Western education 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

...... nearing the end of the semester.....

..... after a busy couple of months deploying a new course.  I am sitting in the lab looking out at a sea of students attempting to complete their projects by the end of the week.  Next week they will be troubleshooting the boards we faulted for them with their own Logic Probe.  It's hard to fathom how much they have learned as Sara and I gaze over the group working intensely at their stations.  Students assisting each other, some tracing their own board faults while others meticulously solder their components into a now familiar perforated board.  They struggled through their last project but now they show confidence.  There is no better feeling in the world in a classroom of students who rejoice in their successes!!!  The fist pumping, broad grins and laughter when they get their project marked off.  Pride shows in their desire to produce a project that looks as good as it works.  Even those whose skill is novice are trying to improve and create a project that they can be proud of.

It has been a wonderful adventure, creating a new course and unveiling it week by week.  It is an immense undertaking that is made easier by having Sara assist along the way and give me valuable feedback.  She plays the devil's advocate and challenges me to always try harder and be better. In the end, I will always have a great course for the students to learn from and of course enjoy those hard-earned moments of euphoria when they power up their project and it works!!!

The next few days will find me creating a number of examples of resumes for the students to use as a guideline for their own portfolios.  This is what we do... prepare them for their future with as many skills as we can give them!!!  I am sure they feel like their heads are so packed full of information that it feels like they are going to burst!!!

Today I had lunch with Carol.  It was a rare moment to sit and talk quietly about my blog and my life...raw and unscripted and at times difficult.  I spoke to a challenging past and the personal growth that has brought me to where I am today, strong and resiliant. I glance out the window at the serene landscape of snow, angled rooftops and gently falling flakes....I like who I have become...I am honest with a deep sense of ethics.  I own what I do and apologize when I am wrong.  I love and adore the blessings of three children and a kind and loving husband.  Carol, you are a wonderful soul and thank you for sharing your time with me.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

...... if you can't say something nice...

..... say nothing.  Those are great words to live by and a reminder to each of us to be mindful of not only what we say but how we say it.  It is enough to say that we have been very tolerant of my mother's deep seated need to create instant drama.  Her dementia has only worsened this and has added a hint of paranoia making it impossible to be alone with her.  Her self-appointed care giver lives too far away and has decided that while she believes herself to be apprised of our mother's mental condition, she has unwittingly created a very difficult and impossible situation for those of us living mere minutes away to offer any support or help.  She has single-handedly created a hostile environment and has effectively isolated the one person she declares to love from my family.....the same person who has declared herself to be a healer????? We are all confused by this and from what I have researched.... this is apparently not a unique situation.  Demented parents can cause a family craziness even if the family did not start out dysfunctional.  It should be clear to anyone looking in that a person who declares themself a caregiver should at least find themselves living in the same city as the one they profess to be caring for.  With all the craziness she has created... it only makes logical sense to simply bow out and allow her to "care" for our mother from 3400 km away.  

Max is quiet and upset today.... he found out that mother has been speaking behind his back and saying the craziest things.... now he knows how I feel.... and she's my mother.   He is hurt.  He is the last person on the planet to speak ill of anyone and has been careful to choose his words carefully.  It seems coincidental when he finally asked the distant care giver to quit texting him after reaching the end of his patience with the constant demands and using him to do their bidding.  When I stepped away a few weeks ago, after it became evident that she was saying terrible things about me, Max stepped in to assist her with whatever she needed.  While he was helping her for the second time in a week, she decided to tell him that I was not well in the head.  He just looked at her and asked her to stop speaking ill of me.  It didn't take her but a few minutes after he left the home to call and complain about him.... only it was an accusation.  It leaves us in a very tenuous situation where neither one of us can be with her without someone in attendance lest we be accused of more sinister acts.  The past two years has taken its toll on us and we are not amused.  

I want to surround myself with the people who respect, value and care about is too short in my journey to entertain anything less.  I teach my children and my students to respect others and to speak well of each other while keeping a positive outlook.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

....... an amazing adventure..... if someone was watching over me.....

I left London early Thursday morning to avoid traffic and to get to my destination at Pearson airport.  I have a thing about crowds....I avoid them when I can. The flight to Montreal leaves at 9 am but I am through security by 6.  I find a cozy seat and play a game on my iPad to pass the time.  A few travel weary passengers lay across the seats but soon the ones around them fill with new ebb and flow of coming and going....I am going to Montreal to see my son graduate from boot camp and to meet up with my sister Patricia. Will has been in St. Jean since August - 14 weeks of hard, soul challenging work.  

I land 44 minutes later after embarking on WestJet. I would have preferred to fly out of London but the costs were out of my budget and driving through the work week would have been just shy of hell. With only hand carry on, I left the airport to pick up a rental car.  The only offerings they could give me were three vans....I don't do vans...I'll wait.....but before I could take a seat in the empty office, a car suddenly appeared. A silver Elantra....perfect!!  With my iPhone in hand, I punch in the destination on Google Maps....wish I had used the iPhone App (used it on my way back - voice instructions rock!!), and headed out into a confusing concrete jungle of overpasses and poor road surfaces.  There is no comparison to Ontario and I will not complain about our well maintained roads again!!  Peering out the window at aging and crumbling structures that have to sustain the constant flow of traffic is scary at best....never mind the drivers trying to pass you from the right when you have already signalled your intentions to merge right well in advance....welcome to Montreal....I veer into the intended lane forcing the other driver to back off.  There is no horn beeping or finger flaying out thing I do not miss about Ontario drivers.

I would finally arrive at my destination after passing the turn off twice....never could find my way out of a wet paper bag...and found a parking spot at the front entrance of the hotel...the clerk smiled up at me and the frazzled, but friendly grin told me she was still playing catch-up with the rush.  It is 10:15 am and there are no rooms ready.....oh wait, one just came up!!  I head up to my room and text Patricia...they are less than an hour away.  I text them my room number and head into the shower where I stay for an extra few minutes to wash the fatigue away.  I change into a pantsuit and have enough time to check emails before a knock on the door.  OMG hugs all around!!!  So good to see Patricia and Alan and so deeply grateful that they have come to celebrate Williams biggest day!!!  Their room isn't ready and thankfully are able to use mine to ready themselves for the ceremony. She has brought me a few gifts....a book written by a woman named Melanie Hayden-Sparks, who had been diagnosed with invasive ductile cancer and who recently published a book based on a group she started 'GradUit Journey' .  Patricia says Melanie's personality reminded her of me when she spoke to Melanie and so she purchased the book and had Melanie sign it. I will read it this weekend. She also gifted me with an earring and necklace set.  I brought her a handmade bag and a thumb drive full of pics!!!

I love practicing my French but the fellow staring at me across the counter at the Burger King next to the hotel has no idea what I have just asked for....his coworker tells him my order...each village, town and city around the world tends to start with all the best of intentions to create a base language that everyone will understand until the local culture gets a hold of it and bastardizes it to no end.  I get fries and a cup of water to quell the hunger pangs and we head out in their car towards base. 

The complex is massive and is literally one giant building - a city of sorts.  We snake around the colossal complex and head towards the drill hall where the ceremony will take place.  We have arrived in time but search for a seat in the bleachers. There is a French one and an English one.  We find ourselves at the top bench in the English speaking side.....which ironically would be right across William when they align themselves in their platoons!!!!  Such a proud moment for each of us.  

The ceremony was long...about 15 minutes too long for the soldier three over from Will who dropped his rifle on the floor a second before his face followed it onto the hard concrete surface.  Out came the stretcher and the graduate would be hauled away to the infirmary to celebrate his least when he finally regains consciousness.  Will says he was up most of the night polishing his shoes....

After a reception and photos, the crowd slowly thinned out and Will was able to introduce us to his new friends. In everyone's life, there comes along a person who changes your life by impacting it in a positive way....that person came in the form of Master Seaman Jenkins whose supportive and kind words showed us how much he cared about my son.  He pushed Will to achieve his goals and let him know that he has what it takes to go far in his chosen career.  I thanked him and expressed my gratitude for his support. He asked Will to keep in touch.

The evening rounded off with a bunch of drinks at the Boston Pizza next door to our hotel.  What do you know, we made it for the two-for-one drink deal!!!  The restaurant was packed with graduates and their families...some recruits had children, were married to other military personnel or were much older and were seeking a more secure career.  We had a lovely dinner with lots of laughs and then, Alan and Patricia presented Will with a gift. A beautiful watch perfect for a graduate going into Artilliary. Will gave hugs and thanks.  He is so pleased we were able to make it to be with the hotel room, we called Max on FaceTime so that Will could speak to the rest of the family!!!  I am so grateful. 

It was hard saying least until Christmas time when we get to see him for a few weeks....until then son - I love you more than there are birds...more than there are bees....I love you for forever and beyond...I am so deeply proud of you.

This morning I am at the is 4:20 am and I am lost!!!  The iPhone got me to the airport but I cannot find the parking garage where I rented the car.  I pull around a corner and there is a security vehicle parked to the side.  I pull around him and park.  "Where am I going?"  He smiles at me and in perfect English asks me if I would like to follow him?  Absolutely!!!!  This angel, sent to help me led me right to the drop-off zone and with a flash of lights and me madly waving thanks out the window, he was off to his next mission.  He would be happy to know that I helped a man with his luggage when I saw him struggling to manage two cases bent on going in opposite directions.  I simply smiled at the trailing male as the rest of the group he was with moved ahead.  I get him to the top deck of the airport just outside of departures and made my way into the security line-up.  I have not taken a shower this morning and my ragged chemo hair is hidden under a hat.  The dark rings and almost invisible eyebrows must have looked off to the clerk now staring into my face.  She grabs at a wand and 'sniffs' my carry on bag and asks me questions about liquids or other items I might need to declare.  The mere mention of the cosmetics in my bag must have sent off alarms in her head.  She inserts the wand into the narcotics machine and looked mildly surprised that it cleared.  She pointed me over to the X-ray machine and caught the attention of security.  Great, I think I should have listened to my inner voice and just put the make-up on anyway!!!  I do not want to get into the X-ray machine for obvious reasons but not wanting to cause a commotion (I have a vivid imagination), I step into the machine and follow the instructions.  The security guard is suspicious of the yellow patch glowing on the X-ray monitor just over my chest.  I look into his eyes and indicate that I have had radiation treatments and that I am a cancer patient.  He raises his eyebrows and waves me onward.  I can hear a quiet apology.  I am perplexed as to why it is showing up almost 4 years after the procedure. I make a mental note to ask my oncologist in a few weeks.......... I have often heard that to save my life with the procedures they use might one day take my life...... good thing I opted out of the last chemo treatment..... I suppose only time will tell.

I am off on my flight back to Toronto.... and the lady sitting next to me is an airline stewardess who is travelling via plane to Esquimault to work.  She tells me that she has been a stewardess for 19 years and is looking to change her career.  She notes that 1 out of 3 women will have cancer in her career.  I look at her and let her know that I have just finished my second round of a continuing journey and perhaps what I am about to tell her about me will inspire her to make the change sooner than later.  We part less than an hour later.... changed by a chance meeting.

I will be teaching today a few hours after getting home. 

Thank you to everyone for making this journey one to remember. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

......Nature verses Nurture....

......what makes us different from the generation before us? Are we hard-wired to be a certain way?  How much of our experiences alter or build on what we already are?  Why are some people bad despite all the good they grew up around and why are some really good despite being born into destitution, neglect and abuse?  Do we choose to live the life we live or is it already pre-ordained?  I can only speak to my own personal experiences.......

I used to think I was adopted while growing up because I somehow could not fathom why a mother would selectively choose to treat her children the way she felt about them.  I think my days of advocacy started at the age of four when I defiantly told her she was not being fair.....and then I wore a mouthful of rings.  There were four of us and right from the beginning of what I can remember, we learned to fight for the window seat in the car to avoid the swinging hand.  She would partner up with her eldest daughter who would grow to be a tyrant with a mean spirited temper and a controlling, over-bearing nature......that apple didn't fall from the branch. As much as I feel I should elaborate on my growing up years, it is suffice to say that it lacked warmth, positive reinforcement, acceptance and a feeling of belonging

My apple fell off the branch, rolled down the hill, dove into the river and travelled far and wide.  Although I would spend portions of my adult life attempting to 'fix' what was broken and to finally be validated by the parents who raised me......disappointingly, it would not come and the decision to part ways from my childhood tormentors was difficult, guilt ridden and took a lifetime to commit to.  The 'if only' and 'what if's' no longer could convince me that anything could or would make a difference.  Someone once told me that the definition of insanity was "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome" ... I would have to agree.  With a second illness arriving at the end of months of harrassment, accusations, lies and outright hostility towards me.... it was time to end it altogether. My eldest sister would get what she was hoping for - to have her mother all to herself, even if it was from a distance of 3600 km.  Two peas in a pod, brought together by nature.  Both hard-wired by similarities seen in twins but a generation apart. 

I would instead find role models who would teach me the ways of being a good mother.  Eileen was one of those down to earth moms who was raising 4 children on her own.  Her firm but fair approach was in keeping with what I would later become.  She would sometimes point out over the years things to help guide me into being more open minded and to reflect on what I was doing and saying.  I learned to forgive myself when I made a mistake, own it and apologize for it. There were other role models and many books I read looking for what I envisioned my household should be.  I learned to choose friends who were positive and supportive and who loved my children.  

Today I have a well established home that lends itself to security for the children, something I could only dream of growing up with. My kids are each other's best friends and know little of the upheaval I and my other siblings endured while growing up.... they wouldn't understand it even if I did explain it.  They were raised to always think of their siblings first.  My husband and I were always the adults when raising them and only gave the kids responsibiities in keeping with their age and maturity.  My children understood early on that they had no business punishing or controlling each other and had consequences if they did.  I learned through my growing years and later into my adult awareness that being an adult meant just took responsibility for your actions, apologized when you made a mistake, understood that your kids were gifts to be appreciated and knew that your children were not your confidants or friends.  My children were raised to be seen and heard!!  I kept what worked and threw away what didn't.  

While there are moments in my growing years that I would like to forget... those are the moments that have continued to challenge and shape  me as an adult, parent and educator.  It has made me reflective in my own life, giving me the opportunity to shape my future and determine what I need to address and what I now need to leave behind.  I would have liked who I was from the beginning before I got sidetracked by a tumultous upbringing.  By nature, I am sensitive, caring, vulnerable, fun-loving, inquisitive and adventurous... all tempered by the Nurture, the experiences of growing up and the years spent as an adult before my children were gifted to me. I believe I am what nature intended me to be despite the set-backs and the side-tracks that growing up offered me.  As a child I would 'fall' down and bounce right back up.... perhaps the nurture forced me to stand up taller to show I could do it regardless of what was said or done to me.  I watch my own children grow into young adults with the self-esteem and confidence I took years to develop after leaving home.  They are all amazing people and I am deeply grateful they were gifted to me to help guide and grow into healthy adults.

Early tomorrow morning, I will travel by plane to see my eldest son graduate.  I will stand beside my youngest sister Patricia, whom I adore, and we will watch as he marches past us in the drill hall tomorrow afternoon. He thinks I am the best Mom ever..... thanks buddy!!  You were there to help me be a good Mom.  Life is what you make it and I have to agree with my sister.... Nature is by far what brings us to what we are today despite being sidetracked in our youth by our 'nurturing', we will always go back to what we by nature were born with.  My son Mitchel was never raised by his paternal father or had much involvement with him but he is still very much like him in many ways..... Nature.....  Nurture should be about recognizing a child's talents and bringing out the very best in their traits while teaching them to manage and be aware of their own behaviours and attitudes.  If I did choose to live this life, I would have to say that I have chosen a good life despite all the challenges that have come my way.... 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

..... please don't hold my hand....

..... and tell me your story of tragedy when I am getting a flu shot!!!  Of all the crazy things last week, when I popped in to an appointment to get my annual flu shot.... I get partnered with a well intentioned but young woman at the local drug store.  She chats non stop and when I indicate that I have finished my chemo a month prior, she immediately delves into the sordid details of her grandfathers death and how they missed seeing his last breath.  He had cancer you know and he was in agony..... why even the pain medication stopped working and we had to look into his contorted face. She grasped my hand and looked deep into my eyes... my mother was a mess.....and by the time we got to the hospital... it was too late.   She squeezes my hand and then taps the back of it.  I nod in an understanding manner and smile weakly.  She has no idea that I just want to flee the now claustrophobic space of her office.  She jambs the needle into my right shoulder, hits a small nerve, smiles and again holds my hand to continue the barrage of the post-death experience.  Great... I am a captive audience for the next 10 minutes until gratefully the next patient arrives.  Note to self.... next year go elsewhere.

I likely should have said something, and looking back, I just figure it wasn't worth the hurt feelings she would sustain if I did say anything.  I have already experienced this a number of times where people have been incredibly insensitive towards me and behave as if I have wounded them when I point out the obvious.  I just pick my battles carefully these days and have decided that it just isn't worth the effort.  I just smiled thinly and left without a word.  I am sure when I was her age I said some pretty dumb things too... and this is my karma - being held hostage in an uncomfortable metal chair, cornered in a suffocating little room and being blocked from the entrance by a sweet, well meaning overly chatty nurse while having my unwilling hand held gently in her grip.  It could always be worse I say to myself as I scurry out to the parking lot.  Karma continued as I found myself in the grips of the worse head cold mere days after the shot was administered.

Life is good and I have just started to teach my daughter how to cross-stitch her first project... it has inspired me to also create my own cross stitch project for Christmas.  She is a good student and is learning through her mistakes to identify and correct them quickly.

Yesterday was our bi-annual open house at Fanshawe.  While we expected a number of students to attend the extra open labs, only a few showed up.  We did however, have a very busy lab filled with interested guests.  We were able to show off our student's projects, which our visitors thought were pretty cool.  I am pleased with this first semester roll-out of a course I developed with the wisdom of Sara as a sounding  board and assistant, John, who believed in my ability, and Fred and Joel who supported us whole-heartedly.  It has been amazing seeing the students immersed in their projects!!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

..... a reflective moment at the library...

..... of all places!!  I am searching through the True Crime section looking for just any book that catches my eye while Lydia bounds off to the other side of the library looking for anything that catches her eye.  Her teacher has an issue with her reading graphic books and children's books.... I think reading grows and with freedom to choose what you are interested in can evolve into a lifelong passion.  Reading should rarely be a chore.  My fingers run along the spines and catch on a picture book.  Ironically, the crime books and the cancer books are in the same aisle... personally, I always thought cancer was a crime!!  I pull the book out and leaf through pages of women showing their mastectomy scars.  They run the gamut of the very young woman to the post-menopausal woman. Some of the scars are deep and ragged like a gash caused by a sudden rupture in the earth during an earthquake.  My own scars are a reminder of my illness every day but I have the fortune of having most of my left breast and all of my right breast.  I stand there flipping from one page to the next.... and wonder how this barbaric method still exists and why we cannot treat the tissue with a less dramatic approach??  The smiling faces hide the painful journey that they have gone through along with the emotional and mental anguish of being faced with a life threatening illness.  The visible scars hide the ones that even tears could not wash away.  The stories speak of loved ones, who could not cope with their partners illness and loss of breast (s), to journey alone, while others spoke of partners who stayed and supported them.

I put the book back and decide that I have no desire to rent any of the books on the shelf and move off to the fiction racks on the complete opposite side of the library.  I suppose its in keeping with trying to move forward and dedicate my life to living it on my terms and not living the 'pink' life.... a life where your identity ties closely with the cancer journey.   While I don't want to forget the lessons learned along the way, I have the desire to live life a little more consciously and with greater effort to make every minute count.  I don't want to wear the pink bling and advertise that I am still surviving .... I want to make an impact on those around me through being a mentor and showing the positive side of a life well lived. I read the obits every day in the paper and count my blessings that I am still here.  I am still striving and moving forward in my desire to succeed and create the next step in my career and life journey with my family and closest friends.  I am not living in fear these past few weeks.... I am living with hope.  I rejoin my daughter who is excitedly rummaging through the graphic novels after finding one based on her favorite show 'Castle'.  Like mother, like daughter.  I am crazy about her and I love watching her freckles dance on her face as she smiles up at me and squeals excitedly about this new found treasure.  A graphic novel that has brightened her day and given her reason to come to the library. In life as in literature, its not about the destination, but about the journey that gives us joy.

Last night Mitchel arrives late.  He has been acting in a friend's movie and is excited that they have wrapped it up.  I look into his excited eyes and invite him in to talk.  Max has gone to bed in the spare room.  Mitch and I stay up really late and catch up on so many things.... mostly school things.  He is incredibly bright and I give him the caring talk about his smoking and how I hope he does not take drugs now or into the future.  He knows by the tone of voice that I am just being a loving Mom.  I am deeply honored by the children I have been gifted with.  I consider myself the lucky one.  While I see some of my characteristics in them, I see them for the people they are and not the ones I think they should be.  I memorized his face, note the red stain from the gag blood they used on 'set' and mention the long musical fingers that help him to play his guitar.  I do not look forward to seeing my children grow up so fast and will be sad to see them leave the nest when they are ready to go.  

This week is a whirlwind of activity and my Max is concerned that I am doing too much again... but really, I am not.  I am pacing myself and getting things accomplished in a timely fashion.  This afternoon, before I picked up Lydia, I went to get a hearing test.  I have passed with flying colours!!!  This is for my job at the TVDSB along with other paperwork that needs to be filled out and submitted as soon as I get my security clearance.  I have a few more online courses to complete but as soon as I do, I can submit those as well. 

Today I cuddled with little Miss Rowynn.  She is an absolute doll at 2 weeks of age and Mommy Sarah looks much better with colour in her cheeks and sleep from a baby who takes 5 hour naps.  She is a really good mommy and with two babies to take care of while on course, she is also a very busy one.  It has been a really good day with lots of smiles and bright faces on this beautiful sunny day.  The snow is still in patches in the shade but by tomorrow, we should have some warmer temperatures to enjoy some time outside. 

I dedicate this blog to my wonderful family and to my sister, whom I will see really soon!!!!  Love you Patricia!!!  To my son, who should be returning from the field after a week in tents, and getting ready to graduate this coming week - yay!!!!!!!  To everyone else, may you count your blessings and pass along a few to others.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

...... when its time to change lanes.....

..... in a life that was previously filled with family drama.....

It has been 20 months since my mother first arrived in London after a stressful move from her farm north of Kingston.  My father had been moved to London to a long care facility here in London 2 years ago this week and after 2 moves since, has settled into a care facility a few minutes drive from my house.  

I have often pondered how much of their upbringing or the impact the war had on who they would eventually become as our parents.  Mom had a son by a previous relationship before my father arrived on the scene in the early sixties in Germany as a military radar technician for the Canadian Armed forces.  She was attractive and he was awkward and gangly looking.... but he was smitten by her... and still is to this day despite the Alzheimer's that has taken away all his memories except for those of her.

Life with my mother was always over the top drama.... doors slamming, feet stomping, slapping, yelling and generally a highly charged emotional environment.  My scalp still aches sometimes when I feel stress from all the times she would pick me up by the hair and throw me around.  She was a strong woman with a belief in raising children who were quiet and obedient. She put on a good face to the world but things were very different behind closed doors.  I learned not to bring friends over and made it a point to come home at the very last minute.  I babysat and worked as much as I could to gain the peace I so desperately needed growing up.  We moved so often, I stopped trying to make friends..... of course those times were then and this is now.....

The controlling elder sister has been put on notice to not contact us anymore.  Her constant interference from 3800 km away and her accusations has crossed llines that no one should ever cross.  She has effectively created a situation that will see no resolution and so this week, my husband and I are calling it a day with having to deal with this anymore.  We are confused by a mother who decides... to spend Thanksgiving celebrating her new friend Fred's daughter's 50th birthday?  We are perplexed by a mother who never calls us and yet, when she wants something from us, she calls us until we give her what she wants.  If we don't, as what happened this week, she calls her eldest daughter crying and telling whatever story will get the job done...... sigh.  My son and I dropped off her coats to her room before she arrived back from her latest outing. 

Today my mother called and thought I was Max.... I tried to tell her 3 or 4 times that I was her daughter but she was confused and continued to speak to me as if I was him.  My brother in law and I were having coffee when she called and he overheard the conversation through the earpiece and even he was perplexed as to what she was saying.  I still don't know if she wants us to pick up her stuff or if she is coming here to pick up what we have been storing for the past almost two years???  I ask Max when he comes downstairs if we have to give back my mother's dog, whom we have been caring for? He and I are relieved that the drama is coming to an end but feel it is very unfortunate that my sister has authored a great deal of hardship and interference.  

I had suggested to my eldest sister to come and take her mother to live with her and her husband when the initial drama started but she said that Mom drives him crazy and she figured he would leave her if she did??  It's OK though to accuse us of all kinds of things based entirely on my mother's stories???  How convenient for her, always looking for an opportunity to prove her theories that I have completely lost my mind.  My eldest sister tells me she can cure my cancer and tells others how incredibly stupid I am for not seeking out her expertise in erradicating my illness.  The last time she and I had a conversation, it was in the Quarter Master store where she was waving her hands over various bottles like a half-crazed conductor while the owner looked on at a distance... I stood as one would as a captive audience too stunned to flee.   She would peer up at me after her hand steadied over a particular bottle and indicate that in fact this was the tincture I should take....... uh, the cancer came back.  She tells me with a glint in her eye that she has cured her own cancer.... at least her own self-diagnosed cancer.  I wonder if I should call Oprah?  Either way, a quick google search shows no such miracles have been accredited to her.... months later, I threw everything out.  She tried convincing me that she could cure my father's Alzheimer's and tried to get me to give my father a plethora of 'medications' and indicating I should do so without notification to staff or medical doctors caring for him (which I did not do because what if it conflicted with one of the meds he was taking?) ..... yet, she wanted me to not be involved in his medical care and to mind my own business when my mother wanted me to help her get him tested with a walker. After a litany of threats and more mom/elder sister drama,  I chose to not do anything but visit with my parents.... but again was ordered by her to not visit Dad or Mom without permission because somehow, I had become this evil diabolical care giver around the same time i stopped doing her every command.  She was bent on proving our mother had dementia (which she did) and wanting to remove her to a long term facility where it would be covered by the goverment.... instead, she moved her to a bachelor apartment at the retirement home.... for now.  The final straw came in the form of a threatening letter after I sent her a letter asking her to cease all communications with us last December.  That was the day I decided to seek out a lawyer and consequently sent the letter she emailed me to each and every individual she had involved in the letter.  Until last week, it was the last time I heard from her.  There will come a day where the truth will prevail and I hope that Karma is kinder to her than she has been to me.

For us, I can find some resolution in knowing that no matter what or how hard I have tried to make my mother happy, it can never be enough.  Max knows how much I have done to help her and my father while they have been here and the little child within, who could never be good enough or do enough or be loved enough now knows the truth.  While I always strived to make my parents proud of me.... it turns out that it really doesn't matter anymore and that I have nothing left to prove to them.  I will not miss the drama or the stress it has brought into my life.  Emotional and mental stress is truly the cause for the immune system to drop enough to allow the cancer to grow.   I have a bad cold this week but it will soon pass.  Today I am spending the time with my daughter and creating some projects material for my students.  It is quiet and peaceful today.  My children have not had to experience the depths we have felt growing up and I can clearly see how incredibly important nurturing has in a child's sense of self.  I am who I am today because of what my experiences have taught me.... strangely, I would only change a few things.  I would have decided to sever my relationship with my eldest sister when I left home over 30 years ago and not looked back.  I am a believer that all problems have a solution and yet, here, there could never be one that didn't involve me being stepped on or treated in a manner that was so deeply disrespectful.  How could I have been so blind as to believe things would improve by offering to take care of our parents?  It was a peaceful summer despite the struggle to sometimes cope with the realization that my illness was back and that I had to take chemo to survive..... Mom didn't want to disturb me and yet, my own mothering instincts would tell me that if this was my child, I would do everything I could to help out.  She spent her summer tending to the garden I planted for her in the late spring and getting to know someone else's daughter. Not angry, just disappointed.  I am ever grateful that my choices in life did not include using them as role is the day it is time to change lanes.  Max will help to sort out what my mother wants and will quietly say goodbye when the door closes. 

I dedicate this blog to everyone who has family drama and to learn to find what is important to you in your life and to pursue it.  I am sending love to Victoria as she watches her husband slowly pass from a brain tumour.  She tells me that he asks how I am doing..... we always feel bad for those in the journey who are younger than ourselves....  I let her know that my door is always open to her.  She is already planning to sell the house.  She will one day return to her beloved Italy.  

Congratulations to Sarah on the birth of her second daughter, Rowynn was born on Halloween evening.  xoxoxox