Great News

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Celebrate Good Times.”

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The mail arrives just after midnight, a happy chime of events on my IPAD. I roll over in bed and decide to wait until morning to read the mail.  I wake, my eyes bleary, still somewhere between fully awake and the land of nod. I read the words, then read them again. A smile beams, elation and I’m fully awake reading the words for a third time.  Could it be?  The timing perfect, my last full day at a career that has defined the days of my life for so long. All niggling doubts fly away in this moment. Crystal is my clarity.

Who should I call?  I call my husband first, then our children. Their happiness bubbles through the phone lines. I tell others’ throughout the day, their words not always matching their eyes their words not matching their emotion. It’s no matter, I do not require their joy, I have enough. I think of calling my Mom and Dad, how excited they will be I think in the next moment. Then I remember they died 12 years and 27 years ago respectively.  Momentarily I’m sad. I tell them anyway and my spirit lifts once again.

Every life is punctuated by moments of great joy. The day we receive the letter, email, text, the word.  The moment we receive the news, a job, a degree, a house, a proposal. The moment when the stars align and all the work, bad dates, and scrimping retreats into the abyss and there is only this moment of great joy, where all roads no matter how convoluted led to this one.  Our joy exponential, in the sharing, though for several delicious moments we savour the news and bathe in its glow

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Imagination

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Toy Story.”

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My favourite toy as a child was a board game that my Grandpa created.  It was called Aggravation, similar to Sorry, but created long before that board game became popular.  Instead of plastic pieces it used marbles.  Each person had a set of coloured marbles and the goal of the game was to get all your marbles home.  A deck of cards was used and each face card had a value of ten, the ace had a value of one.  I no longer remember the finer details of the game. The board was white with decals in each corner.  The marbles moved around the board and settled into spaces that were carved out for them to rest.  There was a lip around the board to keep the marbles from rolling on the floor.

One vivid summer day my Grandpa and I were partners against my older sister and brother.  It came down to the wire with my siblings hot on our heels.  We were one space away from winning and I drew an Ace.  I’ll never forget how I felt when I put the ace down and my Grandpa and I won.  Teamwork, and even though I was a child I was able to offer something in that moment.

I suppose this shaped me.  I never coveted toys as a child. I instead spent time making up games and living different lives.  I imagined I was an Archeologist and dug a very large hole in our back yard to unearth artifacts, a nail, a rock, a spring, cataloging each item. I played street hockey in the back alley and dreamed of playing in the NHL.  She shoots, she scores!  My friend and I ran a bar and created an elaborate menu, all  a version of saltine crackers, peanut butter and water which we sold to her younger brother for a tidy profit. I imagined  myself a writer and wrote stories about people I knew, creating lives for them far more amazing, heroic and adventurous, then what seemed to me to be their truly boring existence. I found a pallet in the back alley and dragged it home as the base for my clubhouse.  I rode my bike to find the end of the rainbow.  I spent the money during that ride.  I never found the pot of gold, though the journey was golden.

I wonder in this world of over indulged, over scheduled and over tired life of a present day child if there is enough time to dream, imagine and create? I hope so, I know my life is richer for the experience.

Half a world away

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Moved to Tears.

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He was born while we were half a world away. We were sitting on the steps of the hotel in Moshi,Tanzania waiting for our certificates to prove we climbed Kilimanjaro and refusing to board the bus to begin our safari until we had the signed certificates.

I sat with my phone clutched reading text messages from our daughter describing her contractions and shouting out the information to our Kilimanjaro friends and responding back to her that we were all excited and wishing her well. The labor progressing our chief worry was whether we would need to board the bus before the birth. If this baby did not hurry up, we would have to wait another week.

I wait for her response, nothing. I text again asking if she’s okay, nothing. Then a text arrives, “its a boy!” I shout, our group cheers.  I wait for the photo to follow.  I wait an eternity and then it arrives.  The photo moves me to tears.  I stare into the face of our newest grandson and weep, tears of joy that the ordeal is over for our daughter, that the baby has arrived safe, that he is perfect in every way.  My husband shares the photo and openly weeps, his tears contagious.  A joyous moment forever etched in our memory.

Seasons

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Turn, Turn, Turn.”

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I love spring with its re-birth after a long winter.  We stumble out of our dens, bleary eyed and marvel at the blue sky, first shoots and listen to the sounds of birds, awake after a long winter nap.  Later, we whine about the mud, relentless rain, weeds and mosquitos that munch on our flesh.  We look forward to the lazy days of summer.

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I love summer with trips to lakes, backyard BBQ’s, the casual dressed down affair of plastic cups, cut off shorts and bare feet.  Too soon, we moan about yard work, the oppressive heat, and still more bugs that buzz around our heads as we retreat to our air conditioned homes.  We look forward to the cooler days of fall.

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I love fall with changing colours, breath taking scenery that never fails to awaken the photographer in me.  The cooler weather has chased away the bugs. The shadows long, the air akin to clean and new beginnings.  We preserve summer’s offerings and enjoy crisp apples.  We bargain for fall to stay, though winter creeps ever closer.  We look forward to winter for a chance to relax, read and plan.

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I love winter as we hunker down into our homes, the summer and fall work complete.  We curl up like cats in front of the fireplace and ride out the storm, snug.  We enjoy Christmas preparations, the lights of the season and kindness wraps us all as one.  The snow falls with chunky flakes that land on our lashes and we marvel at the individuality of each snow flake, perfect.  Later, we wonder if it will ever end and bemoan the icy roads, square tires and too much snow to shovel.  We long for the days of spring to begin anew.

The Nomadic Life

In response to The Daily Post prompt, the early years

My early years were defined by a series of moves. We moved province to province, city to country and back again. We moved within the same city many times too.  Like Goldilocks and the three bears we seemed always searching for “just right.”

A move for me was a grand adventure chock full of possibilities. There were new friends, a new bedroom, and a new school, complete with teachers and students to show my treasures during show and tell. There were moves that were sad too, a craft project left behind and Valentine cards lost in transit and never opened. I’ve dreamed many times of finding that too large heart stuffed with cards addressed to me and relishing in the stilted words and corny sentiments from long ago.

Through necessity, I learned to fake confidence. A skill that served me well as I met new friends, teachers and neighbours.  Never letting them see me sweat I drew people in with my false bravado, charm and humour. No friends from that time remain. It was not possible to get close, as the moving van would soon arrive and take me to the next destination, where the process would begin anew.

Our home in Northern Alberta was the highlight of this tumultuous time. I was five, my brother seven, and my sister twelve. There were no close neighbours, no potential friends, we relied on each other. We played games, created blanket tents held together by clothes pins and donned our Klondike days attire as we sashayed up the gravel driveway singing, “Ain’t she sweet..”  We laid on our backs and considered clouds as we watched the shapes shift into endless images for our perusal and entertainment.

I found a rusted bike with flat tires in the shed and taught myself to ride by persevering. I maneuvered it up and down our gravel driveway and after many falls, scrapes and cuts, succeeded in making it all the way up and down without falling.  I was rewarded with a brand new bike later that year. The value of hard work and perseverance still remains central in my life.

My boy cat, Seymour turned out to be a girl cat. We learned this when she gave birth to six kittens. We watched them open their eyes for the first time, take their first steps and catch their first mouse under the watchful eyes of their Mom.

We saw flying squirrels, were fearful of the cellar and loved the smell of wax on the freshly buffed hardwood floor.   My sister was the boss and in my memory she is central with our parents retreating slightly out of focus.   She had the best plans, my brother and I her lackeys going along for better or worse. We ran from bears, trying to keep pace with her as she sped away on her bike. She convinced us that the landfill was quicksand just beyond the barely there fence. 

It was home.  I can still close my eyes and walk through its rooms. I can look out the windows and imagine the night sky or a bright blue sky beckoning me outside to fields of lilies and a day of possibilities when life was  simple and we were young. 

D.O.G. rescued us

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Menagerie.”

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My  daughters and I went to a local animal shelter to “visit the animals.”  While we were walking between the kennels, my  youngest daughter Michelle’s  attention was drawn  to the puppies.  Across from the puppies there was a forlorn looking white dog with black spots.  I wanted to teach Michelle an important lesson.  I pointed to the dog and explained that he would have great difficulty finding a forever home as it was unlikely many people would notice him across from the puppies, and wondering out loud how many times he looked his best only to be ignored.  His chances were limited as he was a grown dog.

Michelle went right to him, opened his kennel and gave him a big hug.  She stayed with him while Danielle and I continued to look at the rest of the animals. When we returned, she was still with him, stroking his fur and making his day.  Tears streaming down her face she pleaded with me to take him home.  My earlier message was received and my words boomeranged back to me as she stated that we must take him as it is unlikely anyone would want an older dog.

Reluctantly, she left him and shortly a young woman arrived and took him out for a walk. As the young woman was saying good-bye to him she promised that she would return the very next day and take him home forever.   Michelle had me promise that if he was still here in two days, then we would take him home. I made this promise easily, convinced that the young woman would return.

Two days later we returned, and were greeted with a grand smile and a wagging tail. We promptly named him Lucky, as we felt he was lucky that we chose him.  The name never suited and we changed his name to D.O.G.  (Dee-Oh-Gee).  This unusually usual name was perfect for him.

He helped us through the teenage years where he acted as a conduit to connect the generations and keep the communication lines open.  We spoke through him and wisely he listened and then offered advice sagely as we spoke for him.  In a bizarre twisted way, it broke the tension and  it always worked.  He had amazing insight into the most complex of problems.

He was my constant when I started the next part of my life alone. It was a year of upheaval. I sold the family home and began the process of building a new house.   D.O,G. moved in with another family temporarily and I became a renter.  Every week-end I picked him up and together we walked around and marvelled at the progress of the new house. He watched me learn to build and paint and stain.  The day arrived when I picked him up for the last time and brought him home for good.  He sighed and so did I, we were home.

He helped combat my loneliness  as I talked to him about my dreams and plans.  He was present nightly, keeping me safe in my country home with its strange sounds.  He listened while I cried about another bad date and then listened with interest when I told him about meeting my future husband, John.

He put many smiles on faces at stop lights, his arm on the armrest, leaning to the side and looking intently out the window at the road ahead.  He made me smile many times as he refused to be caught by the girls, effectively dekeing them out, proving that he watched closely when they played soccer.

His favourite place was sitting on the top of the hill overlooking his pond.   He would spend hours watching the birds, ducks, geese and wildlife who call our backyard home.  He looked like a Buddhist monk, serene, like he had it all figured out, perhaps he did?  We had him over fourteen years and though its been 5 years since he passed, his memory is easily accessed, he was one of a kind.   We are forever grateful that he rescued us, we were the lucky ones.

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