Pages From The Past: Moving to Newtown

Moving to Newtown, Newfoundland in 2010

These are a few excerpts from my private journal in September 2010, shortly before I started this blog.  We were living in Mike Perry’s summer house here in Newtown, while our future home’s interior was being renovated on Perry’s Point by Paul’s two handy cousins and by Paul himself.  

Of note, this excerpt was written during Hurricane Igor and its aftermath.  Also of note is my poem at the end.

Very slowly, the old house on the point is undergoing its planned metamorphosis. My emotions are mixed. To see the rot exposed, the peeling paint and wallpaper, the ancient cobwebs hanging from the now-bare and blackened rafters, the unbelievable mess in the yard created by demolition, and now reconstruction – all of this plays havoc with my need for cleanliness and order. Are we really going to live here, in this two-storey house on a piece of rock jutting out into the cold North Atlantic? And are we ever going to find carpenters to install the new windows and clapboard while the rest of the work is done?

But then on one occasion when I visited the point last week, I saw something. I caught an encouraging glimpse of what could be. Of what that old house could become. My eye is drawn to the sun shining in through the multi-coloured glass of the windows we are not replacing. I see promise in their dazzling jewel tones of green, pink and yellow.

I get a mental picture of the rooms, devoid of junk and sawdust. Instead, they are neatly decorated, warm and comfortable, the kitchen filled with welcoming smells, music playing, Paul laughing at our cat Vivian as she skitters across the floor after a pop bottle stopper. I see Paul in his home office working on design plans, and I see me typing another page in my new novel. I welcome a visitor, put the kettle on…

I pretty much wish we were already there, playing house. Patience has never been my strongest virtue, so time drags on.

Sept. 21

So the house in Paradise didn’t close yesterday as planned. The buyers require a survey of the land…why did they wait until the last minute??

And now we are back in Newtown, enduring the wrath of Hurricane Igor as he sweeps over the province, the likes of which we have never witnessed. There’s a leak in the living-room here at Mike’s that started since Paul left to go out on the point. The wind is howling, the rain is hitting the windows in sheets. Mother Nature is showing her teeth today and she means business! The radio assures me that this storm is a record breaker, and I feel like I have three houses to worry about: this one, the one on the point, and our biggest investment up to now, the one in Paradise that is almost sold.

Even Maisie and Vivian look worried.

Sept. 23

Everyone I love now has their power back. My sister Lynn got hers at 1 yesterday, my mother-in-law last evening, and daughter Denise at 4 this morning (no other family lost theirs). We had it gone for about seven minutes on the night of the storm. So I breathe a great sigh of relief that all is well once again. I smile to realize that many have no cable TV or internet access right now – just like us!

Of course, we still wait for a phone call from our real estate agent or our lawyer as to when the house will close. I pray the walk-thru goes well. We wait to see if the Trans Canada Highway will open later today. And we wait for our new windows to be delivered. Sometimes life feels like a long drawn-out waiting game.

I love cooking and baking. Sometimes it feels downright therapeutic. As I made cod au gratin and a strawberry-apple crumble yesterday, a feeling of such peace and contentment enveloped me, it made me think of the book Simple Abundance and how much truth is in it. Whenever I cook and there is lots of time to do it right, I adore it. Thinking of living on the point and cooking and baking in my brand new kitchen fills me with happiness. I taped some loose recipes into my personal cookbook just this morning, in anticipation of using them soon.

The only thing that hurts is to read the recipes that Mom dictated to me over the phone not that long ago.

And I wait for a call from Lynn to see if they have a new placement for Mom. I don’t think I will get over the hurt of her Alzheimer’s disease for a very long time, and the worst is yet to come. Right on the heels of Dad’s ALS and death in 2003, the dreaded condition swooped in on my precious mother and changed her forever. Why has this double whammy hit our family, I wonder. I fear that the knowledge of it and the pain of its aftermath have changed me forever too.

As a way of dealing with these feelings, I wrote a poem this morning.

God, give me back my mom, I beg you and I plead

we’ve lost her much too early, the pain will not recede

First we lose our father to a death no one should know

too young he was to leave us–my God! I miss him so..

The grief it proved a burden our mother couldn’t bear

her sadness turned to illness with a name I’ve always feared

I know not how her soul survives as her mind and body waste

she lives and yet she doesn’t;  a stranger took her place

Where is my mother’s heart?  Where is her winsome smile?

I miss the wisdom of her words, her gentle, caring style

God, give me back my mom, if it’s only in a dream

let her put her arms around me;  let her hold me as she sings

Then please take her up to heaven, let her suffering be gone

reunite my precious parents–maybe then I can go on.

***

Way Back When

I cheated a bit today by sharing two photos.

That’s my mom in St. John’s, May 1968.

The other  is her older brother Jack and his son Paul in 1950’s Grates Cove, NL.

“Each photograph is a story captured in a single moment.” – M. Lopez

A Cup of (Extra)Ordinary

Nothing gets me out of bed in the morning quicker than the expectation of savoring rich, delicious coffee.

At least two big, fragrant, caffeine-infused cups are an essential part of my routine and a necessity to get my brain working. Later in the day, however, my beverage of choice is tea, usually of the green variety.

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I know; big deal, right? Why am I blogging about something so ordinary?

Because sometimes, something as simple and mundane as your cup of tea or coffee can be elevated to (extra)ordinarydepending on where you are, who bought it or brewed it for you, or who may be around to share the experience.

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Sometimes a cup of tea is made extra special when it comes to you as a gift – a pretty mug and coaster in your favourite colour, along with your first infuser, and a yummy variety of loose tea flavours from DAVIDsTEA. (Thank you, Daughter. 🙂 )

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Forever Nuts is my new favourite from there. How fitting. 😉

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Other times, a cup of coffee can be special when you get to enjoy it in a new locale.
Like the Caribbean!
And that is whether you drink it inside where it’s cool…

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…or outdoors in the incredible, tropical  heat.

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Morning coffee tastes particularly wonderful in Rome

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Of course, when in Rome, it should be espresso, shouldn’t it?
Perhaps cappuccino? Nope. I stick to old, reliable Caffé Americano– style.

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Java on the balcony of your room in Cannes also tastes pretty darn special.

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And during a dinner cruise on the Seine in Paris?
The pleasure of a coffee after your gourmet meal is hard to outclass.

But as delightful as you can imagine all of these cups of coffee and tea were, there is one cup of tea I remember the most with enduring fondness. Today in particular, it makes all the others pale in comparison.

It is the memory of Mom and I sipping tea together in the late afternoon sun…

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My wedding day, August 1998

…on an incredibly special day, made that much more memorable by an intimate moment shared.

Today also happens to be a noteworthy day for my family. To be able to indulge in a good ol’ cup of orange pekoe tea with my mother today, on her birthday…it doesn’t seem like a great deal to ask for.

But again this year and for the rest of my days, fond memories will have to do.

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Happy Birthday, Mom.
Knowing how much you always loved your tea,
this morning I’d like to imagine Dad putting the kettle on
and the two of you enjoying a cup together.

And I’ll raise my cup to you.


Jennifer

Times Change: My Boy & Me

As promised, here is Part Two of yesterday’s post, where I continue down memory lane, this time with my son Brian. Unfortunately, most of the photos from his childhood do not include me (I was holding the camera), so I filled in with other loved ones.

My Mom & Dad with Brian
 Brian with his Nanny & Poppy Kelland
Isn't he cute? <3
In the bathtub. Isn’t he cute?
First Birthday - with Corina & Denise
First Birthday – with Corina & Denise
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There you are, Mommy, to clean up my mess – or to feed me cake crumbs 🙂
An oldie but goodie - making bread
An oldie but goodie – making bread
Handsome little Man
Handsome little Man
with Nan & Pop again
with Nan & Pop again
Celebrating Grad Day
Celebrating Grad Day
How big you've grown, my boy!
How big you’ve grown, my boy

~ So ends this two-part series of my Blast From the Past. ~

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

What does change mean to you?

Times Change: My Girl & Me

 I’m changing things up a bit today with a Blast from the Past:

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Me as a new mom with Denise 
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She’s growing!
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…and growing
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Baby no more
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Lots of mileage on the girl on the right 😉
Me & Denise with her own family
Me & Denise with her own family

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

~ Stay tuned tomorrow for: My Boy & Me ~

What does change mean to you?

Friday Bouquet #22

 

Karen at Healing Your Grief knows all about the enormous shock of suddenly losing a precious child. She lost her nine-year-old son to a car accident, and found a way to journey through the pain by writing about it in her blog.

In her own words:

When we tragically lose one of our children, our entire world comes to a grinding stop and everything we have ever believed is questioned.
Through understanding this journey you have been given, my wish for you is to connect to a new hope and to a process of complete healing.
You may at first not understand how you could ever survive this loss, that there can be no way out of this pain, yet over time, I promise, there is a way through.”

I have chosen to share her first post because it explains how she is courageously surviving such a profound tragedy.

My Journey – Walking Through Grief

shamanismandhealing.wordpress.com
shamanismandhealing.wordpress.com

Comments are closed here in the hope you will visit Karen’s blog.
If you do, please tell her Jennifer sent you.

“You’re Like Your Mom…”

During a conversation with my husband last week, he said, “You sounded just like your mom, the way you said that.”

This wasn’t the first time he made the observation. Along with the unmistakable signs that I have become “a woman of a certain age” (ack!), sounding like my mother seems to have become yet another aspect of my getting older.

“Hmm,” I replied. “I was always told I was like Dad and his side of the family.”

“You may look like your dad, but you have more of Carrie’s mannerisms lately,” he told me.

So, yes. I grudgingly have to admit that sometimes, when the words fly out of my mouth, or if I behave in a certain way, it makes me think I may be morphing into the woman who raised me. For example, if I defend myself when teased, it’s as if I am channeling Mom. “You proper fun-makers!” Or if I refuse to give in to someone else’s demands, the comeback that comes to my mind is “And I won’t dance to your pipes!” These are just a couple of the dear old “Mom-isms” from yesteryear.

And there’s so much more. I’ve adopted her quick laugh, as well as her sardonic humour and her no-nonsense way of handling whatever life brings. All showing up in my actions, the older I get.

There was a time, when I was much younger, that I would have taken issue and disagreed with such a comparison. The truth is, I have always thought while growing up that I turned after my father. Dad had always been my hero of sorts, and he was the parent I had always identified with and wished to emulate.

But now, I see that bearing a resemblance to my mother is a badge of honour and a cherished rite of passage. In fact, I’m realizing if I could only be half the woman she was, with her intelligent observations and her kind, fun-loving nature, I would be more than proud.

In a couple of weeks when Mother’s Day rolls around, I will be remembering my mother again for the lovely yet strong person she was, for the way she lived her life, and for each and every valuable lesson she taught me.  And even though I continue to miss her every single day that goes by, I will give thanks that she is still showing up in my life in other, more subtle ways. And I will give a special thank you to the universe for giving me the dearest woman anyone ever called Mom.

Christmas Renewed

As the busy days of December flurry past and we march through our calendars to Christmas, I ponder on the many elements of the season. The dictionary gives us the literal definition:

a. the annual commemoration by Christians of the birth of Jesus Christ on Dec 25
  b. observed as a day of secular celebrations when gifts and greetings are exchanged

Reflecting on most of my Christmases, I feel a warm glow around my heart. But does that feeling come from observing the season as defined above, or from somewhere else? What is my common denominator, the origin of these warm, fuzzy, though sometimes bittersweet, emotions?

For me, it is Family. My most precious memories are intertwined with the love of close family through the years, especially the early reminiscences of my mom and dad, bless their souls, who helped create the tinseled childhood magic I hold so synonymous with Christmas.

Then came the low period. For years, more precisely since my mother became ill, I was the Scrooge who just wanted Christmas to go away. Putting up a tree, cooking and baking, the shopping, I only wanted to get it over with. Nothing seemed the same anymore after Mom got sick and passed away. I missed Dad too, of course, but to me, my mother epitomized Christmas, with her Nancy squares, her sumptuous turkey dinner, and her selfless but fun-loving spirit. I couldn’t look at a tree without thinking of the time I couldn’t get home, and she kept hers up and decorated for my visit on January 15th. Without my mom, my heart was no longer in it.

Mom - Christmas 1967
Mom – Christmas 1967

But somehow, this year feels different. At last, I can say I’m not going through the motions of the season. There is a sleigh full of love, too, in the shiny new memories I forge these days with my children and their significant others, and with our two beloved grandchildren. There is a renewed love, baked into the Christmas cookies I prepare (and the ones I buy), and in the gifts I wrap for them (yes, that includes gift cards!). There is love and wonder in our hearts seeing our grandson sing in his Grade One Christmas concert. There is laughter again while watching TV shows with the kids, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and silly Mr. Bean’s version of the holiday.

There is revived anticipation of traveling back to see our loved ones in a couple of weeks, a fresh gratitude when we gather round with our extended families, to eat and celebrate together. And when we return, there are the New Year’s festivities with friends here, who always make us feel like family.

Until I am with my grandbabies again, I will hang their pictures of the Grinch they drew for us this past weekend.

"What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store?"
“What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store?”
"What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”
“What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will gaze at my grandson’s Kindergarten portrait…

10570415_10152599057065395_8728658344258524675_n…and remember the conversation we had on Saturday morning. He imagined being so tall his head touched the clouds. We joked about it, and then I said:

“If you’re that tall, people wouldn’t be able to talk to you. Not even your girlfriend could talk to you.”

“I don’t want one,” he said.

“A girlfriend?”

“No,” he said, giving me a hug. “I only want you, Nanny.”

Me: {{{heart melting}}} “Awww!” ❤

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What do you love about this time of year? Celebrating with family? Giving to the less fortunate?
The church services? The carols? The decorations?

Or is it all “Bah Humbug”? Has it been overshadowed by loss in your life?

Please share: what does Christmas mean to you? 

The Daily Post: Getting Seasonal

On Mother’s Day and Always

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Mom,

I miss you when I’m happy
I miss you when I’m sad
but I’m forever grateful for
the precious time we had.

On Mother’s Day, as always
I’ll think of you in prayer
’cause if there is a heaven
I know that you are there.

For My Mother

Reblogging my post from a year ago. This is the first anniversary of our mother’s passing, and a difficult year it was. You are always in my heart, Mom x

Last month was my mother’s birthday.  She turned 75.

For the first time in her seventy-five years, our dear mother wasn’t able to eat any birthday cake.  She is bedridden, in and out of consciousness on morphine, and dying.  There is every reason to expect – and actually, dare I say, hope – that this is the year of her last birthday, and that her painful battle with Alzheimer’s disease will finally be over.

Mom has taken a turn this past week, a turn that plants her squarely in the final stage of this heartbreaking disease. She can no longer swallow even liquid food, so we know the end is near.

I can hardly think of anything or anyone else right now. I dread what lies ahead, even though I said above that I hope this, her last trial, will soon be at its end.

Here is a poem I…

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