Friday, March 09, 2007

twenty years

Today is a major anniversary in my life. Not one of those joyous anniversaries of weddings, births, or blogiversaries, but one of those anniversaries which causes you to pause, to reflect.

Twenty years ago today my father died of cancer. Here’s a picture of us, mid-80s some time. Note the fathers day tie-card, carefully coloured in neon crayolas. Add to that note that he wore it out the door to work that day, and in when he came home. (the idea that perhaps he had not worn it throughout the day did not occur to my little girl brain and matters little).

He passed a lengthy illness, complete with wheelchair and pills. Lots of activity books coloured in hospital waiting areas. Together, we learned how to draw cartoons, made trays of Shrinky-dinks and “stained glass” Christmas ornaments, and laughed ourselves silly watching squirrels try to eat bagels from strings tied to trees. There are lots of things that wheelchair-bound dads can’t do with their nine-year old little girls, but lots of other things that we managed to enjoy, despite the crappy circumstances.

Before all that, Dad proudly endured endless dance recitals and music recitals, and took me on “dates” from time to time. (These dates usually included a trip to the candy store on the way to a Muppet movie, or similar, followed by ice cream.)

One time, when I duped him at a family garage sale, my businessman father just smiled and shook his head. (It’s a long story: We all priced our own items at garage sales, and I had priced my precious rocking horse “Lanny” excessively to fend off the possibility of purchase. When Dad asked me to reconsider my asking price, I went to my room, checked my wallet, came back out with a fifty cents sticker, handed my Dad two quarters and dragged my Lanny back into the house.)

Obviously losing a parent at a young age changes a person. I learned pretty early on that things seldom work out the way you think they will, even more rarely the way you hope they will, and almost never the way you expect them to. And despite what life hands you, you must keep on, hoping for better things ahead. Or at least, hoping for nothing worse. I also learned how to read people, quickly. I learned that I am not like others, and much later, I learned that THAT is actually a source of strength.

I learned that you have to live for today. I learned to do what I love, try not to put things off, and to be fiercely pro-active about the things I want to achieve. I don’t put up with a lot of crap, and I don’t suffer fools. Period. I also know there’s nothing I can’t handle alone if I have to.

I learned that the only person who owns the definition of me is me. I learned to let my own conscience be my higher authority, and to try to behave in ways I can live with. I learned that no one can really understand someone else’s particular set of circumstances without living through them, and I try not to be too judgmental for that reason.

I learned that when you love someone, you shouldn’t hesitate to tell them, and I don’t like to leave unresolved situations unresolved. I figure you have to actively love the people you love for who they are while they’re in front of you, because you never know which day will be your last. Or theirs.

So why am I telling all of you this? I guess it ties into my blogiversary celebration idea. Every year I try to make a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society as a memorial, and I’d like some of you guys to do something generous too. Make a donation to an organization that needs it. If you’re lacking a cause, please feel free to use mine, but your donation can be to anything charitable. Something that is meaningful to YOU. I promise, it’ll make you feel good.

Now here’s the blogiversary give-away part: YARN. Make a donation, be entered in a draw. If there are loads of you, I’ll do more than one draw.

If you donate, send me an e-mail to miss DOT ewe AT gmail DOT com and tell me what you did (don’t just leave it in the comments please). You don’t have to tell me how much, you don’t have to prove it. I’m pretty sure the karma-lords would unleash a serious shit-storm over your life if you lied about something like this, so I’ll let them police it. Tell me why your donation is meaningful to you if you like, but only if you want to. Maybe put “good karma” in the subject line, so no one gets lost in my inbox.

I don’t know exactly what the give-away will be yet, probably some sexy sock yarn (did you notice that I’m obsessed with socks right now?), but I swear it’ll be good stuff, and I’ll even try to tailor it to the winner. I’ll leave it open for a week. E-me by next Friday, March 16, and that way I can do a draw and get the winner some nice stuff while I’m in Toronto next week. You must be willing to provide me with a snail address if you win.

So go… live now, give now, feel good about it, and have a chance for some free yarn. Nobody doesn’t like free yarn.


At 11:49 a.m., Anonymous Emma said...

Kate, You are a really fabulous writer. This post is poignant and funny and touching and sad all at the same time (wait a sec, poignant and touching are the same thing, right? well, you know what I’m getting at…)

At 5:02 p.m., Blogger Cari said...

Beautiful post. I also lost my dad way too soon, though not nearly as young as you. (I was 19.) I have yet to learn some of those lessons you took away from your own loss. Working on it, though.

Thanks for this post.

At 2:28 a.m., Blogger Heather said...

My donation's in. What a wonderful dad...and what a wonderful daughter.

At 4:28 a.m., Blogger Nic said...

A moving post and a timely remind that I have left it too long since I last phoned some people.

At 7:10 a.m., Blogger Renee said...

What a great post. Sounds like you had a magnificent dad. I'm sorry to hear he was taken from you so early.

At 9:45 a.m., Blogger Allegra said...

What a great post. Definitely brought some tears. I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you for letting us in.
I do hope I can donate. We are closing on a house soon, and all my funds are tied up, so I might have to wait a while.

At 10:49 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...


I always loved that photo of you & your Dad;and the cute story that was attached to that tie you made for him.
It's hard to believe twenty years have passed.
I know he would be so proud of the wonderful young lady you have become.
I miss him too.


At 12:44 p.m., Blogger Alison said...

Kate, this is a really powerful post. (I love the story about the garage sale -- weren't you clever!) Thanks for sharing this.

At 6:59 p.m., Blogger Violiknit said...

This was such a moving post. Thank you for telling us this story. (one of my closest violin teachers passed away 3 years ago and I make a donation to her music school this time every year.)


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