more positive note, the hours of daylight have stretched out which means that going to and from work is a lot more tolerable. ¬†We also have a great many pictures from our trip to help keep our hopes up that soon enough, we, too, WILL have a spring Awakening¬†and if not, perhaps we will skip straight to summer, which would be just fine with me. ¬†Meanwhile, as a lover of flowers, here is one of the many snapshots that I will hold tight to until we can plant our own colourful delights to admire. ¬†The size and vibrancy of this jellyfish-like flower makes me smile. ¬†For now, I’ll take what I can get even if in it’s only in two dimensions in my i-Phone photo album.

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