Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We Will Walk Because He Cannot

I've decided to sign myself, Eric and the boys up to participate in the Relay for Life Cancer Walk that is taking place on Friday, June 17th.  We're going to walk for my dad, because he can't.  We decided to walk in Windsor because that's his home town and the rest of the Rousseau Family will be joining us, or rather we'll be joining them. 

If you are so inclined, I would appreciate your pledge.  It doesn't have to be much.  Every little bit counts and it would mean the world to me.  Please click the link below and it will take you directly to my personal page where you can pledge me.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I still miss you like crazy.

SPACE: The Final Frontier

Some of you have read this already on Eric's page, but I wanted to add it to my page for future reference, and so I'd have a forever copy of it, though I do still have the original masterpiece. 

A little while ago Roan brought home a pile of stuff from school.  We're not sure what the purpose of this was...if it's an essay, a typing lesson, a journal, etc. but it's clearly AMAZING.  It has been transcribed exactly how it was originally typed by the author, and Eric has highlighted some of his favourite parts.  It's an excersise for your brain as well while it tries really hard to read phonetic spelling...

If this sort of written work doesn't give you a clear insight into just how quickly Roan's brain is running, nothing will.  I hope reading this and understanding what he has to deal with in his head on a daily basis gives more people the patience they need to deal with Roan and his quirks.    Too funny!!

SPACE IS VARY INTORESTING TRIONS OF PLANETS AND GALAXSES ALL IN OUR HEWG HEWMUGES UNEVERS  AND OUR SOLER SITAM JUPATER WITH 61 MOONS URANUS WITH 9 MOONS EARTH WITH 1 MOON AND ALL THE ATHER PLANETS in the SOLER SISTAM AND THERE ARE MANY DIFRENT AND BIGER STARS THAN THE SUN ANDTRILEONS OF MORE ANDBIGER PLANETS THANEARTH TO BUT NOT a lot OF PLANETS SESTAN LIFE ATHER THAN EARTH. SPACE IS A VERY BIG PLACE WITH TRILEONS OF MILEONS OF NEET THINGS TO BUT ALIENS COULD BE OUT THERE TO THOU I THINK WE CANT BE THE ONLY LIFE IN THE UNEVERS THE UNEVERS IS JUST SO BIG THAT IT CAN FIT SO MANY WANDERFULL LIFE JUST MILONS OF THE PLANETS DONT HAVE ATMISFIRS OR ANY OXEJEN FOR US TO BREETH . METERS CAN COME THREW OUR ATMISFUR AND KILL PEOPLE BUT IT USHULY DOSONT happen VERY OFTENT BUT I THINK it is WHAT KILLED THE DINOSORS BUT IT MAYMHAVE NOT YOU NEVER KNOW IF YOUR NEVER THERE BUT THINGS happen LIKE THAT BUT PEOPLE HAVEVANESHED MILONS OF HABETATS TO THOU PEOPLE DESTROYED EARTH ALLSO I WISH PEOPLE HAVE NEVER DO SUCH A THING LIKE THAT EVER BUT OVER TIME ANIMALS LIFE WILL JUST FADE AWAY BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE VERY INTELEGENT LIKE PEOPLE BUT ONLY SOME PEOPLE USE THE INTELAGENT PEOPLE sometimes JUST DESTROY EVERYTHING instead. BUT METERS AND COMETS PAST EARTH AND THE MOON ALL THE TIME. Space is just a big ixsplotion and it is just expanding and expanding. The sun is about half way to exploding into a black hole that has the strength to crush something flatter than a pees of paper but that wont happen for so long from now . And we might celide with another galaxy in in a couple 100100000000000000 years from now past millions of peoples lives so don’t worry. Did you know that close to how many solar system in the galaxy is about how many grains of sand are on earth. That is a lot of solar system in 1 galaxy . and that there is a metier that could hit earth in the year 2036 but I think that they will ether find something to hit it with or it just will get taken from another planets gravity  but it wont kill any body any ways so there’s nothing to worry about right now. I would always wont to go on the moon that would be a neat experiences in my life but its to expensive they make everything to expensive but I understand for this one . Now I’m going to talk about the Amazon forest a bit that’s interesting to you know well I think so at leest
Amazon forest, the Amazon forest is just being destroyed I don’t understand why it is so special it would be one of the most special if it wasn’t being destroyed but the blew there chance all as they want is money I don’t see why money is the world it just a pees of paper with numbers on it why so series and this is alcoholy true not saying that the other stuff isnt true some of it is but human being is a failed sepses it just destroyed earth. I am not trying to be mean ether I am just saying what is going on with this  pure forest you are also killing so many animals. All right back to space and planets. I know that there is more planets out there that have oxygen because we arnt the only ones that can breath because space is just to big of a place not to have more than one planet that has oxygen I know there is more than one planet like that. in the universe there are meetyers that pas earth and the moon all the time. the universe know one has found the edge of the universe yet . Mars is getting invited they are trying to find water on Mars not that it is a bad thing they also found pyramids on Mars to that could be a sign of aliens I be liven aliens do you? I also think that aliens made us a lot of people don’t beleven aliens but I do . An alien could of put a peas of back are on a rock then sent it to earth then all the life formed and then finally us one of the newest animals in the world people ether are still dinosaurs on earth you know frogs sharks crocodiles and that about it people used to think that the world was square and you would fall off if you went to far. there are still trillions of thing to be discovered out there in space the universe is just so big that so much things can fit in it. we are not the only life in the universe the universe is just a big explosion that happened called the big bane it happened a couple trillion yeas ago. Also there is a storm on Jupiter that has been there for sentry’s. Saturn has rings but Saturn also has another ring around the first ring to that ring is very big and it is red. Vunis is the only planet that goes clock wise . Thank you for reading my dock I will make another one next time
by roan: Meredith

Just to clarify, Jupiter actually has 63 moons, and Uranus has 27. The Meteor he talks about hitting Earth is known as Apophis, and you can read more about it online.  (although I prefer Roan’s version).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Story of our Futures

I have lots of things to post about but I haven't been feeling up to writing too much lately.  I promise to get to it soon enough.  Hopefully over this long weekend.  For now though I'm going to share with you the results of mine and Eric's palm readings that we had done tonight on a spur of the moment.  And by spur of the moment I mean, we've walked past this little store front shop a couple of times and discussed it but finally caved tonight.

It was a sketchy little place which is probably why we were hesitant the last few times we've gone past it.  Eminem was blaring from the speakers, and there as stuff everywhere.  I am pretty sure she is a hoarder.  Anyway, I suppose I shouldn't expect real professionalism from a fortune teller, so here goes.

Eric went first and based on what she reported he is:

  • Independent.  (I could probably argue against this statement a little bit.)
  • He's decided that his main purpose in life is about him and pleasing himself now.  
  • He is his own boss and though it may be short term it could lead into something else for him and he will be successful. (He sort of is, so she's right there, and I'm hoping she's right about it turning into something else that he's successful at.)
  • He has many sleepless nights and tends to analyze everything.  He over thinks things. And he suffers from lower back pain. (She is bang on.)
  • She sees a 'marriage' for him and two kids.  And no problems with this relationship.  (I guess he's got that already.)
  • He has a large move in his future and it will be beside water.  (We have planned to move to BC in 9 years or so... on the island.)
  • Someone close to him will be having surgery in the future, but not to worry it will be successful.  (I hope it isn't me or the boys.  We've had enough hospital shit for a while.)
  • Everything he has in life, he worked for.  Nothing was ever handed to him.  
  • He has a temper and he can be very stubborn.  (So true.)
  • He will give the shirt off of his back to help someone out and he's eager to please those he is closest to even at the risk of getting hurt.  (I'm pretty sure this is true as well.)
  • He will have a long life and will die of old age, not accident or illness.  (So does that mean he can keep smoking??)

Then I went:

  • I too will live a long life.  (Nothing mentioned about me dying naturally of old age though.  Figures.)
  • I am independent, but I need to get over my shyness and stop allowing people to walk all over me.  (Uhm, what?)
  • I've made the decision that I'm going to focus on pleasing myself first in my life.  (Right after my kids...)
  • I'll be married with two kids.  (Done and done.  Oh wait, she means in the future. I guess I've got both of those too.)  She also said it would be problem free.
  • She sees a large purchase in 3-5 years.  Possibly new real estate.  (I'm thinking more along the lines of a washer and dryer. )
  • She said there is a female in my life who I think is a friend who is also needy and that I should watch my back and not trust her as she's going to turn on me.  ( for thought)
  • I suffer from stomach problems and I get frequent headaches and that they are caused by stress.  (Is that trait for tall, thin, redheaded, fair skinned girls?  Cause how'd she know that?)
  • I have small anxiety but not to worry as it won't get any worse than it currently is.  (I wasn't aware.)
  • I can be real mean when I want to be.  (I'm still laughing about this comment.)
  • I am struggling with a large life altering decision.  I'm torn between two things.  She told me to go with my heart.  It won't steer me wrong. (If I knew which one my heart was voting for, I wouldn't be in this predicament.) 
 All in all, entertaining.  But very short.  I expected it to take more than a minute each.  I was also a little disappointed that she didn't even look at Eric's left hand until he asked her to.  And when she did, she made no comment on his Simian Line.  She could have cared less.  I thought for sure she'd tell him he had a touch of Down Syndrome or something, but nope!  I am such a skeptic that I don't even think she knows what it is.  Some palm reader!

She also asked us to think of two wishes before we started and at the end she hoped our wishes came true for us.  Eric asked me what I wished for and I told him that I wished that my mom would be ok and be able to work through her grief and only hang on to all the good memories of my dad.  And I wished for me to be able to find a way to complete all the things I want to do around my house.  So I guess that means I wished for money.  He commented on how I went big with my wishes so I asked him what his were. He says he picked two wishes where he would see some concrete results sooner than later. Just to justify if she was 'right' or not.  He picked oral sex and regular sex.  Classy.  It's too bad he told me, because I hear I'm capable of being very mean when I want to be and so I expect I'll see that temper of his at some point tonight.  I like testing fate like that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Eulogy of a Hero

A Tribute to our husband and father:

While taking a little time to go through some of our Kit's things we came across a folder of his writings.  If you didn't know, he was a very talented writer.  We are pretty sure he only became aware of this gift a few years ago, when he began to realize that writing was cathartic for him.  His eloquent use of words spoke strongly of the eloquent man he was and he toyed with the idea of writing a story about his life.  It's sad that he didn't find the time, because he could spin a great story and he had the best memories.  What we found were written gifts left for us, and some of the writings speak volume now that we've gathered here today to celebrate an amazing and loving husband, a devoted and proud father, a cherished grandfather, a dedicated brother, a trusting uncle and dear friend.  A complex yet simple man.  We want you to hear a passage from one of his writings:

“I consider myself a very lucky man.  I have witnessed technological marvels, positive changes in the everyday life and I have known the love of a good woman and the unconditional love of my children.  That is much more than many, and no less than others.  I look to the sky and drink in the beauty of a summer's night and think back to those times many years ago when that same summer sky blanketed and inspired a young boy to dream.”

We know dad thinks he was the lucky one, and he was.  He was surrounded by an outpouring of support from his family through the last two weeks of his life and we take comfort in knowing that all that love helped to carry him when he could no longer carry himself.  But we are lucky as well.  Lucky to have had a man like him in our lives.  We know what we'll tell you today will not begin to do his life and what he has accomplished the justice it deserves but we'll do our best to give you a small glimpse into the man he was and the man he became. 

As a young child he was a fun and typical brother with extremely fond memories of growing up in what he deemed the best era to be a kid, the 1950's.  A time when he lived in a world that was constantly changing around him yet he was still insulated from it and allowed to be a child.  He was safe, comfortable and happy.  As a teenager, in the 1960's following the untimely death of his father, his hero, he took on the role of protector and nurturer to his 8 siblings.  He became a father figure to the younger kids and did everything in his power to teach them and guide them as best he could and based on the actions of his siblings during the past two weeks, we'd say he was successful in his goals to help mold them into good people.  It was their turn to support their brother and they were successful to the end. 

Kit was a good time guy.  He was popular, athletic, talented, intelligent, funny, and well liked growing up.  He enjoyed a party, but probably relished the quiet moments more than any of us knew having grown up in a 2 bedroom home with 9 kids.  We assume those moments were few and far between.  He has shared with us many hilariously funny stories of his youth, some of them quite unbelievable and some stories that far from warranted a laugh.  He began life well loved and cared for, but after the death of their father, life on Olive Road got harder for the gang of nine and they learned to rely on each other to get them through.  And if you ask us, they all did a pretty decent job with what they were handed. 

In 1970, after hitch hiking to Leamington, Kit met his future wife Kathy at the roller rink where he opened with the cheesy line, “I'm supposed to tell you I dig tall redheads.”  It seemed to work because she has walked beside him for 40 years.  They began a life together quite young, frankly Kathy was still in high school when they married.   They have raised three devoted children together.  They have had successes and failures, leaps and stumbles, but in the end they still had each other.  They have been through all the things married couples typically go through.  They were each other's best friend, and he wanted to marry her all over again.  She was his pillar of strength and he was hers.  They spent most of their time together because they chose to.  They traveled together – across Canada, through the United States and most importantly to Ireland, the most special of all the trips for him.  They enjoyed road trips together to attend Blue's Festivals and Rib Fests.  They enjoyed the company of their children, and in the later years the company of their 4 grandchildren.  They enjoyed Rousseau family functions when everyone got a chance to get together.  They enjoyed watching their grandsons play soccer throughout the year and he was never shy about vocally rooting them on much to the chagrin of the referees.  He often wondered what it was that Kathy saw in him when they first met.  We aren't sure why he questioned it.  It's obvious what with that sweet hair style, amazing wardrobe, and beautifully cared for teeth what she saw in him. To be honest, she was probably just using him to rebel against her parents and he roped her in with his charm, charisma and sweet roller skating skills.  Dad always enjoyed a game of golf whether in a foursome with his brother in laws or just randomly joining a foursome of unknown people on the golf course.  Most recently he golfed with Kathy and Geoff and Anita in charity tournaments.  Kit and Kathy enjoyed bike rides or going for walks on a summer night, most often making their way over to visit with Holly, Eric, Gage and Roan.    They kept their life pretty simple and appreciated the small things they had.  They just enjoyed each other's company.  Pretty simple, yet so deeply complex.  They have experienced a life together, a life no death will ever take away, a life full of memories to cherish. 

In 1972, they welcomed the beginning of their own family with the arrival of Geoff.  A boy who had dreams instilled in him before his eyes could even focus.  In our dad's eyes, Geoff was going to be a professional football player but once he realized this wasn't to be, he was satisfied to just quietly sit and watch a football game on a Sunday afternoon with him or take in a live game in Hamilton or Buffalo, but he still loved his Detroit Lions.   He knew  how important comics were to Geoff, so he finally shared his secret that the Green Lantern was his favourite superhero growing up.  Much to Geoff's dismay as he was one of his least favourites at the time.  Now Geoff has an entirely different appreciation for the Green Lantern.  Our dad also introduced Geoff to the art of photography.   Dad was the original photographer in our family, he was self taught, as with most of his talents, and experimented with different styles and techniques for years.  He is the main reason why Geoff  picked up a camera and he is still the first person Geoff thinks of when he puts the camera to his eye.  As Geoff became a man with his own wife and children, dad admired the person he had become.  He was most proud of the strength Geoff and Anita displayed when faced with the challenge of an Autistic little boy and the struggle they persevered through for a second baby.  He was awed by how Geoff faced these challenges with his wife by his side and was most proud of the decision Geoff made to deal with it properly and not allow the potential darkness of the situations to envelope him like he had done to himself through the years.  Geoff had become a man.  A family man.  An honest man.  And dad had set that course in motion years prior. 

He was so thankful that Geoff found the love of a good woman just like he had.  He gained another daughter when Anita entered our family and treated her as such.  He liked her from the start and grew to love her as his own.  He treated her and thought of her no differently than he did his own two daughters.  He teased her, laughed with her, helped her, comforted her when he needed to, included her in his pet names for his girls, but most importantly he accepted her for everything she was.  He admired her spunk and tenacity and knew almost from the start that she was going to fit into our quirky family just fine.  Sometimes he would shake his head in wonder when he realized that she was more handy around the house than his own son and it was at these times that he realized Geoff had found the person to complete him.   He was so pleased that she was the mother of his son's children and knew she was an amazing mother at that.

In 1974, he welcomed his first daughter.  She was supposed to be a Nicole but dad took one look at his new baby girl and determined she was a Holly.  She was his princess, yet a spitfire just like him.  He taught her his love of rollerskating and she honed her skills when she was 7 while wearing her dad's size 9 black boot roller skates.  He was her example of what a good man is.  He was the one she feared letting down the most.  But in reality she rarely did.  He was her built in handy man, her hero, and confidant.  They had the same knack for sometimes not thinking before speaking.  He taught her enough that she could probably lay a ceramic tile floor on her own or patch a hole in a wall because of his teachings.  But she still can't clean out her vacuum hose like he could.  He knew how to calm her down when ever she was in a panic and always came to her rescue.  One phone call or visit is all it would take.  Through the years as Holly grew he had pride in his realization of just how similar they were.    She had the same inappropriate humour, the same technique of flying off the handle in a heartbeat but just as quickly calming down, she had the same sarcastic nature and sometimes couldn't find her filter and simply just said what came to mind.  She was his daughter through and through.  He had instilled in her the strength to be a single mom and provide for her two sons even when she was sure she wasn't capable.  And he was most proud of what she had accomplished in life:  two wonderfully, amazing children, a rewarding career that he greatly respected, an independence that could not be shaken, a loyal friend and a maturity when necessary beyond her years.  He taught her that when things needed to get done, you just find a way to do it.  All things that were part of an underlying foundation he had laid early in her youth.  Maybe he didn't even realize that he had done it.

While he knew Holly was capable of surviving well on her own, he wanted her to find the love and respect of a man that deserved her and all that she had to offer.  He was so pleased when Eric came onto the scene as he had finally seen the look he was searching for on his daughter's face when she talked about this new person.  He sadly didn't get to spend a large amount of time with Eric before his death, but the time they did spend together was good.  They were still getting to know each other but both respected the other person.  He was relieved and elated to learn how much Gage and Roan loved Eric and how good he was with them in return.  All he wanted for his daughter and her family was for them to be treated right and he felt deep within his heart that Eric fit that bill.  He immediately welcomed Eric into his family and enjoyed the times they spent together, whether it was laying hardwood floors and doing household tasks, discussing future projects or their mutual love of tools and all things wood related, or just enjoying their similar sarcasm.  He found relief in these past two weeks knowing that he was leaving Holly and the boys in Eric's capable hands and that brought him a sense of peace. 

The final piece of Kit's puzzle was put into place with the arrival of Dawn during the blizzard of '77.  He had to basically move mountains (mainly of snow) to get to the hospital in time for her birth as he was working in Windsor and not readily available.  His family was complete.   He had a little girl who loved to cuddle and sit in his lap. He enjoyed quiet moments with Dawn and loved taking in a Niagara Falls Thunder hockey game with her on a routine basis for some one on one time.  They would spend hours watching lame B movies together, and the thought of any British comedy  like Benny Hill still immediately evokes thoughts of dad for Dawn.  They shared a quiet unspoken bond that never wavered.  He was proud of his baby girl and found a comfort in having her with him at home these past years.  He used to tease her about not being married but he relished in the longer gift of time he was able to spend with her and he liked not having to share her heart with another man.  He admired the independent person she had grown into after years of worrying about her sensitive nature.  They loved each other but could drive each other a little crazy once in a while.  She with her 45 minute showers and he with his uncanny knack for not being able to enter a house without making a ton of noise. He worried about her going forward after these past couple of weeks as she is alone and doesn't have a reliable partner to lean on in her quiet struggles to get past all of this but he was comforted knowing she was going to be close by for Kathy and he knew they would be able to lean on each other from time to time.  He was amazed at her strength and so proud to watch her become his rock in the end and he finally knew he wouldn't have too much to worry about.  She was going to be ok.  

While each of us has some unique personal experiences and memories of our dad, many of the things we remember about our dad overlap with each other. 
He taught us the love of reading.  Showing us an opportunity to get lost somewhere other than our own heads. He showed us how to be someone we aren't or go somewhere we'll never get a chance to.  He taught us that reading gives us knowledge and with knowledge comes power. 
He introduced us to our love of travel.  We were blessed to be able to vacation together as a family and travel across our own country and into the United States as children.  We all have many fond memories of our family vacations that we still look back on with laughter.  And while on our own family vacations we strive to achieve those same types of memories for our children to take with them through their life. 
He instilled in us an appreciation for music.  He had an eclectic taste, ranging from rock and roll to the blues, to country.  He truly appreciated the art of music and the escape he got from listening to it.  He had an extensive vinyl record collection that he accumulated starting in his youth and it was one of his most valued material possessions.   We are surprised that with such a love of music that he wasn't inclined to play an instrument.  Had he taken up this hobby we are pretty sure he would have made a great piano player. 
He was a fountain of useless information and all of us were in awe of his ability to always know the right answer.  He would have been the prime partner to have in a game of Trivial Pursuit.  We always said he should go on Jeopardy, he would have done well.  While we know he was a good student scholarly, we suspect this is a result of all the reading he did throughout his life. 
He was a history buff who loved to learn everything he could about the wars of past, scientific discoveries, technological advances, and notable people.  Up until his final days he was still intent on keeping up with the current news.  He needed  to know what was happening in and around the world.  It was important to him.
He had an awkward, sometimes crude, but always weird sense of humour.  He passed that lovely trait onto the three of us so you all will continue to be blessed, stop worrying.  He was a man who would often laugh at his own jokes, even if they weren't funny.  In fact that probably made him laugh harder.  He would sometimes make inappropriate comments and forget he wasn't using his 'indoor' voice.  Though most of you know that using an indoor voice is hard for a Rousseau.  He knew how to take a joke at his own expense.  He would laugh until he cried at just the mere thought of the Dan Akroyd, Julia Child skit from Saturday Night Live.  He didn't need to actually watch it, just the sheer memory of it was enough.  We can't watch any of the following without him immediately coming to mind.  Benny Hill.  Married with Children.  Two and a Half Men.  National Lampoon's Vacation. The Big Chill.   Animal House.  And that's only naming a few.  
He had an uncanny ability to barge into a conversation part way through and demand to take part even though he had no idea what we were talking about.  He'd even offer up his opinion which usually never made sense since he mistook what the subject of discussion actually was. We are resting easy knowing that he passed that trait on to Roan and he'll carry out that legacy without any struggles. 
He had a work ethic like no other man we've met.  And we're not sure if we should be cursing him or thanking him for passing this trait along to each of us.  He's set our standards and expectations high for how we perceive others should be in the workplace which usually only leads us to disappointment.  He worked many jobs throughout his life, starting with delivering newspapers and donuts, then moving  to the drive-in theatre, to factories, before going back to school in 1998 to start a new career in Human Resources.  He moved on to hiring for a temporary employment agency and was successful in finding many of our friends employment that could better their lives and situations.  His most rewarding job was when he went to work helping young people turn their lives around and began to see the results.  He felt great pride giving those kids the skills they'd need to better their lives.  After moving on from there he decided a simpler job with less emotional involvement was probably what he needed at this time in his life and he went to work for the same company as Geoff, Anita and Dawn, which made for many boring dinner conversations for Kathy and Holly.  He rounded out his career life running a recycling plant before he was admitted to the hospital and could not return to work.  
He thrived on the 'it's good enough' theory which drove our mother crazy.  Everything to him was good enough (but sometimes it clearly wasn't, well it was clear to us, just not him).  We would sit back and watch my mother bicker with him about his theory and laugh.  It was a given, every time he repaired something, built something, or cleaned something and Kathy critiqued him in even the slightest way,  it was good enough.  We've come to appreciate his theory more as we get older because he never made us feel like we needed to change ourselves in any way.  We were good enough. 
He was also a man who owned his actions.  If he did good, he wasn't too proud to brag.  If he did wrong, he was the first to step up and admit fault. He didn't find pleasure in placing blame where it didn't belong.  He took ownership.  He could admit his mistakes and errors in hopes that some lesson was learned as a result of  his actions.  He was often caught trying to convey these lessons to his grandsons; Gage and Roan.  We can only hope they actually heard him.

Dad's life took on a completely new meaning for him, filled with love and emotions he didn't think were possible, in 1997 with the birth of his grandson and buddy, Gage.  He'd always heard it was different being a grandfather than being a father.  He knew he was lucky and blessed with his own children but he never expected the waterfall of emotions he'd experienced  when looking into Gage's tiny face on that first day.  It was instant love and devotion, a silent knowing between two souls.  Dad would stop by on a pretty regular basis on his way home from work for even just 10 minutes to get his fix of Gage when he was a baby, never wanting to over stay his welcome but really needing just a few minutes to hold him or catch a smile or belly laugh.  They spent many days and hours in each other;s company and both are better people for it.  Gage taught Kit to smile with his whole heart again and to enjoy the little things in life while Kit taught Gage the essence of a great man, giving him a wonderful role model to strive to emulate.  For 14 years there was a connection between the both of them that no one else could touch.  He was so proud of Gage and who he is becoming.

In 2001 another grandson was added to his most prized collection when Roan came along.  Shortly there after dad was given the gift of living with Gage and Roan for three years which allowed him the time to form a similar bond with this new addition in his life.  He found comfort and a new sort of love from Roan.  As Gage got older and involved in more social aspects of life, dad finally got to spend some quality alone time with Roan on a more frequent basis.  Roan relished in those times without Gage around.  He rarely wanted to hang out with anyone else but Grandpa.  He would randomly call over to Grandpa's house to hang out rather than make plans with his friends.  Dad savored all the drawings and cards he received from our little budding artist and truly felt Roan possessed a gift for drawing. Dad also worried for Roan growing up with his own struggles and it broke his heart that life might not just come easily to him, but we take comfort in knowing that Roan has someone pulling for him up there and we know he's going to turn out just fine.   Their's was a relationship between a kid and a man who wore their hearts on their sleeves with one another.  Neither ever doubted each other's love. 

Later in 2001 another staple of his life joined our family with the birth of Sebastian.  Sebastian brought an entirely new dynamic to our family and helped us grow and become better people, our dad especially. While he (like everyone else) struggled with the different type of relationship he had with Sebastian and worried about him, his love never faltered.  He celebrated each of his successes and accomplishments with a swelled heart.  He was so proud of how far he has come in his life and was confident these milestones will continue through the coming years.  He always wished there was more he could do to make life easier for his Bastian.  He didn't have as close of a relationship with Sebastian while he was a baby as he would have liked, but in the later years he began to spend much more time with him and he cherished each moment as a gift.  We can only hope now that dad will find a way to make things easier for Sebastian from wherever it is he's gone to.  Perhaps continued visits with his special boy through his dreams.  

In 2008 dad got the cherry on top of his banana split.  His granddaughter Sawyer came into his life.  Another fiery redhead reminiscent of his own two daughters had taken up residence in his heart.  How he loved the sound of her laughter and watching her grow into a little girl.  He said she brought back so many memories of Holly and Dawn.  Her addition to our family made him realize how much he missed having a little one around the house.  The renewed sounds of belly laughs and new words, the pitter patter of little feet on the hardwood floors and the sloppy kisses.  All things he adored from his grandchildren.  He also mentioned that he wasn't too concerned about her growing up in this world as he already knew she'll be unstoppable.  He was saddened to have his time with Sawyer cut short and that he wouldn't be able to share the same bond with her as he has with the others but he was assured that his spirit will be kept alive so she can truly understand and know the man her Grandpa was and how proud he was of his granddaughter. 

Since his children have grown, he turned his hopes and dreams towards his grandchildren.  He spent countless hours with them, doing what grandpas and grandkids do.  He could sit and read stories with them for hours, beginning what we hope is a new appreciation for the escape of a book.  He would often be found on the floor with the kids building with Lego's or creating Bionicles, doing puzzles, or playing with cars.  We're pretty sure he'd have played with dolls and wore make up and had tea parties had Sawyer asked him.    He spent countless hours with Gage and Roan building model cars together.    While it didn't happen as often as he would have liked he was grateful to travel with the boys and held their trip to Prince Edward Island close to his heart.  He enjoyed the enthusiasm the boys showed for building things in his workshop and relished in teaching them about tools.  He loved the simplicity of movie nights and sleepovers.  Gage found it endearing that Grandpa slept with 5 pillows and still had his own blanket at the age of 61.  It was the love and assistance of a little boy name Gage that was finally able to get him to stop smoking after 44 years or so and we have to wonder if that bought us the extra time we, as a family, needed with him.  We look back through the years and are so thankful he made the choice 21 years ago to become sober and start to see life with new colour.  This choice, in the big picture, allowed him the relationship he had with his grandchildren, the true reward for facing his demons and enduring the heartache he went through in life.  He found a sense of peace in their company.  A rejuvenation of sorts.

In his final days our husband and father displayed a grace like nothing we have seen before.  He kept his humour with him at all times and a positive attitude as best he could.  When the rest of us found nothing positive to hang on to, he allowed us to hang on to him.  He relished in the visits he received and the time he got to spend with his wife, his kids, his grandchildren, his brothers and sisters and his nieces and nephews.  Those moments kept his spirit up, his will grew stronger but he knew this time was a gift.  He displayed an undying love for all of us and we will never question how he felt because  he told us and showed us.  He had an enormous heart and each one of us had our own place in it.  It doesn't seem possible, but it's true.  He loved his brothers and sisters first and did his best to keep them safe and teach them life lessons, and then he loved his wife and did his best to make her proud to be his partner, and then he loved his children, just the way a parent should love their kids.  He taught us so many valuable lessons both spoken and through actions.  He tripped along the way a few times but he never stopped trying.  And then he loved his grandchildren and there are just no words to describe the love he had for those four kids.  We're pretty sure it even caught him off guard.  They got a good deal when they got him..  We all did.  He has  taught us all what it means to be a good person in all aspects of life.  He's  taught us that even when you're down, you aren't necessarily out.  That there is always hope for a new day.

He mentions in his writings that 'we are here for a short time and we need to strive to make the most of the time we are given.  If we hold on too hard and too long to the traumas that have befallen us, then we lose the opportunity to live the life we rightfully deserve.  Now is the time for healing, a time for forgiveness and a time to hold on to everything and everyone that we cherish.  We need to locate within us that part of us that is our spark. Call it our soul or our essence, it is the spiritual part of every one of us that connects us to all other humans.  Without it, we cannot truly enjoy and appreciate life.'  And he asks the following, “Isn't the true meaning of life to serve one another as fellow human beings and to leave this world slightly better than we found it?  Dad, you were wise beyond your experiences and if we take nothing else from you, then we should heed this advice.  There are no truer spoken words.  You have taught us all many valuable lessons during your life and we will continue to make you proud. 

Our family chain has been broken with no option of repair.  We all feel a huge loss with your departure but we know your love and the love of your family will encircle us and keep us safe.  Our lives will never be the same without you but they are richer for having had you.   We are the legacy you have left behind and it's a great legacy.  Until we can see your face, hear your voice, feel your arms around us and hold your hand again, we will do you proud. 

We love you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A letter for my father

To my dearest dad:

I struggle to find the words that would adequately describe how I am feeling about you and the enormous sense of loss that I feel.  Writing isn't my gift.  I have played back the past two weeks in my head with vivid detail, but since yesterday the details seem to be getting hazy and I'm afraid I'll forget everything about you over time as well as everything that has happened, and that would be so much worse than your actual death. 

There are so many things I want to remember about you:
  • The sound of your voice, especially when you said my name.  I'm so sad I deleted your last message on my answering machine.  Just like always, I expected there would be more...
  • Your smell and the feel of you hugs.  Those two go hand in hand for me because that's always when I'd get the best opportunity to breathe you in.  Your smell was 'off' in the hospital, but I don't want to forget even that smell.  I'll wait for your smell and know you are nearby.
  • The sweet music of your laughter.  That's what it was to me.  Music.  You had an inane ability to tell the most stupid joke and laugh at yourself.  You were always good for securing a good groan or two.  I learn every day as I get older just how much of your humour I inherited.  I see you in me through the eyes of my own children...  When they role their eyes at me, or say 'sure mom', or do their own groaning.  
  • Your "it's good enough" theory on just about everything.  Still makes me sigh and shake my head.  I think I got more humour from watching mom want to rip her hair out than anything else about it.  I suppose it's a blessing though as I never felt a pressure to be anything more than what I am.  I was good enough. 
  • The way your face lit up in the mere presence of my children.  The way you looked when you held Gage for the first time.  I will never forget that.  I was so happy for you to become a grandfather.  How excited I was to tell you he was being named after you and seeing your expression.  I've never seen a prouder moment.   That immediate bond you and he formed.  Unspoken, but so loud. 
  • The sorrow you felt when you lost your beloved dog, Max.  How that experience made you human to me.  Until then you'd always been my superhero.  So strong and stoic. 
  • The way you immediately came to my aid or rescue when I called in a panic.  You had the knack for knowing how to calm me down.  It didn't matter if it was just a phone conversation or if you had to drop what you were doing and come to my house or get up in the middle of the night and drive 2 1/2 hours to help me. You just did it.  You never wanted anything in return.  I never felt like I owed you.  But oh how I do. 
  • The way you always knew when something was bothering me.  I never had to say it.  You just knew.  Like some sort of intuition.  You were there to listen to me vent, your were there to offer advice, you were there to tell me when I was making a poor decision, you were there to just listen.  
  • The frustration of your bad habit of barging into a conversation half way through and demanding to know all the details you'd missed or just contributing your two cents without really having a clue as to what we were talking about. 
  • The abundant amount of useless knowledge you had stored in your head.  I knew to always ask you, you'd know the answer. I'm jealous of your brain and I have a love for reading because of you.  You taught me that to read meant to expand your life.  To read gave you knowledge and with knowledge comes power.  At least the power to win at 'living room Jeopardy'.
  • Your ability to fix just about anything without any formal training.  Whether that statement is true or not, it's always what I've believed.  Just call dad, he'll know exactly what to do and how to fix this.  It never crossed my mind that you just might not know.  And franky you never gave me a reason to doubt my surety.
  • Your ability to bond with my boys. It didn't matter what you were doing with them: reading stories, watching movies, going for bike rides or walks, playing with Lego and Bionicles, building things with them in your workshop, road trips, anything at all.  They were always at ease with you.  You never let them down.  Not ever.   You always came through for them.  For me.  The fun I found in watching you try to punish Gage or Roan. That was probably the only thing you weren't good at. 
  • Your sense of humour.  There is nothing that comes close.  It was crude, and sometimes inappropriate, and wrong, and stupid and regardless of any of these things it always made me laugh.  And the fact that you had the ability to laugh at yourself made me love you even more.  Your crooked smile.
  • Your strength.  Your undying strength.  It is still swimming around me.  You knew your weaknesses and strived to better yourself even when you stumbled along the way.  You had the strength to perservere.  You set your mind to something and you found a way to push through the hard times and succeed.  You had an ability to keep going.  When things got you down you found strength in your family.  From within yourself.  Your strength through the years has made me love you the most. I know I get my strength from you.  I hope your strength will be what gets me through your passing. 
  • Your hands...  It's been years since I have held your hand.  Your hands used to be so big, they'd swallow mine whole.  They kept me safe, the picked me up when I fell, they probably swatted me a few times too, but they knew how to comfort me in the end.  It's silly to hold your dad's hand when you're a big girl, I know this, but I found comfort again in those hands for the past two weeks.  They were beautiful, hard working hands. I find it calming to know your hands were the last way you were able to communicate with me.  I held your hand and you let me know you were with me.  You heard everything I had to say to you.  I will miss holding your hand. 
  • Your love.  I know for sure I'll never forget your love.  I never questioned your love for me.  It never faltered or stumbled.  It was always present, always felt.  You had an enormous heart and each one of us had our own place in it.  I know that doesn't even seem possible, but it's true.  You loved your brothers and sisters first and did your best to keep them safe and teach them life lessons, and then you loved mom and did your best to make her proud to be your wife, and then you loved us, your children, just the way a parent should love their kids.  You taught us so many lessons both spoken and through actions.  You tripped along the way a few times, but you never stopped trying.  And then you loved your grandchildren.  And there is just no words to describe the love you held for those four kids.  I think it even caught you off guard.  They got a good deal when they got you.  I was jealous of their relationship with their grandfather.  It's what I wish I could have had through the years.  You influenced them and they influenced you. 
There is just so much I don't want to forget about you, to try and list them all here would be impossible. But know that you are the man I hold every other man in my life up to.  No one will ever be as good as my dad.   I'm going to hang on to every memory for as long as I can.  I'm going to talk about you all the time with my boys and I promise to do my best to ensure that they never forget you either.  I can only hope they strive to emulate you as they go through life, that you will live on through them.

Over the past two weeks, but more importantly the last two days, I became so overwhelmed at the outpouring of love you received from your family.  I have never been more proud to be a part of this family. I suppose I expected it from your siblings, but to also see so many of your nieces and nephews step up with visits and phone calls and messages just warmed my heart, as I know it did yours.  Seeing it all first hand and feeling their love encircle all of us has made me feel so whole and complete and yet I'm broken inside without you here, all at the same time.  I see a part of you in each of your brothers and sisters.  I see a part of you in Geoff and Dawn.  I see a part of you in Gage and Roan.  I feel a part of you inside of me.  That's what I'm going to hang on to. 

You are a man I have never been more proud to call my dad.  I have always known that I took after you 100%.  I am Kit's daughter, through and through and that will help to keep you close.  You took a vow when I was born to keep me safe in this world and you accomplished that goal while you were here with me.  I'll take comfort in knowing you will continue to watch over me.  You did good bud!

We will strive to continue to make you proud, like you have made us proud.  We are the legacy you leave behind.  It's a good legacy.

Words will never express properly how much I love you but just know you will be with me forever.  Until I can see your face and hear your voice and hold your hand again, I will do you proud. 

Love your baby girl,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In the still of the night

Last night I had the honour and privilege of being summoned by my dad, to the hospital, to spend the night with him. I was going on one hour sleep, and while sleep is very important to me, spending any time with my dad and easing any discomfort he has, whether emotional or physical, trumps my love of sleep.  He was a little restless, but I think team Holly and Kit fared pretty well.  We had some great talks, we had some nice moments of silence, we had some good laughs, we had some quiet time just chilling and watching tv, and we had some good quality father/daughter hangout.  All things I've taken for granted in the past and vow to never do again.  I heard every word he said to me and I hope he heard what I said to him.  He is my hero. 

Today after 6 hours of sleep I headed back over to the hospital to find my dad in pain and discomfort.  He was at his wit's end.  Watching him struggle with his pain was difficult for me. I remember only one other time in my life where I saw my father cry.  Today was hard on all of us.  I'm glad my sister, my aunt Michelle, my brother and Eric were there... that I wasn't alone with him when it happened, but most importantly that he wasn't alone. I think by the end of the day he was in better spirits and starting to get more comfortable but days like today just reiterate to me how difficult the weeks and months to come are going to be.  We will have good days and bad days, peaks and valleys on this journey we are about to embark on.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The warmth of sunshine on my face

This week has been gray, dark and drab, but I did get a couple glimpses of sunlight to help cheer me up.  It's funny how good news tends to come our way when we need it the most.

The first one is materialistic and well we all know that I'm a teeny, tiny bit happy with material things.  Because my dad has been in the hospital and the expectation is that he will be for another couple of weeks, minimum, I decided to plug in my Income Tax software and do my own taxes for the first time in my life.  My dad has always been my accountant.  Well I spent the extra time and went through every single possible deduction there is to ensure I wasn't missing anything and well folks, this lady is getting back just under $5000.00 this year.  Oh that makes me a happy girl, for a little while anyway.

Thursday night the girls from work had a charity fashion show to attend and since we'd already bought the tickets prior to all the bad news on Sunday I thought it was a good idea for my sanity to still attend and try to have a nice night out.  A good time, we had.  I'm so thankful I went as it was what I needed if only for a few hours.  It was to benefit Pathstones - an organization that assists children with mental illness. It was held on the 26th floor of The Tower Hotel (formerly the Minolta and Panasonic Tower in Niagara Falls).  Dinner was so delicious, the company was awesome and the view was fantastic being we were right over the actual Falls.  The clothes in the fashion show were really nice and so affordable, 5 out of the six of us won door prizes (I walked away with hair products from a salon), a mishap of spilled water and candle wax made me laugh so hard (and probably at a really inappropriate time when they were telling us about Pathstone Foundation and what they do), and a dude in the hotel opposite us ramming his bare ass against the window and mooning us all were the highlights.

And the best highlight of my week happened on Friday at work when  I got a phone call from Gage's teacher.  Usually I groan when she calls me and I won't lie, I groaned when she first identified herself, but she quickly put me at ease telling me the reason for her call was to let me know how proud she has been of Gage over the past three weeks.  Seems he's really made some changes at school.  He's been more positive in class, participating in the lectures and activities like a scholarly student.  His attitude has completely changed from being the class clown, to being a worthy participant.  She's spoken to his other two teachers who also commented on how proud they were of Gage and that they had noticed his changes as well.  I told her what has been going on this past week and how much it is and will have an impact on Gage.  More so just to forewarn her should he start to slide back into past behaviours or act out in class.  She was going to speak with him Friday afternoon about it let him know that he has a support system at school as well as at home.  Every bit helps right?  Those are the phone calls from the school that I like receiving!  I couldn't have used that news at a more appropriate time.  I have great kids and they are what is going to get me through this next chapter of my life.   

I cling to what I once knew

I have had a whirlwind of a week.  The irony of it though is it seemed to go by in slow motion.  Like the record player of my life was set on the wrong rpm and all the voices were distorted and weird sounding.

My dad and our family received the worst news we (as a whole) have ever been dealt a week ago today.  He is sick and while he may get 'better' with treatment, they tell us it will never be permanently fixed.  He's been diagnosed with Metastasizing Lung Cancer.  Terminal.  Stage 4. Tumor.  Lung.  Lesions.  Brain.  Mass.  Spine.  Riddled.  Bones. Radiation.  Chemo.  Palliative.   All words that take on an entirely new meaning to me.    Words that now scare the shit out of me.

I'm trying as hard as I can to remain optimistic, but that word is entirely new to me as well.  I'm trying not to let the knowledge I have about this disease (from years doing what I do for a living) taint my will to stand beside my father and fight this to the dying end.  I'm trying hard to smile, but I can rarely find a reason.  I'm trying to be there for him physically as often as I can, but my life with two kids and a job and a house continues moving in normal time and I can't be there as often or for as long as I would like.  So now I deal with another new word, guilt.  I'm trying to remain positive for my kids' sake. But I will not allow them false pretenses or false hopes by giving them misguided information or out and out false information just to 'protect' them. 

Hearing the news first hand from the doctor on Sunday was hard to swallow.  Harder I'm sure for my mom who was completely blind sided by this.  I was starting to suspect this was the reason for all his pain the past few months.  But nothing was harder for me than telling my children.  Gage is the closest, of the grandchildren, to my dad.  They've shared so much time together through his 14 years.  He's also the one who will internalize this rather than outright ask the questions or cry or freak out or whatever the clinical books say he should do.  I am not 'as worried' about Roan, because he wears his heart on his sleeve and won't hesitate to ask all the questions he has running through his brain or cry or do all the 'right things' you are supposed to do in this situation.  He too is very close to my dad so there is no question that this has been extremely hard on them.  Gage surprised me and handled it the way I had actually hoped.  He bawled.  Out right cried.  At that point, I wasn't sure which I would have actually preferred because watching him lose his shit was way harder than I was anticipating.  I said to my mom after the fact that I am kind of envious of my brother and sister in law because their youngest is, well, too young to know what's going on and their 9 year old is Autistic so that offers its own challenges with Sebastian's ability to fully understand the magnitude of this situation.  I was jealous that they wouldn't have to watch their children break down or worry when they didn't break down and kept it all inside.  The grass is always greener on the other side right?  Wrong.  They are struggling in an entirely different way because of Sebastian's Autism.  They are continuously having to remind him and reliving all of it over and over again.  They are having to deal with a little girl who doesn't get it and shouldn't at this age, so she's wondering where her parents have been all week and she's wanting time with them and they can't just explain that she needs to bare with them during this ordeal.  I know my kids understand and get why I need to go to the hospital every day and I take comfort knowing that they also want to go to the hospital and I'm not just dragging them there or trying to make them understand. 

I'm worried about my brother.  He's remaining strong and stoic in this whole ordeal and I'm not sure that's the best route to take.  I can only hope when he's home alone with his wife that he's sharing his thoughts with her and crying and doing all the stuff he needs to do to keep his mental sanity. I'm worried about my sister who lives with my parents and feels the emptiness each night when she goes home and things aren't normal there. I come home to my house and kids and boyfriend and cats and none of that has changed.  I know she's there with my mom and that makes me grateful in its own right.  I'm worried for her because she doesn't have a partner to lean on in the same sense that Geoff and I have.  I worry about Eric.  He's still quite new to our family and I worry that he feels like an outsider looking in.  I know he's trying to be there to help me through this, but he's still learning who I am and how I deal with things like this and I think that's kind of overwhelming to him.  And I'm focusing too much on getting myself and my kids through this that I don't have the time or energy to try to get him through this.  I worry about my aunts and uncles.  This is their brother.  We are a tight family.  This is the first major thing to happen to this family since their dad died in 1965 when kids weren't allowed to work through the bereavement process the way they are now.  I think for a lot of them they are now subconsciously dealing with his death in the reality of this diagnosis.  I worry about my mom who didn't see this coming and is trying her best to remain strong for my dad and us.  I worry that she's laying in bed at night awake worrying about getting them both through this.  I know she'll worry about finances, about my dad's pain, about her children and how to get us through this, about her grandchildren, about her in-laws, about herself, about my dad not being able to walk again, about her house not being wheelchair friendly, about the worst case scenario, about being alone for the first time.  I know she's worrying.  It's what she does.  And nothing any of us say to her will stop her from worrying.  But most of all, I worry about my dad.  I wonder what he is really thinking.  He's positive and upbeat about fighting this and I'm so grateful because that is a huge part of successfully treating this disease.  But I wonder underneath all that how he feels receiving his 'death sentence'.  I know he's taken comfort in all the phone calls and visits he's been getting. I know he takes comfort in talking about everything.  I know him well enough to know he's worried about all of us and how we're dealing.  I guess I worry because I just don't know how he truly feels or if he too is worried for the same reasons we're all worried.  I'm worried about his treatment and pray to some unknown entity that it is productive and we receive positive results.  I'm worried what the treatment will do to his physical health and his mental health.  I'm worried about side effects.  Worry.  While I'm well versed in that word it's reached a whole new level for me.  I've decided I don't like the word.  It sounds funny to me to say it.  Worry.  It doesn't seem like the word matches the magnitude of emotions that it symbolizes. 

So this week has been test after test after test with bad news, upon bad news, upon bad news.  I can only hope that since the gambit of tests are complete at this point that come Tuesday we'll have a better outlook on what is to come in the months ahead and we can start this battle.  I'm hoping that once the process truly begins I'll start to feel more positive.  I am hoping a day will come (sooner than later) where I'll be able to share good news with my children about all of this and not another set back.

I am so grateful and genuinely appreciative of all of my family and friends (near and far).  They have come out in full force to let us know they are here for us no matter what.  We are a united front and I hope this cancer can feel our strength.

"I will hold on hope, I won't let you choke on that noose around your neck. And I'll find strength in pain."