Tag Archives: relationships

Penpals

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Penpals

June 30. I’m still in Mexico. Borders are still closed. Canada is still enforcing the Quarantine Act.

In another lifetime it was month end at work. It was the last day of school when I’d take my kids out for brunch after picking up their report cards. Another tradition was going to Chuck E Cheese later on in the day.

And then I moved to Mexico ten years ago to teach English. One of my first projects was setting the students up with penpals.

I’m actually still friends with my first penpal. I was living in Winnipeg and Carole lived in Minneapolis. We were 12 when we met. We have been friends for over five decades.

Today technology such as Face Time, Skype and Zoom have changed completely the concept of long distance relationships.

Today’s generation will never experience the thrill of rushing home from school to check the mailbox for a letter.

They will never have the opportunity to browse through stores in search of the perfect writing paper, envelopes and hasti-notes.

I also remember going to the post office in search of commemorative stamps rather than ordinary postage stamps. And the joys of sealing that envelope with wax!

Mail was only picked up at certain times. In the city there was next day delivery. International mail usually took 3 days.

I must admit that I now refer to email as snail mail with all the other options available. Here in Mexico the postal system is almost non-existent making FedEx a good friend.

But it’s nice to reminisce about the past as I compile more stories for Memoirs For Madeline. My granddaughter is only two and I wonder what communication will be like when she turns 12.

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!

Mother’s Day 2020

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Mother’s Day 2020

For the first time in my life I am alone on Mother’s Day. I’ve always been with family and friends. But this year is different. COVID-19 has changed everything.

The last time I was with my own mother on Mother’s Day was in 1996. It’s been 24 years since she passed away but sometimes the waves of grief hit and it feels like yesterday.

I celebrated my first Mother’s Day in Mexico back in 2011. I was living in Culiacán. Juan, Lucila And Juan Carlos took me out for raspados and then to a park. Lucila made me a bracelet which I treasure.

2020 is only my second Mother’s Day in Mexico. I’m usually in Winnipeg or in Leavenworth. In searching my memories, the last time I was with both of my kids together on Mother’s Day was in 2008. It’s been a long time.

A year ago I was sitting out on the deck of the golf club in Leavenworth enjoying brunch with my friends after church. Today I sipped coffee as I did online church. No eggs Benny today. A quesadilla instead.

From my quarantine home to yours, Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing women out there, especially to my daughter who now has a daughter of her own.

Farewell To Another Decade

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Farewell To Another Decade

It’s pouring rain here in Aguascalientes and unseasonably low temperatures have graced us. It’s a good day to sip herbal tea and to watch movies. And to write a blog post.

New Year’s Eve 2009 was when I rang in the second decade of the millenium. At the time I was with friends from church and living in Winnipeg.

In 2010 I was on a tour up in the Copper Canyon in northern Mexico. I rang in the new year in El Fuerte with friends. We had dinner at the hotel where Zorro was filmed. Zorro himself appeared at our table just before the fireworks began at midnight.

I have celebrated New Year’s Eve with numerous friends from all over the world every year since then. I’ve been in Culiacán, Guadalajara, México City, Mazatlan and San Ciro. This year I will be in Aguascalientes to welcome the year 2020.

The past decade has been one of the most exciting times in my life. “Growth” has been the key word in describing my experience. I embarked in a new career in a foreign country. I learned a new language and assimilated into a different culture. I’ve celebrated holidays with new friends from all over the world.

I’ve lived in and explored amazing areas in Mexico that I’d never even heard of before. I went on an amazing train trip in the Copper Canyon, I climbed pyramids in central Mexico and I walked barefoot in the sand on numerous beaches along the Pacific coast. I’ve visited several magic towns and have enjoyed the local cuisine in most places, menudo aside.

Mexicans marvel at the fact that I am a single female and travel solo at my age, especially when I settle down for a while in a new place. I thrive on exploring new places and meeting new people. I have friends of all ages and backgrounds. I have a family in Culiacán who have adopted me and I am the proud abuelita of four amazing grandsons.

And just when I thought that Mexico was absolutely “it”, I discovered Leavenworth. This quaint Bavarian village has captured my heart. I’ve made good friends and we’ve shared some great adventures together.

All of these experiences have contributed to my growth. At this point in time I am really living life to the fullest.

Farewell to the second decade of this millennium. Welcome to the third decade. Can’t wait to find out what comes next!!!!

Long Distance Grandma Part 2

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Long Distance Grandma Part 2

There is an age old controversy about defining family as blood relatives only. But it has been my experience that family are the people you feel closest to, the people who are there for us and who give special meaning to our lives, even though these people are not blood relatives.

When I first came to Culiacán almost nine years ago, I did not know a soul in Mexico. I met Juan and Lucila and they became much more than just friends. They became my family. At the time they had only one child. Juan Carlos was just over one year old.

The family has grown over the years and their four sons are my nietos, my grandsons. They call me abuelita, grandma. And I cannot imagine life without them. We haven’t lived in the same city for the past eight years, and Mexico is a large country geographically. But in the six months I spend in Mexico each year, I do try to see them as often as possible.

I’m delighted that my grandsons are learning English at school. I bring them back English books and activity books when I return from my time up north. But my Spanish definitely gets a workout when I am with them.

The photo in this post was taken when the baby was less than two months old when I was last in Culiacan in April. I wish I could visit more often. It’s tough being a long distance grandma.

Long Distance Grandma Part 1

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Long Distance Grandma Part 1

I’ve been through a lot in my lifetime but one of the most difficult things ever is being a long distance grandma.

My grandparents all lived close by when I was growing up. Although my dad had already passed away by the time my kids came along, my mom lived only minutes away when they were young.

I spent a few magical days with my granddaughter Madeline this summer. At 17 months, she had changed a lot since I had last seen her when she was only six weeks old.

Memorable times included a visit to a kangaroo farm, a splash pad, a children’s play center as well as her first haircut.

I miss building towers with her and playing in the “thunderdome” with her. I miss pushing her in her stroller or wheeling her around in a shopping cart.

What I miss the most was our cuddling time when I would read to her and give her a bottle before she went to sleep at night.

Although she came to the airport when I left, I don’t think she quite realized what was happening. I wonder if she looked for me that evening at bedtime, or looked for me the next morning when it was time for breakfast.

I know that I have this empty feeling and that part of my heart was left behind with Madeline in Kelowna.

It’s tough being a long distance grandma.

The Power of Prayer

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The Power of Prayer

Prayer has been on my mind a lot lately. Actually, it’s been much more intense in the last few weeks.

I participate online in a home group with Church of the Rock in Winnipeg, Canada. We watch a short video and then discuss it. One of the pastors serves as a host. The series we are currently studying deals with prayer. And it has me thinking about prayer a lot more than usual, especially the circumstances surrounding when, why and how I pray.

We tend to pray for ourselves when we are in need much more than when things in our lives are going smoothly. Somehow praise for God isn’t always included. But there is a reason why our church services begin with praise. This strengthens our communication and relationship with God.

I plead guilty to praying for others more often than praying for myself. But I am trying to change that. My prayers with God have become more like conversations with a friend. I take more time to pray each day, always including praise.

And now, what prompted me to write this post.

Last week, someone in my past contacted me, someone I haven’t heard from in years. We are blood relatives and although we lived in different cities in Canada,  we were quite close. But it’s interesting how my divorce and my becoming a Christian has completely changed our relationship. While I have reached out to him when he has experienced crises in his life during the last decade, I have undergone four major surgeries without hearing a word from him. My daughter got married. My first granddaughter was born. Still no acknowledgment on his part. And yes, he was well aware of all of these events. Last week I received a text on Facebook Messenger from him. Not a text to sincerely inquire as to my well-being. Nope. He had an agenda. He had a new venture on his mind and he would have benefited financially had I gone along with this.  Needless to say I have had no response to my text informing him that I was not interested in this venture. And I wonder if and when I will ever hear from him in the future.

When he needs me in his life and it’s convenient for him, then he reaches out. Otherwise I am ignored and forgotten, like a book that gets put up on a high shelf never to be dusted.

However God forgives my sins and I need to forgive others. There is no room in my heart for anger or bitterness. I want my heart to be filled with peace, love and tranquility.  So I have chosen to pray for this cousin instead.

Prayer is powerful.

The Power of Prayer

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The Power of Prayer

Prayer has been on my mind a lot lately. Actually, it’s been much more intense in the last few weeks.

I participate online in a home group with Church of the Rock in Winnipeg, Canada. We watch a short video and then discuss it. One of the pastors serves as a host. The series we are currently studying deals with prayer. And it has me thinking about prayer a lot more than usual, especially the circumstances surrounding when, why and how I pray.

We tend to pray for ourselves when we are in need much more than when things in our lives are going smoothly. Somehow praise for God isn’t always included. But there is a reason why our church services begin with praise. This strengthens our communication and relationship with God.

I plead guilty to praying for others more often than praying for myself. But I am trying to change that. My prayers with God have become more like conversations with a friend. I take more time to pray each day, always including praise.

And now, what prompted me to write this post.

Last week, someone in my past contacted me, someone I haven’t heard from in years. We are blood relatives and although we lived in different cities in Canada,  we were quite close. But it’s interesting how my divorce and my becoming a Christian has completely changed our relationship. While I have reached out to him when he has experienced crises in his life during the last decade, I have undergone four major surgeries without hearing a word from him. My daughter got married. My first granddaughter was born. Still no acknowledgment on his part. And yes, he was well aware of all of these events. Last week I received a text on Facebook Messenger from him. Not a text to sincerely inquire as to my well-being. Nope. He had an agenda. He had a new venture on his mind and he would have benefited financially had I gone along with this.  Needless to say I have had no response to my text informing him that I was not interested in this venture. And I wonder if and when I will ever hear from him in the future.

When he needs me in his life and it’s convenient for him, then he reaches out. Otherwise I am ignored and forgotten, like a book that gets put up on a high shelf never to be dusted.

However God forgives my sins and I need to forgive others. There is no room in my heart for anger or bitterness. I want my heart to be filled with peace, love and tranquility.  So I have chosen to pray for this cousin instead.

Prayer is powerful.

Mothers On My Mind

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Mothers On My Mind

April 5th was my mother’s birthday. She would have celebrated her 105th birthday that day. But sadly she passed away more than twenty years ago. And the last time we were together on Mother’s Day was in 1996. Cell phones with cameras weren’t around yet, and somehow we just didn’t drag out a real camera that day to take photos. At the time, my son was fifteen and my daughter was twelve. And the only pictures I have of that day are those etched in my mind and in my heart forever.

It was a glorious sunny day in Winnipeg, unseasonably warm and the snow had already disappeared. I had prepared brunch that day at home. I still recall the menu vividly………..salad, quiche, fresh fruit and a lemon trifle for dessert. We wanted to spend a quiet, leisurely time at home rather than fight the crowds in the restaurants. My mother was scheduled for surgery that week, a surgery that tragically took her life.

This year I will be back in Winnipeg for Mother’s Day. Instead of a virtual visit to the cemetery on my laptop, I will be able to visit in person, a routine I followed every year after her death until I moved away several years ago.

And I am a mother as well. I fondly recall the last time I spent Mother’s Day with both of my children back in 2009. My daughter made a lovely brunch and this time we did take pictures. 

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My daughter has since moved to Ontario, but I have been able to spend time with my son on Mother’s Day when I have come back to visit. Here is a shot of us back in 2013. 

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It’s been a while since I’ve been with both of my kids on Mother’s Day but last year they were both together in Toronto and sent me this lovely photo.

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Another memorable Mother’s Day was the first one I spent in Mexico. I was living in Culiacan. Juan and I taught together, and he and his wife Lucila had adopted me into their family. At the time they had a toddler named Juan Carlos. We went out for raspados and went to a park. Lucila had made a bracelet for me which I treasure and still wear.

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So I have had mothers on my mind this month, although Mother’s Day in Mexico is on May 10th and in Canada it’s on May 14th.

I am looking forward to spending Mother’s Day this year with my son. It will be the highlight of my visit to Winnipeg. Kyle be warned. There will be photos. 

Happy Birthday Pedro!

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Happy Birthday Pedro!

I was on the phone yesterday morning with a friend from Leavenworth and our conversation turned to how God has done awesome things in our lives by having amazing people cross our paths. In this post I would like to share with you one of these amazing people who came into my life almost four years ago when I lived in Guadalajara.

I had just returned from having my second knee replacement in Winnipeg. While I was glad that I did not have to contend with ice and snow, I was a little apprehensive about leaving my security blanket of medical expertise back in Canada.

I was teaching English at a school in Miravalle and Saturday was Grammar and Conversation Club. One of my new students, Pedro, is a doctor who was an orthopedic surgeon. His specialty? Knee replacements! Of course he often chides me that I should be using a cane and that I walk too much, a very different philosophy than that of my doctor back in Winnipeg.

Pedro is an amazing student. He constantly reads books in English………classic novels, philosophy……….you name it, he is intrigued by it. He also introduced me to Spanish literary works, and encourages me in my quest to become more fluent in this language.  Here is a photo of him giving us an anatomy lesson.

Pedro in Conversation Club

And here he is proudly displaying his diploma upon completing a grammar unit.

Pedro with Diploma

When I moved to Mazatlan, we kept in touch via Facebook and What’s App. Pedro has also become a loyal follower of my blog posts. And he is now studying French in his constant search for knowledge. And he is an avid cyclist. I snagged this photo of him last month when I was in Guadalajara last month.

Pedro

Back in January I was faced with the dilemma of where to have cataract surgery. I was not confident with either of the two doctors I had seen here in Mazatlan. And if I went back to Winnipeg I was looking at a surgery date of September for the first eye. My anxiety level was at an all-time high and I could feel a cloud of depression about to descend.

What do I do when I’m upset? I write. So I wrote a blog post called Curve Ball. One of the first comments I received was from Pedro, wanting to know what my problem was. So I messaged him and explained. He asked if he could check around and help me. I agreed and the following day he phoned me with the name and phone number of a colleague at the hospital where he works.

I finally got the courage and entered the number in my cell phone. To my surprise it was a personal number complete with What’s App, rather than an office number. The doctor answered immediately and asked if I wanted to come in the next day. Taken aback, I explained that I needed to organize a few things before I could come to Guadalajara. So we agreed to a time the following week.

The rest is history. The entire experience was a great one, where everything went smoothly. I was impressed with the technology and most of all the professionalism of the staff. Everyone was most attentive, caring and compassionate before, during and after the surgery.

Back to Pedro. He welcomed me into his home, where his daughter gave up her bedroom to me when I stayed there after the surgeries. He accompanied me to my surgery and if I couldn’t see my own kids’ faces immediately upon leaving the recovery room, it was definitely a feel good to see Pedro’s face after the first surgery. Pedro’s wife Maria is also a doctor in an emergency room, and she was there waiting for me when I came out of the second surgery as Pedro had to go back to work. Needless to say, their support means the world to me. I could never have done this without them. 

Living in a foreign country with no blood family here, my friends are important to me and they become my family. I am both honored and proud to include Pedro and Maria among them.

I am truly blessed that Pedro came into my classroom that day back in 2013. Today is his birthday so I thought this blog post would be appropriate. I hope you have a fabulous day, Pedro, and an amazing year. Feliz Cumple!