It has been a while.  Years actually.  Years, since I have written a word.  I think I ran out of stories to tell about my sister.  She read every word of every blog.  She cried while she read them and was shocked every time with my insight and perception.  Apparently, I understood more than she ever knew.  I had a book made, compiling all the stories.  She loved it.

While writing, thegirlz, I had my own Respite business, and was working full time caring for a young woman who was medically fragile, confined to a wheelchair and non verbal.  Stupid words.  Non of those terms come any where close to describing who I spent 50-60 hours a week with.  Why do we need labels?  Why did I need to describe the person I cared for?  What difference does it make?  The term caring implies the recipient is in need of assistance.  Period.  I cared for a living while I wrote that blog.

I cared for a living for two decades.  The first for an agency and the second decade for my own company.  I was good at it.  I learned so much.  I gave pieces of myself over those years.  It is just one of those careers.   Caring for the same people for long periods, becoming a constant in their lives, spending time in their homes, with their family members and pets, is a career very different from others.  It nearly ate me up.

On a bus.  I am the sole occupant besides the driver.  My job has been explained to me.  If she screams, we are to exit the bus.  I am to explain to her the expectations of the bus are no screaming.  If you scream, we have to walk.   The bus went about its daily route.  Stop after stop, the doors would open and welcome another rider on board.  Each new occupant would greet me, Good morning, and find their seat.  I was curious when I noted each rider to have cotton batton in their ears.  It was a warm July day with no wind at all.  On the final stop, she got on the bus.  As she made her way down the aisle, I overheard words of encouragement from the passengers, ‘Good morning Katie.  You can do this.’ and ‘we know you can do this Katie’.   As I marveled in the kindness I was observing, I realized the cotton batton was a coping strategy and these passengers all knew what my job was today.  None of Katie’s fellow passengers were judging her at all.  They found a way to cope and were implementing a circle of support and encouragement for Katie.  I was deeply touched by this act of humanity I was witnessing.

Then Katie screamed.  She scared me right out of my pleasurable moment!  The passengers were all bent over with their hands over their ears like a gun had been shot!  Katie and I walked a few blocks before being picked up by the manager who the bus driver had notified.  Katie seemed quite happy to walk and listened intently as I discussed bus protocol, behavior expectations, people’s rights.  I told Katie how lucky she is to have such a supportive group on her transit each morning.  Katie kept repeating, ‘yes’.

I rode that bus every morning for the next week.  Katie and I never had to walk again.  The cotton balls disappeared but the morning salutations and kind words never did.  I learned about tolerance, acceptance and friendship that week.


It was Mother’s Day.  I was at my caring job.  It occurred to me, Elizabeth may want to buy her Mom a gift.  When I asked, I received an overwhelming ‘Yes’ to the idea.  Off we went to the Garden Centre.  Elizabeth’s enthusiasm did not dissipate in the time it took us to arrive.  Inside the Garden Centre, I explained to the staff member, Elizabeth would like to purchase two red carnations for her Mom.  The staff member, as with everyone when they first meet Elizabeth, was absolutely charmed by her and thought the gesture was the sweetest ever made.   Elizabeth waited quietly for the lady to return with her order.  When the staff member returned, she had in her arms one dozen red carnations and she was headed to Elizabeth to present them to her.  The staff member was proud of her generousity and was excited to see Elizabeth’s reaction…


Elizabeth refused the gift of flowers adamantly.  The staff member was confused by this reaction but quickly collected her composure.  I buffered the interaction as per my duty in caring.  Honestly, I was just as confused by Elizabeth’s reaction.  I expected her to be thrilled and giggly about it.  Elizabeth wanted nothing to do with the flowers even after we returned to her home.  Elizabeth went back to her regular routines but there was a quiet sense to her now.

When Elizabeth’s Mom came home, I encouraged her to give the flowers to her Mom and she did but her heart wasn’t in it.  I explained the transaction to her Mom and was further puzzled by her reaction to the story.  I watched while Elizabeth’s Mom, in the way only Elizabeth’s Mom perfects, sign to her daughter about her gift.  Elizabeth’s mood brightened as the loving communication continued back and forth and then I heard the classic giggle only used when ‘someone’  (and that someone was me) used the wrong signs and caused a huge misunderstanding.  As it turns out, I asked Elizabeth if she would like to buy her Mom a red ‘TREE” for Mother’s Day.  Elizabeth was looking forward to seeing a red tree!  The carnations just weren’t crazy enough for Elizabeth’s quirky sense of humour.  When I apologized, Elizabeth let me know I silly I am and then, as she always does, forgave me and gave me a hug.

I learned the importance of communication, patience, empathy and forgiveness that day.


Why did you say that to Linda?  You know she isn’t pregnant.  Why did you keep saying ‘baby’ and touching her stomach?   It was another night of deep discussion with Helen.  The communication board had opened up relationships for Helen and allowed her to express herself.   Helen was a gentle and intelligent person who had specific likes and dislikes.  This new communication allowed Helen to broaden her likes and wishes and to teach us more about autism and why certain behaviours occurred at certain times.  “I was angry with Linda and I wanted to embarrass her.  When I get upset, those words come out of my mouth.”  That’s interesting.

We would converse for some time everyday about nothing in particular.  I learned something within each conversation.  First of all, Helen had a wicked sense of humour.  Helen rarely laughed on the outside but did she have laughs we knew nothing about.

The night she shared she was scared came out of the blue and out of context so I was unaware of how much pain she was in.  Helen was able to make me understand she didn’t feel well, her stomach was upset.   I thought Helen was afraid she might vomit.  I brought towels and a pail and gave her lots of reassurance and comfort.  I had no idea Helen had a twisted bowel and would end up in emergency surgery the next morning.

In bed, she was quietly self abusing her stomach trying to cope with the pain.  Bed checks fooled us into believing Helen was sleeping.  It is a gut wrenching experience when you realize you missed something big, perhaps not preventable but at least treatable.  It broke my heart, that feeling of inadequacy – blatant failure to understand.  Helen must have been screaming on the inside when she tried to explain to me there was something wrong.

I was there before she was wheeled into surgery.  Helen was glad to see me and there was no need for a communication board.  Helen’s stomach was distended, she was in pain and scared.   I apologized for not understanding last night and promised to be here when she woke up.  I explained the surgery to her, knowing the details were important to her.  Helen sailed through surgery and her recovery went well as well.

I learned about communication, intuition, forgiveness and fear that week.





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Canadian Baseball Hall Of Fame

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At Maple City Country Club.

This will be a fun blog!



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2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 680 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Parallel Lives


As my daughter crosses the stage to receive her college diploma…

She sits at home recalling seven years have passed since she buried her babe.

I successfully gain a new contract. I am excited at the prospect of my company growing larger…

Her husband is fired after twenty five years of service.

My eldest child celebrates her twenty first birthday and moves into her first apartment…

She worries the new condo they have just purchased may now be out of their financial reach. They have already sold their home.   The condo is not ready.   They move into my house feeling very homeless.

My son earned a position on the rep soccer team. I am thrilled to see him outdoors and active. I proudly watch as his fitness and agility improve each week…

Her husband has Parkinson’s disease. His tremors increase with the stress of being wrongfully dismissed.

Games take us out of town twice a week. Carpooling, picnics and practices keep us busy…

They hired a lawyer. The appointments are endless.

We pack for our annual week at the cottage. My daughter arrives with friends in tow. We run to the water and get the floating dock. Everyone is feeling carefree and full of excitement Laughter and nonsense provides the perfect reconnection our family needs…

They move into their new condo. Just the two of them. It is quiet. They don’t know if they will be able to stay.

She is thankful for everything we do for them. She appreciates our help and support.

We are family. We are all we have. Each other and our parallel lives.

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Canada Day , July 1st: Time to Toot Our Horn Again

Love this post! Proud to be a Canadian as well.

mother of nine9

As Canada Day celebrates its 147th birthday, I celebrate Canada’s triumphs. Next to the United States we might seem insignificant but remember,  looks are deceiving.

Last year, Maclean’s Magazine published a Canada vs. America issue proclaiming “99 Reasons Why it’s Better to Be Canadian:We’re happier, fitter and richer and our kids are smarter too.” You can read all the statistics in the July 8, 2013 edition of Maclean’s.

Of course I read this issue with glee. I am not competitive in my personal life, choosing to also praise and exhort others, but I have an ingrained, historically rooted compulsion to out rank the powerful country to the south of me. Perhaps it is a David and Goliath syndrome. Here is a list of why I love Canada, a handful of  the stats do come from Maclean’s.

Lyrics O Canada (English version)

I live in south – eastern ontario

O Canada!

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Firecracker Mayhem

Would love to see video footage! ha You have the best stories!

mother of nine9

Since, they call this link at Create with Joy,Friendship Friday, – Anything Goes, I decided that this is the perfect forum to remember a hilarious  but messy day on our hobby farm.  Firecrackers in the hands of one father led to sheer mayhem at our house a few years ago.

We were barbecuing with a few other families. In the late afternoon, when the kids were getting restless and hungry, Pierre gathered the kids together, like he often did but this time he led them into the barnyard.

What did this fun-loving father do to amuse the throng of children who surrounded him?

Why he lit firecrackers and placed them in the middle of manure plops!

We all heard the squeals and roars of approval from the kids. Before we knew what was happening, Pierre was paying the kids who dared to stand the closest to the smelly, disgusting explosions.We…

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From school bus to street car.

Confidently, she climbed unto the bus, denying any and all attention or offers of help from the other bus users, simply by lifting her chin, averting her eyes and smiling a calm capability.  
I can recall that day as clearly as yesterday even though a couple of decades have passed.  
Today I chuckle to myself as I see the same confidence in that lifted chin and averted eyes as she gets on the street car.  My heart swells as the memory of her first day of school merge with today’s transit through Toronto.  Where has the time gone?  The cliche of yesterday’s generation has become my reality. 
Her fifth year birthday milestone left me feeling ill prepared.  I wasn’t ready to share her with the world.  I panicked, not sure I had fulfilled my checklist of things I needed to teach her in order to protect her from the world.  
I roll my eyes at this reflection.  If I knew then what I know now.  Just full of cliches today.
My life has become a cliche?   Yep.
She proudly showed me around her city.  We did it up; city bus, street car and subway.  She guided me with ease to her favourite spaces.  The weather was warm and sunny, further sealing our enjoyment of each other and all our sites.  
It is official.  My child is no longer.  A young woman she has become.  It has happened seemingly by magic.  A college graduate when I can still visualise her first step.  
We went to the theatre together.  I found myself watching her instead of the stage.  Her beauty is easy to melt into but it was her expression which held my attention.  She was fully engaged in the play, completely unaware of her surroundings.  She was in her element.  Theatre.  Her passion for that art is undeniable.  
An actor herself, having graduated from the theatre arts program, I know she aches to be on stage.  Perhaps, one day her dream will come true. 
In the meantime, she has landed herself employment to pay her way.  Now the hunt for her first adult apartment is under way!  Leaving her student apartment is something she looks forward to.  
Shortly, my daughter will no longer share the same address with me.  We will probably never live in the same town again.  How strange is that?  Incredible, but I am far from sad.  
Oh no!  I couldn’t be happier.  It is thrilling to see my child start her own life, make her own way and most of all be happy!  These are the years, albiet another cliche, to remember.  I know because I remember my freedom years very well thank you!   
As we hugged goodbye, I was overwhelmed with pride for my first born babe.  
She will be just fine.  She is having the time of her life.  
She has gone from school bus to street car in a blink of my eye.  
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Happy Birthday Bea.


Bea was in love.  Absolutely – head over heels in love with that bike.  Every day she skipped down to the village in order to see it.  There it stood in the window, majestic and royal, begging for attention from every passerby.  The sunshine bounced off the metallic purple frame causing the entire window to sparkle and shine.  Bea would stand and stare at that bike for a long time before she could drag herself away. 

One more day.  Her birthday was tomorrow.  Her parents knew how much she wanted that bike.  She had been talking about it for months.  Yet, there it was still in the window.  She would just die if she didn’t get that bike. 

It was agonizing for Bea.  She couldn’t even skip home, so heavy was her heart with worry.   She stopped at the ponds to have a little rest.  As she watched the swans swim with their babies her worry began to lessen.  Life was good now.  She was feeling so much better these days.  Resting used to be the way Bea spent her days but now she could skip quite a long way before she had to rest again. 

Bea leaned back against the tree and let the sunshine warm her face.  As the birds twittered above her head, she ran her fingers in the sand.  Before she knew it she had fallen asleep. 

Bea laughed aloud as the wind blew into her face!  Riding this bike was just as she imagined.  Freedom!  Bea desperately wished for freedom – freedom from poor health, from the need to rest, from the worried look on her Mom’s face.  Her brand new purple bike gave her this.  She rode around the village waving at all her neighbours.  They smiled and waved back, equally delighted to see Bea able to ride a bike again.  It was liberating to be moving so quickly and seeing others standing still.  This was a first.  Bea rang her bell to express the joy she was feeling.  Bea looked over her shoulder when she heard a second bell ring in response. 

Bea gasped in surprise.  Behind her there were bikes as far as she could see!  It was all of her friends!  They were waving and ringing their bells in excitement.  Bea allowed them to catch up with her.  She could see her cousins, her parents, her Aunt and Uncle and even some of her teachers all smiling and waving at her!  From each bike, a helium balloon flew above, bouncing in the wind.  Each balloon sported a photo of Bea! 

‘Wow!  My own parade!’ Bea giggled. 

Bea woke with a start.  For a minute she wasn’t sure where she was.  Realising she had fallen asleep, Bea decided to head for home before her Mom started to worry…again.  On her walk home, Bea recalled every beautiful moment of her dream.  The bike, how it felt to move so quickly and mostly how she felt when she saw all the bikes behind her.  Bike or no bike those people have always been behind her.  Bea knew she was loved by so many people. 

Bea hummed away as she headed for home.  She felt great.  She could walk again and she was loved.  Bea decided it didn’t matter what she got for her birthday.  She had so much already. 

When Bea reached her house, her parents met her in the driveway.  Bea started to apologize thinking they were upset because they had been worried about her, but they interrupted.

‘Get in the car Little Missy!’

‘Let’s go get that bike you want!’

Bea ran to them for a group hug!  It DID matter!  She really wanted that bike and she was going to get it! 


[In memory of H.B. Stewart, the story I promised.]

June 19,1992 – May 21, 2007

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Let’s honour our Moms.



My earliest memory is thinking she was the most beautiful woman.  I would watch her put on her liquid eye liner and her lipstick…she had a specific way of doing it and always the tissue blot!  I would ask to keep that lipstick kiss stamp. 

One Christmas her friend gave her a green Kaftan dress.   Mom cried when she opened it.  She believed it to be too extravagant of a gift.  When she wore it, she floated in the room.  I remember wishing for the time I could wear the matching gold glittery sandals. 

On my wedding day, Mom was stunning.  She looked incredible.  We talked her into the hat but she nailed it with her natural class and beauty! 

Funny, the first memories of Mom should be about her beauty.  I bet she had no idea how beautiful she really was.  The thing is, her beauty was holistic.  Her kindness and generousity was beautiful.  Her unconditional love and devotion was beautiful.  The way she made you feel when she lovingly brushed the hair from your face was beautiful. 

Mom not only loved being a Mom, she was really good at it.  Mom demanded respect straight up.  Everyone knew how Mom expected you to behave without exception.  People were happy to oblige.  My friends chose my house as the place to hang out although there were more rules there than their own home.  Mom was fare and giving.  She had a way of making people feel special. 

Mom’s greatest talent was being able to get ‘it’ all done, on time, without drama or complaint and always enjoy whatever it is she had been preparing for.  She was the hostess of all hostesses. 

Blessed with the greatest Mom, I was determined to be a great Mom too. 

Although I studied about being a Mom, read all the books, took child development at university and babysat all through my teens.  Nothing taught me mothering like Mom herself.  Prior to delivering my first child, Mom would sooth my parenting insecurities with, “you just wait.  You’ll see.”   Mom was referencing the indescribable, truly no words suffice, love I felt for my babe when I first saw her.  I was not prepared for that impact.  It was the same for my second child.  I was insecure about having enough love for two children.  Mom lovingly assured me, “you just wait.  You’ll see.”  The mother child impact was just as strong when my son was born.  Later I giggled at my ignorance.  Mom was absolutely right.  Mom’s have all the love they need a more for all their children. 

Being a mom is one of my greatest accomplishments.  For some reason, I always thought I would never have children.  My pregnancies were unexpected and miraculous each time because of this belief.  I loved being pregnant.  Although each pregnancy was very different, it was spectacular to have a person grow inside of me.  I documented every day in a journal.  I read every day about the development of my unborn child.  After each birth, the hollowness of my body would make me sad.  If only, I could birth the way I could carry I may have had more children!  (Easy to say now of course! Ha)

This Mother’s Day, I find myself feeling grateful.  Both my children are healthy.  My eldest, has grown into an intelligent, driven, talented, beautiful young adult.  She is independent and full of passion.  Her life is just beginning.  My ‘baby’ is becoming a young man.  At sixteen, his childhood is almost over.  He warms my heart when I see his kindness and compassion.  He is quiet and yet ever aware of his surroundings.  He learns quickly and shows respect easily.  He is growing by the second in his ever changing body. 

In my Mom’s memory, I will continue to Mother these babes to the best of my ability…even when they resist.  I am forever thankful to Mom for teaching me how to love and to be loved. 

Today I remember all  of the Moms who no longer have their babes and all the women who never became a mom when they so desperately wanted to be.  To you women, know each time you smile, support, encourage, accept or share a kind word with any child…you are a Mom. 

Happy Mother’s Day. 


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