Category Archives: Family

4 Years Ago: What I Didn’t Know…

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Today was a birthday party for my niece’s 4th birthday. Her actual birthday is tomorrow, but the weekend is always better for a party!

Every time I see this beautiful, sweet little girl, my heart melts and I fall head over heels, just like I did the very first time I saw her four years ago.

The day is still clear in my mind. It was two weeks before her due date when the phone rang early on Tuesday July 10th 2012. My sister’s water had broke and they were on their way to the hospital. A few hours later I was in my car, driving from Oakville to Windsor in what felt like the longest car trip imaginable.

My excitement at becoming an aunt was unfiltered and unashamed. I would tell anyone who would listen that I was going to be an aunt. I’m sure my friends and co-workers were quite sick of hearing me talk about it.

She didn’t make her appearance until the very early hours of July 11th, and I saw her for the first time later that day.

There was so much I didn’t know before that moment when I first held her.

I didn’t know I could love someone so much or so quickly.

I didn’t know how fiercely protective I could be of another human being. When the doctor came in to check her over and she started to cry, it took every ounce of willpower I had not to snatch her from him and then knock him out for making her cry.

I didn’t know that simply holding her and watching her while she slept would bring such joy.

I didn’t know that she would consume my thoughts every day, and how anxious I’d be until I was with her again.

I didn’t know that every time I shopped or ran an errand, I’d fine something that I just had to get her.

I didn’t know how much I would miss her when I wasn’t with her.

And I didn’t know that once I moved back, I’d never want to leave because I could not stand the thought of not being near her, and there for her as she grows.

I just didn’t know…

Four years later, none of the above has changed, except that if possible, I love her even more.

She is perfect. She can do no wrong. Even when she misbehaves, she is still the most adorable thing on earth. She is the smartest little girl I have ever known. She is the funniest little girl I have ever met. She is precious, angelic and holds the key to my heart.

How did I ever live without this beautiful little person?

I look at her and find such happiness seeing pieces of people I love in her.  I even see pieces of me in her – something that gives me more joy then I ever thought possible.

Loving her gives me strength. She gives me strength to get through the hard days because I need to be here for her. I need to walk through life with her. I need to make sure she is happy. I need to protect her from harm.

I didn’t know being an aunt would be such an important job. I didn’t know how much I would love it.

And I didn’t know that one sweet girl could bring me such unending joy.

Happy 4th Birthday to my gorgeous niece!

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My Favourite Person

image.jpegMy favourite person is someone who has been there since the day I was born. He used to sing ‘Zip-pa-dee-do-da’ when travelling in the car. He would flex his muscle while I happily swung from his arm. His Donald Duck impersonation had me in hysterics. On secluded, open roads, he’d swerve the car back and forth to allow the feeling of an amusement ride as I giggled happily.

He took me to my interview at Ryerson when I applied for the Radio and Television Arts program. At the end of my first year, he drove to Toronto, moved me out of residence and took me to a Blue Jays game. We left in the 7th inning when the Jays were losing by 7 runs. They ended up coming back and winning. We’ve never left another ball game early.

During my 10 years in Toronto, as I became a young professional and tried to figure life out, he was there for support, advice, financial help, moving help (how many times did I move during that decade?), always on the other end of the phone or an email or driving to the city with my mom for a visit.

At 25 I decided to do a short term mission trip to Romania. When he heard about it, he said he’d like to do it too. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had with him and I still cherish that we did that together.

The year he turned 60 and I turned 30, we travelled to Boston so he could finally go to Fenway Park, the home of his beloved Red Sox. It was a trip that is etched on my heart and remains one of my favourite vacations.

He was there in times of crisis. The night I was on the phone with him, expressing that I just didn’t want to live anymore and he said ‘We’re on our way’. It was 2am. They were at my door before sunrise. The time I lost my job and he said ‘Come home’. The door to his house was immediately open. And for several months he walked with me as I not only dealt with the loss of my job, but also a loss of myself, the wounds of a betrayal, and a struggle to figure out what my purpose was.

He never pushed too hard or made demands. He let me take things at my own pace, while constantly assuring me that I had a purpose and too much potential to waste.

When everything fell apart again, his door was once again open. He was even willing to renovate the basement to create an apartment for me if it came to the point where I couldn’t work again.

He took the time to research my disease, to ask questions, to seek out professionals, so he knew exactly how to help me. He admitted he didn’t understand, but he knew my struggle was real and would do anything necessary to help me be healthy.

Why did he do all these things?

Because he’s my dad.

Over the years, as I’ve grown up, he’s become so much more than my dad.

He’s my confidante.

My mentor.

My teacher.

My baseball watching buddy.

And most importantly, my friend.

And he is my favourite person in this world.

He makes me laugh more than anyone – probably because we have the same odd sense of humour. He challenges me and keeps me on my toes. He knows when to offer advice and when to hold his tongue.

His generosity knows no limits.

I have always thought that if I could end up being half as good as him, that would be a successful life.

My father. My friend. My favourite guy.

Happy Father’s Day.

 

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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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If things go off the rails…

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog. In the last few weeks time has gotten away from me and as a result I haven’t been keeping up with things that are important to me – mainly writing and posting on here. I try not to use busyness as an excuse not to do something and I am not going to do it now. Yes, my life has been busy, but I could have found time to write. I just…haven’t. And as I was lying in bed just now, reading a novel, I suddenly got this urge, a need, to write immediately. Now the book sits beside and in the minute since I started this paragraph, I have come alive.

And it feels good. My passion has alighted out of nowhere and the flame burns again.

But this post isn’t about my sudden, uncontrollable desire to write (although I am thrilled with this feeling).

The last few weeks have been a time of change and transition for me. I am moving forward again, taking chances, challenging myself and pushing myself a little more.

I have again taken on more responsibility at work. I have a also started a completely new schedule. I have moved on from my comfortable, quiet morning shifts at the Lasalle gym, and I am now working afternoons/evenings at the Belle River gym, unquestionably the busiest of the three BeachWalk Fitness gyms.

When my boss first approached me with the idea of changing my schedule and working more at the Belle River location, I was hesitant and instantly nervous. I liked my quiet, relaxed morning shifts. I liked that I knew all the members coming in, their names, their jobs, the exact time they would be showing up. I liked the predictability of the shift, knowing that a conflict would be rare, and that something unusual or challenging happening was unlikely. I was comfortable. No stress, no worry, no surprises.

The reasoning my boss had for the change was that she wanted someone more reliable and mature in the later shifts. She wanted someone who could handle any situations or conflicts that arose with a calm and focused attitude. She wanted someone who wasn’t afraid to speak up when someone walked in without swiping their membership card, or when someone was too loud or swearing too much, or dropping and smashing the weights.

And she wanted me?

Yes, she wanted me. And although all the things she wanted me for made me nervous, she was right. I could handle them. I could be all those things for her. And the new hours meant more opportunity for sales for me, which meant more commission, which meant higher pay checks. I put my fears aside and said I was in.

The first week was tough. My body was angered by the sudden time changes. I no longer went to bed at 8pm and got up at 3:30am. My stomach battled me with the changes in the times I consumed my food. My stress levels heightened as I tried to figure things out in a new location and get to know new members. I felt like I was one step behind all week. And my body was exhausted with the changes. It did not handle the transition well.

But at the end of the week, I felt ok. I felt more than ready to handle the changes and any challenges I may face.

I am still nervous at the potential of added stress. In the past stress has always led to my depression surfacing.

But what if it doesn’t this time? I am challenging those thoughts and fears. What if this time stress leads to me rising above it and knocking it out?

I could do it.

However, I’ve added another change to my life. At the end of this first week of this new schedule, I moved out of my parents’ home. I am renting a room in a home in Tecumseh now. I have a roommate, the owner of the house, so I am not alone. But it is definitely not as safe and cozy as it was living at Mom and Dad’s.

Am I nervous about this? A little. When I moved into my own place at this time last year, things didn’t go so well, and I ended up quite ill just 5 short months later.

But things are different this time. This time I am in a job that I love where I feel appreciated for the work that I do. Last week my boss told she wants me at this job for a long time, so she wants me to be happy in my shifts and with what I am doing. She said if I am not completely happy, then we need to change things immediately. How incredible is that? I’ve never had a boss say something like that to me. She will actually do anything to make sure I don’t leave. What an amazing feeling.

I have never felt so valued and wanted in a job before.

And there is a small part of me that wonders if she’d feel the same if she knew about my disease.

But I am shoving that part away for two reasons…1. My disease is not me. The person she has known and worked with for 4 months is me. 2. I believe the answer is no. I believe if she knew, all she would want to do is help in any way she could. She is that kind of person. And I am not going to let bad experiences with former bosses allow me to put her in that category too.

After moving into my new home on Saturday, I took my dad out to lunch. We talked about my life and the changes and all that was happening.

He said to me, very sincerely and lovingly, “If things go off the rails, you let me know”. In other words, “I am here and you can always come back to our house if you need to”.

It’s one of the most beautiful and thoughtful things I have ever heard. He didn’t make a big deal out of it or get emotional. He was simply saying, “let me know if you need me”.

I don’t believe things are going to go off the rails. I believe I am on the right path, and I am doing the right things to stay healthy.

But how fortunate am I to know that if things do go off the rails, someone is there to catch me before I crash?

The Best Thing

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I know I haven’t written in a while. I am still recovering from my breakdown in early October. It has been a long process to get healthy and I still have a while to go to get there. This is the longest I have ever taken to heal from my depression. I’m in new territory, and still not sure which way to turn.

So, in the midst of the mess, I am doing my best to focus on the good.

Last week, for the first time in 2 months, I felt needed. And it felt good. I felt useful and helpful, which I haven’t felt in a long time. My 10 month old nephew was sick and couldn’t go to daycare for two days. My sister and brother-in-law still had to go to work so at 6am my phone rang.

I quickly got showered and headed out the door to take care of my nephew. Although I was coughed on, sneezed on and covered in snot, it was the best.

He needed comfort. I could give that.

He needed love. I could give that too.

He needed care. Something else I could give.

I was finally feeling like I was doing something worthwhile. And I loved the time I spent with him. I loved having him fall asleep on my shoulder, and hearing his soft snore. I loved his beautiful smile when he looked up at me as I held him.

I didn’t even mind wiping his nose and changing his diaper.

And this weekend I got to spend a lot of time with all of my nieces and nephews. And I was struck with a thought when I was with them on Saturday.

Being an aunt is the best thing.

I’ve never seen myself as having children of my own. It’s just something I haven’t desired. But now I realize I don’t need children of my own. My two nieces and two nephews are my kids. They are enough. They are all I need.

The joy they bring me can’t be expressed in words. My heart swells and feels as though it might explode when I think of them.

To be honest, I never knew I could love as much as I love them.

In my dark days, where the world seems too cruel and I don’t want to get out of bed, picturing them gives me courage. They give me strength.

And they have been my saving grace in the last couple of months. It’s impossible not to smile when I am with them.

They are what’s good. They are what matters. They are the best.

And on my worst days, when I am tired and I look horrific, they still love me unconditionally. There is no judgement from them.

They don’t see my struggles. They don’t see my depression. All they see is Aunt Becky.

And for now, as I continue to fight this battle, they are the reason I keep going.

Being an aunt is the best thing.