Tag Archives: Family


What an ogre I was.  The Yuck had left me unyielding and unshifting, someone I’m not.  All since July.

I wasn’t letting the kids be kids.  Too much structure.  Too much control.  Order. Quiet.  Little statues to adorn the sides of my fireplace.  I have chips and a huge dent in the drywall from where my rage got the better of me and I threw a Little People garage towards the safety gate and missed.  A monument to a person I hope is long gone.  Someone I hope is fixed because I decided to change a few things.

And I have much to be thankful for: My health, my home, my family, my friends.  I have been feeling and doing much! better since I started eating better.  I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m on a diet, because I’m not.  We never really had cakes and biscuits in the house before, and now we have Costco 3-packs of Carr’s (made in Scotland, no less!) Ginger and Lemon Cremes.  Two is a serving.  I know!  Two!  And, I’ve lost weight to boot.  Eight pounds in 3 weeks.  But I swear I’m not dieting.  No, really.  All I have been doing is adhering to serving sizes on the back of the box.  It’s easy for the most part —  except when it comes to pasta.  Two ounces is a serving?  Really?!  I’d be better off buying a Gerber Stage 3 pasta dinner, there’d be more in that tiny jar, let me tell you.  I think Barilla is taking the Micky.  I mean, come on!  Two ounces?  You know they’re sitting in their cushy wee corporate offices with half a pound of farfalle between two of them, laughing till somebody snorts a hunk of it down their nose.

No, but I’m not bitter.  Yep, I’m not.

Who knew?  I’d be feeling dumpy and gloomy, so I’d eat chocolate.  But all that would do is eventually make me feel worse.  So then I’d eat more sugar, and the sinking feelings still weren’t going away. . . I was going around in a circle.  And becoming a circle!

It’s started a revolution.

So.  I’ve decided.  I’m tired of hearing it, so I’m just going to live.

Enjoy being young, you have fit legs, youth is wasted on the young.
Enjoy dating, it’s all serious business and responsibility after you get married.
Enjoy just the two of you, everything changes when you have children.
Enjoy when they’re babies, they grow so fast.
Enjoy them when they’re throwing fits and imploding, they’ll be teenagers soon.
Enjoy being in your 30’s/40’s, don’t take life so seriously now.
Enjoy your grandkids, you can hand them back.
Enjoy retirement.
Enjoy the young, they have fit legs.  Youth is wasted on the young.

I’m stopping it all.  I’m dropping out of the cycle.  Forget it.  I’m living for myself.  I keep hearing “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3) or thinking about how Christ always went to the children first and blessed them.  Or how we should become like little children. I’m letting the kids be kids and enjoying what we have.  Lining up dining chairs and making trains for hours until we get tired of it.  I’m having water fights and making homemade playdough.  They’re eating off of the ‘good’ grown-up plates and drinking from proper glasses that have the potential to smash, but I don’t care so much, because every day is a special occasion.  They’re sitting and laughing with me and getting to know their mother.

Getting to also know she has a sick sense of humour.

I’m playing hide and seek, but not in a cute-come-find-me kinda way.  In the he-can’t-find-me-and-starts-freaking-out way.  Sure, they’ll have abandonment issues and will likely pay thousands to retreive their sanity, but for now, it’s nice to feel wanted.

One of my new favourite things to do is have Ian lie on the carpet and drop cashews into his mouth.  We laugh together when one slides right in.  We giggle and squirm when one bounces off of his teeth or slides down his neck.

We’re all learning and growing, and I couldn’t be happier.


Words and Thoughts

In a quiet corner of the house, in a dimly lit south-facing room, lays a shadow of a man I once knew.  He can’t speak, smile, or motion and he doesn’t really have a lot of range of eye movement from within his partially opened eyes.  But…but!  I know he hears me.

As I quietly made my way into his room yesterday, it was easy to overlook the IV and the morphine drip, the shelves of medical supplies and the monster hospital bed.  All I saw was a frail man propped up in bed with his face naturally angled at the ceiling.  I spoke with him and carried on a one sided conversation quite well, but inside I was breaking.  My heart was breaking and my spirit ached for this man who always had something to say, a kind word, a strong hug and his gentle, loving eyes that pierced your soul every time.

It’s hard to stay out the room, I am drawn to it.  It is so peaceful in there.  Quiet, serene, calming.  I can’t really describe it and do it justice … like a huge warm blanket that encompasses you completely.  The kind of feeling that makes you happy inside, almost glowing.  I sat in there yesterday.  I don’t know how long it was, I just sat there with him staring into the walls listening to him sleep, his hand enclosed in mine.  I had told him he was holding my hand whether he liked it or not.  I sat in silence, listening to the oxygen tank buzz, the 1940’s music softly playing from the TV and thinking about all of his stories and words I had heard over the past eight years.  I’d be fine and then tears would come to my eyes.  But not the tears you would expect, I wasn’t sad, I was at peace.  But then the sad tears would come.  Why does a man so amazingly brave, generous, strong and so full of chivalry and charisma have to be reduced to this state?  It’s not fair.  Life isn’t fair and dying isn’t fair either.

We expect his days are very few now.  I am deeply saddened, but know he won’t be in any more pain.  I worry about my mother-in-law.  She is amazing.  She works so hard and takes such amazing care of her father, my admiration for her runs so deeply.

What a bitter-sweet time.  My little brother-in-law, whom I adore, is to be married on the morning of Thursday to a wonderful young girl that I am getting to know, and just doors down from where I sit is a legend of a man, living out his last few hours.  My words will never do my thoughts justice.

A Tribute to The Greatest Generation and An Amazing Man

PhotoStory Friday

Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Bryan’s grandfather is by far one of the most gracious, generous, caring people I have had fortune to meet.  His gentle spirit shines through his fragile body.  He has lived an exemplary life having seen and lived through many things I truly hope none of us ever have to.

The first time I met him, he smothered me with love; his hugs envelop all who come within five feet of his grasp.  His hold is surprising in comparison to his fragility.  The pinnacle of his consideration and kindness towards me was exemplified when he hand-crafted a table lamp out of a gorgeous piece of wood for me, the Christmas before Bryan and I were married.  His carpentry skills are amazing.  When Bryan was younger, he made workable cement mixers, trucks, diggers and various other toys, all crafted by hand using his amazing array of machinery, simple shapes and imagination.  He has made beautiful cedar chests for every woman in the family, and surprised me five months later, when I arrived at the reception hall for more snapshots before the guests arrived.  As I walked over to the photograph area, my attention was drawn to a quiet corner close to photos of Bryan and me.  Sitting against the wall was a beautiful cedar chest, just for me — something I had not expected in the slightest.  As tears filled my eyes, I felt my heart swell with love for this man.  His craftsmanship echos the love he has in his heart.  And, he seems to have a knack of reading people within minutes of meeting them.  He’d continue to tell me I was “a good one” and that Bryan was to take good care of me.

Bryan and I used to work for the same company and commuted a long 45 minutes to work each way every day.  The blessing in this was that the workplace was a mere 10 minutes or so from his grandpa’s home.  We would drop by as occasion would permit, and sit and listen to his WW2 stories of his time in the military.  I would often smile, knowing that I had heard a particular story in previous visits, but he would occasionally add new appendages I had never heard before.  In retrospect, I am grateful that I heard so many stories so many times, it has aided in my memorization of them and their small details.

Before he enlisted into the military, he had a commercial driving license.  Be certain of this:  He enlisted, he was never drafted.  When he arrived on base, he was issued a military driver’s license where he would move trucks around.  He said one day he got called into his commanding officer’s office.  His immediate thought was that he was in trouble, that he’d done something horribly wrong.  On the contrary, he was impressed by Grandpa and asked him to be his personal driver for a season.  He would transport this officer wherever he asked, never breaking their silence to ask questions.  Ultimately, the commanding officer took favour with him and requested he become his full-time driver.

Later, his entire unit received orders to ship out in preparation for what would become D-Day.  However, Grandpa did not receive his orders.  When he asked, he was told that a better driver could not be found.  His commander was impressed with how well he had performed his duty and wanted him to remain on base as his personal driver.  In the end, Grandpa spent nearly two years on base before he was shipped out.  His orders finally came and he left for the U.K. on the last voyage of HMS Queen Mary as a troop ship to Europe.

He told me during one of our visits that after getting off the ship, his regiment had boarded a train in Scotland and taken a long journey south.  He couldn’t remember where he had boarded the train, but he recalled a large station outlining a coastline in Scotland near where HMS Queen Mary had docked.  He smiled as he mentioned “throwing candy to small children” and how much happiness he got from it.  Then his expression would fall and turn to disdain as he recalled his dislike for the war, and surprisingly, crumpets.

Bryan and I researched books, questioned my mother and finally we all came to the conclusion that HMS Queen Mary had docked and soldiers boarded a train in the adjacent town from me called Gourock.  The first time I took Bryan to Scotland, we stopped where his grandfather would have been and walked so many years ago and stood in silence, respecting the solemnity and significance of the moment.

I’ve already highlighted his creativity and ingenuity, but it is obvious this characteristic was always there. After arriving at his final destination somewhere inside France, Grandpa was assigned as an armoured car driver in the 9th Armed Division of the 1st Army.  He often spoke of how he disliked driving by looking through a small slit in the front of the armour plating.  He had a friend of his in the engineering corps weld a hinge and handle to that front plate.  Then he removed a windscreen from a damaged Jeep, wipers and all, and mounted it to the front of his car.  When enemy bullets would start flying he would reach out and lower the armour plate.  He often boasted that he had the only armored car in the entire war with a windscreen!  He drove that same armoured car in one of the most critical times of the War.  It was at a bridge in a place called Remagen, Germany.

Grandpa had become very ill and was in hospital while his unit went to the Battle of the Bulge.  When he left the hospital he found that he was the only one left from his original group.  The military found out he had that driver’s license and decided to make him a driver for an officer (I don’t recall which level but he could have been Captain).  He joined back up with the 9th Armoured Division and was dispatched to Remagen.

Those who know the history know that Remagen was the last standing bridge over the Rhine river and that Hitler did not want that bridge to stand.  When the 9th came across the bridge and saw it was still intact, they rushed into the scene full guns blazing.  German planes flew overhead trying to smash the bridge, ten v-2 rockets were launched at it, and many brave men died.  After the bridge had been taken, the Generals ordered tanks to start moving across the bridge before it could be taken out.  Unfortunately, one of the tanks fell through and blocked the entire thing.  Foot soldiers kept moving through but no large equipment could get passed.  The engineers finally had it removed and the bridge patched, but they had to test it to be sure it would hold.  Grandpa was asked to go, and bravely drove his armoured car across that bridge and back, all the while being attacked by the Germans.  Upon his successful return, the charge was on — the Allies had entered Germany.

Grandpa stayed on at Remagen for a short time, and took his turn sitting in the tower watching for German swimmers who would try to get down river and attach explosives to the bridge.  Eventually the bridge collapsed, but by that time, the engineers had placed pontoon bridges on both sides, and the movement of the Allies could continue into the Rhineland.

Grandpa never really spoke much more about what he saw.  We know he was one of the first into Neuremburg Stadium.  He climbed the flagpole and took the Nazi flag down.  He often joked that at the top of that pole someone had carved “Kilroy was here”.  He was also one of the first into the death camps.  Bryan tried to get him to talk about it a few times but it was just too difficult for him.  All he really said was it was awful, often with a tear in his eye.  He did manage to “liberate” a few items while in Germany though.  He brought home a couple of accordions and a few other little things.  He always had a soft spot in his heart for the German people, those innocents who were caught up in the awfulness of war.

The man I admire and adore is crippled by a physical disease and relies on his youngest daughter, my mother-in-law, to care for him in the comfort of her own home.  His Parkinson’s Disease has advanced very rapidly to a point where he no longer has any control over his physical body.  Every muscle in his frame painfully contracts.  He is unable to speak, but shows his once audible and animated expression through eyebrow raises, soft smiles and eye movements.  His condition, much like my Gran’s was, is up and down.  A few days ago, his oxygen levels had dropped to 70% and his lungs were filling with fluid.

These past few days, I have been pondering the complexity and simplicity of life, the fragility of our physical body and the mark we all leave in the world.  When it comes down to it, all we have in life are our convictions, the memories of how we have lived our life and the love of our family and loved ones.  Despite my religious convictions — or anyone else’s for that matter — death is never an easy subject to broach.   When we’re faced with it from the perspective of (physically) losing a loved one, reality sets in and priorities are checked and ultimately re-aligned.  It’s never easy to digest, even though I know that life doesn’t end at death, that our spirit lives on and we will all be reunited with the ones we love; even friends.  It’s hard to say goodbye.  I know that life is eternal and we are all a part of this plan that God has for us.  I have no doubts that there are angels watching over us in this world, and that they are the ones who care for us implicitly: Our family who have passed on.  I know that the people we meet in this life are of no coincidence nor happenstance.  A quote I heard a very long time ago and have never forgotten says:

Coincidences are small miracles where God wishes to remain anonymous.

We are due to arrive in Utah on 1st of November for my brother-in-law’s wedding on the 6th.  We are taking each day as it comes, that is all we can do.

Ian with Great-Grandpa 16 Aug 2006

It may be interesting to note that Grandpa’s great-uncle was Robert Leroy Parker, Jnr.  None other than Butch Cassidy himself.  Because of his striking resemblance, Grandpa was called ‘Little Butch’ as a child.

Photo Hunt: Family

I often encounter people who tell me my son looks just like my husband.  I really couldn’t disagree more.  Ever since I first laid eyes on the little guy, I knew he looked like me, and he continues to — even as his face changes.  I’ve always thought he and his older cousin could pass for brothers.  They are 3.5 years apart.  They didn’t meet until March of this year:

My son is on the right.

As a reference, here is my husband with Ian the day after he was born.  He’d just told a joke.

Cameron, other the other hand, looks like him.
(Where did that blonde hair come from?)

Bereavement: The Journey

Six months have transpired since the death of my maternal grandmother:  Brigid, my Gran.  A woman who was as stubborn as the day is long, usually very difficult to read and set in her ways.  And with that, a very generous, loving and gentle soul who held dear to her Irish-ness throughout her life, despite having left her home in County Cavan at the young age of just 15.

She moved to England and worked in hotels and pubs and was well-known wherever she went.  She was a true lady, her hair was always done, her clothes immaculate and her lips graced with fuchsia or deep red lipstick with a smile and a nod for everyone.

I didn’t always understand or agree with some of her motives for things, or how she approached things head on; and being difficult to read, it was hard to see her true feelings for things.  But one thing I never doubted was her love for her friends and those close to her.  She travelled unceasingly back to her beloved Ireland to visit her remaining siblings (she was the middle child of nine), or down to London, up to Inverness or over to the Isle of Skye.  She kept very active and full of energy and life.  Looking at her, you just thought she’d just keep going and going.  She was constantly going somewhere, even if it was out for her early morning walk which she took religiously, rain or shine.  The snow wouldn’t stop her either, in fact, winter was her favourite season most of all.  Having served in the army decades ago, she still had her regimented walk with her head held high.

In her life she’d moved around quite a bit. When I was 10, she moved to Australia to live with her new husband, Burgess.  He was a remarkable, amazing, gentle soul and I only wished I could have known him better in life.  He was the type of man you could see his soul through his eyes.  They’d met and married in London and went to live near Sydney a little while later.  A few years later when I was 15, they moved back to Scotland living up north, and I got to get to know him a little more, not just through the notes and letters we would exchange.

He had been shot in the head with a pellet gun by a bully when he was eight, it had consequently damaged an optic nerve and he lost his sight in his left eye; but he never let that slow him down, he was a big rig truck driver for years and was an amazing carpenter.

He gave me my love for honey and hearty homemade soup.  He was a very spiritual man and it showed in his actions and words.  He was laid back, but in the kind of way that he let things just roll off his back.  I regard myself one of the luckiest people in the world that I got to know him.  His hugs were brimming with love, his smile endearing and his laugh infectious.  I still love that man.  In August 2000, I had been in California nine months the day my Mum phoned me.  There was an intonation in her voice in the few words she spoke in salutation.

“Who died?”  I asked, hoping I’d imagined her tone.
“How did you know?”  she sobbed.  And then the words I had dreaded, “it’s Burge.”

My heart sank and I grieved that man for a very long time.  He had been plagued with illness throughout his later years and it had finally taken him — with stomach and prostate cancer.

If there was any chance, I would pray and hope for a husband just like him: Someone who would love and cherish me implicitly; someone tender, who I could connect with on every level and someone who oozed with the love of life.  It took some time, but I found my Burge.

They moved back to Australia in 1990 and for the ensuing ten years, I got to know them as I had before, through letters and cards.  My gran was a prolific letter-writer.  She kept in touch with an armful of people, constantly writing to someone.  She loved it and it showed.  Her address book was filled with people (I even found my last letter to her in the front – what a tender moment) and she had all of their birthdays marked down in her calendar and never forgot one.  She’d even send your card a month early, just to be sure you’d get it.  When the end of October rolled around, you could always be sure of a red envelope from her.  It was your Christmas card.  My Gran loved Christmas and the music, sending cards, parcels and calendars to everyone.

I am grateful she took the time to write to me as a teenager – a constant that helped buoy and shape me.  I thanked her for it as she lay on her hospital bed.  Her humble response was, “it was just a small thing”.  “Yes, but it’s the small things that matter”, I responded gently.  She nodded and smiled.

It was both cathartic and painful to stay at my Gran’s place in March, it was a perfect monument to her, frozen in time in October 2007, organised and quiet still. There were tributes of her everywhere, perfect tokens to who she was and what she loved: she had decorative plates of birds, pictures of penguins, flowers, and Irish and Scottish mementos — even her framed and hung Australian citizenship certificate.  Each room was filled with her favourite spring colours: lilac, pale yellow, pale green and delft blue.

Whilst I was staying at my Gran’s place, I clung on to a hope — it may have been false hope, but it got me through a very difficult task. I wanted to do something for her, for the home. I wanted to clear out what I knew she didn’t need: old bills and papers. They were everywhere:  In baskets in the kitchen, in drawers, in mugs on the mug tree at the sink, all around her living room, in her bedrooms. But not in the bathroom. I must have got rid of about a dozen carrier/plastic bags full of them.   As long as I kept repeating, ‘I’m doing this for Gran’, I was able to get through it.

Days before she died, I kept coming across little slips of paper or lengthy scripts. Some were typed, others hand written. They were all in different places, and each were a great find and a comforting solace. I never thought for one moment that she would pass whilst we were there, but unknowingly, these little pieces of paper helped me through a very trying time. Little pieces of treasure.  They were essentially, a voice from the dust.  My Gran had experienced the death of her close sister and Burge, and had held on to words of encouragement and support. I was grateful that she did.

My Gran’s death 6 months ago is quite easily one of the toughest times I have experienced in my life. It ripped the ground from under me and I felt dazed and confused for what seemed like days, when in fact only a few hours had passed.

Two days later, as I was poring through more papers, I came across something that changed my focus and redirected my thoughts. It was the quintessential hug; the comforting embrace that my heart needed.  I share it, hoping it will help someone else who is grieving a loved one.

Burge had written this to my Gran’s sister, Peggy.  Peggy had recently lost her husband and he reached out from Australia to Ireland with love and compassion through his written word.

24 July 1996

Peggy on this earth we view death from the perspective of one who strays behind, much as we view a long journey when we are seeing a loved one off on a train, a plane, or a ship and wave our goodbyes, only able to imagine what the trip will be like, or what our loved one will find when he gets where he is going.

If you could glimpse, for even a moment, the glory and excitement that a departed loved one faces when his eyes “close on time” and “open on eternity”, if only we could glimpse this, perhaps there would be more understanding in our sorrow and more joy in our grief.  Sorrow, then, must be akin to love; in fact, what is sorrow but the tender side of love.  As I said before – to take the sorrow out of death, we would have to take love out of life.

In a beautiful blue lagoon on a clear day, a fine sailing ship spreads its brilliant white canvas in a fresh morning breeze and sails out to the open sea.  We watch her glide away magnificently through the deep blue and gradually see her grow smaller and smaller as she nears the horizon.  Finally, where the sea and sky meet, she slips silently from sight; and someone near me says, “there, she is gone!”

Gone where?  Gone from sight — that is all.  She is still as large in mast and hull and sail; still just as able to bear her load.  And we can be sure that, just as we say, “there she is gone!”  Another says, “there she comes!”

Nothing is so beautiful as a person in a resurrected and glorified condition, there is nothing more lovely than to be in this condition and have our partner (loved one) and our families with us.  Life is eternal and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing, save the limit of our sight.

In the weeks and months that have passed, I have used music to ease and heal my heart.  I had found a small square note my Gran had written in her home:

You Raise Me Up
Josh Groban

I knew she loved it not only for his beautiful vocals, but for the violins that reminded her so dearly of her Irish music.

There were days I would just wander around listening to it and To Where You Are, soaking in the comfort it gave me and letting go of suppressed pain and grief.

From her bedside, I remember her asking me if I liked music.  “Yes Gran, I love music.”
“Oh good.  Do you like the Spice Girls?”
I chuckled, glanced at my mother and responded, “No, I prefer music with great vocals, people who sing with their heart…”
She nodded and simply said, “good, you can have any of my CDs that you want–”
“Oh Gran, don’t talk like that!”
“It’s OK, I don’t need them, do I?”

She knew, but never talked much about it.  The day after her birthday I had said:
“This isn’t a very nice place to have spent your birthday, is it?”
“No.  And I won’t be doing that again!”

She died three days later.

I think I have cried more in this last week than I have cumulatively up until this point.  Grief and sorrow can overwhelm us if we allow it to.  But with that, grief and sorrow are natural.  Like the letter said:

If we take the sorrow out of death, we have to take the love out of life.”

I take comfort in knowing that she is still around, watching out for me, seeing my children, seeing where I live.  She is still with me, there to uphold and support me; still loving me.  I have no doubts that the times I feel the sadness creep up on me are the times she is close by.  I never feel sad for long, and as quickly as it comes, it passes.  I know that I am left to journey through life with her just as a memory, but these memories are ingrained in my soul, showing me a pattern for life.  I will always miss her and her letters.

I love you, Gran.

Me, my two brothers and my Mum

…Jiggedy Jig

We all had a great time spending 5 days in the shopping and recreational metropolis and then another 5 at the cabin in Yellowstone, but I’m having a hard time deciding on what the true highlight of the trip was.

Was it buying 5 jars of Patak’s curry sauce at Super Target, because our “local” (read: day-trip excursion) Target isn’t Super? It barely scrapes by with Mediocre.

Then again, the entire afternoon I spent trawling two towns looking for a replacement contact lens with limited success tops my list of How-to-have-a-good-time-and-bring-out-the-best-in-people accolades. I haven’t managed to tear a lens in 5 years; well, it technically wasn’t torn, but had a minor abrasion.

After being rejected in no less than 6 box stores for apparently having a hard-to-find lens, we went “home” and perused the Yellow Pages. Imagine my delight when the woman said she had a lens, but the axis was 170 and not 160, but she’d give it to us anyway, free of charge since I was on trials, and all I needed was to have my eye doctor fax them my prescription.

After finding their office and waiting about 10 minutes, she returns to the desk and says, “I looked twice and the doctor looked too. We don’t have that prescription in stock.” Flabbergasted, I blurted out, “my husband phoned the office before we came here and we were told you had it!”

Her blank stare told me they’d probably rather have me pay the $28 a box (presumably like the other six people) and I walked out dejected and frustrated. Why would I want to pay for an entire box of contacts I didn’t know I was going to like or need? I have better things to pay my $28 to, like 0.1% of a tank of petrol.
Perhaps it was watching the boys and their cousins pretend fish in the designated non-permit required kid pond at Island Park. I noticed during our dusky sojourn that I was particularly appealing to our blood-sucking nemesis, the Mozzie. Why is it they’ll take my blood, but the American Red Cross won’t entertain me?
The next day, we stopped by in the morning (not early enough) with cast fishing lines, eager for Ian to catch a real fish. At 9 a.m., the fish had already decided they were having none of the hook and line lark and stayed well away, despite the words “catch and release” being thrown around. The highlight was watching Ian run off with his cousins to catch baby frogs, and succeeding; dampened only when Cameron staggered sideways off a small, square floating dock and Daddy caught him mid-leg before he had a chance to really submerge. He cried for a good five minutes. Incidentally, it’s amazing what chocolate-covered raisins will cure — fixed him right up.

Despite the unforeseen NUANCES having a puppy in our life has brought us, it’s been fun to watch him explore his new world outside of his former glass kennel. I laugh and down-right chortle as he navigates 3-inch tall grass with a bounding enthusiasm last seen in the eyes of a Miss Laura Ingles. It’s hilarious to watch him chase butterflies and grasshoppers, or discover that the UFO he is chasing in mind numbing jumps and circles, is indeed his tail. Sometimes he has run so fast towards me, tongue flailing in background, that he goes right over his whilkies and lands flat on his head.

A great memory was floating down a river in an inflatable raft in Island Park, watching the boys’ reactions to swooping fish-seeking hawks, a crane and jumping trout. It still bemuses me that Cameron had flown Transatlantic before he ever set tiny foot into a raft. The time of night was perfect, the sky was aglow with colour and the scenery was breath-taking.
Another dear memory I will forever hold in my heart is watching a man with an Eastern Bloc accent and his 10-year-old daughter edge past our car towards a stationary buffalo positioned in the middle of our lane. There’s nothing like the wonder of human curiosity to remind you of your own mortality. At one point, I had my thumb and forefinger positioned over the button to the sliding door, ready to save them for an impeding gore-fest. It just goes to show you, stupid knows no cultural bounds.

There is something to be said about pure water. There’s nothing like showering in natural spring water and having silky soft hair that behaves itself for once. I miss that already. It was like living someplace else, having to flip on the electric blankets at night and wearing warm jammies because it got below 40 degrees.

I love the Olympics and always have. I was gutted that we’d most likely miss some of my favourite events either entertaining the boys or during mid-travel back up to Idaho. I was delighted the day the (big) boys installed the satellite dish, rendering a beautiful, viewable picture, but then I burst my own bubble when I realised what I really wanted was some sweet WiFi.
We stopped at a popular spot so Ian could see the “stinky mud” (again) and I stayed back with the dog — it has started. After they got back, it was fun to sift through the photos of Ian, obviously offended by the smell of sulfur. I sat in the car and watched people of all ages play the license plate game, to and from the boardwalks. It’s funny to me how the focus of peoples’ comments have went from how cute our boys are to how sweet our dog is, and how practical strangers will come up just to ask what breed of dog he is or comment on his adorableness. It better not go to his tiny wee heid.
There was a conversation of sorts at the cabin that went something like, “Toby just ran off with my socks! Darn dog!” and “Come back to me when he runs off with your bra full sail in front of your father-in-law at 7 o’clock in the morning and I might have some compassion.” Days before we’d headed there, I let the dog out of his crate on the pretense of allowing him to relieve his bladder. Anything is fair game to this amber-coloured lightening bolt. I must say this though, he has improved my reaction times and reflexes exponentially.

And with that, we’re all home again, back to the place I love and hate all in one breath. And, I have a lot of reading and catching up to do.

HF: The Day We Left Daddy to Go Grab Milk

Haiku FridayA bedtime story
Can open the door to whole new worlds
Young minds delighted

Plot, characters, storyline
All paint a picture

Then, it’s weeks later
We walk in a store — loo break
Just for Daddy though

We start to walk on
“Ian, don’t drop your sandwich!”
“Daddy will find us”

Innocent wee mind
He left a trail of Subway
Damn Hansel, Gretel!

You don’t think they hear
Or understand an old tale
I’ll take stones next time

Can you 5-7-5? Go here or here to read more.

Thirteen Reasons I am Excited to Go Back to Scotland

Update: We decided to fly to Heathrow and not directly to Glasgow (even though the airport is just 20 minutes from my Mum’s) to save over $600. There are days when I realise my sanity could be worth more to me than that…*sigh*

10 March: 6 a.m. MST
Montana to Denver
Denver to Dulles, D.C. (change planes and go through Customs)
Dulles to Heathrow
Total travel time = 18+ hours
11 March: Arrive at 6 a.m. GMT and then drive 5+ hours up the M6 to just outside Glasgow. Should be interesting.

Bryan, Ian, Cameron and I are headed off to Scotland from 10-25 March. We are primarily going to see my Gran who has terminal cancer (I am so scared to see her, to see what two subsequent treatments of Chemo have done to her. She was already looking old the last time I saw her. Now my Mum says, “she looks like a wee auld woman.”), but here are thirteen things I am looking forward to:

1. The last time I was home was 13 December 2003. It’s been five long years. (Back when we didn’t have a mortgage or the boys.)

2. I haven’t seen Gran in six years. She came over for the wedding reception and when I made it back to Scotland, she was living in England on the Isle of Wight. If you know England well, this is the furthest off the mainland you can get from Scotland.

3. My Mum has only “met” Bryan twice. We were married for eighteen months before she saw him in the flesh. I’m glad she liked him!

4. I haven’t seen my brothers or sister-in-law in five years. My one brother has two kids, one is 10 and the other just turned 7. I’ve only met the youngest once. He was 2 at the time.

5. I need a hug from my Mum.

6. I get to take Ian on trains and buses. I am soooo excited about that. I can’t wait to see his reactions. The fact that he and Cameron are FREE on public transport (up to age 5) is an added bonus.

7. Curry, chip shops, meat pies, crisps, chocolate, soda indigenous to the UK and other fattening food. I plan on stuffing my face.

8. Charlie & Lola, Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine and any other merchandise I can get away with buying. Teletubbies? Not so much.

9. Catching up with old friends. Some of them I haven’t seen in eight years.

10. Saying something and not being the one who gets stared at.

11. Taking loads of pics. I plan on taking as many as possible–for my benefit and Ian’s. I want him to remember as much as possible.

12. British chocolate Easter eggs: a huge hollow chocolate egg usually accompanied with two chocolate bars of your choice. Woolworths alone sells over 1 million varieties ever year.

13. Breathing Scottish air, seeing familiar things: British icons, products in shops, scenery. (I hope to see some of London with Bryan too.) I don’t even mind if it rains.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Life suddenly stoppedHaiku Friday
I hear it whirling around
Seems like slow motion

In quiet moments
It’s all I can think about
Painful heart, wet face

Although this is intensely personal for me, I feel the need to get it out, to write it down and give a voice to my broken thoughts.

My Gran’s been quite ill, and more so recently. Her health has really declined just in these past five months. It’s unbelievable to think that in such a short time she has went from leaving her home at 6:30 a.m. to go out for her daily walk and having lunch at restaurants with my Mum a few times a week, to how she is now. It’s such a shock to the system for me. She’s always been walking. Always. It’s what she does every day. She’d take me on walks to the harbour close to our house and we’d throw bread to the seagulls, wrens and pigeons. It was a highlight growing up.

Then one day in early November last year, my Mum mentioned to me that she hadn’t been out for four weeks because she was weak and falling down a lot because of her pacemaker. She was later hospitalised with a pneumonal chest infection. She wasn’t able to swallow fluids properly and they were diverting into her lungs. As I contemplated my Mum’s statement over the next few days, I realised the ramifications of it. She hadn’t been out for her walk in four weeks! It’s a cold day in Hell before my Gran lets anything stop her for getting outdoors. She’d go out in a blizzard if you’d let her.

She overcame colon cancer in the late 90’s while she was living in Australia. After the death of her husband (Burge[ss]) in 2000, she moved back to Scotland and found a place quite close to my Mum’s home. Last year they found she had cancer in her throat and connecting to her stomach. She went through another series of Chemotherapy and was given the all clear recently. They decided to feed her by a tube through her nose and down her throat. But still her food wasn’t travelling down her esophagus properly. She was still throwing up and couldn’t digest much. They tried to connect the feeding tube plug on the outside but were having difficulties with it. It was then they did another scan.

I phoned my Mum yesterday to thank her for Cameron’s card, but really I wanted to talk to her. She’d told me early December that they were keeping Gran in hospital over Christmas and New Year because of staffing issues in case the tube came out while she was asleep and needed to be re-admitted. Since then I thought about my Gran off and on and have felt something was wrong for the past two weeks.

The tone in Mum’s voice changed when I asked about Gran. She said she didn’t want to spoil my Christmas and Cameron’s first birthday by having me worry about her. She then told me that after they did another scan they found my Gran had cancer in her stomach. She didn’t ask, so she doesn’t know (but I’m sure she does–she saw Burge go through it), but her life expectancy is anywhere from 2-3 months to 2 years.

It has been a huge shock to the system. My Gran is a fighter; as tough as they get. She has been the one grandparent that I have gotten the closest to, and the last one I have. I can’t tell you how far away I suddenly feel; how feelings of helplessness and solitude have rushed over me. I just feel consumed by it all. I cry and I don’t even realise I’m doing it. It comes and goes, but especially when it’s quiet. I sat and watched Cameron in his bath last night, but my mind was elsewhere.

Mum gave me the number to the ward she is in. I was surprisingly nervous as I dialled the numbers. It took a while, but I managed to get through and talked with her three hours ago. There was so much I wanted to say, so much I wanted to tell her and wasn’t able to. I knew she was tired and it was a little difficult for her to speak too. So I’m planning on writing her a letter and sending it through to my family to print off and read to her. It’s faster than posting it and waiting a week for them to receive it.

I want to go see her but I don’t know if I could make the trip alone. I’ve done it seven times total (five alone), but this is different. I want her to see my boys, to meet them. I want my Mum to see Cameron too. I really need Bryan by my side but I doubt if any of that is feasible. It’s just too expensive.

Time feels like it did again when I was a kid–it’s ticking by slowly. But it affords me the ability to make some decisions that I know I need to think about.

Domestic Bliss

Haiku Friday

Husband back at work
It was nice while it lasted
Entertain myself?

Twelve long days of bliss
No vacation time taken
Company time off

Helped around the house
Much more than I expected
And all from his heart

We worked together
To reach goal of a clean house
Before New Year’s Day