happiness

Protected by mom’s love

Mom’s birthday was a couple of days ago so she’s been on my mind more than usual. Last night a memory came up that I shared with the girl and I thought it was such a powerful memory of mom’s love that I would share it here.

When I was a little kid- I don’t know how old but probably in the 6-8 year old range – some of the horses here got into some gopher poison. The carrier for the poison was oats so when the horses discovered a big bucket of oats they devoured it. I remember lots of yelling and then mom, dad, and I (and I think Grandma and maybe some others – I’m a bit sketchy on these details) were standing just outside of the yard in the square field watching Grandma’s horse Captain and another horse named Stick run flat out up and down the field. I remember the adults all freaking out and the horses both snorting loudly and having kind of wild looks in their eyes. At the time I had no idea what was going on but I knew something bad was happening.

Suddenly mom turned to me and yelled at me to run back to the house and grab her purse.

Now I was a little kid, and a curious and kind of defiant little kid so I stood my ground and stared at her demanding to know why she was sending me off when clearly shit was getting real. I don’t know how she said it but something in her voice let me know that I really needed to run back to the house and get that purse. I was grumbling my way up the driveway when I heard more shouts and cries and things were kind of chaotic. My stomach sunk because I knew something bad had happened and I recall having a moment of gratitude for my mom who had sent me away.

The horses didn’t survive the incident and it was pretty devastating, I remember how much my Grandma loved Captain.

Mostly what I remember though is how mom’s immediate thought was to protect me from what was undoubtably an extremely traumatic scene. Because mom couldn’t just pick me up or grab my hand and kind of force me to leave she had to choose words that would convince me to run. There’s a fierceness in a mother’s love that I don’t think you really find anywhere else and I’m so grateful that mom pulled me out of a really tragic situation.

Mom protected me in many other ways throughout the years, especially near the end when she was my strongest supporter throughout my divorce. We had so many bumps in our relationship but there are these moments when her love shines through so clear and bright.

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happiness

Struttin’

This is first and foremost a happiness blog. 8.5 years ago in one of my darkest times I started looking for moments of happiness in my world. Sometimes it was really hard for me to find even one thing that made me happy in a day – often it was seeing Henry the Heron on my walks – but I made a point of continuing to seek a moment that brought me joy. Eventually my life started getting better and better. Then it got worse. Then it got better again. And so it goes with life. Up and down and sideways. But always back to happiness. My understanding of happiness has deepened and changed over the years, but at the end of the day – those things that bring a legitimate smile to my face are still moments of happiness.

Enter TikTok

Yes, I know- I’m too old for TikTok. My kids banned me from it for ages, just like they did with Snapchat. But at some point this summer TikTok found me and we have been friend ever since.

Good thing or else I wouldn’t know about 🎵corn🎵.

Even better (in my opinion) is Thumpasaurus and their song Struttin. Not only is their own video hilarious, but tons of other people are also posting their Struttin’ videos. And now every single morning the first thing I do when I get up is sit and watch a couple of Struttin’ videos and laugh and smile and then I’m ready for the day. Ok, sometimes I also watch some Corn videos, and that guy Max who spent all his money at Disney (gosh he’s funny).

Today I was able to make my own public happiness moment as Bear the Dog (who is very shy and generally stays off social media) gave me the perfect Struttin’ video. And so I have officially joined the world of TikTok as more than an observer – I am now a participant. Or I should say, Bear is.

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMNKkGAgy/

This seems to be the only way I can get the link to work – but I highly recommend watching Bear strut (you need the volume on) for a smile.

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happiness

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.
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happiness

Dad’s Flowers: The Crocus

When I was a little girl, Dad used to take me and my sister out looking at the plethora of wildflowers that surrounded us here on the ranch. I never would have imagined that most of them would have disappeared in recent years, and this makes me appreciate the beauty and the bounty we enjoyed back in the day. Dad knew all of the names of all of the flowers, and he usually knew a little story to go along with them too. It wasn’t until I was much older that I appreciated how much work he put into his wildflower knowledge. Even if he’d known all of the flowers that surrounded him growing up in northern Ontario (and i think he did know most of them), he still had to learn all of Alberta’s wildflowers. This kind of became his thing, and after years of showing the flowers to me and my sister, he took friends on walks in Kananaskis, learned to photograph the flowers with an amazing talent, and later on took his grandkids on flower walks – each kid with the same wildflower book we had as kids, with spots in the book to write where each flower was spotted.

Dad put together a wildflower book for us, complete with his own photographs and the stories that he wanted us to know that go along with them. I remember when Dad was in the hospital, near the end, and I’d either take in old photo albums, or these flower books and go through them with him, sharing memories or often him just listening to me read. I had to put them away after he died because it was so painful – but I rediscovered them and thought it would be fun to share!

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happiness

Old pictures, old friends, old houses

A few years ago a dear old friend of mine (in years not age haha) gifted me a picture she’d found of the “old house” here. The “old house” is the one by the barn that my great grandparents built, and the house that we moved into when we returned home.

It’s cool because not only does this picture look exactly like the “old house”, it actually IS the old house.

I wasn’t sure where to hang it and have tried a few different spots in different rooms. Then today I was looking at the Braeside house where my Grandpa Ramsay lived (you may remember the story my Grandpa Ramsay told, you can find it Here) and realized that these two pictures belong together.

The house where my great-grandparents Copithorne lived, where my grandpa was raised, and the house where my grandpa, and great grandma Ramsay lived with my great-great grandparents in Ontario. And they should be hanging here in the house my grandparents built – our home.

I feel so much gratitude towards this friend who found this picture for me, made a special trip to meet me to give it to me, and who generally has just been a great person to have in my life. We met 21 years ago when we were expecting our now adult sons and have stayed in touch throughout the years.

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happiness

Thinking of Grandma

It was 18 years ago today that Grandma left us here and returned home to God and to be reunited with all of those who had left before her. I will forever remember her last weeks as some of the most difficult, but also some of the most beautiful moments I’ve had in my life.

It was important to Grandma that she return to the ranch and that she not die in a hospital where nobody knew her. My parents and uncles and aunts arranged for her to come home to her house, and they set up a hospital bed in the living room for her.

Probably what I remember most is how the family gathered. It seemed like the house was full of her children and grandchildren – all of us eating, drinking tea, and sharing stories. I’ve always felt Grandma’s heart in this house, but never more than I did during that time.

There was even a moment – one that I call the “I’ll love you forever moment” where she wanted to join us all in the kitchen but was unable to walk from her bed. My loving cousin Ryan picked her up the same way I’m sure she had picked him up countless times when he was small, and carried her into the kitchen, gently placing her in a chair, so that she could be part of the fun. When I would read “I love you forever” to my kids I always burst into tears when the son carried his mother because of this moment. It was so simple and beautiful.

Dad called me at work when she died. Somehow they let the call go into my classroom so I got the news while standing in front of my students. At the time I was teaching mostly kids who had been labeled with behaviours so extreme they were not allowed into regular classrooms. I can’t think of a better bunch of people to hear the news with – most of these kids knew sorrow. They were so good and kind and all of them said something nice to me as a I grabbed my things and left for the ranch.

When the boy and I got out there (he was almost 3 at the time – I’d grabbed him from his dayhome) the house was much quieter. My uncles and aunts were there, grandma was still there although her soul was already dancing in heaven. My aunt headed out to the field for a quiet moment and returned with crocuses – it’s very early to have them here on April 5th and we don’t really get them here at all anymore. I remember we all just sat there, sharing stores and supporting each other. My other aunt knew Grandma well enough to know that she wouldn’t want to go out with her hair all a mess so she sat down in the living room at the bed and redid that fabulous updo that Grandma sported for as long as I could remember. Another beautiful act of kindness and love.

I have learned a lot about how to love and how to grieve from my family. And a lot about how important it is to have faith. I have faith that Grandma is in a better place that is filled with love and joy. I hope she looks down on us living here in her home and knows how grateful we are for the space, and for the memories that live within these walls.

From Grandma’s Kitchen has been a series of stories and photos that was created here in the kitchen she loved so much, but really it is has been a way for me to honour one of the greatest, fiercest, most loving and faith filled people I have ever known. This home was a place of refuge for me when I was younger, not because of the building but became of the home that Grandma created within these walls. She taught us all the importance of family, of loving each other, and of loving God (and also of cows and to always dress and act like a lady).

Grandma I am so grateful for all the gifts you gave me- I carry that wisdom deep in my soul. You are missed and you are loved.

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