My Sister

I remember the day that you were born.  Dad came into the room where we were playing and told us that we had a baby sister.  There was a sadness to Dad’s words, that only with the clarity of time I understand.  You were born early, 28 weeks,  at a time when babies did not survive.  You were kept warm, fed. You were born in a remote area of Northern Alberta and the physician that cared for you had just completed his training at the Royal Alexandra hospital in Edmonton, his expertise and knowledge saved you.   There was no ventilatory support, no oxygen, still you thrived and survived.  You were a miracle.

They let me see you, sneaking me into the hospital, as siblings were not allowed to come into the hospital, unless they were at least twelve years old.   I screamed that there was a pin in your stomach.  It was the umbilical cord tied off and my six year old self without a frame of reference did not understand.  They ushered me out of the room quickly, telling me to be quiet, to stop screaming, that you were all right.  I didn’t believe their words of reassurance.

We moved away from Northern Alberta to Edmonton and I thought you had died and no one wanted to tell me.  I didn’t ask, too afraid to hear the words.  Joyfully, you came home to us three months later and I would sit beside your crib,  reading to you   I wanted you to be a professional reader.  I wanted to help in the only way that I knew.  You love reading, so perhaps

I grew up and worked in a world of babies born too early.  I don’t think that there is an accident to my career choice.  I wanted to make a difference, to help.  I wanted to understand more and move beyond the screaming six year old that I was.   The world of premature infants has changed drastically since you were born.  I like to think that babies like you paved the way for all the babies to come. We learned more and saved even more babies born too soon.

Six years apart seems like nothing now, though as children, it was a gulf impossible to bridge.  I left home when you were nine.  We went our separate ways and yet there was a link to each other through the years.  We both struggled with our children, trying to find the answers to questions that never seemed to have answers.  We are more alike than different, our experiences link us greater than our family connection.

Today you came to my office and we chatted about life, marriage, children and family. You will always be the link to the past, the road to the future.

 

The Sweetest days

If I Could Turn Back Time 

When I think about reliving a day in my life, at first its difficult to choose, I’ve been blessed with many great days. The day I met my husband, became a Mom, passed the registry exam, landed the job of my dreams or moved into the house I help build. All wonderful memories, each deserving a chance to enjoy it again.

Still, when I think about each of those days, it is only in retrospect that they are the greatest days of my life.

I never knew when I met my husband that we would be married 8 months later and be so happy. When my daughters were born healthy, while great at the time, it is only with the passing of time that I know what a blessing they have been in my life. When the envelope arrived advising that I passed my board exams, I was happy, though guarded that perhaps it had all been an error. Landing the job of my dreams was exciting, though working with the families and children and having a small impact in their lives had that moment pale in comparison. When I moved into the house I helped build, it was a busy day, the joy lessened by the volume of work remaining.

The memory of those pivotal moments in my life grows sweeter with the lens of the present looking into the past.

How fortunate that we are able to remember the days of our lives and at any moment relive that moment, day or period in our life all with the lens of today where we know for certain that it all turned out exactly as it should.

That’s a Wrap!

Shortly after Costco opened its doors in Edmonton in the mid 80’s, my Mom purchased Resinite all purpose packing film. Really it’s just plastic wrap. The roll 2500 feet long and 11 inches wide has been in our family since that time.

It is not pretty having lost its luster  and serrated edge long ago. The box is falling apart, likely weighted down by all the memories its trying to contain. If the house was on fire, it is on the short list of items I would grab. Let me tell you why.

When Mom purchased this item, I laughed stating she now had a lifetime supply. Ironically, she did, though the present question is how many lifetimes? And whose?

Mom died in 2003 and as my siblings and I were sorting through her things I laughed when I saw the wrap, and shared the memory with them.  We all had a good chuckle, then they insisted it was now mine.

Later that year,  I moved into my new home and the wrap moved in too. Most days it wrapped mundane things,  chiefly leftovers as I struggled to learn to cook for one instead of four.  The following year it wrapped sandwiches for lunches, and rarely leftovers as my daughters moved in with me.  There was much entertaining for family, friends and later neighbours as I opened my home to the next part of life.

I met my soon to be husband and with him came more friends, family, entertaining, lunches, and our wedding   A few years later, we hosted a wedding shower for my youngest followed by her wedding reception.  We had a 50th wedding anniversary for his parents and a catered event for coworkers.  We hosted birthdays for friends and family, life events and special occasions and at every turn the wrap was there.

It’s used every Christmas when my sister, her family and mine get together. It’s there every Easter when we gather with our grandchildren,  great nieces and nephews for the annual Easter egg hunt. It’s there on Valentine’s Day as John and I prepare a special dinner to celebrate our love. It’s there every family birthday covering the leftover cake, or a care package to send with the girls to their homes. It’s there every BBQ in the summer covering the steaks and prized potato salad that Mom taught me how to make so long ago.

It preserves our memories too.  Now in addition to wrapping up today’s memories I can’t help but remember all the times it was used by Mom.  Vividly I remember her wrapping up tea biscuits after spending a day baking with my Grandma. It was used to wrap up the dishes she brought to family events, birthdays, BBQ’s, holidays.  It was put to good use wrapping all the Christmas baking we made together every year.

I’m almost afraid to see how much remains. These days I use it sparingly, partially to preserve the wrap itself and partially opting for other methods that are more convenient, bags, plastic or glass containers. My parents both died young. I think often of all that they missed and will miss and yet on the days when I pull down the ragged cardboard box, they are there, silent witnesses to life that continues to unfold.