In Dad’s words

I spent some time this morning looking through the books that Dad put together for us over the past few years. They include some of his photography, but also he did a lot of writing as he shared his spiritual beliefs and told stories of the flowers we used to look at together.

I came across something he wrote for Advent in 2007 that gave me huge comfort today. I miss our talks and I miss his guidance. We didn’t always agree on everything, but I know he always supported and wanted the best for all of his loved ones. I think I took for granted for a lot of years what it was like to go through life knowing that I had these two powerful forces in my parents who would always have my back no matter what showed up ahead of me. I didn’t realize what a unique and special gift that was until I had hit a few bumps in the road and really discovered who really had my back in the dark times.

Dad’s words:

There are times when it is exciting to go fast.  At these times it is very easy to forget to thank Jesus for all that we are given.

But sometimes we get going too fast. Sometimes we try to do too much. As a child at school and a grownup working inside or outside a home. At these times we often forget to ask Jesus to guide us and take  time to pray for his assistance. He is waiting for our call.

Sometimes we get so overwhelmed that we want to go and hide. At these times we are so concerned about our problems that we do not feel Jesus walking through it with us. But he is there with us.

With all this activity, it can be difficult to remember why we’re so busy.

But if we can find just one quiet moment in our day to pause and centre ourselves and think about the awesome, beautiful sacrifice Christ came to make;

If we can spend even a second thanking Him for His ministry, His teachings, and His example, and His life, death and resurrection, we will surely be able to find within ourselves that intangible “Spirit of Christmas” that enables us to give of ourselves until we think we’ve giving it all – and then give just that one bit more – to find that we are able to give whatever is needed at all times of the year.

I have wondered over the past few months what advice Dad would give me as my life has turned inside out and taken a completely different direction. I think of our walks along the ridge while we explored and discussed our Faith, and I think this is pretty much exactly what he would say to me right now.

I am so thankful he took the hours of love labour to put together these books for us to have to remember him by. I am thankful for the guidance he showed me and the unconditional love that was showered on me.

Aside from the deep soul bittersweet happiness of these memories, I have a happiness moment to look forward to later on today. We are gathering with some of the extended tribe to celebrate the other fathers in the family. I feel incredibly blessed that we have so many strong, loving men in our family.

this is one of Dad’s photos of the sunflowers. In the months after he died sunflowers kept showing up in my life all over the place. They remind me that he is still close by.




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. 


Dirt under my nails 

Spring has arrived – which for the 9th of April in Alberta is kind of a miracle in itself. We are as likely to have a snowstorm as a sunny day at this time of the year. I’ve been looking at my gardens every day as I was running in and out of the house thinking happily that it was time to play in the dirt. I finally got outside this afternoon and did some digging.

I’m amazed at the things that are coming up. Things are actually flowering already. I’m so excited and happy. More than anything, I am thankful for this sign of the beauty of new beginnings. I am going to embrace this season and the new beginning of this part of my life with an open and joyful heart.

I’m amazed at myself with all the things I’ve learned to do over the past year. Instead of being fearful of everything like I was to begin with, now I welcome and celebrate all the new and exciting experiences. I am meeting fascinating and kind new people, reconnecting with my beloved old friends and family, and learning so much about Ayurveda and life in general.  There are endless possibilities ahead of me now, nothing is too big or too small to dream about. And I have some pretty awesome dreams I’m going to turn into reality.


The bicycle with red flowers. 

Something about this bicycle caught my eye today as I was out walking around Old Town Albuquerque. I had to stop and stare at it for a little while. 

What kind of person do you think rides around town on this bike with red flowers  in the basket? I’m guessing they’re the kind of person I want to sit down and share a cup of tea with. 

I imagine a happy, whimsical person pedalling down the road on this bike. Maybe even gliding down hills with their head back in laughter and their feet stuck out to the sides. It’s the kind of bicycle that would have a name. 

My happiness moment was spent today imagining the person who belongs to this wonderful bicycle. 


Sunflowers and memories 

Sunflowers always make me think of Dad. All wildflowers do – he spent hours and hours taking us out in the fields as children and then as adults (as well as his grandchildren) and patiently teaching us over and over again the names of the local flowers.

But sunflowers…. it seemed every time he saw a sunflower growing in the garden he was dashing off to get his camera and take the perfect photo.

This trip to New Mexico has been so much more difficult than I anticipated.  Last summer when I was home, I watched Mom and Dad spend a great deal of thoughtful time on their applications for Richard Rohr’s Living School for Action and Contemplation. Mom was accepted, Dad was not. With that,  the hope still was that he would accompany her here. Because Dad so wanted her to take this course and thrive in its growth. By the time I moved back home in March, we knew he wouldn’t be coming here, but the dream was that he would be home and mom could share her trip in the evenings on the phone with him while I was along in person to help her out.

And then he died.

After a summer of the family prodding and pushing and lovingly supporting mom, she bravely decided to come here.

And even with all that as background, I still didn’t think this would be so hard. 

I dropped mom off at her session this afternoon still thinking I was ok. I had a few minutes of sadness this morning, but in general had felt pretty stable. But, as soon as she went into the conference room I felt like pulling a Sadness moment from Inside Out and lying on my back with my leg up in the air for Joy to pull me around while I coloured all my memory balls blue. However after standing there in the (public) hall leaking grief from my eyes I realized I also had to be my own Joy. 

I took myself outside for a walk. It’s beautiful here at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. Not only that, but it’s so soul warming and peaceful. You can see the effect of the place on the smiles of the people as they move around.

As I was walking down the path all I could think was I miss Dad so much. I wish we were walking here together. We loved walking together, it made us so happy. I miss him… I miss him… I miss him.

I came around a turn and I saw this:

  Sunflowers. Just hanging out in the desert. As I stopped to look they were  everywhere.

Every time I turned…    There was the spirit of Dad walking along with me.

(A tree of sunflowers!! A tree – how cool is that??)
  I got to the banks of the Rio Grande (yet another one of those cool places I thought I would never get to) I stood there with Dad in my heart and looked across to the mountains. My happiness moment.

I knew I had to turn around and come back, but as I stood there in joyful sorrow I felt peace and love. Look in the left corner – there’s sunflowers there too. 

There’s a lot of healing that could happen in a place like this. I’m not sure how to describe it, or even exactly what it is. But this is the kind of place that can help heal your soul.  I’m grateful Dad came along for my afternoon walk so I could share this with him.

Even with the sorrow and grief of today, I am so grateful that we are here. Life does go on, and no one loved to really live life more than Dad did. He would want us to live, laugh, cry, love, experience all that life has to offer. I deeply feel the best way to honour his memory is to keep stepping ahead. Sometimes with smiles and sometimes with tears, but living and loving with a full heart.


Flower walk

Today I tried really hard to get out and do some normal life things. Spring, or the beginning of summer, was always Dad’s favourite time of year. Since the warm weather is here for such a short time, I felt obligated to take in the beautiful sunny day. 

My Uncle Gord has spent ages moving and organizing the opening of his parents’ home at the Cochrane Ranche, and today was the grand opening of it. I went because I adore Uncle Gord, and because I really wanted to go out and be normal. Which I was… And I wasn’t. 

There was a lot of extended family, so on top of Uncle Gord leaving the front to come and hug me and squish up my face (have I mentioned I adore him? Nobody else would ever get away with that), I had family coming up and hugging me and giving me love. 

Which was nice, and also not nice. Nice because I am so blessed to be back in my tribe with people who know and love me. Not nice because it makes this whole death thing more real. 

I had a lovely conversation with two cousins who shared their happy memories of canoeing with Dad. The love and the sadness on their faces was so deep. 

I was quietly shadowed by another cousin. I’d think she’d gone somewhere and she’s appear and squeeze my shoulder and say I was doing a good job. Any time someone new came to talk to me she’d reappear and make sure I was ok.

Talk about having my back. She’s always someone I want in my corner anyway. 

After I left the opening I had to drive into Calgary. As I reached the top of Cochrane Hill I had the strong impulse to turn off to Glenbow Ranch. Dad always loved walking there and looking at the wildflowers. 

In fact wildflowers were kind of Dad’s thing. From the time I was little, he’d take me out into the field and teach me the names of all the flowers. And he really knew them all too. We had little flower books and my sister and I would write down where and when we saw them. 

As time went on, Dad expanded from just teaching us the flowers, to our cousins, and eventually Mom and Dad’s friends. Dad would take a group of friends out on big long wildflower walks and tell them all about the flowers. 

All spring we scoured the field outside their house looking for a crocus – the sure sign of spring. There was never one to be found this year. Once I was at Glenbow Ranch, I decided to go walk the flower trail I had walked with Dad last summer in hopes of maybe seeing a crocus. Nope, but I came across something else 

Can you see it there hiding quietly in the grass?   

A lady slipper 

 One of his favorite flowers was the lady slipper. 

The park was busy, there were people on all the other paths. But for a few minutes I was the only person standing in this secret flower spot. It was the exact place I had stood last summer with Dad looking at Wood Lillies – my favourite flower. 

For just a few moments I felt him standing there with me on that ridge looking at the flowers. My happiness moment of the day. 



Today my mom, my dad, and I went out in the field to search for crocuses. After searching and searching we were unable to find any. Bummer. But along with some buffalo beans, I did find this buttercup along the ridge. Spring. It’s finally happening. Actually today may have been summer as it was 27C and wonderfully sunny. 

My happiness moment of the day was wandering the field with my parents. It was so wonderful to see dad out all excited in search of the hiding crocuses. May the joyful feelings of spring give dad lots of love and strength. 


Signs of spring 

This is my happiness moment for the day. Crocuses always remind me of springtime at the ranch. Which means family, calves, green coming back, long days, that gopher and crocus in the snow picture at my parents’ place, and the beginning of summer fun. It also reminds me of the flower book my dad put together with stories of all the wild flowers we grew up picking or looking at.  

Today on my walk I saw actual leaves starting to pop on trees. I saw these crocuses growing in the garden of a friend of mine. 

Spring. New beginnings. New life. New hope. Seasons change and we have to embrace the new and find love in happiness in every single minute. It’s the only way.