Sunday, August 3, 2014

When I Grow Up

One evening after Dan died, I received a phone call from my dad's oldest sister.  My Aunt Doris is now 80 and has been widowed since she was 26. My Uncle Everett died of cancer and she was left to raise four children, ages seven and under on her own.

I've thought a lot about my Aunt since she called me that night offering words of advice and encouragement. Her biggest concern for me was that I not spend my life alone, as she knew firsthand how lonely it could be. My Aunt Doris never remarried. And she never drove. Imagine raising four children without having a vehicle to go buy groceries or go to appointments (how the heck would I make it to Timmy's for my double double). Not only that but she worked at a bank. Somehow she managed. I really can't begin to imagine how difficult that was for her.

When I was growing up, I never thought of my Aunt as a widow, I just thought of her as Aunt Doris. My uncle died before I was born so I never knew her as half of a loving couple. I've seen their wedding photo. How cute they were, and how young. They had no idea what life had in store for them.

I never took the time to stop and think about how hard it must have been for her or how lonely she must have been. I just assumed that she had decided she didn't want to remarry so never dated.   I never thought about how difficult a choice that would have been for her to make in the 60s, when expectations of what a woman should and shouldn't do when they were widowed were a lot more firmly entrenched than they are now. The attitudes I've run into (they need blogs all of their own let me tell you) are nothing compared to what she must have faced.

I certainly had no idea of the sadness she carried with her every single day. But you know what?  I've never seen my aunt without a smile on her face. Never. I have never heard her complain about her life and how unfair it was. She just got on with it and made the best of it. How brave she was (is). She raised four wonderful children. She has many beautiful grandchildren and great grandchildren. She is still active in her church and her community. She is the epitome of grace and dignity (something I would never be accused of, I swear far to much for that). She's had a good life. She is loved. But she's always been a bit sad, I know that now. That mischievous twinkle she has in her eye masks a hidden  tear. A tear that even 54 years later is always lurking under the surface. I understand. Completely.  When I saw her a few weeks ago, I hugged her a little tighter, and then made sure I hugged her again.

I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I think I've figured it out. I want to be just like my Aunt Doris when I grow up.

There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity. ~Washington Irving

Friday, August 1, 2014

Thank You For Being A Friend...

How can I even begin to thank everyone for all they have done for me (us) over the last few months.  A simple thank you just doesn't seem enough to convey how I really feel. I can't imagine how I would have gotten through this without you, my posse.  You have been with me every single day for the last 10 weeks.  I've started to write Thank You cards but it's a slow process, mostly because I end up writing novels in each one of them.  They are sappy and laden with clich├ęs so be forewarned.  I can't guarantee when you will get them, it might take me until next year to finish them all  (it took me a week to write two, but I did manage  to mail one). I didn't want to wait to tell you how much you mean to me because, well just because.  If I have learned anything it's not to wait, to make sure your people know how much they mean to you. Now. Just in case. Because you never know.  I know I've said it to you all before, but I'm going to say it again.  I have the most amazing friends. There is so much to thank you for, the list is extensive and by no means complete (and random, although looking after my kids definitely tops the list).
You comforted my children.
You loved Dan.
You held me up when I began to fall.
You hugged me, multiple times.
You cried with me (and took away my dirty tissues).
You travelled across the world to be with me.
You came from all over Canada.
You called me.
You gave wonderful tributes to Dan.
You sang for Dan (still blown away by this one R).
You made sure Dan's crew were taken care of.
You looked after his Regiment.
You sent beautiful flowers, many, many beautiful flowers (my house may have started to smell like a funeral parlour).
You made donations to Soldier On in Dan's Memory.
You took my dog for runs and walks.
You chased away the media.
You bought me clothes and shoes, really, really nice shoes.
You cooked me many wonderful meals and filled my freezer.
You gave me a beautiful lawn.
You cleaned and took care of my house (blessed are the house cleaners). *Hoose for my International friends.
You sent lovely cards.
You sent me chocolate, and many other lovely gifts.
You brought me many double doubles (I can't believe I forgot this one originally, #unbelievable).
You brought me gin (and cut off my gin, hmm).
You brought me anti frizz cream (seriously important when you have naturally curly hair that people feel the need to rub).
You didn't give me cigarettes (I'm still not sure on this one, the fact that I've never smoked should be irrelevant and really would one pack of smokes have been so bad).
You convinced me not to join a cult or commune (I'm still tempted, I might find some smokes).
You listen to me natter (some daily, the patience you must have).
You haven't told me to bugger off.
You treat me like I'm normal (as if).
You make me laugh. Out loud even!

Speaking of laughing, I've had the lyrics from the Golden Girls theme song stuck in my head all freaking day.  They are actually aptly appropriate, especially the bits about grey hair and not being able to hear (damn Gunner's ear).

Thank you for being a friend, traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, yo
u're a pal and a confidant
I'm not ashamed to say, I hope it always will stay this way
My hat is off won't you stand up and take a bow

And if you threw a party, invited everyone you knew
Well you would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say

Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend

If it's a car you lack, I'd surely buy you a Cadillac
Whatever you need any time of the day and night
I'm not ashamed to say, I hope it always will stay this way
My hat is off, won't you stand up and take a bow

And when we both get older
With walking canes and hair of grey
Have no fear even though it's hard to hear
I will stand real close and say

Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend

Let me tell about a friend
Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend

And when we die and float away
Into the night, the Milky Way
You'll hear me call as we ascend
I'll say your name, then once again
Thank you for  being a friend

Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
Whoa, tell you about a friend
(Thank you right now, for being a friend)
Thank you for being a friend
(I wanna tell you right now, and tell you again)
Thank you for being a friend
(I wanna thank you, thank you, for being a friend)
Thank you for being a friend

And now you will all have that song stuck in your heads for the rest of the night too. Consider it my gift to you. Your welcome.

And thanks for being my friends.

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