A reflection on love this Valentine’s Day


My parents were an example that has been a challenge to follow. So many times, as one of their children, I witnessed love in action. Valentine’s Day was a lot of fun, mostly because of the little red and pink hearts we decorated to give to our classmates, to be honest. Mom and Dad never made a fuss over this particular day. If Mom received flowers it was likely to be wild flowers picked in a field. I do remember a few years when chocolates were part of the scene, however. One of my favourite memories is going for a ride in the car with Dad and my younger sister and brother. I think it was more likely to have been their anniversary than Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t matter which it was. I remember Dad buying nylons and a pretty china cup and saucer to give Mom. It was such a wonderful thing to be included in the surprise. She was so pleased when we got home and gave her these trinkets.

Yet, it wasn’t special occasions that helped us know that our parents truly loved one another. It was more the day to day examples such as Mom cooking Dad’s favourite foods. It was the tenderness in their eyes when they looked at one another. It was the forgiveness given after an argument or disagreement. It was the way they care for one another like Dad’s old black tin lunch pail, always ready when he was leaving for work and the kiss they shared just before he left. It was the pride they took in one another’s accomplishments. It was the trust they had for one another; the sacrifices they made for the other’s happiness; it was consideration of one another’s feelings, preferences, and such. Yes, they were an example of what marriage can be, should be, a commitment and caring that gave us children a strong foundation to grow on. No, they were not perfect, but they loved generously. Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day should be about?

The “L” Word


In less than a month Christmas will be upon us. For those of us who have close family ties and friends to share our days it can be a day of pure joy. For those who do not, well, it can be a time of great loneliness and pain. Christmas tends to have great focus on family, as it should, but often in our hurry and scurry we forget how hard this time of year can be on people who do not share in our blessings, for whatever reason. I am trying to be cognizant of this fact.

I have been immersed in reading a series of books called “The Angelic Letters”. The series includes seven books focusing on Christianity; on family; on morals and values; on the “L” word and what it means to each of us. It is a very insightful series written by Henry K. Ripplinger moving from the mid 1950s through to present days. Although at times I find it a bit preachy it is also inspiring and at times very hard to put down (hence my silence of late).

For many of us as the Christmas season approaches we turn again to that centuries old prayer of ‘peace on earth, goodwill to all’. Many of us turn with compassion to our fellow citizens who are suffering many burdens. It is easy to give up, to be overwhelmed by the great need we see all around us – both in our own communities and in the world at large. Yet, small efforts can bring huge rewards (even if we often do not see them). We never know what our small gifts may mean to someone who is carrying heavy loads. To love our neighbor doesn’t mean making grand gestures. Quite often, and, I would say 99.9% of the time it is the small gifts we bring: a smile; looking a person in the eye and recognizing their humanity; little things like a hot coffee on a cold day, perhaps. The thing is, we do not have to spend any money at all to bring Christmas cheer to another. The best gifts we can give come from our hearts, not our wallets. But, by all means, if we have the financial wherewithal to do so, we should do that as well.

Divine One, as we celebrate this sacred season, help us act with love and true humanity. Help us recognize the divinity that lays at the essence of each and every human heart. And let us not be afraid to utter the “L” word.

Young love, lost


Scene from the movie, Me before You, courtesy of Tandango.com

“He was my first love,” she said with a faraway look in her eyes. The silence grew, lengthened, as I waited and wondered. Her fingers played with the delicate chain she wore around her neck. I thought she’d forgotten me.

She smiled a half-smile as she finally turned to me. “That was fifty years ago. He always held a special place deep in my heart,” she paused again, quiet, reflecting, still. Reliving a past I could not fathom and dare not intrude upon even if I could.

“Our parents said we were too young,” she continued, “too young to know what love is. But we knew, we both knew. I remember … It was such a tender love, almost, well, spiritual. We were so young, but we knew what love is,” her voice trailed off once again as she re-entered that distant past and tears glinted in her eyes.

And I, a fool, did not know what to say or what to do to comfort her. I, in turn, was much too young to understand. I had no knowledge of such love. It astounded and confounded me.

I was too young at that time. But now the years have tumbled by and I am now at that age that she was then. And still, I wonder at a love held close for so long. So long. A love that never died.

Hoping and Dreaming


My husband is still in hospital. His blood pressure drops every time he stands up. He has a plethora of health issues: diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and more recently we learned, lung disease as well. Through all the challenges he has kept his sense of humor.

 In hospital he has fallen twice and is now confined to bed. After one such fall, after the nurse had made sure he hadn’t done any harm to himself, she jokingly asked him what he was doing on the floor he responded, “looking for dust bunnies”.

The doctors are trying to figure out what is causing the drop in blood pressure and until that is sorted out he cannot come home, for obvious reasons.

I just finished reading a couple of blog posts – one about patience and training a new puppy; the other about “date nights” while raising a family and the power of love.

Love, whether for a significant other, a family member, child, or a fur baby, blesses us, gives us hope, and allows us to dream.

Needless to say, I am hoping for a solution for my husband’s health issues. And I am dreaming of better days to come when he is home with me once more.

From Twelve to One


And peace on earth goodwill to all

Once again, I am writing about Christmas, but this is about something that really bothers me. I was raised Catholic, and maybe that’s partly why I have always thought of Christmas as a season and not just one day. The Christmas tree went up on the 24th of December and was not taken down until after Olde Christmas Day on the 6th of January. When I was a child Christmas meant going to church, visiting my grandparents, and spending time with family and friends. When I was very little there was a lot of excitement surrounding gifts and anticipating what Santa might bring, but as I grew older, and especially after I had children of my own, I grew to appreciate the beauty of Christmastime. And not just the scrumptious food and merry-making, but the deeper, long-lasting values of selfless giving; of the importance of goodwill, faith, peace and love. The charitable impulses often lost in the daily grind are more on display at Christmas than at any other time of year. Thankfully that still seems to be the case today.

Yet, in this more secular world are we losing out on some of these values? A young person I worked with seemed aghast when I said I might wear my Christmas sweater to work on the 27th – I had been telling an employee who was not there last year about how chilly the place is after being closed a few days and how she should wear something warm. My Christmas sweater is very warm. At any rate, my young co-worker was surprised at the idea of my wearing it after Christmas day. It led me to wondering once again about how fast-paced life has become and how the season of Christmas seems to grow shorter and shorter year after year. It saddens me. Have the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ been shortened to only one?

What does Christmas mean to you? Is it only one day out of the year, or like myself, do you see it as more than that? I think, more than ever, we need that spirit of goodwill; of peace on earth. And we need to have more than just one day to celebrate it.

Christmas and Callie Cat


Callie, my fur baby

This photo was captured by my talented daughter and remains one of my most favorite photos of Callie, my fur baby. Christmas can be so hectic and often my poor baby is neglected – there just does not seem to be enough hours in the day. Finally, Christmas is here, and I can get back to normal routines – well almost anyway.

Our fur babies bring so much love and joy to our lives, it makes me feel terribly guilty if my little cat does not get the attention she so richly deserves. I do enjoy the holidays, but I have to admit I am looking forward to the slow, steady days of winter once Christmas is past.

Callie has been very patient – she can teach me a lot about what’s really important in life. So now, like my cat, I am going to curl up on my bed and take a much-needed break.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday from Callie and me.

Quality of Life


Angel holding bunny

I write this to honour a young man I once had the privilege of working with. He was confined to a wheelchair and spent his days alternately in his chair or laying in bed. He could not see well as he was partially blind. He also could not speak much and only uttered two words that made sense: “mama” and “No”. Mostly he uttered guttural sounds, but oh my, he could laugh. I remember describing him to friends of ours and the first thing they asked was, “what kind of quality of life is that?” And they felt sorry for him. Yet it was this young man who taught me much about what ‘quality of life’ really means.

No, he couldn’t walk and his limitations were severe and many. He could move his legs and one arm, and he could turn his head to a limited degree. He also had a feeding tube in his stomach through which he was given nourishment – liquid ‘meals’. I had been asked if I would come work with him as his usual care giver was going off on leave. I was scared. I didn’t think I could do it. I had never done this sort of work before and didn’t think it was a good fit, but his mother encouraged me and, in the end, I agreed to try. It has been a blessing that has had reverberations in my life.

Here is what J. taught me: He taught me there are many ways to communicate without ever speaking a word. He taught me patience. He taught me grace, endurance, forgiveness, and so much more. He taught me what real love looks like.

I would arrive in the early morning and he would be laying awake waiting for me. I would bend over and whisper good morning in his ear. He’d smile. He always smiled.

After the morning routine of bathing, dressing, and breakfast was done I would sit beside his bed and read stories to him. Sometimes I sang songs, he seemed to enjoy that. He also enjoyed games I made up as we exercised his limbs so the muscles would not atrophy. He laughed a lot. It was gratifying to hear him laugh, and when he would turn his head at the sound of my voice and smile his beautiful smile.

He loved it when his little brother, a toddler at the time, was placed on his lap. The little guy was very curious about this big brother and would often hug him and caress his face. J loved that. At other times though, he would slap J or inadvertently hurt him in some way. J would cry, deeply hurt by his little brother’s actions. But he never had the smallest inclination to strike back – he had no desire for revenge. He simply expressed his hurt and pain through tears. J never seemed to get angry – it was just not part of his makeup or personality. Thankfully these occasions were few and far between.

I worked with J for a little over a month, but the time spent with him was overall a joyous experience. He was endlessly patient with my fumbling in the early days and I came to look forward to my time with him. It was a time of great learning, on my part. And it was a time filled with grace, peace, and goodwill. J has many blessings to share with the world, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the benedictions he imparted.

 

 

Love keeps us strong


ROSE

 

Some things are impossible to understand

That’s why they’re called mysteries

The greatest mystery is love

Love truly does conquer all

Divine love most especially

Expressed through the hands of others,

Actions taken that fill us with peace

And Gratitude and Love

And moves us to ‘pay it forward’

Yet, how can we ever pay

For all the gifts we’re given?

We pay by sharing our gifts, ourselves

To the very best of our ability

It may never be enough

But the ‘widow’s mite’ though seemingly small

Has strength enough to scale the walls

Of hopelessness and despair

Out of grief and out of pain a hero comes

For it is through the darkness

Sometimes crawling on bruised or broken knees

That courageous faith is born

And enables us to travel far

So do not worry or despair

The deepest love may appear a scar

But it lifts us up and chases away

Every anxious moment, every fear

Know this, o trembling souls of earth

Death may come, but so too birth

Cycles of life will carry on

And it is love that keeps us strong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New life, new reasons to celebrate


“The littlest feet make the biggest footprints on our hearts.” – Author unknown

I woke up this morning to the happy news that my niece had her baby girl. Life is so wondrous and so precious. This is my brother’s first grandchild and her birth has been much anticipated. She has given us something wonderful to focus on and a much-needed break from the jumble of emotions this past 18 months have been. If you follow this blog you know my brother was killed by an impaired driver a year and a half ago. This precious child is bringing healing and a new focus on the joys of life. While I am saddened that Chris is not here to hold this precious baby, I am rejoicing that she has arrived safe and sound and both mother and child are recuperating from the rigors of childbirth. Yes, life is fragile, but life is also very, very good.

For my nephew, with love


I remember when you were born

And I became an aunt for the first time

I was eleven years old and oh, so proud

The sister I cherished had become a mother

I remember playing with you

And holding your hand as I walked you to school

I remember you break dancing as a young teen

And the effort and joy you put into it

I remember you gazing into the mirror as you straightened your tie

For your first school dance

I remember how proudly you stood

As a junior usher in the receiving line at my wedding

I remember how kind and gentle you were

With my own children when they were small

You were their favourite babysitter

I remember how quick you were to lend a hand

When we needed you – you were always there

And I remember the shock and pain I felt

When I learned you were gone –

Forever gone from this place called earth

As your birthday approaches I remember you

And I give God thanks

For lending us you

If only for a little while

I remember you