A person is a person…


“A person is a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Suess

“A child seldom needs a good talking to as a good listening to.” – Robert Bault

“A child can teach an adult three things… to be happy for no reason. To always be busy with something. And to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” – Paulo Coelho

The other day a family came into the library and one of their little girls came rushing to the desk to tell me a story. She was very excited. They had been to the animal shelter to walk the dogs there. Her enthusiasm was a blessing that added bright moments to my day. Her mother told me they do not have any pets so they go to the shelter on a regular basis to spend time with the animals and to walk the dogs.

This little girl was smiling ear to ear as she told me the pooches’ names and how one was a very big dog and one was quite small. She was bouncing on her toes and her eyes were shining as she told me all about it. I asked her questions about the animals and about the shelter. It was one of the best conversations.

Finally, she told me they were in the library to find books about dogs and also horses, because they also love horses. As we were chatting I noticed her little sister was standing behind her looking very sad, so I asked why. She was sad because she hadn’t wanted to leave the animal shelter, her sister told me. That little girl was too sad to talk, but listened avidly as her sister conversed with me.

Soon, they raced away into the children’s section to find the books they wanted. Not long afterwards they came back to the desk, books in hand to be checked out. The same little girl showed me the books they had chosen and a second conversation about books ensued.

I am grateful. I am grateful for small moments of great joy. Moments when two people communicate. Moments when one person’s joy affects another on a deep level. Moments that remind me the days are filled with blessings when we stop and pay attention. I am grateful for children and their innocence. I am grateful for the reminders to stop, look, and listen. I am grateful.

“To every child – I dream of a world where you can laugh, dance, sing, learn, live in peace and be happy.” – Malala Yousafzai

 

Every life matters


This morning I read a post on Facebook about a mother who took her children to the zoo. Her son is autistic. While there her son became agitated and a man yelled out, ‘some people should not be out in public, they ruin it for society’ or words to that effect. It’s not an exact quote, but you get the drift. That poor Mom! I grew quite angry reading her story.

The mentality of the man who yelled at that family in the zoo just boggles my mind. And he was there with his own children. It worries me that they, too, are being raised in a household that is biased, intolerant, and down right ignorant. How is that going to influence their lives and world views?

I don’t have anything profound to say, but I believe every life does matter. Every person in society deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. I am grateful to this Mom who was brave enough to share this unfortunate incident on social media. I am thankful for the insights she imparted. Unfortunately, ignorance abounds, but so too does kindness. Another gentleman took this imbecile to task and told him to leave the autistic boy and his family alone. Well done, sir. Well done!

School shootings


The other day my niece shared a news story about a school shooting in Kentucky; it saddened me and made me think of the drama, the pain, and the shock of another school shooting in Brampton, Ontario in 1975 at Brampton Centennial Secondary School. It was the school I went to and where several classmates had been hurt and three, including the shooter, died.

I knew the shooter, Michael Slobodian, and I knew the teacher that died, Margaret Wright, and I knew John Slinger, one of the dead, but only in passing. Michael had been the boyfriend of a girl I knew. He was also in several of my classes, including the English class where Mrs. Wright was our teacher. She had recently moved to Brampton from New Brunswick, if memory serves. And she was the mother of two young children.  I also remember Dean Naden, who lived a couple of houses down the street from the Slobodians. He tried to reason with Michael, but was shot for his efforts. I remember Ernie Nicols, whose family set up equipment in their yard for their son to practice for track and field events. Ernie ended up paralyzed after he was shot that day.

There are more, many more. Many people were hurt that day and many were traumatized.

It was an event that would mark me for the rest of my life. I think about it every time there is another such tragedy. I remember the sirens, the rampant rumors, the fear, and the panic. I remember gathering in our basement with my sister and our friends that evening. There was a lot of weeping and a lot of questions.

I remember going door to door with a petition to gather support for gun control legislation.  I remember the man who argued with me for a long time about the right to bear arms. He was a “new” Canadian and had emigrated from a country that offered few liberties. He felt government should not make such laws. I felt then, as I do now, that there is no place in society for the indiscriminate sale of guns, especially high powered rifles that are not needed for the hunting of game.

Michael Slobodian was sixteen years old – a child still. I think of him and still wonder, “why”?  I believe that children – all children – should be treated kindly and with respect. I read once that the way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice. Let our words to children be those of love, kindness, caring, and deep respect.

Better, not bitter


I want to get a handle on all the stress, but it’s not easy. Life sure has been challenging the past few months. Part of me is very angry that a doctor released my husband from the hospital despite ongoing serious issues. Health care seems to exist only for the rich and famous these days – but I’m not bitter.  Actually, I am bitter. I am bitter about all the injustices that go on in this world and I am fighting to let that all go. It isn’t easy. Stress is a noxious poison that infiltrates life and sucks out all the joy.  I am searching desperately to find a silver lining in the cloud that has enveloped my spirit.

Stress is contagious – all the more reason to shake it off, if I can. I do not want to poison the people I love with my anxiety and worry. I want to be a better person – a person who lifts others up – not bring them down.

I am trying to respect my husband’s wishes not to be bundled off to hospital once again. On the other hand I feel ill equipped to deal with all the issues he is having. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say they are significant, and a huge worry for all of us. So I called the health care line and spoke with a nurse – she advised taking him to emergency, but he does not want to go there.  And so here I sit, biting my nails and wondering how to convince him that would be for the best. He simply doesn’t want to be poked or prodded any more – he had two weeks of that. And I suspect that some of the issues are due to the cocktail of prescription drugs he is consuming by doctor’s orders.

Human beings are more than the physical self. We are also spiritual, emotional, and psychological – these needs also must be met. How to balance all these needs is something I am wrestling with at the moment.  I will give it a little more time, and I will pray for guidance. And hopefully, in the long run, I will be better and not bitter…and so will my husband!

To honour my Mother


Anita Frances Martin-Morrissey

“Motherhood is a choice you make every day, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is….and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” – Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

Sacrifice is a word that just about sums up my mother’s life. Trying to describe her is a bit like trying to describe a beautiful colour, nearly impossible! Nevertheless, I want to honour my mother by telling some of her story – or I should say my experience of her as her daughter. Mom was tough, very strict in many ways. Yet, she was always fair, and often very soft-hearted, though she did her best to hide it. She raised nine children in a small house without running water or such luxuries as electricity for many years – or the benefit of an indoor bathroom. I could say I don’t know how she managed it (I don’t) but my older sisters and brothers helped – a lot! So while this blog’s focus is to honour my mother, it is also to give a nod to the sacrifices made by my siblings who shared in caring for us “little ones”.

One of my favourite memories is of Mom sitting on the floor with the three of us youngest ones and cutting out paper dolls for us to colour. She would look up from time to time at the mess a family of nine children can make and sighing say, “I really should clean this up”. But then she’d smile at us and continue telling us stories of her childhood and singing our favourite songs. She sang a lot. She smiled a lot – at us children, at my father, at the birds singing, at the waves out on the ocean, at the antics of our pets, at the flowers in the fields – it didn’t take an awful lot to bring a smile to her face. Although her life was far from easy she was a joyful person.

She had a lot of sorrow in her life losing several children in miscarriage and a little girl that was born but died a few weeks later. I remember her funeral and the sadness in my mother’s eyes. I remember the pride I felt when Mom brought her home from the hospital and allowed us to hold her for a few minutes. Mom always referred to her as “our baby”. I didn’t know then the depths of despair my mother sank into following her death. Yet even though she struggled with her grief she continued to take care of all of us.

She was a woman of great faith – in God and in her religion. Her spirituality included seeing God in all people and in nature. She was a champion of the underdog and all whom she believed to be wronged in any way.

When she was in her early 40s my parents decided to move the family across the country to Ontario, where work was more easily found. In the early years she took in borders, but later chose to go to work to help build a nest egg to buy a new home, which they did after a few years. Five years later my father would suffer a heart attack that would put him out of commission for nearly a year. Mom continued to work until seven years later when she learned she had cancer. Ten days after entering hospital and ten days before her 59th birthday she died. But even while she was facing one of the biggest challenges of her life Mom continued to be a source of comfort and peace for all of us. I remember commenting on her strength one day while I was visiting and she replied, “I’m not that strong you know”. I replied, “I know you are not made of stone, that’s why I’m here, why we’re all here”. However she seldom leaned on us, where she gathered her strength from I don’t really know, but I suspect it was the faith she carried throughout her life.

My mother died over 30 years ago, but her essence lives on in all her children and grandchildren. She left us a legacy of love that I hope will live on and on. Thanks for all the wonderful lessons Mom – both the hard ones and the sweet ones. You are not forgotten – and never will be.

Shout out to Front line workers


I work at the front desk at the public library in my town and I have to say I enjoy my work immensely. I love helping people and like to think my efforts make a real difference in the lives of our patrons. I worked in retail for a good part of my life and have always enjoyed meeting new people and learning a small bit about their lives. There is nothing I find more distasteful than overhearing anybody disrespect people working in the service industry – whether it is a counter person at a fast food joint, a fellow co-worker at the library,  or the secretary in the doctor’s office. I am grateful to say I have witnessed very few such situations.

I honestly have found that the overwhelming majority of people are absolutely awesome. I had cause to reflect on the goodness of people and the sheer joy of working with the public the other day at work when a regular patron I had not seen since before the holidays gave me a hug and wished me a happy new year.  She has such a big, warm, and beautiful smile – it is always a joy to see her and even though I do not know her well I am always appreciative of her open-hearted kindness and friendliness.  I was tired that day and not feeling good. I was just a little under the weather. This woman did more to lighten my spirit and sow a seed of generosity than she will ever know. I treasure all such moments like these. It is a testament to how we can each make another person’s day a little brighter.

Never underestimate the power of a smile or the little gestures that can turn a person’s day around. It is like a small pebble thrown into the water. It has ripple effects we may never know about. Respect and human decency – that’s what it’s all about. So this is a shout out to all people who work on the front lines wherever you may be employed. What you do matters and this is my salute to you. You are awesome!

Honouring my Dad


DAD

On Sunday families across the country will be celebrating Fathers’ Day. My Dad died in 1990, but the gifts he gave us through the years live on – gifts of wisdom, a love of animals and nature and all things bright and beautiful.

He was a very quiet man. A man of few words – generally gentle, he could be tough, gruff even, but for the most part he was mild mannered. He was a twin –they were the youngest of a large family, but his twin sister died of tuberculosis in her early thirties. My father would live through many deaths in his family, several to T.B. He rarely talked about the hardships he faced growing up. I know he had left home at age 14 to go to work. He lived through the depression, which came to be known as the “dirty thirties”.  A heart murmur prevented him from enlisting in the armed forces when the country went to war for the second time. It was during the war years that he met and later married my mother. Their lives were not easy, but according to my mother, they had a good life.

Dad loved animals – all animals and would not tolerate cruelty toward them. As a child we kept chickens, a cow, and sometimes a pig. Memories of Dad building a new chicken coop, demonstrating to us children how to feed a horse an apple or how to milk the cow, carrying a new calf up the hill to our house while its mother butted him from behind, cradling new kittens in his work-calloused hands, petting the dog – all ways he demonstrated his deep love and respect of all living things.

I also remember him sitting in the shade of a tree out in the yard, his gaze on some faraway place and time. Sometimes I would sit quietly with him and wonder what it was he was thinking about. Often it was a time of silent reminiscing for him and sometimes he would share stories of his childhood with me – like skating on the ice wearing home-made skates – blades driven into blocks of wood that he strapped to his boots. At other times he was enjoying listening to the birds sing and breathing in the scent of flowers.

Dad was a quiet man, but his love of the beauty of nature, the way he spoke to people, and the way he handled animals spoke loudly. So on Fathers’ Day I will honour his memory and be thankful for this man I was fortunate to call “Dad”.