Life After Dad

They danced together under the shade of the trees

They danced together under the shade of the maples as they had done so often before.

Mom and Dad were such good dancers, but of course, they came from an era where dancing was a part of life.  If you weren’t dancing, you weren’t living.

I reached out to touch their names and was confident that they spoke directly to my heart.  “Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad.” I whispered.  I was alone at the cemetery but yet, not alone.

They danced through life much like they danced on the dance floor – they were in harmony with one another.  When one lead, the other followed and when one turned the other turned.  That’s not to say that they didn’t sometimes step on the other person’s toes – but they were more often aware of the other person than not.

Today, in my mind, they danced together under the maples.

How did they do it?  How did they stay married for such a long time?  How did Dad survive for 18 months without his bride of, what was then, 62 years?  They would have marked their 64th anniversary today.  There would have been a party – a celebration – a dance.

The farm that they built together was half-field, half-forest.  The field yielded raspberries and the forest yielded maple syrup.  They worked together to produce a hobby-farm that thrived and where friends and family would always be made to feel welcome.  Under the hot, blazing sun, they toiled to rid the gardens from bugs and weeds.  But under the shade of the maples… they danced.

The life they built together was so entwined that it was difficult to see where one ended and the other began.  They lived harmoniously – for the most part – always taking care of each other, supporting each other, dancing together.

And so, on this day, on this occasion, I wish Mom and Dad “this dance” today.  Enjoy Glenn Millar’  Moonlight Serenade.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JQ0ifSjgAE)

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Advertisements
Categories: Duff History, Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Gift

Dad's 89th birthday 010

It has been a long journey – three years since we lost Mom and nearly one year since we lost Dad.  I have l learned to be patient, to breathe, and to accept.  It was the final “acceptance”  that has been the most difficult. 

I have now, however:

– accepted that I am now the one who must take up the role of the family elder

– accepted that life carries on even when it changes

– accepted that things always work out of the best

– accepted that there is a season for everything

– accepted that I cannot always get what I want – but I tend to get what I need

– accepted that true friends are always there to support and guide

– accepted that it can be difficult to age and lose your friends

– accepted there is a difference between growing old and being old

– accepted that it is important to accept gifts – as much as to give gifts

The greatest gift Mom and Dad could give to my brother and I was to be raised in the culture of family they crafted for us.  Our culture is unique; We cry at the drop of a hat.  We can be so terribly sentimental and attached to things. We can be sad when meals are not shared with our children or partners.  We have faith in each other. We like to use good dishes.  We like to cook from scratch.  We like to quote Robbie Burns. We recognize celebrations and we celebrate – any occasion can become a celebration.  We value life.  We respect others.  We always say please and thank-you.  We like to make frugal purchases.  We love being outside with our hands in the dirt.  This is our culture.  This was our gift. 

TTFN

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

TheTalisman

I received, to my delight, a notification from WordPress last week that this blog is now one year old.  I was shocked, not just because Ive been writing (on and off) for one year now – but to consider the context of my life one year ago and how much things have changed.

This time last year, I was sitting at the dining room table (which is now at my home) with my niece (who just purchased her own home), my Dad (who inspired this blog and has now been gone for nearly one year), eating dinner with Dads two nannies (one of whom is now in the Philippines and the other working for another client).  The condo where all this took place will be occupied by two new owners within less than a month. 

Wow.  The pace of these changes almost seems frenetic. 

In spite of the changes – there is so much that remains constant and I guess this is where I take stock and count my blessings.  I am still a wife and mother of three – I am blessed with a wonderful family.   We moved through these changes together.  We kept living, we kept growing, we kept talking, we challenged each other – and looked towards the future. 

There is truly stock in appreciating the journey – no matter how tough it may seem at the time there are so many lessons and growth spurts that can happen along the way.  Unless one pauses to reflect – to celebrate anniversaries – the journey may be lost. 

Thanks, WordPress, for that little anniversary icon you posted.  It makes a difference.  I consider your icon my Talisman that marks my journey. 

Categories: Life After Dad | 10 Comments

Is it time to move on to the next stage?

IMG_2601It has been a long time that Mom and Dads condominium has been on the market.  I did not know for the longest time whether to rent or to sell.  So, recently I did both – hoping Mom and Dad would guide the direction of the sale.

IMG_2606I am now realizing that if it is to be  – it is truely up to me.  I think this means I have reached another benchmark in my grief.  I asked, I waited, I anticipated a sign from my parents – hoping they would make yet another decision on my behalf.  Growing up, I never had to really take a lot of responsibility as Mom and Dad bailed me out.  If I was too tired to bake the loaf of bread for 4 – H club (as if any of you readers know what that is….) Mom would bake it for me.  Any dress that I did not finish (which was often as I had no patience for sewing) Mom would finish for me.  This could go on and on – but I think the pattern is quite obvious.  The condo is not selling and I was waiting for Mom and Dad to come to my rescue once again.

Tonight – I took the bull by the horns and called a stager.  I had no idea what that was until my real estate agent explained it – someone who can help make the place look more modern…. and I guess more sellable.  Anyhow, I feel like I have taken a big, bold step forward – on my own.  Imagine.  Maybe I am finally growing up?

Mom was always very proud of her home and I thought it looked very beautiful.  She had originally enrolled in University to become an interior decorator.  The war, however, broke out and her program was cancelled.  She took nursing instead.  Good thing because she turned out to be a wonderful nurse and put her talents to use her entire life.  Nontheless, here I am hiring someone to redesign what she had taken such time and loving care to design herself.  IMG_2593

What will be changed?  Will I remove Dads montage?  Will the stereo cabinet go?  Will the sheer curtains come down?  What about that chandelier?  It is all these things that I so heavily associated with Mom – yet it could very well be these things that need to be removed.  I think I am okay to let go now.  I did not think that I would ever be at this stage of the game.. but I believe now that it is time to move on.   I hope.

 

Categories: Life After Dad, Mom | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

Forwards or Backwards?

Lessons my Dad taught me

David and Poppa

My daughter was excited this Christmas to open up one of her gifts from Mountain Equipment Coop:  a slack line.  I wondered where she would be able to attach it in the middle of winter – now that the basement poles are no longer exposed.  Of course, we needed to explore the possibilities anyhow.  My daughter is quite driven to find solutions to problems she has.   After there was a “no go” decision for the basement, she turned her eyes to the front yard… and voila.  The street-light was a good distance from the maple tree and it would be perfect.  The snow below would also serve to cushion the multiple falls that we were advised she would have initially.

With snow pants, boots, mitts, and all the winter garb, Katya was ready.  She hopped up on the slack line with great caution and focus.  And fell.  She tried again, and again, and again.  Finally, she called it a night and unhooked the line.

My husband and I watched from the front room.  I thought about how my mom and dad would have been so excited to see her tackle this new sport.  This was something new – something that they had not seen before… much like New Year’s will be for my family and I.  I recall I was anxious to leave the year 2010 (the year Mom passed away).  I don’t want, however, to leave 2012… the year Dad passed away.  Moving forward will mean leaving the past.

I have always found New Year’s to be somewhat nostalgic.  It is a time to think of highlights, things for which we can be thankful, and things that we want to improve.  How important is it to not forget the past and to reflect?  I think it is vital to pause and reflect.  It is not easy, though.  Sometimes mistakes we’ve made – mistakes I’ve made seem unforgivable.  But these mistakes have also been such powerful lessons.  Mom taught me, for example, what not to do – and by learning from her – I was able to help Dad depart this world with dignity.

What lessons did I learn from Dad?  I’ve learned that everyone needs a purpose – no matter how old you are.  I’ve learned that that purpose can be as simple as what Dad had decided.  “My purpose, Stacey, was to make people happy.”  I’ve learned that to forgive people, you first have to be honest with them and tell them how you feel.  I’ve learned that it is vitally important to count your blessings.

It is a tricky balancing act – to not fall too far on either side of this line that sits between history and future – the stroke of midnight between 2012 and 2013… the “dash” between one’s birth and one’s death.  It is tricky, but not impossible.  And tomorrow, Katya will, no doubt, be back up on that slack line… finding her own balance – just like me.

Thanks to all of you who have supported my Dad and I through this blog – our sentimental journey.  I hope that this journey has allowed you some insight into your own lives.  And so, I will write the last post for 2012 and bid all of you, “Ta-ta for now. ”  (TTFN) from Bill Duff, (Dad) and I (Stacey).

All the best in the new year!

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Sentimental Journey Continues: The Christmas Season

The Snowman sits at his piano and pounds out three melodies:  Oh, the weather out side is frightful,  jingle bell rock, and finally have a holly, jolly, Christmas.  And David, my youngest son, still delights in watching the motion of this battery operated Hallmark toy.

Today, however, he didn’t do laps around the room.  David sat and reminisced about Nanna.  “It’s not the same, Mom.”, he said to me after the Snowman had entertained in his historical fashion.  The Snowman was so much more fun when he was at Nanna and Poppa’s house.

And then only seconds later, he and I were back at decorating the tree… Nanna’s artificial tree that she had given to us when she down-sized to a foot-tall model that sat on her stereo cabinet.

Was this the same tree that sat in a box for years in our basement?  Hmm.  David thought it was much smaller than he had remembered it being at Nanna’s house.

Yes, it is the same tree.  It’s just that now, this tree is the tree that Nanna gave to us – and that makes it special.  More special than a tree that we could chop down ourselves.

As David and I assembled the pieces, spread the malleable limbs,  and then wrapped the lights around it, we talked about Nanna and Poppa.  “What I like most about Christmas David …. is tradition”.  Tradition anchors us to our roots, our memories, our heritage.

“What I like about Christmas, Mom, is family.” , said David.

God bless him, that little boy.  His Christmas list that I opened to read today asked for hugs and kisses.

He is a sentimental little guy, our son, David.  I love to spend time with him – and I love lighting the tree with him – and talking about his memories of Mom and Dad.  I feel much more reassured that their memory will live on through our children when we remind out children about the wonderful things we shared.

This is the first time that we will not share it with Nanna and Poppa… yet they are everywhere … when I open my heart to them.  They are in the tree, the wreath, the photos, the children, the decorations… the list goes on.  Christmas is a season of memory – of tradition – of hope – and holly – jolly … or so the Snowman says.

TTFN

 

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

10 000

When I first began this blog with my Dad, he was shocked that people were interested in his stories.

When he recorded 30 hits he said, “Why would anyone be interested in my life?”.

I said, “Dad, you stories are interesting and very historical if nothing else. ”

He said, “Hmm.  Well I just don’t see it.”

Now, although he is gone, his blog, “High Flight” is nearing 10 000 hits.  He would be over the moon.

I wonder if you, the readers, would be able to fulfill a request?

Could Dad get 10 000 hits to honour his memory and contributions for Remembrance Day tomorrow?

Some of his first stories (some hundred posts ago) contain “his” stories in “his” words – about his WWII experiences.

Would you please take time to read his thoughts – in memory and honour of Bill Duff?

On his behalf, thank-you for caring.

Stacey

Categories: Duff History, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Thanks for remembering…

This is a conversation I would imagine having with my Dad, Flight Lieutenant William James Duff,  at this time of the year:  Remembrance Day.

Dad (Bill):  Stacey, I want you to thank Ryan, the young man who gave you the model Catalina Flying Boat for me.

Stacey:  I already did Dad.  It was so amazing that her took the time and effort to not only find, but purchase, and bring that model airplane to my school.  Was it the right model?

Dad:  Yes.  Although, of course the model is much smaller than the life- version.  It was a big aircraft and could fly for miles without refueling.  That’s one of the reasons it was so favored overseas because of the distance it could travel.

Stacey:  What’s it like now, Dad?  Do you mark this day in Heaven?

Dad:  Well, it’s a little different here, Stace.

Stacey:  I guess if I asked you in what way, you wouldn’t be able to tell me?

Dad:  Not exactly.  All I can tell is that there is no pain, no more tears, no more mourning for the friends I lost.

Stacey:  I always remember growing up that Remembrance Day was the one time EVER I saw you cry.  I really didn’t understand it at the time.

Dad:  How could you?  No one can really imagine what it was like.  You had to be there.  It wasn’t all bad, though, Stacey.  We had the opportunity to travel to some wonderful places and meet some really good people.  The guys I was with in India  – we became very close.  The war brought a lot of people together in some very unlikely circumstances.  I always felt so fortunate that I was able to learn how to fly a plane.  I was in love with the idea of flying ever since I was a kid and a plane crashed in a field in New Lowell.  I think it was there that my interest in flying – not crashing (grin) – peaked.

Stacey:  It’s strange, Dad, that you are able to take good from such a terrible time.

Dad:  What are you going to do, Stacey?  You need to see the positive in everything.  No sense in complaining about things.  This is a very sad time for me and for so many families – don’t get me wrong.  But we all did what we felt we had to do and we all felt that we were doing something that was “right” and “good”.  I don’t know whether or not it was the right thing – even to this day.

Stacey:  You mean there are still no answers, Dad.

Dad:  Oh, there are answers, but we can still hold differences of opinions… we just don’t need war to solve the difference here, Stacey.

Stacey:  Good to talk to you again, Dad.  I’m not going to lay a wreath tomorrow – but I am going to the George Duff Memorial for you and Grandpa.   Anything you want me to say or do?

Dad:  No.  Just being there is enough.  And, Stacey, thanks for remembering.

Stacey:  I love you, Dad.

Dad:  Love you to, Stace.

TTFN

Categories: Duff History, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Where Does the Journey End?

I have not had much to say lately.

Mom and Dad continue to be on my mind – often – but I just don’t know what to write.

Maybe it’s writer’s block?

Maybe it’s grief?

Maybe it’s time to put closure to something else?

This blog, and all you wonderful readers, have been a great source of comfort for me through a very challenging time.  I’ve lost both parents in less than 18 months.  To me, this has been traumatic.  It has been a long, long, journey.

I wonder now, though, if the journey is coming to an end?

Is it time to put this blog to bed?

The condo up for sale.  I have a difficult time going back there to even check in on it.  It’s difficult to go “back” in time.

Yet, I sit faithfully in front of the digital photo frame as images of our lives fade in and fade out.  I sent some new photos to it the other day and I enjoy watching those fade in and out too.

What would it feel like to say, “good-bye” to this sentimental journey – or rather TTFN?  Letting go is the hardest thing to do, yet I think I need to know my limits and not stay too long.  I feel like the guest that never left… not knowing when enough is enough.

I need to move on – but how much of the past do we need to break from?  Does the past propel us to the future?

Does the past help us to build a foundation, yet anchor us to the ground?

It is inescapable, haunting, yet at the same time it is still my greatest source of comfort.

Should I stay or should I go now – I believe someone else used that phrase and sang a tune along with it (grin).

Maybe the falling leaves have brought this feeling of loss to front and centre.

Where is my faith? What is my purpose?  When will “this” sentimental journey end?

I guess today is a day of questions.  And having said that – maybe today begins a new “quest” for closure.

How is closure best achieved?

And the photo frame flashes images at me like pieces of a patchwork quilt.  They all blend together in an odd, yet harmonious blanket of comfort.

TTFN  – for now.

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

49 Reasons to Be Thankful

Dear Mom and Dad:

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  This is the first time – ever?- that you and I won’t be sharing dinner.  I must confess it didn’t hit me until this morning when a friend of mine was talking about her parents coming to her home for Thanksgiving.  She had a coffee with her Dad this morning, she said, and talked about how much she enjoys talking with her Dad.

I don’t feel envious.  I feel like I am in unfamiliar waters.  Thanksgiving will be different without either of you.

Mom, who will Kevin tease when it comes to your stuffing wars?  I still think yours was better – wish I had payed more attention while you were making it.  Maybe I’ll have to make some cranberry sauce like you taught me the last Thanksgiving we shared together.

The image of you looking at Dad, with your head resting on your hand, is forever ingrained into my mind.  The scarf you wore – I gave to Auntie Helen and she brought it here this summer to wear during the Malloff reunion.

Dad, you were always so gracious at these dinners.  You never said much, but, as you would say, “Wisdom is knowing what to say and not saying it anyway.”.  The grace, “Some ha’ meat and canne’ eat – and some can eat but want it – but we ha’ meat and we can eat so let the Lord be thanked” will INDEED be recited tomorrow.

So – it brings me to consider the things for which I am thankful – one for each year of my life would allow me to offer thanks for 49 things.  Here they are:

  1. health – and the ability to look forward to good health
  2. family who gathers around our dinner table
  3. faith – when the going gets tough
  4. hope – what would we do without it?
  5. freedom
  6. friends who still reach out – even though time separates us
  7. fall – well, actually, spring
  8. history – and being a part of it
  9. future – knowing that great things are still yet to come
  10. my talents
  11. my humility
  12. roots
  13. a home filled with love and laughter – and sometimes tears
  14. education
  15. colour – especially in the fall
  16. good food
  17. the ability to cook
  18. my kitchen
  19. laughter – sometimes remembering how a joke goes
  20. wine – mainly white
  21. music – especially Nat King Cole!
  22. the ability to play the piano and sing
  23. harmony
  24. pianos
  25. the ability to teach
  26. students who love to learn – or learn to love learning
  27. learning how to teach better
  28. being open minded
  29. being a wife
  30. to Kevin – my partner, my friend, my inspiration
  31. love
  32. being a mom to Ben, Katya, and David
  33. compassion
  34. adulthood
  35. photos
  36. blogs
  37. the ability to write
  38. to tell stories
  39. to have people who tolerate my stories
  40. maple syrup
  41. maple trees
  42. colourful leaves
  43. memories of the farm
  44. memories our first home in Collingwood
  45. learning to mud and tape from Dad
  46. learning to sew – and being able to give up sewing as it is way too frustrating – from Mom
  47. midnight talks with Mom
  48. midnight talks with Dad
  49. holding hands

Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mom and Dad.  We will definitely raise a glass of wine to you and be grateful for all that you have meant to so many!  And I’ll count my blessings.

Here is the “master blessing counter”, Bing!

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qmMaPTuTEE

Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.