A weird sense of Deja vu


We were only home two weeks, barely enough time to get back into the swing of things. Then it struck again: Another gall bladder attack. It was in the early morning hours and dawn had not yet broke through the night skies. My husband was in agony. I rushed him to the emergency room and before we knew it we were on board yet another air ambulance taking us to Edmonton.

As we waited in the emergency room at the University of Alberta hospital for him to be assessed the sense of Deja vu was strong. We had indeed been there, done that just seven weeks ago! I was tired and frustrated. We had been told at that time he was too high a risk for surgery. Instead they’d stuck a draining tube in and hoped that would be the end of it. NOPE!

To be fair, doctors did do the best they could for him at that time. But now, our doctor at our local hospital had told us that, high risk or not, it had to come out. I was terrified.

Fortunately he came through the surgery yesterday without a hitch and thus far is doing exceptionally well. However, we had been told during his prior hospitalization that any operation would cause stress on his heart that may not be evident immediately and that the risk of a heart attack would continue for up to a month or more.

Still, I am hopeful and relieved that his gall bladder is out and no longer represents a danger to his health. At any rate there was no other choice this time around.

Prior to his surgery I had been praying and asking God to guide the surgeon’s hands. I believe He did. An overwhelming sense of calm filled me as I prayed. I had also asked God to continue to him safe in the weeks and months ahead. I have faith in the Creator and I am so very grateful for the prayers of family and friends. I believe in the power of prayer.

It has been a very strange Deja vu, including that sense of complete calm and total peace, even in the midst of the storm, for which I am grateful.

A Belated List of Thanks


“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”  –William Arthur Ward

As many of you know, my husband was recently discharged from hospital after spending nine weeks there. Part of that time was spent at our local hospital until he had to be flown by air ambulance to the city. Being so far away from home meant dealing with many challenges.

 First of all was the care of our fur baby, Callie-cat. So, my first thank you goes to my son and daughter-in-law who took such good care of her in the days following our sudden trip to Edmonton. After a week or so it became apparent that this hospitalization may be quite extended and it was becoming difficult for my son to make the frequent trips to our home to care for her. Then my daughter stepped in, taking Callie to her place for the duration. Added to the pet care my children were an enormous help in other ways, like packing clothes to send to us as well as other necessary items. My daughter-in-law made banana bread for me (twice) and included it in care packages they sent down. This is only a small list of all they did to make life easier and I honestly don’t know what I would have done without their help.

Then there was the help I received from coworkers and friends who helped make our enforced stay much less stressful. I hope they know how truly grateful I am. One friend made a special trip to the city to bring the clothes and things my kids had packed for me. No small favor as the city is a five-hour drive one way!

Added to these kindnesses were the frequent phone calls with family and friends that helped me keep my sanity and acted as an anchor in the storm of life. We also received many messages via social media to express support and prayers. When I think back over all the kindnesses my heart truly overflows. We are so blessed to have so many kind and generous individuals to share our lives.

Life can throw a curve ball from time to time and I am so thankful that when it does, I have been blessed with many kind, generous, and thoughtful people who help lessen the burdens and add to the joys. I thank you all, sincerely, from the depths of my being.

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”  –Albert Schweitzer

Regaining equilibrium and giving thanks


Last week was a very difficult week. Between my husband being hospitalized and my bout with flu coupled with the fast approaching Christmas season I was stressed to the max. I am grateful to have 2/3 behind me. My husband is home. I am over the flu. Now, to tackle decorating and shopping. I have always loved Christmas and I am looking forward to family time and friendly gatherings.

I am also looking forward to a reprieve from any crises with my husband’s health. The one thing these crises continue to teach me is to value our time together; to not take anything for granted; that life is very fragile and can end at any time. With his release from hospital many people assume he is better – and he is to a degree, but damages done to his heart and kidneys due to diabetes have taken a toll that cannot be reversed. We will work to keep his kidneys and heart from further deterioration and, hopefully keep dialysis at bay.

Still, I am grateful. I am grateful for the kind and warm support we have received from a wide variety of people – from close family and friends to acquaintances to my blogging community. Words can never express what this support has meant to me.

To all my readers, a sincere thank you for your kind words and expressions of support. They truly mean a lot to me and bolstered my spirit when I was feeling very low and very afraid. May all the blessings you bestow return to you multiplied many, many times and may all your kindnesses return to you a thousand-fold. From my heart to yours I wish you a peace-filled and truly joyous holiday season. May God bless you all

Celebrating a wise and wonderful woman: my sister


“The best thing about having a sister was that I always had a friend.” – Cali Rae Turner

Carol and Peg

 

“A sister is a special kind of angel on earth who brings out your best qualities.” – Author unknown

“Sisters are for sharing laughter and wiping tears.” – Author unknown

I have been blessed to know so many beautiful souls encapsulated in female bodies. Today I just wanted to give a shout out to one such incredible woman that I am blessed to call my sister. She is the eldest of our family and was like another mother to me while I was growing up. I will forever be grateful to her for all she did for me as a child, and all she continues to do today. She was my hero when I was a little girl and I worshiped her. She has been my protector, my anchor, and an unfailing supporter of all I do. Words hardly seem adequate to describe all she means to me.

Peg helped raise all of us younger siblings. She helped cook for us, clean the house, and performed a myriad of tasks. The fact she did all of this with love and a commitment to our family speaks volumes. She taught me the meaning of love and sacrifice through her actions for our family.

When I was eleven years old she had the first of two sons. In 2012 she and her husband were faced with the deaths of both their boys. The eldest died of a brain aneurysm in March and his younger brother of cancer just six months later. My heart broke for them. It just seemed so cruel to me. It made me question my faith – my sister, however, did not. She was (and remains) a paragon of strength, even as she grieved. She is a pragmatic person and firmly believed with all her heart that they were both in a better place, and her faith demonstrates her belief in a loving and merciful God. An example, that I have no doubt, has helped her granddaughters tremendously.

She is astounded that people think of her as strong – but she is. She walks the walk of faith, demonstrating her belief, not by preaching, but by the way she lives her life. She champions the underdogs and works to make life better for her family and friends. These are just some of the reasons she continues to be a hero to me. For it is the little things – a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, a hug when you’re sad, and a hot cup of tea when you are cold – that make life good; that make it worth living.

I am grateful to have had her in my corner as a child, a place she continues to occupy today. The depth of love I have for her cannot be described, but I want the world to know what a huge difference it has made in my life to have such a wise and wonderful woman to light my path and shelter me from life’s storms. Today is her birthday, and I celebrate her life and all she continues to be for me and all who know her.

 

American Influence


Stephenville NL RESIZED 2

Here in Canada we are inundated with media message from our neighbour in the south, from news to movies, songs to magazines, business and trade, we are steeped in American culture. And it’s not bad, really. It just is. Canada is a huge country, but has nowhere near the population that  America does, nor even a fraction of its power. Many people around the world see little difference between our two countries. Yet, there are distinctive difference such as the idea of America as a ‘melting pot” where all cultures are assimilated into the dominant culture. Conversely Canada celebrates multi-culturalism and protects many rights and freedoms in the Charter of Rights.

I grew up in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. My home was on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland. During World War II the Americans built an air force base in Stephenville – a coastal town close to the rural area where we lived. My father worked on the base and often invited American friends to our home for a Sunday dinner.

When President Kennedy was assassinated my father wept copious tears at what ‘they’ did to ‘our’ president. This was repeated when Senator Robert Kennedy was murdered. American politics were often discussed by my Dad and his cronies. When I was a small child I thought we were American! Not hard to understand with frequent letters coming from my paternal aunt in Vermont and another in Detroit. In addition, the province had fairly recently joined confederation making it the youngest province in the country.

I was still living in Newfoundland when the events of 9/11 brought several planes to land at our airport. Stephenville boasts an international airport, the runway built by the Americans during the war. It was a very sad time for local people who had known many American friends – some of which maintained summer homes all over the island and continue to visit annually.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a proud Canadian and deeply love ‘our home and native land’. But I fully recognize the huge influence the U.S.A. has had and continues to have on my country.

Summer: Family and time to celebrate


“For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; To cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.” – Christina Rossetti

“I have wonderful shelter, which is my family. I have a wonderful relationship with my brother and sister; this makes me feel that I know always where I belong.” – Jose Carreras

I am so excited. My sister arrives for a visit this evening. Summer is wonderful that way – for the ease of travel. My sister is a year younger than me and growing up we were always together. Even as teenagers we stayed close, often sharing the same friends and social circles. She is my best friend, confidante, and source of support. She is just wonderful!

I am also looking forward to family gatherings with my brother and his wife and family. Their daughter is also visiting. I have not seen her yet as they have been on a little road trip exploring other areas of the province. I can’t wait to see her and her hubby and children. Family – that’s what it’s all about, right?

I am grateful for summer days; for bar-b-ques and long walks with my friend; for lazy days basking in the sun; for time to spend with loved ones and opportunities to celebrate life!

Today, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I wish you blessings of love and light. Cheers!

“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

A shout out and celebration of all the women I know on International Women’s Day


Today is a day set aside to acknowledge the achievements and efforts of women around the globe, whether political, social, cultural or economic and, of course, to work toward true equality for all people everywhere. Equality is far from a reality in many places and is a goal we continue to strive toward.

I cannot help but think of all the women who have been a positive influence in my own life and give thanks for them. Naturally my mother is first and foremost on my mind – the sacrifices she made as she worked to raise her family. She cooked, cleaned, sewed clothing for us, nurtured and guided us – for many years in a house without electricity or running water. She was a wonderful woman for whom I will always be grateful. I stand in awe of her every time I consider all she lived through and all she overcame. She was my first hero and remains an example of the kind of woman I hope to be.

And then there are my sisters – two older and one younger than I. My older sisters are the most giving, thoughtful, and wisest women I know. I cannot begin to describe the impact they have had on my life. In many ways they served as surrogate mothers helping to take care of all of us and nursing us through the pains of childhood and the heartbreak and angst of the teenage years. My younger sister was and is my confidant and my best friend. All three have been a source of loving support, friendship, and wise counsel.

On this day I celebrate all the women in my life who have given generously of themselves time and time again – my mother, grandmother, sisters, aunts, daughters, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces, teachers, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. None of whom are famous, but all of whom I celebrate today. I thank them for their strength, their courage and fortitude and for the heroes they truly are. For it is the everyday hero who make the biggest impact and whose strength and support keeps us moving forward.  I hope they know how deeply grateful I am for each and every one.

The blessings of friendship


“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing….not healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares.” Henri Nouwen

Refecting on life - photo by Anastacia Hopkins

I once read somewhere that ‘some people make life better just by being in it’ – that resonated with me.  I am blessed to have many such people in my life, but I am thinking of two friends in particular who have been loyal, caring, supportive and kind throughout the past several years; And the past two in particular. Friends may come and friends may go, but some become like family – people who have your back when you’re up against a wall. I am so grateful, so very, very grateful for these wonderful, warm, and caring friends. Naturally they seem to have no idea how special they are. The truly humble people never do, do they?  And the thing is they have so much stress going on in their own lives, yet are able to reach inside themselves to provide the support I need when I need it. Other times it is the shared laughter and pure joy in living that they abundantly share. The gift of time; the gift of self – that’s what it’s all about, right?  I am grateful. I am grateful for friendship; for people who are willing to sacrifice for others; for people who give me the strength to keep going – no matter what their own circumstances. God bless them all!

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

 

A Manic March


It’s been a tough few weeks. Moving is never fun but I am so very grateful for the people who stepped up to help. Family and friends are definitely the super glue that holds me together. Through good times and bad times they’ve been there for me to lean on, or to help celebrate life’s joys. I feel like I have been walking along a razor’s edge between these seemingly opposite emotions – one minute happy the next grief-stricken once again. Because you see, it was my younger brother, Chris, who so often stepped up to help us, whether it was moving our belongings or something as simple as a ride to the airport, he was always there for us – it’s been four months now since his death, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Even through the exhaustion of moving, or perhaps especially because of that fatigue, he sprang to mind frequently. I remember when he helped us move and also made sure there was a hot supper waiting when the last load had finally been dropped at our new place. I not only appreciated his strength, I was inspired once again by his thoughtfulness.  He was an amazing brother and friend. I miss him.

So, for what it’s worth – I am back! Thank you for reading my blog and I will spare you further exposure to my grief. For those of you who know my family you know Chris was killed when an impaired driver crashed into my brother’s vehicle. So, once again, I implore all of you – never get into a vehicle with an impaired driver; and be careful on the highways and byways, for I would not wish this pain on anyone. Stay safe my friends.