Mom’s Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Carriage

When I was 10 years old, our grade 5 class was supposed to spend the week skiing at what was then Paskapoo for a week (it later became Canada Olympic Park or COP, later Winsport). Unfortunately for me I got sick, and not just a little sick – fever so bad I remember getting delirious and I couldn’t eat or drink anything for days. I remember mom feeling so bad for me because she knew how much I had wanted to go skiing, and now that I’m a parent I’m guessing she was a little concerned as well.

On one of my super sick bed days Mom came into my room with a box I’d never seen before. She had a gleam in her eye and she told me this was one of her most treasured pieces and she wanted to let me play with it for the day. It came with a ton of warnings about how delicate it was and how playing was going to look more like touching gently, but her excitement was contagious and I was excited to see what was in the box.

She opened it, and it was a lead toy replica of the Queen’s coronation carriage. Made even more special was the fact Mom told me it was a gift to her while she was in the hospital – and even then I knew we never, ever spoke of the hospital – so this was a big deal.

In my memory this was the turning point in my flu sickness. I remember lying in bed with the carriage on my lap, spending hours looking at the details and the horses and wishing I was the Queen. Of course at this time Lady Diana was just making herself known to me and although I had no idea I was about to enter years of adoring Diana and the royal family.

And then the carriage got boxed back up and I never saw it again. It was never mentioned again, and I figured maybe it had been misplaced or broken or was just buried with other treasures. After all this time I’d given up on it.

This afternoon while I was rage cleaning my room (it’s a thing) I climbed up the step ladder to bring some of dad’s awards and frames down from the top of the bookcase. Guess what was on the top of that stack of things? The carriage!!!

I have to admit I sat down and cried for a little while. The 5th anniversary of mom’s death was 2 days ago and there have been so many emotions I don’t know how to describe them. But seeing this carriage was like getting a little hug from heaven.


Where were you when you heard the news?

I was sitting in Tulip Room 2 with my girl waiting for a doctor appointment. I had left my phone in the car and was just sitting there when her phone buzzed. She looked down and casually said “the Queen is dead” and I promptly burst into tears.

A few minutes later we could hear two women talking about the Queen’s passing. We couldn’t make it all out but they were clearly upset and sharing some of their memories of her. When my doctor came into the room it was the first thing we spoke about and it turned out that it had been her processing the death.

Those of you who know me may remember that I fell madly in love with Lady Diana before she married Charles and my love and respect for the People’s Princess carries on today. I’ve also had a lot of respect and admiration for Queen Elizabeth. No matter the situation, she has always conducted herself like royalty, I’ve never heard anything bad said from her or about her (not saying there isn’t anything – but really if there is it must be fairly uncommon – her children are another matter).

Lately I’ve said that the only thing that would be worse than the Queen dying is him becoming king, and with that her becoming queen consort. Bleh. Mostly it’s just that I don’t like how they were dirty with Diana.

And it was pretty much the same thing my doctor said – she just said it with more kindness than I just did. Really upset about the Queen, but even more upset that she was going to now be called queen. Then we had a long and lovely talk about how much we both loved Princess Diana. Finally my girl understood what I was saying when I said that there were so many of us in my generation who loved the People’s Princess.

I’ve loved the Queen too – for all of my life. And I sure will miss her. I will miss her class and grace. I will miss the way she kind of reminded me of my Auntie Mary who is also gone, and who also made it to a lovely old age (95). I am grateful though that I was given the opportunity to process the information of her passing with an adult whom I trust and admire and respect. It was very meaningful to be able to share our memories of both the Queen and Princess Diana with each other.

God Save the Queen.


SIBO: ElementALL Diet day 7

It’s been a week since I’ve had food I could chew. Or felt full. And I’m very whiny about that.

One thing I’ve realized throughout this process is that I’ve never been really, truly hungry for a prolonged period of time – and that is a privilege that I have totally taken for granted. Even now when I constantly feel so hungry, I’m not really – my nutritional requirements are being met.

Back in the days when I was teaching there were 2 schools I worked at that provided meals for the students and often those meals were the only times those kids ate. Which of course means that holidays and weekends were extra rough on these young souls. I always felt for them, and was so grateful that they were at schools where they were being fed, but I don’t think I really understood how awful it must have been for them having nothing to eat. And honestly, I am aware that even now I don’t have a real understanding of what it must be like for one of these kids because like I said although I’m hungry my nutritional needs are being met. And also I’m fortunate enough that I am getting professional help to deal with this – how many people are living a life where they can barely function because helping with these kinds of illnesses isn’t covered through regular medical care? I’m ashamed to admit I had very little understanding of things I would have lumped into the larger term of IBS. This isn’t just an upset stomach or feeling kind of crappy. It affects my mental health, my ability to digest food, my joints and general pains in the body, brain fog, and so much more. Quite literally it stops me from being able to do the things I want to do, things I need to do. It feels like I’m debilitated by the equivalent of a paper cut – but it’s so much more than that.

I’m still having my existential crisis. Although it now comes with a side order of grief, which makes sense since I’ve stuffed down so much of my grief to “deal with it later” – which I suppose is now. I have stayed committed to staying off social media while I go through this aside from posting on my blog. But yesterday when I opened my ipad I saw a notification from this dog I follow on Facebook. Poor Bradley Bear (BB) is a Pyrenees/beagle cross and is just the cutest little guy. On Friday his 18 year old cat sibling crossed the rainbow bridge and poor BB had been quite distraught. So when I saw the notification I figured I’d just go on fb to see how poor BB was doing. Not well it seems. He had a rough couple of days and on Monday they took him to the vet to find out that his kidneys were in total failure and they made the decision to put him to sleep yesterday.

I spent the whole day crying for this dog. Which kind of shows you where I am at emotionally. So this morning I once again cheated and looked on FB to see how the poor owners were doing. What I discovered was that when they went to go to the vet for his rainbow bridge appointment he was doing so much better – so he’s home on hospice care and being loved for a few more days. You just never know what is around the corner.

I don’t know why I’m sharing BB’s story but it really affected me – and made me realize how much of my own grief I’m holding in and probably need to deal with.


Dad’s Photos: Annora Brown’s Crocuses

I love this legend. This was the reason why I started bringing in the flower books to the hospital when Dad was so sick. I was trying to remember the story but was falling (very) short. I felt so badly for dad who had gone to so much work to put together all of these treasures so that we could remember what he taught us forever. So now this story to me is more than just a beautiful legend, but a treasured memory of time with my dad.

Blackfoot legend retold by Annora Brown, photos by John Ramsay.

This is the painting dad is talking about. It hangs on the wall in the kitchen behind where I’m sitting and I enjoy looking at it every day. To me it captures exactly what an Alberta spring looks like. It has hung here for as long as I can remember, and while Cherie has a copy this original is also hers and one day will hang on the wall at her place.

A History in Photos 12 (FGK 169)

Today marks 4 years since mom passed. I started sharing these stories last year in the hopes that I would get to understand her better, to know who she really was. I’m not sure I found what I was originally looking for, but this process has helped me in ways I never could have imagined. I was still feeling pretty broken in my own life from the challenges of recent years and I was seeking guidance and support, although I didn’t know that at the time. I think I have a better understanding of the strength and courage the entire family had to get through what they were faced with . Polio didn’t just impact mom, but her entire family. And the faith Grandma carried, the grace and humility she showed in her letters and memories have left me with gratitude for the incredibly strong line of women that I come from. The letters helped me see how Grandma was held steady by her faith in God during what must have been an unbelievably challenging time. It’s one thing reading the letters on this side of history – knowing that mom survived and knowing how things turned out. But at the time…. There would have been no way to know, no guarantees, and everything was just blind faith. As someone who really struggles with trusting that God has my back even when I can’t see it – this has been very comforting.

Look at how dressed up Grandma and Grandpa got to go visit mom at the hospital! And the garden in the background!! I remember as a kid playing with the snapdragons in this flower garden. It’s gone now, and there’s a deck near here – but I really miss the flowers growing along the side of the house. Grandma really had a green thumb.

Percy and Edna going to visit Margie who was in hospital
Margie and Len Carrol on the horse (I think this is “Slim”??)
Sheila, Margi, and Mother (Grandma/Edna)
Aileen, Sheila, Margie 1949
Sheila and Mother (Edna Copithorne)

Crocuses and memories

Yesterday my aunt headed home to be with Jesus. Although I will miss her here, she was a woman who held true to her faith and I know she was welcomed with open arms.

When we were kids, my cousin and I would go spend a week or so in the summer at my aunt and uncle’s farm, splitting our time between VBS and scaring the crap out of ourselves with whatever fun things we could find to get into. Sometimes our cousins would take us to the nearby “haunted house”, once we found a two headed grasshopper, but a lot of our time was spent playing in the yard and generally enjoying ourselves.

When I went away to school, my aunt sent me cards regularly so that I wouldn’t feel too lonely. She even came once and took me out for lunch which meant so much to me (I really was lonely).

After Grandma died, we were all sitting in the kitchen when my aunt returned from a walk in the field. It was early April, but she had found some crocuses growing in the field and brought them into the house. It seemed very fitting to have there for Grandma, but it also seemed fitting that my aunt would have gone out and found something that provided us all with a bit of comfort when we were all sad.

For some reason, after everyone left, I grabbed those crocuses and dried them in one of my books. The crocuses came with me as we moved around, and every once in a while I would open the book and look at that memory of love from home.

I opened the book at Christmas time and again looked at the crocuses with so much gratitude that we were back in the same home where they had sat in their vase (actually, in our home crocuses always go in a small juice glass), steps away from the field that had grown them. Grandma will be gone 17 years this spring, and it’s always amazed me that these crocuses held their shape. This time, though, the crocuses were disintegrating and as soon as I touched them they crumbled into little pieces.

It was like they knew they’d done their job well and were ready to go. Hopefully they’re a centrepiece at a beautiful tea table in heaven.

Love lasts for eternity. Everything else is noise.


Love that lasts through time and space

Poor Ella has been quite depressed since Aladdin died. She’s the most cat-like of our cats (don’t touch me, don’t look at me, and whatever you do… don’t touch my fancy tail) and has a harder time getting along with the other animals (and sometimes humans). But she loved Aladdin, and he loved her.

They would lie on my bed for most of the day all cuddled up together, and they slept there at night too with me interrupting their space. He just got her, he loved her no matter how cranky she was and in turn that made her less cranky.

Since he’s been gone, she’s lying on my bed alone a lot of the time. She’s just kind of down and depressed even though we try and shower her with love.

Today the girl suggested we take Aladdin’s ashes and put them on the bed with her to see if they comforted her at all. It’s funny, if it wasn’t for the kids I never would have got ashes back, but it seems they were much needed. I could not believe her reaction.

She lay on the bed for ages loving on that box

I was not prepared for how beautiful or emotional this would be. But she just could not stop hugging on the box that contained the memories and essence of her best friend.

It was a truly beautiful moment.


What a year brings

A year ago this morning at 2am I got the call from Tanya at the hospital that mom had let go and gone to join dad in heaven.

I remember our middle of the night drive in when I turned to my sister and said we are orphans! And she responded with Im too young to be an orphan! I totally agreed. I don’t feel equipped to not have parents.

But what a lot I’ve learned in a year.

First I learned how much mom did, how much she helped us grieve, and how much estate work she did when dad died. I felt like my sister and I were a part of that process, but now what we’ve been doing it ourselves I realize how much mom did. And how she was there to lean on when we grieved.

I’ve learned how important my sister is to me. I don’t know how I would have made it through without her to cry and laugh with. I feel like our friendship has deepened in a way it wouldn’t have without sharing this grief together.

I’ve learned how fortunate I am to come from this tribe. My family and my friends have carried me through some dark days and brightened my smile on some lighter ones. We cannot do this thing called life alone.

I’ve learned how incredibly important my faith is.

I’ve learned how to say goodbye whether I want to or not.

And I’ve learned that at the end of the day all there is is love 💕. The rest is just noise.


Cranberry juice

We were grocery shopping this afternoon and I had a loud request for cranberry juice. Mom always kept the stuff by the gallon here when she was alive, it was her favourite drink, and so it was also that of my children. The boy (as he was pleading for me to buy some) said that one of his first memories was of sitting in the chair and Nana bringing him a glass of cranberry juice so they could sit and watch Mary Poppins.

The closer we get to this final internment the more I realize how far I have still to go in the grieving process for my mom. I mean, I’m still in the middle of grieving my dad. Yet here we are, and I’m glad they will be buried together as they belong together. I’m also glad we have all of these memories to share of the love they blessed us with.

Because it was so much more than cranberry juice. It was the gift of time and love that she gave the kids (and us). She loved having us all around, she loved sharing time with her grandchildren, she loved how they enjoyed doing things with her.

I’ve been thinking a lot about love, unconditional love, true love, lately. Whatever ups and downs, bumps in the road, or issues we had – I always knew that my parents loved me unconditionally. It’s a rare gift to grow up knowing that you are loved no matter what, and one that I am able to pass onto my kids because I know how to do it, because I was shown it and I was taught it. And the kids have the memories of that in little things like cranberry juice.