A slight “paws” in my heart beat

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My dog is near me more often than not.  She has become an extension of me and that bond has only been strengthened over this past winter because she has been able to come to work with me when the lodge is quiet.  It may seem like an unnatural relationship to those who do not understand the dynamic between human and canine but I cannot imagine my life without her.

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My two best friends were visiting over the past weekend and Callaway and I got to spend some much-needed time reconnecting with them.  It was great to see them and know that my puppy is just as fond of them as I am.

On Saturday morning while I was working, “Auntie Sami” had offered to take Callaway for a walk to her cottage which is a few short kilometers from the lodge.  A short time later, my cell phone rang and my heart missed a beat when I saw the number.  It was Sam and my brain automatically switched into panic mode.  I immediately began to formulate scenarios of what had potentially happened to my dog even before I answered the phone.  I calmly picked up the call and heard that Callaway was nowhere to be seen.

I trusted that she was fine but, being the protective mother I am, I sprinted across the parking lot to my car and began the short drive to the cottage.  Before I was even halfway out the first road, I saw a very familiar black shape in the middle of the road.  I slowed my car, whistled and watched as a ton of loyalty on four legs came sprinting down the road.  She jumped into the car and we made our way to the cottage to pick up Sam and tell her everything was fine.

Poor Sam was still searching for Callaway when we pulled up beside her.  As it turns out, Sam had deemed that everything in her cottage was fine and made a comment to my dog about going back to find mommy.  When Sam bent down to tighten the straps of her snow-shoes, Callaway had taken it upon herself to do just that and began running back to the lodge to find me.  She was out of Sam’s eyesight before Sam had stood back up and she was smart enough to make the necessary turns and follow the two roads back to the lodge.

I wish everyone could have the opportunity to have a dog.  I wish everyone could experience that type of loyalty and unconditional love.  I’m not her pack leader.  I am her family.

 

 

 

The fireflies at the windows

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We are rapidly approaching the last of the “firsts” since we lost my mom almost a year ago.  I stumbled blindly through my birthday last year, which was three weeks to the day after she passed.  We muddled through the rest of the birthdays in our immediate family, except for one still to come, and celebrated mom’s birthday by having her celebration of life on that same day.

Valentine’s Day will be a quiet one for me this year.  After my dad died, mom and I made a pact to be each others Valentine.  Even after I was married, mom and I had a standing ‘date night’ on February 14th because my now ex-husband always had to work at the restaurant.  She and I would go out for a nice dinner and always gave each other either a lovely arrangement of flowers or a cry-inducing Hallmark card full of sentiment that we both honestly meant.

My youngest nephews’ 12th birthday will be the last of the firsts.  That will be an odd feeling.  But it got me thinking about all of the other milestones, the new ‘firsts’, my parents may see from where they are, but will not be able to physically participate in.  This is the calendar year that my brother will turn fifty.  I’m sure nobody in our family ever thought that momentous day would come and neither of our parents will be here to help him celebrate and embarrass him with untold stories of his youth.

They will miss my oldest nephew, in just over a year, getting his G-1 (the Canadian version of the Learner’s Permit) and creating a new crop of grey hair on the heads of my brother and sister-in-law.  They will miss both of their grandchildren deciding on what field of study they wish to pursue and their subsequent University years and future careers.  And they will not be here if the Gods decide to shine favorably and allow me to fall in love again, the right way this time with the person who deserves my heart.  (although I know my mom will be doing her best to send that person my way)

fireflies

I know in my heart that both of my parents wouldn’t miss any of these events.  They will be those dancing specks of light we see at dusk, hovering by the window to watch our lives move forward.  It would just be so much nicer if they were standing right beside us to share in all of the new firsts yet to come.

 

 

 

 

 

But Mom, I really have to go….

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When I was a child, doing dishes was the worst form of torture I could ever imagine.  We didn’t have a dishwasher so dishes were all done by hand and we all took turns washing and drying to make the arduous chore seem more fair.  But it was my least favorite thing to do.  I would have much preferred vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, dry-walling, rotating and balancing tires or removing my own spleen….anything instead of washing those bloody dishes.

I don’t recall if the genius idea came to me in a dream or if I had a sudden flash of brilliance after one particular dinner but, once the meal had been consumed, I announced loudly that I had to go to the bathroom.  No parent can effectually deny a child the right to heed the call of nature, so off I went.

Once that bathroom door had closed and I had engaged the lock, I became a teenage version of a forensic pathologist.  I carefully opened each cupboard and slowly took stock of its contents.   In essence, I took so much time doing absolutely nothing that by the time I unlocked the door and went back to the kitchen, the dishes were done and nobody had seemed to notice the length of my absence.  The plan was brilliant….until eventually my brother caught on to my shrewd strategy.

After his realization of my great scheme, my trips to the bathroom after dinner were much less regular (pun intended).  The guy that I looked up to, that I thought would battle to the death for me, had thrown me under the bus.  I could only try to tune out the sound of his laughter as he closed the bathroom door before I even got close to the portal that would separate me from the dishes.  Perhaps I should have changed my strategy and just gone to the bathroom right in my chair.  That surely would have resulted in a swift and heady dismissal from the dinner table and a one-way ticket straight to my room!

As fate would have it, I don’t hate doing the dishes anymore.  I learned a very valuable lesson about cleaning as I cook so the pile of dishes at the end of the process is not larger than the house itself.  It is a rare day you will find dirty dishes in a pile in my sink.  But if you do, call the local Crime Scene Investigators because I’ve probably discovered some evidence of foul play in my bathroom!

 

A non-felonious state of mind

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“There are two types of people in the world.  Those who waste time staring at a closed door and those who find a window.” ~ Phil Dunphy, Modern Family

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I love watching Modern Family and as soon as I heard this quote I immediately thought of my dad.  It wasn’t because he was the eternal optimist, although he was.  It was because he took this quote to a whole new level of reality about twenty-five years ago.

My dad sold real estate and he was regarded by many in his field to be one of the best.  The man could sell ice cubes to Polar Bears.  So when a family of five decided they wanted to purchase a cottage in Muskoka, my dad went out of his way to find the perfect place.  He had heard of a property that was being listed, but not yet officially on the market, and he knew it would be their Utopia.  The lake frontage was stunning, the view was incredible and the neighborhood had the promise of only increasing in value.

They ventured en masse to see the property and, because it had not been officially listed, they were unable to access the cottage itself….until my dad spotted the open window.   He would never be able to convince the family of the charm that cottage possessed unless they were able to see the entire property, inside and out.  The wheels in his head began to turn and his eyes finally fell on the youngest of the three children.  With sufficient cajoling and a little effort, the couples’ youngest son was boosted up and sent through the open bathroom window.  Moments later he appeared at the front door to, just as illegally, let the rest of the family enter what would eventually become their family cottage.

break and enter

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That closed door meant nothing to my dad.  It only took a few moments for him to realize that portal was not his only option.  If he had let himself be constrained by his perceived reality, that cottage would never have been bought by this family.  His perseverance and willingness to think outside of that boxed-in door led him to that open window, the sale of a beautiful cottage and the happiness of a family.

As it turns out, that relatively innocent “break and enter” would have much more of an impact on me, when years later their daughter and I would meet while working in the same pub and become best friends.

You are never stuck in a situation because the door seems to be closed.  And although you think that door may be the only way in or out, look for that open window.  It’s there somewhere.

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

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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)