I remember when neighbours would visit when I was a child, inevitably conversation would turn to reminiscing about the wars. I remember sitting enthralled as I listened to these war stories – until the conversation took gruesome turns and my mother would shoo me outside to play. I am grateful for those stories. They gave a human face to the horror of war, and brought home the sacrifices made.
I never knew my paternal grandfather, or my father’s brothers who served in the Second World War. But my Dad would tell stories of his father, the artisan and carpenter. I remember my Dad’s eyes filling with pride as he described the things his father made, even intricate items like a grandfather clock. Apparently he was very talented. He was wounded by shrapnel during the First World War and would suffer from pieces the surgeons were unable to remove for the rest of his life.
My Dad was the youngest of his family. He was a twin, but sadly his twin sister died of tuberculosis when she was twenty-eight. So I never knew her either. His eldest sister became a regular correspondent with me. She lived many miles away in Vermont and I didn’t get to meet her until I was an adult, but it was through the exchange of letters that I formed a relationship with her. She loved to write and to receive letters, as did I. I have kept many of her letters, hoping one day to weave a story from her descriptions of growing up in Newfoundland in the 1930s until she moved to Boston when she was a teenager. They are a treasure and a window into the past. Through them I got to know my grandfather a little better. She describes a man who was very loving and kind. He had a great love for animals and for nature. Sadly he was changed by his experiences overseas and returned a bitter, impatient man and could often be cruel. It hurts my heart to think about what horrors he witnessed. He served in the army and I have no doubt he would have been diagnosed with PTSD today.
My maternal grandfather had suffered many strokes and his speech was difficult for a child to understand. But he was unfailingly patient, kind, and very gentle. He lied about his age in order to join the Royal British Navy and went to war at fourteen years of age. Later he would serve in the navy again during the Second World War. The wars never changed his personality – for all of his life he was the consummate story teller, entertaining family members, neighbours, and friends alike. I remember him sitting and chatting with my Dad. My father would often be laughing very hard with tears running down his face in response to the anecdotes and stories Granda was telling.
Today is Remembrance Day, and like every year my thoughts turn to these brave men who fought to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today. May they Rest in Peace.
Nothing much matters
Zombie-like I stumble through days
Filled with Heartache
Awaiting the warmth of the sun
And for humanity to care once again
I know it’s there
Beneath the layers of scar tissue
That heart full of love
Yet hope softly whispers,
“Hang on, child,
Brighter days are coming”
A hand reaches out
Brings a moment of solace
And I breathe deeply
I take it in
Every cell bathed
In the light
Family members hold up a mirror to reflect back to us what they see in us. I am so grateful for my family. They remind me every day how much I am appreciated and loved. They nurture me and sustain me through the difficulties of life and add to my joy during the good times. Today I give thanks for my family – my rock and my safe habour during these difficult days. My husband, my children, my siblings, Aunts and Uncles, nephews, nieces, and cousins I give thanks for them all. I am indeed richly blessed.
I will stand for you, my brother, my friend
I will hold your children in my thoughts
In my prayers
In my thoughts
Wherever they go
Whatever they do
I will tell them the stories of you
Of days long gone
When we sat on grassy hillsides and watched
The waves on the ocean
When we jostled each other to be the first
When we fought with one another
And when we loved one another
When we were there for one another
And I will help them see
How you live on in them
Their kindness and sweetness
An echo of you
Their gentleness and strength
A testament to you
Their generosity and thoughtfulness
A legacy more true
Than the finest riches
Oh how proud you must be
To look down from heaven and see
How deeply rooted your lessons be
From this day forward this is my oath to you
You will not be forgotten
And I will stand for you
There are a lot of messages on social media promoting mental health and understanding – that is good! It is November and the Christmas season is fast approaching. Although it is a time of year touted as “family time” and a time of “peace on earth and goodwill”, for people suffering from depression and especially for those who are alone it is a very stressful time of year. The ever present messages exhorting us to buy this or that to celebrate Christmas are overwhelming. For people who may not have the means to buy the latest toy for their child or the means to travel to wherever “home” may be it can be very painful.
I remember the days when a death by suicide was hidden, if possible. It was so misunderstood and socially unacceptable that whole families were shamed at a time when they most needed love and support.
I think we are only just beginning to understand the torturous pain and unbearable challenges that people who die by suicide have been faced with. Mental health issues seem to be an ever growing challenge for society in general. So I do copy and paste messages that promote compassion and understanding. I think it’s important. But the bigger challenge lies with spending time with the people in our lives that are suffering. I hope each of us find within ourselves the grace and the patience and the compassion our loved ones need and deserve. Peace out….
These have been busy days filled with very important things to think about. I am still on life’s roller coaster ride, but the other day I received heart-warming news that brought a bit of comfort and solace to my day. I want to share that with you. As you may know, my brother was killed when an impaired driver hit his vehicle as he was heading home from work. My brother had a lot of different interests, one of which was playing pool. He was part of a pool league for many years and all his friends there were deeply touched by his kindness and generosity. They wanted to do something to pay tribute to him. So – they have decided to begin an annual pool tournament in his honour. Proceeds will go to MADD Canada and to the Heart & Stroke Foundation. Sudden and preventable death is a horrific thing, but it is gestures like this that remind me of the goodness of humanity and I am grateful.
Some day are filled with agony. It is what it is. Some days I find strength and comfort in places that surprise me. I am so grateful for that. We must soldier on. Frozen feelings melt. Kind words of support and love are like balm to my soul. I am not alone in my grief; many are the people who join me here. Some hearts are full of anger and rage – hearts that feel alone, broken and forgotten. Some hearts are loving and forgiving – But whatever lies within, it is human – human to love, human to hurt, human to want to lash back at that which causes pain. I hope I can find a way to sow seeds of peace and of love – to let hurting hearts know you are not alone, to bind the wounds and let healing begin. Please, God, let there be healing, let there be love.
Love is patient. Love is kind
It does not envy, it does not boast.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
Always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.