Moments in Time 2018
I was thinking the other day about moments.
Maybe I am getting old but suddenly I am so aware of the passing of time and the precious treasure of those moments.
Being now old, or at a minimum, feeling older, I look at life through a different lens. When I sit in a care home and listen to the elders talk, they always talk about moments in their lives, forever burned in their brain. Accomplishments forgotten, awards and accolades aside, it is the moments that they remember.
The first time they fell in love and the way it made them feel when they looked at her. Moments.
The first time they saw their babies face, the first steps, the moments of their lives captured like a snapshot but with sound.
And I think of the moments of my life.
My first marriage, all black, groom, wedding dress and attitude.
My second marriage, all white, groom, dress and attitude. ?
My kids. Loud, funny, feisty and sweet. Karen running around the van in the snow because she was fighting with her sister and that was her punishment. She did it but you could hear her complaining through every window all the way around. Anita and her hatred of the dishwasher, Shaun and his toast, little David and his art, and all the others as they came and went through my revolving door of family. Men who came and went. Opportunities that came and went, some good, some horrid. Snapshots of happy times, belly laughter and snapshots of days when I was so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed.
All these moments in time, captured into one life, one brain, one memory.
And then there is you and yours…
You have filled my life with so much love and joy and laughter. If I had a million dollar and a million years I could never repay either of you for sharing the craziness, laughter and love that is the bedrock of your family.
I remember the day Adrian told me he was dating a former student and I wrinkled my nose and said,
“I hope you know what you are doing. Don’t break her heart.”
And other completely judgmental and useless advice. I have never been so glad to so wrong in my life.
I remember the first time I met Adrian. In Manfred’s office. They had been sitting talking about something and I joined them. Manfred and I immediately started bickering like an old married couple and Adrian looked so uncomfortable. I felt bad for him. Not enough to stop bickering, can’t lose a fight with Manfred but enough to think, this poor guy is going to stay as far away from both of us as he can. Little did we know that we would become such close friends.
I remember the first time I met Carrie. At a party at my house. Talk about putting her in the worst situation ever. A room full of people who knew each other well and she didn’t know anybody. We had been drinking and we were loud and obnoxious. I remember she sat there with a stiff little smile and was very very quiet.
I really wanted us to be friends. I tried to be kind and good but it was so hard with all the noise and craziness going on around me. In the end I think I probably swore at someone and almost as likely had my clothes on backwards. But the point is that I tried.
I remember when you came down to the coast and Adrian was looking for a place for you to stay. I offered to let you stay with us but Adrian said that you were worried about a toddler being in the house and what if he broke something. Ha, little did we both know how many things would get broken and how many toddler finger prints would decorate my house over the years.
I remember your wedding. Manfred told me about it and I remember the day and praying,
“Dear God, if anybody makes this work, let it be these two.”
I liked you both so much and so wanted it to work
I remember Adrian asking how would feel if you moved in beside me. I remember saying or thinking, did I say it out loud? I don’t remember. But I thought –
“Well that’s going to cut down my skinny dipping.”
I think I did say it because I have a mental picture of your face. You weren’t going to be visiting me after dark, that was for sure.“
It has cut down on my skinny dipping and I think all the neighbours are grateful.
I remember Riley. Sweet little cubby cheeks and so smart. He was so precious and precocious. all at the same time.
I remember when he fell in my pond and came up all slimed. We both ran with the same speed but you were composed enough to think to bring him clean clothes while I just brought him slime hugs and panic.
I remember how he wanted to rule the other kids at the daycare and often had to sent to play on his own because he was causing chaos. And how much he actually liked playing alone.
I remember his obsession with his cars.
I remember how smart and independent he was. I remember thinking,
“I hope that the world doesn’t break him.”
I want to forever hear all about what he was thinking and the unique way his mind worked. I could sit and listen for hours as he explained how this fits into that and why that makes it work and why that matters so much.
And those dimples…I didn’t notice them at first but once you pointed them out, I did everything in my power to make him laugh so I could see them again.
I remember him coming in through my cat door and playing with my toys while we searched the houses for him. Remember that? Another moment in time.
Snapshots that I will carry with me forever.
I remember Riley colouring in his picture book at my kitchen counter, doing his math while being distracted by his own pencil.
“Riley, stop twirling your pencil and do your math.”
“Riley, read question 2 to me.”
“Riley, put the eraser back in your pencil and finish that math problem.”
“Riley, whatever you are doing in your head, that isn’t math, please try to do the next question.”
“Riley, stop rolling the paper and do the next question.”
“Riley, I don’t want to hear about that right now. I need you to concentrate on your work and then we can talk about why the thing doesn’t fit in the other thing.”
Doing homework with Riley taught me patience but it also taught me how much more interesting pencils, lights, imagination and conversation was over math problems.
I remember Brynna and Kheana and how I could never spell their names right, which made me the worst grandma ever. I have a confession to make, I still can’t spell their names and double check them on Facebook to make sure I get it right.
In my defense, I have spelt my own kids names wrong on Christmas cards and called Aaron “Eric” on his own report card. So I am not just a bad grandma but I am also a very bad mom and an even worst speller.
I remember the girls hanging out at my house. Doing nails and face masks and talking about boys and life and dreams of how their lives would turn out. I remember how easy it was to make them laugh.
I have a mental snapshot of them all dressed up in my wigs and evening gowns.
I have a snapshot of doing their makeup and then wishing I hadn’t because suddenly they weren’t sweet little girls anymore, but suddenly women with wiles and distracting beauty. I got a glimpse of the future and what show stopping beauty queens these girls would become and I was afraid. And I was right to be.
Snapshots of time.
Camping with the kids is still one of my favorite memories. Especially at night as we were all going to sleep. Riley’s cold feet in my face and telling jokes in the dark. The girls and their obsession with science and nature and road kill.
Gold panning and creeping through the tunnels at Othello. Turning off our flashlights and trying to scare each other in dark. Riley being the most successful scarcer of them all.
My favourite birthday of all times. Car trunk chicken dinner on the picnic table, a campfire with my very favorite people and the hilarious song about waffles. I thought my heart would burst. I will never ever forget that day and how wonderfully loved I felt.
I have another snapshot memory of the girls and Riley and I driving and having a popcorn fight while we drove. Well the kids did. I just drove but it was pretty funny. Especially when we stopped and opened the doors and popcorn when everywhere. Heavy metal playing and kids laughing. (Sorry Adrian). Heads bobbing and waving to everyone who passed us on the road. We looked ridiculous but we were joy on wheels. Laughing and loving every silly moment of that crazy trip.
The grandpa that was flirting with me at the gas station and the protective say that Riley reacted. The girls would have sold me on the street corner for a good love story but not Riley. It was all just silly fun but he was so serious about protecting me and our relationship. I was so touched and I will keep my promise that he will never have a grandpa that he doesn’t approve of. The guy was cute for an old man though. Just sayin’.
And then the birth of the long limbed child. The firefighters, my franticly beating heart as I faced my biggest fear. My heart in my throat. Going to get the girls. Praying, bargaining with God.
“I will go to the mission field, just make sure this baby is ok.”
I have a snapshot memory of the moment you laid him in my arms and he was absolutely perfect in every way, all fear gone. And I fell head over heels in love. Suddenly nothing in life mattered except this little one.
I also remember running out of waffles and the mom who did all the work having to have toast and an egg. I vowed that would never happen again.
I bought a giant box of frozen waffles to keep in the freezer to make absolutely sure. It stayed there for years and years. I finally threw it out.
And from then on, it was cuddles. Cuddles under the blankets watching TV. Cuddles while I made his lunch. Cuddles in my bed before and after naptime.
Diapers, diapers and more diapers.
Dragging around his bottle and soothers. He need to always be touching me, if possible, at all times. Reminded me of little Aaron who was just the same. One sticky little finger was always waving around looking for his blanket or you. Caden discovered the joys of comfort early in life and has maintained that as a priority ever since.
Caden has a different way of looking at life. He always did. Even when he was young he saw things that others don’t see. Sometimes he interpreted them as scary things but I think he has a sixth sense. Many people do but because it frightens them as children and then people react negatively to their fear, they learn to shut up about it. They even come to view it as a negative thing but it can be a gift if it is nurtured. I would like us all to take more time to draw out of him more about how he perceives the world. Not to lead him on to plant any ideas in his head but rather to find a quiet time with him and ask him to describe his classroom, your house or ask him how he feels about this person or that. Then try not to react to his initial way of expressing himself. He is still learning. Let’s try to dig a bit deeper into the why of the situation.
As a young child, he was especially observant. He didn’t miss anything and being an empath, he felt every emotion in the room which made him a bit anxious at times.
He also feels every emotion deeply. When he is happy, he feels it to his toes. When he is upset, his world has exploded and will never be right again. Teaching him to stabilize his emotions is going to be key to surviving his teen years and we need to start now.
If it is ok with you, this next year I would like to have more one on one time with him. Just to hang out and give him some attention and do some active listening.
One absolute snapshot memory that I have of him is his absolute delight at how grossed out I was by the Physical Health book which showed pictures of the muscles and bones and blood vessels of the body. His thrill in being able to tease a reaction out of me. That insane laugh. A snap shot memories…with audio.
And then you were pregnant again and I was over the moon happy but tried to hide it so you wouldn’t feel like you were just loved because you were a baby making machine.
You had a lot of other very loveable qualities as well but during those years your best feature was your ability to produce these amazing, beautiful, smart children. You were especially beautiful when you were pregnant. You are a very beautiful woman and even more so because you are somewhat unconscious of it but when you were pregnant, you were glowing.
I know, I know, you were also miserable and had days when you felt like a cow and moody and grumpy and not fun to be around. I know but…
I choose not to remember those memories.
Your family pictures said it all. Adrian looking so proud and rightfully so. The kids all spit and polish and Mom with her “thank god we got here without killing anyone” smile. In spite of the energy and effort it took to get those stupid pictures done, they were important because you both, on some level, realize how precious it is, what you both have and how quickly things change. It is so important to capture those moments in time. To pause and celebrate the beauty of our lives in those moments.
And then there was little Mason. A sweeter child was never born. He is and has always been the perfect blend of naughty and nice. Evil and pure all mixed into one little body.
The shock of my children’s festival people whose meeting was interrupted by the arrival of the kids.
“Mom is having the baby now.”
“What, right now?”
“Are they on their way to the hospital? Do you need to go?”
“No, she is having the baby next door…right now.”
The kids playing quietly while we continued our meeting and then the moment when Adrian came to get the kids so they could come and see their little brother.
We all sat around the table, meeting forgotten. Everyone suddenly wanted to see this little one who had just miraculously arrived in the world, next door, in the middle of our meeting.
I remember being so nervous when he was born. I was bracing myself for the fire truck.
You have single handedly improved my prayer life. Promising God the mission field once again. Waiting…waiting…waiting….
I was so relived when Adrian came to tell us that you were ok and baby was fine.
I remember the stampede of feet as they all ran across the porch to see him.
He was so small and made funny faces when he farted. For some reason I especially remember being fascinated by his fingers and toes in a way I never was with any other child.
I was sad because this would be the last baby in my house. I was ecstatic because there was a baby in my house again.
More diapers, more giggles, more cuddles.
You can have another baby if you want to. I will help. Just sayin’.
And I remember that Mom got the very first waffle.
What a beautiful family you all were then. Picture perfect.
I also remember those times as being hectic and frazzled and sometimes really difficult. I so hoped that you also stopped long enough to take in these moments, these snapshots of time where you were laughing and loving and enjoying each other. Those moments are fleeting and they are the reason for everything we do. Please take time and capture every detail of those moments.
I have a picture in my mind of Carrie bringing me the boys, carrying them by their ankles. I was both horrified and amazed at the same time. She was so loving and nurturing and in tune to their emotional needs in a way that was so rare. And she was so tough with them and taught them to be strong. She celebrated the fact that they were boys and not to be coddled. She is one of the best mothers I have ever met.
And I wasn’t allowed to coddle them either. It was so hard for me. I am not sure that I ever mastered it but I tried with all my heart. So many times my sentence in my head was …”poor baby, are you ok” but my mouth said “you are ok, breath.” But my eyes still said, “Poor baby”. I could help my eyes. I learned so much from Carrie. You have made me a better mother.
I remember watching Adrian teaching his boys how this worked or how that was. Stopping on the side of the road to see the butterfly or bring me a bug, he took time to show them their world. I remember thinking what a good father he was. How different it is for many kids whose fathers don’t actively show how much they care about them. Adrian was and still is very quick with hugs and encouragement. That is a gift to your children.
Adrian as a teacher is so funny and loved by his kids. People who genuinely care about others are genuinely loved by those who are in need of care.
I know how tired it is to have people draw that life out of you and how there is sometimes no life left to give once you came through the door of home. And yet, it is at home where your humour, love and generosity of spirit is needed most. The energy you spend at school is precious but the energy you spend at home is your legacy. Not a criticism, just an observation.
You have both sacrificially been there for me during my worst moments. My most painful betrayals and times when I really fought depression. Recovering from surgeries, chicken soup and the constant flow of love, sticky hugs and childish observations that always made everything better somehow.
Hearing footsteps on my porch and my letter slot opening and closing.
All muffled through the letter slot. There is nothing on earth that makes me happier and I will miss it with a full funeral when it eventually stops. I am always late to the door because I pause to make a memory and hear it just one more time.
Driving with them in the car and having to pull over and lecture them about being human in public and we aren’t moving until they stop behaving so badly. Still makes me smile. Boy they can be brats. Academy award, patience stripped bare, ill behaved, animals. But they win back your heart with one giggle. No matter how mad you are, they can win you over and wrap you once again around their little fingers and they know it.
Being onstage with them has been a wonderful experience. I know I complain about my back and how hard it is and how much time it takes but those special moments behind the curtain when that nervous little face looks at yours and their eyes shine with excitement. And the curtain lifts and….
I so enjoy spending one on one time with each child. They are so different and yet so grounded in the same way. They have their dad’s pragmatism and their mom’s wild sense of priority. Such a blissful combination.
Yes, ok. I know you want me to explain THAT remark.
Adrian has a strong sense of responsibility. Things getting done when they need to get done and done right. It is an absolutely crucial thing to teach your children if you want them to succeed in business. Money only comes to those who understand that basic principle and who can operate on the work first, play later model. He is a stunning example of making the most of the day and accomplishment being it’s own reward.
Carrie has the ability to live in the moment and that is an amazing gift. Being able to block out everything around her and concentrate on building emotional resilience in her children will help them maintain a healthy emotional balance through out their lives. Teaching them to value the moments, to consider how they are making others feel, to be able to express how they are feeling without judgment but rather with a wise word and a hug. To have a mother that is willing to make a big mess in pursuit of a memory is an absolute gift.
Together you balance each other out. And it is that balanced approach that gives your kids amazing tools that they will carry throughout their lives. Well done both of you.
I hope this year has been more blessings than struggles. I hope that you both take time to find the things that you appreciate in each other and express them.
Love isn’t that hard actually. It is just taking time to encourage, compliment and consider each other before taking action.
Ok, being nasty is easier. That is true. Immaturity, lashing out and sulking is your base human nature so it always the go to reaction but it doesn’t have to be.
Sometimes taking a minute to sit quietly and realize how truly blessed you are, how grateful you should be for your lives, for each other (for your neighbour : )
This Christmas, sit quietly in the middle of the chaos and find the moment, the snapshot, the memory and hide it forever in your heart.
It will be your gold when you are old. It will help you express your appreciation for each other. It will give you patience on those horrid days and it will remind you of the greatest gift you have been given in the lives you have around you and the love that sustains us all.
Thank you, from the very very bottom, tops and sides of my heart for sharing your family with me. You have given me life more times than you will ever know.
I always wanted neighbours that I could chat over the fence to or borrow a cup of sugar but I had never in my wildest dreams imagined neighbours that were ever second beat of my own heart.
You bring tears to my eyes and laughter to the depths of my soul. I have never been more in love or more thankful in my life.
(cue song – thanks for the memories)
I love you both. You are doing an amazing job as parents, as a couple and as human beings.
I know I can be hard on you sometimes and that will continue because you absolutely have to see how very lucky you are and how blessed. Don’t waste a moment of this. It is gone in an instant. They grow up, things change. Savor it. Breath it all in. Enjoy it. Even the yucky bits become fun stories after some time. Find the humour.
Find happiness and when you do, hold on to it with both hands. Refuse to let bitterness steal it away because it will if you let it. Refuse to let other people’s shit define your life. Choose joy.
Merry Christmas 2017/18
Love “Grandma” Shara