One of the best reasons to be absent from blogging or anything else is to spend time with those we love. A little over a week ago, we headed west to see our daughter graduate. It simply doesn’t get any better than family time.
The most important thing is life is give out love, and to let it come in – Morrie Schwartz
(Some of this post was taken from a post in May, 2012, just prior to our 29th anniversary. In 4 days, it will be our 31st anniversary and what I said then still holds.)
In the summer of 1981, I met the love of my life. He literally walked through a door, and that was it. Not that I had a clue, at 18, that this was IT. And not that the road has always been smooth, but it has been worth every moment, whether it has been a good, bad or indifferent moment.
Ours is not some tale of love lost and found, or full of great struggles or tragedy. Instead, it’s just a simple story of two people who somehow beat the odds and have come through the other side. Happy. Together.
How it came to be that our paths even crossed was luck as my sweetie grew up in Ontario, whereas I was born in Alberta. Yet, he took a job in Calgary once he was done his first jaunt in the post-secondary world, and I happened to be doing temporary secretarial work at the firm where he was hired.
It’s funny. We never planned anything much. Things just happened. We dated for a couple of months, and then he needed a new apartment and my mother needed her space. (We always say it was my mom’s idea that we live together – so scandalous at the time; so “meh” today.) So, we got an apartment. We used furniture loaned to us by family or acquired from other tenants when they were too lazy to move it.
Somewhere along the line, I thought we should make it official. So I proposed. No big dreamy fairy tale, just a practical decision that led to a short engagement and a (very) small wedding.
My fairy tale.
Two days after the wedding, I was back at work.
Two months later, we were driving across the country so Tim could complete his degree at the University of Toronto. The first 2 years of our marriage included Tim’s degree completion and me trying to adjust to life far from home (remember, no Skype or internet to keep in touch). Our marriage stuttered. Our young age (20 and 23 when we said “I do”) undoubtedly had something to do with it. Our significantly different upbringings may have contributed to it as well. But, we persevered. Although we were naive about a lot of things, we believed in us.
The next 4 years saw new jobs, new outlooks and our first house. When we started our family, first Kyle and then Laura, the adventures really began.
Sometimes it feels like yesterday and I feel like that 18-year-old. Generally, though, I feel like I have lived my life with my best friend and we have walked the path of our life together and he does so with my best interests and happiness as his goal. We continue to be very different people, but two people who laugh often and appreciate how very, very lucky we are.
A few weeks back, we had a discussion prompted by a set of questions posed to an author – what is your greatest fear, accomplishment and so on. After being together for close to 33 years, you would think there would be no surprises, that we would know just about everything about one another. Fortunately, you don’t. We learned something about one another that day.
One thing we both felt was our greatest achievement, both personally and as a couple: our children. We raised two of the most amazing people. Capable. Happy. Smart. Loving. Kind. They are two people who have networks of love and support that go beyond our family. They contribute to the world and enrich ours everyday.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage – Lao Tzu
In a little over a month, I will begin an adventure I have waited over 30 years for – my return to university. A HUGE part of the reason I feel confident that now is the time is that I am deeply loved, so I am strong and I have the courage due to the love I feel so deeply. My return to university is largely a celebration of the love of the family we created.
How lucky am I? How lucky are we?
And so the pact of timelessness between us was broken and I went from him into the darkening tunnel of the year – Farley Mowat
Yesterday, a great Canadian writer, Farley Mowat, passed away. He lived a long and meaningful life. His impact on mine began a long time ago.
When I was about 8 years old, my mother, a journalist, went to interview Farley Mowat and she took me with her. I’m not exactly sure why I was able to go with her, but it was not unusual for me to be with my mom, a single parent, when she was working. One of my earliest – and fondest memories – was sitting on the floor while she recorded a piece for CBC radio.
This event, this interview, was at a time when I was beginning to question things like Santa Claus and other magical aspects of childhood. And yet, I was fortunate enough to meet a great storyteller, who coincidentally had a big beard and a ruddy face – undoubtedly from years of living outdoors. He did not make me believe any more deeply in Santa Claus, but rather in something more lasting.
I don’t remember a single thing he said to me, I only remember how he spoke to me, not as a child, but as a budding reader. And I remember how I felt after my mom and I headed home: that reading was the most important way to spend my time. That the world was available to me within the pages of a book. I came away believing in a different kind of magic. The magic of the written word.
That magic has never left me. And I have always remained deeply connected to Canadian writers and the stories that they tell about the lives that can only be lived here. My favourite book, the Diviners, is by a Canadian author, Margaret Laurence.
There is much to be learned from Mowat’s work. He was an activist and a controversial figure. For me, he was a catalyst to read and learn more.
You never know when the devil might come calling – Farley Mowat.