Angels among us


Thirty-one years ago my mother died of cancer. The days leading up to her death were painful, as the impending day approached. But they were also days of love, grace, and peace. My mother exited this world in the same way she lived – with faith and dignity and an all-consuming love for her family. She was my first example of an angel in human form. No, she wasn’t perfect. She had her faults, as we all do. But she was exceedingly kind and gentle. I am grateful for the example she left us on how to deal with the hard times and how to live life gracefully and prayerfully. I will always be so very grateful to have been mothered by such a woman.

There are angels among us. I truly believe that because I see so many examples of it in my daily life.  Such as the smile and antics of a little child that brings joy and laughter. Some examples touch my heart so deeply – like the homeless man who is a regular patron at the library where I work who brought gifts of candy to thank us for helping him; Such a small thing, but yet also such a big thing.  I am grateful when I am feeling harassed and hurried in the grocery store and people let me go ahead of them in line – they are angels in human form.

Last year when we had to flee our city due to a wildfire I witnessed more examples of loving care than I can count. To record them all would create a book! Yes, there are angels among us. So, today as you go about your day, I invite you to notice all the small acts of kindness, the person who holds the door for you, the stranger on the bus that smiles and greets you, the driver who lets you in on a crowded highway, the list goes on and on and on. And I am thankful for all of them!

It is so easy to get bogged down with all the negativity and sadness in this world. Yes people can be rude and unfeeling, but they can also bring great gifts, the greatest gifts that lift us up and allow us to smile again, to hope again. Today I will remember my mother and give thanks for her and for all the angels among us.

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In honour of “Spearfruit”


FEATHERED FRIEND photo by Carol Hopkins

And so you are gone

You slipped away

Leaving us your words of wisdom

Brutal honesty coupled with humility

You took us on your journey

Through pain and heartache

Through joys and thanksgiving

And I just want your loved ones to know

You mattered

To all the strangers you made your friends

You are gone

But your words live on

And I am grateful for that

For your life, for your courage and tenacity

And here in Canada

Where fall is descending

And the days grow shorter

I remember you

With each little bird that visits our feeder

On its way south to warmer climes

 

Safety of small children in public places


TEDDY

There seems to be an assumption that children are safe in public places like libraries. There was an incident at work the other day that left me feeling concerned for the small children that visit there. I was working at the front desk when a coworker and I noticed a toddler crawling up the stairs to the second floor. There were no adults in sight that seemed to be the child’s parents or caretakers. I went up the stairs and scooped the little one up in my arms while simultaneously scanning the area for the adult responsible for the little one. Another coworker came forward to tell me she knew who the child was with and I gave the child over to her to be reunited with her care giver. Days later my blood still runs cold when I think of all the “what ifs” such a situation brings to my mind.

Thankfully there was no need to call an “Adam alert” as my coworker knew who and where the parent was. A code Adam is called when an employee, or sometimes a patron at the library, find an unattended child. It happens far too often at the library. Sometimes people assume that people working there will take care of their little ones – we cannot! We are busy doing the work we were hired for – which does not include child minding – and when we are very busy we may not notice a child is unattended right away. Aside from the stress and annoyance such assumptions cause, there is the very real risk to the children themselves. Although it is rare for a child to be snatched, and while we want families and children to feel comfortable and safe in the library, there is no guarantee that an unattended and unaccompanied child will be. Added to that worry is the very real risk of a child leaving the library through the automated door which leads out into the sports complex where the library is located and a short distance from the outside doors.

I love seeing children come into the library. I enjoy their excitement when they bring their haul of favorite books to the desk to be checked out. So far all code Adams have been resolved in a very short time – I pray they always will be. It is so easy for a child to be separated from their care givers – there is so much to catch the attention of a little one and I do not write this to judge, but hopefully to bring awareness to the general public and to care givers and parents in particular.

A thank you to the bully I once knew


Musing photo by Anastacia Hopkins

This one is for the girl who taunted, insulted, and belittled me every chance she got. Thank you. You helped me learn what it feels like to feel sad; to feel less than others; to feel like I didn’t belong. In the process you helped me learn empathy and compassion. You made me stronger. Thank you.

You vented your frustration on me. I was your emotional punching bag. You helped me learn that I didn’t ever want to be that again. I learned that I matter. I learned to stand up for myself, though I didn’t at the time. As a friend of mine puts it: “to be somebody’s doormat you have to lay down first ‘. I will not lie down. I will stand firm. My experiences with you helped me learn this. Thank you.

You helped me see that my sensitivity, while it caused me great pain at the time, turned out to be my greatest strength, for I can see the pain in another’s eyes and reach out to help them. Thank you.

I came to understand how deeply unhappy you really were, and so I learned forgiveness. Thank you.

When I was young I thought I was weak and you were strong. But to be strong means to be kind; to be merciful; to be true to one’s values. That is what I learned.  So, thank you.

To have healthy self esteem means that the opinions of others are just that – their opinions and I do not ever have to allow them to define who I am.  Thank you.

Because you judged me I learned what it feels like to be judged and I vowed to never be that kind of person; The kind of person who defines others by their colour, religion, gender, or place of birth. Thank you.

All of the children in our class were afraid of your wrath and so nobody would play with me. I learned what isolation and loneliness feels like. I learned the importance of reaching out to the downtrodden; the lonely; the stranger and the outcast. In the process I have met wonderful people who became friends. So, thank you.

So you see, while your words hurt, they did not win out. It was never really about you – it was about the lessons I needed to learn. I like the person I’ve become. So, thank you!

Love, marriage, and extended family


 

rose

I remember watching the look of pure tenderness and love on my Uncle’s face as he gazed into my Aunt’s eyes and thinking, now this is love. And I remember another Uncle and Aunt when I went to visit her in her nursing home. She never forgot him, even as dementia took away so much – their love was like a beacon she clung to. I just wish I could have taken away the guilt my Uncle felt for having to place her in a home, but he just couldn’t look after her any longer. I hope he knows that not one member of their families ever held it against him. It broke my heart to see him so distraught. Years later I remember the same strong commitment they had for one another on display when we visited her in hospital mere hours before her death. Her eyes searched his and their unspoken bond was clear evidence of the lifetime of commitment they had built together. I remember their laughter as we all joked and remembered times gone by. Their strength and fortitude at such a time is a memory I treasure.

Several of my Aunts and Uncles have passed over into the afterlife, but the examples of love that I witnessed remain in my memory and in my heart. I have been looking at the wedding photographs posted this morning of my young cousin’s wedding.  I cannot help thinking of her grandparents, and all our relatives who could not be there in body, but whom, I truly believe, were there in spirit.  And I hope this young couple experiences the same sort of joys and bliss that marked her grandparents’ marriage, and those of so many others of the last generation.  And I hope their love will carry them through the inevitable hurdles that life will throw onto their path.  I hope that they will grow very old and happy together. And I thank the preceding generation for being such a wonderful example and lighting the way for us all.

A Fond Farewell


“The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected. Maybe they always have been and will be. Maybe we’ve lived a thousand lives before this one and in each of them we’ve found each other. And maybe each time, we’ve been forced apart for the same reasons. That means that this goodbye is both a goodbye for the past ten thousand years and a prelude to what will come.”
Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

shadows on the rocksThere are people that cross your path and leave you a better person for having met them. Hillary is just such a person. She is wise well beyond her years and I feel genuinely blessed to have gotten to know her a little. Every interaction with her is like a golden opportunity to soak up her wisdom and bask in her kindness. The thing is I don’t think she knows just how special she truly is.  Sadly, the time has come when we will part ways. She is going to university this fall and although her school is a mere 4-5 hour drive away life just won’t be the same. For I will no longer see her on a regular basis and I will miss her. She brings a ray of sunshine to my life, a sweetness that is difficult to describe. So I have been grieving the loss that is fast approaching, while trying my best to celebrate her next steps into the world.

Saying goodbye to those near and dear to us is never easy. It is as if a small piece of one’s heart goes with them – but perhaps this is a good thing, for surely they also leave a small piece of themselves with us for safe keeping. That is the joy and the beauty of relationships. So I will keep treasured memories close to my heart and take them out from time to time and remember…..life is such a fleeting thing and to have been blessed with the goodness of people like Hillary makes me feel rich indeed. My cup truly runneth over.

When your muse dies


STORM

When your muse dies,

Or seems to have fled

And your soul shrivels up

words fail

And the light goes out

The world is full of darkness

Where there is no inspiration

And all seems dismal

Suddenly a flash of lightening colours the sky

With a momentary brightness

And in the storm

Hope rises up

To tell me:

This, too, shall pass

So worry not

All is well

And all will be well