That brother of yours keeps growing (FGK-58)

When we were kids, my sister and I used to measure long distances by height of family members. For example, we estimated that Scott Lake would be 10 Uncle Harveys deep. Or a large tree would be 4 Uncle Marshalls tall. Although I would be considered “regular” height in most places, and actually was “tall” when we lived in Virginia, I am short short short here.

I’d like to take a moment to honour Father’s Day. For some this is a day to celebrate, for others it can be a day of quiet reflection. Today I’d like to honour my cousins who lost their dad yesterday, and my aunt who lost her beloved spouse. Uncle Jim was a wonderful man and a fantastic uncle with the best sense of humour and he will be deeply missed by us all. Some of my happiest memories are of times when I would get to fly out to Ontario and spend time at their farm. I am sending you guys all my love and my deepest condolences.

I was happy to pull out one of Mrs. Barkley’s letters today. It’s been a while since I’ve found one, and her letters always make me feel like I’m having a cup of tea (with a proper cup and saucer) and a cookie – or even better a scone and jam!


Calgary, Alta

Dear Margie

We were so pleased to hear of you being on your feet Margie and I’m sure it gave you a good deal of satisfaction.

Sheila was in fine spirits Friday nite. I told her she really brought good news that night. That brother of yours sure keeps growing.

Had quite a lazy day here today. This hay crew worked until nine thirty last night so everyone was glad of a Sunday. They even had me out last week for a few hours for a few days. we had an odd specimen of boyhood here for a few days so he quit, but seem to have a good one now that Gerald got for us down near the city.

Did you listen to Mr Link from New York this morning? We listened to most of his broadcast last year when he was here. Sometimes felt last hear as tho maybe his wife’s writing influenced him some or maybe she put his ideas down on paper.

Mr. Barkley has retired so I guess I better too-

Good luck and best wishes

The Barkleys


The memory keeper 

My dad was the family photographer, in effect he was our memory keeper. Everything that we did that was recorded was thanks to his passion for photography. I appreciate it even more now that he’s gone and we no longer have someone snapping shots of the good moments in our lives.

Jenna needs a new computer for school this year and my mom said that she could use dad’s old laptop. For the first time in 2+ years it got turned on and we took a look at what dad left behind (as an aside – when I die I need someone I trust to go through my things and delete, delete, delete).

Here are some photos from their trip to Virginia in 2013 to visit us. Our lives took a HUGE turn sideways within a day of my parents going back home, and it was good to look back and see some really happy memories from a time I’ve tried to wipe out.

So, here’s a little trip down our memory lane. I’ve found it hard to look at Dad’s photos – they bring back such bittersweet memories. But today we looked at them and it was Jenna’s turn to laugh until she cried. There were a lot of good times. A lot of happiness.

This was Easter 2013


Neither Jenna nor I have any idea what this is. She says I look so proud of it, but it looks like poop. So there you have it.

Swimming was always a huge part of any grandparent visit. My kids inherited dad’s love of the water.

Day trip to Monticello – one of our favourite spots – I loved Charlottesville.

Jenna rode this scooter everywhere. Interesting that I made her wear a helmet here, but there’s no helmet on the toboggans at home.

Those of you who know me understand how emotionally scarring this was for me. Freaking mascots.

These girls love doing this still.


And these from 2010


These kids and these cats – good buddies. We lost Tawny last year in an accident 😦

I grew up being super close with my cousins – I love that this tribe of cousins has kept their close bonds even when we had thousands of miles between us.


Through the haze 

It’s been super smoky here with all the fires from BC blowing our way. It cleared a bit tonight and I took Drishti and Dottie out for a walk. 

The sun was a brilliant red through the haze – beauty in the smoke. 

We managed to get really close to the heron tonight. As I was trying to take a photo while I was only a few feet away I kept thinking Dad would really like this 

Dad and I used to email back and forth photos of our local herons when I lived in Virginia. It was a way of making me feel close to home, so this heron holds a special place in my heart. 

My bond with my horse is getting stronger all the time. We are trusting each other and relaxing into comfort together finally. He is a true miracle in my life and I’m grateful every minute for him. 

We stood by the heron and had a few minutes of quiet while I thought of dad. It’s sadness but it’s happiness too. 


Building bonds 

This morning we had a walk in memory of my dad. Actually, it was supposed to be a flower walk in his memory, but the weather was terrible so we ended up doing a walk of a different kind. Not what I had expected, but very good and filling and exactly what it should have been. There were memories of dad, but new ones as well, and different old memories of this town – the weddings and family events that have happened here – and ones of the ranch around it. My kids and my niece and nephew ran around squealing and having fun; my mom, sister and I were together, my aunt told stories of the movie site, friends of my parents listened and asked questions. Life keeps moving on.

This evening we had a community potluck supper which was a bonding moment in itself. This time I was able to visit with a bunch of family who I normally don’t get a chance to chat with. It’s interesting coming from this large extended family – we have so much in common and yet in many ways live completely different lives. A real blessing since coming back home has been getting to know parts of the family that I didn’t really know all that well before.

We are part of a pretty amazing tribe. I think when I was a kid I just assumed everyone had families like mine, the older I get the more I appreciate the roots that have been planted here and where I come from. My immediate family, memories of my dad, my extended family – that is happiness.



Old memories, new memories 

Today was absolutely bursting with all kinds of different emotions. Before May 28, 2015; this date was just another day on the calendar. Now it is wrapped up with memories of Dad and the day he died. There was so much intensity those last few days, weeks, months… and then there are all the memories we cherish and carry with us of him and the light he shone in the world. To balance those intense feelings, we attended a huge family celebration for my uncle and aunt in honour of their 60th wedding anniversary. Life keeps on going, and there are always joyful moments and sad moments mixed in with each other.

Mom and I spent some quite time by “dad’s tree” in the garden. The last few days he was home the blossoms seemed to hang right over him, wrapping him and the rest of us up in the change of season. It seemed like a fitting place to sit for a while this morning and spend some quality time with memories of Dad.

Having a family party in the afternoon really brought perfect balance to the day. This tribe that we have – they are so amazing and we are so blessed to be part of such a group of people. The way this large family comes together is quite special an unique and I couldn’t imagine living life any differently – I love knowing that we are part of this huge tribe.

There is always happiness to be found if you remember to look for it. The happiness this afternoon was as clear and as loud as our laughter. The happiness this morning was more subdued, in the form of memories, and gratitude for a man we love so dearly.


Meaningful moments

This morning I worked on a surprise birthday present for my boy for quite a long time. I can’t reveal exactly what it is yet, but it’s very spiritual for him and he’s been asking for something like it for a while. Through my dear friend and mentor Asrael, I contacted a lady in Invermere who makes exactly what I wanted, and together this morning through the wonders of technology we brainstormed and created, and she is now in the process of putting together the perfect gift. I am so excited. I hope he loves it and cherishes it for years to come. It has a lot of personalized meaning for him, and helps represent a lot of the spiritual growth he’s done over the last couple of years.

It was meaningful. I’ve had a lot of meaningful moments lately that have made me stop and go hmmmmm. I’ve been in quiet contemplation the last few days as we approach the anniversary of my dad’s death. It seems impossible that tomorrow it will be two years since he passed. So much has happened, and yet I still expect to see him lying out in a field taking a photo of a flower with a big grin on his face. I know he’s here with us guiding us along as we all continue to bumble along our paths, figuring out what we are supposed to be doing and who we are. I miss him incredibly, but I know he wants us to be happy and find love and fulfillment.

I spent some time working with a lady who is helping me build a business which hopefully will start to generate some cash. Finding a way to take some of my financial stress away would be a game changer – there still is no indication that Mr. X has any intention of every making any more of the court ordered support payments.

I shared stores and laughs tonight with a dear girlfriend and that reminded me how important it is to have this tribe of people. I’ve lived life without my people around and I don’t ever again want to feel like I’m flying solo through life -either in faith or in person.

All these meaningful moments – they are what adds up to happiness. I am so blessed.


Sitting with the memories 

Today Dad would have turned 76. I still can’t believe it’s been a year and a half since he died – I keep expecting him to walk in the door like he was just away on a trip somewhere. Except Dad would have never, ever gone away for so long and left us behind if he hadn’t been called by God.

I’ve been sitting with the memories of Dad today, it’s been a bittersweet happiness moment, but I wouldn’t trade my memories for anything. I really didn’t realize until much later in life how extremely fortunate I was to have been gifted the Dad that I had. I grew up kind of assuming that every father was as involved in the lives of their children as my Dad was.

I have a lifetime of memories of Dad being such a strong influence in my life. He made sure we went outside and played hard, he often got up at the crack of dawn and caught nasty ponies for us to take to shows, he taught us not only work ethic – but how important it is to love what you do, he showed me how important it was to live with integrity, he showed me what it was like to live life with an open and loving heart.

I miss him so much. I miss him for me, but even more I miss him for my kids who really, really need to have the influence of a man like he was. And then I realize I can still show them that through stories of what he was like, they have their memories, and they understand that we live our lives with love and integrity because that is how he taught us to be.

What a legacy to leave behind – how amazing to have so many people whose lives he touched, who miss him, who love him. It makes me really think about the kind of person I want to be and how I want to be remembered. It is so important to live life being true to my values and my heart. I’m so grateful that God opens doors for me, and that He closes some doors for my own protection.

My dad……..


he was allergic to horses, and I’m not even sure how much he really liked them, but he sure spent a lot of time around them because of his daughters. 

there are so many memories of him reading to us in this old (maybe even corduroy?) chair. When he was done he would grab us and make many failed attempts at hauling us all up. It always resulted in giggles and in us pleading for more. And you see – there he is with Torts the cat, whom he was deathly allergic to and yet loved so much.

always the first kid down the hill

teaching his grandson to skate on the slough. I have many childhood memories of skating around this slough with Dad – it was so fun….

If you were looking for Dad, you could always find him doing whatever the kids were doing. Actually, usually he was the one dreaming up the fun.

I love this photo. Jacob and my Dad had such a special bond. 

teaching Jacob how to ski – these poor Southern children had to be taught all about snow every Christmas.

Probably the thing Dad loved the most was being at the creek. I think he would have spent the entire summer there if he could have. 

You can’t see him, but this was his greatest Dad/Grandparent trick of all. Flipping kids over on their rafts – he was known by the grandchildren as the Creek Monster. This always brought shrieks of laughter. 

Happy Birthday Dad. We all miss you so much.


Walking with the swans 

It was another beautiful afternoon here and I took full advantage of it by taking my Dotted Dog out for a walk. 

The swans were all over the place – lots of them on the slough, but also many of them flying around. They would circle around and around me while  I was walking, and of course that made me think of Dad. 

I’m sure he’s with me more right now as we get closer to his birthday. The change of seasons also has me thinking of him as well. But the swans were always his thing. He used to take us out there when we were little to look at them, and sent me so many photos of them in later years. 

I found some of his swan photos in my email. He was such a talanted photographer and  his photos are a wonderful legacy left for us to remember him by. 

Thankfully we don’t have all this snow now, but it’s a fantastic shot he took 

One of my favorites 

This is how they were circling over my head today. 
It was a happiness moment that brought me close to my Dad today as I walked with the swans. I miss him so much – i miss him even more because my kids needed him so badly. But there’s a reason for everything and above all I have faith. 



My dad used to take a group of his friends from church out on an annual wildflower walk in Kananaskis. He was an expert in knowing the names and legends of the local wildflowers. The group organized a walk today in his memory. It was beautiful and a wonderful way to honor him. 

Yellow lady slipper


My favorite, the wood lily

The boys. My dad used to love teaching them about flowers and photography. 

One of the ladies came to me and asked if I knew the name of a certain flower they were looking at. I didn’t but I was so tempted to answer fireweed. It made me laugh and cry inside at the same time.  When dad would take me out looking at flowers and we would come across one that he didn’t know the name of, we would both shrug and say fireweed.  

It was a wonderful happiness moment to remember and honor my dad this morning. 


It’s a year 

We made it through the first anniversary of dad’s passing. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it, but there were a lot of blessings in the day. It was a great way to remember that not only do I have a great tribe, but so did Dad. So many people reached out with love to help us remember him. 

We gardened (one of his passions), had a memorial ceremony for him, and went out for hamburgers. A very Dad approved day. 

I continue to be filled with so much gratitude that God gave me the Dad that he did. He taught me so much and helped guide me to be a better person. 

A few happiness moments today, planting the vegetable garden with Jacob, the memorial service, meeting up with old friends while out for supper, and an evening walk along the river with a friend. There are blessings everywhere. 

My dad