Posts Tagged With: history

Apartment 1001 in 2013 – nothing new

There is a showing tomorrow in apartment 1001 and so I needed to be sure that it was in good shape and I needed to pick up the mail.

I went this afternoon for a “check-up” and to wish Mom and Dad a Happy New Years.

I don’t know what I expected.

I walked in and the room was dark.

I turned on the light.

I looked around.

It smelled fresh.

The place was empty.  Mom didn’t say, “hi”.  Dad didn’t say, “hi”.  What did I expect? I knew they were both at a better address – yet, I felt their “hello”.  I felt their “excitement” to see me.  They were always excited by a surprise visit.

I went to the pantry to check things out.  Nothing new.

I went to Dad’s room.  Nothing new.

I went to Mom’s room.  Nothing new.

I poured myself a glass of wine to cheer them with.  Nothing new (grin).

I cleaned the glass.  I had a cry.  Nothing new.

I left and locked the door behind me.

I opened the door – half expecting to see them giggle sitting in their chairs – as if they really had not passed away and they were just checking to see if I’d say, “TTFN” and “I love you”.   But, there was no one.  Nothing new.

What had I expected?  I don’t know.  This is a new place and space for me in 2013 as it is for my departed parents.  It is new – but there is nothing new.

And as I exited the building – and apartment 1001, the reflection of the sunset caught my eye.  It was Dad – I know it was – saying, “TTFN”.  “I love you, Stacey.” And delightedly I thought, “nothing new”.  Thank God.

The Setting Sun - nothing new

The Setting Sun – nothing new

 

Categories: Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 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

10 000 and counting: Thank-you

A toast to life!

Mom and Dad toasting at their 40th anniversary

Yesterday was Remembrance Day and to honour my Dad, Flight Lieutenant WJ Duff, I tried to promote readers to check out Dad’s WWII stories.  I made an appeal to have 1, 000 “reads”.  He never thought anyone would be interested in his stories.

Yet, yesterday, with the help of fellow bloggers, Dad’s stories reached 2, 000 of you and that brought his total reads to over 10 000:  my goal.

A million thank-yous to all of you who helped me to remember Dad and his efforts to establish peace.  What an honour it would have been for Dad to see this kind of response.

Although my heart remains heavy as it has only been since June that he has, “moved to a better address”, I know that he is a peace and thankful for his remembrance.

Today happens to also be the day – two years today – when Mom, Paula Duff (ne Malloff) passed away very unexpectedly.  It was very difficult on Dad to lose his bride of 61 years but he was a trooper.  He remembered her every morning when he got up out of bed – every meal at the dining room table – every glass of wine – every celebration – every night as he lay down to rest.  And so did the rest of us.  She was with us as Dad remembered her to intensely.  It seems that our memory of Dad remembering her is now imprinted firmly into my mind.

Mom.  Paula.  Wife.  Daughter.  Nurse.  Aunt.  Teacher.  She was beautiful.

Today – we will remember Mom.

We will, as my daughter Katya advised me, remember her for her warmth and security, for her caring friendship and the memories that will live on in our hearts.  She is in pain no longer.  She will cook and sew to her hearts content.  I think there is quite a bit of “Nana” in my daughter.

So – here’s to all of our Moms and Dads who we hold dear in our hearts.  And here’s to one day when we will all meet again.   TTFN

Categories: Family and Friends, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 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

They are everywhere… they are everything…

He sat.

In his chair.

He smiled.

For there – beside him was his grandson who placed the graduation cap on his Poppa’s head.  The sun’s rays warmed their exchange.

He sat.

In the pilot’s seat.

He smiled.

For there – beside him was his son who took him for “one last flight”.  The sun’s rays warmed their exchange.

She sat.

In the restaurant’s seat.

She smiled.

For there – beside her was her son-in-law who shared one last meal with her.  The moon’s glow warmed their exchange.

They sat.

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.

He sits.

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.

It sits.

On the corner.

It is.

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.

They sit.

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.

 

Categories: Family and Friends, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , | 2 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

The Photo Frame in the Front Room

My first greeting in the morning flashes as a random light from the front room.

The source of the light is clear and I welcome it as equally as it welcomes me.

“Good morning, Mom.”, I say to the photo of Mom that flashes up on the digital photo frame.  “Good  morning, Dad.”, I say to the next image of Dad that appears on the screen.  The light from the photo frame seems to be getting brighter as the morning light begins to appear even later.

The images light up the room as much as they light my heart.

I move closer and stand by the frame for a while, just watching as my childhood flashes before me.

  • There’s lady – our first dog, anticipating a treat that Dad is holding to reward her for “sitting pretty”.
  • dad and I sitting on the balcony of his condominium
  • Mom – making her first attempt at using her new computer
  • Mom – wearing the neck brace that she had crafted to support her neck
  • Norman Kee at the farm
  • Mom, Dad, and I on the beach in Cuba.  Dad was standing without his walker then
  • Dad walking me down the aisle to marry Kevin.

And then reality hits – its time to go to school.  I turn away and think, “oh, just a few more.”  And I’m trapped by history again.

I love the frame – I hate the frame.

The memories are comforting and disturbing at the same time.

I visited Mom and Dad yesterday – prompted by seeing a little old lady at the grocery store who reminded me so intensely of Mom.  I had to leave the store quickly so that I would not draw attention to myself as I began to cry.  Funny how the emotions can be so suddenly intense.

  • There’s Tessie and her family at Dad’s condo – all of us enjoying each others’ company for Wednesday night dinner.
  • Mary and Dad toasting with a glass of wine on our front walkway just after Mary lost her own Mom.  Dad was a source of strength for her during that time too.

It’s time to go.  It’s time to say good-bye.. or at least TTFN.

My first greeting in the morning continues to flash as a random light from the front room as I walk away and move on with life.

“TTFN, Mom and Dad.”, I say to the photo of Mom giving Dad a peck on the cheek on the occasion of their 61st wedding anniversary.  TTFN

Bill and Paula Duff

Summer Smiles

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Life After Dad, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The “Frog” Test: Study Not Needed

It was called the frog test.

According to research collected and posted on Wikipedia, mice used to be injected with the urine of the person to be tested and the mouse was later killed and dissected.  Presence of ovulation indicated that the urine contained hCG – meaning the female was pregant.  Rabbits were also used – but needed to be killed to check the ovaries.  The frog tests, however, arrived in the 1950s… allowed the frog to remain alive and the frog could be used repeatedly.  “A female frog was injected with serum or urine of the patient; if the frog produced eggs within the next 24 hours, the test was positive.”  Who would have thought?

For more information about early pregnancy tests, check out this website address:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy_test

Why the sudden interest in pregnancy tests?  I’m not pregnant – nor considering the possibility.  Been there done it – and David was our little miracle.

Today – I had enough mental energy to tackle some of Mom and Dad’s things I brought home from the condo.  There was a beautiful wooden box I discovered in Mom’s dresser drawer.  It was full of all kinds of sentimental reminders that Mom had collected in silence.  There were letters from Dad, naturalization papers for my Grandfather from Russia, pins, an anklet from Dad to Mom, buttons, receipts for some of Mom’s designer clothing… and a copy of a frog test.

At first, I thought it had to be a joke.  What the heck?  I mean seriously, who gets a frog test?  Furthermore, the technician was listed as PMS.  Seriously? North Bay Civic Hospital issued the test and test results:  positive.  Mom was pregnant in 1957.  Jamie would have had another little sibling…

I knew that Mom had lost a baby boy a week before he was born.  “Baby Duff” was his name – I think Dad was supposed to have named him – not sure what happened, but I do know that was something we didn’t often talk about.  Crazy, though, if this was the only “evidence” of Baby Duff – a frog test from 1957.

All in all, it does bring a joke to mind that Dad used to tell and we all groaned when he told it.  It goes like this – and forgive me – remember it’s Dad’s joke.

“Did you hear about the guy who stayed up all night long studying for a urine test?”

That’s it.  You are welcome.  Brought to you by Mom’s frog test.

How many frogs does it take...?

Mom knew she was pregnant because of a frog?

Ribbit or read-it…  your call!

Categories: Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

So much has changed… one year later.

“Did you kick anyone out of class today, Stacey?”, I remember my Dad joking with me.

It was only this time last year.

I can’t believe how many things can change in such a short time.

When I think back to this time last year – I was worried about going back to school full time as that meant that Dad would be on his own.. well… somewhat.  I spent so much time with him after Mom passed away – it was almost a full year.  We grew a garden together last summer (on his patio) and decided what worked on his patio and what didn’t .  The cucumbers, while fun to watch, did NOT work.  The cherry tomatoes were a favorite of “Julius” and so we were going to grow cherry tomatoes again this year… The onions were okay – but no one ate them so they were out.  There was just no garden this summer.  And I think Dad knew that there was no point in planning one.

For years, I remember Dad planning his garden.  He would anxiously await the arrival of his “Stokes Seed” magazine (at that time I thought I’d rather EAT dirt than read that magazine) so that he could choose the latest and greatest of upcoming vegetables.  He’d plan for nights on end.  Make a list.  Order the seeds and then wait for their arrival – which meant that spring was on it’s way.

I could never understand how patient he was to await the first sign of a sprout so small that I thought he was totally nuts! But sure enough, those sprouts would turn into tomato plants, Brussel sprouts, and cucumbers.

The autumn harvest was always accompanied by the glow of orange, yellow, amber, red maple leaves.  And I was always, always, always back to school.  Dad would always, always, always be excited to hear about my students.

Working at the Learning Centre never disappointed him as I’d always have stories of triumph over adversity for him.  The students I teach often come from very difficult circumstances and I always, always, always appreciate that they are managing these circumstances at the same time they are trying to graduate from high school.

Dad knew my students well.  Every time I’d visit him – especially in September – he’d ask about the classes and what great things were happening.  Dad knew that the students were challenging – and Dad knew that I loved my job.  We’d have so many chats about how lucky we were in life.  We were given so many blessings.  Indeed.  Our lives had never been challenged as much as so many of my students’ lives – in that we always had family to count on.  Dad was my rock in the end.  He knew he had to be.  Mom was always the one getting involved in my student – stories.  But when she was no longer there – Dad knew he had a responsibility to ask the questions and to be interested.   I think he rather liked this new role.

This year, however, things are different.

I wonder how it will be to not report back to Mom or Dad about my first day at school?

How will it be for Ben, Katya, and David to not report back to Mom and Dad about their first days at school?  There are so many wonderful things that they will encounter this year – and I know “Nanna and Poppa” would have been proud of them.  There would have been a plethora of questions.  How will my children feel about the absence of the oh so familiar sounding boards and cheer-leaders?

So much can change in one year –

So much has changed.

How can one respond to such change without reflection?

I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to learn from my parents all these years… that “wisdom is knowing what to say and not saying it.” .  That, “if you don’t have anything good to say – don’t say anything at all.”

These two phrases are perhaps the greatest legacy and prophesy left to us by my parents.

Maybe this year – it is my turn to communicate these messages to my students?

Maybe this year – it is my turn to ask my children more questions about their school-days?

And maybe – just maybe – I’ll tell Mom and Dad about my first day at school anyhow….

Maybe things don’t really can change in such a short time, after-all?

Maybe they do.

We’ll see.

Categories: Life After Dad | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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