18th Birthday Story – Rock Star Edition 

Today is my son Kyle’s 18th birthday. A milestone in any young person’s life, I thought I would re-post this story in honour of him. AND, for purely motherly love and embarrassment, because nothing says HAPPY BIRTHDAY better than an awkward story about when you were 3years old.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KID!!!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, here is a special story about the first time my son learned to speak. It’s all very dramatic and tears at your heart strings so get out your tissues…okay, it’s actually an embarrassing tale of music and Walmart, but still. It was traumatic for one of us. Maybe two of us. The innocent lady who witnessed my child’s descent into the debauchery and the morally deficient world of rock music and was probably scarred for life and myself, who led him there.

Once upon a time, in a land called Grand Falls Winsor, lived a nice little family with a mother, a father two daughters and a young son. They all lived happily in their house playing and frolicking in the meadows. ( okay, there were technically no meadows in GFW. AND we don’t frolic as a rule. Only on very special occasions like Christmas, or when some of us are really drunk. No pointing any fingers, just sayin’. ) Anyway, the boy, who was three years old, had not begun to speak any language intelligible to any human life form. The mother, being very concerned, took said young boy to a Speech Pathologist. The Speech Pathologist was a young woman of very good bearing and simply stated “There is nothing wrong with the boy. He will speak when he’s ready. Go home and rest your head, lady” 

So, the despairing mother took her young boy home and after a lengthy car ride listening to the young son speak something akin to the Cantonese and Ancient Tibetan Mongloid tongue , wearily escorted young child into the house. It was during this phase in the young mother’s life that she began experimenting with music. Music she adored when she was young and single and had somehow lost in the day-to-day tedium of Barney and Caillou episodes (it should be noted here that Caillou was seen as an evil child full of whininess and annoying shit that led the mother to bouts of anxiety and desperate pleas of “LET’S ALL GO OUTSIDE AND GET SOME FRESH AIR BEFORE MA HEAD EXPLODES!” ) Yeah.

One day, while playing her music very loudly, she noticed her young son sitting very attentively. The daughters, heard the rendition of Bryan Adams’ “I Wanna Be Your Underwear” and asked repeatedly to hear the ‘underwear song’. Mother was happy to appease her young daughters as she found this tune particularly humorous, obliged…often. After the young daughters had ventured off to school, the mother took young son to Walmart for a bit of shopping in the afternoon. The son, being very sleepy and ready for his nap at that time, was readily dosing in the cart and humming a tune the mother recognized as Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”…Joan rocks. The mother, knowing the son was unable to speak, allowed the son to sing the song at will, while all the Walmart staff looked on adoringly saying how cute the little boy was singing to his mother. Yeah.

As the mother approached the checkout line, she noticed a woman behind her who seemed particularly taken with the young boy. She was smiling and cooing to the child as the mother flung her intended purchases on the conveyer belt. Knowing the young boy was securely occupied, the mother paid close attention to her groceries when suddenly she heard a most familiar sound. “I WANNA BE!” being sung behind her. She went swiftly over to her son. Could it be? Was that him? Had the spell of the Cantonese speak been broken and replaced with the x-rated lyrics of an old Bryan Adams song? The lady who had been occupying and smiling at the young boy thought the boy to be speaking to her. So, she replied “What do you want to be?” The mother, knowing the son was merely repeating the words to a raunchy song, attempted to intervene by pointing to a random balloon and distracting the boy. Alas, the boy could not be sidetracked. Again, he sang out “I WANNA BE!!“. Full of fear for the next line, the mother hurriedly began to throw her groceries onto the belt all the while, the nice lady said again, “What do you want to be?” and leaned closer to hear the boy. The young boy looked innocently up at the woman, his sparkling blue eyes dancing with joy as he sang, quite in tune I must say, “YOUR UNDERWEAR”.  

The lady, aghast and shocked by what she had just heard, recoiled in horror and glared at the young mother. Washed with embarrassment, and stifling a laugh, the mother simply retorted “Oh, it’s a song his father taught him” and pushed the cart out of the store, praising the child for his speech and promising to teach him more ‘appropriate’ songs. Like more Joan Jett, whose song son repeatedly sang henceforth as “I hate myself for lubbing you….” yeah. 

The son, now thirteen and three quarters has had a varied singing career. I have been called regarding his poor song choices including the popular titles “My Humps” by the Black ‘Eyed Peas, “I like Big Butts” and the infamous “Save a Horse Ride A Cowboy” which I am totally not responsible for. That last one was definitely Hubby’s country music influence. I did teach son how to do an awesome rendition of Blue Rodeo’s Bad Timing when he was four. I wish I had recorded it. 

Brought to you today in honour of son’s 18th birthday, and to all the women and men who care for their children everyday unconditionally, allow them to sing dirty rock songs to stranger and endure endless episodes of Caillou all in the name of love. 

Speaking and not singing. So proud!

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Just Don’t Ask Me To Carry the Cake

I live in a place where sunshine is a rare event, so when we do get it, we should declare it a holiday and allow everybody to run around in it, lounge in it, drink in it, barbeque in it, garden in it, walk in it, swim in it and basically enjoy the fuck out of it. Especially the drinking part…especially that. So the sun actually appeared in the sky today and I had to stay at work. Apparently the whole, ‘It’s a  holiday when the sun shines’ isn’t a thing yet. MAKE IT SO, NUMBER ONE!

The impending birthday bash of the century is around the corner in case you were unaware, and my sis-in-law has taken the unfortunate role of delegating a few basic duties to me, which causes grave concern on my part. I have the capacity to fuck shit up without even being on crack…or hammered. So, here is the list of stuff she may or may not want me to do for MOTHER-IN-LAW’S 80TH BIRTHDAY BASH! She may want to revisit a few of these:

1. Getting napkins with the number 80 on them…so, apparently this is a hot commodity these days and I was forced to resist the urge to get the ‘Rockin’ 80’s’ napkins at the Party Place…soooo had them in my hand, but daughter assured me Nanny wouldn’t appreciate ma sense of humor…ugh

2. Cooking. A dangerous task to be assigned… I am, or will be, or may have to be, responsible for cooking a turkey…or 5. Depending on how much I fuck up the other 4 and how many old people will remember to show up for the festivities…should be interesting.
3. Decorating the place where the party will be held which is unknown to me because apparently it’s on a ‘need to know’ basis…not sure how that works with the invited guests…will it be like a scavenger hunt and everybody is given clues to the hidden location and only the ones smart enough to figure it out will actually be in attendance? I’m down with that…half the peeps will end up hanging out at the bar…with me. Nothing like sharing a beer with an old person…

4. Gift for Nanny…since Nanny doesn’t wear jewelry or perfume, that knocks out a lot of gifts. She has knick-knacks beyond knick-knack sensibility and has no need for anything useful like a garlic press…who doesn’t need a garlic press?! Ugh, anyways, this is getting a bit tired so I have to delegate this duty to daughters and son…the garlic press is on its way with the electric knife. BECAUSE EVERYBODY NEEDS AN ELECTRIC KNIFE OTHERWISE HOW WOULD ONE CUT UP THE HOMEMADE BREAD TO MAKE THE BLESSED GARLIC BREAD? See? It all makes sense…

I wish Sis-in-law the best of luck pulling this thing off without me dropping anything, breaking anything or losing any of the gifts en route to the mystery party location…which I will invariably get lost on the way to….
Oh, yeah…there’s wine in this for me, right? RIGHT??!!

80 is the new 70...or something like that.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY...

80 is the new 70…or something like that. HAPPY BIRTHDAY…

 

 

A Tribute For Kirk

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My brother Kirk in the back in the blue t-shirt. Not sure what he is holding up.

This is a repost of a special tribute I wrote for my brother and appeared on my previous blog.  I wanted to post it again.  Thanks for indulging me.

Today would have been my brother’s forty-eighth birthday.  At the tender age of twenty-one, he died much too soon.

As tragedies go, Kirk’s young life was punctuated with struggles and awkward growth. He was the middle child of us three, adopted as a baby.  My mother was told she would never have children again after several miscarriages and my parents began adopting.  My eldest brother first, then Kirk when she found out she was pregnant with me.  I was born one year and seventeen days after Kirk’s birthday.  She had three children all under three by the time she was 36.  Fun times, I’m sure.

Kirk was always the most mischievous and curious of us three.  Dark haired and deep brown eyes, his coloring matched that of my eldest brother and my mother, but with my flame of red hair and pale skin, I was mistaken for the adopted kid.

Kirk’s journey into academia was, to put it mildly, just awful.  He was put into what was called ‘Special Ed’ in those days for his poor reading and writing skills.  He just didn’t have any.  School was the catalyst that set his behavior into spiraling temper tantrums and downright defiance.  His esteem suffered with every failing grade and the segregation of Special Ed only served to feed his negative self-image.

By the time Kirk had hit his teens, he was functionally illiterate. He had basically dropped out of high school at 14.  He could take anything apart and put it back together again…maybe not in exact working order, and there may have been some random pieces left over, but for all intents and purposes, it was together.  His behavior had escalated to new and frightening heights and he was relegated to a group home in Dover, a country town outside of Chatham, for a period of time; a life altering event for him, but also in my young eyes.  He transformed from a troubled youth to a caring socially contributing member of society in the mere few months of living there.  I remember visiting him at the group home when I was thirteen. The people who worked at the home presented a whole different perspective than the troubled difficult youth he had been known to be.  He was responsible for chores.  He chopped wood, cleaned rooms, mentored other youth in the home.  He was learning to read, getting some perspective on his behavior and learning the meaning of the word ‘respect’.  I instantly felt a kinship to the people who had made such an enormous impact on my brother.  Kirk was discharged from the home a few months later, deemed ready to return home.  He returned to a sick father, dying of cancer and a distraught mother.  His behavior flailed, but the people from the home were instantly at our house when my Dad got the news he had cancer.  He died that September and Kirk reeled.  We all did.

The high school years were difficult with Kirk hardly attending and his absences felt.  There were run-ins with police, and a few harmless asides but he was struggling.  Then he got a job.  The local bowling alley hired him to take bookings and bowl on the local team.  He was good.  He worked hard and met a girl who ran the snack bar.  She helped him with his reading and writing since taking bookings meant he was forced to write people’s names.  They became inseparable and she became his constant. A few years later I graduated high school and was embarking on my own journey to head to Toronto for school.   I had decided I wanted to be one of those people who had helped Kirk find his way when he was at the group home a few years previous. I applied to a college in Toronto for the Child and Youth Worker program and was accepted.  That Christmas, he gave his girl a ring and moved out into his own apartment.  My eldest brother had moved on a few years previous, going to university in Thunder Bay and making a life with his then girl, now wife.  My mother moved from our townhouse we had lived in for fifteen years and moved into a brand new co-op going up on the opposite side of town.

The year had proved to be a good one for Kirk.  He had a job, had a girl and a new apartment. His relationship with my mother, rocky at times, was beginning to mend itself into a more mother/adult-son union.  I came home from Toronto a couple of times during my first year and we were able to see each other.  He was proud of me for taking a big step to Toronto and me of him for his big step into adult-hood.  In our last conversation I remember teasing him that I was getting older.  He said I would always be his little sister.

The following fall, with the help of his girl, he bought a brand new motorcycle.  It was fast and big, but he was not licensed to ride it on the main roads of town.  He decided to take it out on the back roads for a bit of fun and to test it out.  He took a buddy who had his own bike and off they went.  Never taking anything slow, Kirk rode that bike down a dirt road, took a turn too fast and hit a rut in the road.  He flew off the bike and into a hydro pole. He was killed instantly. Yes, he was wearing his helmet.

I was telephoned the news while in Toronto just beginning my second year of college.  I got home the following day. The ensuing days are still a bit of a blur.  I remember Thanksgiving was the same weekend as the funeral and we went to my Aunt and Uncle’s for dinner.  A joyous reprieve from the tragedy at our feet, I remember laughing at the dinner table.  The next day was Kirk’s funeral.  The air was fraught with tragic despair and mourning for a life taken too soon.  I remember riding to the grave site and looking behind me at the procession.  There were so many cars that I could not see the end of the line.

It is true that Kirk had impacted a lot of people in his short life.  Despite his difficulties, he proved to be a young man with heart and abilities that were not clearly defined, but were budding as he edged further and further into adulthood.  I graduated in my program and worked with kids like Kirk until I began having my own.  Life comes full circle and again, I have been presented with working with young adults burgeoning into their own path and learning to work with the challenges that have been bestowed upon them.  I feel his presence when I sit down to work with another student flailing in the wind of Learning Disabilities and I know he approves.  He greatly contributed to what I do and who I am without even knowing the impact of his life on mine.  He is missed.

Happy Birthday, Kirk.

July 5, 1965 – October 2nd, 1986