Here are the elements that added up to my perfect (and perfectly Canadian) moment last night:
* Watching the 97th annual Grey Cup -- the storied annual championship game of the Canadian Football League (AKA "the Grand National Drunk").
* Cheering for the Saskatchewan Roughriders vs the Montreal Alouettes (I lived in Saskatchewan 1963-69)(we'll conveniently overlook the fact that they LOST, & in the dumbest, most awful way in the very last seconds of the game...).
* A stadium full of delirious Saskatchewan fans (the most rabid in the league, clad in green & white & sporting watermelons on their heads)(don't ask...). (Here's an explanatory video clip, if you really want to know know...)
* Blue Rodeo, one of Canada's most beloved bands, playing the halftime show, singing three songs voted on by the fans: "Till I Am Myself Again," "Hasn't Hit Me Yet," and "Lost Together."
* Putting down my ironing, grabbing my dh & slowdancing together in the living room, singing along. ("Try" -- which they didn't play -- is one of "our" songs.)
* Seeing the fans on the field & in the stands doing the same thing.
Life doesn't get much more perfect than that. And I think the only thing that would have made it an even more Canadian moment would have been some snowflakes in the air, lol. (Don't worry, they're coming...)
Monday, November 30, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
- the continuing bonds one feels to children who are dead, or who never arrived in the first place;
- how you live with infertility every day of your life, whether or not you ultimately succeed at building a family;
- how the pain rises up at various, often unexpected times;
- the ugliness of envying others for their families.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
(Photo: Our nephews -- older, left, & younger, right, wearing their Team Italia World Cup soccer T-shirts -- in June 2006 in their Nonno's garden.)
Last Saturday night, dh & I met up at FIL's house with his brother, our SIL & their youngest son, who is (gulp) 17 & applying for university for next year. His older brother -- who will be 21 (21!! & "legal" everywhere!!) in just a few short weeks -- was out with his GIRLFRIEND. (We were supposed to meet her at Thanksgiving, but she had her own family obligations -- or so we were told, lol.)
I marvelled, not for the first time and not (I'm sure) for the last, at what wonderful young men our nephews are growing up to be. (Not to mention good looking.)(Is there just the slightest chance that I could be a TEENY tiny bit prejudiced??) And at how quickly the years fly by.
One of my big regrets about the years I spent dealing with loss & infertility is that, by focusing so much on my own baby drama, I may have missed out on some precious opportunities to connect with our nephews when they were younger.
Now, overall, I think we've been a good aunt & uncle to them. We've been there for every one of older nephew's birthdays & most of younger nephew's. We give generous presents for birthdays & Christmas, & slip them the odd $10 or $20 when we see them. We make a point of getting together at least every couple of weeks.
And we were there beside BIL & SIL when older nephew graduated from high school three years ago. Curiously, neither set of grandparents seemed interested. I was dumbfounded, remembering the special celebration my parents hosted for my own high school graduation. I was glad to be able to make a bit of a fuss over nephew's.
And I've taken photos. Lots & lots of photos of both of them over the years. I have probably taken 98% of the photos that exist of those two boys. Dh & I gave BIL & SIL a camera for Christmas just after older nephew was born, but they never seemed to use it much -- something I just couldn't fathom. I grew up in a family where, long before digital cameras or scrapbooking, my grandmother & mother would say, "Get the camera!" My childhood was perhaps not quite as well documented as many children's are today, but there ARE photos. There aren't many of dh & his brother growing up. Different culture, perhaps -- plus, there wasn't a lot of money around in their family for things like photos. And many of the photos that did get taken got sent to relatives in Italy.
So I've been the "family photographer." Haven't been around for their first day of school or Halloween or numerous everyday moments -- but I've been there for the main stuff -- birthdays and first communions and confirmations and family picnics. Since taking up scrapbooking several years ago, I've been working on scrapbooks for both the boys. Older nephew has two volumes, taking him up to his 5th birthday, & younger nephew has one that's entirely made of photos of his first year. I was tickled to hear they've actually shown them to their friends. I wasn't sure what they would think -- being teenaged boys -- but I figured that their mom & maybe their future wives would love them. ; )
And we had youngest nephew overnight when he was about 10. He was playing little league baseball that summer, & he and his teammates got free tickets to a Sunday afternoon Blue Jays game. He wanted to go, but neither BIL or SIL could take him. So they called and asked dh if he would take him. We talked about the logistics involved, & nephew piped up, "Maybe I could sleep over." Dh & I looked at each other & said, "Of course you can!" I think he was curious about us & how we lived. We met up with his family at FIL's on the Saturday & took him home with us. I took him over to the dollar store & told him he could have anything he wanted. He chose a small hackysack ball for exactly one dollar & played with it all weekend. That night, we all sat on the couch watching "South Park" (a bad choice in retrospect -- although nephew swore his parents let him watch it -- there was a Terrence & Phillip storyline in which they mentioned -- ahem -- "so.do.my". "What's that?" asked nephew. Dh told him to ask his parents, lol.) "So -- this is what you do?" nephew asked. I think he thought our life would be more exciting, lol. (Me too, sometimes.)
The next day dh took him on the train into the city & to the SkyDome (whoops, Rogers Centre) for the game. He realized their seats were in the nosebleed section, & when he overheard someone at the ticket window asking if they could trade up their seats, he thought, "Great idea!" They got seats in the 100 section behind first base. As they walked into the stadium, in time to watch batting practice, nephew whispered to dh, "It feels like we're walking into heaven!!" They arrived home just ahead of BIL & SIL & older nephew, coming to pick younger nephew up. He was beaming, bearing player autographs, a bobblehead doll, a pennant, cap & other paraphernalia. "Best $100 I ever spent, " dh told me.
I don't always feel as close to them as I'd like to. Part of that is my natural reserve, and their natural shyness, espeically around girls (of all ages). Part of that, I think, is because they're boys. I loved playing with them when they were little and, for awhile, I KNOW I was their favourite. ; ) But as they got older and their play grew more rough-&-tumble, they naturally gravitated more to dh. I found I related much better to dh's cousin's little girls -- we could play board games & Barbie dolls together for hours.
While we did have youngest nephew stay overnight that one time, I never had older nephew overnight, or both of them together. I thought about it, but it never came to fruition -- and then, poof! They were teenagers, & weren't really interested anymore (if they ever were). Partly because we have a small house & I'd have to clear off the bed in the spare bedroom ; ) but mostly, I think, because the responsibility terrified me. FIL & stepMIL (who live a 15-minute drive from us) had them for several weekends when they were growing up, & dh & I would often step in & take the boys out for awhile to give them a break. Dh took them to Toys R Us once -- ONCE!! (a memorable experience!! -- I warned him!!) -- & we took them to McDonalds and Swiss Chalet for dinner several times. We babysat them when their parents went to weddings.
I think about my own relationships with my aunts & uncles, and great-aunts & uncles. There are some I'm closer to than others, some I saw more than others (& not always a correlation between the two factors). When I was younger, though, I think I took the relationships for granted. Aunts & uncles were just THERE. I didn't live close to any of my aunts & uncles until I was a teenager, but I still managed to see them several times a year, especially during holidays and at the usual family weddings & such. It wasn't until I got older that I think I really started to appreciate the relationships & truly look forward to seeing them, to sitting at the table with them over dinner or coffee & listening to their stories of the past and of relatives long gone now.
I'm thinking (hoping?) that may well be the case with our nephews, too.
But. If I could take those years back, I'd make more of an effort. I'd have them both over for more sleepovers, to dye Easter eggs and carve Halloween pumpkins. I'd make sure we showed up at oldest nephew's karate graduation, & younger nephew's baseball games. I'm sorry we didn't make it to either when they were growing up. I kept thinking those would be things I'd do with my own kids, so I didn't place as much importance on doing them with the nephews first. And now it's too late.
I hope they will think fondly enough of us to look in on us once in awhile when we're old & in the personal care home, and maybe invite us over for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
We had a good time last Saturday night at FIL's. Some Saturday nights, it seems we spend more time watching the hockey game on TV than talking, but that night, there were lots of stories, lots of laughs, lots of talk about younger nephew's future. I had saved the recent Macleans university rankings issue for him, & he sat at the table flipping through it.
When we left that night, we hugged, as usual. But nephew gave me a big smile, and I thought there was a touch of something more than just the obligatory in his hug.
Maybe there's hope for some visitors in the old folks' home yet. : )
Monday, November 23, 2009
I know, I know -- maternity leave is not a vacation. And we're very fortunate to get such a long maternity leave, compared to women in the States (nine months then, a whole year now, most of it at least partly paid). And I DO like my job, for the most part. Heck, with so many people out of work right now, I know I'm damn lucky to have one, and such a good one at that. And we always manage to muddle through this busy time, somehow. Eventually, everything manages to get done.
But it ticks me off that I've paid so many years into Employment Insurance (which funds maternity leave). Needless to say, I'm never going to need it for mat leave purposes, & they've tightened up the regulations so much in recent years, I doubt I'll ever be able to collect it if I ever lost my job.
My girlfriend worked for a provincial government for many years & was able to take not just one but two paid year-long sabbaticals (funded through a deferred salary program) -- one when her children were small, & one a few years ago, when her oldest was a teenager. That summer, she bought a used camper van & drove with her two daughters from coast to coast to coast, across Canada and back again. What an experience! I would LOVE to be able to do something like that.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Marty: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty: I don't know.
Nigel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel: [pause] These go to eleven.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
My due date, for me, has never had quite the same significance as my loss dates. It's a lot harder for me to imagine what might have been than to remember what was. Emotionally, I don't think it's ever packed the same sort of punch for me (except maybe surviving it, that very first year).
But I couldn't help but think of our little girl today & wonder (for the millionth time) about what might have been. It was a nice day outside, and dh & I took advantage of it by venturing out into our big, kid-friendly but little-used backyard and raking up the leaves that have fallen off the trees over the past few weeks.
One of the trees is "Katie's tree." We didn't start out to plant a tree in Katie's memory. The neighbours have some big maple trees that overhang our yard, & from time to time, the maple keys will sprout in my backyard flower beds & planters into little miniature trees. I normally pull them up without much thought. About a year after we lost Katie, one such hardy sprout made it through the winter unpulled, & had gotten so large that dh took a shine to it and decided to plant it as "Katie's tree." I wasn't sure it would survive (& it pained me to think of the tree meeting the same fate as its namesake -- which is why we didnt' plant a tree in her memory before that) -- but it did. It grew & grew, tall and straight, and must be at least 30 feet high now. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of it to show you here -- must remember to take one sometime!
So I looked up at Katie's tree & marvelled at how big it's grown -- just as I'm sure I would have been marvelling at my daughter, if she were here. Dh & I raked 11 bags full of leaves -- which somehow seemed entirely appropriate. ; ) We showered & went out for dinner & toasted our daughter with Coke.
I can't believe she'd be 11.
Last year's post (10 years old)
Two years ago (9 years old)
Friday, November 13, 2009
In a featured quote on Moyers' blog, Smith explained what her production is about (boldface emphasis mine):
“LET ME DOWN EASY is about grace and kindness in a world that lacks that often, [but] not always. And a winner-takes-all world, where we don't think about the people who are losing. We don't think about the people who are abandoned by jobs or governments or lovers or mothers or fathers. [It’s] a call for that kind of grace and kindness and consideration and the metaphor, I think, of death as the ultimate form of loss, possibly our greatest fear – the ultimate form of abandonment. And that in this country we have a hard time looking at death and we have a hard time looking at loss and we have a hard time looking at losing. And I think that doesn't help us be the most caring environment.”
You can see why I thought this program would be interesting. ; ) The Journal is on most PBS stations on Friday nights -- so if you're reading this right now, you may be able to catch it. My local station shows it Sundays at noon -- I hope to see it then! You can often find clips & transcripts from the show on the website later, so if you missed it and think you might find it interesting, check back there later.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The lovely Dot/Sweet Pea at Hopes & Dreams for Us was kind enough to bestow an award on me last week. Here's how it goes:
All we need is a little LOVE! The rules for this award is simple. I LOVE YOU = 8 letters which gives you 8 rules :) Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award and write a little bit about why you love them.
I already thanked Dot on her blog, but am happy to thank her again here. : ) I believe I found her blog a few months ago, when I noticed her on my list of followers. I learned that she too has taken the difficult step of stopping IF treatment & trying to live without children. Her upbeat, positive attitude & pleasure in the good things about her childfree life is a huge inspiration.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog. (See above)
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
(See hyperlinks above.)
4. Nominate no more than 17 people you think could use some love.
5. Write one word (you can only use a word once) about what you love about their blog.
6. You cannot nominate someone who has already been nominated-the love has to spread to all.
7. Post links to the 17 blogs you nominate.
Like Dot, I will nominate 5! I don't believe any of them have been nominated for this yet. I also tried to pick people that I haven't tagged for an award before (or at least, not lately, lol):
1. Heather @ Rising & Setting: perseverance
2. Mrs. Spit @ Mrs. Spit Spouts Off: eloquence
3. Silya @ A Real Life: intelligence
4. Quiet Dreams @ Dreaming of Quiet Places: courage
5. Luna @ Life From Here: Musings from the Edge: thoughfulness
8. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they’ve been nominated.
(I will, as soon as I hit "publish," lol.)
Thank you, again!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
As I explained in a Show & Tell post last year about my Christmas card strategy, I almost always know my Christmas card for the year when I see it. In past years, Classic Pooh has been a favourite theme, but Pooh designs seem to be in short supply this year, at least hereabouts.
I found my last year's card at a Chapters/Indigo store, and I saw one design I liked at a Chapters store, during the week that we were on vacation last month. Mid-October seemed a tad early to be buying Christmas cards, though (!!), & I decided to look around just a little bit longer. I'm glad I did, because another Indigospirit store I was browsing in recently had a card I had not yet seen at the other store -- one that stopped me dead in my tracks to say, "Yes, THAT one."
I went back & practically cleared out their supply today. (It's STILL awfully early, but I didn't want to go back two weeks from now & not be able to find it.) Like last year's card, it's by Papyrus. It's called "Little Boy Pulling Red Sled" -- but I think it could very easily be a little GIRL pulling the sled, don't you? ; )
The message inside reads, "May the simple joys of the season be yours/Happy Holidays."
It was more expensive than the Hallmark cards I usually buy -- but so worth it.
To see what others are showing & telling this week, pop over to the Stirrup Queen's blog.
Monday, November 2, 2009
So I Googled "The Carpenters lyrics I need a place to hide away" & up popped the lyrics to "Hideaway," from a 1971 album by The Carpenters -- which I still have somewhere, in vinyl (but haven't played in many years).
Tonight at home, I did some more Googling & on You Tube I found this clip from 1971, from their summer TV series, "Make Your Own Kind of Music" (which I remember watching at my grandmother's house). She was just 21 years old when she sang this.
I always loved The Carpenters, & I have several of their albums. The one Christmas (1983) that dh & I were apart, before we were married, I listened to "Merry Christmas Darling" obsessively. God, what a voice. What a loss to the world when she died.
I've got to find a place to hideaway
Far from the shadows of my mind
Sunlight and laughter, love ever after
For how I long to find a place to hideaway
I hear you whisper and I must obey,
Blindly follow where you'll be
Knowing tomorrow brings only sorrow
Where can I go to find a place to hideaway
Bright colored pinwheels go round in my head
I run through the mist of the wine
The night and the music remind me instead
The world once was mine
I'll save my pennies for a rainy day
But where can I buy another you?
Dreams are for sleeping
Love is for weeping
Oh, how I long to find a place to hideaway.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I intended to do the same last night -- but after the last kids had left our doorstep & we closed up shop for the night, I got watching "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" on TV for the umpteenth time -- & after a half-hour of that, following a full day of cleaning, laundry & getting ready for the big night ahead, I was exhausted, so I crawled into bed around 10.
(I've only ever seen the entire movie all the way through once or twice -- including once at a decrepid old theatre on Main Street in downtown Winnipeg in about 1982, where we squirted water pistols & hurled toast & toilet paper & yelled at the screen (and Winnipeggers will know what I mean when I talk about Main Street -- I kept my feet off the floor through almost the entire movie because I was afraid a rat would run over it). But whenever it's on -- which is usually on or around Halloween -- I simply have to watch it, at least up to "Time Warp" (which was always played at our university residence socials) followed by Tim Curry strutting his stuff through "Sweet Transvestite," & I'm good for another year.)
("Phantom of the Paradise" was on at 11, but I couldn't stay awake for that. It was a huge, HUGE hit when I was in junior high in the mid-1970s -- I can still sing along to the soundtrack. I did not realize until many years later that it was actually a flop everywhere in the world except, oddly, for Winnipeg/Manitoba. Go figure. Anyone else ever see it? )
Anyway -- including that very first post and this one, it's now 330 posts later. (165 posts a year, about 14 a month or one every other day on average. Not bad.) When I wrote that very first post, I stated two intentions: (1) to add my voice to the few I could find, articulating the view of women (& men) who remain childless/free after infertility, & (2) to participate in Mel's next book tour. Although I didn't articulate it at the time, I was also looking for an outlet as I approached the 10-year "anniversary" of my daughter's stillbirth.
I've written about all these things and more -- some IF/loss related, some not. And I've loved every minute of it. I don't always get to write (or to read or comment on your blogs) as often as I like -- "real life" has this nasty habit of intruding, lol -- but, as I said last year, on the occasion of Blogoversary #1:
Blogging has been the release & record I sought -- and more. It has been a blessing in my life. I did not know who, if anyone, would care to read my blog, and I didn't start out with the intention of writing for an audience. The blog is, first and foremost, for me. But it's been gratifying to read your comments, to feel your support, to know you're out there struggling with the same issues and feelings too -- that you understand.Thanks again for reading/listening & commenting!