Growing up

Border woes

Your story reminds me of one of my many border experiences. Growing up in my family meant going to the US often because my parents emigrated here from there in the early 60’s, so all our extended family was south of the border.

One day myself (maybe 14), and my two younger sisters Rebecca (12) and Gloria (9) were put on a bus in NB to go to NH. Two hours later the bus driver (or border guard?) put us OFF the bus when we tried to pass across the US/Canada border. Why? Well … for three reasons.
Problem #1: We didn’t look like siblings! Four of the six kids  in my family were adopted, so I was Caucasian, Rebecca was Pakistani and Gloria was African-Canadian. But we were sisters. Yeah. Right.
Problem #2 arose when the guard asked us where we were from.
I said Toronto (we had moved from there to NB fairly recently). Rebecca said Sussex (this was the closest town to our farm) and Gloria said Apohaqui (closest settlement to our farm).
Problem #3. We none of us had been provided with so much as a hint of documentation. It was a kinder, gentler world back then!
Result. With relatively little fuss we were taken off the bus and told to phone our parents to come pick us up. We were not getting to New Hampshire that day.
healing · Mental Health · Parenting

My baby, my son, my young man


Alex was an infant when he was born. A tautology? Yes. But what many didn’t see is that I (his mother) was also an infant at his birth … no more ready to be a mother than he was to be a baby. So, together, we grew. Most of the time he grew faster. He showed me his internal self,  in music first, then with ASL, and finally in words. Once the words started it seemed they would never stop. They poured out of his person, bubbled along his perambulations and lit up the crannies and corners of his emotional world.

I stumbled along behind. Falling, often, catching him almost never yet somehow always persevering. I had lots and lots of help. A therapist, many and various mental health professionals, an (invaluable) parenting support worker, and (gradually) the discipline and friendship I found in my martial arts. Throughout I was (almost) always following Alex’s forays, struggling to catch up.

And now I find myself looking up at him. He towers over me, stomping around in his size 11 shoes. He is just as verbose as he always was, and his intelligence is used mostly to figure out how to muddle through a school system that neither inspires nor engages him. Other people see more of him than I, his world is larger than our shared reality. As it should be.

I, too, have changed. I am more whole than I was, more present, more conscious. As I begin to explore the other side of 50 I find myself saying hullo to my own emotional landscape. I am happy, sometimes, sad, sometimes, and all that falls in-between. I am a mother, a step-mother, and a wife. But enough of me. The world waits for Alex, he is champing to get out there and be himself. Meanwhile, my role has changed. I stand back further, ready to catch him if he stumbles, and I watch him unfold, physically, mentally, emotionally. He is and always will be, irrepressible, verbal, gentle. My baby boy, my son, my young man, of whom I am very proud.


healing · healing · Mental Health

Words to live by

There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,

The shattered out of which blooms the unshatterable.

There is a sorrow beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space too vast for words through which
we pass with each loss, out of whose darkness we are
sanctioned into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound whose serrated edges
cut the heart as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole, while learning to sing.

(Author unknown.)

I love this poem. My heart-mother shared it with me recently. She, upon whose compassion I shattered my old self, agonizingly, and then slowly rebuilt my soul, my life, my me.

She saved me, I grew her in her gift, together we are larger than we were before we met.



Spring comes

We have been having the longest winter here in Ottawa. Almost the end of March and still we have copious amounts of snow on the ground and temperatures well below freezing. When I take the dogs out for their morning walk the ritual of bundling them up, then bundling myself up, continues. While there is warmth in the sun, it still battles the air temperature for primacy.

But today in my morning walk  I heard something different. I heard birds. Chattering, singing, making themselves known with a “joyful noise.” When I looked up, I saw three – black-feathered birds – in the very top of a naked tree. Wonder what they were gossiping about? Their cheerful, almost in-your-face happiness lightened my mood. Spring will come.


boxers · dogs

Working from home.

House is profoundly quiet, a quiet broken only by occasional airplanes passing overhead or wind gusts. Until, that is, one of the boxers behind me starts howling in his sleep and whorfling after … what? Bunnies? Boars? Glorious martyrdom? (No … I think not, on the last. Boxers aren’t prone to martyrdom, regardless of how many vestal virgins populate the place. Wait … I take that back (and take back the virgins too) because PILLOWS would tempt them. Big, fluffy, comfortable, sink-in-to-your-chin-type pillows. There you have it … Grendel is worfling after a place for him in martyrdom-land.) Now, I wonder, is there is a spot for me …?

Hearing Loss


Visual Thesaurus publishes a word-a-day and today’s word is “tinnitus”. (If you don’t know about Visual Thesaurus resource go there now and take a look. They produce fascinating 3-D tree-map descriptions of a word. Clicking on a linked word, or a node to that link will  explain what it means and take you deeper into the tree – or out to another tree for a different word. ) It is a beguiling and useful resource.

I was born hard-of-hearing and when I was about 5 an attentive GP discovered my hearing loss by crunching paper by my left and then my right ear. I turned to the sound on my left ear but I didn’t on the other side.  This discovery gave rise to a number of tests and along the way, it was discovered that I also had a slight discolouration (sort of a salt-and-pepper pattern) on the backs of my eyes. The eye doctor that discovered this was extremely alarmed and told my parents that they should watch me very closely as I would start to deteriorate into an Alzheimer-like state in the next 5 to 10 days and that in a year I would be dead. That was 45 years ago. Clearly, he was wrong but I imagine he gave my parents a few grey hairs along the way! However, every eye doctor I have had since has mentioned/commented on this colouring and I’ve learned to preempt their questions by telling them about this before the test begins.

Eventually everyone figured out that the damage to my hearing (and my eyes) could all be attributed to my mother having had a very mild episode of Rubella while she was pregnant, and everyone settled down. My hearing loss, luckily, never interfered too much with my ability to discriminate speech, although I have really never paid attention to any input coming from my “bad” ear.

How does all this connect with tinnitus you might be asking? Well I suffer from this malady although (again) my suffering isn’t nearly as acute as that of others I know. However the odd thing for me, when I get it, is that it is almost always in my deaf ear. The sensation is almost indescribable … how does one explain what the feeling of “hearing” something feels like in an ear that doesn’t hear? Could it be compared to the phantom limb experiences amputees suffer? Regardless, the mere occasion of it happening causes several spin-off sensations: dizziness, a feeling of vertigo and a sense that my world has suddenly turned inside-out. All these feelings are brief, but consistent, and I can never predict when it will happen or what triggers it.

Bodies –  my sweetie sometimes uses the term wetware – are strange things. The fact that we all work as well as we do most of the time is amazing.


Skiing vs Vet bills hmmm

So I had occasion recently to take one of my dogs to the vet and when I came home and told my significant other how much it cost he shrieked “But that is equivalent to three lift tickets!”. Which made me think. Which is more important, the health of our beloved family pet or the potential (as yet unrealized) ability to ski? Gentle readers weigh in!