This week has been really hard. Like many weeks the calendar was full of our regular routines like hippotherapy, swimming, and music (which we had to cancel this week since Seb was still recovering from the early part of the week). On top of that there was dental work under general anesthetic for Sebastian (which was tough), his SEPRC meeting (also tough in a different way), and an evening reunion for students who graduated from his school last year (a positive evening, though long). Sebastian’s school goes to grade 1 only so this year the translation process started in January and got pretty intense this week!
I took a long bath last night with a few candles and lots of bubbles. Scribbled on the walls of the tub were imaginings of Tallula and maybe Sebastian, created by their dad at bath time. Tallula asked him to draw monsters. And hearts. We have a lot of bath paints and crayons. Normally I read or listen to music. Last night I just buried myself beneath the bubbles and breathed. Deeply. And let my breath go. Repeat. It felt good. Then I took those paints and markers and created my own monsters, the fun, colorful, goofy kind. And Tallula was so excited this morning that she sat in the empty tub to talk to them.
Sometimes life keeps me so busy and I struggle to find the time to write or sew. They help me clear my mind and let my creative juices flow. I try to remind myself that I’m doing little creative things every day. From the stories I make up for my kids to the way I decorate their rooms or re-pot the plants.
It really is the little things. And the reminder that what I did today was ENOUGH.
There will always be more. But I am just one person. And today Tallula and I took it slow. We stopped to breath in. And breath out. Big, deep, belly breaths. We read books in her book reading fort. We hung up one of her pieces of artwork in her room. We played with toys. We visited a good friend and her son. I made dinner while she napped. And waited for Sebastian to get home. And that was enough.
My grandpa would’ve been 82 today so that was hard. So I thought of him too. Quietly.
We made it through the week and we came out smiling in the end.
I went through all of my favorites today. Photos I had collected and placed in small portable albums to take with me to far away lands. This was before digital cameras and USBs. I couldn’t find the one I was looking for. This one. I reminised of old friends and even found a few other gems of grandpa and I. I retraced all the places I stuck piles of photos that had once lived on my refrigerator door. And I found it.
I’m visiting during the summer after having taught my second year in Bangkok. We are at my great-grandma’s, up north. My grandpa is wearing one of the shirts I bought him in one of those far off lands. We were ‘arguing’. By arguing, I mean we were disagreeing on something in a very civil and playful way. I was being an adult and challenging something he said or believed and testing out my own world view. And we laughed. Grandma was sure it would end disastrously. But it didn’t.
We did that a lot that summer. They were living at the farm house with my mom and Jerry. I was ‘home’ for the summer. We’d sit on the back porch after dinner and I’d catch a glimpse into their own histories. I was finally old enough to appreciate their stories and their lives and I wished I hadn’t waited so long to ask. And even to argue.
I have so many good memories of my grandparents. And I love jarring those memories through photos. And I’ll pass them on to my own children. Though I know that Sebastian will have his own memories of Grandpa too.
The way that he always greeted you (and all of his children, grand-children, great-grandchildren) with ‘baby’. The way he reached out for a hug even if he was afraid to hold you as you got bigger and still needed to be held. The way he gave you kisses on your forehead or cheek that tickled and made you smile. The way he made you smile and how proud he was of you when he saw you walking in your walker. The way you sat side by side in his computer room, you in your chair and he in his, listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday and the like. The love that he felt that you knew in your heart.
Tallula will remember Grandpa differently because she’s so young. But when I showed her some of the old photos she said, ‘There’s grandpa and he’s not sick anymore!’
We said our goodbyes to Grandpa on Easter Sunday. I told Sebastian it would be the last time we saw him. As we bent down to give him a kiss grandpa reached out for him and Sebastian smiled. I cried then knowing it would be the last time I would see their embrace. Sebastian cried too because he knew that something wasn’t right. When I told grandpa we had to go back home to Canada he said ‘I love you’ and I cried some more.
When my grandma died I was half a world away in Australia and I didn’t get to say goodbye. I was on Saipan when my great-grandpa died and Egypt when my great-grandma died. I needed to be there to say goodbye to Grandpa. I needed Sebastian to say goodbye too. And we did. And I’m thankful.
Grandpa died this morning. And I’m ok because of those moments. Those memories. Those stories. Those photos. That love. And I’m smiling because I’m imagining that embrace so much I can feel it.
I love you Grandpa.
Sebastian and Grandpa have a very special relationship. I’m so glad he’s gotten to know him for so long. I hope Tallula will remember him though I don’t think it will be the same way Sebastian does. We love you Grandpa. Very much.
We embarked on an epic road trip for Sebastian’s March Break. One of the things about having lived in so many places is that we have friends scattered about the globe. Which is pretty awesome! We rented a mini-van so we could fit Seb’s equipment (wheelchair plus flamingo toilet chair that doubles as a shower chair) and left after Sebastian’s Nutrition Clinic appointment a week ago Friday. Just the four of us. We’ve done a big road trip before but had Ali’s parents along for the ride. This time it was just us.
First stop was actually just outside Buffalo (to visit PipandBean) to pick up some superhero accessories, but I’ll share that story later. We drove further south (straight through…11 hours later) and spent the weekend in Baltimore with friends that are more like family. Mark was our first and then last flatmate when we lived in London. He was also there when we got married, he’s our witness on the marriage certificate! We were looking forward to spending time with him and his wife Leslie and to meet their dog, Archie.
We adventured out in the rain on the first day, making new furry friends at a dog park. Where Tallula told everyone we don’t have a dog ‘yet’. And Sebastian met twin black labs. We passed the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations nearby and walked partway along the pier, meeting more dog-walking friendly folks. On day two we walked along the bay in the sun and chilly wind all the way to the shark submarine downtown. There was no stopping us!
You’ll also notice that Flat Stanley came along for the ride. We stopped for delicious fudge and an impromptu dance party to Prince at Killwin’s. Picked out a couple records at the record shop across the street and passed the tavern known as being the very last place Edgar Allen Poe was seen alive. We enjoyed seeing the row houses and colourful shops as well as the many factory buildings repurposed into businesses, like the Barnes and Noble’s near the shark submarine. Sebastian enjoyed going over the cobblestone streets and Tallula loved running ahead and holding Leslie’s hand on our adventures. A big highlight for the kids was hanging out with Archie and feeding him treats, like peanut butter which he licked from their fingers. Tallula is certainly right, we don’t have a dog yet, but we will someday.
Super big thanks to our fabulous hosts and friends. Next stop, DC!