Fear and intimidation formed the basis of his power. To this day I tremble, afraid I’ve misstepped – parked the car wrong, forgot to close the door properly, or spoken out of turn. My father was a hand grenade with the pin perpetually pulled.

He was also motivational, citing the works of Carnegie, Peale, Gibran, and even Rumi. His brilliance was a light for me to follow, although I never understand the paradox between this worldly man and the ticking time bomb.

He spoke of love with tears in his eyes, as if he recognized his own failing, as if love was something he didn’t deserve. In his final years, realizing the error of his ways, he cried often.

I didn’t know how to react. The man had broken me in so many ways – broken all around him. I could not just forgive and forget.

Love is paradoxical – its’ contours seldom defined by expectations.

Am I grateful that I had the father I did? Absolutely. I recognize that in his wake I am challenged, but also given the resources to overcome. Many times I wanted to walk away, and yet, I didn’t, sensing that there was more to be uncovered in this dance of love and hate.

Father has been gone for more than a decade. I still wrestle with the paradox.

( Reena’s Exploration this week is paradox. Images are from personal collection. Maple trees and snapdragons remind me of my father.)

Big Little Blessings

A 6:15 a.m. phone call changed my life: “Hello Grandma…it’s a girl!”

There is no describing the thrill. I packed a hasty bag and drove the hundred kilometres in record time, scooping up that little bundle immediately on arrival. Her little tongue moved in and out rapidly as her gazed fixed on mine. I could tell we had so much to catch up on.

A year later, I would be present for the birth of another granddaughter, and then a third would be arrive.

Being a grandmother is the blessing jackpot!

Best of all – there are more to come.

Third Time Lucky

I first married at nineteen, two years after I left home, and many years before I’d developed into the woman I would later be. We separated before our second wedding anniversary.

Certain I was fatally flawed, I jumped at the next opportunity that came along – a relationship that would produce my three children and span seventeen years.

In the end, he confirmed what I secretly believed: I was not loveable.

I would prove that to myself again and again with poor choices, until finally, in my forties, I admitted I had a problem. My picker was broken. I was choosing mates based on the wrong assumption.

What, I asked myself, would a relationship look like if I was loveable? I decided that it needed to start with myself. So I started courting me. I bought myself flowers, just because I deserved them. I took myself out to eat and focused on what I liked. I visualized what it would feel like to be loved and I set five goals to achieve before I would re-enter relationship:

  • To understand my needs
  • To be able to identify my wants
  • To establish healthy boundaries
  • To believe myself worthy of love
  • To be financially independent.

When I met Ric, I wasn’t ready. The fifth goal had not been reached. So, I told him: “I’m not ready for relationship right now. I am willing to hang out for a year, and then we can reassess.”

Golf buddies

He agreed, and exactly one year later, picked me up from work and took me out to dinner, ordering a bottle of wine to celebrate.

“Celebrate what?”

“It’s been a year; we can talk about us!”

Six months later, he asked me to marry him. I made him wait another eighteen months.

The thing about Ric is that I know that he loves me. He would do anything for me. He values my wants and needs, and my boundaries. He listens to my fears. He is my best friend.

Wedding Day

Third time has been a charm (he’d say for both of us). I am truly blessed.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Everyday Moments

Everyday is composed of moments, some insignificant, others worth savouring.  Time spent with grandchildren is the latter – their presence, always refreshing, the interaction guaranteed to leave a warmth that glows long past our parting.

Through them I alive again, reminded of my own childhood, and how pleasure is to be found in the simplest of things, like a bike ride with Dad.  Maybe it’s my imagination but I see myself in each of these little souls as if somehow my essence is sewn into their personalities.

This one, fiercely independent, loves the taste of watermelon, does not care that the sweet, watery dribble stains her clothes.  She’d rather be naked running through the garden anyway.  She is two.  I am reminded of old movie film reels my father had taken that show me, hair unbrushed, running away from the camera without a stitch on.


artistThis one, more sensitive than her younger sister, is content with a journal and pen – will spend hours drawing or colouring, conveying through images what is important in her life, as well as the depth of her imagination.

She wants to know how things work, is curious about bugs and animals, the sky, the weather; says she will be a scientist and an engineer when she grows up.

We are kindred souls.

FloppedFinnThe first of my granddaughters, now seven, is smart, loves reading, and puzzles, and demonstrates athleticism.  She knows her own mind, never misses a nuance, and loves to entertain by switching accents and generally being goofy.  We are best of friends.   I am reminded of a younger girl, labelled a tom boy, whose imitations of Lily Tomlin became a family legend.  Laughter is a gift we share.

Every day is composed of moments and some of the best, for me, are spent in the company of these three young ones.

(Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is offered weekly, with rotating hosts.  This weeks focus is everyday moments.)



RDP #7 -Colouring You Purple

I am colouring you purple,
for the sacredness of your being,
for the majesty of your soul.

I am colouring you purple,
for the joy that you spread –
for the laughter that we share.

I am colouring you purple
for that is the hue that best expresses
the infinite capacity of my love for you.

(Written for Ragtag’s Community Daily Prompt #7 – Purple)


Aug&Ireading“A big tree fell down,” two-year-old Auggie says, her little face scrunched in concern.

We have just arrived at daughter #2’s.

Last time I saw this granddaughter she was just eighteen months and barely talking.  She shows no signs of knowing who Ric and I are, other than telling us her big news.

Five-year-old Sloane has wrapped herself around my legs in a tight hug.  I hug back.

“Oh I’ve missed you,” I squeeze.

My daughter hugs me, baby in arms.

“Missed you, Mom.”

We move towards the living room where I can sit down and get a better look at the kids.  Sloane has sprung up so tall.  Auggie continues to talk about the tree.  It is very windy outdoors (must have brought it with us) and I guess they saw a tree fall on a house on the way home from daycare.

I get on the floor with the kids and we play, and the time away diminishes as we resume old games.  Auggie asks the computer to play Wiggles on Spotify and soon we are having a dance party.  It feels so good.

IMG_1501Later, my eldest daughter arrives with her six-year-old and it is long, hard hugs again, and I am in my element, surrounded by my grandchildren.

“Are you crying?” Finn catches me.

“I’ve just missed you, and I’m so glad to see you.”

She hugs me tighter.

Then my son and his wife arrive and we are a full house.

Being away from home for so long allowed me to get in touch with parts of self that had been shelved for so long.  I needed to break out of the mother role for a while.  I can see how healthy it was for all of us.

But today, armed with casseroles and presents for the little ones, I am stepping back into the old familiar role and loving it.