“Even children get older and I’m getting older, too.” You likely recognize these words to the infamous song sung by the legendary Fleetwood Mac and if you are a middle-ager like me, that particular lyric probably sticks. Time does not stand still for any of us, young or old, and with each passing year, our reflection in the mirror reminds us so, as do those around us.
If you are a parent, you see your children grow and slowly become adults before your very eyes. As the years pass, they physically change and even though they often go on to have children of their own, they always remain your baby. In the reverse, as a child, you watch your parents age and reach milestone after milestone, each one becoming more precious than the last with the stark realization that they may not always be around to partake in such celebrations, be it theirs or yours. All the while, there is this thing called life that becomes busier and busier and takes us away from each other, sometimes distance-wise, sometimes time-wise, sometimes both. Everyone does their best to stay connected, but the world we live in usually operates in juxtaposition to that, pulling us all in different directions. Consciously, maybe even subconsciously, we go about our business and we try to find opportunities to get together with our loved ones as often as possible recognizing that between visits, time marches on. It is not lost on us that sometimes occasions get missed and regrets happen. Those instances make us more grateful for when things do come together and we are able to savour the moment.
Recently, I found myself facing multiple deadlines at work in amongst our usual family celebrations, including my own birthday. Planning around my schedule, my family and I met up the weekend before for a nice dinner out. At the end of our get-together that evening, my parents passed along some gifts (even though I’ve repeatedly said that time together is more than suffice) and my mom’s parting words stuck with me. “But, I won’t get to see you on your birthday.” Even though, we had just spent the evening with one another, it clearly wasn’t enough and I decided right then and there that I would have to find a way to make it enough. As I made my way through the week, I used my time as efficiently as ever determined to fit in time for a quick visit, despite my job demands. “Family comes first!” my gut rang out.
In case my efforts failed, I said nothing to my parents or my husband about my inner plan to stop by their place on my birthday. The fact that they lived only minutes away from my workplace certainly made it more than doable–one of the reasons that I had actually moved there a few years prior. That morning, I texted my husband to say that I would be coming home a bit later, so that I would not disappoint him and/or any of the things that he likely had planned for me. Thanks to closing my otherwise open office door and limiting my normally welcomed collegial interactions, I made it out of the building with a bit of time to spare. Smiling as I drove up the street, I could only hope that my parents were actually at home for my surprise intention to come to fruition. I had a feeling it would…
Sure enough, as I drove along, I spotted my dad’s vehicle a couple of cars in front of my own. Better than originally thought, I was now following him home unbeknownst to him. As he stopped in his usual spot to get the mail, I passed by him leaving him to think that it was a close neighbour, who also drove the same automobile as me. A few minutes later, when he rounded the street corner and saw me standing in their driveway, I recognized the all-too-familiar smile cross his face. In that moment, he realized that it had been me behind him. It was a supreme ‘coming-together’ moment and his pleased expression said it all. And, there it was…the best birthday present ever realized! When I followed him into the house, my mom’s subsequent smile and astonishment was further confirmation of the decision that I had made in the restaurant parking lot a few days earlier, wherein her sadness echoed so loudly that I knew had to answer the call. ‘I’m here for my birthday drink,” I happily announced, as she came out of the kitchen to greet me.
As my mom, dad and myself made our way onto their back deck and visited and reminisced on what turned out to be a gorgeous spring evening, I revelled in sharing my birthday with the two most important people on this earth who were responsible for my being, my very essence. Now that was something to celebrate, deadlines or no deadlines. Quite simply put, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here doing what I am doing in the first place, and it didn’t seem right, as my mom had said, that they would not get to see me on ‘my’ day—after all, it was ‘our’ day and the only way to spend it was….together. Together is what mattered most!
How can I celebrate when you are not here?
How will I get through this ‘special’ calendar day?
Others are laughing and smiling whilst spending the day together,
Meanwhile, you and I are apart, and it just isn’t right.
I look at our pictures and I think of your face,
My memory of it, thankfully, time cannot erase.
In the midst of my quiet, I listen for your voice…
“Remember me with love & all that we shared,
For I am with you now & forever in countless ways.”
Dedicated to all who have lost their dads, Be it days, weeks, months or even years ago.
I pass by her place almost every day. I can tell that something hasn’t been right for awhile now. Both my husband and I have commented so. Being that we don’t know her personally, it’s been difficult to guess exactly what has happened
, but we don’t see her red truck anymore and her black dog has also disappeared. It doesn’t seem good. For quite some time, I also haven’t witnessed her and her trekking poles out rounding her lot, as she used to very religiously do. On the other hand, we have seen her children, or who we assume are her children, show up on the property a few times lately and a new red car has appeared in the lineup of other older modelled vehicles, all of which sit neatly across from her home.
The narrative we have of our older neighbour lady is that she is a lover of the outdoors, somewhat of a recluse maybe, widowed perhaps, whose business doesn’t belong in amongst other people’s business; hence, her desire to keep to herself. Her aged face tells me that she has spent a lot of time in the sun, likely gardening and hiking amongst other activities. Kind of funny in a way how we conjure up ideas like these about individuals without knowing even one shred of information or truth about them.
When we first moved out here to the country, we would smile and wave at our neighbour whenever we went by and sometimes she would look our direction, but mostly, she just did her thing, which we certainly respected. Many people who live out of main cities and towns do so because they want to lead a more private life. With all that goes on in this world, I am sure that she had a very good reason, or two even, for why she was the way she was and so, we would admittedly look on with a sense of curiosity, while also minding her wishes.
Having said that, clearly there has been a change of life events at her place. My husband suggested that she might have gone on a trip, but I don’t think it’s likely in that the feeling I get is that she is not one to take elaborate vacations of sorts, rather she is more of a homebody instead; someone who is just happy being on her own in her own yard with her own things and her own dog. If she isn’t off travelling, which she could be and I am way off the mark in my hypotheses, then one has to wonder if she has fallen ill or if, worse yet, she has passed away. Without making any rash decisions, I am presently thinking the latter and here’s why…
This past week, as I drove past her place on my way to work as I have many times prior, a feeling came over me–one in which I could sense that her energy was gone. In other words, she was no longer with us. I hadn’t ever had that feeling before, not even the weekend prior when I had driven by. While I understand that my scenario likely sounds strange to many of you given that I didn’t even know her literal presence, I also cannot deny what I felt. In that moment, I had to wonder if, in fact, she had passed on that very day. The trouble is that I don’t think that we will ever get to know what has happened to our neighbour lady across the way unless she were to suddenly show up again, which would be nice since I don’t really enjoy thinking the worst. Unfortunately, I also can’t seem to shake the feeling that she is gone under the growing mound of evidence or rather lack thereof, of her whereabouts.
Meanwhile, as I continue to drive past her place, and day by day spring sets itself in, I cannot help but feel sad as she misses out on watching her grass turn ever more green, her little yellow pinwheels spinning in the wind and the growing sounds of her little frog friends ribbiting away in the nearby pond. What if last spring was her last spring here and not knowing it at the time, or maybe knowing, that there would be no more springs for her to experience? Nobody ever really knows, though, do they? I can tell you one thing for sure out of all of this and that is a reminder to live each day to the fullest because the future is promised to no one.
To our neighbour lady, “Wherever you are, we want you to know that even though we never really knew each other, you are in our thoughts.” Proof to my husband and I that whether or not we think it, we are all connected in simply just being. Thus, never underestimate your ability to have a lasting impact–most likely, you won’t even realize it!
As I sit here enjoying a gorgeous, sunny morning, watching a mindless movie and drinking my coffee, I once again see a commercial advertising DNA testing kits. It’s easy and fast, they say. They ask you a few questions about yourself and send you out a kit (which you must register) and in turn, you provide them with a sample of your DNA and mail it back to them. Then, you happily await a copy of your results. Depending on the company you choose, and there are a plethora of choices, you can learn everything from your ancestry to genetic health risks to long-lost relatives and more. Of course, the concept is appealing to many who wish to learn more about their history and their future, even. Perhaps, another part of the allure is borne out of the desire to feel more connected to someone or something, given how disconnected we are in other areas of our lives in this technological age.
I personally know a bit about my grandparents, two of whom passed before I was born, but beyond that, I can honestly say I don’t know much about my family tree or heritage beyond what information my parents have passed along, which is kind of sad in a way. Would it be interesting to find out more about past generations of both sides of our family, i.e. who they were, where they lived, and how they lived? I say sure! I love learning new things, particularly if they will provide me with more insight into who I am and where I came from, so to speak? And, wouldn’t it be helpful to know about any health concerns that I may be genetically predisposed to that I don’t already know about? Mais bien sûr! (French for, ‘but of course!’). However, there is one major issue that is holding me, and hopefully others, back from going online and ordering up a kit, which is purported to help unlock the key to my past. Plain and simply, it’s the word ‘mail’. Mail and DNA samples?!? Indeed, I cannot get past those two words in the same sentence to even dare to consider partaking in this popular trend of finding out my family’s background or anything else, for that matter.
Now, I don’t know about you, but the idea of sending ANYTHING in the mail, courier service or not, is a tad bit frightening and always has been given where it could end up, IF it even gets there. Add in sending in something that defines my unique genetic make-up and the mere notion of it makes me a bit squiggly, to be honest. While paper money and coins are a rarity nowadays in lieu of their ever-popular plastic and digital counterparts, it used to be that one was always cautioned to NEVER send cash through the mail for fear of it ending up in the wrong hands or not even making it past point zero. Clearly, that reasoning made sense and most of us held fast to that rule; hence, money orders or cheques were used instead. Yet, here are several different registries ENCOURAGING people to ‘simply mail in’ cotton swabs containing highly sensitive information? Pardon me for foraying into this topic if you are a fan of these programs and/or have participated in them, but how is this even remotely considered a safe practice and more importantly, why are so many people willingly doing it when not so long ago money wasn’t even advised to go through the postal system? The idea of it all truly floors me!
Maybe people reading this, including you, might think, “What’s the big deal?”, or “Are you paranoid or something?”, or “It’s perfectly safe–it’s all registered and no names are attached.”, but I will gladly take whatever criticism comes my way as opposed to risking the idea that my MOST personal information on this Earth could somehow become compromised and/or worse yet, available to others for who knows what reasons?! Stop and think about it for a minute…
It is a well-known fact that in crime situations, there is a data bank of DNA information that can be accessed by police and others to help solve cases. To quote an article by Fiza Pirani of the Atlanta Journal on May 11, 2018, “The DNA you send in the mail through genetic kits…can be used by police in a criminal investigation, but it doesn’t happen very often.” (The point is that it does happen.) A prime example of this is the recent headline wherein three decades later, the capture of the “Golden State Killer” is thanks to none other than an online genealogical site. Naturally, in instances like this, many folks will agree that this is a fair violation of privacy in that if you place yourself in a situation where you purposefully harm others, due access should be provided and individual rights taken away. The question to ask is, if authorities can access these otherwise protected and guarded particulars, then who else can? The government? Interest groups? Researchers? Scientists? Religious Leaders? And the list goes on…
While I do acknowledge that many individuals have been helped greatly by discovering their ancestry, diagnosing genetic health conditions, locating loved ones, etc., I am not sure that online venues, home kits and the post office are the way to go. There MUST be some safer ways to investigate answers required from one’s DNA, keeping in mind that nothing in this life is 100% foolproof. After all, we are unfortunately living in a time when identity theft is commonplace and online scams are at an all-time high. Knowing that, I think I will gladly continue to sip my morning coffee and simply say, ‘thanks’. Thank you to my many, unknown ancestors in various parts of the world for allowing me the privilege of being in this life now. I am grateful for everything that you did and said and likely sacrificed to help get me here, and because of you, I will do my best to forge ahead and carry both our name and shared DNA in good stead. What I do know, without a doubt, is that I am one very proud Canadian. Cheers!
Rosie started pedalling first and Lilly soon caught up. Their silver-tasseled handlebars twinkled in the sunlight, as they gained speed down the tree-lined lane. The pair were off to their best friend’s house, one block over. It was Jeannie’s tenth birthday party. They had been looking forward to it all week. It was going to be a fun day!
Soon, the Twins would also turn ten. Thinking back to their third birthday, Rosie smiled as she rolled along, brown, curly hair bouncing in sync. Though they were young, Rosie remembered the big, red bow tied around the pair of little rocking horses, as they both jumped up and down for joy at the discovery. Oh, how much fun they had on those things! No wonder their mother couldn’t part with them, and though they had long outgrown them, they remained a beloved centrepiece in the family living room.
Stopping at the corner of 7th and Main, Rosie side-hopped off of her bike while Lilly swung around the other side. Lilly’s dark eyes were lit up with excitement. As they watched for traffic, Lilly stepped off of the curb first, bike in tow. Reaching down to tuck in her stray shoelace, she suddenly heard her twin sister scream, “MOOOVE! CARRRRRRRR!!!” Frozen in her tracks, Lilly looked up to see Rosie bolting straight toward her, but her earth-shattering, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” was drowned out by the ensuing sound of AWFUL, DEAFENING screeches…
Maria glanced up at the clock as she put the trays in the oven– the girls’ favourite banana muffins were sure to be a post-party surprise. Maria set her pink apron down on the corner of the counter and plugged in the tea kettle. After wiping up the floury mess, she waited for the familiar whistle in her chair. Noticing the car that pulled up out front, Maria parted the shears, and watched a tall, serious-looking man approach the house. Getting up to undo the bottom lock, Maria assumed it was just another salesman when she saw something hanging down from his clutched hand. As he drew closer to the steps, his flushed face reflected sheer panic and her heart immediately sank as she spotted the remnants of…silver tassels?!? In that moment, everything in her world, their world, began spinning out of control as her limp body hit the ground and everything went PITCH, PITCH BLACK, followed by a blanket of utter emptiness…
My first visit to a Naturopathic Doctor was thus far a success and my one and a half-hour session certainly gave me a lot of ‘food for thought’. It was a jam-packed visit and gratefully, he wrote everything down for me to take home and further digest. This now feeble, once-sharp mind (we are going to work on that one, thankfully!) requires a bit more reminding these days, sometimes one moment to the next, never mind a full-out science lesson. However, I did do really well in high school biology and chemistry, so maybe I am a pre-disposed to this bio-chemical way of thinking and it will all come as naturally as it is intended to.
I am fortunate to live in a country with free healthcare, and my husband and I are each lucky to have additional health benefits through our work plans–something we do NOT take for granted in this day and age when many around the world STILL have no access to medical care whatsoever, including some in very, near parts of the globe. The best thing here in Canada is that we usually have a choice of which professional(s) we feel would best serve our needs and we are able to explore different avenues of care. While results may not always go our way since medicine is not an exact science and wait times can be long; there are private options to explore and/or sometimes additional funding can be accessed through various government programs.
In recent years, maybe because I am older and I pay more attention to my state of wellness, I am beginning to hear of people exploring thousands of year old potions, lotions and remedies as healthcare alternatives. In saying that, I do not wish to discount how far we have come in modern medicine with respect to things such as, transplants, new medications and advanced procedures–some of which have helped me personally in the treatment and management of a couple of long-term health conditions. Clearly, researchers, scientists and doctors have all worked tirelessly over the decades to extend people’s life span and quality of life. At the same time, there is a draw toward the many, traditional ways which have contributed to good health and liveliness for hundreds, even thousands of years. As a long-time student of yoga (which originated in 3000 B.C.), a relatively healthy eater, a three to four times-a-week exerciser, a receiver of acupuncture and cupping techniques, and someone who is always looking at different perspectives, traditional medicines have piqued my curiosity. Trends toward all things organics and natural show an increasing number of people, similar to me, who are turning to tried and proven, non drug-related therapies and the like.
One thing that we should also not forget is that our minds are a VERY powerful healers and tools; a concept that was reinforced for me in a recent ‘energy’ session from a once-studied physiotherapist, now practicing energy coach. Regardless of a person’s background or beliefs, most people will agree that a lot of our symptoms which manifest physically can actually be quelled from within. “A state of thriving versus surviving, ” to quote coach, Glenda L. After eighteen years as a practicing physiotherapist, Glenda shared during our session that she left her longtime practice after observing that upward of 80% of her patients’ symptomatic issues appeared to be related to more than just obvious injuries/trauma, hence her growing interest in energy work. Much of what she discussed in our all-ladies’ group resonated with each one of us five participants. From the initial grounding and guided meditation to her simplistic visuals of the effort it takes to survive versus thrive (a striking quantitive difference from one to the other), a chord was struck; all of us were moved to tears at different points in her presentation because we knew that truths had been spoken. Mainly, our universal truth of worthiness, health, well-being and overall healing.
I am not sure about you, but in my circle of friends, loved ones and colleagues, there have been an overwhelming number of us who have and/or suffering from major illnesses, including cancer, dementia, MS, Parkinson’s, in addition to the loss of one’s life, unfortunately. While I am aware that being middle-aged contributes to the growing statistic around me of those affected by disease or death, it is nonetheless alarming. In addition to forcing us to face our own mortality, one has to wonder what is really happening in our environments, as well as from within, such that there appears to be a noticeable rise in both physical and mental afflictions and deaths attributed to each. Knowing that something must be going on is both good and scary: Good in that we are aware and awareness usually brings about action/change and scary in realizing that not everything around us is in our control, i.e. the rules around foods that we consume or the air that we breathe.
What is in our circle of influence, however, is how we choose to react and interact with our surroundings, and those around us. If exploring alternative ways of doing or looking at things provides us with otherwise unknown answers and insights, then count me in as I will do whatever I can to help myself and my loved ones with living our fullest, healthiest lives. If that includes a prescription for the use of castor oil topically, (although it notably has internal uses as well) and George’s Pure aloe juice as advised by my naturopath, well so be it. I’m willing to try almost anything as opposed to sitting back and being my own sufferer, as are many other people.
I must say that there is something empowering about exercising one’s freedom of choice and advocating for your own health knowing full and well that not everyone on this Earth is quite so privileged. With many individuals not in a similar position, it seems all the more reason for the rest of us to take advantage so that we cannot only better ourselves, but ultimately be in a position of service to those who require assistance. Now, that would be a win-win in this game called, Life!
The sunshine peeked in through the curtain, as Joe fleetingly opened his eyes. He sensed that it was still the early morning, so he glanced over to see if Maria was asleep, but the covers were folded over. It wasn’t unusual for her to be up before him, so he lie awake for a while staring at the slightly crooked seams in the ceiling. For months now, getting out of bed wasn’t at all like it used to be. The all-too-familiar silence shrouded every room in the house. No contagious giggles to listen for, no hopping on the bed relentlessly, no more “Dad, wake up…it’s time to play!”. Ever. And, no more pre ‘wake-up’ cuddling with Maria either.
Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of the carefully placed piece of paper on their once-new, now worn wooden night stand–the same colour as the girls’ rocking horses. Immediately, his stomach sank, his throat tightened and he knew. First, it was the Twins’ and now, it was her. Prayer after prayer made, but none answered. Why? Why us, why me? He just couldn’t understand it. Any of it! Life as he knew, as they knew it, had been forever altered that one fall day. That horrifying, earth-shattering day one year ago when they, were no longer.
In that moment, months of tears which had been numbly subdued began overflowing. There it was, the emotion that Maria had begged, even pleaded to see from him. Yet, no matter how hard he had willed it to come, it just wouldn’t! He gently picked up ‘the letter’, as if it were brittle, and started reading through the blurry, carefully scrawled script. As always, it began with the same comforting greeting, which made the inevitable even more heart-breaking.
“My Dearest Husband Joe, …”