I will love you until…..

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I’ve been thinking about my mom a lot lately.  Her heart was certainly bigger than her chest and she would continually think of little things to do for people just to see them smile.   She would spend weeks leading up to Christmas baking until she could bake no more.  Her house forever had the essence of cookies and squares and the Christmas tins were piled high on her dining room table.

Her favorite day was not Christmas day but the day that she would drive, or later be driven, to all of the places where she would deliver her wares.  The local Hardware store, the post office and the local veterinarians would excitedly open the tins to see their favorite type of cookie and their reaction was the only present she truly wanted.

My mom was the type of person who would learn those little things about you and she would make sure your favorite cookies made their way to you during the holidays.

yellow rose

I was reminded of this wonderful quality when I was rearranging some things in my kitchen.  There in the midst of my jar of utensils was a lone yellow rose.  I had long forgotten the bouquet of flowers my mother had given me for no reason.  Attached to the fragrant arrangement was a simple card that read, “I will love you until the last flower dies”.  I thought it was an odd message until I saw the flower in the middle of the bunch.  It was a lovely yellow rose, but it was artificial.  It would never die.

That was my mom.  And those little nuances that made her who she was are the things I miss the most.  Some days I’m fine, a phrase we are really no longer allowed to use in my family, and some days, like today, the emotion sneaks up on me and I cannot control the flow of tears.

But it is not just the rose that reminds me that she will always be with me.  My mom is somehow still able to pull strings and make wonderful things happen in our lives that we never expected.  And it is these things, the things that only my mom would know, that make the gesture so special and so meaningful.

To say I miss her is a gross understatement and I hope she knows I will be holding that same yellow rose when we finally meet again.

 

 

 

 

 

An abundance of gratitude

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Lately I have been writing from a place deep within myself.  I have written about issues very close to my heart and the comments I have received have been, not only engaging and warm but, overwhelming to say the least.

I am humbled by the fact that my words have pulled on the heartstrings of many friends and even strangers who have taken the time to comment and let me know that my words hit close to home for them as well.  Some have expressed feeling like I am writing just for them.

Your words encourage me to listen to my inner voice and keep sharing my words.  So this afternoon, instead of digging deep into the well of raw emotion, I simply want to say thank you.   Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting and, most of all, thank you for being the eyes that absorb the ideas that I love sharing.

bottom of my heart

(image credit)

 

A thin veil

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My umbrella could not protect me

from the rain that would come.

Like a tsunami of emotion,

sadness hit me from all sides,

threatening to pull me into its current

and drown me in its torrents.

Some days the emotion feels heavy, oppressive,

like wax dripping on canvas,

and the thin veil of my resolve is not enough

to shield me from the pain of loss.

wax on canvas

But on the good days,

I can bathe in the colors of that storm.

I am the black and white character

wading into a flushed prism of good memories

and I no longer feel alone.

Although you are not physically here with me,

your brush still adds a splash of life to my canvas

and those hues make me feel connected again.

How good it feels

to walk through the reminiscence of you.

 (image credit)

My face seems to have sprung a leak

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Washington Irving said,  “There is a sacredness in tears ~ they are not the mark of weakness, but of power.  They are messengers of overwhelming grief, and of unspeakable love.”

~~

Having shed my fair share over the holidays, this quote struck a chord deep in my emotional register.   It has always been easy for me to saturate my cheeks with salty tears and I come by it quite honestly.  My dad wore his heart on his sleeve and many times that same sleeve was used to wipe his tears as he watched television commercials or movies.   When my apple fell from the family tree, it landed right at his feet.

My mom was very private about her crying, although she didn’t cry frequently.  She would gracefully leave the room and gently close her bedroom door.  There were never heavy sobs heard from the other side of that door but her swollen, red eyes the next morning  were what Crime Scene Investigators would refer to as ‘evidence’.

Sometimes being able to cry so easily is a gift, a genuine release of emotion that feels much like a cleansing.  But the burden of  not being able to control the moments that those tears appear can also be detrimental and have friends, family and co-workers questioning your stability and well-being.

tears

I will never regret being an empathetic person.  I love that I can feel so deeply that life, whether mine or someone else’s, can have such an intense impact on me.  And although my eyes look remarkably like my mother’s did after a good cry, I will never be ashamed to admit that crying was the cause of their puffiness.

Awfully glad to be unhappy

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I work in the hospitality industry so it should go without saying that I am a people person.  I love interacting with new guests and getting to know them, having a few laughs and making sure they feel at home at the lodge.

There is something very personal about our small resort that allows us to really become friends with our guests.  We know them on a first name basis by their first or second day, we know their kids’ names, we get to know where they are from and eventually we remember that they prefer rye toast and how they take their coffee.

It really is like spending a weekend with an extended part of our family.   When it comes time to say goodbye, I really am sad to see them leave.  Knowing they will be back again slightly eases the sadness but I am glad that I can feel that melancholy feeling because it truly means we have had an authentic effect on each other during their stay.

MM front

I know that the long hours pale in comparison to the number of smiles I have seen or the many sounds of laughter that have echoed within the walls of the lodge during their stay.  And although it may be another year before we see them again, we are genuine when we say we look forward to having them come back “home” again.

 

 

 

Boys will be boys, and then they make you cry

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I knew this Christmas season would be difficult for me.  I’ve done my best to write my feelings into submission but they are stealthily lying just below the surface, waiting to bubble up when I least expect them.

Last night I celebrated Christmas with my brother and his family.  Nagging work schedules bumped the holiday up by a couple of days but any change in the old routine is a welcome change.  I arrived at the house with my food contributions, my secret Santa gift and the scrapbook I made of pictures of my mom so she could be with us in spirit.  What I wasn’t expecting was this:

shrine

My nephew had taken one of the candles I made for my mom’s memorial service in May, created a beautiful Christmas display and placed it in the middle of the room so she was with us during our celebration.  I now know how the Grinch felt when his heart grew three sizes.  I was so moved and my heart swelled so much that I thought it would burst out of my chest.  It was all I could do not to hug him until he turned blue.

That gift, that display made by a 14-year-old boy to honor the memory of his Nana, is, by far, the best gift of 2014.  I could not bring myself to show too much emotion for fear that the tears would come and never stop.  Instead, we high-fived and continued on with the merriment.  Gifts were opened, food was consumed and a great amount of laughter was shared.  I learned to never again go in a swimming pool with my brother (future blog post) and I learned that the spirit of Christmas was not tarnished by the absence of my mother, but lives on in the way we keep her spirit alive.

The tears finally came shortly after I got home.  They did not come slowly or poetically but exploded out of my body to make room for my swollen heart.  I can only hope that both of my nephews learned a few things about Christmas.  It isn’t about the material things wrapped in bags or boxes.  Christmas is about the people who are wrapped in your heart and doing everything you can to make sure they stay there.

Merry Christmas to all of you and may you enjoy the true spirit of the holidays.

Ho Ho Holy Shopping Wars Batman!!

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My father used to love to Christmas shop.  There was a certain spark in his eye, a unique scintillation that was only ignited when he was donning his overcoat and preparing to get lost in the churning vortex of people at the busiest mall in Toronto. His exuberance always makes me think of the childlike excitement of Darren McGavin’s character in A Christmas Story when he opens his prized “leg lamp”.   Blood would rush to his cheeks, there was a noticeable spring in his step and his baritone voice softly began to echo the songs of the season.  His melodic tone would lure us into his Christmas trance and we were transported into the beauty of all things festive and giving – until we got to the mall.

clothes fight

Taking a child to that mall during the Christmas rush is like taking a lone goldfish from its tranquil bowl and throwing it into a pool of piranhas.  I was honestly terrified.  On more than one occasion, my tiny hand was ripped from my father’s grip and I bounced like a raft down a cascading white water rapid, lost in a sea of angry strangers.

Never had I seen such a heinous display of the exact opposite of the Christmas spirit – it was full-contact shopping.  People pushed, they shoved, they elbowed their way to displays only to begin a game of tug-of-war for an article of clothing that would probably be returned on Boxing Day.  Many of the words uttered by adults were foreign to me, but they were said with such venom that I knew that my ears should not be privy to those descriptive bits of verbiage.

That shopping experience would taint me for the decades that followed.  For years after that nightmare-inducing display of bad will towards men, I adamantly refused to enter those revolving glass doors into Christmas shopping hell.  Even at that tender age, I had become summarily convinced that hand-made gifts would be more appreciated than something that had been plucked from the floor after the department store carnage in those late hours leading up to Christmas.  I was a pioneer, I was a rebel, I was 7 years old and I was scarred for life.

When the holiday season returned the following year and the threat of mall shopping reared its thorny head, I vociferously engaged in a battle of will with the sovereign of commerce.  Daughter vs father, I expounded on the virtue of hand-crafted gifts and chalked up a small victory as I watched his car pull out of the driveway on the path to the slaughterhouse.

Today, I am a proud supporter of local businesses, and for those gifts that cannot be found here, I shop online.  Parcels are delivered safely, with no malicious intent and I no longer feel the dread of shopping for the holidays.  The mall is now vague memory of a life once lived by a child who still wanted to believe in the true Christmas spirit but didn’t want to get “malled” in the process.