Today I learned that my mother has it. And it’s not the first time she was told she had breast cancer, but the previous time…her doctor spoke out of turn before he had the results back. He was wrong. Then, she was fine.

It was about 14-years ago and I remember panicking. I turned down a job, packed up all my stuff in another Province, left my boyfriend and came back to British Columbia, tout de suite. But this time… this time, it’s real.

I’ve had one parent leave this world because of it, already, and I’ve had my best friend beat it in the bravest and humblest of ways.

Mom’s prognosis is really good which I’m eternally grateful for but there’s that conniving little voice whispering in my ear: “Yeah, but…she is 81, Carrie, and it’s spread to some of her lymph nodes; if I were you, I’d be very worried. I think you should let this flood your brain with ‘what if’s’, panic (at least a little) and make sure you get even less sleep than you do because that’s the right thing to do. If you don’t, you’re a bad child.”

Yup, that little voice is an asshole, for sure.

Part of me wants to give in but a larger part of me says: No. It will be what it will be and as it should be. It’s not my call and all the worrying panicking and lost sleep in the world isn’t going to change the outcome.

So I’ll let her be strong (she likes to call herself a Pit Bull with lipstick). I’ll let her lead the way in how she wants to be treated and helped. I’ll probably call more and such but I’m not going to treat her as if she’s going to drop dead, tomorrow; she’d be super angry if I did. I’ll say it again: Pit Bull wearing pink choral-shaded lipstick. She never sets foot outside without it. Seriously, you do not want to piss this woman off.

If I were my own Coach, I’d ask myself how I’m feeling about all of this. I’d ask how I planned to move through my days with this new information and I’d ask how I was going to take care of myself so that I can make sure I’m there for her 1000%.

It’s an interesting place to be – holding space for myself and flip-flopping back and forth until something makes sense and I balance myself out.

Despite all of my spirituality and coaching ability, we are only human, after all. I’ve long ago prepared myself for her eventual move into the afterlife – we all will get there, but it’s not wanting anyone to suffer if this is what turns out to be her exit plan. My father suffered a LOT. I don’t wish that on anyone.

That said, all could be well and she could carry on being the tough old lady she is for many years to come.

It’s not for me to know at this point.



When People Judge

We’ve all been judged by others, all of us. We know how it feels, yet we still keep on doing it. I often wonder why it’s ‘okay’ for us to judge others but hate it when it happens to us. I suspect we can add this to another one of life’s little ironies, idiocies and hypocrisies.

The other day, my partner’s best friend’s daughter ran away. It turns out she’s been into various substances and is stealing. She’s all of 13 and this has been an ongoing issue. Thankfully they found her the following day but this isn’t going to be an easy journey for them.

I suspect it’s not one, but many factors at play that contribute to this issue. I don’t think she’s a terrible person. I don’t think her parents are terrible people, either. Life deals us shit sandwiches, now and then, and we have to understand how we’re going to eat them. What I’m getting at is that this isn’t a problem that’s limited to bad parenting, evil children or broken homes.

It could happen to you.

I was sharing a bit of this information with a certain co-worker and his response was the following: You need to get find yourself much better company, Carrie.

In other words, the company you keep is BAD NEWS.

What exactly did he mean by that? He doesn’t know my boyfriend, he doesn’t know these people and I suspect the underlying tone was directed at the fact my late boyfriend took his life.

Did this make him a BAD person? Fuck, no. It made him a person who was in an immeasurable amount of pain, one that fought mental illness and one that lost to it.

Is this little runaway a rotten kid? Again. NO. She’s a CHILD and unlike children of my generation, she has unlimited access to high-end technology that didn’t exist when I was 13. Like, the internet, cell phones, instant video and a plethora of (again instant) communication and easy transportation at her fingertips.

We have made it really simple for kids to access all sorts of stuff. In fact, it’s scary what they can do in the blink of an eye…like text a dealer for drugs and meet them very quickly with cash on hand due the handy-dandy bank card with the TAP feature. I suspect all she had to do was to go a store that had a cash-back option, buy something under $100 and ask for money back. No one would have questioned her.

I’m not sure if this was the situation but it could easily happen.

So how does this relate to why a middle-aged grown woman should chose better people in her life? I suspect this person put on his judge hat and thought that because a confused and easily manipulated little girl made some very bad choices, that the chain link up to her parents and my partner was littered with BAD people.

Because we ALL know that’s the case right?

I’m being facetious.

It has nothing to do with anything and I took a moment to decide NOT to find out if he was implying that Brian was less-than-worthy company because he chose to end his life. Nothing could be further from the truth and even remotely implying that to someone is not only judgmental, but sadly ignorant and plainly mislead by un-empowering beliefs.

So, I say to you, before you cast the first stone, turn around and make sure your support wall isn’t made of glass. Because life can take a turn for the worst in a matter of seconds…and this could be your child, your partner and when that glass breaks…it’s very, very, sharp.

Bad things happen to good people all the time. It’s just that the good people aren’t always being dramatic about it and drawing attention to themselves; we’ve got better things to do, like find our broken, yet much loved, child…and get on the road to recovery.



Dad’s Binoculars

I’m not sure how I ended up with them; it could be that he still had them in his pile of things when he passed away, or he may have left them at the house when he moved out and my parents finally split up for good. I was seventeen. That was a bad day.

They are mine, now, and occasionally I take them out and look through them. When I was a little girl, we took them with us on trips to Waterton National Park in Alberta. We’d drive the three hours or so up there and wander around Red Rock Canyon and Waterton Lake. My parents used to feed the deer, potato chips. It was the 70’s and people thought that was okay, back then.

They are Tasco Model # 318 (the binoculars, not the deer) and they’re 7 x 35 zoom. They’re big, kinda clunky and I can get something a whole lot better and smaller for pretty cheap, today, but these are special. They hold memories that can’t be replaced; those that I keep sacred in my heart.

I still have the little plastic cups for the eye pieces and the lenses. I think, somewhere on this metal and plastic relic, my dad’s fingerprints might even be buried beneath years of mine, my mom’s and possibly my two siblings. Dad’s been gone for twenty-seven years, now. That’s a lot of finger grease.

Today the fading evening sun was tracing a lovely orange-pink outline on cotton candy clouds. They were in the distance and I wanted to see them better. I love clouds…rows and flows of angel hair, right?

So I got out my dad’s binoculars and went to it. I wasn’t disappointed. Fiery apricot sunbeams lit up the sky with sheets of warmth embedded in the indigo of this afternoons rain. It was magical.

Time is a funny thing. I know it was so long ago that he held them in his hands and I remember he got them, one year, for his birthday. Yet…I can still hear his laugh as if it were yesterday and I can see him squinting into the lenses of the eye holes, lit pipe in-between his teeth as he smiled into the distance. He loved this gift and we took them with us, every vacation.

I wonder if dad every looked at clouds through this spyglass. I wonder what he saw if he did…


Happy Father’s Day

I recall so much of my childhood and my father; a lot of it not so good. He became an alcoholic when I was still quite young – 5 or 6-years old, I think. I could have been younger. I remember the fights my parents used to have from a very early age and my mother crying. On one occasion I had the nerve to ask what was wrong in an innocent little-girl-way. She promptly turned to me and snapped at me coldly to shut up.

That was how it was; along with me, she had a toddler (my sister), an 11-year old son (my bro) and she, herself, was probably still in her 30’s. That’s a lot to handle with financial issues and an angry husband when he was drunk.

It wasn’t always bad, though. There were fleeting happy memories and today, I want to honour them.

Here goes:

I fondly remember all the mornings that dad got up, changed my underwear (I guess I’d occasionally wet the bed at night) and me telling him about my dreams. Keep in mind I was walking and talking like a 3-year old at the tender age of 1.5 years so these memories were probably from the age of around 2 and a half. I started to walk and talk at 9 months, never engaged in the typical ‘baby-talk’ and frequently embarrassed my mother in public by saying things no 1 and a half year old should be saying. I was a freaky kid.

I once told him about a dream of alligators attacking my little bum. I think he laughed and assured me it wasn’t real but just a dream. Odd how I still remember this.

My brother is 6-years older than me and when he was getting ready for school, during the week, I’d sit and watch cartoons with dad. Rocket Robin Hood, Batman and Robin and Spiderman played one after the other on our 20” black and white TV. Dad made me cinnamon toast and snuck me a tiny cup of well creamed and sugared coffee. I LOVED the stuff. I still do.

I don’t think my mom knew he gave her 3-year old coffee. Shhh.

We were camping at Christina Lake, one summer, and I’d wandered on to the sandy beach with bare feet. It was hotter than Hades on my tiny little feet and I screamed bloody murder until he came running over like a bat out of hell and saved my tender tootsies from the lava sand. I think I was 6-years.

He used to hold us by the ankles, upside down (there is a pic of this somewhere) until we laughed so hard we nearly peed ourselves.

He LOVED cartoons more than you can imagine and always knew when the best ones were on. He’s the only dad I know who’d sit and watch cartoons with his kids and made sure they didn’t miss their favourite ones.

My dad was a HUGE Star Trek fan. It’s because of him that I love Sci-Fi and am fascinated with space.

He gave me my first (and last) 12 long-stemmed red roses, for my graduation. They came in a beautiful white box filled with white tissue. He said there was one rose in there for every year of school. I think I cried.

Fathers are the first men little girls fall in love with. They are our heros and our champions. While some dads take a wrong turn, at times, and are not always the best they can be – they still teach us many valuable lessons about love, life, forgiveness and patience.

Dad died when I was 23. He had throat and mouth cancer and it was a very painful death. I remember him lying in the hospital bed in Lac La Biche, Alberta. He weighed about 65 lbs. It was the saddest thing I’d ever seen, my once strong father – so helpless and drugged out on morphine.

All the bad things he did were forgiven and I am so, so grateful I got to be his ‘oldest’ (as he used to call me) daughter.

Thank you for all the lessons, the love and the brief life we shared, Dad

I love you. xox

H, Dad and I

Dealing With an Elderly Parent

Or…in my case, helping my 80-year old mother hook up with a new man by setting her up on a senior’s dating site.

Yup. You read that right. Just because you’re in your twilight years doesn’t mean you don’t get lonely, from time-to-time. My mother gave birth to three kids; I’m the much talked about middle child. And from three offspring only one grandchild sprung forth. Thank you, big Bro for that! As soon as she was born (my niece) I was off the hook!

She’s now nearing 22-years old, lives in Berlin and Nana doesn’t really get to see her a lot. You get the picture.

We DO visit mom, occasionally…but hey, we all have our own lives. I check in regularly and joke about making sure she’s still alive (as in not lying dead on the kitchen floor of a sudden heart attack). Thankfully, she finds this humorous and I’m kidding, but only half kidding.

When you’re 80, anything can happen!

Although I may not be the doting daughter, I do love her dearly and we chat/text on a regular basis. We were never super-duper close but we have an understanding. Also, I’m always available, so when she can’t get a hold of the other two, I’ll always answer her calls or call her back shortly thereafter. The irony that I’m last on her list of calls but the only one who is always available (and reliable) isn’t lost on me, either.

It’s okay, I’m over it. Mostly. Really. *cue my big brother to chime in about me and my middle child issues*

Anyway. I’ve found what looks to be a respectable site (Our Time) and now I have to load pics for her. Once she’s all up and running and getting much wanted emails from suitors, I’ll have to have THE talk with her. She won’t want THE talk. She’ll be snippy and shitty about it, being all insulted that I think she’s stupid, etc., but I’ll have THE talk, nevertheless. I’m bracing myself for the inevitable push-back and arguments I’ll get from her.

She’s already been taken (not financially, thank GAWD) by a scammer on Facebook so I think THE talk is relevant.

And really, this goes for every woman out there who is online dating, not just my vivacious Mother.

  1. Don’t bother with anyone who isn’t local.
  2. This is how to spot a scammer: (list all obvious traits).
  3. Always, ALWAYS meet someone in a public place.
  4. NEVER give out your phone number first – let them provide theirs and when you do give a phone number, DON’T give out your home one, give them your cell #. That way if they’re a creep, you can easily block them and they can’t look you up on 411 to get your address, etc.
  5. Find out their full name before you meet them – do a little internet research to see if they’re real and who they say they are. No, this isn’t cyber stalking, it’s necessary homework to keep you safe.
  6. Let your daughters know (or your son, pick one of us) when you’re going on a blind date – when/time, who it is….etc. Call us when you get home! If you don’t we’ll worry sick about you.

I don’t want to cramp her style, by any means, but my younger sis used to make me text her the license plate # of the guy who I was meeting in case I went missing… I wasn’t pissy about it, I thought it was cute and hey, you can’t be too safe.

An 80-year old woman is much more vulnerable than a 50-year old one. And, she’s my mom; I take no chances.