Killarney Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada is a special place for me and my family. Every year, my parents, my brother and his family and me and my girls make a canoe trip. This year we returned to the lake, Ruth Roy, where our annual family trip began ten years ago. Sitting around the fire with laughing-through-tears memories, my eye caught a stone, just a little too perfect. Upon closer inspection, it was clear. Ruth Roy was a special place for another person too. Ronen,....I don't know who you are. But if I wanted to be remembered somewhere, this gem of a lake is a beautiful place for that. :)
~My Grandad grew up in Liverpool; a small town on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Although he lived in Ontario when I was young, most of my memories of him are from when he moved back to the East Coast with my Nanny. They lived in a small home with green siding on a huge lot just on the town’s outer boundary. The rooms inside were dark but filled with warmth. There was a small sitting room at the back of the home where he used to sit and listen to music. He’d smoke his pipe there, leaning back comfortably in his chair and staring out the window, leg crossed, pipe clasped in between his teeth with a great big grin on his face. I would watch the smoke dance up through the air and listen to his endless stories. The sweet smoky smell of pipe tobacco always takes me back to Nova Scotia. It sends me to the foggy, salty landscapes of Carter’s Beach watching Grandad hobble along, arms linked with my mother. It sends me to the dark dining room table of his home and stories of saving his icing for last when eating his cake. It sends me to the swing tied up in the large tree in his yard and me stretched out, flying through the air. It sends me to the first time we took a picture after he lost his sight, and his smile large, but eyes focused slightly left of the camera. It sends me to the time when we found him up on the roof, trying to fix something and the hysterics of worried laughter as we directed the blind man back down the ladder. It sends me into his hugs and loud cackling laughter. It makes me remember so many wonderful things.So, thank you pipe smoking men. Because of you, I have permission to relive these moments. And they are amazing. ~ nina :)
"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”. That was the quote my dad chose for the end of his obituary. It was 17 years ago today that he got his butterfly wings. It sometimes seems like just yesterday and sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago. He might not have realized how important those words would become to us. In the difficult days that followed butterflies would become our source of strength and a way to remember dad was somehow nearby. 17 years on and butterflies help us to remember and remind us how lucky we were to have him. We like to think that when a butterfly flies past its dad reminding us he’s still there. You can’t help but think it must be him. When a butterfly flew past during our wedding ceremony, the guests couldn’t help but think dad was there. When a yellow swallowtail flutters around the garden of your new home, it felt like it was dad saying how proud he was. When you travel half way across the world and a butterfly flies by, you can’t help but think dad is reminding you to have fun and enjoy the moment. I can’t help but check my speed when a butterfly flutters past my windshield, I usually think it’s dads way of telling me to slow down and drive carefully. Wherever we are, it seems that butterflies often show up at the moments when you need them the most or perhaps when you didn’t even realize you needed one. _KT
My grandparents lived on the St.Lawrence river. Their house was up on a large cliff which overlooked the water. My grandfather's birthday was July 1st (Canada Day). When school let out, we often would brave the 401 and drive to Brockville for Riverfest, and his birthday. Just after dark, we would stand on the back porch and watch the fireworks which were let off downtown, upstream. He would always joke, "Isn't it nice, that they put on such a show for my birthday." Fireworks -- always remind me of him.
A song. Today, sitting with a friend having coffee, this song came on and instantly, I smiled, remembering dancing, teenage days with great friends. Free, uninhibited, around and around and around their living room.
Amazing how a song can do that.
I seem to have a connection to hawks. Many times, over the years, when I have been shocked by something or saddened, I have noticed a hawk close by. Once, as I choked up listening to the announcement on the radio of the sudden car accident that killed a man in our community, a hawk, fluttered in majestically just in front of my car, landed on a fence post and turned to look at me as I stopped at a four way stop. Years later, my friend DW’s mother had passed away. I went to the funeral and watched her, imagining what she was going through. Heart breaking for her. At the end of the funeral, I walked back to my car, a tornado of emotions and thoughts swirling through me. As I walked through the suburban streets back to my car, I heard a hawk’s call. The hair on my arms began to prickle up, but before I even had time to follow the sound, I heard two more calls. There above me, directly above me, in the suburban streets of Stoney Creek, were three hawks, circling. Just above the roof tops. So close, I could count their red tail feathers. :) ~ NW
No Woman, No Cry
M, my good friend for close to 30 years, lived three provinces away. A few years ago she was on a trip to Jamaica celebrating the completion of her cancer treatments with her partner, K. I was so happy for her! M had been told by her doctors that she was in remission. However on the plane ride down, she developed a blood clot in her leg that traveled to her lungs. She died suddenly on that trip. I was devastated. She was the first close friend I had ever lost. It was so hard to comprehend and I grieved for a long time. Prior to her death, she had had to take several months off of work to undergo chemo treatments. During this time, M would often call or text me and give me updates on how she was coping. We would talk about the crazy ups and downs of our lives. I always cherished our talks. She told me that she was working on her guitar playing since she had all this new found time on her hands. And playing guitar didn't zap her dwindling energy. YouTube was her teacher. Unbeknownst to me, she had recorded herself playing quite a number of her favorite songs. After she passed away, her lovely partner presented me and a few other friends with a homemade CD. K had compiled about 20 recordings of M singing and playing guitar. The only device I own that could play a CD was my car stereo. It took me a long time to get the courage to listen to it as I knew it would break my heart to hear her. But finally I did. It was wonderful and heart wrenching to hear her voice, which I missed dearly. On the CD, M would introduce a song with some funny anecdote and would dedicate it to one of her friends. I was so thankful to M and her partner for this gift of song, this gift of her life! Several months later, I was having a particularly difficult day as my boyfriend and I were going through a very stressful time. There were no right answers to our problem without one of us having to make a huge sacrifice. We were at a point of ending the relationship. I decided to have coffee with a friend to talk about it and see if she had any answers we hadn't yet thought of. She was supportive but wasn't able to shed any new light on the situation. I was feeling particularly forlorn. I left our coffee date and walked to my car. Sitting in the drivers seat with tears streaming down my face, I put the key in the ignition and turned on the car. For some reason the CD player came on. It was M's voice singing. The song was "No woman, No cry" by Bob Marley. What an amazing coincidence! I had been listening to the radio the last time I was in the car. How did the CD start playing? And of all the 20 songs on that CD for that one to start playing? Perfect timing! What was also bizarre was that I have listened to that song for most of my life but had never realized that one of the lines in the song is: "everything's going to be alright". Immediately my mood changed from sadness to relief. I felt calm and reassured. I took from the words that whatever the outcome of my relationship, life was still going to be okay. I would be ok! I wiped away my tears and thanked M for sending me the message that I needed to hear. Sure enough, in time, my boyfriend and I found a solution to our problem. But even if we hadn't, I knew that everything was going to be alright...
Look to the Sky
When my children were very young, my mother began to lose her 7 year battle with cancer. Some time before she passed I had a dream one night. In the dream I myself was given a terminal diagnosis. As I stood on the street outside of a doctors office, I was transported through what I would say were each of the stages of acceptance of one's imminent death. Anger, fear denial -finally arriving at acceptance. As I looked up to the overcast sky, I saw that the sun was a bright white orb behind the cloud cover. It began to grow larger until a beam of light shone through and down toward me. In the light, many prisms sparkled creating a holographic effect. The beam seemed to illuminate life behind the veil of our earthly reality. Behind the curtain of the world around me, I could see loved ones who'd crossed over, milling about. Watching us as though through a two-way mirror. Nothing to be sad about, as they were just backstage of the show. Playing cards and passing the time until our arrival. I awoke with a profound sense that I'd been given a gift of awareness about life and death. 6 months later my mom passed away. I had great comfort because of that dream but I missed my mother terribly. Was she proud of me? Did she agree with my decisions? Wrought with sadness that my children would not have their grandmother. On one overcast day where just like in my dream, the sun was a bright white orb behind the cloud cover, I was silently asking myself these questions while driving with my family. From the backseat of the car came my 4 year old daughter E's voice. "Mommy, do you know who told me to look at that sun?" "Nana did. Just now." Whenever the sky is overcast and the sun can be seen patiently waiting on the other side, I remember she's just playing cards, waiting for our arrival.
My Uncle M loved trains. His basement was filled with a train set and a little community inside the tracks. He spoke of trains, made analogies from trains, and even wore a conductors hat. To know Uncle M would be to know trains. Last year we traveled by train to Toronto to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs play. On our trip back home we boarded the train, and as we walked up the steps we saw the conductor. My children asked him what was the room behind him. He told them that was where he drove the train from. He invited my kids to drive from Oakville to Burlington. As my kids drove the train, I thought of how much Uncle M would be in his glory! ~ LW
the song - "You'll Never Walk Alone."
I was driving down the road and I was thinking of my dad who had recently crossed over. I really wanted to connect with him in some way so I asked him to give me a sign. Now what you should know is that before he died, he and I would watch the Premier soccer league every weekend. He would watch Man United and Liverpool. Liverpool 's theme song was "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Gerry and the Pacemakers. He would sing this and cry. On this particular day while driving and asking him for a sign, a red van pulled in front of me with the phrase, "You'll Never Walk Alone" in massive letters across the back windows of this van. I quietly cried and said, thank you dad. I thought, I know, dad. I won't. ~ LK