It seems fitting that on Mother’s Day I would finally try to write about you. I always thought that losing Grandpa would be the hardest… he was my first loss to cancer, after all, and I idolized him. My love for Grandpa was a child’s love, however… and I had that same love with you, but because I had the opportunity to share more of my life with you, it was a love and respect that developed into adulthood.
You were the most beautiful person I’ve ever met and will ever meet in my life, inside and out. You made everyone feel special and appreciated. When I remember happy memories from my childhood the majority of them centered around you and Grandpa and your house. I used to get so excited when I would get to come… I’d write songs in the car about going to Alta, and sing them on the way. It was only an hour’s car drive, but felt more like four.
You baked me chocolate chip cookies and cake with no frosting (which is how I still prefer it), special dinners and treats out. You taught me that there’s always room for dessert. You would know which of your family was coming up the road by the sound of the engine. Your love and patience and compassion and tenderness radiated from your eyes. You radiated warmth. You were light.
Tonight, when I was out for my walk (gulp… 18 days until the Bluenose Marathon!)… I was noticing the ever persistant pain that has started in my left hip, choosing to ignore the fact that both my grandmother and my aunt had degenerative hip disorder, one who went through hip replacement surgery, the other who grinned through the pain and just dealt with it. And I told myself what I always tell myself… it’s probably nothing. It’ll pass. It’s just getting into the swing of walking more frequently after winter. Whether that is the case or not, it’s what I choose to believe.
Choosing to believe something gives us an affirmation and an inner strength to face what lies in our path. I choose to believe that this pain will go away. I choose to believe that the little stresses of today will not matter tomorrow. I choose to believe that sadness is temporary. I choose to be optimistic because I believe there’s a silver lining in every dark cloud. I choose to believe the losses I’ve had in my life were to teach me hard lessons and how to let go. I choose to believe in love, because I really do believe it is the strongest and purest emotion we are blessed enough to experience in our life. I choose to devote as much time as I can to my children now, because I believe that all too soon they will have grown up and moved on with their lives, and when my nest is empty and I look back I won’t say “I wish I had more time for myself” but “I wish I had more time with them.” I choose to believe that people are inherently good. I choose to believe that doing some small good really does make a difference in the world. I believe in Karma. This isn’t a choice, this is a belief, and because I believe in Karma, I choose to believe that revenge is a waste of energy because in the end, good or bad, people get what is coming to them.
Because I believe in Karma, and that good people have good things come to them, I choose to believe my friend Wanda is going to win her fight with breast cancer. It will not go any other way, because it simply can’t. I choose to believe that she will come through this stronger than she ever was before. I choose to believe that people who are fortunate enough to be a part of her life will also come through stronger and more appreciative of the gifts they have in their lives. I choose to believe that this year, when the CIBC Run for the Cure comes around, that she will be strong enough to participate in it again with us.
I choose to believe that every life experience we have teaches us a lesson, something new about ourselves, or something new about the people around us. I carefully choose the people around me, and choose to keep those who seem to thrive on negativity at a distance. I choose to focus on the good. I choose to be happy.
It seems hard to believe that it’s been a year since you’ve been gone. Today I found myself thinking of little things I’ve missed this past year. I miss the messages on our answering machine. I miss the humour that, more often than not, crossed several lines. I miss the gifts for the kids, the construction sets that came with a gazillion pieces and hurt like you know what when you stepped on them. I miss all the woodworking projects. I miss the looks on Mark’s face when he was talking to you, and just KNOWING you were saying something off the wall, and looking forward to him getting off the phone so I could find out what it was. I miss you calling and saying “This is Dad”… almost right away, and learning pretty quickly it wasn’t just a word to you, that you just happily accepted everyone into your life. I miss the wooden canes. I miss you teaching me how to play guitar. I still have the sheet music with chords on it, tucked away, but don’t want to learn how to play because you’re not here to teach me. I miss hearing you play and sing. More than anything I miss your laugh.
If I had to pick one thing I am the most grateful for, in getting to know you, it was how when you first met my boys… children who were not biologically related to you… you treated them as your own. Anyone on the outside looking in would never have known otherwise. From the beginning, you became “Grandpa Jim” to all of them, you accepted and loved them equally, and I really can’t put into words how much that meant to me.
Maybe the closest I can come to expressing it, is to add what Aric, my oldest son, helped write and read on the day of your funeral. It may sound cliche’ but it really couldn’t be more true: While you may be gone, you certainly are not forgotten.
I’ve been sitting here for the last hour, flipping through website themes, debating on whether or not I should change this one, on my site. There are so many wonderful ones to choose from, and because this website is so important to me I wanted the theme it’s on to be perfect.
You can shed tears that they are gone,
or you can smile because they have lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that they’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all they’ve left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see them,
… or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember only that they are gone,
or you can cherish their memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what they’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.