Be the Best Dad/Parent You Can Be

I am the ‘baby’ of the family. Three years younger than my older sister and three and four years younger than my close cousins.

My perspective on my parents changed dramatically after I left home and had to ‘fend’ for myself. I also felt like I had to make up for those teenage years where I was particularly rotten or at least that’s how the joke goes.

In my twenties, with a bit of distance from my life in the comfortable family home, I realized how much my parents had supported me, loved me, provided for me and let me be who I was.

My parents I would never describe as perfect but I think perfection in parenting is an illusion anyways. I would describe my parents as:

incredibly thoughtful,
loving,
heartfelt and
very present.

I chose these four adjectives because these are the qualities I hope to possess as a parent.

I want to introduce you to my dad:

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Look at my happy OC with his favourite guy, Papa (aka, my dad)! OC only wanted Papa to push him around the pond.

My dad has had his own business, worked for others, but always put his customer’s first. We often laugh because he always did everything in person while working, never via phone or email. If you had an insurance policy to be signed, he would have said policy in front of you to sign. He still refuses to do any on-line banking, in person it is for him.

Dad was also my coach. He coached me with his other brother Darryl in ringette for eight years. My other passion before volleyball came into my life.

In his grief, my dad still takes the time to go skiing and skating with our family. He reads to the boys, sits with them and asks them questions. Often he cries and expresses his distress with “Oh Gwen!” or another word like “darn”! He is present in his grieving, conscious and kind.

Each morning, he welcomes the boys into their bed to cuddle and watch TV, just like mom did. Here are the boys this morning:

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Pure Happiness!

What a man! What a dad! Imperfectly perfect, trying to do the right thing and conscious of all of us around him.

Thanks dad! Love ya!

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Be Riding the Waves of Grief

Wonderful Counsellor.

Beautiful friends.

Inspired women.

Prophetic words.

I have had the privilege to come across a few women with the gift of prophesy or in my words “a way to speak God’s words into their own life and those around them.” I am truly privileged.

My counsellor, whom I started seeing last winter, has this gift.

Every time that I see her she will share a metaphor about my life and this metaphor will be confirmed by two or more people within twenty four hours.

Here is the latest prophetic instalment brought up by my counsellor and confirmed by Emi and Jenny.

My counsellor was speaking about grief. I heard her say that grief is like an ocean. You are going along on your life path when suddenly tragedy strikes and there lies before you an ocean of grief. The only way to get across it is to row. Sometimes the ocean is calm and other times the waves are rough. Waves can also come out of nowhere. But rowing we must do through tears, sun, love, sadness… You get the picture.

Here’s a photo my counsellor gave me. I am looking forward to a ‘calm’ moment while riding the waves of grief.
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As we row this ocean of grief, I am grateful for God’s presence and the prophetic words of those around me.

This is not the end to my wave metaphor, but only the beginning…

After I returned home, I checked my email. My inbox had a message from my University roommate, Emi, who has paved the path of grief by losing her dad last spring.

Here’s Emi and her dad:

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Here’s what she wrote:

I’ve read through this a few times… Good for thought and much rings true for me…

The link is here BUT this is what struck me: The author is talking about fifteen things they wish they knew about grief.

Number 3 is that grief comes in waves.

Whew, time to lie down, but this ain’t the end.

This morning, we woke up and I dragged myself to cross country ski lessons with the boys. My new motto is fake it til I make it! I shed an ocean of tears behind my sunglasses as I met many friends who had just heard about beautiful mom not joining us up on the ski hill. I was honest and then exhausted.

But God continues to help me walk one step at a time as I ran into Jenny from Elle Mikal. She made the toques for our family. Take a look here and here!

The first thing Jenny said to me is that grief is like a wave. She always thinks about being on a surf board. She told me to grab my bikini to ride the waves.

Riding the waves.

My boys at my side.

Tears falling down.

God is my guide

——-/———/——–/——–/—-/—-

Beautiful photos from Jenny, each with a story I will keep close to my heart.

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Be Gotten in my Grief

My friend, Double D, and I have been passing back this darling hat the last few years.

She has gotten me good in her endeavours to get the hat back to me!
Here’s the story that took the cake! This happened in June.

I gave it back to her in the summer sometime and now in the last few weeks either when mom was in hospital or at hospice, I received a care package. In this care package was chocolate, tea and a nice box of Kleenex.

Guess what I pulled out of the Kleenex box last night?

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Luckily, I had a toy to return to her today, the hat is back in her hands.

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Just got a text from my good friend Double D:
Lmao!! You double got me I hadn’t even unpacked the toys yet, I just read your post and was smugly chuckling to myself till I kept reading and scrolled down to Diego!!! NNNNOOOO!
Haha 😛

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Be Talking About Death

To go along with my post yesterday about no bad questions, the boys have started to concentrate their discussions about Nana on death.

The day before Nana died they boys wrote these wonderful letters to Nana, said goodbye and I love you through the window and gave kisses and hugs.

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Note: KT was our dog that died in June 2012.

Today, I was singing in the car, “The name of The Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe…”
JC stops me and says, “That’s the song you were singing when we went to Vancouver and that woman died. Audrey, I think!”

Whew, a song reminding him of two Christmases ago when we went to say goodbye to Sexy Neck’s aunt Audrey. She died a couple of hours after we said goodbye.

I hope that the boys will only feel the richness of this time before and after Nana’s death. It has brought us down to ground zero in terms of what is important.

Our grief is raw but our relationships richer and our love stronger!

Be Asking Questions

There is never a bad question.

We have instilled this concept in our boys. I am not sure how this would work if you have a wee one with the gift of the gab, but for us it has worked. Almost 100% of the time we take time to answer their questions. We try to answer as honestly as we can. Sometimes we simply answer, “I don’t know!”

Friday, December 20th, sitting on Nana and Papa’s couch, we sat as a group. I shared that Nana is going to die. We said we didn’t know when, but that Hospice House is a place where people go to die peacefully.

JC (6 yrs old) wept and curled in our arms. CC (4 yrs old)started asking questions. OC (2 yrs old) stared at us with his wondrous eyes.

Daddy will Nana die?
Does she know if she’s going to die?
Will she get better?
What is cancer anyways?
Why didn’t the 4th chemotherapy work?
How do the little cells do that?
Why can’t the doctors find a cure?
Do they need more money?
Why did they cut off Terry Fox’s leg?
How do you get cancer?
What will happen to Nana’s shoes?
How will we say I love you to Nana when she dies?
Where is heaven?
What is going to happen to Nana’s shoes?

No bad questions.

No good answers.

Sitting in sadness.

Be Remembering Mom(New Year Goals)

This journey through cancer with my mom has been a rich and horrific time. Watching my mom deal with pain on a daily basis, seeing her fortitude to choke back elephant size pills (we both hate taking pills!) and all of us trying to figure out what to do to help when there is really nothing you can do stretched me beyond my limits most days.

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Today, my journey has been to look through old photos to try to remember what my beautiful mom looked like pre-cancer.

The light in my mom’s eyes never faded. They were strong and clear and loving until the last morning when she said, “Hi” to me. Her muscles atrophied and her weight faded, but her determination did not. Every day she set a goal for herself, some days it was just to eat more protein, others it was to put one foot on the floor beside her bed and lastly it was to have that one drink of thirst-quenching water.

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What goals do you have for this New Year?

My goals are simple:

– Live one day at a time.

– Look into the eyes around me.

– Live my life with determination, just like my mom.

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I love you Mama. I miss you dearly and I can’t imagine my life without you. BUT I have learned a lot from you and I take these things into my new year. I love you Mama. I miss you so much.

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