Getting into trouble at school

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Last night was my nephew’s graduation from Grade 8.  Like every other family, we collected en masse in the auditorium and slowly felt the oxygen leaving the room as the number of attendees multiplied exponentially.  The ceremonies were late in getting started and after the first tapping of a finger on the microphone the noise of the audience was dulled and the festivities began.

The first thing that struck me about the celebration was the overwhelming difference from my grade 8 graduation to last night.  The girls looked like they were dressed for the red carpet and the boys were dressed to the nines.  Back in 19(illegible numbers) at my grade 8 grad, I recall wearing something that could have passed as a hand-me-down for Holly Hobby, minus the apron, and the boys wore jeans, running shoes, short-sleeved white dress shirts and clip-on ties.

The program for the evening kept to the letter of the printed description, minus the timing.  As speech tumbled into speech, I made the mistake of leaning over to my brother and whispering something about the extended ceremony and the fact that the grad class may miss their boat cruise after the graduation.  It was at that precise moment that my brother chose to whisper a response that not only shocked me, but made me start to giggle.  Now, when you are in the middle of an important rite of passage for a 14-year-old, giggling during the ceremony is frowned upon.

I did my utmost to stifle the laughter but that only made it worse and a small snort escaped.  This sent my brother into fits of silent, but convulsive laughter as well and we slowly lost control.  Tears streamed down our faces as we sought some sort of relief from our fits of hysterics but, every time we looked at each other, the inaudible giggles were compounded by more tears and several sideways glances from those sitting around us, including my sister-in-law.

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My younger nephew, who was sitting beside me, leaned over to quietly ask what was so funny.  I could only respond with a wave of my hand and more fits of silent laughter while trying to catch my breath.  Thankfully a somber moment in the ceremony grabbed our attention the restrained giggling came to an end.  I wiped the moisture from my cheeks and eyes and avoided looking in my brother’s general direction for the duration of the grad ceremony.

My nephew graduated with Honors and his class quickly exited the hallowed halls of their alma mater to board the steamship that was waiting for their arrival.  Like ants leaving a picnic, the cars sequentially left the parking lot and the evening came to an end.  I got in my car, a few chuckles escaping as I recalled the fun I had with my big brother, and heard the distinctly familiar ring of my cell phone.

My first words were, “I’m still laughing”, and I could hear that familiar sound on the other end of the phone.  We laughed again for another five minutes and I had to pull the car over because I couldn’t see well enough to drive!  That is certainly one graduation I will never forget – and when my younger nephew goes through the same ceremony, I’ll make sure my brother and I are not sitting beside each other!

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A blast from the past

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How quickly the past can bury itself under mountains of storage containers and lock itself in a shed.  I have been purging myself of many unwanted items and have stumbled on some treasured mementos that I have been thinking about a lot lately.

I used to love doodling in class when I was in high school.  Art class was the only time during my day where I found myself truly drawn (pardon the pun) into the subject material and would pay attention throughout the entire lesson.

I remember sitting in the library, long before the world-wide-web was introduced and encyclopedias were still a functional research tool, and I began to draw some lines.  The lines continued and a face began to emerge.  I continued, not knowing what the final product would be, and this face appeared.

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Drawing for me, then, was what writing is to me now.  I would lose myself in the process and dabble in many different ways to create a picture.  I painted birds with oil paints on cedar shingles, I would sketch with charcoal, create drawings using nothing but stippled marker and create caricatures of faces that were popular at the time.

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It’s amazing that I had long since forgotten that part of myself.  That creative side morphed from sketches into stories and now I use my words to paint the pictures that I used to draw.

I have an opportunity to speak to someone who may be able to  help me with a series of children’s books I have been working on.  Last year I began putting out the feelers to find an artist to sketch some characters for me but perhaps it was fate that I found these drawings.  Maybe I can sharpen a pencil or two and get back that love for modeling characters from a piece of lead and see where the lines will take me.

Father’s Day so far away

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This picture is my dad and I in 1970.  Seemingly, I was as stubborn then as I am now!  We were very similar creatures, my dad and I.  Although we would have some “heated discussions” during our ever evolving relationship, there was always love at the core of our bond.

My dad passed away in March of 2006 and I miss him every day.  I miss his silly sense of humor, I miss his charisma, his smile, and I miss knowing that he would be right there if I needed him.  This is a poem I wrote a few months after he passed.  He was a Councillor for our township and he was honored with a plaque that was place on a large rock in the local park and the planting of a tree.  Happy Father’s Day, dad.  We miss you.  xoxo    :)

~~

As Seasons Change

We give these gifts of nature in your name,

To forever keep you near.

To take root in a place you kept close to your heart,

And represent the things you hold dear.

Your rock will remind us to always be strong,

And to remain solid in the lives we love.

And follow in the examples you gave us in life,

As you look on us from above.

Your tree will remind us to accept the changes,

Of seasons that come and go.

As the tree becomes bare at times in our life,

New leaves will blossom in time to show.

That nature is beautiful and life has a season,

but all things do come to an end.

And with each change and leaf that is lost,

Family and friendships help mend.

Branches sway in the winds of time,

And your whispers will be heard in the breeze.

Your memory lives on in the nature around us,

The air, the rocks, the trees.

Another hurdle, a few more kleenex

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I knew today would be rough, another hurdle to overcome in a long list of firsts since losing my mom.  I spent some fun time with family last night having some good laughs, which was great.  After a fantastic dinner and jokes that only my family would appreciate, I got in the car to head home.  A dear friend had sent me a text message letting me know she was thinking about me and how much of a difficult time I would have today and the first tear came with many to follow.  I’m pretty sure what I experienced Oprah refers to as “the ugly cry”.

I vowed today would be better…and it was.  I made a point of keeping myself occupied by working on the scrapbook and some decorations I am putting together for mom’s upcoming celebration of life.  Sure, there have been a few random tears that have escaped during the afternoon but most of the day has been spent remembering her in a way she would want me to – with a smile and affection that has no boundaries.

These are some of the ways I have honored my mom today in her absence on this first mother’s day without her.  I miss you every day.

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Crash – 100 Word Song

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My elders warned me – ‘life moves at a million miles an hour’.

When you are young and full of disdain for authority, you make up your own rules,  you choose to believe what you want to believe.  So I kept pace, moving along at that million miles an hour.

Who knew I would crash into my future self at such a young age?  Who could have predicted my youth would come to such a screeching halt?

All I can do now is sort through the wreckage and try to put the pieces of the carnage of my life back together.

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Written for the 100 Word Song Challenge at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.  This week’s song is Crash by The Primitives.   Go check out the fun challenge and join in!!

 

 

 

 

 

The last selfless act

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I have been thinking about my mom a lot over the last week.  Every time something happens or I hear something I think she would enjoy, I reach for the phone forgetting she won’t be there to answer.  She was a big part of my day-to-day life.  We were very close and talked on the phone at least once a day.  Having that routine so abruptly altered is taking a great deal of adjustment and an overwhelming amount of tears.

During our lifetime, my mother had done many things for my brother and I without ever second guessing her motivation.  She was a mother first and everything else came second.  She would constantly put our needs ahead of her own.  She consoled us, cried for us and cried with us, she gave us every tool possible to become the strong, independent people we are today.

Up to her last breath she followed that mantra.  Although my mom had been sick for quite a while, the week leading up to her passing was one of her best in a long time.  She was feeling “fine”, physically better than she had in months and her spirit was completely lifted.  I have heard from many who have had a similar experience with their loved one – they seemed to rally back before their passing and it gave those around them that comfort of remembering their departed loved ones with more joy than sadness.

Her last selfless act as a mother was to leave us with memories of her being happy and not being sick.  The last day I spent with her was just like hanging out with her 20 years ago.  Her sense of humor was quick and twisted, and she had that spark in her eye that I remember so well.

I dream of her often and see her in little signs that she leaves in random things.  We miss you, mom, and hope you are enjoying those Angel wings.  You certainly deserve them.  xo

 

 

Why are you fighting?

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Every day I wake,

the inner dialogue begins.

A taunt here, a few bad words there,

the cycle continues.

You asked me,

why are you fighting?

For me it is simple,

I continue to fight

until I feel like I’m good enough.

~~

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Written for the Gargleblaster - this week was an interesting task and, sadly, it took me back to my teenage years.

This week we’re paying tribute to Gabriel García Márquez, who was (in our humble opinion) one of the greatest writers of the last century. This week’s ultimate question comes to us from One Hundred Years of Solitude:

“Tell me something, old friend: why are you fighting?”

From Root to Tip

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We are an eclectic band of misfits, each branch of my family tree is twisted and unique.  But life in my forest has been full of adventure and laughter.  From the moment our family tree took root it was nourished by humor, surrounded by love and encouraged to branch out in any direction it was drawn towards.

The apples that fall from that tree do not stray far and we enjoy the camaraderie that only like-minded semi-delusional people can share.  We are nuts but we are family.

I had recently told a tale, based solely in fact, about how my brother tricked me into eating a petrified piece of dog excrement when I was only five years old.  Although I was traumatized as a child I can now see the humor in the “incident”.  Perhaps that humor comes with the foreshadowing of future revenge but we are family and it is divine to forgive.  (nobody said anything about forget)

It is my brother’s birthday today.  I awoke thinking of this day as his pilgrimage into his 50th year.  The common lines of the happy birthday song didn’t seem to do justice to our relationship and this new version flooded my brain at 7:00 am.

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday to you.

You’re one terrific brother,

but you made me eat poo.

I can only hope he finds as much humor and enjoyment in our gnarled family tree as I do.  From root to tip we are certainly an odd bunch, but I wouldn’t to hang from any other tree!

Happy birthday Jamie!!  Love you.  xx

 

 

Flowers – 100 Word Song

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You cried,

enduring pain for me,

loving me with never having met me

and I felt blessed.

You stood,

hands on your hips,

a whimsical smile on your face

and I felt anchored.

You embraced,

you wiped my tears,

you listened and never interrupted

 and I felt understood.

You watched,

allowing me to make mistakes,

but always there to help me mend

and I felt empowered.

~

I cried

when you left me.

 In a dream I saw you,

and watched you float.

You hovered,

our eyes met, you waved,

blew me a kiss

and fell into nothing but flowers.

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~~

Written for the 100 Word Song over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.  Go and check it out if you haven’t yet!!  This week’s song is (Nothing But) Flowers by Talking Heads.  I was really missing my mom last night so this jumped into my head today.

(image credit: thebutterflysite.com)

One more orbit for this girl

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I “borrowed” much of this post from last year on this very day because new words would not come today.

Today is an important day in my life…..today I am acutely aware of the number of years I have been on this ever revolving planet.  A birthday is not a number to me but a moment to celebrate the day I entered this life. (and it’s 45, but I still feel 29 so that counts, right?…..right?)

Today, however, is a difficult birthday.  This is my first birthday in 45 years that my mom hasn’t been the first one to call me in the early hours of the day with birthday wishes.  I did awake at 12:11 this morning and could have sworn I saw my mom and dad standing side by side.  No words were spoken but I guess they were the first to wish me happy birthday in their own way.

I celebrate with many people, some I know well, some I’ve never met, but there is one important celebration that mirrors mine – my Winnie The Pooh.  My mom created a stuffed version of the beloved character for me when I turned one and, to this day, I still have that somewhat tattered foam-filled creature.  McCall’s created a Disney series of patterns in the 1960′s that she duplicated for my brother for his first birthday and again, almost four years later, for my birthday.

He has seen his share of joys and tragedies.  He has undergone facial reconstruction and some botched plastic surgery (thanks to an over-excitable Labrador Retriever that belonged to a roommate) but he still never fails to hang in there to share year after year with me. He and I have weathered many successes and many ominous periods together, but he still remains the same source of comfort he has always been.

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Although it may seem somewhat childish to hang onto a toy that I have long outgrown, Winnie still holds an immeasurable value in my life. He represents a part of my childhood that I hold dear and he continues to represent the faith that I hold in my friendships.  He and I may not be able to communicate on the level that is deemed normal for friends but I still feel comfortable confiding in him, knowing that he will always be there to listen when I need him.

He has been a valuable part of my grieving process over the last three weeks and has found his way back into that comfortable position, tucked into the crook of my arm while I sleep.

Happy birthday Winnie…..may we continue on our journey and have a very long life together!!