Monthly Archives: July 2015

My Grandfather

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To many in the small town of Elmira, he was a well known businessman, a florist, a landlord, and a restaurant owner. He was a family man who went to church on Sundays and worked hard during the week. He was a man who loved his home and lived on the same street his entire life.

But to me, my sister and my 5 cousins, he was ‘Papa’, grandfather of 7, something he proudly proclaimed on his personalized license plate, PapaB7.

For me, he was the only grandfather I ever knew. He has been a part of my life since the day I was born, at the head of the table at family dinners, carving the turkey on the holidays, and although he never said a lot, he was just there. He was present, and he was comfort, always there for his family.

He didn’t always agree with choices I made, such as when I became a vegetarian at age 12, or when I went through a phase of wearing heavy black eye liner in my teens (he was right about that one), but I always knew that he cared. He was concerned for my wellbeing, and wanted only the best for me.

He wasn’t overly affectionate, nor did he run in the yard with us when we were kids, but he showed his love in many other, often subtle, ways.

For me that love was most evident when I was living in Toronto, and every few months I would ask if I could visit him and Nana for a weekend. He never hesitated in welcoming me, nor did he utter a single complaint about having to drive to downtown Kitchener to pick me up at the bus station. And every time I left after a weekend, he made sure to tell me that I could visit anytime, that I was always welcome.

I have never once doubted his love for me.

Even during the last time I saw him, visiting him in the retirement home, I could see him trying to be strong just for me. I saw the pain in his face – it flashed across his eyes with each little movement – but he still asked how I was doing, how my job was going, what my new place was like. I could see the effort he was making to show he cared, and to make sure I didn’t worry about him.

He was a man of quiet strength who loved God and loved his family, and worked hard to provide for all of us.

And as we sit here on earth grieving our loss and trying to say goodbye, heaven has gained another angel. We can celebrate his life, and feel comfort knowing he is in a better place, where no pain can ever touch him again.

Papa, as you look down on us tonight, know that you are deeply loved and will be greatly missed.

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Surprises

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I generally love surprises; at least I love good surprises. I know some people hate them and I don’t understand why. I love the unexpected things in life – the things that come along suddenly and catch you off guard. The things that make you smile and break into a fit of giggles.

I was thrown a surprise birthday party once. It was when I turned 21. It was not exactly how you imagine most surprise parties. By the time I got there, half of the guests were already partly wasted, and I was there for a good 5 minutes before someone remembered to say ‘Surprise!’ But they had got me a lei necklace and a cool fancy straw, and it made me feel special. I was touched my friends had thought to throw me a surprise birthday party.

Another favourite surprise that sticks out in my mind is when I was 25 and the man I was dating at the time sent a massive bouquet of flowers to my work for me. It wasn’t my birthday or an anniversary of any sort. It was just an ordinary day so I was completely surprised. I’m not much of a romantic, but I loved that he did that. I loved that he took the time to send those flowers just because he cared.

Those are examples of big surprises, which are always fun, but I also love the little surprises life throws at you. Those unexpected moments that interrupt your day in the best possible way.

When you’re out running errands and you bump into a friend you haven’t seen in a while and end up grabbing lunch.

When you step on the scale and realize you’ve lost 5lbs without even trying.

When you’re running late, and every light you hit is green.

When you get an email from a old friend who just wanted to say hi.

When a family member wraps you in a big hug just because they can.

When the rain has stopped and you look outside and see the perfect double rainbow.

When you’ve sworn off dating, and then suddenly meet someone that gives you butterflies.

When your pay check is more money than you expected.

When you go outside in the winter and find your neighbour has shovelled your driveway.

When you make a new friend.

When you discover a new talent or ability you have.

Life is full of surprises, both big and small. Not all surprises are good, such as losing a job or a sudden break up. But I have found that even those bad surprises often turn into something good if you let them. I was devastated when I was laid off from my job in 2013. Now I view it as one of the best things that ever happened to me.

It’s easy to enjoy the big surprises that come our way – extra money, a new love, an impromptu vacation. But I invite you to celebrate and cherish the little surprises too.

Whether they are good or bad. They can be cause for celebration or a chance to grow and learn something new.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I could know my future, would I want to?

Absolutely not.

Because even though the unknown can be scary at times, I love the unexpected. I love not knowing what’s coming next. I love the endless opportunities and possibilities before me.

I love the surprises.

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Creating a Ladder

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My last post on here left a few people worried. That was not my intention and I apologize to those that I made worry. It was a post meant to share what it can be like to be in the middle of depression. One of my life goals is to help others understand what depression is, and to help those who deal with it feel less alone.

My last post made some worry that I was unwell again. I won’t lie – when I wrote it I was having a difficult time. I had a few bad days, one of which was spent in bed, but I pulled myself through and the depression didn’t last long.

I try to tell my loved not to worry about me.

The thing is, I will always have this disease, and I’ve accepted that. There are going to be times when my depression attacks and I fall to the bottom of the well.

But there is no need to worry.

Over the 20+ years that I have dealt this illness, there have been some horrific times, and yes, I have given people reason to worry. I know that. But now I am asking them not to. Because no matter what happens or how dark my world gets at times, I know I will always be ok.

I know this because over the last few years I have created a ladder. This ladder sits in the well and it stretches from the bottom of the pit all the way to the opening at the top. This ladder is why you don’t have to worry.

It took me a long time to create this ladder. It was built through years of struggle, pain, treatments and tears. There were times when the materials I used weren’t quite strong enough and rungs on the ladder broke when I tried to climb.

But the ladder I have now is solid. It is strong. It will not budge.

This ladder is what I use to climb out of the bottom of the well. Sometimes it takes a while for me to attempt that first step. But as I start to climb, I gain strength and I move faster.

Each rung is a step of healing. Each rung takes me farther from the darkness and into the awaiting light.

Getting out of bed is a rung.

So is taking a shower.

And allowing necessary tears to fall.

And asking a friend for prayer.

And writing on my blog or in a journal.

And making a counselling appointment.

And asking for help.

And eating healthy.

And going for a walk.

And talking to someone I trust.

And spending time with loved ones.

And understanding that this disease is not my fault.

And knowing that God has given me the strength to survive the darkness.

And that He has given me the strength to reach the light.

These are all rungs of my ladder. The ladder that takes me from the depths of my depression to health and healing.

I am going to deal with depression for the rest of my life. Mental illness is a reality in my world. I can choose to let it control me, conquer me, destroy me.

Or I can choose to climb the ladder I’ve created. I can choose to climb up out of the well.

Depression is an illness that is part of my life. It is something I will constantly struggle with. But I will not let it be my life.

Instead, every time is knocks me down, I will reach for my ladder, and I will begin the climb back up.

I encourage you to build your ladder. Life is short. Don’t stay at the bottom of the well.

You are worth fighting for.

You are worth the climb.