lookingbackandforth

Keeping it real and Keeping it positive.

Sisters are a Treasure!

Today is my sister’s birthday. I’m late with a card and a gift, but wanted to write a post about my very special sister. She came into my life when I was a few months shy of FIVE. I was for sure the princess of the family by then, being an only child for almost five whole years. What was I to do with ‘competition’. We lived out in the ‘country’ in a rural area of London, Ontario, Canada. Our fraternal grandmother lived literally on the other side of the driveway! Now I had to share my parents AND my grandparents with this new little sister. It didn’t take long for me to see that she was a ‘force to be reckoned with’ and quite the little dynamo. She had all kinds of spunk and energy and once I realized she was here to stay we became great pals. The age difference made for some obvious challenges as there isn’t too much you can do together in those growing up years with a sister quite so much younger.

We moved from London to Montreal when I was seven and Jan was two. Learning to talk and moving to a French neighborhood made for interesting words coming out of her mouth. I’m told I was the only one who could understand her for likely a year of her life! I was finally getting the gist of being a big sister. I protected her and always wanted to be sure she was okay.

As we grew older, as often happens, we seemed to grow apart. I was a teenager and she was the ‘bothersome’ little sister who always wanted to hang around. By the we added a baby brother to the mix. He came along when I had just turned THIRTEEN.

Life brought us many challenges as kids, but we hung together and we hung tough. Then I left for the USA and college at 17, never to live back at home again. That left Jan in the role of ‘oldest sibling’ during some pretty challenging times for our family….but she was the strongest person I knew. She managed to keep it together, keep our family in one piece and never lose hope. She had to grow up way too fast, but in doing so she developed such strong character and amazing strength. I stood in awe.

We found as we got older that we grew closer together again. The age difference didn’t seem to mean anything and we just enjoyed being together, even though the times that we actually were together we often short and with long spaces between.

We both married and both became moms and this just served to bring us even closer. I was moving around with my Army husband and Jan stayed planted firmly in the Toronto area..always the one to provide stability for our brother and our parents. When our mom developed Altzheimers Jan then became the emotional support for both our dad and our brother. She was the one it seemed everyone leaned on…and in some small way I hope I was able to be the one SHE leaned on.

Our brother had a serious medical emergency that changed his life and again, Jan was there leading the charge to be sure he got and still gets, the best care possible. Then our mom passed away and our not too long afterwards our father was unable to live alone. You guessed it…he moved in with Jan and Rome!

All the while she was working full time as a High School teacher and then as a Vice Principal, raising two great kids and keeping the home fires burning on ALL FOUR BURNERS for sure!

Then our father died suddenly and that was such a sad time for all of us, but for Jan it was almost unbearable as she and daddy were so very close…but in her usual fashion she powered through and kept on keeping on.

Then SHE had a serious medical set back with not one but two very life altering spinal surgeries on her neck, resulting in the loss of her ability to drive and the loss of her job..and on so many levels the loss of so much of her life. No more hours at the gym, something she so loved. No more planning the dances for her students and running back and forth daily to see our brother. Now her life was pretty limited to being home and the transportation that others could provide. For most of us this alone would be enough to put us into a deep depression and leave us pretty angry at God and at life..but not MY SISTER. Sure, she, like the rest of us, has her moments, but she is a woman who never gives us, never loses faith and never let’s you see her sweat and she always looks amazing!

On so many levels she’s my hero! I could wallow in guilt for not being there for her during some serious times with our family and she could make me feel like I should wallow in guilt…but not MY SISTER..she always is the one to say THANK YOU…to encourage ME and to carry on. She’s strong and resilient and a woman of unbelievable strength and character. She’s a faithful, loving wife and the best mom around. Our kids adore their Auntie Jan as does everyone who meets her.

She may think her years of ‘making a difference’ are over, but far from it. Every day that she breaths air she makes a difference in MY LIFE and that of her family and her friends. She is loved by all!

I’m so proud that she is my sister. I’m so proud that she is my friend. I hope she has the best birthday EVER and many, many, many more!!!

Love you Sis!!!!

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Three Generations of Fathers

Today is Father’s Day. I wanted to share a bit about three important fathers in my life…my dad, my husband and my son. Three generations yet in so many ways so very similar.

With my own father I learned so much about receiving and finishing strong. From my dad I received LIFE. If there was nothing else in the world to thank him for it would be enough…he gave me LIFE. But there is more. Many of my growing up years my relationship with my father wasn’t always great. There were some difficult years, but even in the midst of those I could always count on the fact that my dad loved me unconditionally. As he fought his won demons, he never once wavered in his love for his children. As I grew up and left home and then married myself and had Imagechildren I watched my dad transform his life. I saw in him the character and perseverance that is rarely seen in people  and I gained a whole new ‘adult’ respect and love for my dad. To our two children he was always ‘Grandpa Bill’…he wasn’t just Grandpa. I watched him swell with pride as he spoke about his three kids and his four grandchildren. I watched him care for my mom and his wife of over 50 years when she was stricken with Alzheimers. He never once gave up hope and always believed she still knew him, right up until the end of her life. It was hard to watch my dad have to deal with physical problems as he aged, but even then he maintained his unquenchable positive attitude and infectious smile. It was so difficult to lose him and to know he would no longer be here on earth cheering us on and forwarding all those email jokes…but Daddy, we know you are STILL cheering us on and someday we can laugh together again. We miss you. Thank you for FINISHING STRONG!!

Then there’s my Barry. With Barry I am able to participate in parenting, but always looking to him for ‘how to do it right’. From the moment in the delivery rooms when he ‘caught’ each of our children as they entered this world, until this very day there is no one who does

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 FATHERING better. I really could write a book about what I learned from watching Barry father our children. There was nothing he wouldn’t do from changing diapers to wiping tears to dancing the twist! He would rather spend time with his family than anything else on earth and it shows. He has kept a file folder, yes ‘old school’ paper folder,with special things from both of our kids, and even today he printed their Father’s Day Facebook posts. As a military dad who had to be gone a lot during our kids growing up years, I know it did NOT take anything away from the quality of his parenting. He would be so tired his eyelids would close on their own, and yet he was always attending to their needs, answering their questions, reading them stories or just BEING with them…and with me too. Both of our kids adore their father and he is for sure their hero…because he loves them totally and he shows and tells them this all the time. Now he gets to love on our wonderful daughter-in-law and Grandfather in the same way to David and Mikey. Each day I love this man more and participating with him in parenting is one of my greatest joys.

And now I have the total JOY of watching my son be a FATHER. Thanks to the miracle of technology I really DO get to see him parent and then when we are able to be together it’s even a greater joy. There was never any doubt that if God blessed Jonathan with a wife and a family he would be a great husband and father. He’s honest, caring, FUN,hard working and oh so giving. Like HIS dad he participates in all aspects of the boys lives, from diaper changing to bathing to just playing on the floor.He even let’s his creative juices flow and designs and bakes their birthday cakes every year. He gives them not only his unconditional love but his full attention. He lives before these little guys as a father who loves the Lord and loves their mom and loves them and what more could we ask? There is something unexplainable about watching your son be a parent. It brings me so much JOY. 

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So to these three generations of fathers, thank you. Thank you for loving ME unconditionally, thank you for loving your children unconditionally and thank you for the example you are to others. I am a daughter, wife and mother and now grandmother….. MOST BLESSED!!!

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