Family bonds, a Thank You to my siblings


The bonds between siblings remain throughout the years. Whether we speak often, or have long periods of time when life keeps us busy, I know my siblings are there for me – always! My siblings multiply my joys and share my burdens so they become lighter. We grew up in rural Newfoundland in a little house on a hill that looked out over the bay. As I travel back in time, I am filled with nostalgia for those happy days playing in the fields that surrounded the house or in the woods behind the “back forty”. I was one of nine children – number seven of the bunch. I am so grateful to be part of this family. The eldest took such good care of the younger members. I always felt secure knowing they stood between me and anything that threatened harm. Growing up in a large family can have its challenges, but the blessings far outweighed these. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for each and every one of my sisters and brothers. They have taught me, guided me, stood by me, and always, always loved me. And I thank God for the blessings of growing up with such caring and compassionate people. Life can wound us, but if we are fortunate enough to have a sibling that truly loves us and supports us we will find healing. So, this is my thank you to each of my brothers and sisters who enrich my life, lift me up, and support me. I am so very glad we have each other.

Twelve months of blessings


There is something so special about Christmas time. Something magical and spiritual and absolutely good. I don’t feel that way every year, some years it was just too painful coming on the heels of a death in the family or some other grievous situation. But this year I am so very thankful for the blessings granted us over the past twelve months. So thankful, and Christmas is bringing me so much peace, so much joy this year.

It’s been a challenging year in so many ways, and, as I think back over it, it was an uphill climb in so many ways: emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and physically. It’s not finished with us yet as we wait for a spot to open up in the dialysis unity here in town so my husband won’t have to be flown to Edmonton once again. I think we’ve had enough of that for one year. Yet, it was a year so filled with blessings as well. So many people people stepped up to help us in more ways than I can list here. God really does work in mysterious ways and I am so grateful for all the people who allowed the Creator to work through them; who reached out to support us in every way imaginable. It is through adversity that we may be tested, but we are also so very blessed, if we are open to receive. I read somewhere that issues come up to either bless us or to help us learn the lesson it brings.

Here it what I learned once again: we are never alone, unless we choose to be. No problem or challenge is too big for the Divine One. People are so intrinsically good and unfailingly kind. If we are open we will receive what we need, and often even more than we pray for. People remark on how they see me as being so strong. Well, I will let you in on a little secret: it’s not my strength they see but the strength of God who sustains me, no matter how big or contentious the issue may be.

So, I am praying that we each receive all we need; that we are open to receive the gifts the Creator is waiting to grant us; that we find true joy in the season; that every moment is peace-filled. I wish you well, my friends. I wish you more blessings than you can count. I wish you enough, always. God bless and Merry Christmas.

Edmonton Adventure #2: Blessings and signs of hope


Coming home after round two in Edmonton I am still harboring feelings of apprehension. The past few years have been fraught with difficulties and challenges where my hubby’s health is concerned. Fear seemed to be a constant companion with each and every hospital visit. I am still holding my breath. He’s still in hospital and while there have been successes such as his recent surgery other issues remain.

Doctors had said he was at a very high risk for surgery, in fact they warned he may not survive it. All these thoughts were on my mind as I sat waiting for the operation to be finished – as I waited for news.

I had met and made friends with two women from Northern Saskatchewan during his last hospitalization. I was grateful when they offered to come sit with me while hubby went through the surgery. They were a wonderful source of strength and a welcome distraction as we traded stories about our lives. Words cannot express the relief when I received word that the operation was successful and he was in the recovery room. I will always be thankful for the support and friendship gifted to me by these women.

Life and death take on a much deeper meaning when your days and nights are spent in a hospital. I was blessed to meet many kind and compassionate people during my time in Edmonton. People whom had been total strangers prior to this. People who I will keep in my thoughts and prayers for a long time yet to come. People who have become friends. Friendships forged in the fires of fear. Friendships that gave hope, support, and sustained us.

A rainbow over the skies at the airport where we awaited the air ambulance that would take us home

As the day finally came when hubby was transferred back to our local hospital, I bid good-bye to one and all – friends, doctors, and nurses who had aided me in so many ways – not least of all in lending their strength when I was at my weakest points. At the airport a beautiful rainbow arched across the sky – that age-old symbol of hope.

As the plane flew us back home the scene outside the window was serene and beautiful. We were flying above the cloud cover and the sun shone. It seemed an apt metaphor: no matter what storm clouds may gather I hope I will remember the sun will always light the way again.

The sun above the clouds made for an idyllic and tranquil scene as we winged out way home

Home at last!


It’s been a long hard road to travel, but after nine weeks in hospital my husband and I are finally home at last. I am so grateful for the people who shared my trials during his hospital stay. I am grateful for the daily phone calls with my siblings; For the many kind words delivered via social media. And I am grateful for new friends who supported and sympathized with me while they themselves were walking the same or a similar road.

Yes, we are home. Is he better? No, he is not, but he is no longer in a crisis situation, which, again, I am very grateful for. Our first day back at home had me awakening to the sound of the thud as he fell to his knees on our bedroom floor. No, he was not hurt, but it is an example of how he is not really ‘better’. The dizziness remains, and most likely will form daily living for as long as life lasts. This is not new; he has been living with this condition for a few years now. I had hoped the doctors could find some magic pill that would take it away. Sadly, that is not to be. It is simply one more side effect of diabetes. It places severe limitations on what he can and cannot do. I sigh, but I met so many wonderful people during hubby’s hospitalization – people who are enduring much more and much worst conditions.  Yes, we had to face several disappointments. Yet, while his quality of life is much constrained, he is at least alive to tell the tales of his adventures in the health care system.

His kidneys failed while in hospital and he is now on dialysis and will likely be for the rest of his life, though doctors tell us miracles can happen and there is a possibility of his kidney function returning – it is a possibility but not a probability. Still, he is still here beside me and I am so very grateful for each moment of each and every day. And it is good to be home at last.

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.

 

A shout out in gratitude


“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

A shout out to all the writers, photographers, poets, and artists of every stripe – I just want to thank you. I want to thank you for expanding my horizons; for making me think; for helping me dream. For all the times I have smiled, laughed, or cried, I thank you. For your camaraderie and support; for your friendship across the miles. For granting me a small peek into your lives. Thank you for your generous sharing and for your courage to do so. For helping me see places I may never get to visit, except through your eyes. I thank you for your humour that brightens my days. I thank you for your wisdom and compassion. I thank you for exposing me to new ideas and allowing me new insights into life. And most of all I thank you for affirming for me once again that humanity is wonderful and good. I am so grateful for the miracle of each and every one of you. Thank you!

Lessons in the Deluge


“Out of massive suffering emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran

When I was a little girl we lived in rural Newfoundland. In the back of the field beautiful sunflowers grew tall and I loved them. So, this spring I decided to plant sunflowers of two different heights in the corner of the back yard. The seed packets read that some will grow to be as tall as 3.5 metres (approximately 9 feet) and the others would grow about 2 feet tall. I had this vision of how the flowers would look with the high board fence behind them as I planted them. Unfortunately, mother nature delivered a punishing rain on the weekend and the deluge caused flooding in parts of town. In my garden some of my sunflowers took a beating and are now bent over as if the weight of the rain was too much to bear. I spent the past hour propping them up and tying them off with fishing line in an effort to support them.

I cannot help but think how people are like that. Some people grow stronger when tested by life. Others need supports until they can gain their feet and their strength. We are, each of us, individuals. Some of us are much more resilient than others. I hope that there are helpers for those that need it. I hope that whether we are the ones reaching out, or the ones offering assistance, that we each find the strength we need, whatever life may dole out.

“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” – Ernest Hemingway

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!

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.