Here. I took a step over the property line and stood on the driveway a while. I heard the radio tuned to CBC, the static from the old machine offering no real audio only comfort. Somewhere too, came screws jiggling inside old coffee tins and a saw moving along unused 2x4s, and I heard Dad sniff. I heard Dad sniff. Twice. I saw Mom’s big round wine barrels, the ones Dad cut width wise just for her, turned on end, filled with petunias, red and happy, waving hello. I heard the rustle of caragana pods on the bushes out front. I closed eyes and felt my ten speed near me, felt my friends running by and the pull of home base, capture the flag and the certainty of being 13.
Tag Archives: family
The students I live alongside set a challenge, to write about the past/future. They set the challenge so I would finish a piece, put pen to paper, stop sitting in conversation so long with each of them, and step up to the mic. After all, we headline in a month.
The future. The past. The future. Tricky business these places.
Tuesday my sister and I voted in the advanced poles. We stood in line for 40 minutes so our voices would count. my dad always told me, even the smallest change matters. So I stood in line.
I listened while the couple in front of me dissected Costa Maragos’s passivity moderating the leaders debate, “and couldn’t someone just hand that man a bull horn.”
The Langesten’s were leaving when we arrived. Lingering so Mrs. Langesten could take that mouthful after ‘how are you’ to tell us of her four days dying in hospital while Mr. Lsngesten wrapped his arms around my sister, then around me, smiling, finishing his wife’s sentence. We waited. I cast my vote. Dad was right. I have a voice.
At dad’s care home they have removed his transfer pole. The manager of the care home tells mom it is an issue of occupational health and safety. Paralyzed on one side two years ago by a stroke, the manager says it is easier to move dad using a sling.
The long weekend dad came home for two nights. There are no activities at the Manor on GoodFriday. My sister and I both arrived to help. It tires dad, being home. It tires mom. But Friday dad arrived already tired. He asked twice how my car was working.
Saturday morning dad and I sat in the sun room drinking coffee. A place where we used to start the day when I was in high school, those early, early mornings before I’d walk to meet the bus. The magpies would feed like vultures on the scraps dad would leave for them outside the window. The Makaboys, dad called them, a bird that reminded dad of a family and of a story from his youth. And we would sip our coffee and settle in.
But this Saturday morning the lawn was brown and mom was busy answering urgent calls from returning officers. The bird feeders lay empty.
“You’re tired today, dad.” I said.
“I didn’t sleep. I was up worrying.”
“Worrying about what?”
He looked from the feeders towards me then his lap and back out the window, “that I’m not getting well fast enough.”
The care home removed his pole this winter. Four months after dad taught himself to move his leg, to bend his knee, and to nearly stand.
They removed his pole. It is easier, they said, to transfer Mr. Saas with a sling. It is easier.
Mom works for Elections Saskatchewan to help pay for dads care. I can vote. But I am only the daughter. I can not speak to managers. But I can fill bird feeders.
For years I have taken a photograph almost every day. This capturing delves deeper than photographing an object simply because I feel obligated to take a picture. Almost two years ago my dad had a stroke. During those first hours and long months after my daughter, my sister, my mom and I followed the stretcher into the emergency room, I began thinking differently about capturing moments.
Capturing moments has become a significant part of my journey. Curating and sharing has become a significant part of my journey as well. Over the December 2015 winter break, as I began to compile images and videos of the past year, I realized how much the process of capturing moments and of returning to savour them has been a healing space for me.
My previous year in review videos have been different. At times they have been out of duty to document a year. Last year I was so filled with gratitude my video paid homage to those who helped, who stepped in, who listened, and who understood the effects of such change on my family.
My video this year though is for me. It is my year-end visual reflection, my visual year-end take-away.
And oh, I learned so much. Hope. Love. Family. Change. Strength.
~ My photo/video story of 2014 (thank you to Jessy Lee for the many hours choosing and adding music).
This year the image capturing/collecting was often difficult and the compiling into this yearend video brought tears.
On December 25th, as my family sat together for the first time since my mom’s surgery my dad, looking at each of us, my sister, Christie, my daughter, Jessy Lee, my mom, Lynne and I, raised his glass to offer a toast.
“We made it!”
Then, Dad began to cry. And cry and cry. Mom pulled up close to him and took his hand. She finished his toast. She began with the story of how she had finished his toast on their wedding day, almost 50 years ago when tears of joy had come then too.
Recently Jess wrote, the “thing I’ve noticed about grief is that it is something that comes even when death does not.”
My video this year is for my family, mostly. It is for the way my mom looks at my dad. It is for the way she has always looked at my dad. It is for the way he still reaches for her, and how he cries with joy every time one of us is happy.
And this sharing is for you, too, for all those wonderful folks who helped my family by pitching in, by listening, by checking in and mostly, by loving us steadfastly and beautifully.
Poet Greg Simison writes of that phone call, “perhaps this longest night of our lives, we’re all simply small children who’ve only been outside playing grownups until our mothers call us home, one last time.”
Mostly, he is right.
These past 10 months I’ve become more grounded in the stories I’ve heard my parents tell, my dad shared hiking along tails, my mom lived while teaching, life making stories, stories I’ve grown with.
Mostly, my dad was kind and told me to leave nothing unsaid. As we waited for the ambulance last March and, mom and I talked though the nights this past November, well, I’ve become more…
I am so thankful for growing up surrounded with love and with family.
I am so grateful for today.
(Red Shoes Series)
Saturday Afternoon at the Cabin
From the far room, Dad’s snore’s whistle. When I was young Dad’s snores rolled in swells through the house. Once, while camping with my cousins, Dad’s snores woke campers two sites over.
Dad’s snores are the sounds of home, the home of the youth where I turned over at night and snuggled deeper into the covers when there was an unknown thump on the back deck or the coyote howls were nearby; I am safe, Dad is downstairs.
His snores are different since the stroke, high pitched, and far away.
Long ago Dad put a crystal in the front window. It spins in the afternoon sun sending tiny rainbows dancing in circles around the living room.
I drift into sleep and forget for a moment where I am. Remembering comes before my eyes pull open or the ray of spinning light circles by. Curled on the sofa, I pull and push trying to shift away from the heaviness in my chest.
I open my eyes.
I listen to the stillness of a home where everyone sleeps until Dad calls, “Lynne, Lynne.”
“I’m here, Al,” Mom says from her single bed beside Dad and he whistles again.
I can hear the hum from the fridge and the settling groan from the front porch. The ceiling fan clicks. With each turn the four inch chain pull cord that no one has touched since the winter we put that Christmas tree up with scaffolding whirls.
On the sofa, my daughter’s breaths come in deep fresh air rasps.
The hum from the fridge stops.
Outside, a car passes by.
What will happen when I can no longer hear the whistle…
I’ve been blogging since I was a running-full-out, blinders-on, curiosity-driven-in-nineteen-directions, let’s-plan-like-there’s-no-tomorrow undergrad. Then, I had two courses remaining in my B.Ed., both electives. Was it happenstance that made me sign up for these courses, both becoming the courses that would most resonate, most inform my educational journey?
These courses most informing me how to best listen to students.
One was a course in Inclusive Education. The other was titled Introduction to Computers in the Classroom, #ECMP355.
Then, I was heading into the summer before internship. I had just completed a methodologies course where I had been asked to create a paper portfolio. I had not been keen on making a paper portfolio that no one without a forklift and a long weekend could enjoy. So when my instructor for the ecmp class asked what I wanted to create, I told him I might want to put my portfolio online, or perhaps, learn about spreadsheets.
But when a conversation emerged soon thereafter, ideas that connected the two courses came to light: people, caring about people and listing to people.
To show the idea of connections, I think, the ecmp teacher shared something or rather had others share something about him via twitter. And I learned some things about this dude. I was new to story and new to his story, so I quickly began forming a narrative in my own mind of him. I saw him as nuts to move out of an old home to build a new one and to golf instead of to hike, like really! But I liked the way he talked about his thinking; I liked that he shared his story. Then, he asked each of us to share one thing about ourselves. I shared that I had a stuffed great horned owl in my car that I had borrowed from the science lab. But, it was okay. I would put the owl back in three days.
I found that it was the stories of experience that I shared those fast few weeks of that spring short course that continued to reverberate. From those beginning connections I have found mentors, supports, and colleagues.
And then last spring my Dad had a stroke. Friends, friends from all over the world sent public and private messages and have continued to walk this journey with me.
I have found many platforms that I enjoy. However, I admit, I love a blog. I love reading your words and letting them play near me as I imagine your voice, image your space, and for those moments, I live alongside you, story with you in the midst. I wonder, is it in this space that I am beginning to understand? Usually this is early morning or the tired waning hours of day, while the hallway lights are off, the room next to me feels still, and the world, like the wind outside my window, pauses. Here, I am allowed to simply lean in and to wonder alongside you…
I love storying.
All those years ago my instructor gave his students a final challenge, “If you can, get your own domain.” I wonder if this was another way of asking us to retell and relive our own stories of experience? the challenge is one that I have never forgotten.
And so, my blog name as it has always been, named for the trickiest storier; may our stories forever be retold and relived. This happened yesterday.