Have Some Compassion (FGK-23)

I’m really glad we’ve had some lovely letters to share that are full of love and good wishes from mom’s family and the community. Today’s letter reminds me of some of the challenges that mom and my grandparents faced while mom was in the hospital – loneliness being up there with her physical condition.

In our home using the word “crippled” was akin to any of the racially charged words that are out there, or the worst of the degrading terms that could be used regarding another person. It is a word that makes me visibly cringe when I hear or read it, and I can truly see why mom refused to let that word into her life.

Now, I am not saying that the staff wasn’t doing their best, but their best and the future that Grandma envisioned for her youngest daughter I think were quite different. I am so impressed by Grandma’s tenacity – she never gave up believing that mom was going to surpass what was expected of her physically, and she clearly cared about her emotional well being as well.

This letter made me really sad, it’s taken me a bit to write out because my eyes kept leaking. And I really wanted to balance it out with a happy letter, but that seemed wrong. I don’t want to take away from what this letter is saying. And I wonder if this is around the time that Grandpa started building that Physio table for mom – letters show she was in the hospital for several months after this, but I’m not sure exactly when she came home yet.

Grandma for me was always “Grandma”. I knew she could be strong and stubborn (this can be a good thing when used properly) sometimes but I’m seeing strength, faith, and determination like I never imagined. I am so impressed at how she stood up for mom and advocated for her care all the way through. It was a powerful lesson because I watched how Grandma’s children cared for her once the dementia took over and loved her all the way until God took over. Watching my parents, aunts and uncles care for Grandma like that was what taught me how to care for my parents as they were preparing to return to God as well.

I’ll attach the letter at the end, but I wrote it out so that it would be easier to read.

State Services for Crippled Children

State University of Iowa

Iowa city, Iowa

Office of the Director

January 12, 1953

Mrs Percy Copithorne,

RR2 Calgary

Alberta, Canada

Dear Mrs. Copithorne

We have your letter of December 29th in which you told about your daughter’s loneliness in the hospital where she was being treated for polio. you asked for the book on the Care of Infantile paralysis in the Home. We are glad to send it to you.

Our doctors here would quite agree with you feeling, that your daughter should be receiving medical care. They would not agree with you, however, in humouring her to the degree that you allow her to decide on what is best for her. If there is anything to be done for her, it should be done now and continue as long as her doctor recommends it. She will be grateful to you in the years to come.

We have inquired about medical resources in Calgary, and have been advised that there is nothing better from there to the coast. However, your family doctor is in a better position to know about resources in that area.

We are truly sorry about your child’s crippling condition. But we should strongly advise that you not allow your compassion for her to take precedence over your better judgement, regarding what is best for her.

Very truly yours,

R.R Rembolt M.D., Director

State Services for Crippled Children

(Mrs.) Cecilia H. Robert

Supervising Medical Social Consultant


A Letter from Aunt Ruth (FGK-12)

I was almost taken out by a bad cannoli Sunday night, so I skipped yesterday, but it gave me time to think about this time capsule I’ve discovered. I feel so blessed that it fell into my lap at this moment in time, it’s precisely what I need right now.

Today I’m sharing a letter from Aunt Ruth. She was my grandma’s sister, a fantastic artist, and mom always spoke so highly of her.

Dear Margie

Well how are you today? Fine I hope. We are all pretty good here. It’s trying to rain outside this morning so I’m afraid my clothes on the line are not going to get dried out very much. This rain will wash everything off though, the grass and flowers are just simply covered with dust.

We had a picnic on Olive’s birthday and took some snaps and at last we have our camera adjusted properly so they aren’t too bad. Aileen is holding Lloyd on her knee and Pat is standing up in front. The men and Gordie were all playing horseshoes so I didn’t get them in, however you will be able to see the two wee ones. The one of Gordie holding Lloyd isn’t too bad is it? Also Marion Beatly and her little brother isn’t too bad either. Also, Marion says she wishes she had her hair curled.

Yesterday we all went up to the Brooks place, it’s almost 17 miles west up past Helen McDonald’s road away in the bush. My I did enjoy the drive and it’s just like a park about there. I’ll try and give you a little bird’s eye view of it. They took us all through each of their homes and they were so neat and clean and nicely furnished. They all burn sawdust up there as you know they make their living with a saw mill.

Aunt Ruth’s birds eye view for mom

Well Margie, Dorthy and Bill Anderson are being married on Wednesday so things are pretty busy in town these days. Aileen had a shower for Dorthy in the hall and she really did get a nice lot of things. They are having a dance in the hall after the wedding for everyone who wants to go so think we may go.

Your mother tells me you have last week’s Star weekly so I won’t bother to mail it to you. What do you think of Edith’s picture on the front page? I think she is much better looking than that don’t you?

As luck would have it, this article fell out of a bag of newspaper clippings a couple of weeks ago. I believe it’s what Aunt Ruth is referring to. It was published in the Herald July 8, 1953. Mom would have been in hospital 11 months by this time.

We still don’t know whether they are going to open the schools on Sept. 1st. There seems to be so much Polio around.

All the kids have the horseshoe craze around here now and so far Gordie is the champion but he gets more practice because he plays with the men up at Claude’s. Even the girls are trying it. We also have a tennis court kind of lined up out here and they play ping pong rules.

Sure be glad when you can come in and see us again Margie.

I hear you have had Wes P____ up there to see you, you really do get to see all the celebrities.

I couldn’t make out his full name, but he must have been a local celebrity.

Well Margie dear, I must go now and if you still want the Star weekly Aug 22 we will send it along if you drop me a card to let me know.

Lots of love from us all and especially from me

Aunt Ruth.


Girl chats

I have a standing coffee date with my soul sister every Wednesday afternoon. We are living parallel lives which is both freaky and very cool at the same time. It’s amazing how long we need to talk since essentially the same things are happening in our lives – yet the time we share is never enough.

I am so grateful to have someone to walk this weird and wild path with. I have a couple of girlfriends actually who are on this same road and I don’t know what I would do without them. I can’t imagine what would have happened to the kids and I had all the stuff gone down the way it did and we were living away from our tribe.

Whenever I get impatient with God because things aren’t healed enough I look around at the amazing people I have in my life and I’m so grateful. That is happiness.


Healing steps 

Today we took a huge step on our healing journey. It didn’t go the way that we had hoped, but I’m learning that prayers are always answered and that there’s a reason for everything. The fact that my kid took the steps he did despite so many fears shows his desire to heal and be happy. 

I am so incredibly proud of my son. He showed huge courage, strength, compassion, openness, and forgiveness today. The person he was seeking healing with didn’t show up for him, but he learned so much today and walked through it with grace and dignity. He is an inspiration to me and I am forever grateful that God blessed me with his light. 

We have had a huge amount of support from our tribe who have stood beside him quietly showing love while he sorts through what is going on in his heart. 

My happiness moment was one in the midst of deep heartbreak as I saw the level of inner strength that my son possesses within his soul. His faith and his strength will carry him far in life. 


A silhouette of hope

This photo that I took this morning seems to express how I am feeling right now. Some dark, some shadows, rays of light, and a beautiful horse. Because everything hopeful in my life should include a horse. 

I am in a period of great uncertainty where I am having to rely heavily on my faith and trust that every blind step I am taking is one that will lead to a happier life. 

Moments like this one with the horse give me great joy and happiness. I feel my soul calm and am able to breathe deeply and find strength to face the things that cause me fear. 

My happiness moment was this great moment of peace in the morning. It was enhanced by great moments of love and support given to me throughout the day. These came in many different forms:  words of encouragement, super duper help with child care and taxi servicing to lessons (from my awesome cousin), kind smiles, feelings of love, and the grounding of home. 

The warmth that I get from looking at this photo is one I know I will return to many times to find peace. 


Fearless in love 

I know that one day can be just like any other, and that  it is us who attach meanings and emotions to certain days. But what the mind knows, the heart still has its own feelings about. 

Mine anyway. 

Today would have been my parents’ 48th wedding anniversary. It was another one of those first occasion days we had to get through. Already it’s been Jacob’s graduation and his birthday. This one was harder because it was a day honoring mom and dad. But without dad. 

Mom and I went to Banff with Jenna and my niece and nephew. It was a great escape day where we were hugged by the mountains and our souls were held in love. Hard as it was, it was wonderful to see this loving group of people reach out and surround mom and walk with her (and me) through this day. 

Yesterday I was reading an old email from a forever friend who lost her mom earlier this year and her words are so honest and raw and beautiful I often go back to read them. 

Here’s a small excerpt where she’s talking about what it means to love:

 Love, is one of the forces in life that leads all of us directly into suffering, because we will ultimately lose every person and everything that we love.  

After dad died, MOM is the one who taught me to be fearless enough to love anyway,  without conditions, and take the great risk that loving HER, would break my heart. 

I love that her mom taught her to be fearless enough to love anyway. That the great risk we take in love is knowing that you will lose everything that you love. 

And yet what is the alternative? To go through life with a closed heart that never lets the love shine through. What a painful and empty existence. 

It is important to remember to be fearless in love. To be brave enough to keep loving even though you know you will be hurt. 

No matter what I will wake up each day and look for the things that make my soul shine. I will keep the intention to let my love shine and to be fearless enough to keep loving. That is something I learned from both my mom and dad. Love and look after your loved ones. No matter what. 

Happiness moment was walking main street Banff with a group of my loved ones. Watching the love surround Mom today to hold her in a love hug. Knowing that she is still fearless enough to love anyway. We are blessed. 


Digging Deep

I hadn’t really planned on double posting, but as I was out hacking at the 50 foot weeds in my vegetable garden tonight I was reflecting on what I’d said in my earlier post, and thinking about what I had meant to write about. 

I find usually my blogs take on a life of their own and no matter what I have planned, my fingers and heart just do what they want. 

What I had been reflecting on during my ride this afternoon though is worth making note of. I was thinking of my strength and how I recently came from a place of such weakness. When I fell apart my sprit and body were both broken. Smashed and crushed may also be accurate terms. I had to fix everything. 

I feel like I’ve spent the past few years working on my spirit and I know that it’s getting stronger and finding its voice and gaining confidence. Sometimes though I feel like my body has been so much slower to follow suit.  In order for me to be who I want to be I need both a strong body and a strong spirit. In my youth I was an athlete and strong. I had a brief period in my mid 30s where I was strong again, but I have felt like in this rebuilding process that my body seems to be taking longer than I want it to to gain strength. 

Lately though, I’m finding that in fact I’m a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. Often over the past few years things have happened where I’ve needed either external or internal strength and I’ve looked around for someone to lean on, someone to help with the burden. More often than not the only adult in the situation has been me and I’ve had to figure out how to dig deep and get through. 

I realized today how I’m getting more able to dig deep in the physical as well as the spiritual. When we were tacking up the horses I was the only adult around. So it fell to me to saddle and check cinches and bridles. Having grown up riding English, this usually is a pretty easy task. But here at the ranch we ride western, and those saddles are heavy!! I’m lucky because my saddle is light and comfy, but some of those other ones….. Oh my. 

I let Jenna use my saddle today and I  borrowed my nephew’s. I have actually decided that my new threat of punishment will be to carry his saddle around for a while. It is heavy!! Like throw up in my mouth a little and cry inside while trying to aim it in the general direction of my horse while not breaking his poor back heavy. 

But I did it. I put the saddle on the horse not just once but twice today. I was strong enough. I can dig deep. I’m stronger than I know. It’s kind of cool to finally be able to accept and celebrate the growing of strength. 


Bad to the bone

Years ago, in my early twenties, I had what came to be remembered as the summer of fun. It was the first year ever that I wasn’t showing my horse. Had I known it marked the end of my competitive riding it may not have been the summer of fun, but I didn’t know that at the time. I was young and single and had a good friend who was also young and single and fun. We spent the summer camping all over Alberta and British Columbia. On a whim we would pack up our tent and our dogs and take off for parts unknown in search of adventure. 

Near the end of the summer we added some other friends to our posse and went house boating on the Shuswap. Our boat had those wonderfully loud speakers to blast music and our theme song quickly became Bad To The Bone by George Thorogood. Whenever it was time for us to drive the boat, go swimming, or pretty much whenever we needed to be heard we would blast out the beginning of that song. 

To me those guitar riffs that start off that song hold memories of fun, sun, smiles, friends, and self confidence. It was a time in my life when I was happy with who I was and had confidence in who I was becoming. 

This morning as I sang loudly and badly to Bad to the Bone on my morning run I thought how easier life would have been had I not been broken. How differently would my energy have been used had I not had to spend it fixing myself? The good thing is that like many breaks I am healing into a stronger version of who I was. And maybe that’s what I needed to do. 

I’m thankful I have the strength to keep reaching for better things. 

My happiness moment today is supervising my kids as they supervise my sister’s kids in the play zone at the mall. It’s fun watching the four of them run and play with each other. Cousin relationships are special and I’m thankful they have this opportunity to bond together.  



Raise A Little Hell….

Back in the day I used to be quite the hell raiser (sorry mom and dad). I don’t even know what it was about me that made me want to be a hell raiser, but I was. I lived by my heart and my gut and reacted strongly from both. This led to both wonderful situations and very difficult situations being created. For the most part though, I can say I lived true to myself, honored my own spirit and generally believed I was doing the right thing for me.

Somewhere along the way (actually I know exactly where) I sold myself out. I made the conscious decision to not be a hell raiser anymore. I decided to take the safe route, to try and not upset people, to make what society considered smart decisions – and as a result, to give up on what I believed, desired and wanted, I gave up on my bliss.

Stupid move eh? It was made with the best of intentions at the time. I had no idea then the effect it would have on the rest of my life. Ironically, I don’t believe it made anyone else any happier that I stopped raising hell, and I certainly paid a hefty price for giving up on who I was.

So, here I sit at 43 having spent the past couple of years reflecting on how the choices I have made have led me to this moment in time. Some of those choices have been awesome and I would not trade them for anything, some of them I certainly would have taken the left path instead of the right had I been aware of where that path was going.

The point is though, that I am here at this moment and place in time and no amount of what-ifs will ever change that. And the moment and place in time that I’m in is a pretty good one.


I have discovered that I have a little hell left to raise. I have discovered that a really good part of me was lost when I gave up raising hell. I have also discovered that I have mellowed with age and that the hell I want to raise is not as loud and as abrupt as the hell I raised in my youth.

I watch my children grow up and start to raise some of their own hell. I hope they never lose that spark that makes them *them*. I want them to raise their own sort of hell as they figure out who they are and how they are going to live in this world. I want them to follow their own paths (even if it’s not the path I would choose for them). THEIR own paths – the ones they were put on this planet to follow and only they know how they will get there.

And if they’re worthy of raising a little hell to follow their paths of least resistance, then I am too.

This morning I was listening to Raise A Little Hell by Trooper. These lyrics pretty much sum up exactly where I am right now:

If you don’t like what you got, why don’t you change it?
If your world is all screwed up, then rearrange it?

Raise a little hell, raise a little hell, raise a little hell!

Raise a little hell, raise a little hell, raise a little hell!

If you don’t like what you see, why don’t you fight it?
If you know there’s something wrong why don’t you right it?

Raise a little hell, raise a little hell, raise a little hell!

Raise a little hell, raise a little hell, raise a little hell!

In the end it comes down to your thinking
And there’s really nobody to blame
When it feels like your ship is sinking
And you’re too tired to play the game

Nobody’s going to help you
You’ve just gotta stand up alone
And dig in your heels and see how it feels
To Raise a little Hell of your own

In that last verse I realized that that is exactly where I am. For years I looked for someone to help me. Finally in the past couple of years I realized that in fact I just had to stand up alone, dig in my heels and see how it feels to raise a little hell of my own! And here I stand.