Category: family

Appreciation

December 14 – Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

Come September, I had nothing. No money, no job. Just two degrees and no where to take them. I am so lucky that I had somewhere to go. Somewhere I can live and eat and wait for a job opportunity. Parents who will support not only my basic needs, but also the things I want to do.

I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have that safety net. To not be able to go home and live for free while I figure things out.

I appreciate my parents immensely for all that they’ve done to help me this year and for giving me everything I want and need.

Do I express my gratitude for it? I’d like to say yes but the truth is I don’t as much as I should. I think I should work on that…

Dear Mommy,

To the strong woman who raised two independent daughters. To my role model, the woman who could do it all. To the one who kissed the scrapes, who struggled with me and my tantrums. Who dared to comb my hair. To the woman I not only love, but deeply respect as a person. Who I am so proud to call my mom.

Me, four days old, in my mom's arms

Thank you for always being proud of me. Thank you most of all for always doing absolutely everything in your power to help me have whatever I dream of. I can’t count the number of times that you have come through for me. Some of the biggest come to mind. France. Ireland. Last summer. And, even though I’m 22 years old and live in a different country, three months ago when my loan cheque didn’t come in.

I'm rocking that red nose!

From you I got my heart. Your incredible ability to care so much. So much that it hurts, sometimes, and feels like too much. But I learnt, from you, that it’s an amazing quality to have and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Because it means that you live in a world full of love. Because it means that you and I will fight like lionesses for the people we love.

Me, almost a year old, with my mom! I inherited her big head.

When I think of safety, of home, I think of you. Hearing your voice on the telephone can bring tears to my eyes the way no one else can. When I’m sick, the only person I want is you. When I’m sad, I still need to hear you say that everything is going to be all right.

My mom, me and my sister, while I was working at Pinhey's, in costume.

To the most reliable person I know. You have shown me how to work hard and how to gain people’s respect. My favourite story of you is when the hospital gave you $60 to spend on food for each day of your conference, and you only spent half and gave them back the rest. You are honest. You have gotten so far in your career, all the while cooking and cleaning on your time off.

Laura, Mom and me in the Dominican four years ago

For all the tears you’ve soothed. For all the tangles and tats you’ve defeated. For the little notes beside my lunch that make me smile. For the $10 bill on the counter to buy myself a coffee. For all of the times that I yelled and screamed and you loved me anyway. Thank you.

Mom, me and Dad at my graduation

If I can be half the mother you are when I have kids, then I will be okay.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy.

Love always,

Your Littlest Bunny

Thanksgiving

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in Canada. All weekend I have been watching my friends Twitters and Facebook statuses detail their journeys home for the holiday, and I couldn’t help but be jealous.

After a couple of weeks of homesickness, I have largely adjusted to being here, but Thanksgiving was a bit too much for me to handle. I was having daydreams of turkey dinners and pumpkin pie and spending a lazy day watching seasons of TV shows with my sister while the smell of dinner wafted through the air.

Luckily, I was prepared. My Canadian friend here, Chandra (who happens to be from the same city as me, though we’d never met each other until we got to Newcastle!), and I decided to have a Canadian Thanksgiving party. It was largely a pot luck, and the guests ranged from Canadian to British, from American to Italian! I made the chickens (you have to special order a turkey, apparently!) and the rest of the food arrived on schedule!

dinnerPhoto is courtesy of Chandra!

I’ve never been away from home for a holiday. Or at least, I’ve never been away from my family for it. When I was younger we used to go to the US and spend Canadian Thanksgiving with our American friends of the family (who used to live in Canada, thus deserve TWO Thanksgivings). Thanksgiving isn’t a really big deal in Canada like it is in the US, but it’s still a good time to spend with your family and eat way too much food. Also, when I was living in Ottawa, all of my friends from high school would usually venture back from wherever they’d ended up and we’d get to hang out for a day or so at a sort of halfway point to Christmas.

I was really happy to be able to have a dinner across the ocean, and proud of myself for being able to put it together (Ahhh, growing up!) it was also great to get all of my new friends together in my lovely new apartment. But now I’m looking forward to Christmas and getting to go back home again. It still feels like home.

pie

We did get to have pumpkin pie, though! Despite the fact that apparently such an idea doesn’t exist in the UK!

Left and leaving I

Almost foot taller than me, my forehead is pressed against her bare shoulder, our arms wrapped tightly around each other. Both a little clammy with the sweat from an evening spent moving boxes, we hold on for a long time. When we pull away, I brush a tear off of my cheek and look up at her.

My head is full of days spent playing House, building Barbie houses and Spice Girls songs. Echoes of splashing in pools and shrieking on Slip N’ Slides, of McDonald’s Caboose birthdays and Mario Kart races. I don’t know how we got this old, my Kiwi and I. It seems like just yesterday we were little kids with bad 90s hair. Even then I was looking up at her, always the perfect height to be hit in the face with her ponytail.

It’s hard to call her my friend - that word doesn’t seem like enough. I’ve known her for twenty years. We know each other more like family than just friends. We have always know exactly what to say and exactly how to push each other’s buttons.

“I’ll miss my Dudders,” she says. I’m only vaguely aware that everyone is watching us. I brush away another tear. She kisses the top of my head and hugs me again.
“I’ll miss you, too,” I say quietly, muffled into her shoulder.
“Christmas,” she says.
“Christmas.” I agree. But then what? I can’t help but think. As we get older, the distances seems to get more absolute, less temporary. I don’t want to let go. I thought I was ready to leave people behind, but I forgot that she’d be leaving me first. This is harder, somehow.

As I walk out the door, I can’t help but feel like I’ve left part of me behind. The part that’s made of apple juice and ice cream. The part that’s reflected in the mirror of my oldest friend.

meandkiwi1

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy,

To the father of two daughters, content to wander shopping malls in every province and state, to listen to conversations about waxing and sit through dance recitals and basketball games alike. To the man who raised two strong and independent (feminist!) women.

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To the one who used to eat Cheesewiz on toast with me at 5am. Who made fish sticks and fries for dinner after skating lessons. Who talked to me endless as a baby, the reason I started speaking full sentences before 2. Whose specialties are hockey puck muffins and Shakey Chicken. Who, 22 years later, still makes me a sandwich for lunch but now hands me a coffee on my way out the door instead of a juice.

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To the guy who drove me to Syracuse, Erie and Rochester countless times so I could spend the week with my best friend. Who took us on road trips, dealt with carsickness in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and countless other places.

To the man who gave me his eyes - the bright blue, but also the ability to see far, and to notice and examine things. To the man who gave me words - the writer, the poet who told me stories and read me books, let me dream and sparked that yearning to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. To the reason I know every Beatles song, the reason I love music with every ounce of myself.

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To my first boss. Who dealt with all of my stupid mistakes, who gave me my first chance to do something with myself. Who taught me how to load film, print film, talk to customers, use photoshop and most importantly how to take photos, who put a camera in my little hands as soon as I could hold it and let me discover it.

To one of the smartest people I know, who always has answers and insight, who knows a bit about everything. To a person who hasn’t had it easy, who taught me to persevere. Who taught me that you are what you make of yourself, no more and no less. Who taught me to put 150% into everything I do, not for others but for my own self respect. To your ceaseless determination, and the strength I take from that.

For all of this and so much more, Daddy, Happy Father’s Day.

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I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my Daddy you’ll be,*

Heather

P.S. I love you but I’m not giving you my iPod Touch for Father’s Day. Sorry.

gradfam

*From the Robert Munsch book he read us over and over when we were little, pictured above!