Parenthood is a life sentence

You’re in it for life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s not for everyone and it’s not for the faint of heart.

I recall a young man I worked with some years ago who was married but childless by choice and his reasoning was interesting. He was the 2nd eldest of 11 children so it fell upon him and his elder sister to help rear the others. By the time he married he felt he’d already raised his children because from the age of 13 he’d been ‘recruited’ to help with the parenting.  (ok, I have to interject here…No woman should have to endure 11 pregnancies,,,what are we, machines? I suppose there’s the odd one who actually enjoys perpetual reproduction but surely they have to be the exception and I suspect his mother his would be easy to spot in a crowd. She’ll be the one with her bladder hanging between her knees)

Now his choice to remain childless is fine, if it was a personal preference. But if it was a result of his having to play the role of parent in his young life, that is most unfortunate. To foist the responsibility of raising a family on a young man, simply because his parents chose to over produce is unfair, and selfish on the part of those parents. I get that for many birth control, or the lack of it, is a religious choice but at some point common sense has to factor in. How effective a parent can you be with a large family? (as in this case 11) How much one on one time do you have to spend with these children? And they do need individual attention. More so today than ever.

I squeezed 3 humans out of my body and that was enough. I fell in love with each one as they arrived but I didn’t delude myself into thinking they’d be perfect, or that at age of majority they would move out of my charge and into the world after which I could wash my hands of them and ride off into the sunset. It never works that way and that’s because children, no matter how old need to be nurtured, and as much as you might have a plan for them, they have their own agenda. They didn’t come in to this world simply to please us. They will not be molded into the perfect beings we want, nor will they ever entirely remove themselves from our sphere of responsibility because once you bring a child into your life, you’re in it for life and too late you find out the worry never stops.

As infants you worry about illness or developmental challenges. As children you worry about their integration into school and bullying. The teen years bring a whole host of potentially frightening scenarios; everything from learning to drive, to peer pressure and drugs. Finally, they mature and marry or partner up with someone who cares about them and you temporarily have that sense of accomplishment – your work here is done. You have effectively passed the torch to another who will love and cherish your child. Or maybe not. Maybe they’ve chosen a career over marriage and that’s ok cause either way they have found their niche in life and they are happy.

But maybe the marriage/partnership doesn’t work so you worry about that. And of course, as responsible adults they have jobs, jobs with stress, and you worry about their happiness and their livelihood. Maybe they start a family and that brings you pride and joy. But now the cycle of worry begins again because our children’s children will face all the same challenges they did, the very ones you worried about; illness, development, schooling, friends, their life happiness, and you worry,,,because you are still a parent.

Now I’ve painted a gloomy picture and I didn’t mean to, because with all the worry of having children so comes tremendous joy. The tears you shed over their hurts and losses, the nights you stayed by their bedside watching over a high fever, the fear you felt the first time they went out at night with friends. All these are accompanied by the shared ‘firsts’; the first step, the first day of school, the first job, the first date. And through all these shared successes you found the time to laugh together, to learn from each other and before you know it, you forged a friendship moving from the role of parent to friend; this is the most rewarding part for me. At least I think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

I think this is what I learned from parenting, that it can be exhausting, and challenging, and expensive. It can also be exhilarating, rewarding and fun. I guess it’s what you make of it and we all do the best we can with the knowledge we have. Your children will not always do what you’d like but if you raised them to act responsibly and exercise good judgement, you have to trust that they will do what is right and respect them enough to give them free reign. Your work really is over, it’s just the worry that lingers, and that is the life sentence.

At the end of the day, the effort we put forth in raising our children is no less an accomplishment than those who commit their lives to finding cures for disease, or ending world hunger. Everyone contributes to the society we create and parenting is no less worthy. It’s just more personal.

If you’ve chosen to remain childless, good for you – not everyone’s life path includes 2.5 children, a cocker spaniel and the house with a white picket fence. If however, you’ve chosen to share your life with a child(s) fasten your seatbelt cause you’re in for the ride of your life and it’s a full time commitment. And once you’re in, there’s no going back.

Make the time or find the interest in mentoring your child because being a parent isn’t easy but it is a gift, and if you can’t find the joy in rearing your child, you’re doing it wrong.

Parenthood

Through the eyes of another

While at the hairdressers recently my stylist mentioned how much she enjoyed the blogs I wrote about my husband – they made her laugh. Like any dutiful wife I support my husband because he is truly a wonderful person; bright, kind, funny, just an all round great guy…… but I’m not blind to his faults and I get a kick out of making light of them. We shared a good laugh about husbands in general and she happened to comment that it would be interesting to read a blog written by my husband about me, and that got me to thinking.

Do we ever really know how we are perceived by others? I’d like to think my husband would describe me as smart, witty, fun, industrious, thoughtful, beautiful, even tempered……mmm??? Ok, he might not use that last one but you get my meaning here. I think we all like to see ourselves through the eyes of another in only positive ways. We acknowledge our flaws but we’d also like to think others overlook them when assessing our worth.

When I really give it honest thought I have to grudgingly admit that maybe, just maybe, I’m not as flawless as I’d like to believe. (can that be?) My husband has, on occasion, indicated that I could be impatient sometimes, and set in my ways. (Actually his exact words were short tempered and stubborn as a mule but I ‘softened’ them because I’m sure he didn’t mean it) Now I interpret that as my being a quick thinker and determined. He says I can be outspoken and impulsive. I see that as confident and decisive.  He says I can be overbearing and somewhat domineering. I say he’s wrong. He says I spend recklessly. I say he’s cheap. (could this all just be some big misunderstanding?)

Maybe there’s just too many adjectives in the English language to describe a single trait (or flaw), or maybe it’s individual interpretation of the words that change the meaning. Whatever the case, I think it’s safe to say we all see ourselves differently from how others see us and we are all capable of justifying our behaviours to cast us into a more favourable light.

At the end of the day I think we all want to reflect the image of the perfect person; the good  Samaritan, the thoughtful partner, the well behaved and loving son/daughter, the supportive parent, and it goes without saying we just assume that all perceive us as smart, engaging and beautiful, right? Because we are, aren’t we?

The answer is yes. We all have our flaws. Whether we see them as such is personal interpretation and it’s sometimes, like my husband, we misinterpret certain characteristics labeling them as flaws, when really it’s just the observer reading me all wrong.

old lady and rolling pin

Don’t look back

I guess “old news” is like reading a history book. The facts are the reality and cannot be changed, and the hard part is facing the fact that reality isn’t always pretty. I’m the first to admit I am not a history buff. I hated studying history in school. Reading about the past was, in my mind, boring and most importantly, unchangeable, so why dwell on it? (I was so disinterested with history in high school my teacher offered to give me a passing grade if I promised not to retake his class…..ah, but I digress!) Over the years, many, many years, I came to learn that past experiences really do play an important role in our future. I also learned that letting go of the past isn’t always easy, but it is necessary if we are to move into that future successfully.

The experiences of our lives have fashioned the very beings we are today, good and bad, and what seemed intolerable in the past is now just that,,,,past…….so why is it so hard to move on? If ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ why can’t we embrace the bad experiences in appreciation for the lessons they provide?

Because we’re human; bursting with a variety of emotions, and riddled with insecurities.

My life isn’t always perfect. I’ve had ups and downs. I’ve felt great joy and tremendous pride. I’ve also endured immense pain and deep disappointment, but I survived. I rode on the crest of the highs with gratitude, and absorbed  the pain of the lows with tolerance, because giving up was never an option and I knew that after every storm the sun really does shine again. The latter insight I gained with maturity and experience.

Do I have any regrets? Yes and no. Yes, because I’ve said or done things in my lifetime I wish I hadn’t. And no, because those very same experiences, the ones I’d rather forget, gave me cause to reflect on what kind of person I was…….and more importantly, the kind I wanted to be.

You can’t change what was, you can only learn from it – I guess that’s the true value of the ‘history lesson’. Move forward with confidence and the knowledge that every day presents a new opportunity to do right by yourself and don’t look back. That’s old news, and your future is only as bright and sunny as your optimism will allow, so give it free reign. Cut the baggage loose and the rest will follow.

Forget the past.

Just remember what it taught you.

Old News

The Handyman

I married for love but I would give my kingdom for a handyman! (actually, I always secretly hoped my daughters would marry someone in the trades, a plumber, electrician, a mechanic even, but no such luck. Both went white collar, just my luck!) Home repairs are a never ending task list and if you have to hire someone for every little chore it almost defeats the purpose of owning a home.

My father was handy and could manage any home repair. He just had an aptitude for, well, everything and I miss being able to just call dad when I needed a repair. Now I should point out, I’ve managed a number of home repairs on my own, thanks to a curious mind, ‘How to’ videos, and a cheap husband. (he flinches at the thought of paying for any home repair. In his mind it’s better to just live with it and when it really becomes unbearable, move.) Now, I don’t want to harp on his short comings because he’s really a great guy. He’s just painfully inept at home repairs. Is that a birth defect? Or maybe it’s a ‘selective’ deficiency, you know, you don’t do well the things you don’t like. Either way it’s an expensive inconvenience.

Now he has tried some home maintenance over the years. When we were first married we had pigeons nesting on our small balcony rendering it useless for our own use. Animal control advised us to toss the empty nest over the balcony. The pigeons would relocate their home upon returning to see it was gone. Sounded easy enough. The trick was getting near enough to scoop up the nest in the midst of all the pigeons – there were a lot (these things travel in hoards) and neither of us was keen on getting pecked by a bird. But, it had to be done, and the chore fell to the man of the house.

Unfamiliar with how to deal with any wildlife, he ‘suited up’ to ensure he was protected should any rogue pigeons attack him. He wore knee high rubber boots, my oven mitts, a long trench coat, and in the absence of a helmet for face protection, he propped a bucket over his head. (I wish I’d thought to take a picture!) After steeling up his courage he opened the balcony door and walked with determination toward the flock of birds. He grabbed the nest in a flurry of squawking and fluttering, and turned to quickly toss it over the balcony. As he did so the bucket perched on his forehead fell over his face and he stumbled slightly, over his rubber boot, and ended up tossing not only the nest but one of my oven mitts and the bucket that was his headgear. Not quite the smooth maneuver we had planned but it worked. The pigeons were gone and did not return, and all it cost was one oven mitt, a bucket, and a little humility.

Over the years he has tried random home repairs but most failed miserably and he eventually gave up trying the tough stuff, leaving it to myself or, if I couldn’t handle it, a professional.

Most recently he made to replace a light bulb in one of our driveway lampposts. Seemed simple enough. Now, I should preface this by saying (because he brought it up later) that I had recently thrown out an old 5 foot step ladder we had. It was left in the home we currently occupy and was rickety and unreliable. It also didn’t go as high as we often needed so we had recently purchased a 8 foot extension ladder and I had planned to replace the old step ladder in time. (apparently not soon enough) In any event, I was at the computer as I saw him head down the driveway with the new extension ladder. He said he needed to replace a bulb in our lamp post. I foolishly didn’t give it another thought.

A few moments later I heard a crash and the shattering of glass. Glancing up from the computer I sensed what had happened so I got up and headed out the door and down the driveway. There he was, getting up from the ground with skinned knees, a light bulb in one hand and a puzzled expression on his face. “This ladder is too long for this” he declared, and looked at me accusingly.  I don’t know how but somehow I kept from laughing. Maybe it was because I was biting my tongue so hard it bled. This 175 pound man propped an 8 foot ladder up against a six foot lamp post then expected it to hold his body weight as he climbed up to reach the burnt out bulb. Needless to say the post snapped and all 4 lanterns crashed and shattered. The ONLY salvageable piece left was the new bulb he was to replace.

Now, I could point out the folly of his strategy but that would be wasted on one so completely unfamiliar with home repair. Suffice it to say we now have a new lamp post and it only cost $440 plus the new bulb and the cost of a new step ladder (apparently all this happened because I threw out his ‘bulb changing ladder’)

Some people are handy, some are not. My darling husband, who is smart and funny and kind, is NOT, and if there’s one thing more expensive than hiring a professional, it’s letting ‘someone who’s not’ tackle the job!

Handyman

Drama Queen

There are those who walk with drama, constantly…… they seem to be surrounded by a whirl of emotion and turmoil. They attract it…they seem to thrive on it, and you have to wonder why because it’s exhausting. It depletes your energy and permeates the mood of all who come into contact with you. Those who thrive on drama can bring down a room just by entering it; so far reaching is their negative energy, and unless you can effectively surround yourself with a shield of emotional protection, you are better to avoid these people. They are, in short, a complete downer!

We’ve all encountered the over-sensitive individual. They read too much into any conversation and interpret everything as a personal criticism of themselves. They see only the darkness of the tunnel instead of the light at the end – a misguided interpretation of the situation and a complete waste of energy.

I suspect those craving drama are really just seeking attention and in the absence of constant accolades they embellish the simplest of situations to create a flurry of emotion at which they are always centered.  They are the victim, always. Every worldly woe is their burden to carry……”poor me look at what I have to contend with”, and if they left it at that it wouldn’t be so bad, but they don’t. For some reason they feel compelled to share their drama  with everyone and if they can’t engage enough sympathy they ramp up their sob story and expand their audience falling short of screaming at the top of their lungs in the middle of a crowd, “Look at me, I’m suffering and I need to suck you all into the vortex of my agony!”  Needless to say these people eventually drop off the top of a guest list. There’s a shock.

Then there’s the person who ‘feels’ another’s pain and suffers right along with them. They empathize too much taking on the burden of a situation as though it were their own because….. they don’t have enough drama in their own lives? (For heaven’s sake, get a hobby, or get a life….if only to get out of the drama of everyone else’s.) These individuals stress over everything, anticipating the worst and living in a constant state of high alert because a crisis is always just around the corner.

Could it be that those who live in constant drama do so because they need a distraction from their own deeper issues?  Or is it that they just want the attention, negative or otherwise, that comes with drama? Maybe it’s genetic, or maybe it’s just habit – if you grow up in an environment riddled with emotional drama it has to rub off on you (children learn what they live)

Regardless of how or why drama plays a role in some lives, it’s a cycle that needs to be broken because the energy spent on drama could be so much better utilized anywhere else. Deflate the overblown balloon of drama when you can, and when you can’t, just avoid the company of Drama Queens altogether…. cause life is too short.

Drama Queen

That Lovin’ Feeling

My husband plays cribbage with a group of men. Recently one of the group passed, quite suddenly. They resumed play a few weeks after, at our house, and naturally the first topic was the loss of their friend. I happened to mention how sorry I was and on a practical note, I added that death is inevitable and someone needed to go first. My husband without skipping a beat, leaned over, touched my arm, looked tenderly into my eyes and said, “ok, you first”.

Ok, not the typical display of tenderness one might expect, but I know my husbands’ playful attempt to lighten the mood was in fact a very personal display of his affection for me. That’s his sense of humour.  (Granted it’s also the cradle of idiocy but it drew some chuckles and it is his way of expressing warmth)

A dear friend complained to me that her husband wasn’t as ‘romantic’ as she’d hoped. He was a good husband, father, and friend. He adored her and she him. He just didn’t understand what it was she wanted from him. Now only a woman could understand this, she wanted those little extra touches. Opening her car door for her, (open any door for that matter), offering to help with the household chores, planning a date night, telling her she’s beautiful even when she’s  spent the day in her sweats cleaning. Any of these small gestures would go such a long way in nurturing that romantic need in her, but he just doesn’t get it.

The couple agreed to each plan a spontaneous surprise for the other, something to reignite that spark, that something special that would bring a smile to their eyes.  She planned a ‘naughty evening’ to entice him; dumped the kids at Grandma’s for the night, bought a sexy nightie and a bottle of wine and laid herself out for him for the evening. He surprised her with a ‘Thighmaster’ and a six week membership at a local gym because she had complained about gaining weight on her rear and he thought she’d really appreciate that he’d been listening. (kind of brings a tear to your eye doesn’t it?)

Ok, so the guy isn’t romantic, but he is practical. She grudgingly acknowledges that she has voiced her concerns about her weight on occasion, so he gave her what he honestly thought she wanted. How can that be bad? It’s actually pretty considerate, not smart, but considerate. Interestingly enough these two have found their happy medium. He still tries (and fails) to perform those little romantic gestures she craves, and she has learned to laugh about it, accepting him for the lovable lout that he is.

Expressions of love are as unique as the individual. Some are tender, some are playful, some are humourous, and all are delivered with a very personal intention. We might not always get the gist of their meaning but you have to appreciate the effort,  because they all, one way or another, inspire that lovin’ feeling, so just revel in it, and don’t complain about how it comes…… just be grateful it does.

That lovin feeling

Keep it simple

English is one of the ten most spoken languages in the world (Mandarin is number one) yet it is one of the most difficult to learn and I think the challenge lies in its’ phonetics. The English language is laden with silent letters and various pronunciations of the same letter combinations. Consider the spelling of words like trough (pronounced troff) and through (thru) The same letter combination with completely different sounds. It’s a wonder new immigrants can ever learn the language (and yet they do).

Why then do we further complicate our language with elaborate spelling of our names? Why can’t ‘Leigh’ just be ‘Lee’, or ‘Thomas’ just be ‘Tomas’, what purpose do the extra letters serve? Written communication should be simpler than it is.

I know a young woman who named her newborn daughter Sheelagh (Sheila) Now I get that many names are derived from other languages; in this case Sheelagh is from the Gaelic (Irish) but don’t people have enough challenges in life without having to constantly clarify the pronunciation and spelling of their names? And this particular child was born and raised in North America so what happened to ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’? (speak English already!)

I suppose an argument could be had in support of the numerous alphabets and I do not discount the need to maintain the worlds various cultures, but thanks to technology, there is a move to simplify. Anyone texting or emailing looks to abbreviate phrases.  “Are you ok?” has become “r u ok?” It’s like the population has moved to a verbal form of shorthand. I suppose it’s all in the quest to save time but are we losing something in the process? (or do these people not know how to spell?) In fifty years will we even know how to spell or will we have created a whole new language, one of acronyms and abbreviations? And will anyone care?

Cursive writing has been removed from school curriculums because students now type on computer keyboards that ‘spell-check’ everything so they don’t have to. Calculators now do simple math, so again, students don’t have to. God help us if the worlds computer systems fail. There’ll be a multitude of zombies wandering the world unable to communicate because they never learned how.

OK, ok, this is an extreme projection but you have to admit there’s an underlying inkling of truth here. Simplification has its’ purpose but in our attempt to over-simplify are we disabling our brains? (why think if a device can do it for us?) Is this how artificial intelligence begins?

I suppose as long as we have a variety of languages and alphabets in the world we’ll have to face the challenges of mispronunciation (assuming we can all still read…… computers will do that for us too) I grew up with an ethnic last name that was constantly mispronounced. It wasn’t that it was complicated. In fact, it was almost phonetically perfect (almost) to pronounce correctly yet people constantly bastardized it. When I married and changed my name to one that was much simpler I was (and still am) shocked to see that people still grossly mispronounce it. My current name couldn’t be any simpler and yet it’s a problem for many. Is it that people just expect the written word to be difficult or are they making it more complicated than needed?

It’s too late to change the ‘official’ spelling of words because the languages and alphabets are age old, however simplification is still within our control. It just takes effort and the flexing of your brain muscle…… and a really sound knowledge of your alphabet because acronyms are after all, the modern day phenomenon…and, I’m afraid, the future of language. So if you’re having a baby or getting a pet and need a name, please, keep it simple. Drop the silent letters…they serve no purpose and just frustrate those of us who have to listen to the painful mispronunciation of it. Besides your time is better spent learning the new language.,the one that only uses half the alphabet…….TTYL!

 

Keep it simple

Try a Little Tenderness

Tenderness is how we express warmth and affection to our fellow man. It can be protective, or sympathetic, or just plain considerate of another’s feelings, and for each of us there is a trigger; an indicator, either verbal, visual, or intuitive, that tells us when to tread lightly in the handling of others.  Beyond that we probably give tenderness very little conscious thought in our day to day lives. Could society use a few more acts of kindness,,,, maybe a little tenderness?

Children and animals typically warrant a tender approach simply by virtue of their size or innocence (naiveté). Adults, being more ‘seasoned’ with life, tend to be a little tougher (or closed?) They may interpret acts of tenderness with suspicion or they may see it as pity, and nobody wants to be pitied. We do however, all want to be treated kindly, because no matter how tough our exterior, we are all vulnerable to hurt, and each of us reacts differently.

Society is so hung up on image; boys in particular are ‘programmed’ from a young age to be tough because… boys don’t cry(?)  In the quest to ‘act like a man’ they are constantly reminded to withhold their emotions, when they really need to let it all out. (everybody needs a good cry once in a while) In truth, I think women have more respect for a man who is sensitive and unashamed to show emotion. Now that said, no one wants to see a man sobbing into his teacups every time the wind changes direction, but it certainly would be refreshing (if not human) to indulge a fellow man his pain, for whatever reason. Allowing them to feel and share their emotions is allowing them to heal and with healing comes knowledge and growth, for all.

Tenderness is quite simply that act of treating someone with kindness in a very personal way and we could certainly incorporate more random acts of kindness into our day. Maybe it’s a matter of putting ourselves in the shoes of another. The disinterested sales person, the irate customer, the sullen family member, or the depressed friend; all have an underlying issue that has brought them to a bad place emotionally, and we can fuel the negativity or diffuse it with an act of kindness. Amazingly enough, it takes little effort to redirect negative energy and instinct will guide you as to what needs to be done, and how.

The irate customer is looking to vent. They know you’re not the reason they have a problem, you’re just the last straw, the middle man, and you can roll up your sleeves and engage in a full on battle or you can try a little tenderness to take the wind out of their sails. A couple of tactfully voiced acknowledgements of their concern will let them know they are being heard, taken seriously, and empathized with. It’ll also gently point out that YOU are not their issue, rather their potential saviour.  I’ve seen this tactic work time and time again….it’s a win-win.

The sullen or depressed individual, unlike the irate customer, isn’t looking for a fight, rather they are emotionally wounded and without knowing the cause or extent of their emotional turmoil, you can’t fix the problem. You can however, provide emotional support with acts of kindness in the moment. Listen to them talk or, respect their need for solitude or silence. Perform whatever act of kindness you need to help them lick their wounds. It may provide only temporary relief, until they are able to deal with their issue, but even temporary relief is better than none, and for that brief period in time they might feel a little bit better, and they will remember you for your kind consideration.

Not everyone will be receptive to open displays of tenderness because not everyone is accustomed to having it. We don’t all come from loving environments, but don’t let that discourage you or keep you from reaching out. And maybe your attempt at kindness with a stranger will fall flat or feel awkward, but I bet that’ll only happen once because any true act of tenderness will eventually melt the coldest of hearts. Besides, it costs nothing to be kind, whether you smile encouragingly, or joke playfully, or simply make meaningful eye contact; the act of reaching out to another in need is just good. So go on, be good, try a little tenderness. Who knows, maybe if we all exercised a little more random kindness the world would finally find peace. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? (somebody should write a song about this)

Tenderness

Unraveling the Threads

Life is so busy; each day filled with activity. We have our job, our family, our friends, each needing time and attention, and over the course of our adult years it’s easy to lose track of that which means the most to us. I refer most specifically to our relationships because it’s these that suffer from a hectic lifestyle. Relationships go off course over time; each of us moving in different directions, until one day our meandering pathways reconnect, but it’s not the same. Something has changed. The threads we’ve woven over the years have become tangled and we are not the same people we once were. Maturity and experience have changed us, but only marginally because our roots are original – they never change – they just grow.

Over the years I’ve encountered friends and colleagues who confide that they’ve lost interest in their spouse or partner. They can’t articulate exactly what it is that has caused this ‘distance’, they just feel like they’ve lost their connection. They no longer have the things in common they once did because while they were building careers, raising kids and developing new hobbies, they grew apart. They lost their common ground and don’t know how to reconnect, or if they want to, because they too have changed and now feel the only solution is to part ways. It’s an easy out, too easy. Why repair the shoes if you can just go out and buy new ones?

In an era where relationships are so disposable I struggle to provide any support  for such moves because I refuse to believe that we can grow so far apart that the relationship is unsalvageable. Finding your way back in what was once a good relationship isn’t easy. It just takes effort and commitment and an honest memory. Think back to when you first met. Remember what it was that brought you together in the first place. Is it still there, the feelings, the attraction? Because if it is, all is not lost.

I believe what we initially see and like in a person is the root of the relationship, and like any living thing, if we take care of the root, the flower will flourish.  That we’ve moved in different directions over the years just adds threads of interest to our spool, and we all strive to be interesting.

That said, some relationships are simply doomed to fail. Not everyone we meet is meant to be ‘in’ our lives. Many are just passers-by on route to fulfill their own destiny and occasionally we place more time and energy into the meeting than is warranted. When and if this happens an amicable parting of ways is necessary, move on, with grace.

If however, you can recall with fondness the very things that once attracted you to this person the relationship is worth saving.  The many threads that now obscure the root of this relationship are the same threads that now add interest to it. This person has grown and changed, just like you, and if you make the effort to unravel the threads you may find your way back to a relationship more wonderful than you could’ve imagined and a path that leads you to home and heart. Don’t take the easy way out, because you may never find your way home.

Unravel the thread

My father’s house

On this Father’s Day, I wanted to acknowledge my own father for giving me that which he never had. Safety, security, a home; my fathers’ house was all these things to us, and more,,,, it wasn’t that way for him.

His youth was spent running with his family from the horrors of the 2nd World War. His ‘house’ was a series of bomb shelters, barns, train stations and temporary camps. He had few articles of clothing, one pair of shoes, and food was limited, but unlike many he had his family, and it is that which made him feel rich. From the time he was 9 years old war ravaged his homeland and he would be almost 30 before he felt the security of his own home again, on another continent.

As an adult he had a new life, a new wife, and three children. He had no education, thanks to the war, yet he managed to learn several new languages just to get by. He acquired skills (self taught) that would secure him a job and provide for his family. We had food, clothes, a car, all the basic necessities of life, but it didn’t stop there. He gave us so much more.

My father loved tradition, still does. Holidays were fun and festive. He made special foods. He loved to sing. He loved to dance and music was a staple in his house. He loved to read; had an astute mind and could carry on an educated debate, intelligently, and at the same time he could laugh deliriously at the antics of the Three Stooges or Bugs Bunny. He loved chocolate and red wine, and he taught us how to make traditional Pickled Herring for Christmas.

When we were children he would take his vacation from the factory he worked in to take a job as camp counsellor, so that we could go to summer camp. He couldn’t afford to pay for us and traded off his own labour so that we could attend.

He taught us how to skate and how to polka, and no one can tango like my dad.

He enjoyed our school friends and welcomed them to our home, always.

He played Santa on Christmas Eve much to the delight of his nine grandchildren and on every birthday, he sang the loudest (a little off key, but still, the loudest)

He had a green thumb, plants thrived under his care. He loved animals, all of them. In fact he had a tremendous respect for all living things.

He gave us many things, among them a safe and loving home in which to thrive, and for a man who had so little himself, he gave so much.

That my siblings and I are all established, independent and raising families of our own speaks to the value of his life lessons. He taught us to be honest, fair, and kind. He taught us to love, and to forgive. He taught us the importance of family and friendships. He taught us to work hard and play harder. He taught us to respect each other and most importantly to respect ourselves.

Finally, after 89 years he can relax and reap the benefits of his efforts. His was a long hard road and his life of tireless labour made our road so much easier. How do you acknowledge a lifetime of sacrifice in just one day a year? You can’t. We can only live our lives by his example. So we pass on his recipes to our children. We sing with them, we dance, and we make a point to get to know their friends. We even put on a DVD of Bugs Bunny every now and again, just to hear him laugh. We now do what he did, because he did it so well. My fathers’ house was a wonderful place, and he a wonderful man, deserving of so much more than one day a year

Happy fathers day