In Loving Memory of a Generous Grandpa

January 3, 1945–November 9th, 2020

Thank you to everyone who supported me yesterday, on my Dad’s first anniversary of passing away, whether by a phone call, text, email, food, flowers at the door or even a gift basket brought by my sweet neighbour Lorie. It means a lot to be loved and accompanied by you all!Thank you also for your prayers which carried me through the day with a lot of extra peace and grace. We are truly so tenderly supported!

Last week, I was chatting with my friend Sister Angela as she came to drop off some bread and fruit for us (yup, spoiled again) and she said something helpful about loss. That there’s a saying that when you are missing someone, you should do what they would do…strive to imitate the things you admired about them.

So in my Dad’s memory, because he had such a heart for the poor and oppressed, we are going to make a donation to a family who is fleeing persecution overseas, and needs funds to help keep them at a temporary safe-house until they can get their refugee papers completed to come to Canada.

What grabs my heart is that they are good, hardworking people who are fleeing an unjust government, and that they had to leave almost everything behind, except their two children and a suitcase or two. In this precarious situation, with death threats hanging over them, they are trying to be a loving family and reassure their little children who just want to go back to school or play outside. Right now they can do neither.

But for $35 a day they have room and board for the next few months, and help to bring them food. This already is a miracle, as their previous situation was even worse. My dear friends Monique and Ryan who are fundraising for them are in direct contact with them, as one of their relatives is a student of Ryan’s. He explains much more on video updates on his gofundme site.

Please pray for their safety, as for all the paperwork to go through as soon as possible. if you’d like to hear more of their story, or share it with others, please visit the site below:

Bring a family safe to Saskatoon

“Every day, expect a miracle.” ✨Bob McCandless, my Dad ✨

This Night Last Year

I walk out into the cool, clear night. The cold air slaps my flushed face with the distant bitterness of snow and stars. From their dome of blackness, the stars peer down at me as I walk through the mud next to my Dad’s car, and open the squeaky gate to the alley to bring in the recycling bins.

My nearby house is bubbling with chattering children, playing music, building lego, drawing spiders and superheroes. Now, alone, in the cold and empty quiet behind my garage, the reality sideswipes me, the fact I’ve been busily avoiding catches me with a silent pounce—and I let it tear at my chest.

This was your last night on earth, one year ago today.

I try to be brave enough to stand still in this knowledge. To let myself feel it without running away this time. To honour this night, last year.

A bright object pulsing in the distance draws my stinging eyes to the sky above the end of the desolate alley. Is it the Chariot of Death, come to carry you to Heaven like it did last year? It taunts me by coming closer and closer, almost above me, but fails to stop for me. It has no place for me. I have no ticket. No pass. No way to come with you, Dad.

The bright chariot, disguised as a plane, flies on past the stars, and straight on till morning.

And now it is a sailing ship, Peter’s vessel, flying you to Neverland, where you will be ever young, and true to your boyish heart—your delight in life, your enthusiasm for movies, books, toys and trees and children and peanut butter banana sandwiches—will never, ever grow up. And Wendy will sing you lullabies. And I will cry.

Life, death and love: writing about what matters

Until my October Garden post not long ago, I hadn’t written on my blog for so long. It is not that I stopped writing, but that I stopped sharing. Sorting through my Dad’s belongings this past summer while I cleaned out his apartment, I was at times overwhelmed with memories, longings and regrets. I read over old letters and cards I wrote him as a child. He saved every one in a special folder, “Anna.” Every one since since before I could spell Daddy.

The pain of having lost so much time with him as a child after the divorce, and while living overseas in Holland as a teenager, resurfaced. I didn’t want to talk about it, because I didn’t want to hurt my Mum, but silence is suffocating, at least for me. I need to let things out to let them go.

I did pour that pain into poetry, and as my Dad’s one year of passing approaches on November 9th, I am going to share some with you again.

Since losing a baby 7 years ago in labour, and losing my Dad last year to cancer, I have written a lot of poetry about grief. I wonder if this bothers some people in our “get over it and on with it” society. Am I that weird lady who always writes about death?

At the core of it though, I realize I am ultimately writing about love—because love is what connects us beyond death. Grieving is not being stuck in the past, but honouring the fact that parts of your heart have gone ahead to the future, leaving holes until you are reunited.

All we can hope is that the holes will make our hearts bigger, and let the light shine through from those we love, who are already bathed in heavenly peace. If this is all too cheesy and cliché, that’s just too bad. I am tired of not sharing. So with no more fuss, here is one of my poems from this summer:

Laundry Landay

1 July, 2021

I am sitting in the living room
folding laundry when I find a sudden sign of you

I inhale your familiar scent
lingering beyond the grave in your soft pillow case

I crumple and hide my face in it
faded and butter-soft from oh so many washing’s

I think of your quiet gentleness
your simplicity, poverty, and deep love of peace

I remember your arms around me
my eyes closed, my face resting against your shirt buttons

I breathe in deeply and the pain swells
my heart bursting with the bittersweet scent of you, Dad

Happy 1st Birthday in Heaven, Josephine!

  
Yesterday, September 30th, we celebrated the one year anniversary of my baby girl’s entrance into Heaven, on the day she was born. I thought it would be better to face the day in a spirit of celebration, as much as possible, rather than letting it pass by us acknowledged, quietly and painfully. 

The kids were totally excited, because a birthday is a birthday, and there will be cake. We had a potluck lunch, after gathering in the graveyard to pray and bring flowers, and my awesome friend Kate made the cake. And Thai Chicken Soup for dinner (so I wouldn’t have to cook), which my kids declared the best soup ever!

My husband James took the morning off so we could go to Mass together…and had the sweet idea of bringing along Josephine’s photo…Daddy’s affectionate heart…I entrusted the day to Our Lady, as I had entrusted her with Josephine, that she could cover her with kisses until I arrive to take over the job. 


A few days before the birthday, my 7 year old daughter was walking home holding hands with her toddler brother when I overheard this:

It’s almost Josephine’s birthday! And you’re invited!

Oh, birthday!

And there will be cake!

Mm, take!

And later, when we all get to Heaven, we will play with Josephine! She’s your little sister, and we will be all together. 

My five year old piped up, “And it’s ok if she is still small, and I’m bigger, because then I’ll be able to hold her better.” 

 

Just as at her funeral Mass and burial, we had many people come, and I think this meant a lot to the kids, to have their little sister honoured like this, and celebrated by people who only ever knew her while she was still kicking in my belly. A few kids made her cards, to go in her memory folder, and one gave a special rock. Never underestimate the value of a special smooth rock, given by a child. Such things are treasures. 

  

Once everyone arrived for lunch, we counted 24 kids at her birthday, not including babies, so it was likely closer to 30. Happily it was a gorgeous fall day, perfect for a picnic lunch outside. My friend Tajsha made the kids’ day by bringing hot chocolate mix and mini-marshmallows. Celebrating in style!

We moms enjoyed coffee and sitting chatting outside by the garden while the kids played. I was very happy for all the company and support of my dear and thoughtful friends in this day. I was surrounded by love, food and prayers, and all these things cushioned my heart so I can honestly say it was a beautiful day. Thank you to everyone who made it special. I’m sure Josephine is happy her family has so many good friends, and will sparkle a little stardust your way, if you ask her.