Saturday, 28 October 2017

When the muse knocks in you cannot ignore her. Let her in!

The last week has been a whirlwind of beyond crazy.  We knew that starting chemo was going to present us with some new challenges, but we had no idea what the universe had in store for us this week.  I knew the chemo nurse had jinxed us when she told me to go home and rest and plan for a quiet weekend.
We went straight from chemo in Winchester to the ICU in Brockville and before we could even wrap our heads around the concept, we were saying goodbye to one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever met -- my father in-law.

Here we are a week later and just days after his funeral and it still doesn't feel like it is real.  I keep hoping that this is another cruel joke from the universe and he is going to walk in the door Timmies in hand at any moment; but sadly, no such luck. 

As sick as he was, he asked me how I made out at chemo.  I told him 'much better than expected' and he'd said good before closing his eyea again.  I never dreamed it would be one of the very last things he would ever say to me.

The service was lovely; from the flowers and Legion service through to the funeral service and graveside prayers.  The staff at the funeral home were so wonderful to us all.  2 of his sons and one of his grandsons paid lovely tribute to a man we were not ready to part with. Our long time friend and minister and a close family friend prepared a wonderful service. Voices of angels filled that chapel. The Ladies Aux prepared a luncheon and the branch flag flew at half mast for most of the week. A wonderful tribute to one of the most selfless and amazing people I have ever had the pleasure to know.  He welcomed most everyone into his heart and family with open arms.  He was a rare breed.

Papa would have loved the piper.  Most of all I think he would have been pleased to know that all of his kids, grandkids and great grandchildren came out to see him off and show Nana some love.  He would have loved that best of all.

I dreamt about him the other night.  It was the strangest thing.  He never said a word but he had the biggest smile on his face.  I joked to my hubby that if he was gonna wake me up, at least he could have said something. LOL  His smile was so warm and bright. I cannot help but think that he was trying to let us know that he is OK.  A number of family members have seen random signs this week.  Seems like our Papa -- always making sure everyone else is ok.

I have to admit that for much of this week chemo really kicked my butt.  I tried not to make a big deal of it but at the point we misplaced the bag of chemo meds and anti nausea/acid saving graces I about lost my mind!  They have since been found.. misplaced in the shuffle of this week.

I have a hand full of chemo cheerleaders who called or messaged daily to see how I was doing and reminding me to get rest when I could.  One of my best friends surprised me by coming out for the funeral.  Her hug was one of the bigggest highlights of my week.

My amazing mother inlaw had just lost her beloved soul mate and teddybear and was worrying about me.  She is one of the strongest women I know.  We are so very grateful that our kids and grandkids get to have her as a role model. I too am so very truly blessed to have been adopted to what my in-laws affectionately call the nuthouse. 

My addled brain is still percolating on the piece that the muse gave me this morning  but I imagine it will end up here in the near future. 

I woke up just after 2 am this morning. The chemo fog seems to have dissipated and my brain seemed to be reciting a future blog post.  Try as I might I couldn't get back to sleep. It was like someone handed me the lyrics to a new song that I just had to get up and sing.  I honestly cannot remember the last time that happened. 

I cannot get to my computer until my legs are wrapped and brace on, then realized my tablet case got left in mom's car in the shuffle.  So here I am blogging on my phone which I never do.  Do you what you gotta do, right?

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

In the quietest moments..

It is in the quietest moments that we remember most everything.  It could be as simple as the laundry list of things you didn't get done the day before, but it can also be the time when that little voice comes out to taunt you.  

Lately, mine's been given me hassles a-plenty.  She can be a real mean little B sometimes.  She knows all my faults, fears, and secrets, and she plays dirty.  

Sometimes she comes in the form of a familiar voice: my Dad, my mother-in-law, my teddy-bear.  All too often lately, I have to admit she's right.  I do NOT have to like it.  

This week's scrutiny has been about the ever-growing plate of "stuff" and the how little of "my" stuff is staying on the plate.  I can start out with a list of 10 things I personally want to get done in a day; by day's end I may have accomplished 30 things but the list of "my" things doesn't seem to have a dent in it.  

There is also that part of me that's scrambling to get things done before the weekend so I don't have to worry about it if I'm not up to taking care of it.  Not surprisingly so many offers of help before the big day didn't come to fruition and we're left winging it.  

I keep promising myself that I'll take time out to (fill in the blank) but then the phone rings or a message comes in with something that seems more pressing than whatever I'd had in mind and the moment is gone. I really need to be more diligent about finding that me time.  We've been looking at the calendar a lot lately and at all the things we're up to and involved in, and somewhere in the shuffle we've forgotten to plan downtime and recreation -- can you imagine? 

I am being constantly reminded by friends and family that the big C brings with it somewhat of a mandatory slow down.  My arguments that I will do as much as I can for as long as I can have not been particularly well received.  Even still, there's a fine line between taking some downtime and slipping into the abyss. A big part of me refuses to forget what feeling stranded was like.  I don't want to revert back to a wheelchair or be stuck in bed. I am aware that my attention and focus need to shift for a bit and I'm already all over that.  It will be an adjustment.  

I've been following a great group on Facebook for a while now.  I try to post regularly but sometimes the muse leaves me hanging in my tea. The group is Facebook support for Business, and is business oriented but I have found myself also applying the concept to my personal life in that Monday motivator got me in the mindset of not only choosing a business thing to tackle each week but also got me thinking of my personal honey-do list which is equally as important.  We truly do not give enough thought to self-care as we plod through our lists of things we do for everybody else every day!!

This week's project is going through a variety of blog drafts and blog tangents.  Bloggus-interuptus you could say.  The muse left mid-post or the blog went on too long.   There have been a number of comments on how I haven't posted in a while.  

I have also been contacting a variety of contacts and clients, just to reconnect and regroup as needed.  It's amazing the value of a "Hey, I thought about you today!"  to someone's day.  I've rekindled a couple of writing projects I'd been percolating in the process.  

I'm calling it a win :) 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Checking off Milestones

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Today marks the end of a week of milestones for our family. Taking posession of our home 12 years ago (August 2nd), The 1st anniversary of Bosco's arrival to our family (August 4th), My sister-inlaw's birthday (August 6th), and today our 21st anniversary.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The next chapter in the medzone

The last week or so has seemed like rather a whirlwind of medical appointments and plotting. I'd teased my teddybear that booking more than a couple of days off in a row would  tempt the fates and he'd laughed.  It never fails, every time we plan to do something for ourselves, something gets royally screwed up!  

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Sometimes it's perfectly OK to be unplugged for a few days..

This might just be the first year that I didn't get online to post something for Father's day, and for my father-inlaw's bday. Kids came down for a few days and we were too busy enjoying them that my keyboard didn't get any airplay whatsoever.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

An unexpected trip to London and a fabulous weekend!

How awesome is it that it's Thursday, and I'm still pumped after a fabulous weekend?
The District "G" Portion of the Convention Parade.  My teddybear is carrying our branch flag. 
What we thought was going to be a weekend comprised largely of meetings and a "work" type atmosphere turned out to be so much different than I had imagined. 

We'd jumped at the chance to attend the Legion Zone Convention in Gananoque just a few weeks before and I hadn't even considered adventuring to London for Provincial Convention. Part not wanting to push my luck  having just gotten back from what we'd been calling the closest thing to a vacation we'd seen in quite a long time, and partly logistics. 

I had been chatting with fellow comrades who were encouraging us to go, and  so I promised to bug my teddy bear.  Much to my surprise, he had already been thinking about it and had started the wheels in motion.   We often joke that this is one of the perks of having been together so long.  We often find ourselves in synch when we haven't actually vocalized our "evil plans."

A bigger bonus was that my cousin Tom was to be the Dominion guest speaker.  I was pretty happy that I would get to be present for that.  I didn't know he would also do the new officer installations but I probably should have guessed.   I got to get some pretty fabulous photos for the family album as well -- Scrapbooker for the win!  As is the norm, I'm way behind on getting the bulk of them posted, but they'll arrive on a Facebook page near you soon. :) 

I thought it was pretty fabulous that a son of my Dad's eldest brother and I, a daughter of the youngest brother would be together at the same convention talking "shop."  I wonder what our Dads would have thought about that. 

It was the longest road trip I've been on in a while, clocking in almost 6 hours by the time we got through Toronto.  It's been a very long time since these poor legs felt like they'd been fashioned into pretzels.  Days later, my knees and legs still haven't recovered but it was so worth it -- I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

The weekend was an opportunity to meet a number of faces to go along with names we already knew as well as a chance to connect with people we talk to regularly but don't always get to see.  I also made a number of new connections and a few new friends.  I really enjoyed the chance to network with other Legionnaires from a variety of experience levels.  I came home re-energized and ready for the new term. For once I felt like I had more answers than questions, though my convention book margin notes remind me I still have much to learn. 

I'm still giggling at just how very different some folks are out of uniform than they are in uniform.  My first Provincial convention I witnessed a new induction for a couple of fellows to something called the Order of the Thong, in the middle of a meeting of the Pink Ladies.   No, I wasn't drunk, nor did I imagine any of it.  Colour me amused.  

I even won a $100 Walmart gift card from one of the vendors on site! 

I really enjoyed the presentation by Invictus Games Co-Captain Natacha Dupuis (Retired Master Cpl., who shared her story and talked about what the opportunity to once again represent her country means to her.  I'd read about the games last year but hadn't really followed them.  After this presentation, I don't think I'll ever look at them the same way again.  CTV London interviewed her as part of the Convention coverage, check it out here.

Maj. Mark Bossi
We also had the opportunity to reconnect with a presenter we'd seen at the Gananoque Convention.  Major Bossi had given such a captivating presentation on the OSI (Operational Stress Injury) Program. It was one of the best presentations I've ever seen -- we were thrilled to bump into him again.  He did speak at this convention as well, but it was a much more condensed version. 

Even though I was an Observer not a Delegate (meaning I didn't get to participate in the vote) being there still made you feel like you were part of the process.  It was SO much better than reading the reports (or having them read to you) after the fact.  

This year the Royal Canadian Legion Ontario Command elected its' very first female President on this the 50th convention.
Sharon McKeown, President of Ontario Command
I found myself listening to how she'd come to be a member of the Legion and smiling to myself as it was my Dad that got me involved too.  I found myself wondering what I'd say if I eventually had the opportunity to share my "why."  

We met the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veteran's Affairs outside our hotel Friday evening and then caught up with him again the following day and were able to get photos with him.  James teased me that I'd gotten a new photo for my "collection" that I hadn't needed my media credentials to get.  Smartipants. 
James Edwards, Secretary Branch 105 (and my teddybear) pictured with the Hon. Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Tom Irvine, Dominion 1st Vice President (and my cousin) at Provincial Convention in Londaon Ontario.
I'm always amazed when I meet one of those "larger than life" people that you've only ever seen from afar and you realize that they're people too.  He couldn't have been more personable or friendly.  I spent some time chatting with his photographer as well. 

I was offered a new project this weekend as well, but that's another blog.  I'll wait until we have our meeting in a couple of weeks and I know more about what I'm getting myself into before I start making noise about that.  Just know I am quite excited about the opportunity!!

Now we set our sights ahead to Dominion Convention 2018 in which Tom will be invested as Dominion President.  Come Hell or high water, I definitely want to be there!

Today's blog comes with a very hearty thank you to 3 fabulous comrades who I am proud to hold among my family and friends.  Your constant encouragement and support despite many newbie questions and sometimes hair-brained ideas is precious to me.  Your patience has been so very appreciated.  <3

Friday, 21 April 2017

Remind me not to blink as I fast forward 4 more years

A message popped up in the reminders on my Facebook page this morning from 4 years ago and I couldn't help but take pause at the realization that 4 years had gone by since I wrote it.

It had been written in the hangover of my Dad's passing, and a whack of family drama. I'm always amazed at how much unnecessary crap people can create at the most inopportune of times. Never surprised, but always amazed.

I'd started out thanking a few close friends and family who stood by me through the year gone by. It was one of the worst of my life. The only thing that carried me through was that feeling that I wasn't as alone as I felt. I am so grateful to have had my beloved James with me and that his boss was willing to let him take extended leave to be with me. I could never have gone otherwise.

Aside from the obvious leg-wrapping and care issues, I honestly don't think I'd have survived any of it without him. He's pretty modest about it all, of course, but I cannot forget the daily leg wraps, the gall bladder drain tube I was sporting at the time waiting on a surgery date, and the pure logistics of everything. His sunny disposition and whole "you'd do it for me" attitude still makes me smile. He is my energizer bunny, and he keeps me going. (Often quite literally).

Calling up friends I'd known for years, but hadn't seen in a long time to tackle a variety of tasks while we were ut there was a true testament to good friends always being able to jump back in to place right where they left off. I'd forgotten how huggy our bunch was. I'd missed them so very much.

On a plus note, I got to "show off" my teddybear and dispel the myth that such an awesome guy really did exist, and that after all the misteps they'd witnessed in the past that this girl had finally gotten it right.. always nice to get to find at least a little bright side :)

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I'd actually written a long post on my Facebook page about it:

I still can't wrap my head around this message being 4 years old. I could have written it just yesterday (except for the thanks to fabulous friends).

I remember being 10 and 11 and having Dad go through his ritual of showing me where he kept his wallet, his coins and among other important things like making me memorize his SIN number, and DVN #'s.

Unfortunately this ritual always seemed to take place in a flurry of tonight's the night I'm going to die and often after a night of drinking with friends so I'd always thought he was trying to make me crazy. I never really appreciated the "lesson" he was trying to convey.

On more than one occasion I was furious with him for even suggesting that he would leave us too, leaving us with no parents.

He, on the otherhand, was so determined to make sure that in the event of the inevitable I'd be ready -- I'd be OK.

No matter how ready you are, however, it is impossible to say goodbye to someone who has been such an integral part of your life forEVER. I still find myself talking to him on occasion and wondering what he['d think of this or that.

I imagine him up there above the clouds somewhere laughing and shaking his head at me.. but it's all his fault. He's the one that gave me the warped sense of humour.

Hard to explain that he's gone, but he's he's still that inner voice in my head that never goes away. I stll hear him giving me advice, and hear his wit and wisdom coming back to me often when I least expect it. He's here.. but he's not here..

Dad used to talk about missing his parents, people I didn't really remember. I didn't get it then, but I do now. I never thought I could miss one person so much.

I have to believe we'll see each other again some day Dad.

When Dad passed, people told me that time would heal all wounds. That in time, it wouldn't hurt any more. To put it simply, PEOPLE, are generally full of shit.

Today marks 4 years since that post, and this December will mark 5 years since his passing. I can't say that time has fixed anything.

If anything it has only served to make me sadder. I still miss Dad. The family drama caused irreparable damage that has no repair manual. Sadly at least one of the participants has also passed.

Beyond the hurt and angry, lives a broken heart that may never heal. I'd heard stories of vultures in the wake of such events, but the experience was beyond my wildest expectations. People so focussed on gossip and stuff that couldn't be bothered to realize that in the midst of all of the responsibility that had been left on my shoulders, that above all I'd lost my Dad too.

Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger (or so they say). Where are those damned zombies hiding anyways?

Until next time!