MY SON HAS A NAME

As Susan sat in the waiting room, she thought of Jamie when he was born.  He was her only child and the moment he was born her world was changed forever.  He was a difficult baby, they said he was lactose intolerant so she had to give him special formula.  Jamie cried morning, noon and night.  Susan remembers there were times when she thought she would go out of her mind.   As Jamie grew into a toddler he was never quite satisfied.  If you gave him the blue toy he wanted the green toy and when you complied and gave him the green toy, he would then scream for the red toy.   At that point Susan would stop giving into his insane demands.  It didn’t change as he grew into a young boy, teenager and a young man.  He never seemed to be happy or satisfied.  Susan and John tried hard but nothing ever seemed to make Jamie feel whole.  By the time he was fourteen both Susan and John noticed a big change in Jamie.  He was extremely moody, depressed and withdrawn.  At first they thought they were dealing with a difficult teenager going through a change in hormones and then they got the call.  The Principal of Jamie’s high school called to say that Jamie was being sent home on a suspension because he was caught smoking marijuana on school grounds.  When Jamie got home John was so mad he could barely stop himself from hitting Jamie.  To make matters worse, Jamie figured it was his God-given right to smoke marijuana and there was nothing she or John could do about it.  

Susan went to bed  feeling sick to her stomach that night because she knew this was only the beginning.   Even though Jamie had a lot of negative qualities, he also possessed many positive attributes as well.  He was a talented artist and his work was beautiful.  Susan often wondered while she watched him painting beautiful, lush, green forests how  Jamie was able to get past some of the darkest depths of his soul to find the beautiful talent that was somewhere hidden so deep within and it was in this talent that Susan was reassured that God was with Jamie.    Susan sincerely believed that beautiful art was the work of God through the artist’s eyes and this sentiment was definitely true with Jamie’s work.  He brought  a vibrance to his landscapes like no other.   He would fully immerse himself into his work and Susan remembers thinking that maybe art was Jamie’s pathway to paradise that would eventually lead him astray from the life of drugs.   Of course now sitting in the waiting room, she knew she was wrong.  We all have destinies and Jamie was destined to  face life in the most harsh and cruel way.   No amount of love was enough to sustain Jamie, it was like he was sheltered from love.  Susan often told Jamie how much God loved him even in the midst of his addiction, but he didn’t believe her.  He said “God was wasting his time loving someone like him, God should work his way over to third world countries and take care of his real children.”   Jamie’s addictions were incredibly self-centered, yet he didn’t want God to waste his love on him, he wanted God to take care of people and help them out of poverty and starvation.   She remembers the moment she realized her son was taking heroin; Jamie was just seventeen years old.  Jamie had taken to the streets, he preferred the cold hard pavement to his warm bed in a loving household.  He walked in the door that night and told Susan and John that he wanted to get better and was ready to accept their help.  Both Susan and John went to bed that night over-joyed,  only to wake up in the morning and realize that Jamie had stolen all the cash they had and anything that was small and valuable, that he could hawk, was gone.   Vanished like a vanishing ghost in the depth of the night, into the streets of harsh coldness and empty spirits.  The people who replaced Jamie’s family were living vampires who suck the life out of their victims and throw them away like a piece of meat that sustains their immediate existence only to be satisfied when their victims become the shell of what they once were.   Susan guessed Jamie preferred these people over her and John because they didn’t ask the hard questions or make Jamie deal with the harsh realities of his addictions.

Jamie had one friend and that was Reggie.  Jamie met Reggie in grade school and they became fast friends.  Reggie was a bright and sensitive young boy and Jamie loved playing with him because Reggie didn’t have a mean thing to say to anyone.  Reggie remained Jamie’s friend right up until Jamie left for the streets.  It broke Reggie’s heart that he was never able to get through to his best friend and like Susan and John he had to accept that he failed.  At John’s funeral Reggie  cried for the loss of not only Jamie’s father but the loss of Jamie.   Susan tried to reach Jamie to let him know that his father had died and put an ad in every major and local newspaper.  She prayed that Jamie would come to the funeral but as the  day of the funeral approached she knew in her heart that she would not see Jamie. At that point she had to accept that she had not only lost her husband to death, she had lost her son as well.   Jamie’s death had started many years ago and had been a slow and agonizing spiritual death not a physical death as his father’s.  She missed both the men in her life now and Reggie had tried to stay connected but as his life moved on he moved away from Jamie’s family and Susan understood.  She never held anything against Reggie as he had been the one true friend that she, John and Jamie had ever had.  Susan counselled Reggie to move on and not look back as she felt it was wrong for him to be tied down to an addiction that none of them understood, including Jamie.  

Now sitting in that waiting room as she was deep in thought, she heard the woman at the desk say to another employee “number 12 is ready to be identified, his next of kin is the blonde woman in the beige suit sitting right over there.”  Susan immediately jumped out of her seat and within seconds found herself at the front of the woman’s desk with her wallet in her hands. She opened up her wallet in a frenzied state and dumped all the pictures of Jamie she had on the woman’s desk. The picture of Jamie as a baby, the picture of Jamie holding his first teddy bear, the picture of Jamie kissing his first dog and the picture of Jamie posing with his first piece of art.  Susan could hear a woman’s high hysterical voice from somewhere far away and then realized with a start that she was hearing her own.  “My son has a name” she said, “his name was Jamie.”  “Why are you turning away” she screamed, “look at those goddamn pictures and tell me again that my boy is number 12, I said look at them, look at these pictures and tell me my boy is a number.”  It was then she felt the familiar hand on her shoulder and she realized without even looking that she was connected to this person.   As she slowly looked up she was staring into the kindest and most saddest eyes she had ever seen.  The tears were streaming down Reggie’s face when he engulfed her into one big bear hug and sobbed with her.  Susan thought her heart would break into pieces and she was sure her world would never be one again, she had lost everyone she had ever loved and here in that cold waiting room with a woman who had no heart, God had sent her the one man, the only man, who could show such love and compassion toward her and Jamie.   Reggie held Susan’s face in his hands and said “when Jamie and I were six years old he told me that his favourite time with you was when you use to tuck him into bed at night and read to him before he fell asleep.  Jamie told me that his favourite story was love you forever.”  Reggie then did something so incredible that Susan all at once felt as if Jamie was standing there with them, Reggie softly sang in the most sweetest voice, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”  As she and Reggie walked hand in hand toward the cool, steel double doors, it was then she felt Jamie’s presence and she knew he was finally free.

CANNERY ROW, FRIDAY’S PHLOG FOR SEPTEMBER 27, 2013

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“It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.” ―

 John SteinbeckCannery Row

PATIENCE….

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Patience is not a word that I can use to describe myself.  I would like to say that I am patient but if you talk to my husband he will tell you that I’m bloody crazy.  If I decide I want a room painted,  I want it  painted yesterday.  I will focus all of my energy to get that room painted and if it takes me 24 hours of non-stop painting, I’ll do it.  My husband on the other hand can do one wall one week, another wall another week and another wall two weeks later.  Consequently, we would be painting all year round at his pace.  Do we butt heads about work and how it’s done – yup you better believe it.  However, as I get older something is happening to me; I have grown more appreciative of my husband’s patient nature.  As I look around the house and all the work that has to be done; cleaning out the garage, fixing the wall in our bathroom, painting the living room, fixing and touching up the walls in other areas, fixing or replacing our kitchen cabinets, the garden work and so on and so on, I’ve become more tolerant of waiting to get things done and not everything has to be done at once.  

I’m not sure if the real culprit of this  new feeling is that I’m overwhelmed and I’ve given up or I’m just getting smarter as I grow older, but lately I’ve started to say to myself, “if we don’t get this kitchen done until a year or more from now how is this going to affect my life?  The answer is “it won’t affect my life at all.”  I will still be busy running here and there, still trying to find the time to balance work, play and family, I’ll still be making dinner every night in my kitchen and even though it would be nice to be looking at a new kitchen it won’t make any difference to my life whatsoever.  Breathing is my latest thing, the simple act of stopping and breathing.  Sometimes at work when it’s especially busy and everybody needs something now, I sit at my desk and move away from my computer, drop my head into a relaxed stance and focus on my breath, meditate a little  and think of positive thoughts.  It’s amazing how two minutes of breathing and positive thoughts can help me feel less drained and empowered to tackle the work that just a second ago was stressing me out. 

Wish I had this attitude the other day as I was cleaning the house.  I decided during my cleaning that I would change some of the furniture from one room to another.   No one was home so I found myself looking at a big arm-chair and decided I wanted it out of the family room and into the  office located on the top floor of our house.  The chair wasn’t especially heavy but awkward.  Having no patience at that moment, I dragged the chair all the way up the stairs by myself and carried it down the hallway to the office, all the while sweating up a storm because it took way too much manoeuvering to get the chair to the door of the office.  Once at the office doorway I realized that the chair was a little too big for the doorway.  Not being one to take no for an answer, I proceeded to twist and turn the chair  through the doorway, when it didn’t work from the hallway I put myself in the office and tried to twist and turn the chair from inside the office.  It came through alright but I managed to wedge the bloody chair in the doorway.  It was stuck, really stuck and I was stuck on the other side and couldn’t get out of the office.    No longer was I impatient I was furious beyond belief, plus I had to be out the door in an hour to go to the rink to play hockey.  I tried the breathing thing, didn’t work because I was too sweaty and worked up, so I did what I do best, I grabbed that damn chair and pulled and pushed and twisted and turned all the while cursing and swearing and sweating my butt off.   Finally, after a half an hour and one too many turns the chair gave and it came through the door.

I made it out of the house to join my hockey team and when I got home later that day my husband noticed the furniture changes and wanted to know how I got the chair up the stairs by myself.  I told him the story and he asked me why  I didn’t wait?  I said “I can’t, it’s not in my nature.”  I believe you can teach an old dog a new trick but every now and then that old dog does what she does best and resorts back to being herself.   I’m learning and I might get to the place of calm, peace and patience one day, until then I have a lot more yoga and breathing to do to reach the realm of yoga and meditation.    Pray my house remains in one piece in the interim!

St. Laurentius Parish Church

I would love to travel to Europe and visit ancient churches. Through the eyes of Deanna I follow her life from the USA to Germany. I am in awe of her and her husband as they sold everything they owned in the USA and moved to Germany and started over. Today being Sunday, a day of worship, I thought I would share Deanna’s pics of a beautiful old German church..

THE DOODLER – FRIDAY’S PHLOG FOR SEPTEMBER 20, 2013

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Several years ago while visiting Astoria, Oregon, we stopped by the Maritime Museum.  The Museum had an interesting range of maritime history.  I found this exhibit fascinating.  When they shipped men to Vietnam during the war, the men were piled onto a ship into confined spaces like sardines.  It was a long hot voyage and the men had to find something to do to pass the time. Doodle they did on the bottom of their cots where they spent way too many hours thinking of what was to come.

“Above all, Vietnam was a war that asked everything of a few and nothing of most in America.”

–Myra MacPherson, 1984

BRINGING ME BACK..

Tomorrow my youngest son goes off for three days on an overnight retreat with his school.  He’s in grade seven and the school hosts the retreat to promote bonding and relationships amongst the class.  Matthew is really excited and he’s looking forward to all of the activities; archery, horseback riding, hiking, swimming and just having fun.  Matthew has never been on a horse and he was talking about riding a horse when all of a sudden he said “mom didn’t you tell me you use to ride horses?”  “Yes I did, many moons ago.”  “Didn’t you use to ride English style and you have the helmet?”    My brain scrambled because I haven’t thought about that period in my life in so long.  When I was a little girl, I loved horses and wanted to ride with all of my heart and soul.   I’ve mentioned before that my parents divorced when I was eight and there weren’t any funds for activities, especially horseback riding.  I don’t remember if I pestered my father or not but I remember visiting him on one of our Saturday visits and he said he had a surprise.  We got in the car and we left Pierrefonds and drove into the country where the mystery tour ended in Hudson, Quebec.  He had arranged horse back riding lessons for me and my stepsister.  I was beyond excited, I was ecstatic.  I was fully aware that he could not afford the lessons never mind the helmet, crop and boots.  He had the whole outfit ready for me, all I had to do was pick the horse I wanted to ride.  The instructor took me to the barn and she asked the stable crew to bring out a few horses that she felt were appropriate for me and told me to pick one.  I didn’t realize how big horses were until I found myself looking up at the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.  Once I picked my horse my instructor showed me how to saddle  and reign the horse and then she told me to climb on and go.   Once I was on the horse I felt like there was nothing I couldn’t do.  I belonged on that horse and it really didn’t take me long to learn to ride.  Every Saturday,  first thing in the morning,  I went riding and I can remember focusing on my breath as I posted to the rhythm of my horse’s trot.  I thought of nothing else, school, home, parents fighting or kids being mean.  It was just me and the horse riding in circles in the training field.

The memories came flooding back when Matthew said “can I take your riding helmet with me to the retreat.”  “Gosh Matt, I don’t even know where  I put that helmet, it’s been years.”   We went up to my room and a search in my closet found the helmet.  It’s really the only thing that I have left to remind me of my father.   The helmet doesn’t fit my son and I was relieved, I don’t want him to lose the helmet as it really is my prized possession.  He tried to force the helmet to fit because he thinks the helmet is really cool and wants to wear it so badly.  I told him that my father sacrificed his time and money to make sure I was able to ride and this helmet is the only thing that I have left from my father’s  loving and selfless gesture.   I also told him that horseback riding was one of the few times I can remember my father and I united as one, away from all the hustle and bustle and problems of our lives.   Matt looked at the helmet again and then gave it back to me.  “It’s alright mom, I don’t think I want to wear it now, it should really stay safe in your closet.”  Then he said something to me that created a stir from within that I haven’t felt in years, he said “mom, you should start riding again, I bet you were good at it.”

PicMonkey Collage horses

Introducing Heather, Cameron and Lily Von St. James – a very special family.

Heather is  very special lady, strong and courageous.  Heather’s husband, Cameron, contacted me and asked if I would post information about  the Mesothelioma Awareness Day that they put together with the help of Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.  Heather and Cameron are trying to get 7200 voices talking and sharing about this rare cancer to represent the 7200 hours that the average mesothelioma patient has to live.   They are not asking for time or money, they are asking for your voice.  Please share this on your blog or facebook page and be one of the 7200 voices to get people talking about this horrible, rare and little known cancer.

Please go to: mesothelioma awareness for more information.

Heather’s blog:  mesothelioma.com

Cameron’s blog: mesothelioma.com cameron

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
― Oscar Wilde