Posts Tagged With: Duff
It 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.
I 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.
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.
For the second year in a row – Ben, our oldest boy/ man will not be coming with us to Myrtle Beach. It is not that he does not love us anymore.. I hope. He is now in college – and the colleges have already had their break. This leaves him home – alone – for a week – with a car. Hmmm. Am I too naïve to be worried – nay. Trusting. Life is changing.
For the first year in a long time I have not had to plan, plan, and plan care for Dad. I was always so worried that one of Dads caregivers would not make a shift and then Dad would be left alone on a week-end. So – I over-scheduled and had back up after back-up. The food was all prepared, packaged, and frozen for the week. The bills were all paid in advance. Phone numbers and contact information was thoroughly communicated… you get the drill. Dad would also be a bit worried I would imagine – although he was in such good hands – none of us really needed to be concerned. This year I am so under-planned it is ridiculous. Yet – here we are – without Dad… I would rather have the plan, plan, planning to do! Two very special men are out of the Myrtle Beach plans this year. Weird as it is – there is a giant hole that is left behind. Not sure what to do with it yet – can it be filled with books, rest, wine (grin) or good conversations with friends..
This is the first year that a dear friend of mine will not be joining us and our families reuniting. She has a new life with a new partner and there is no Myrtle Beach in her blood it seems anymore. She deserves this happiness as her life has not been easy as a single parent. Again, there is a hole – a divide.
And this is the third year that Mom is not around. There will be no one asking me for contact information – to watch for sharks – to be careful on the roads and to watch those crazy drivers! No one will be buying me a bathing suit as Mom always knew what would look relatively civil on me and I hated buying it myself. No Mom to take me out to spoil me with a meal from Red Lobster – just because – and fight me for the bill. No Mom to call and explain that we have arrived safely – not to worry. No Mom who will wish my family a great trip – and to not worry about a thing! To have fun. To get some rest (you look so tired, Stacey, you do too much!) But each time I pass a white rose … I will think of her.
Life happens. It happened to my Mom and Dad and now it is happening to me. I remember so well when my parents spoke about the changes their lives had endured. Some of their friends passed away – others divorced – others grew apart… I thought nothing about it at the time as their lives were so far apart from mine.
It seems that distance has almost been bridged. I am so glad I remember them talking about life changes – talking about firsts.. growing older… it makes my divide seem like it is a part of life. They survived it – I guess so too can I.
Mom and Dad were always there for my brother and I. In fact, I remember thinking that wherever they were – that was my home. Now that they are no longer here there are times, I must admit, that I feel a little homeless. But – other times I feel that life is happening to me the way it happened to my parents – and that it will all be okay. I wish they were here to talk to – to listen to my epiphanies as I age. Aha – I get it – moments. I wonder if they felt the same way?
As time passes, it seems I become more distant – yet closer to my family on so many dimensions. Life has a way of bridging gaps. Ben, Dad, my friend… my Mom. Through it all – I still know that I am home – home is where the family is – forever in my heart.
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!
In his chair.
For there – beside him was his grandson who placed the graduation cap on his Poppa’s head. The sun’s rays warmed their exchange.
In the pilot’s seat.
For there – beside him was his son who took him for “one last flight”. The sun’s rays warmed their exchange.
In the restaurant’s seat.
For there – beside her was her son-in-law who shared one last meal with her. The moon’s glow warmed their exchange.
On their front porch.
They smiled and sighed.
For there – in front of them were the fall leaves. The glow of autumn warmed their exchange.
In his walker.
He shivers and smiles.
For there – in front of him is the approaching winter. The wind off the bay warmed their exchange.
On the corner.
It provides shelter for the many who gather to collect mail, to buy supplies, to now buy pizza. The door swings open and permits others to exchange a warm welcome.
Sisters, mothers and daughters, cheering, flying, soaring, poppas and grandchildren, sons, fathers, care-givers and care-needers, chefs, and hosts.
In the frame.
It offers snapshots of history, roots, smiles, tears, colour, family, cousins, anticipation, scenery. The images offer warmth to the heart.
(Thanks to my brother, Jamie, for this contribution)
After buying 80 acres of pasture and bush, getting us to move into a dirt floored cabin until the house could be built, dad seceded that he wanted to make maple syrup. He knew next to nothing about the process, but as always, the library had a wealth of information. After scouring a number of books, Dad he was ready to take on the maple bush. If it was in a book – Dad could do it.
First, he ordered an attachment for his chainsaw and a special bit (The saw rotates opposite of a drill, so the bit had to cut backwards) Then, he ordered 200 spigots along with the pill you have to put in behind to stop the tree from “healing” itself. He went out and bought an old fuel oil tank and had a local shop in Craighurst cut the side out, weld a pipe and tap onto the now bottom, and steam clean the inside of the tank. They also welded a stand to sit the tank up to allow the fire to be built underneath.
He set up his first attempt at this beside the old cabin deep in the woods…. the one we slept in for 4 months whille the house was being build. He tapped trees on the other side of the stream. His original intention was to bring the sap back by wagon, but we’d had lots of snow that winter, so that idea was out. His next idea was to take a plastic garbage can and use the snowmobile to collect the sap. This worked well at the start, but as the snow started to melt and the packed snow wasn’t as solid, a number of cans full of sap were lost to tip-overs, as my brother Jamie and his friend David Clark can attest. The sap was not only “wet” but it was sticky. What a mess.
The tank didn’t allow for accuracy of any kind when it came to temperature control, so there were a few batches that were lost due to burning. It was a tricky process getting the sap to a really light syrup, then drawing that off to finish on a Coleman stove. Even with a hygrometer to measure density, it was seconds sometimes between the “perfect draw’ and a burnt glob. Dad persevered though and got it down to a reasonably fine art, even with a fuel oil tank for an evaporator.
He used old wine bottles for his first syrup containers, and considered the year a rousing success. He managed to make 12 bottles of syrup that year, and had collected about 2000 gallons of sap to accomplish that.
Dad was hooked, and for the remainder of our time on the property, March was Maple Syrup time. He moved up from the tank to a professional evaporator manufactured in Quebec, with a “sugar shanty” to keep the elements out and allow for a better product. His best year was 200 litres of syrup produced … at a ratio of 60 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup, we collected 12,000 litres of sap that year.
The maple syrup was “liquid gold” to most folks, especially Mom and Dad. For us, my brother and I, it created golden memories and sweet tales.
I was exposed to lobster tales when I was knee-high to a grasshopper.
I guess Dad’s loyalty to the industry came from his days of patrolling the Northumberland Straits during World War II. He and his buddies, when on break, would often be invited to visit lighthouses where a feast of lobster would be served. Some of the lighthouse operators had daughters, and, Dad would explain to me that pilots in those days were considered a pretty good catch themselves. I guess Dad was no exception. (He only had eyes for my beautiful mother at that time and so the lighthouse “Dads” were out of luck before they even knew it!)
In any case – it was here where Dad learned the fine art of cracking and consuming lobster.
There was no part of the lobster spared when Dad was through – other than the eyes and the shell. Even the legs and the material already digested by the lobster itself was “succulent”, as Dad would describe it.
I remember Dad recounting a story about how he and Mom went to dine with their friends Floyd and Francis in Dundas one time. On the “all -you – can – eat” menu was lobster. I guess it wasn’t really all you can eat as Dad’s feast was halted after 13 lobsters.
And it wasn’t just the fact that he ate the pre-digested green stuff that had people stunned, it was that he was given everyone else’s carcus with pre-digested material too. So – imagine at the end of the feast there would be over 20 lobsters waiting for Dad to “enjoy”.
Lobster – which is why Red Lobster was our dining choice after Dad’s inurnment – has been an important meal to the Duff family. It would be served to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and the arrival of special guests. Of course, accompanying the lobster would be Dad’s home-made wine – the body-builder.
Dad always said the best part of the lobster is the tail – but I’ve always liked the lobster “tales” better. Grin.
This is the first time my parents have not called me on my birthday.
This is the first time my mother-in-law has sung me happy birthday in Tukkie – Tukkie (not sure if that’s how it’s spelled)
This is the first time my husband and daughter have attended a visitation for a young girl whose life was tragically snatched at a too young age.
This is the first time I’ve been 49.
This is the first time I’ve been “without” words. Sorry – this post will be short and sweet. I would like, however, to say, “To all of you who have been following Dad’s/ my blog… “thank-you.” It’s the first time I’ve publicly offered you my appreciation for all the feed-back you’ve given and “hits” Dad was so proud of while he was alive. Your support of this blog is one of the best birthday gifts I could receive… next only to the gift of my beautiful family. I am truly blessed. ”
Cheers! And…. TTFN
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.
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…