Long Distance Parenting (FGK- 11)

The second part of this letter from Grandma to mom. This is September 1952, mom had been in the hospital for about 3 weeks. I love how Grandma includes mom in daily life at the ranch, describing things so well that even I feel that I am there. And the gentle reminder to mom about her compresses and ensuring that her caregivers remember to be gentle and attentive to her needs, so subtly done in a way that probably was soothing to mom.

Tues Morning.

The men all took lunches today and they are going to finish the haying, it is a lonely morning. Marsh and Ken just ran the binder so Marsh is always getting after poor Slim for being so slow with the haying. Delores and the kids were just in, Delores wanted some certo to make jam with.

We haven’t heard a word about how the Cochrane Rodeo went, everything is sure quiet here. I told Sheila she better jump in the car after diner and got up and spend the afternoon with Anne and Rosie. Sheila is sure lonesome for you and everyone is finding life dull. I daren’t even think about this empty house after the kids go in to school. However, I am lucky I can see you twice a week and I can look forward to the day you can come home. But you will find it terribly lonely here after being in there. There is so much going on in there all the time and someone around you all the time. I think that whole hospital has an air of happiness about it except sometimes Mrs. Hope looks worried and distressed. I think she is overworked don’t you? Well, I must get busy, I’ll write some more after a while – cherio xxxx

When mom was sick and had started her chemo, she talked a lot about looking for the silver lining in everything. I see those words here too. I would be more likely to be devastated that I could only see my 11 year old twice a week, but Grandma makes it sound like it’s the icing on her cake (and for those of you who remember, Grandma made the BEST icing). If I was Mrs. Hope I’d be worried and distressed looking after so many sick children too, but Grandma doesn’t dwell on that, instead she shines a light on the happiness of the hospital. Words are important, they can change how we perceive a situation, and Grandma seems to always look for the lining.


Dear Margie:

Do you miss Mrs. Powers very much? Every time the nurse brings the compresses be sure to remind them to be careful how they place those sandbags against your ankle or leg. Keep on telling them ‘cause they are so rushed they are apt to become careless and it is really important.

I should be baking a pie for tomorrow lunch but it’s hard not to write to you, you are so near and dear to me, I miss you terribly, but writing is next best to talking to you only i don’t get answers to all my questions.

I think Sheila must have gone up to Annies. You would have come in and said goodbye etc, but Sheila is so silent sometimes, I long for your company.

I had such a laugh about the comment regarding my aunt. At this time, she would have been about 17, and for some reason it made me deliciously happy to read that she was a normal teenager – holding the surly silence of a teen and escaping over to her aunt’s for a visit without saying anything (Aunt Annie lived in the old house, so she was just across the yard – definitely within yelling distance).

Dad came in for dinner time to say they broke the bailer just when they only had about 3 acres left to do. He doesn’t know whether he can fix it himself or not.

I am making buns so I must stop writing soon again. I sure have a stack of mending I should do too.

And she says that it would be boring at home. Grandma sounds like she never stopped except to sleep, or maybe to write to mom. And while they weren’t having constant parties, I can assure you that they all had a more active social life with people who really mattered to them than I do now.

I notice Rex out snooping around the bailer in front of the garage while Dad is working on it. He is sure getting big and rough now. He wants me to play with him like you did and he nearly knocks me over. I noticed Lady and her colt down on the flat across the creek this morning. You could see quite a change in the country now. We have had two severe frosts and everything is turning brown fast. The peas all froze in the garden, we only had one feed of string beans. It just seems as though school should be starting, it is in the air I guess.

Well I must get to work again I guess, the frig is melting and will need cleaning this afternoon too. Will write more later – love mom

Wed. Morning

Dear Margie – I was too tired to write more last night and I am a rush to get in and shop this morning before the stores close. I am sure looking forward to seeing you. Will write more to you tonight.

Lots and lots of love dear

Mother xxxxxx

I am so grateful I found these letters, I feel like Grandma and Mom’s stories are coming alive in this kitchen.


The little innocent part

I had an interesting conversation with a new friend this weekend. She had a similar marriage/divorce/being left alone to raise kids situation (we married the same kind of man) so we shared some of our stories with each other.

I really enjoy getting to know her, bad man choices aside she’s a really great person and we have a lot of fun laughing when we are together.

She said a couple of things that made me stop and think. The first was when she asked me why I’d started this happiness blog. I told her how unhappy and unsafe my life was and I had decided that for my 44th birthday I needed to do 44 days of happiness where I found something that made me happy/to be grateful for every single day. Some of those days were hard – some days it was oh, I saw Henry the Heron or I had someone smile at me at the grocery store. My life was pretty small and pretty sad back then.

I explained how it had made me so much more aware of how I wanted to be and that I needed to pray for major changes in my life. She said she totally understood, that she also had been in that black hole of fear and sadness, and that clinging onto any moment of happiness gave her hope that things would get better.

It made me realize that I need to get back to blogging again. I needed this break. We had some bad real life stuff come up and I just couldn’t deal. Given that I’ve blogged through the deaths of my parents and my divorce, just know it has been some really bad stuff that came up. But, I must keep looking for moments of joy, of laughter, of peace.

The other thing she said resonated with me so strongly it almost took my breath away. She asked if I was scared to allow myself to get really close to a man again. Then she said that she felt like that small, innocent, gentle part of her that was so precious had been killed in her marriage and divorce, and that she was afraid it wouldn’t come back.

That is exactly how I feel. I don’t know that the best part of me is available anymore. But it also made me determined that Mr X will not be successful in making that part of me die. I need to keep healing, I need to learn to be strong, I need to not be afraid that every man I meet will be Mr X, I need to stop allowing narcissists into my life.

Mostly I need to keep working towards a place of peace. This past month has made me aware how delicate a process this is. I have to be gentle with myself and with my kids. They have been through a lot, and they’re learning now what a normal family life without fear is like.

My moment of happiness over the weekend was 4H on parade with the kids and with our club. We have an awesome group of people, some are cousins, some are new people I’m getting to know. The kids are thriving in the club, they’re gaining self confidence, and we are all really enjoying the experience.

It’s so easy to get bogged down in fear. I just did. Granted, I had real life stuff happening to be scared of – scary stuff is still happening. But, I refuse to live my life in total fear anymore. Then Mr X wins. I want love to win.


Learning to surrender

Learning to surrender seems to be my theme over the past year. Not too long ago I had to surrender to God as I watched Dad come to the end of his life. I so wanted a miracle, and prayed for him to get better. But that wasn’t the path, and I was finally able to surrender to God and allow what was going to happen.

As difficult (and incredibly sad) as that was in some ways it was easier than the surrender I am learning to fall into now. I knew Dad was going to die. Surrendering all of that to God felt like being lifted up and held. It provided love and comfort.

I’ve struggled much more during this divorce with the concept of surrender. I sometimes confuse that word with giving up, and I constantly have to remind myself that they have completely different meanings. I get often angry at the thought of surrender (confusing the actions) and think – I am never going to just give up. I didn’t stand up for myself (and the kids) for years, finally I’m strong enough to face this and I’m not going to wave the white flag ever.

But, giving up and surrendering are totally different. I don’t have to give up the path I am on in order to surrender to God.

Giving up means rolling up in a ball in bed and crying. It means no action, no hope, living in suffering, and moving away from the connection with God. It actually sounds much like the way I lived for years in an emotionally abusive marriage. Well, that was an eyeopening and unexpected revelation (maybe you knew it already, I didn’t until I wrote it just now).

Surrender is more an acceptance of what is. By releasing it allows for more happiness, brings me closer to God, and means embracing life as it is.

This has been such an emotionally challenging year. Having Mr. X cut off our finances not even 8 months after Dad died and then finding out he had spent thousands of dollars getting his mistress into bed while telling me he was living on rice and beans was gutting. But it showed me once and for all the person that he is. I couldn’t deny it or make excuses for that behaviour anymore.

Every time I pray for help, for support, for love I keep hearing that I need to surrender everything to Him. And then I fight it. Because I don’t want to give up. But now I understand that I can surrender without giving up. I’m not saying I’ll go gently into it. I think it will be a struggle for the rest of my life this learning how to gracefully surrender. That frustrates me because I have a strong faith and I know that  every single time I have needed Him that God has been there preforming miracles. It should be the easiest thing in the world to have complete trust in the One Being who would never let me down. And yet….

I’m a work in progress

My happiness moment was standing in my kitchen looking out at the barn listening to the song Stuck on You. I used to take my old tape recorder with songs I’d recorded off the radio (remember the 70s and 80s?) and play my songs over and over while I hung out with Pirate in the barn. Some of my best memories are of singing Stuck on You while grooming and hugging on him. He was a one of a kind pony and I feel so blessed that he was in my life. I learned so much about how to be brave and to achieve the impossible from my relationship with him. That was love.


Just be held 

I’ve spent so much time being his broken object that I forgot I was His beloved child. 

Last night my sister sent me YouTube link to the song Just Be Held by Casting Crowns and told me I needed to listen to it (lyrics are at the end of the post). She was right, I’ve been listening to it pretty much non stop since. 

I’ve talked about how I was feeling overwhelmed. I also have talked about how I’ve finally let go of my fear. I kind of used my anger (and I’ve had a lot of it) to pull myself out of fear. But then I was left wondering what’s next? What will pull me out of anger?

I need to surrender to God. Much as I realized part way through the end of Dad’s journey that all I could do was love and surrender, in a different way it’s all I can do now. 

I’ve spent too much time with my eyes on the storm and not enough time with my eyes on the cross. 

I went out for my walk today and put my headphones on so I could listen to the song while I walked. I listened and prayed and cried as I travelled my beloved familiar path. 

I kept hearing your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place. 

This song brings me such comfort and makes me feel like I can begin to surrender some of my pain and uncertainty to God. 

I stood for a long time looking at the mountains asking God what I should be doing. What is His plan? What action do I need to take?

I heard just be held, just be held, just be held

I stood there crying letting God hold and comfort me. 

Then because God has a sense of humor the song suddenly switched to Baby’s going to cry by the Eurythmics. I tuned back in at the line:

Now there’s a cool breeze blowin’

Blowin’ out the flame

That used to burn inside me

At the mention of your name,

Now there’s a cool breeze blowin’

Blowin’ down the track –

That’s where I’m goin’

And I’m never comin’ back…

There is no going back. Even if there was I don’t want to. The things I’ve found out in the last couple of months (and trust me I’ve barely shared what I discovered) have let me know without a doubt it’s time to let go. 

My happiness moment was standing by the slough looking at the swans and allowing myself to Just be held


“Just Be Held”

Hold it all together

Everybody needs you strong

But life hits you out of nowhere

And barely leaves you holding on
And when you’re tired of fighting

Chained by your control

There’s freedom in surrender

Lay it down and let it go
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away

You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held

Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place

I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held

Just be held, just be held
If your eyes are on the storm

You’ll wonder if I love you still

But if your eyes are on the cross

You’ll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted

In time, you’ll understand

I’m painting beauty with the ashes

Your life is in My hands
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away

You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held

Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place

I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held

Just be held, just be held
Lift your hands, lift your eyes

In the storm is where you’ll find Me

And where you are, I’ll hold your heart

I’ll hold your heart

Come to Me, find your rest

In the arms of the God who won’t let go
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away

You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held

Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place

I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held (stop holding on and just be held)

Just be held, just be held, just be held, just be held

happiness, law of attraction, narcissist

Cousins of the round table 

I feel so fortunate that I was blessed at birth with ready made best friends in the form of my sister and cousins. They don’t all live as close to me as I’d like, but those relationships stand the test of time. No matter how much time goes past or what happens I know there’s this awesome tribe of people that I belong to. The same thing goes for my kids. They are a part of this awesome extended family we have that stretches across Alberta, BC, The Yukon, Ontario, New York, Italy, and Texas. Both sides of my family have such a strong bond, and I appreciate that more and more as time goes on.

Tonight we were treated to supper by one of my cousins in Cochrane between guitar lessons and youth group. This round table of cousins worked out so perfectly, each one of us had a friend to sit with – she has a girl and a boy close to the same age as my kids. Sitting around and laughing with this beautiful part of my tribe was a happiness moment for the day that will warm my heart for a long time.

I feel kind of like we are the Whos down in Whoville. The grinch may have stolen our Christmas, but he can’t steal our love and joy. We will stand firmly in our tribe singing our songs of happiness no matter what kind of hate and destruction he sends our way. Although I will never forgive the hurt that he has inflicted on us, I’m caring less and less about the fact that he’s trying to destroy me. He can’t do that. I am getting stronger and stronger with each and every day.

Every time I have needed something on this journey it has been provided for me, and I have faith and trust in the fact that this also will turn out for the best. Just because he says I’m worthless and stupid does not make it so. In fact, this journey has taught me what incredible strength and love I possess. I have learned so many things over the past few months that have really shown to me that all those hateful things I was taught by him about myself aren’t true. I came across this wonderful quote this morning and it taught me exactly how I will look at his behaviour as I move ahead through this divorce. I think it’s important to talk about it because there’s so much shame put on the person who is being used by a narcissist. It is possible to get out of that relationship and move on to a happy life which is what we all deserve. With every step I take he’s more and more just someone I used to know.


A person of worth

I woke up this morning feeling a little stressed and uneasy about where I am and where I’m going. We were supposed to have an emergency support hearing tomorrow which we have now had to put off until next week. The financial stress that he continues to put on the kids and I is unforgivable and unbelievable.  I have faith that it will all work out, and I know he’s just doing this to hurt me but still…. Even at the worst of our time together I never imagined he was capable of such deliberate betrayal and  cruelty. 

I was having mixed feelings about what it is that I will be doing next. The unknown is always scary and I feel like there has been so much unknown lately. My greatest joy in life so far has been staying home with the kids and helping to guide them into the awesome people that they are. It’s been a difficult and important job as well. I’ve been either the primary or sole parent for their entire lives,  and our relationship is as important to them as it is to me. They look to me for stability and security and after all the trauma we have been through that’s a job I don’t take lightly. 

This morning as I was getting breakfast ready for the kids they started talking about how much they loved all the homemade food I make to send to school with them. They laughed at how their friends in Roanoke would get very excited when I made banana bread and ask the kids for samples of the baked treats. It made me happy to hear that the hours spent in the kitchen are appreciated and enjoyed by them. 

Jenna has had a lot of leg pain after a skating fall and then a trampoline collision so instead of dropping her at school I took her to urgent care in Cochrane – thank goodness for this place the staff is awesome. 

After three and a half hours and some X-rays they determined that her leg was not broken, but that there was some soft tissue damage and muscle bruising. They told her to stay on crutches for the next few days and rest a bit and then she will be as good as new. Her doctor was amazing. He took a lot of time with Jenna and made sure she was comfortable and understood what the diagnosis was before going on to his next patient. 

What really impressed me with this doctor though was his consult with the patient before us. I don’t know all that was going on – I was trying not to listen, but there was only a curtain between her and us – but she was quite obviously upset and in a lot of pain. The medication that had been prescribed was not working and she was at the end of her rope trying to cope. The doctor was explaining to her that simply upping her medication or giving her a different, stronger kind was not going to solve the problem. 

As you can imagine, this was very upsetting to her. I could relate having had some bad chronic pain issues in my past. I heard him slow down his speaking and using a very  gentle tone said: it’s important to remember that you are so much more than this pain you are feeling. There’s so much more than just the body. You have a wonderful soul, and spirit and it is who you really are. This pain is just something you are going through. I wish I had had a doctor talk to me like that when  I was dealing with my pain. Actually my chiropractor talked a lot like that and it’s a reason why I am forever grateful to him for all that he’s done for me. 

I felt like bursting through their curtain and saying “Ayurveda can help you” I thought of how broken I was when I started learning about it and how far I have come now. It has seen me out of debilitating anxiety and pain, walked me through the death of my dad, and now is helping me stand strong when the person who was supposed to be my soulmate has ended up being my worst attacker. I’ve talked before about how Ayurveda  has saved my life and I don’t mean that lightly. It literally saved me and has made me so much stronger and better. 

While I was sitting with Jenna I got to thinking how grateful I am that I have this job of being home with the kids. Not only has it been a huge blessing for me, but it has provided immense security and comfort for the kids. My mind wandered to how unfair it was that Mr X has no respect or gratitude for how hard I have worked and what I have given up.  As my mind started going down that ugly spiral that would lead nowhere good, I picked up my book and did some reading. The first phrase I came to was this:


It’s true. Just because he thinks I have no value does not make it true. The reality is that I’m still a good person, parent, friend, sister,  daughter- I have worth. He has spent years trying to erase and devalue my worth, but that does not make it true. 

My happiness moment was appreciating that I am able to be there for the kids whenever they need me, and remembering that I am a person who has worth. It was also a good reminder of all the good that I can bring to the world by sharing my knowledge of Ayurveda.