Spring’s Promise

Earlier this week when she walked along the sidewalk, Emmy noticed the swollen buds on a lilac bush – they were round and full, but not yet ready to burst forth.

Similarly, an e-mail from a friend described the discovery of a dormant, drooping and leafless plant on a shelf in the basement. It was a sad sight last time she looked at it. Today though Emmy’s friend was all smiles when she happily described the revitalization.

Moving the clock forward one hour this weekend signifies optimisim for longer days and warmer temperatures within a few weeks. Whether emotionally or physically in a deep-freeze, everyone and every living thing can rebound with Spring’s promise.

Marching into Spring

One day, in the autumn of 2014, Emmy learned of a unique idea for gifting. Collecting 365 inspirational quotes, meaningful dates, family phrases or song titles was the intention.Place folded individual slips of paper in a large glass jar or pretty container. Top with a bow and this becomes a daily source of interest and pleasure.

Tidbits for her mother’s gift jar was significantly short in number by the time Christmas came. December and since was a blur of bereavement and other challenges. It’s been a three month marathon for Emmy to retain her composure end keep her head up.

February has passed and the glass jar project is complete. Emmy’s mother will take both pleasure and reflection from the daily snippets. She told Emmy on New Year’s Day that it was time to turn the page and start a new chapter; a close friend of Emmy told her she would return from vacation a changed woman.

Impacted forever, the healing has begun. Emmy and her family are now Marching into Spring.

that Still Small Voice

Emmy used to think a lot about the word fear. The letters,long ago, represented future events appearing real. The thought was crippling. Even before she embarked on the journey of caring for Tony, Emmy consciously replaced the interpretation to become face everything and rise.

Her tenacity and problem solving skills were a strong foundation upon which to then build new skills. Love and determination held her in good stead as she and Tony travelled unfamiliar pathways. There was no roadmap to help them reach their destination.

When duress, fatigue and uncertainties weighed too heavily, Emmy relied on that Still Small Voice within. It encouraged her “you can do this”. She listened and believed what she heard.

Several weeks of retrospection have served to strengthen Emmy and help her to stand taller after being bowed. Everyone has a Still Small Voice within – it’s an unerring compass that offers reinforcement. Whether intuition or a resource from which to withdraw some true grit when required—keeping her ears pricked for even a whispered message was/is/and always will be inspiring to Emmy. “You can do this”.

How to Kiss

On the front page of the Toronto Star on August 23, 2011, there was a beautiful, albeit bittersweet, photo of the late Jack Layton kissing his beloved wife, Olivia Chow.

The picture reminded Emmy then how husbands and wives sometimes part company in the morning, or whenever. The perfunctory peck on the cheek is sometimes delivered habitually, often in haste, or so as not to mess one’s appearance.

One morning, after giving Tony a quick buss, he said to Emmy “That wasn’t a Jack kiss”, referring to the newspaper picture.

Everyone is familiar with the admonition “never go to bed angry”. When you’ve had a spat or are otherwise overwrought, but feel guilty because you stomped out the door and slammed it so hard the glass rattled, don’t take that anger to bed with you.

Today, and every day, remember to share a Jack kiss with your partner – you’ll hold tight to those memories when you can’t hold tight to the person.


Wake Me Up

Coffee commercials promise it, song lyrics plead for it (“Wake me up when it’s all over”), and cosmetics emphasize it. Even my most recent purchase of liquid makeup foundation is assertively named Wake Me Up!

Diagnosis of a terminal illness obliges people to look inward with plenty of soul-searching. We want to confirm  “Yes, I can do this!” when the gauntlet is thrown at our feet challenging us to don the cloak of care provider. Once committed, routine sometimes feels like an irrefutable bad dream that’s inescapable even in light of day. We want to reawaken in a brighter frame of mind.

By changing the concept that we’re weighed down, everyday demands can be lightened and celebrated. Given the circumstances, would we willingly change places with the loved one who’s ailing with no hope of recovery?  Amid protestations, impatience, and inconvenience it’s sometimes difficult to look past what our eyes see and ears hear. Respond with kindness – it’s a habit that grows and becomes automatic.

Feeling humbuggy about the approaching Christmas season is too dismal. This morning, that first cup of java, new makeup and singing smiley songs today were jolts to Wake Me Up.

Be a Christmas Elf

It’s the time of year again when people are expected to be ho-ho-ho and full of cheer.

Sometimes all is not rosy though, especially if there are health concerns at home. When trouble rocks the boat,someone must step up to take the helm and keep the ship steady. The roles of caregiver and cared-for are seldom discussed – too often “it’s not my problem”.  Please try to accept with grace the inevitable changes that come, it’s too easy to slough it all off  turn away if you don’t like what you see.

As circumstances change, so do traditions. Christmas at home may simply  not be possible anymore. If relatives, friends, or neighbours are wearying under the heavy toil of caregiving the best gift of all is people’s understanding and patience.

  • Drop by with a home baked treat.
  • Help with small maintenance issues in the house that need attention; like changing burned out lightbulbs, checking the smoke alarms, or replacing a furnace filter.
  • Hang a wreath on their door.
  • Put up a string or two of twinkly lights where they can be seen from inside.
  • Leave a bag of salt on the front stoop.
  • Neighbours or family members might pool their pennies to arrange for regular driveway clearing or shovelling the steps.
  • Maybe prepaid home delivery of prepared frozen meals would be gladly received.
  • Fill a Christmas stocking and hang it on the front door, then tiptoe away and hope a dusting of snow covers your tracks!
  • Have the neighbourhood kids build a snowman in the front yard.
  • Make time to telephone and extend your Season’s Greetings.

In the spirit of Christmas, extending a a helping hand will renew someone’s faith in your humanity. Caregivers and those with chronic illness have already lost what is most precious –  attention, bestowing affection and caring companionship. Whether you’re near or far, celebrate the season – be a Christmas Elf.

Today in Muskoka

Snow is falling straight down with intention. From my desk I can see the bare tree top where just a few months ago I spied my first robin in 2014. It fledged and both Mama and baby bird have by now presumably flown southward. Snowfall in early November sometimes is interpreted as the onset of a bleak and dreary season; for me though, Winter brings its own beauty.

Mothers throughout the ages have borne sons and daughters, and raised them to outgrow the nest site – some sooner than others. The ages and stages of childhood to adulthood can be compared to nature’s changing seasons. Some offspring soar to dizzying heights, some are not so demonstrative, and others have short lived independence and never really develop their flight feathers.

Different phases of our lives may find us with our wings clipped, but we still do practice flaps in anticipation of being airborne again. Every season brings transition. There’s plenty to think about!

In our family we’re awaiting the imminent birth of a new baby. For the parents it’s a new beginning. For my brother and sister-in-law it’s evolving to become new again, as grandparents. The ninety-year old grandmother is ascending one rung higher to become the first great grandmother in our family.  The circle continues.

Winter snow blankets unseen activity which reveals itself to us in spring. New buds on trees leaf out, birds fly home, and mother robin will make another nest in the same tree. It’s reassuring to think about, today in Muskoka.


Bent Out of Shape

Anyone who’s a caregiver knows all too well about time constraints in managing daily tasks. Spare time is truly precious. Last week I had the luxury of sitting down to look through the current issue of Muskoka Magazine; and discovered a wonderful dessert recipe that sounded perfect for Sunday dinner. Accumulating the ingredients and putting it all together went smoothly,  except for the tedium of separating egg yolks from the whites. Serving small slices is recommended to revel in the rich flavours.

I chose the recommended spring form pan and buttered it as instructed, then double-checked to be certain the latch was snapped shut. The frothy combination of  rich chocolate with butter, 6 egg yolks and 6 additional eggs, plus raspberry liqueur and a pint of fresh raspberries smelled delicious.When I emptied the bowl into the pan though, a liberal flow of the mixture immediately oozed out  onto the counter top and dribbled down the cupboard doors. Amid the chaos, I  dumped the torte batter back into the mixing bowl, and snatched Pan # 2. A quick wipe with butter, I poured the batter in, and then started to wipe up the drizzle – which now puddled on the floor. What a mess, but I wasn’t clear yet!

To  my great dismay,this one also leaked, as did  pans # 3 and 4  (retrieved in haste). They too were obviously warped.  Things were not going well for me – already the  dishcloth, counter top and the floor were  smeared with chocolate.  A desperate clatter of rattling cake pans ensued as I retrieved a square glass dish.  The dog came in to see about the noise – he’s hard of hearing- so you know it was loud!    By the time the oven door slammed shut and the bake time began, I too was bent out of shape!