Targets and Pawns

 
Amidst the horror of the latest terror attack on concert goers in Manchester, the media’s frenzy on covering the ‘next big event’ has caught them drooling and gnashing their teeth for ratings. It also has a President stammering over a speech using the inarticulate ‘evil losers’ phrase that middle schoolers still utter under their breath after their lunch money is stolen. The reaction of the world over yet another horrific attack, leaves devastated families with nothing, really. They’ve lost daughters and sons. Their lives are forever changed. One overly simplistic phrase of an insolent and removed President isn’t going to change anything for these families. It isn’t going to make everything all better and bring back those deceased children out for a fun evening of music and friends. It does bring out, however, the crass and insensitive phrasing of people who have little to no concept of the brevity and revulsion of this terror attack. It does bring out the mindset of a terror organization set on using children as targets. But that’s not new.  

They have been used as pawns in war before. Children are the scope and the targets for the majority of the terrorists groups in war torn countries around the world. Remember the girls kidnapped in Nigeria? They were taken TWO YEARS AGO by Boko Haram. Did anyone remember that until some were just released last October? Hmmm. In Syria, Iran, and Iraq children are taken from families and trained as soldiers. Six year olds are wielding machine guns instead of worrying about math and reading for grade one. They are dying amidst gun battles in the streets and bombs exploding in their apartments. We’ve heard this.

It’s hard for us in our own worlds of car pools and soccer practices to comprehend.

Children are targets because they are vulnerable. Small and innocent.  

Cull the runts of the herds.

Now that they have been targeted and killed on soil closer to home, the spotlight has shifted to our own backyards. Our children have been killed. Not children in countries to which we can’t relate or of which we have little understanding. We should be horrified. We should be repulsed and our fists should be raised in rage and righteous indignation, yet all I see are hunger-crazed reporters out to score a media award for interviewing a bereaved mother, and an ill-prepared aloof President making a speech with such insincerity it is insulting.

We should be outraged yes, but where was our outrage for the past five years? Decade?

The global mistreatment of children has been an ongoing ‘situation’, yet continually falls on the agendas and lists of atrocities yet to be dealt with. It’s easier to look away, than to have to admit the plight of children is in our hands.  

As the world digests this latest attack in Manchester and the death toll of children caught in a battle that has nothing to do with them, lets also include the children of the world where the exact same can be said. Battles that have nothing to do with them, become their death sentence. The atrocities against girls in India. The African children starving and dying of Ebola. The child laborers in China and the Philippines, the street children living in Brazil. The North American children who are beaten, tortured and starved by their own parents, shot down on the school yards and classrooms. Yes, it does happen here.   

As parents, we take care that our children are well looked after, have good food to eat and clothes on their backs and an education upon which to rely. Who looks after the world’s children whose parents can’t/won’t do those things? The children who are taken and beaten and raped and tortured? Who?

It’s a question I struggle with and pains me to bear witness.

This attack demonstrates the little humanity these terrorists possess. They will kill children to further their own illusive agendas and will continue to do so.  

I am bereft of an answer to the question of what are we to do?

It’s too overwhelming to even fathom a definitive answer. Volunteer? Donate to a cause? Sponsor a child? I don’t know.

Hug your kids tonight a little tighter.  

Let’s be better parents and be determined to make our children the leaders we need to bring about a healthier world for their children. A generation of better people and better parents moving toward a common goal of ending greedy terrorists and the organizations that fund them. A generation well prepared to defend their children and the children in countries in which they had the unfortunate happenstance to be born. Intelligent, present leaders who have the foresight to end atrocities and defend the weak.

That’s all I have. I hope it’s enough… 

 

 

A Graduation Gift

Someone asked me the other day, what graduation gifts I would be giving my two daughters who are graduating university in a couple of weeks. I answered, “a life”. The person giggled and said, “Yeah, you gave them life and gave birth to them, but specifically what gift are you giving them?”   I answered, “I already told you. I gave them the gift of having a life.” We gave them a safe place to grow up. Unconditional love upon which to thrive. A secure upbringing in an environment free of pain and torment. Food to eat. A warm place to sleep. Clothes to wear and the freedom to choose the education they wanted. Limits to understand there are rules in the world one must abide by. Guidance to be healthy and strong and remain that way. The freedom to work and become intelligent independent strong young women in a world that remains unpredictable and flawed. What else could I possibly give them that would compare?

Parents lament over the right path for their children. Did we do the right things along the way? Are we being too strict or too permissive? What is the right balance?

Parenting, for the most part, is the toughest gig there is. Balance between being a disciplinarian and loving mom is a guilt trip worth my weight in wine. It’s a torrential down pour of constant self-doubt and questioning whether the decisions we make when the 3yr old won’t speak, will hamper him when he is graduating high school 15 years later. The answer here: no. No it won’t…and it didn’t. He’s fine. There will always be big decisions to make and questioning whether those decisions will be the right ones. As parents, we trusted our guts. If it didn’t feel right, then it wasn’t right. If it felt like an opportunity for the person to grow, then we jumped and allowed it to happen. We were there when it fell apart, or when it culminated in a win. Either way, we were there.

We were always told by our kids that we are, and were, too strict. We had the attitude that it’s a tough world out there kiddos, better get used to it. The tougher we were the happier we were. To us, it meant they were learning something, maybe a tough life lesson or just to clean their rooms, but learning was always the ultimate goal. They didn’t have to like it and sometimes they were downright miserable about it, but they did it. Not because we were tyrants, but because it was good for them in the end. It may have been painful for us to watch, or to endure, but we stuck it out. We are their parents. Not their friends. We made that clear from the start.

Even now, the kids are adults, we still have high expectations and those same expectations carried them through. Through high school math, through tough regattas, through awful hockey coaches, and through university.

Learning ain’t easy, kids.

Neither is life.

To answer the question specifically, being a parent was the biggest gift I gave my young graduates.

And I can’t wait to see what they do!

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing and Other Stuff I Admit to The Dog

The poor dog. She hears stuff that normally, no one would ever say. Like bad jokes. Or random rants. Or cooking tips, because my children who are no longer children refuse to participate in anything that takes place in the kitchen besides eating or drinking so the dog hears all the valuable potentially life-saving tips the wise woman wielding the spatula has learned over the past 50+ years. Sigh. And that. She hears stuff like that. Those random mini-rants that makes one look visibly shaken or in need of heavy doses of medication. Anyone who needs a sounding board should seriously consider getting a dog. Or a cat…no really, a dog.  

Cats are temperamental and have superiority complexes that make them leave the room when they sense things are getting a little boring or heavy hearted. They can’t stand needy people, so they turn and walk away. Unless you are holding a can of tuna, then they MAY stick around long enough for you to say a couple of words. Then they will interrupt with one of their self-involved mews or leg scratching and demand you lay that can down so they can eat while you drone on endlessly about your human needs and emotionally challenged offspring. Ugh.  

Dogs will at least stand there and look at you. Stare at you until you cave and give them a treat for being so kind-hearted and loyal. They’ll sit for an hour and listen endlessly hoping you will at least drop a piece of chicken their way or a bread crumb. And then wag their tails in endless joy that you even had the time to say ‘hey’ at them. Dogs. So sweet. So loyal. So not cats.

Not that I hate cats. I do like them. I had one of my own. They just are a lot of emotional work. They like you only when it suits them and even then, it’s tenuous at best. Fickle animals. They’ll lay on your head and wait for you to pet them one minute and the next, if they sense you need a cuddle, they suddenly have a million things to do like wash their paws, or watch the birds outside or chase that string on the pillow. They are busy!  

Dogs are listeners. Perfect for crazy evening drunken tirades or silly arguments about politics. They don’t talk back or disagree. They don’t even have an opinion, unless you ask them to lay down or roll over. Apparently, tricks are tricky and can only be completed followed by a treat. No treat and no trick. Hmmm….I know people like that, too.

Mags has heard it all. Parenting woes, swear-filled outbursts, overjoyed proclamations and teary worries. She still just stares up at you and lets you get it all out…then fetches a toy so you can play, because everybody likes a good toy to throw.   


Admitting to the dog that life is a roller coaster and sucks sometimes, is different than having to admit that to a real living person. People seriously have the gall to disagree or say you’re being dramatic or have an actual opinion and then give advice and expect you to follow through! What the hell?!  

I don’t want that! Just sit there like the dog and listen to what I have to yell at you. WHY CAN’T PEOPLE DO THAT?!  

Because people are not dogs.

Too bad. There would have been a treat in there somewhere…AND I WILL ALWAYS THROW A TOY TO CHASE.  
 

 

 

The Long Road

I already had the title to this post in my head before I even sat down to write it. I already had a few sentences rolling around in my brain before I took up my pen to my journal. I had words like ‘shock’ and ‘dismay’ and ‘the universe sucks, sometimes’. All the while, the world continued to spin and mine had hit a mountainous rock and bumped into a ditch with water seeping into my socks.

Hubby had a heart attack.

It was a shock. That’s what everyone who has experienced this says, isn’t it? What a shock! Not ever something you can predict or say is going to happen, like a car hitting a tree for no reason or a person falling over her own feet or your face suddenly slamming into a brick wall you didn’t see in front of you (I know from experience) …it just happens.

And then, in that moment you have to deal. Deal with doctors and emergency rooms and blood tests and medications you have never heard of before, all in hours of hearing the words “my chest hurts”. It’s overwhelming and terrifying and, pardon the pun, heart wrenching. Your guts hurt, your mind reels and you don’t know what to do first. Should I call someone? Did I turn the lights off in the truck when we parked? Are the kids at work or school? What the hell is my husband doing connected to all these wires? When did we suddenly become a statistic? Today. Today we did.

A heart attack?! Him?!  

They sprayed nitro glycerin under his tongue. They took his blood pressure that many times he looked like they were blowing up a tire around his arm. They took his blood. They gave him pills. Baby aspirins. Then needles in the guts. Then more pills. They spoke reassuringly but always with the caveat, ‘you were lucky’. LUCKY?!  

Not feeling the luck right now, thanks.

The hardest part was returning home without him. Telling the kids that their father had a heart attack but he was ‘okay’. There were fearful tears, some questions and then son with the biology text book assertions of how he knew exactly what happened and rattled off the technical medical terms that remain in my mind as ‘blah blah cardiac blah blah’. It somehow comforted him to know exactly how it happened and the physiology behind it, because that’s how his brain works. I let him go on.  

Days in the Cardiac Care Unit with amazing nurses whose knowledge about the heart and what happens next and which tests will be done, were invaluable and alarmingly accurate. The Cardiologists were professional and kind and repeated the ‘lucky man’ phrase. After the dye test and they put in the stainless steel stent that ‘fixed him’ and he was proclaimed good as new, we found out why he was ‘lucky’. A 95% blockage in one of the main arteries; had he wasted any time getting to the hospital, he would not have been here. At all.  

Huh. Lucky man.

Lucky I was home, lucky he hadn’t taken a nap, lucky he had taken that year before to lose the weight and eat healthy, lucky he had gone to the hospital when he did….it goes on.

Luck. Not chalking it up to luck, sorry. Some missteps led to some common sense that led us to the hospital. Nothing to do with luck.  

The universe still sucks, but at least it left the door open a tad for us to jump on through if we so chose.

Genetics. That’s the term that was flying around his room. What your father went through, you will inherit. You did everything right, but you can’t change where you come from.  

But, it was a blow. It was a blow to our ego. It was a blow to everything we had been believing in. We are still young. We are doing things right. Eating well, exercising all the damn time. What the actual fuck, life?! You tricked us. Not fair.    

Then the denial. That was evident from the second we walked into the hospital. This is silly. The pain is gone. Let’s not waste their time. All words he had said. Then when the words had been spoken and they laid it out to him, it still took four days for it to resonate as reality.

A heart attack.  

He returned home with questions and trepidation and a mountain of meds that we had never had to deal with before. Every time I handed him a pill it was ‘what’s this one for?’ and ‘what’s this one called, again?’ It was confusing and scary. I called my ‘hood nurse for insight and reminders and medication guidance and I felt ashamed I had not remembered everything I thought I should have in the hospital, but then again how could I? I’m a mere mortal.  

Now we question every little ache and every little move as a possible follow up attack. Is this another one? Is it happening again? Are we doing something wrong? Are the medications not working? WHAT IS GOING ON?!  

We don’t know.

How are we supposed to?

Moving forward, we resolve to be positive and I’m sure he doesn’t tell me everything because he doesn’t want me to worry, and of course, vice versa. Stress causes damage to the heart. No stress=no damage. At least, in my mind. But is there such a thing as no stress?

I don’t think that’s possible when one is in the midst of raising three child-adults, and there’s uni and work and groceries and running a household and dealing in real life.  

Maybe it should be about how to handle stress. We exercise and go for our walks and try to live a healthy balanced life. We take things hour by hour and what happened, happened. We can’t change that. Move on and move up.

This heart attack didn’t just happen to him. It happened to US.

We are dealing together. It’s a long road and we are embarking on this journey as a team. There may be t-shirts in the making. And team logos. And banners.

Because nothing says team like a good logo!
            

        TEAM


                     HUBBY

 

 And taking a punch for your teammate.    

That’s all we know, now.  

Take care of each other…

https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/emergency-signs

 

 

 

 

Emergent Truth….It Really Has Nothing to Do With This Post, But I Like the Phrase So I’m Using It, Dammit.

 

With the changing seasons, I like to review and take stock in what I’ve accomplished or completely fucked up during the past few months, just so I can kick myself or congratulate myself…depending upon, of course, the previous months’ activities. So far, in my list that I have drawn up in my head, I have both accomplished a few things and totally created an abyss of crap, so really…I can pat myself on the back while simultaneously kicking myself in the ass. Awesome.  

Ugh.

Physically, I’ve done well. Hubby and I have completely overhauled our eating habits and done away with processed foods and added sugar. We still have our days where we eat crap, but they are few and far between. We’ve both lost between 20-25 pounds each and walk around the lake a few times a week now that the weather is cooperating. I’m still going to bootcamp 3 days a week and have added a bit of running a couple of days just to see if my 95 year-old hip can take it. So far, it’s not complaining too much. Most days I can even walk straight! Yay! I’ve noticed I can lift heavier weights, do better push-ups and not fall down into a complete mess when doing a box jump. All improvements. I still can’t do chin-ups, pull-ups, and walk on ice without falling or sliding under cars, but one can’t expect to do it all…right?  


With age, comes tests and more tests to make sure you’re in tip top working condition. I sound like a mechanic looking under the hood of a car, but that’s how it feels. Bloodwork, xrays, ultrasounds, MRI’s, scan this, test that…ugh, it gets exhausting. Some of these ‘tests’ are invasive and overly tactile. I had an ‘internal ultrasound’ yesterday that I was NOT PREPARED FOR. The woman technician was trying to be really nice and understanding, but already admitted that she had not had one done herself , but WAS TOLD IT WASN’T THAT BAD. In response, I very sweetly said ‘oh, okay’ but my head was screaming WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK LADY, I’M NOT HAVING THAT WAND STUCK UP MY HOO-HA SO YOU CAN TAKE PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF WHATEVER IT IS YOU NEED PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE FOR! GEEZ, AT LEAST BUY ME DINNER FIRST. HEY, IF I SEE THESE PICS ON FACEBOOK SOMEONE IS GOING TO PAY! That was in my head. The whole time. Not kidding. Then she was pointing out how she saw my ovaries “oh, there’s the right one. It was a bit hard to see. *giggle*” (me: * fuck off* I get a bit sweary WHERE THERE’S A GLOWING WAND INSIDE MY HOO-HA AND SOMEONE IS LAUGHING AT ME) Then, I hear her sweetly saying “okay, now just a bit of pressure” and you know when someone says ‘pressure’ they mean ‘I’m pushing as hard as I can to get a good look at that unmentionable stuff that no one talks about so don’t be such a big baby, will ya?’  

Being a woman is terribly humiliating.  

And getting older can suck.

Then I went back to work and totally felt violated and needed consoling, so I had a wrap and a diet coke…but I HAD TO PAY SO REALLY, IT WAS A SUCKY DATE.  

THANKS TECHNICIAN, LADY. I hope when you have your internal ultrasound, you have someone there to pat your hand and say supportive things like, ‘THERE, THERE. YOU SURVIVED YOU STRONG LOVELY WOMAN” And NOT giggle at the discovery of your elusive right ovary WHICH WAS PROBABLY HIDING FROM THE WEIRD ASS GLOW STICK RANDOMLY WANDERING AROUND IN THERE. AND also you won’t have to listen to shit like, “OH I HEAR IT’S NOT THAT BAD AND HOLD ON, JUST A BIT OF PRESSURE.”  

Ugh.  

 Here is a pic of a cute sloth. You. Are. Welcome. 

Oh Spring, Where Are You?!

Spring is around the corner! That usually implies spring cleaning, a sense of warmth and impending joy at the budding of trees and flowers. Birds chirping, the ground softening, the snow melting. A clearing out of the old winter boots and coats that have been literally hanging around causing clutter and weight. Spring is lighter and brighter and warmer, where winter’s early darkness and heavy skies laden with snow cause coldness to seep in to every pore and floorboard. We feel the need to shed the layers we buried ourselves in during the blanketing of snow and ice; we need to feel the sun’s warmth and the warm breeze hit our faces without freezing our noses off. It’s nice to free ourselves from the weight of winter and head into a lighter sense of blue skies and freedom. Ahh, Spring….WHERE ARE YOU?!


It’s been a long winter and waiting for any sign of a new season is like searching the ground for that valuable that was lost last year. Instinctively, you continue to search for any shimmer of that lost earring or last quarter. The hopeful straining just to see one little glint of hope of what just isn’t there. The snow is finally melting, but the chill in the air still reminds us we are on the edge of winter’s exit. It’s still hanging around for that last hurrah before heading out the door. Hurry up, already. Get ye away! I’ve stashed my boots to the abyss of the under the stairs storage; my winter coat is on its way to the cleaners. I have no want for any of these things anymore, but winter refuses to relent its freezing grasp. Spring is ringing the doorbell, but winter refuses to rise from the couch to answer the damn door.    

The past couple of days have been sunny, giving one a sense of warmth. Until the frosty air hits my face and I remember, IT’S STILL WINTER. Ugh. It snowed on Monday and the morning sun shone on the snow, making a perfect CHRISTMAS CARD moment. It was devastating and lovely at the same time. I’ve been wearing sleeveless tops in a desperate ploy to egg spring on and beat down that winter frost. I’m not sure it’s working. I’m just ending up being cold and downtrodden that my incessant need for warmer temps isn’t enticing enough for spring to rear its golden head.  

I guess I’ll just have to remain patient and steadfast in my belief that sooner or later spring will arrive and my penchant for sleeveless tops and lighter jackets will be rewarded. In the meantime, I’ll sit over here with my blankie and coffee, the heater jacked up to ‘HOLY FUCK HOW COLD ARE YOU ANYWAYS’ temperature, and stare out at the sky waiting for a glimpse of more sun.

Stay warm, peeps….

 

A Dance In The Hurricane

The other day I was cleaning out our closet.  It was time to do some much needed purging.   I decided to gut out everything and go from there.  I ended up finding some old cards from a few years ago when my mother passed away.  I opened each one and read them again, this time with five years behind me.  They were sweet and sympathetic.  My Aunt had sent one reminiscing about when she and my mother were teens and very close.  Some I kept and others I didn’t.  So much for the big purge.    In among the cards I found a letter that was written by a childhood friend of the family.  Her kids were friends with us when we lived in the old neighbourhood.  She and her husband were friends with my parents.  We used to visit them at their house after they moved away into a new house.  She wrote to say how dismayed she was of my mother’s passing and that she hadn’t realized my mother continued to reside in Chatham.  She assumed she had moved in either my brother or myself.  She was disappointed she had not made the effort to reconnect.  I think she was disappointed neither had my mother.  I don’t think it was anyone’s fault that they got disconnected.  It was just life.

Kids grow up, graduate, move on to university or not, tragic events unfold, weddings and new houses, new babies, new lives.  It’s everything that happens over a lifetime. We get disconnected. We get disjointed and enmeshed in the everyday we forget the connections that were made years ago on a summer’s day when the children were small, who later walked to the bus stop hand-in-hand on frosty fall mornings, caught “all things squirmy and squishy” (her words) and played basketball until nightfall.

letter

Those days get lost in band practices, packed lunches, hockey games and baseball tryouts.  People get older, move to other streets or to other towns.  They work, they make new friends, they move on to other hobbies, other occupations and other past times without the old acquaintances that have become a part of their past.  The present is different.  Its fluid and changes with the seasons and the ever-speeding passage of time.  We don’t notice the children becoming adults until they are there.  We don’t notice our hair changing colour until our hairstylist points it out (while saying loudly WHY ARE YOU NOT COMING HERE MORE OFTEN?!  )  we don’t notice the deeper cracks in the sidewalks outside the house,  how the maple tree has grown exponentially or how few little children are out playing street hockey these days, until all of that suddenly seeps into our consciousness and we take a look around us with open eyes.  And older eyes.  How did this happen?  When did we get HERE?

I understand her disappointment and dismay.  It seems like a sudden about-face of one minute she’s there, the next she’s gone, but really it wasn’t like that.  It was a lifetime of being, of living of surviving.  The disconnection of relationships is unfortunately, an everyday occurrence that can be prevented if we take the time.  Aye there’s the rub.  TIME.  We never have enough. It flies away so fleetingly.  If only we had more time to connect, to say ‘hey’, to reminisce, to support, to actually stop and watch everything grow and change without having to be awoken to its transformation.  It’s a difficult dance.  Maybe we don’t want to watch because if we do, then we’ll have to admit that we are getting older, life is flying by without us even moving or flinching in this hurricane.   Maybe we don’t really want to see the children getting older or the sidewalk cracking or the maple tree growing so big we can’t see across the street, anymore.  We’d rather hold on to today, to live in the present, just let me have one more day!

Connections are our lifelines.  We crave them, seek them out and some hold dear for a lifetime.  Our intentions are for connections to last as long as we take a breath, to be eternal and constant, but sometimes those bonds get weaker and grow more distant, then are suddenly lost in the gale force wind.  It’s not wrong.  It’s life.

I’m thinking after all of this time, to send her a letter of reply.  To let her know I did receive her letter and I did read it and I still have it.  That I remember everything she said was true.

Maybe, that could be one little dance in the hurricane.