Tag Archives: children

Always A Mom

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Always A Mom

I worked remotely from home decades before Covid arrived. I wanted to be with my kids when they spoke that first word and took that first step.

I was an active volunteer in their schools and also in their extracurricular activities. Akela of a Cub pack, music librarian for ASYC and organizer of buses for a YBC provincial bowling tournament were some of the more memorable times.

The time flew by and my daughter moved to Ontario and I moved to Mexico, leaving only my son behind in Winnipeg. Then I started dividing my time between Mexico and Washington and my daughter moved to Kelowna.

When Covid arrived in March of 2020, I was in Mexico and was interviewed by a Winnipeg Free Press reporter. One of the more pointed questions he asked was how I felt about my decision not to return to Canada although my family was there.

While I’ve enjoyed the last ten plus years of traveling and living in other countries, it is hard living far away from my kids, and it has been even more so during the pandemic.

I still feel the sadness when I phoned my son from Culiacan on his birthday in 2010. He turned thirty and it was the first time in his life I wasn’t with him on his birthday. Over the years, the pain lessens, but there’s always a tugging at the heartstrings.

I did come back for their university convocations and I went to Punta Cana for my daughter’s wedding. And I do go back to visit as neither of my kids come to Mexico or Washington. And I have a three-year-old granddaughter who thinks I live in a phone.

Earlier in the week my daughter was evacuated due to wildfires. Last night she told me that they are able to return home but they are still on alert. I always have a TO GO bag packed in my closet due to all the fires around here. But I felt so helpless when she called me the night they were evacuated as she hurriedly packed up my granddaughter and the three cats.

Texts and video calls are great. But what I want more than anything are REAL hugs, not virtual ones. That day can’t come soon enough for this mom.

Last Post From Sacramento

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Last Post From Sacramento

I’m sipping a last cappuccino at Old Soul as I write this post. This quaint coffee shop not only has amazing coffee, but the food I’ve had here has been delicious as well. The air conditioning and WiFi are added bonuses.

This is my last day in Sacramento and I’m reflecting on my life. I am thoroughly enjoying my travels on Amtrak. The view out the window more than makes up for the lack of WiFi. I’ve seen towering trees, humongous mountains, tranquil lakes and charming small towns.

When this is posted, I will be on amazing train ride along the coast to LA. Can’t wait for those ocean views! I read about this particular train ride a couple of years ago when I was in Mexico. I need to pinch myself that I am actually taking this trip now. When Covid reared its ugly head I doubted I’d ever be able to do this. But here I am, on a train headed down the coast.

This has been an amazing and much-needed trip. I’m just not used to spending 11 months in one place in Mexico without traveling and then eight months in Leavenworth without traveling either. Covid has really slowed this nomad down.

I am determined to seek more adventures for as long as I can. I’m not getting any younger but I must admit that the knee replacements and the cataract surgery have definitely enabled me to do what I do. Life is just too damned short and the days fly by even faster as we age.

June 19th marked 25 years since my mom passed away. I wonder what she’d think about my lifestyle. She lived within 10 minutes of her kids and grandkids, and hated going away for the winter without seeing us for a few months, although we did visit her in Palm Springs or in Port Charlotte. I’ve been living in different countries from my kids for the last 11 years and only see my kids if I travel to them.

I think my kids want me to settle down somewhere. Maybe someday I will. I’m just not ready yet.

Mother’s Day Memories

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Mother’s Day Memories

My earliest memories of Mother’s Day date back to my childhood in the form of handcrafted cards created in the classroom. Friday afternoon after recess out came brightly colored craft paper and crayons. Of course there was the obligatory verse to copy from the blackboard.

I also recall getting together throughout the years with grandparents and other extended family members to celebrate this special day. But then things got complicated. I got married and now there were two sides to the family. Naturally I wound up hosting these holiday dinners to keep the peace in the family.

I never really felt special on Mother’s Day until my son Kyle was born. He was just over five months old and I was now actually a mother. Here is a four generation photo taken with Kyle, my mother and my grandmother.

In 2021 I had hoped to be with one of my kids on Mother’s Day. But somehow plans just never seem to work out, which is why I despise making long range plans.

I’ve spent Mother’s Day in several different places in the last decade……Culiacan, Tlaquepaque, Tototlan, Mazatlan, Puerta Vallarta, Aguascalientes, Winnipeg, Leavenworth, Cashmere and Wenatchee. This year I’ll add Dryden to the list.

Four years ago I was still in Mexico and had this really deep gut feeling that I should go back to Winnipeg and be with my son on Mother’s Day. And I’m glad I did. I haven’t seen him since then and I am long overdue for a visit. My alternating visits to my kids were thrown out of sync when my daughter had a baby. But even now with Covid it’s been almost two years since I’ve seen them either.

My laptop packed it in last spring in Mexico and I still haven’t replaced it, but thankfully I do have access to some of my photos on my phone. Here is one of my daughter and I on her wedding day.

Here is my favorite photo of my mom and I on my wedding day.

The featured photo on this post is my kids on Mother’s Day in 2016. They were at a Blue Jays game in Toronto and texted it to me in Mexico. It was a beautiful gift knowing that they were together that day. My son lives in Winnipeg and my daughter lives in Kelowna so it’s quite difficult to get us all together. But I can always hope that maybe next year we may have a family reunion. Maybe it won’t be on Mother’s Day……but it will certainly make this mother’s day.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Enjoy your day!

Only One Dream

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Only One Dream

The word “dream” usually conjures up images and sensations felt while sleeping. Good or bad, some of these dreams are more memorable than others. We often delve into them to find a deeper meaning in our lives.

Years ago I took courses in interpreting dreams. I recall vividly waking myself so that I could scribble down a few words in the middle of the night in the hope that I could achieve further vision into the somewhat meaningful experience of a particular dream.

But I stopped after several months. While it was interesting to reflect upon these nocturnal visitations in an attempt to analyze them, it was also detrimental to fully focusing on the present and appreciating what was right there in front of me. Another benefit was avoiding being stuck in the past. Memories triggered by dreams are not always pleasant.

The older I get, the more I prefer to focus on other dreams. By this, I refer to my wishes and hopes for the future. Combining these with my present circumstances provides for a fascinating and challenging walk through life.

Fifteen years ago I was trapped in a boring and unfulfilling life. Ten years ago I was just beginning to timidly crawl out of that mundane but comfortable life. Five years ago my confidence had grown substantially and this made pursuing new dreams more positive and exciting.

Today there are no end to the dreams that come to mind. But there is only one dream that truly stands out from all the others in this crazy Covid world we live in. I only hope that this dream will come true sooner than later. It’s been merely a virtual reality for far too long.

My dream is to hug my kids and grandkids again, in person.

Family

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Family

Snow has arrived in Leavenworth. I decided to escape to the warmth of California tonight and tuned in to YouTube to watch Season 1 Episode 3 of one of my favorite TV shows. Family aired in the 70s and 80s and featured Kristy McNichol as Buddy.

When my son Kyle was three years old, he enjoyed watching this series with me. In those days we had a VCR and the episode I watched tonight was Kyle’s favorite. He called it “the swimming Buddy.” He admired Buddy because she learned to dive by herself. His favorite expression back then was “self did it”, so he really identified with Buddy. He was always eager to do things on his own without any adult help.

That episode struck a chord with me because Willie was such an awesome older brother to Buddy. That’s an experience I never had growing up although I do now have a couple of close male friends who are like the brothers I never had before.

I also treasure a number of close female friends whom I consider to be more like sisters. Two of them even date back to middle school years. And have we ever changed since then!

My friends tell me I collect family. I don’t like the word “collect.” It’s true that my extended family continues to grow over the years with all the traveling I do. But these amazing people are much more than a collection. We’ve been there for each other through thick and thin. We’ve shared laughter and tears and it doesn’t matter where we live now. We are more than friends for life. We are family.

Are We There Yet?

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Are We There Yet?

No we’re not. There are still four more months left before the year from hell is over.

Topping the list of disasters is COVID-19. It’s closely followed by race riots, typhoons, cyclones hurricanes and wildfires.

Politics? I usually shy away but today feel the need to rant. The United States will soon have to change its name to The Divided States as both parties are intent on ridiculing and condemning the tactics of each other. And as if Canada has not attempted to control our lives enough they are now issuing directives about how to conduct our sex lives. And I’m still here in Mexico where conflicting reports as to the status of the virus have become the norm.

All three countries have totally lost sight of the true concept of democracy and keeping the best interests of the people in mind. Instead they have succeeded in creating a world filled with panic and anxiety.

The effects of this trauma on children will be huge in the future. While the younger ones think internet classes and masks are part of an interesting game, older children are fearful of all the uncertainty in their lives today.

Children today are already too addicted to technology. Interpersonal communication is a skill that is seriously in jeopardy more today than ever before.

Can Zoom or FaceTime ever replace in person contact?

Can a virtual hug replace a physical hug in terms of nourishing feelings of love and security?

I highly doubt it.

Writing An Obituary 101

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Writing An Obituary 101

On Saturdays I read the obituaries section in The Winnipeg Free Press, my hometown newspaper in Canada. I often recognize familiar names of people in my past, many of whom I’ve lost touch with over the years.

Decades ago I took a Creative Writing class in college. One of our assignments was to write our own obituary. At the time my children were young and I recall struggling with this concept.

Eight years ago I actually did write my own obituary. It was just before I had my first knee replacement. My mother had died from complications after having that surgery, and I was terrified that the same fate awaited me.

Well, I survived that first surgery and the following year I had my other knee replaced. That obituary was tossed long ago.

My children and I live thousands of miles apart in different countries. They know very little about my life, other than that I divide my time between somewhere in Mexico and Leavenworth, Washington. They have never visited me in either place and have not met many of my closest friends, nor have they seen the places where I’ve lived. I don’t think either of them can quite understand why I chose to stay in Mexico rather than return to Canada during a pandemic. And they have voiced the idea that I must have a death wish if I want to go back to Leavenworth rather than return to Canada.

Recently the topic of obituaries has arisen when I talked with friends who also live far away from their families and have similar circumstances. Perhaps a bit on the morbid side, but we wonder what our children would say about us if they had to write our obituaries today.

In all honesty, I have trouble just keeping up with holographic wills because I move around so much. Writing an obituary is the last thing on my mind right now.

Dear Daddy

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Dear Daddy

Another Father’s Day without you today. We haven’t celebrated this day together in 44 years. You were taken from me way too soon.

When you died I lost my hero, my best friend and my sense of security. You were always there for me. I could talk to you about anything and everything. And there has never been anyone else in my life who could fill that void.

I treasure the memories I have in my heart. I can still see you assembling the swing set in the backyard on Brock Street. You were so patient in teaching me how to ride a bike and then later on teaching me how to drive a car.

I remember the day we were at Ashdowns buying tools and I fell in love with a pink pyjama dog. I cuddled with Pinky every night for years.

I absolutely adore this photo of us at Van Kirk Gardens. You always sculpted a beautiful garden around our house. You knew my favorite flowers were marigolds and there was always a special place set aside for them.

Sometimes you’d go back to the office to work in the evenings. I’d take along my homework and go with you.

At Christmas we’d go for rides to see the lights and always check out the Carlings display. It was such a magical place with a nursery rhyme theme.

We had intense conversations when we went for rides or walks. Two of your favored phrases have stuck with me through the years. Honesty is the best policy. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

You instilled a set of values in me that have made me the person I am today. And I have tried to pass these on to my children, the grandchildren you sadly never had the chance to meet. They have missed out on having an amazing grandfather in their lives.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of you.

Sending you lots of love today and every day.

Happy Father’s Day!

Parents Where Are Your Children

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Parents Where Are Your Children

When my children were young, a phrase often splashed across the TV screen. “Parents where are your children?” It’s now decades later and this phrase is still in my head.

A couple of weeks ago I actually emailed my current address to my children in Canada. Until now they’ve had only my email and phone number, as well as Facebook.

I move around a lot but I’ll be at my current address indefinitely. I’ve been self-isolating for more than a month now and Mexico has just entered phase three.

There were a number of factors that influenced my decision to stay in Mexico. First and foremost has to deal with my children. They may be in their thirties now but that protective instinct still kicks in. They are both asthmatic and have other inhalant allergies. I did not want to take the chance of my being a carrier and infecting them.

That leaves me with nowhere to quarantine and nowhere to live. I haven’t had a home in Canada in ten years.

The closest place for me to call home is Leavenworth, Washington. I spend six months of the year there when I’m not in Mexico. There I do have a place to quarantine and somewhere to live. But I am not American so the border is closed to me now.

Then there are the dangers of contracting COVID-19 or any other infectious disease by traveling through four airports to get to Canada from Aguascalientes.

Here in Mexico I am quite comfortable. I have a place to live. Food and other supplies are readily available within walking distance of where I live. My landlord Raul is the greatest and has provided me with a safety net should circumstances change.

My biggest challenge is in making my children understand the importance of more frequent contact. It’s not just that I need to know that they care about me. Hearing their voices is reassuring as I always worry about them. With COVID-19 I am even more concerned. I need to know that they’re okay.

It’s tough living thousands of miles away from your children in a different country during a pandemic.

Why?

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Why?

Three little letters but oh the conversations they initiate.

I was at the park yesterday coloring when a delightful child stopped by to talk to me. Oscar is in fifth grade primaria and had a day off school. He rode his bike to the park and it took him 20 minutes. He was quite envious when I told him I live a block away.

It was an interesting conversation. I spoke in Spanish and he spoke in English. We were both impressed that we could each speak and understand each other’s languages.

What had attracted him to come over and talk to me was that I was coloring. He told me that I was the only adult he had ever seen doing this. He called his sister over and she was in awe of my gel pens and markers.

And then came the why questions. Why do I color? Why did I come to Aguascalientes when my family is in Canada? Why do I only have two children? Why did I get a divorce? Why don’t I marry a Mexican and have more children?

The innocence of childhood. I smiled recalling myself at their age. I too was curious but probably not quite so bold in asking questions.

Oscar and his sister are only two of the people who constantly ask me these questions. Often it is adults who find it a novelty that I come to the park to color.

Just the other day a man asked me where I sell my art. When I told him I color to relax, he shook his head and told me it was a good career. He said I should give up teaching English and sell my art instead.

I must admit I spend considerably more time coloring than teaching English. And I enjoy them both.

Here is a sample of my artwork.