Far From Home

I’m alone and far from home these past few days, and I have enjoyed it; but I’ve missed them all so much. I talked via FaceTime with my hubby for a bit today, and with the kids the night before. I love how technology allows us these things so that it’s not quite so hard. I tried to call my Mom, but she was out with her mom shopping for a new dress – which is pretty cool.

For some reason, after today’s sessions, I started thinking about Mom’s – I’m guessing it’s because of Mother’s Day on Sunday and I really haven’t made any plans…as usual! LOL! 🙂

I have written posts about Mom’s before: Never Alone and Delta Dawn and this cool reminiscing one: Where I’m From

I remember a time when I didn’t get along with my mother…how she just didn’t understand me…how a word from her could make me crumble…how I was afraid to disappoint her…how I always wanted to be far from home.

And then I was…

I will always remember that day…I was home on the farm for the summer and I’d never felt farther from home than before that day…and I’d never felt closer since…

I was out by my car, I don’t remember what I was doing, but my Dad walked up to me and in his quiet way asked me the question I’d been afraid he would ask. “Do you have something to tell us?”

They’d just got back from a summer holiday with my sisters and I had stayed at the farm while I worked my summer job to help pay for university. The night before, I’d stood next to the stove as everyone told of their adventures. I was dressed in my usual sloppy clothes that conveniently hid the growing bulge of my belly. The bulge I’d not told anyone about…

“Do you have something you need to tell us?” he asked again.

I shook my head, but the tears were already welling up.

“I know what it’s like, you know. I was with your mother when you were born. I know it’s hard”. He said more to me, but I could barely hear him as I just sobbed and sobbed. He didn’t yell. He didn’t scream. He just talked.

I couldn’t control the agony as it fell down my cheeks. I knew how much I’d let him down. And oh God, now my Mom would know. I was so ashamed. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I wanted to die. I’d pleaded with God that it wasn’t happening. I pretended it wasn’t, but I couldn’t deny it anymore. I had to stand there.

A short distance away,  my mom pulled up on the quad. He walked over to her; knowing that I couldn’t face her at that moment. That moment when she would hear the truth. My knees shook…I wanted to throw up…and yes, I wanted to die right there where I stood so that she wouldn’t have to share my shame.

She cried when he told her. The first time I’d ever seen her cry. I wished again that I was dead. I was so not worth the tears and the heart break I was giving her.

But then, she did something that I never dreamed she would do. I thought she’d throw me out. I thought she’d never speak to me again. I thought she’d turn her back on me. Instead, she called me over and told me that I wasn’t quitting school. That it was even more important for me now.

She stopped crying and mothering took over. She wanted to know if I’d been to a doctor. If I was OK. She wanted to know if I’d decided what to do. If my ex-boyfriend knew about it. So many questions and I just stammered the answers. She assured me it wasn’t going to be easy, but that we were going to face this head on.

As she made sure that I got proper medical care the very next day and all the counselling and support I needed; I realized that this was what being a mother was about. Never turning your back on your children, especially when they need you most. That you are NEVER, EVER far from home.

Up until that day, I had felt so alone:

  • The troubled young woman, full of fear and shame
  • The perfect one that had fallen so far off her pedestal; with her knees bleeding and her halo bent beyond recognition
  • That even God wasn’t listening to me
  • That no one understood me
  • That no one even loved me – he had broken my heart, my first true love; I would never love again
I had never been so wrong:
  • I wasn’t alone, my family surrounded me instantly with their love & support
  • God gave me the most beautiful gift – being a mother; a gift I didn’t even know I needed
  • God understood, my family understood
  • Most of all, they all loved me more in my frailty and my mess
  • And I have loved again; loved my family, my three beautiful children and the man I adore with all my heart
God’s love surrounded me that day when I finally came home to the family I didn’t even know I had. I was no longer far from home.

Don Williams

The summer sun flashes through the trees as the big green “Super-Cab” bumps along the back-country road. Three gangly-legged kids “lounge” on the back bench with their knobby knees around their ears, while the sunshine blonde sits up front with Mom and Dad! 🙂 The 8-track tape skips occasionally, depending on the ruts in the road. The freshly washed and packed Skylark trailer is now covered in dust as the old truck climbs.

A familiar clearing opens up in front of the caravan; a winding stream along one side, mountains looming close by. Indian paint brushes line the clearing among the dead fall. There’s a dirt “road” leading back further into the bush, two deep ruts that the old Super-Cab won’t be attempting. The perfect spot for the yearly camping vacation.

There is the usual parental “discussion” as the trailer is parked and leveled – the four kids stay clear and explore to see if anything’s changed from the previous year. The stream has cut a deeper groove into the earth. Fresh moose “terds” along a new trail. A few more old campfire embers in varying spots across the clearing. Their “secret” spot no longer as secret.

Days out there are filled with exploring. They hike up the nearby mountain, to the top of the tree-line. Even the little blonde one makes it all the way up! The climb on the hot summer day leaves them anxious to get back into the coolness of the forest. The freckled one notices her sweater is missing when they arrive back at camp. Dad considers and allows the two oldest to go back up and get it. They are excited that he trusts them and believes they can get their faster on their own. It is a big step for those two – not treated as children. They recover the now-marmot-chewed sweater and beam with pride.

Rainy days mean board games around the tiny square table in the trailer. Chocolate puffed wheat squares and hot chocolate are eagerly devoured. The small furnace in the trailer and those 6 bodies crowded together make the windows fog up as the rain comes down. The summer storm doesn’t last long, and by early evening, they are tromping through the wet grass in rubber boots that Mom is always wise enough to bring along.

Evening campfires mean roasted marshmallows and stories of camping days past. As the sun goes down, dark shapes flit through the sky, gathering their insect breakfasts. The oldest one scrunches down in her lawn chair as low as she can, melting the bottoms of her running shoes when getting her feet too close to the fire.

As the stars come out and the yawns get bigger, Mom heats up a pan of water and they each take turns washing the day’s dirt and sticky marshmallow away. Dad kicks up the furnace as they climb into warm pajamas. The two littlest climb up on the bunk and are instantly asleep. The two oldest make way as Mom converts that table into a bed just big enough for the two of them. Mom notices that soon, those two will be sleeping out in tent on these trips, they’re almost too big for that trailer now. When did they get so big?

The oldest, as always, falls asleep with a song playing over and over in her mind:

Delta Dawn

Heard this song and I was filled with memories of times long ago…

As I grew older, I was responsible for either helping mom cook dinner or actually cooking it. It was basic and good food back then; beef/chicken or pork we’d raised ourselves. Vegetables either fresh from the garden or from the hundreds of home canning painstakingly done by my mother’s hands. Potatoes grown in our garden pulled up from the cold storage room. Even the milk on the table was milked from the cows by my father. Dessert was home-canned fruit or fresh baked cakes/cookies.

Summer days included helping my mother with the garden. Our hands were dirty pulling weeds, digging carrots, picking peas. Summer evenings we were gathered around in lawn chairs on warm evenings shelling peas or snapping beans. If it was cooler out, we’d be gathered in the basement. All of us, together, talking, laughing, arguing; together.

My mother spent many a sweltering August day in her kitchen canning jar after jar of vegetables, fruit and pickles for her family. Never complaining, but wishing for a “summer kitchen” in the basement. Sometimes we would peel peaches for her or wash raspberries – stealing the “occasional” taste when she wasn’t looking!

There was no eating dinner in front of the TV. The table would be set by a sister or two. My brother would be the runner downstairs to the cold storage to bring up whatever Mom needed for the meal. Dad knew exactly what time to come in – it was the same every day; rare exceptions.

Food was never dished out of the pot – it was put out in bowls properly and passed around. And make sure you go clockwise, kids! So much chatter around that table: 3 girls = 1 brother not getting a word in edge-wise…and a Dad sometimes begging for quiet for 5 minutes! And oh, the laughter and discussion sometimes…

The BEST treat: when mom had been baking buns and we had fresh butter we’d made ourselves and homemade raspberry jam….I’ll take that over a chocolate bar ANY DAY!! Or if she skipped the bun entirely and let us have fried dough gobs with the jam for a special supper treat…oh, truly heaven…

Then three sisters would gather up dishes. I washed and Kathy & Marie dried and put away. So many nights standing at that sink. Sun setting in the west, sometimes too hot in our faces and we’d close the blind. Always left to right in the sink. Back then, annoyed that mom used so many dishes to cook and to serve the food. Not really appreciating it like I do now. How it meant we had such good food on our table. How we three sisters were together spending so much time together.

That time was truly special. Talking about the day, who did what. Dreams, stories, you name it – we talked about it.  Sometimes arguments getting louder and louder until we’d hear a yell from the living room: “I’d better not have to come in there!”

Most of all, the times we would would sing. Yeah, we would sing. As a mother now, I wonder how those songs from the kitchen made my mom feel? She’s never said – but I’ll bet it is one of her fondest memories: her girls singing “in harmony” around the kitchen sink. Simple country songs that we heard on our radio or tape deck every day. Growing up in that house, we’d learned a lot of them by heart. Songs that my parents loved enough that they would spend their hard-earned money on the occasional record or 8-track tape. Songs that their daughters would sing must have brought such joy to their hearts.

Looking back now, I think that’s why we’re pretty close as sisters – we know each other so well and we truly loved each other – enough to not be embarrassed about belting it out in front of each other. Knowing even then that this was indeed a special time…

Our favorite (and mom’s too) that we sang – Delta Dawn – Tanya Tucker:


Little Hands

I just read a beautiful post about a beautiful boy: The Sauce from a blogger I hadn’t read before (but will be again! SO good! 🙂 ) It made me think of my youngest and his hands and how quickly he is growing up too.  He is going to hate me for sharing this photo, but maybe he won’t read this until he is older…

So tired that he fell asleep playing...

He is older now and doesn’t let me hug him or kiss him much; and definitely NOT in public. I was thrilled in Disney World when both of my children held my hand pretty much wherever we went. In particular, Lucas seemed to cling to my side a little – maybe a little overwhelmed by the crowds and my worrier-child was likely worried he would get lost. He doesn’t talk about it, no matter how much I urge him too. He’s a quiet one, my youngest…

I have always been fascinated with those hands. So very soft and always warm. I remember saying, “Can I just keep your hand in mine, forever?” and he would say, “Moooomm….”, drawn out in that exasperated voice that 10 year olds have when dealing with their hovering mothers.

When did he become 10? Big enough to be allowed on all those rides in Disney World and Universal. When did he become sure enough of himself to venture off into those waves at Typhoon Lagoon – alone. Begging me for goggles so that he could watch the wave underwater! Where did that little guy go that clung so tightly to my neck every time we went swimming. The one that I would assure over and over, “I’ve got you, I’ve got you”. And he would hug my neck tighter still, just in case I didn’t.

The third child, and my last. That hurts to think about even 10 years later. There are things I won’t miss; like no more potty-training (though he was the easiest by far) and unending childhood vomiting and colds that so many of my friends are going through with their younger ones. But so many things that I do miss; like holding those little hands and that baby smell. The funny little things they would say because they don’t quite have all the letters right in their words yet.

My youngest is a worrier, and I try to reassure him and tell him that he doesn’t have to worry so much. On our recent trip, he was worried about going on a plane (it didn’t help that he loves to watch Mayday on Discovery Channel! Kid! Couldn’t you watch something else!?) He was worried about me constantly in the Disney parks: if I stumbled or bumped into someone (farm girl trying to go through crowds = clumsy!), he’d say, “Are you OK Mom?” If he’d wandered a few steps away from us, he’d be looking around making sure we were there: afraid we’d ditch him no doubt (that’s a story for another day…)

It was such an unexpected gift to be able to hold those 10 year old hands so much. I soaked in their softness. The smooth hands of a young boy who plays for hours with Lego. He trims his own nails often now (and is more diligent than I ever was; third child, remember?). He still admires the wrinkles he gets when he’s been in the pool for a really long time (which he did as often as we’d let him). He examines each crevice and bump with the precision of a surgeon; fascinated by his own hands.

And when he is upset (not very often) he lifts those hands to pull his hat down low over his eyes, leaving them there to cover his face as much as possible so that no one can see him cry. Quietly becoming a turtle until the moment of anguish passes. He won’t let anyone in during those times. But afterward, he always comes to one of us, usually me, for a hug and sometimes to apologize if he’s been angry. Those hands will reach around then and let me in and I am grateful.

For now, I will cherish the precious moments where I can hold those little hands in mine, even when they are not so little anymore.

Swiss Family Robinson

These cold winter nights, my thoughts turn to summer days at the farm. There was a time when the four of us were able to “play” together. There was no sitting around in the house during those days. Mom wouldn’t have it! Besides, we were industrious kids and couldn’t wait to head outside…

We’d made many tree houses before, but this one was going to be the best yet. We’d seen part of the movie “Swiss Family Robinson” on the soundless home movie reel (you know, the kind that had actual reels!) and we’d seen the amazing treehouse Mr. Robinson had built. That’s what we wanted!

Dad had given us access to the scrap lumber and scrap nails from his various projects. My brother and I had a “plan” of how we were going to build it – trap door and all to keep the tiger out! This one wasn’t going to be close to the house. We were big kids now – we were going bigger and further away!

There was a path through the trees out behind the house; tractor width that Dad cleared out at some point. The forest was cool and dark, mostly leafy poplar trees with a sprinkle of spruce in between. The cows used that path as well, so we had to watch our step as we hauled stuff out to our spot. It wasn’t unusual to step in a “pie” or two and if you had flip flops on….

We selected four sturdy trees, poplar, that formed an almost square. Another first for our tree house building days: four walls instead of three! For days, my brother and I carried and hammered. Our little sisters helped where they could, but they lost interest in the process at regular intervals!

We used the blue handled bow saw to cut up those rough boards. We “measured” with the tape sometimes, sometimes we just guessed. Dad’s heavy fiberglass hammer was occasionally out there with us, whenever we thought we could sneak it out there! Normally, we used the lighter hammer that was “ours”.

We’d learned to create cross braces for our floor so the boards had something to hold onto, plus, it allowed us to create a square trap door in the middle of the floor. We built the floor and left that part open. The tricky part was keeping the boards at the door even. We got smart and lined up the edge to the hole and then cut off the overhang out there at the wall edge.

The walls were easy – just kept adding boards on top of each other. For windows, we’d either line up shorter one to leave a space or we’d skip a board to leave a full wall length “firing” space (for keeping watch for potential pirate attacks).

The trap door – well, that took a few attempts. Originally, we wanted the door to be on hinges and lift up, but that didn’t work without hinges! Then we had to build a frame that FIT in our not-exactly-exact hole. Plus, it needed to be safe enough to be part of the floor so that no one (a.k.a. little sister that would tell on us) would fall through!

Finally, we came up with a solution that worked, complete with a ring that we could attach a rope to and be able to lift it up. But, we realized that we couldn’t open it from the outside with the rope and just ended up pushing it up and over from below. It was pretty cool from the inside as long as no one dropped it on you as you descended down through the hole…

The roof…hmmm…tricky. The top of the walls were at least 15 feet above the ground. Also, we wanted it weather proof because this was the Swiss Family Robinson tree house you know! No access to shingles, but, we did have a couple old cut up tin barrels that Dad had used at on time on a pig shed or something. We built the slanted frame so the rain would run off (pretty smart, eh!?) and give us something to nail the tin too. We hauled those barrels out there, avoiding most cuts from the rusty metal – tetanus be damned.

They were a lot heavier than we thought! We only managed to get one up there. Pulled and pushed with ropes and hands. That was enough for us! There was no way we were going to haul another one up there! We nailed it down and added boards in the open spaces. There, it was kinda waterproof!

My sisters enjoys the next part: decorating our new house! There were bits of scrap carpet and we built “furniture” with scraps of lumber – stools and little tables. There was even a shelf that we built!

We made a ladder that we could lift up when the trap door was closed. It had good days and bad days, nails were added when we needed them; even a new step or two when they broke. Each day as we worked, we’d take all the tools and nails back to the house and put them away at the end of the day. We’d be in big trouble if Dad found that we’d neglected taking care of our tools.

All summer and the summers that followed we’d go out there and pretend we were the Swiss Family Robinson. Occasionally, we’d be under attack from pirates. We had weddings and I would sing all the songs I knew for the reception. Some summers, we’d build fences around the place (that the cows always knocked down) and pretend that we were the Wilderness Family. Indians would attack those days. We’d create tools and kitchen “utensils” with bark, grasses and twigs. Other stuff would get carried out there and then taken back to the house.

Days and hours were spent in the coolness of our Swiss Family Robinson tree house. Inventing and imagining. Building and fixing.

Then, one day, we didn’t go out there anymore. I don’t know when it happened. I just realized that we hadn’t been out to the fort anymore. Sometimes we’d walk past it and reminisce about those days. For many years, it stood empty and echoing; grasses growing tall, branches and boards falling down. Dad never tore it down.

Then, another day, there were other kids out there. One, by himself for awhile until the others came along. Ones with brown eyes, some with blue; all that look a little like those 4 kids from those summers long ago.

We saw the Swiss Family Robinson tree house at the Magic Kingdom and it took me back to those days. I write this story for my children and my nieces and nephews. May their imaginations soar!

The New House – Swiss Family Robinson – 1960

The Magic

Night is falling in Florida at the Orlando International Airport. Back home, it is a quiet Sunday evening. My kids sit quietly; reading or playing video games (the 1st time in 2 weeks he’s done that!) My hubby reads on the computer. I am annoyed by the lady beside me, talking so loudly onto her cell phone; telling her kids over and over that she loves them and will see them soon. I breathe; I am ashamed at my annoyance since it’s obvious she really misses them while mine sit 2 feet away.

I scribble on a small pad of hotel paper, in between finishing the inspiring pages of “Bird by Bird“. Another family nearby is still wound up from the days of excitement in the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom.

That, it is.

Walt was on to something when he created places like this. He didn’t do it for the money, I truly believe that. He must have done it for so much more than that.

For the Dreams: The sparkle of life in the tired mom who thought she’d given up on crazy dreams. She is a little girl again. A princess. A fairy. A Pocahontas. In awe as the fireworks flash and crash. Dreaming of possibilities. Dreaming of the stars. That anything, really, REALLY is possible if you dare to dream.

For the Family: The dad that worries about not being good enough. Feeling lost and overwhelmed sometimes. Feeling like he’s let everyone down. He is alive again as he splashes and plays and explores new worlds with his children. The children who see him as the hero. Their very own Hercules. He even dares to see it too.

For the Kids: So sucked into the modern life of television, screens and Internet. Seemingly lacking in imagination and day dreams. Now, patient and ecstatic, little Energizer bunnies going mile after mile, entranced and enthralled with the world around them. Thrills and spills as they chance riding rockets to the sky. In the spirit of the moment, exploring Flick’s bug world or on Safari across Africa or soaring through the sky. Fully immersed in the day.

Walt was a visionary to see how much we would need places like this. Places to fill up again. To get in touch with ourselves. To see through a child’s eyes again – even kids don’t know how to do that anymore. We go so fast and forget to be there, in the moment. Walt’s World reminds us how quickly life will pass you by if you don’t slow down once in awhile and take it all in. Daring to dream, daring to be a hero or daring to have a little fun and get lost in the moment.

I begin again, with a renewed spirit, paying closer attention to the Colors of the Wind. Thank you Walt. Thank you my family for making this the best vacation ever!

Reflecting on Forty

Tonight, I’m thinking about my fortieth year. What did I do right? What mistakes did I make? Did I grow? Change? Most of all, did I live?

Some mistakes:
– I still worry too much about some people not “approving” of the way I am.
– Sometimes I’m impatient with the Universe and the Wait
– I care too much about things/people that don’t need me.
– I have a hard time letting them go. I get frustrated with trying to “fix” them/it and sometimes I just can’t.
– I waste my gifts sometimes; let days pass me by; leave “I love you’s” unsaid

The Good Stuff
– Most days I laugh; love and live. I notice the color of the sky and the sounds of birds
– I am less afraid of taking the chance; of relaxing and “going with it”
– I tell them I love them, even when it sounds dumb
– my clothes are smaller and I feel better about me

I’ve met so many people this year. Our biz is growing and really starting to be what we want it to be. I’m excited about the way my life has been changing.

As a family, we’ve connected more in experience rather than things. We explored Great Falls and Fairmont and our own backyard! Our home is messy sometimes, but more organized and peaceful and fun!

What is to come this year? Some days, I really wish I had a crystal ball; others, I enjoy the challenge – even the fear is different now.

I have learned I’m not alone. There are so many out there – just like me. Scared. Excited. Making mistakes. Doing great things. Doing not so great things.

Woman. Wife. Mother. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Aunty. Co-worker. Dreamer. Party Girl. Lover. Laugher. Still a mystery to me.

I’m a little mixed up as I write tonight. Some days I wonder why I do. I wonder why I say these things. I don’t have much to contribute. I feel unworthy of my readers.

But then I remember why I started in the first place. To heal myself. To learn about me. To see with my own eyes how truly blessed I am. How much the Universe smiles on me.

I am loved. I am worthy. I am not perfect. I’m better than that. I am flawed and silly and quirky and mediocre at so many things. But I am the BEST at one thing: being ME

Thank you my friends who take the time to read my ramblings. Thank you for being here and letting me be me. I am so lucky and I have learned so much from you. I have learned that 40 is just the beginning! Thank you so much!

Let’s have another 40 years of Crazy: