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PERSPECTIVE PUT IN PLACE
Thursday Dec. 26, 2013
Last of yesterday’s kitchen mess-making pots and dishes still soaking in the sink, reminder along with my fridge stuffed with leftovers – turkey, gravy, stuffing and vegetables – of big meal on the big day. Gusta and I took over and served to my dad. And there are some leftovers in his fridge.
I ate with him. Gusta ate whatever fell on the floor – which was about the equivalent of a single serving of each. My dad’s kitchen floor has never looked so clean, as does mine after Gusta licked every last drop that fell during preparation.
Each Christmas for at least the last five years, I’ve had in my head that ‘this might be my dad’s last Christmas’. Each year he defies odds, defies doctor’s predictions – and manages to carry on. Living, well supported with resources, in his own home has been a big part of that longevity, survival and strong spirit. Weaker, but strong willed. Defiant but not angry at his gradual loss of strength. Accepting, albeit reluctantly, help with things he’d done so easily for himself all his life. Homecare workers who don’t always show up on time or with the correct instructions frustrate him, as they do me, but we’d be lost without there services. Calls from his grand-daughters on Christmas day gave him an emotional lift. A Gusta visit picks him up. Turkey dinner makes him smile. As I was loading the car heading home yesterday, my cell phone rang – he wanted do know why I’d left the pie behind. I left it for him to enjoy. Each time he eats some leftovers, he’ll have some pie – and it will be like a do-over of Christmas day.
Today, Boxing Day, to many appears to be a shopping event, but this British tradition continued in Canada, is a holiday from work for nearly everyone for a different reason.
Day for taking boxes to others’ houses.
Gifts and goodies to friends, to extended family.
I’ll pack a bag, load gifts and box those leftovers, ¾ of turkey and trimmings – three locations in two days to serve my family. I’ll load Gusta and point the car north to be with Carla, Isla and Chad for a couple of days. I’ll see Gary if I can. He’s not doing well. He’s back in hospital for a stent procedure to drain his cancer and fluid filled belly.
Family life reminds me of a team sport season.
Wins. Losses. Ties. Highlights, and low moments, triumphs and defeats. Teamwork and individual effort. Referees. Hugs. Brawls. Tantrums. Joy of victories. Anguish of defeats.
It isn’t a game though.
Because we play life and family for keeps. Outcomes matter, feelings matter – for every family enjoys these ups and downs – births, deaths, twists in the road, squabbles and alienation amongst love, laughter and turkey dinners. I’m feeling close to everyone in my life except for one daughter who is gone away from me – and that hurts more than I can describe.
Most years most families get through holiday season unscathed by troubles and mostly those troubles are little ones. Some years, they are bigger.
To all of you, happy holidays and safe driving – and hold your family relationships close because there is no guarantee anything will be the same next year – good luck at them all.
Happy Boxing Day, and good luck at the mall!
column written/ published from Calgary
morning walk: 6C/43F, steady Chinook breeze, traffic very light, Gusta soggy from slushy walks and softened snow banks, air is fresh and beckoning me to walk further but slippery conditions suggest my ankle will thank me to cut it short today – though mall walking is not a leisure option today.
Merry Christmas. Have a great dinner with your dad and safe travels tomorrow to Edmonton, JJ, Calgary, AB
Merry Christmas and all the best in 2014 Mark!, MF, Calgary, AB
Merry Christmas to you too, DW, Chain Lakes, AB
FELIZ NAVIDAD!!!, The sunrise is too bright to watch directly, so we turn our chairs around and watch as it flows down the mountains like honey. Tried to Skype my family, but either got the wrong number or they've changed their outgoing voice mail. Missing my Mom, even though I didn't often spend Christmas with her. Have a wonderful turkey with your Dad today and safe driving to Ft.Sask. tomorrow. Merry Christmas, Mark!, CM, Calgary, AB (sent from LoretoBay, Mex.)
Happy Christmas (as they say here in DK) - I trust your turkey's in the oven? I agree that it sucks to be alone, especially at this time of year - just remember that you have lots of people in your life who truly care about you - me included. Should Gary be in a hospice now? I guess this really will be his last Christmas which is very sad. Looking forward to seeing you soon - I miss our daily chats..., SB, Calgary, AB (sent from Copenhagen, Denmark)
Losing someone we care deeply for is never easy. There will be advice coming from many well-meaning friends and family as to how to get through the grieving process. It is best, I have learned to let the grieving process have its' way. To fight any of the steps of the process just seems to delay the ending of that process. Imagine if Gary had never come into your life; if you had never been blessed with his friendship, never shared the joys of the memories you created together, never experienced the gift of Gary. I feel certain that the knowing of him contributed to the man you have become. What a gift! Celebrate the fact that you had the time that you had with him; counting every moment a blessing and every memory a gift and remember to be grateful, oh so very grateful that the friendship had the time that you had with him to blossom and contribute to the emotional growth that occurred as a result of that gift. GW, Brady, Tx.