Posts Tagged With: dreams

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

Stop the Bus – I Need to Get Off!

It seems that my mind races like a locomotive in full speed that just won’t slow down.  Especially at night!

I know that some of you who are dealing with estates are going to agree with me that it can feel like one step forward and ten steps back.  There is so much to do. And in my Dad’s case because he was home until the end – there is more.

The paperwork seems endless.

Okay, so I can get through things (and I am oh, so grateful to have had the summer off to “rest”) but it makes achieving closure a little more tricky.

Consequently, for the last few nights I have dreamed extensively about Dad.  Not about anything good – rather – about his death.

It causes me to wake up early and not be able to get back to sleep.

Here’s the deal: I did my very best to care for Dad as did everyone else in his life.  He passed away at home in his own bed, surrounded by loved ones.  The trigger may just have been that while trying to empty out the condo., I have had to process so many papers that Mom and Dad had stored over their years together.  One of the things I discovered in the papers is that in Dad’s medical history, he was found to have a spot on his lung.  “Aha!” I thought.  Cancer – lung cancer?  That would explain his fatigue, his lack of appetite, his weight loss, his cough… and so on.  There would not have been any change in my course of care – but for some reason I struggle with this new “revelation”.  And it seems to come through in my dreams.

Why is it so dominant in my thoughts?  I am at peace with what happened and that he passed away peacefully.  Why has this new piece of information troubled me so gravely in my sleep?  Guilt?  Ignorance?  Guilty over feeling that Mom would have known what was going on?  I don’t know.

I found this pattern to have been the same with Mom.  My post-passing diagnosis explained a lot of the symptoms Mom experienced prior to her passing.

Is this human nature?  Or my attempt to be a “vigilant” and “capable” daughter?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not regretful or feeling that I could have done anything differently.

I’d just like to get some closure and then some good sleep.

Does anyone know what I mean?



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When my husband and I were sitting in the delivery room at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital on July 28th, 1994, I remember asking Kevin, “Are we ready for this?”.  I guess it wasn’t really the time to be considering whether or not we were prepared, but the question begged to be asked.

Now, this day, July 29th, 2012, I am still not sure I can answer that question.  The only thing I am sure of is how blessed Kevin and I have been to have a son like our “Ben”.

He came into the world in the wee hours of the morning after a very long and difficult struggle.  Had it been days of old, the doctor warned, you would have both been goners.  As comforting as he thought those words may have been  – I was not so reassured.  The impression I have always been left with, though, is how lucky Ben and I have bee along the way.

Ben was named with the hope that he would grow into a “gentle giant”. Kevin and I knew he’d likely be tall – but the gentle part we knew was more of a gamble.  I don’t know that a name makes a man – but Ben has made the name his own.  And gentle he is.

Nanna and Poppa loved Ben’s visits.  She, of course, would appeal to Ben’s hearty appetite, and Poppa would appeal to Ben’s intellect.  Ben was a loyal grand-child right until the end.  He visited them faithfully every week as a regular participant of the Wednesday night dinners and then, as Poppa aged, Ben would take a week-end care-giving shift .. until it became too difficult as a “grand-child”.  I am confident that Ben would have always been able to do what needed to be done in terms of first-aid or emergency care, but I always preferred that Ben remain a grand-child rather than a caregiver.

Ben is kind.  He is one of the youngest “Elder” (kind of an ironic title) at our church and was a favorite partner of the Minister’s wife with whom she liked to deliver the church newsletter door-to-door.

Ben is SO good with older people and not afraid of the sick or the elderly or those less “able” than others.  He is a faithful member of the Jesus Walk crew – helping sing songs, lead in worship, dance, tell jokes.. whatever needs to be done – with handi”capable” participants.  I hear, “Ben, Ben, Ben” when we walk into the building.  I am asked, “Is Ben coming tonight? Is Ben coming tomorrow? You get the picture.

I admire my son.  He is strong, talented, and an overall good person. Truthfully, he is any parents dream.  Yes, I may be a little biased, but what the heck… I am one of his biggest cheer-leaders and fans.

Recently, our community suffered a grave loss.  A young lady of 17 was killed tragically while working at a camp for the summer.  She had been a class-mate of Ben’s and had traveled with him and several others on a unique educational program last year.  The loss of their daughter, has left the parents with a hole in the family that will never be filled.  This loss reminds us, once again, about how appreciative we must be of one another always.

I sometimes can get lost in my own grief for Dad – and Mom – and forget the lessons that he taught me not even a month ago – the lessons of appreciation.

And so, this post, is dedicated to “Ben”.  Thank-you for being such a wonderful son.  I am honoured to be your Mom and hope that your Dad and I were, after-all, “ready for you”.

I wish you a wonderful day, Ben, that leads into a continued wonderful and gentle life.

Happy birthday big guy!


Love, Mom

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Apartment 1001

This post is dedicated to my big brother, Jamie.

And so another Wednesday dinner at Apartment # 1001  has come and gone.  Last night’s dinner at 1001, however, was not like any other.  It was the absence of our parents and the addition of Jamie that made it extraordinary.

It began as any other Wednesday night – the kids and I arrived first.  Dorothee offered Dad and I a glass of wine?  Dad said to me, “Are you having one?”

“Yes, Dad”, I replied and then queried, “Are you?”

“If you are.”

And the dance began.  Wine was poured,  dinner was prepared, Ana arrived, Mary Anne, Megan, and Jonathan arrived… and we sat down to eat.  I sat in Mom’s chair – as I always did.  Dad’s chair was left free.   We all chatted and talked about our days, talked about the food, adjusted the meal as it was too spicy for young Megan, and went back for seconds.  And then the weirdest thing happened.  We were all expecting it – but not knowing what to make of it… Jamie arrived.

He was not a regular Wednesday night flyer.  His entrance was a relief.  He became part of the Wednesday night dinner crew last night.   It was so right and yet so wrong.   It was not that Jamie was there that was wrong – it was that neither Mom and Dad were there that was so wrong.  And Jamie was attending a Wednesday night dinner to say good-bye to apartment 1001 – and the memories of Mom and Dad.

And the memories raced towards us like a torrent of rain.  Photo album after photo album came out of closets and nooks and crannies.  Mom had laboured over those albums for years… and each photo was lovingly placed neatly in an album with a “caption” placed below to help whoever was looking at the albums identify the figures and the actions.  Mom always asked, “What good will these albums be once I’m gone?  No one is going to look at them.   You will likely just throw them out.”  She had no idea how powerful her work had been.  Looking through these pages felt like I had swallowed a blanket full of pins and they were ripping me apart from the inside.  Talk about bitter sweet.  The memories was so beautiful – but I just couldn’t take it.  I had to stop looking at the images.

How had Dad done it?  His digital photo frame still sat poised and at attention for Dad in his pink chair.  Night after night, Dad was transfixed by the photos Jamie and Mary Anne and others had added to the frame.  Some were old and some were new.  Dad watched them all.  I just couldn’t do it… not yet.  But I couldn’t not look at them either.  Once again, I was frozen.

Out of the pages came the photos.  Jamie had his work cut out for him as it was decided it was now his job to scan the photos and convert them to digital images so that they could be shared by all.  The most difficult part about the whole process, however, was answering the question, “What do we do with the originals?”.    There was so much history in our hands – how can one simply throw the originals away?  It seemed / seems almost sacrilegious.

And then it was time to say good-bye to apartment 1001.  It wasn’t until Jamie was putting on his shoes ready to go that I caught the distress in his eyes.  This was to be Jamie’s last time in apartment 1001.  Crap.  I had to turn away.  Jamie went down the hall to Dad’s room and on the way, pausing to glance at Mom’s room as Dad had so often done.  Mom had been gone from that room for a year-and a half but if you looked carefully enough and closed your eyes, you could see her laying calmly in bed – smiling and waving at you.  She would have normally been up – but this Mom was a tired Mom.  She needed a rest.  Jamie proceeded down the hall.  I stopped following him with my eyes in an effort to respect his private moment with “Dad”.  It was a significant time later that Jamie emerged.  It was a sad Jamie that emerged.  The moment was solemn.  He had said his good-byes…. again.  It was in Dad’s room where my brother and I had buried the hatchet with each other – with Dad as our witness.  It was in Dad’s room where Jamie and I had given Dad morphine to help him through his final journey.  It was in Dad’s room where Jamie and I had sat on either side of him and held his hand while he slipped the surly bonds of earth and moved to be beside his Paula – our mother.  Intense.  It had all been in apartment 1001 where Mom and Dad had lived – and Dad had died.  And it was time to leave.

There was only one thing to do at that moment.  And I did it.  I sang Anne Murray.  “Beneath the snowy mantle cold and clean… ”  Dad was back.  Jamie rolled his eyes.  The Dancing Nannies laughed.

And that was that.  The door closed behind us as Jamie and I left apartment 1001.

The ride home was full of story-telling.  There were stories that I could just barely remember and I felt so fortunate that Jamie had become the new raconteur of our childhoods.  He became the inspiration for stories yet to be re-told.  God certainly does work in mysterious ways.  When the door to apartment 1001 closed, a window opened.

Funny how that night at dinner, on the tenth floor, a little bird flew up to the balcony window and hovered there in an effort to get in.  I was shocked.  I had never seen a bird up that high before – maybe the odd seagull soaring, but never a little bird like this one.  And that it was just hovering trying to check out what was happening inside?  Was that Dad?  Who knows.  I guess all in all, he really didn’t need to come to be with us in the form of a bird because he was already with us – in our hearts forever.

I remember one of my last conversations with Mom when she was in the hospital.  I asked her, “What will I do without you Mom?”  Her answer was simple, “I’ll always be with you.  I’ll always be here in your heart.”

For my brother, it was TTFN Apartment 1001 – in his heart forever.

Categories: Duff History, Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

My Dream Flight

Last night I had the strangest dream.  (Couldn’t help but sing the tune in my head while I wrote that line)  I know that I have always cherished the times when Mom visited me in my dreams – there have only been three times that I remember but each one was so powerful it left me reeling for days.  I was always so impatient that she come – her first appearance wasn’t until four months after she passed away.  I was on holidays with my family. 

Dad’s first appearance was last night – but it left almost no impression on me.  

There I was with Mom and Dad – both of them had been declared palliative.  (true)

Mom was upset, she said to me in tears, “I never did see France.  I always wanted to go to France.  Let’s go.”

She appeared to be so anxious to get to France with Dad and myself that I could do nothing other than try to make arrangements.  Here’s where fact blends with fiction – those dreams do pretty good jobs of blurring lines of reality.  I knew I could count on Veteran’s Affairs Canada to help – they had been so helpful in the past.  I thought maybe they’d be able to get us on a plane pronto and have France wave the passport issue.  

Next “scene” I recall, I’m on a plane with Mom and Dad and some other fellow who was declared palliative  – and on our way without passports to France. 

Next scene is in a hotel in France and Mom looks great – she is almost revived.  Dad is still not well – the other guy is … worse.  I have arranged care for everyone (true) and then I think we all go out for dinner.  You know what happens when you wait to write down your dream – it just gets more difficult to fill in the pieces of action. 

I remember feeling so excited that the trip to France had helped my parents to get better.  

I woke up at this point and thought, “Wow, I’m having a dream about Mom and Dad.  They have made their appearance.”  

When I fell back to sleep I was on a plane going home … by myself.  But I was not inside the plane – I was outside on the nose of the flight deck.  I thought I was in trouble and would not be able to get inside.  The plane was flying very low over the ground but as it approached the Atlantic Ocean I knew it would have to climb to get out of the way of the waves.  I was splashed several times.  Television screens lined the ocean to give sun-bathers and swimmers a glimpse of what the ocean looked like further out.  I realized this part of the trip was going to get cold (it was dark) and wet and I need to get inside.  So, I did what anyone would do – I knocked on the pilot’s window.  He heard my knocking and was a bit startled. Nonetheless, I climbed down the side of the window to the ledge and the pilot opened his window to allow me to slide in to safety.  

What the heck?  

Were Mom and Dad in the plane too?  I don’t remember.  

I made it safely so that I could return home to Canada. 

Planes, palliative, passports, Paula.  Was this a “P” based dream? 

France, freezing cold, flights, father.  Or was this dream a dream of “F”s? 

Mom and Dad travelled to many places, but never France.  What on earth I dreamed that Mom wanted to go to France for?  Your guess is as good as mine.  

As for my flight home, well, it was no “dream flight”.  


Sorry this post was so random.  Just thought I’d share some of the confusion – my gift to you.  

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The “A Team”

July 5, 2012

It’s 7:55 pm and we (the angels and I) are all gathered to celebrate our success:  success in celebrating Mom and Dad’s life and our role in helping them to maintain their dignity … to the end.

I asked the ladies to contribute to this blog.  I wish I could capture the conversation live – but they speak too quickly and passionately – so – I ‘m asking that they capture a few words on this blog.  God bless these ladies as they speak… bring it on, girls!

I’ll start with this tag line:  Working with Bill and Paula was…

(Diane)  … an absolute pleasure.   I loved how Paula gave such easy direction and with so much encouragement.  It was so wonderful to be  a part of their journey and before long I began to feel like I was right at home.  I actually felt like I was home away from home.  It felt so good to know that I was needed and appreciated for doing just what came natural.  I can honestly say I always looked forward to going to work.  I remember having feel good moments – like sniffing the coffee beans before starting the coffee in the morning or having special moments sharing from the heart with Paula.

Oh – just a moment – Adrienne’s accusing me of writing a novel.  I’m sitting in a room with 9 other women trying to be serious  and they’re all sharing and I don’t want to miss out on the chit-chat, so this is taking time.  Oh, now there cheering and talking about who driving home!

Okay, back to where I was – I loved working here and the memories I will keep forever.   Bill and Paula’s team of girls is another reason to enjoy work.  I loved sharing and connecting each weekend.   Okay that’s it for me for now.  I’m passing the post to Adrienne.

(Adrienne) This is going to be short and sweet. I really enjoyed working  for Paula and Bill. I really enjoyed the most was having  breakfast  with them and  and talking about the old times .  I sit  here with my fellow angels and talk about  all kinds of stuff.  I finally had a glass of wine for Paula and Bill so cheers  to you guys !

(Ana) No Brandy??? Well Adrienne I must say Bill will always say ” you didn’t make the funny face yet ” as I always sniff to the bottle before pouring it in his glass.  I can still remember my first night working here Paula was offering a lot of food and she even said, “Ana can I make your bed here?”, but of course I didn’t let her do that (grin). I have many more stories to tell but to cut it short to give the girls more space for their lines. I could say I’m so lucky and thankful to be a part of this family and to work with them  Bill who was not only a good employer but a father to me because I stayed with Paula for two (2) weeks but I can say she’s a good mom…I missed you papaold…ttfn

(Heather) Well here it is Thursday night and I have missed my crib game with my Bill . I looked forward to every Thurs. Paula would laugh when we played and sometimes we would say, “there is a skunk coming in the door.”! After seven years I miss you and our games and walks outside around 2 blocks, not ready to get up yet give me half hour more(lol). So you are not gone you are just away. TTFN

(Tessie Frugal) To all the girls that Papa Bill and loving  Mom Paula have…We are all here, talking all the good things happen in our lives.  The most wonderful and great LOVE and help to us most especially after working with their family  for more than 3 years. I can’t say anything today but to say, my family and I say that we love you so much and thank you very very much.You are always in my heart.Tuck Tuck now. To Stacey you are our angel to help us always Thank you very much.

(Dorothee -the youngest)  I’ve only stayed here for a while but it seems like I’ve been here for a very long time… I’m very fortunate to have known Father Bill (what i called him)(grin), I’ve never met Paula but I’ve  heard a lot about her (kind-hearted and pretty). For Father Bill, you will always be in my heart and THANK YOU for being a father like to me, worrying during weekends (shopping too much) BOLOGNA… And THANK YOU BEAUTIFUL STACEY for making it all REAL….. TTFN Bill…

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

Those Were the Days ….

Duffy’s Tavern.  That was what our friends called our home.  The doors were always open to guests – either familiar or unfamiliar.  It didn’t matter how well we knew people, they were welcome and treated as a guest. 

There were many songs that were sung in our home, but I think one of Paula’s favorite (and naturally my favorite too) was, a song about friends, laughter, and dreams:  Those Were The Days. Enjoy. 

Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la…
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Then the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our starry notions on the way
If by chance I’d see you in the tavern
We’d smile at one another and we’d say

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la…
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Just tonight I stood before the tavern
Nothing seemed the way it used to be
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Was that lonely woman really me

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la…
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Through the door there came familiar laughter
I saw your face and heard you call my name
Oh my friend we’re older but no wiser
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la…
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

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Thanks for the Memories

I am flying.  I feel the exhilaration of the speed of the plane.  I must be back in India.  It’s hot. I look down to my salt-stained socks.  The guys are all just waiting. There is a lot of waiting.  

I am walking.  I feel the earth under my feet as the plow moves steadily forward.  It’s potato planting season.  The sun is warm against my back.  The horse is strong and the earth parts obediently.  

I am dancing.  I feel Paula next to me.  We are dancing to Moonlight Serenade.  The music fills the room.  We are not alone.  Everyone is dressed to the nines.  Another Mess Formal.  My Paula in my arms.  

I am swimming.  I kicked my feet to make a huge splash.  Stacey always liked that.  I’m on my back floating in our pool on the farm.  We entertained so many friends in that pool.  The slide.  Geronimo!  The inflatable alligator that no one could ride.  Kids laugh.  Adults applaud divers competing for a “10”. 

I am star-gazing.  The bonfire in the middle of our forest.  Looking up there are millions of stars.  It’s not like this in the city.  God’s country.  The cool breeze floats over me and the fire warms my toes.  Put on some more wood.  The brush I cleared from the woods today.  Stacey helped me get the pile of wood ready for the show. 

I am talking to Paula.  She is crying.  We fight.  I listen.  Her feelings are hurt.  I’m sorry.  We talk it through.  Communication is so important.  We never go to bed angry.  I love you too, Paula.

I am walking my daughter down the aisle.  It’s hot.  There’s Kevin ahead.  My daughter on my arm.  No more than 4 pounds and now look. 

My dad needs my help.  “Dad, I’ll make you a deal.”  I’m always negotiating with him. 

Back in the air.  The big blue.  Up, up.  Out of this world.  Peace.  

I am sleeping.  

So many flashes of memory.  I have lived so many things.  To sleep, perchance to dream.  A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou.  I can’t talk to anyone like I used to talk to Paula.  She is here. She is watching over me.  She is waiting.  I hold my breath.  Where is she?  

I am dreaming.  I must be dreaming.  Or am I really lying here with you?  Anne Murray.  I am singing.  I love to sing.  I tap my toes.  The beat is rhythmic.  I breathe in.  Exhale.  Music.  Then, nothing.  

They tell me I snore.  I know I talk in my sleep.  Stacey and I entertained Paula on the farm.  If she came to bed after we did, I’d be busy controlling planes as air traffic control and Stacey was singing the latest song she learned for the Eastview Concert Choir. 

So many flashes.  I jump from image to image.  

I sleep.  Dreaming is my new reality at this moment.  It’s not so bad.  Count sheep, Stacey.  Take a deep breath in and hold it to ten – then exhale for ten.  Keep doing that until you fall asleep. 

Beavers, ground-hogs, partridges, raccoons, dogs, skunks (bad combination), porcupines.


Cribbage, bridge, canasta

So many memories… 

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